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SOUL-FISHERS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, August 30, 2009

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
(Matthew 4:19).


Christ said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). The main point is that you cannot be a follower of Christ without being a fisher of men. Dr. R. A. Torrey said, “The Greek word translated ‘fishers’ is a peculiar word; it indicates a [person] with whom fishing is his business – a fisherman – not merely one who fishes occasionally [as a] sport.”  Dr. Torrey said that fishing for men should be the most important thing in every Christian’s life! (R. A. Torrey, D.D., “Why Every Christian Should Make Soul Winning His Life’s Business”). Jesus said,

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
       (Matthew 4:19).

Sing “Today We Reap or Miss Our Golden Harvest!”

Today we reap or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh, then to save some [lost] ones from the burning;
   Today we’ll go to bring some sinner in.
(“So Little Time” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
       (Matthew 4:19).

This doesn’t mean that every Christian ought to become a preacher or a missionary. It does mean that no matter what your secular employment, you should make fishing for souls the most important thing in your life!

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
       (Matthew 4:19).

There is a wicked false teaching that this was only spoken to the Apostles, and not to us today. But that is a fool’s talk. No major commentator ever taught it.  In the first place, why would God have recorded it here in Matthew if it were only for the Apostles? Why would God give us these words to confuse us, to make us think we ought to be fishers of men, if He doesn’t want us to be fishers of men? It is evident throughout the Book of Acts that the early Christians took this as a command for every one of them to be fishers of men. That is the reason Christianity exploded into a world-wide movement in the first century! Sing that chorus by Dr. Rice again!

Today we reap or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh, then to save some [lost] ones from the burning;
   Today we’ll go to bring some sinner in.

Here are three of the many reasons that every one of us should be fishers of souls.

I. First, you must fish for souls because Christ came for that purpose.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
       (Matthew 4:19).

What does a real Christian do? He follows the example of Christ. What did Christ do? He said He came

“…to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The Apostle Paul echoed the same words as Christ when he said,

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
       (I Timothy 1:15).

Saving souls was the whole purpose of Christ’s work on earth! He came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” He “came into the world to save sinners.” To be a follower of Christ, you must have the same purpose and the same goal He had. To follow Christ, you must “seek…to save that which was lost” as He did (Luke 19:10). That’s why Christ said,

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
       (Matthew 4:19).

Anyone who tells you he is a follower of Christ, but does not fish for souls, is self-deceived. No one, unless he is sick, can be a follower of Christ without following in His main work - saving souls.  He “came into the world to save sinners.” Therefore everyone who truly follows Christ must also save sinners! 

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
       (Matthew 4:19).

Follow Christ!  Become a fisher of men.  There is no other way to be His follower.  You have to fish for souls constantly to be His follower.  Sing Dr. Rice’s song again!

Today we reap or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh, then to save some [lost] ones from the burning;
   Today we’ll go to bring some sinner in.

II. Second, you must fish for souls to have a consciousness of Christ’s presence.

Christ said,

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Pay attention to the words, “and lo, I am with you alway.” I completely agree with Dr. Torrey when he said, “For our Lord to be with us in personal fellowship, we must make disciples…Then, and then only, may we count upon His being with us” (ibid.).

The best cure for depression is fishing for souls! The best way to feel better is to think about helping someone else find salvation in Christ. An old Gospel song said, "Help Somebody Today."  Sing it! 

Help somebody today,
   Somebody along life’s way;
Let sorrow be ended, the friendless befriended,
   Oh, help somebody today!
(“Help Somebody Today” by Carrie E. Breck, 1855-1934).

The best way for both your sorrow and theirs to be “ended” is to become a “friend of sinners” like Jesus was! Sing it for us, Mr. Griffith! Everybody sing it with him!

Help somebody today,
   Somebody along life’s way;
Let sorrow be ended, the friendless befriended,
   Oh, help somebody today!

“Lo, I am with you alway” has a condition. Christ only promises to be in conscious fellowship if we are working to make disciples of the lost! You cannot have the presence of Christ in your life without obeying Christ! He said,

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
       (Matthew 4:19).

Sing “I Will Make You Fishers of Men.” Help us sing it, Mr. Griffith!

I will make you fishers of men,
   Fishers of men, fishers of men,
I will make you fishers of men
   If you follow Me.
If you follow Me, If you follow Me,
   I will make you fishers of men
If you follow Me.
    (“Fishers of Men” by Harry D. Clarke, 1927).

