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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, July 21, 2018

“Now as [Jesus] walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers” (Mark 1:16).

Look up. These were the first two Disciples Jesus called. Notice that they were businessmen, professional fishermen. Some people, who don’t know the Bible very well, think that Jesus’ Disciples were beggars or blind men, or diseased lepers. Jesus was kind to people like that, but He did not call people like that to be His twelve Disciples. They were not drug addicts. They were not on welfare. The men Jesus called were hard-working, professional fishermen. Look at verse 17.

“And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

The main job of Christ’s Disciples was to evangelize others and bring them to Jesus. This is the main job Jesus trains you to do. In Matthew 28:19, 20 Jesus tells us all to win other people, and teach them also to become “fishers of men.” The main thing we do as disciples is to “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [people] to come in, that [His] house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). Every person that Christ calls to be His disciple is told to go out and bring others in to hear the Gospel. We are all called to be “fishers of men.”

Look at verse 18.

“And straightway [right away] they forsook their nets, and followed him” (Mark 1:18).

Now look at Mark 2:14,

“And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus [also known as Matthew] sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him” (Mark 2:14).

All of Christ’s twelve Disciples followed Jesus right away. He didn’t beg them to follow Him. He just said, “follow me,” and they obeyed Him. They rose up without a word of argument and followed Jesus. Theologians call this “effectual calling.” It is the work of our all-powerful God. Those God has chosen, He calls. And those who are among the elect follow Him without arguing about it. Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16).

That’s the way I became a disciple of Jesus. I was not raised in a Christian home. I didn’t know much about Christianity. I was taken to a church where the young people were pretty bad. By God’s grace I didn’t want to be like them. Jesus spoke to my heart. He said, “follow me.” I did follow Him. I was “effectually called” by Christ. That was more than sixty years ago. By His grace, I have followed Jesus for more than sixty years. That is why I am a Baptist pastor today. Many times I felt like running away from Christ, but I never did. Christ said to me, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” It’s as simple as that. In this life there are only two alternatives – you either follow Jesus, or you follow the Devil and go to Hell. Those are the only two possibilities. Jesus said,

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13, 14).

If Jesus calls you, and you follow Him as His disciple, you will be rewarded by Him in His Kingdom. If you refuse to be His follower you will go to Hell when you die. Those are “hard” words, but they are true words.

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Stand and sing hymn number 2, “The Master Hath Come.” That is my all-time favorite hymn. Sing it!

The Master hath called us; the road may be dreary
   And dangers and sorrows are strewn on the track;
But God’s Holy Spirit shall comfort the weary;
   We follow the Saviour and cannot turn back;
The Master hath called us, though doubt and temptation
   May compass our journey, we cheerfully sing:
“Press onward, look upward,” through much tribulation;
   The children of Zion must follow their King.

The Master hath called us, in life’s early morning,
   With spirits as fresh as the dew on the sod:
We turn from the world, with its smiles and its scorning,
   To cast in our lot with the people of God:
The Master hath called us, His sons and His daughters,
   We plead for His blessing and trust in His love;
And through the green pastures, beside the still waters,
   He’ll lead us at last to His kingdom above.
(“The Master Hath Come” by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926).

Now turn to hymn number 3 on your song sheet, “The Son of God Goes Forth to War.” The Southern Baptists left out, “The lion’s gory mane; They bowed their necks the death to feel: Who follows in their train?” That is one of the reasons they lose 200,000 young people every year! They should read David Murrow’s great book, “Why Men Hate Going to Church.” If they read that book they would put back, “the lion’s gory mane” and keep thousands of young men who want to be real disciples, and soldiers of Jesus Christ! It’s number 3. Sing it to the tune of the “Marine’s Hymn!”

The martyr first, whose eagle eye Could pierce beyond the grave,
   Who saw His Master in the sky, And called on Him to save:
Like Him, with pardon on his tongue In midst of mortal pain,
   He prayed for them who did the wrong: Who follows in his train?

A glorious band, the chosen few On whom the Spirit came,
   Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew, And mocked the cross and flame;
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel, The lion’s gory mane;
   They bowed their necks the death to feel: Who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys, The matron and the maid,
   Around the Saviour’s throne rejoice, In robes of light arrayed;
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven Through peril, toil, and pain;
   O God, to us may grace be given To follow in their train.
(“The Son of God Goes Forth to War” by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826;
       to the tune of “The Marine’s Hymn.”)

You may be seated.

Young people, that is what disciples of Christ are trained to endure – “the lion’s gory mane” in the Coliseum with the holy martyrs and disciples of the early church. Christ does not call His disciples to be cowardly and afraid of God’s battle! No! He calls you to be soldiers of the cross – like the first disciples who dropped their nets and followed Jesus no matter what it cost! Disciples become Christ’s Green Berets! Disciples become Christ’s Navy Seals!

Count the cost! Count the cost of true discipleship! Dr. John R. Rice is one of my heroes in the faith. Dr. Rice said, “There are great incentives to be a real disciple of Jesus. When John laid his head on the breast of the Saviour, he was never sorry that he had left his father and the boats and the nets and the fishing. [He was glad] to have laid them down for Jesus’ sake, and [that he had] helped to spread the gospel over nearly the whole world in the first century...Will you leave all and follow Jesus? Will you preach if Jesus says “preach”? Will you say goodbye to the dearest friend and loved one in the world?... Who will say today, ‘Lord Jesus, I will forsake all and follow thee’? Then you, like John the Disciple, may be a disciple too” (John R. Rice, D.D., Litt.D., What It Costs to Be a Good Christian, pp. 106, 107). Count the cost! I think by God’s grace I could do it now. But it takes training! Count the cost of true discipleship!

“Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him” (Mark 1:17, 18).

“I will make you fishers of men if you follow me” (sing it!).

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 me, If you follow me.
    (“I Will Make You Fishers of Men” by Harry D. Clarke, 1888-1957).

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Solo Sung by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith Before the Sermon:
“Bring Them In” (by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century)/
“I Will Make You Fishers of Men” (by Harry D. Clarke, 1888-1957).