THE FISHERMAN’S REWARD
LESSON TEXT: I Corinthians 16:15; Daniel 12:3; Mark 16:15; Matthew 24:14, 34; Revelation 20:12-13; I Corinthians 3:13-14; Ephesians 2:8-9; James 2:17,18,20; Matthew 25:35-36.
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (I Thessalonians 2:19-20).
LESSON AIM: To show the rewards for winning souls and the great harvest awaiting us.
Teaching Material: Magni-Vu Picture FF.
A FISHERMAN’S JOY
(Place Picture FF on Magni-Vu board).
What fisherman wouldn’t be excited about a stringer of fish like this? This is not the product of a lifetime of fishing, but just one day. A real fisherman is never satisfied to bring home one lone fish. But how many Christians would be overjoyed if they can feel responsible for bringing in “just one soul” in their whole lifetime?
For too long we have glorified the feat of winning “one” when we should be setting our goals toward a hundred or a thousand. Consequently, when one soul has been brought into the church, many saints proudly fold their hands and with a halo fluttering above their heads they now feel ready for the rapture! Their work for God has been accomplished.
Winning one should only be the tiny germ that grows into a raging fever; or the first taste of narcotics that leads to addiction. Paul said that the household of Stephanas had “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (I Corinthians 16:15). You can be sure Stephanas would never have been contented with helping to make only one saint.
“They that turn many to righteousness,” shall shine “as the stars forever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). God has not set a limit on fishing for souls. Catch all you want and don’t dare throw a one back in. We’re heading for a fish-fry deluxe and we need all the fish we can get!
FISH ALL OVER THE WORLD
Those who become expert fishermen are not content to fish for one particular kind. They want to try them all. Something burns within that drives them to new rivers, lakes and streams. Canada, Alaska, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic, South America, Australia, Hawaii-the call rings out to experiment with catching the great gamefish of the world. Each species has some peculiar trait that is all its own. To feel the unfamiliar tug of a new variety of fish is an irrestible novelty.
Jesus Christ was the greatest Fisherman this world has ever known. It is through His guidance that we too may become fishers of men. Our Lord derived so much satisfaction from witnessing to a hungry soul, it took away His appetite for food. After talking to the woman at the well, Jesus told His disciples, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of….My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:32,34).
The excitement of fishing drew Him toward the poor and neglected. But it would not allow Him to forget the streams where the sick and suffering lodged; the ordinary individuals who were waiting for the Messiah; the starving multitudes. However, His mission was not fulfilled until He sought out the lawyers, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees and the rulers of the people. This was “the work” that must be accomplished.
What is the work Jesus has given us to do? “….Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). How long will this take? Until we accomplish this great commission. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:14,34).
Until every nation has had fishers of men set foot on his shores and work every lake, river and stream, the words of Jesus will not be fulfilled. The hour has arrived that demands fishermen to be sent all over the globe so that the fish may be gathered in. A witness must be given to every nation. Untold millions have still never heard the Name of Jesus. Dare we be content until every tribe, every tongue, every country has heard?
Verse after verse in God’s Word reminds us that Judgment shall be pronounced “….according to their works” (Revelation 20:12-13). “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built there upon, he shall receive a reward” (I Corinthians 3:13-14).
It would be impossible to make it to heaven through our works alone. If this were so, many members of false cults would certainly go in before us. It is “….by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The new birth is an act of faith and is the only way to enter the Kingdom of God. However, rewards will be given according to our works. Our works will be tried and tested to see if they can withstand the fire. If so, we shall receive a reward. To each of the seven churches of Asia the statement was made: “I know thy works.”
In the book of James we find that “….faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:l7,18,20).
Therefore, we find that it is impossible to be saved unless we have both faith and works. Works alone is not enough; neither is faith alone sufficient to save us in the day of judgment. Faith makes us fit for the Kingdom of God and works determines our rewards.
What is meant by our “works?” (Let members of class discuss this question). The Lord gave us a good definition when He said, “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:35-36). When we do these things to one of the least of His brethren, we have done it unto Christ. These good deeds are to be done for both saint and sinner alike.
In the parable of the good Samaritan, our “neighbor” is clearly defined as those with whom we are not acquainted. This makes us to understand that the deeds of kindness we do for others prove whether or not we are true disciples of Christ. Since soul-winning includes both bringing people to the Church and keeping them in the Church, we will be rewarded for doing good to those both in and out of the Church.
The story is told of a man who was making a hospital visit for the church late one night. The ambulance attendants had gone home for the night and he was the only person in the small hospital with the exception of the physician. A boy came running in saying there had been a railway accident and someone must go to the station with a stretcher. The doctor asked the gentleman if he would take one end of the stretcher if he took the other. He cheerfully replied that he would and away they sped. The wounded man was brought to the hospital. The Christian brother often went to the hospital during the next couple of weeks because of his deep concern for the man “he had helped to carry.” In fact, he always took an interest in him because he had once felt the weight of the suffering man. When you know how to carry a man on your heart and have felt the burden of his case, his name seems to be engraved upon your own soul. Whether or not a reward would ever be received in heaven or not, there is a certain satisfaction and joy of living that comes with being concerned about others.
THE FISHING TIDE
Every fisherman who goes to the bay or deep-sea fishing must take into consideration the tides. It is much easier to catch fish when the tide is coming in, for this means that food will also be washed in to shore by the waves.
Tides are caused by the pull of the moon toward earth. Each day there is a morning tide and an evening tide. This alternate rising and falling of the surface of the ocean and bodies of water connected with the ocean could mean a greater opportunity to find hungry fish.
The same is true with soul-winning. A strong tidal wave began in the early 1900’s. It was easy to fish because the tide seemed to be sweeping people into the Kingdom of God. A few years later, the tide seemed to be going out and fewer fish were caught. Once again in these last days there is a strong, heavy, high tide coming in our direction. Are we ready for it? All over the world we can sense a hunger among denominational church members. This growing dissatisfaction means that soon millions of people will be turning in our direction, searching for food to sustain their spiritual life.
Have we trained ourselves to be expert fishers of men? Have we prayed and fasted as we should? Is our “Fish Lo-K-Tor” working properly? Do we know the traits and characteristics of each species of fish so that we can easily catch them?
If we are timid and afraid, God will raise up fishers who aren’t! It’s time for the harvest. It’s time for God’s Spirit to be poured out upon all flesh. Wake up, fishers of men. The alarm clock has just sounded. We must get our fishing clothes on and head for the nearest lake, stream, river or ocean. The tide is coming in and our stringers will soon be loaded with fish of all sizes. We must catch men so they will be rescued from the horrors of the great tribulation which will soon be ushered in upon all the earth. The world is watching and waiting for the fearless fishermen to appear.
This lesson has purposely been made short so that you can give your students time to fill out their last report sheet and then fill in the report for all thirteen weeks. You might also want to have a quick review of all the lessons to be sure that each one is firmly implanted in their minds. Give your students an opportunity to express themselves or ask questions. Some may wish to testify about good results they have had. If you have new fish that have been caught as a result of your teaching, ask them to testify.
(The above material appeared in Fearless Fishermen, Search for Truth Publication, Houston, TX.)
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