When we follow Christ in seeking to save the lost, then He will be with us, and we will experience the joy of His presence. To soul-fishers, and to soul-fishers only, Christ said, “Lo, I am with you alway” (Matthew 28:20).

III. Third, you must fish for souls if you expect God to give you the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said,

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8).

God does not give the Holy Spirit just to make us happy! God gives the Holy Spirit to make us soul-fishers! That’s why He gives the power of the Holy Spirit to Christians! Read Acts 1:8! He didn’t give the Holy Spirit to them to make them “get happy,” or jump up and down, or wave their hands in the air in a frenzy! No, God gave them the power of the Holy Spirit to make them “witnesses” – fishers of men! Dr. Torrey said, “Unless we are willing to be used in bringing others to Christ, no amount of reading Christian books or going to [Bible studies] or wrestling in prayer, will bring us the blessing that we seek… No Christian can enjoy the fulness of the Holy Spirit’s power and presence, and the joy and victory that go with that fulness, until he definitely puts himself [in] God’s hands to be used of Him in winning others to Christ” (ibid.).

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
       (Matthew 4:19).

Way back in 1971 Leonard Ravenhill said,

I am of this…opinion that in so-called Christian countries no one is actually reaching the lost in any great proportions (Leonard Ravenhill, Sodom Had No Bible, Ravenhill Books, 1971, p. 65).

If that was true back then in 1971 (and it was) it is even more true today! Many preachers no longer try to build up their churches by winning lost souls. Instead they use every “trick” possible to “steal” people from other churches! What a sad mess our churches are in today as a result! People “transfer” back and forth, from one church to another, for “better music” or a “better youth program,” or some other nonsense! Preachers today seem to have no idea how to bring in souls from the outside world. I’m not certain we have it all figured out either! But I know this – we are closer than ever to getting it right!

You see, it’s easier than people think to fish for souls. You don’t need to have long teachings on “soul-winning.” You don’t need any tracts or literature. You don’t need to be able to answer every question. Just “Go out…and compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23). It’s as simple as that!

And if you are here this morning for the first time, as many of you are, that’s how you got here! We went out to the colleges and malls and invited you to come and hear me speak, and come to a party afterwards. And you came! We are so glad you are here! We’ll go upstairs for dinner and the birthday party in a few minutes. Thank you for coming! You are our honored guests!

But we brought you here, not only for the dinner and party, but also to hear the Gospel of Christ! That’s the reason Christ came down from Heaven. He “came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). He came to die on the Cross, to pay the penalty for sin. He came to shed His Blood so that sin could be washed clean in the sight of God. We brought you to this service, and to the party afterwards, so you could hear the wonderful, saving Gospel of Christ!  

What must happen to you? You must think about your sin. You must be convicted of your sin by God. You must turn from sin to Christ. You must come to Him. Christ said,

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

You must also be willing to live the Christian life. That means that you must think and live in a new way. As Jerry Falwell often said, "Be in church every time the door is open." There is no such thing in the teachings of the New Testament as a real Christian who is not in church every Sunday. I know that is new to some of you. But that is really the first thing you need to do if you hope to become a real Christian. Come into the local church. You need to hear Gospel preaching in the local church. You need to go out to evangelism as soon as possible. Christ said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” the first time He met the Apostles! Don't wait!  Follow Christ and fish for souls right away.  Come every Sunday. And then come to Christ and be washed clean from your sin by His Blood! Please stand and sing hymn number 7 on the song sheet!

I hear Thy welcome voice,
   That calls me, Lord, to Thee
For cleansing in Thy precious blood
   That flowed on Calvary.
I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
   Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.
    (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

Now sing "Fishers of Men." 

I will make you fishers of men,
   Fishers of men, fishers of men,
I will make you fishers of men
   If you follow Me.
If you follow Me, If you follow Me,
   I will make you fishers of men
If you follow Me.
    (“Fishers of Men” by Harry D. Clarke, 1927).

Become a fisher of men.  Come back next Sunday.  My prayer is that God will move you to do so!  Amen. 

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 4:18-20.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“So Little Time” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980)/
“Fishers of Men” (by Harry D. Clarke, 1927).


THE OUTLINE OF

SOUL-FISHERS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”
(Matthew 4:19).

I.   First, you must fish for souls because Christ came for that
purpose, Luke 19:10; I Timothy 1:15.

II.  Second, you must fish for souls to have a consciousness of
Christ’s presence, Matthew 28:19-20.

III. Third, you must fish for souls if you expect God to give you
the power of the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:8; Luke 14:23;
I Timothy 1:15; John 6:37.