Tag Archives: evangelism

Fishers of Men

Christian, do you consider yourself to be part of a grand story?

I wonder how many Christians sit on the sideline of life, neither expecting nor wanting God to put them into the game.

But Christians are more than benchwarmers who receive a championship trophy (a ticket to heaven) merely because they are part of the victorious team.

Our Biggest Need

Sin separates us from God. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not only from our sin, but also from its consequences, most notably, separation from God now and in eternity.

Christians become children of God from the moment of salvation. We should expect a close relationship with Him in this life. We dwell with God, learn his ways, learn his purpose for us and obey him.

What Does Jesus Call Us To?

When Jesus calls you and me to follow him, he does not call us to a life concerned mostly with the things of this world (Matthew 6:32-33), but to an abundant life where we work alongside Jesus in his kingdom. Jesus does not call us to a lackadaisical life marked by a half-hearted and reluctant obedience but to a life marked by zeal to do good works (Titus 2:14) that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). He calls us to make the most of our time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16).

What Task Has Jesus Given Us?

If we are to work alongside Jesus, we must know our purpose, our mission, given to us by Jesus.

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, he immediately told them that he would make them fishers of men. Their new job description, their new purpose that he would later explain to them, was related to his purpose for coming from heaven to earth (Luke 19:10). When we start a new job it is important to know what the job entails. When we are born again and start a new life in Christ, it is even more important to know what this new life is all about.

It is significant that the first thing Jesus told his disciples (become fishers of men) and the last thing he told his disciples described their purpose. In Mathew 28:18-20 Jesus told his disciples to make disciples of all nations:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Is not our purpose to make disciples who make disciples? If we are to make disciples we must first be disciples.

It is God Who Works In You

When we are born again, our priority becomes to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

As disciples, we must no longer be conformed to the image of this world but to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This is God’s purpose for us—we, as children of God, must become like Jesus. This transformation is God’s doing.

God is working in us and completing this work (Philippians 1:6). (Ephesians 4:23-24). However, this does not mean we need to wait until we have reached some pre-determined level of spiritual maturity before we can start making disciples. We can start right away. But just as our personal transformation is God’s doing, so is the expansion of Jesus’ kingdom (Philippians 2:12-13). Without Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5). Go and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom when Jesus sends you. See Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-12.

From Eternity Past

Making disciples is indeed a grand purpose. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. In eternity past, before the foundation of the world, God the Father said to God the Son:

Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. Psalm 2:8 (NASB)

Did Jesus make this request to the Father? Evidently he did. Jesus speaks of those whom the Father has given him:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” —Mt. 10:28-30

God the Father gave Jesus disciples:

I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. —John 17:6

Jesus’ disciples would go on to make disciples who are also given to Jesus by God the Father:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.—John 17:20-24

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That God would allow us to participate in his purposes is an astonishing privilege.

Ambassadors for Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

—2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Here we see the amazing privilege we have to spread the gospel—our purpose intertwined with God’s purpose. Anyone who is in Christ has been qualified and commissioned by him to carry the message of reconciliation to the world. That’s you. That’s me.

As ambassadors we have the responsibility to share the gospel, to represent the kingdom of God to the kingdom of this world. Too often I have been content to support other ambassadors for Christ through giving, leaving evangelism to them. It’s good to support other Christians as they labor in the kingdom. But, when Jesus implores his disciples to pray for workers of the harvest (Matthew 9:36-38) what proof do we have that someone else is the object of those prayers and not us?

Become fishers of men.

Is the Coronavirus Judgment from God?

Is the coronavirus judgment from God? Surely Christians everywhere are asking this question or one like it.

I have listened to a number of sermons from this past Sunday that addressed the believer’s response to the pandemic we now experience. All of the pastors exhorted their congregations not to fear. Believers were reminded that God is in control and that he is our fortress. People were encouraged to pray for courage, mercy and peace. These are all very good responses.

Some pastors said the coronavirus is just one of many calamities (though admittedly larger in scope) that God allows in a fallen world. Others, similarly, proclaim it to be just another natural disaster, all of which can be traced to sin. No need to panic, nothing new under the sun here. This is not the beginning of the tribulation. Just hunker down and trust God.

The Elephant In the Room

What was missing from all but one of the messages I listened to (admittedly a small sample) was any notion that the coronavirus might be judgment from God. In fact, one well-known pastor said it would be dangerously presumptuous to say that the coronavirus was judgment on America for wicked behavior (such as abortion) if God did not say it, citing Deuteronomy 18:20. I agree. Why would God send corona virus upon the whole earth as judgment for the sins of the United States?

But how can something that, on a world-wide basis, brings economies to nearly a standstill and upends life as we knew it with no end date in sight just be a run-of–the-mill natural disaster?

I fear that when we omit judgment as a possible explanation for this pandemic, it might be perceived by unbeliever and believer alike as “letting God off the hook” for the suffering, fear and death this pandemic will cause.

The result of not mentioning judgment is predictable. Doing so brings comfort to the people of the world, especially Christians steeped in it, who might otherwise examine their troubled hearts, by telling them that everything will be ok, just play video games or whatever else distracts you from reality. Carry on as usual except that now, perhaps, would be a good time to start reading your Bible.

Conditional Comfort?

I am one of many who take comfort in Psalm 91. Three times in this Psalm, protection from pestilence and plague and the fear they produce is promised to the one who dwells in the shelter of the Most High. The psalmist also gives this promise:

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent. (ESV)

Charles Spurgeon says this about Psalm 91:

The blessings here promised are not for all believers, but for those who live in close fellowship with God. Every child of God looks towards the inner sanctuary and the mercy-seat, yet all do not dwell in the most holy place; they run to it at times, and enjoy occasional approaches, but they do not habitually reside in the mysterious presence.

If this be true, then carrying on as usual is the last thing that we want to do, unless our normal day consists of walking in the Spirit, ever communing with God and surrendering each day to him.

An absence of prayer and Bible reading indicates we are not dwelling in the shelter of the Most High (Psalm 91:1). In this time of pandemic, exhortations to draw close to God should be bold and forceful, not merely suggestions. Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty does not happen when God is an afterthought or the last Person to gain our attention on a daily basis.

Disease and Judgment In the Bible

Jesus could stop this virus in an instant. Why hasn’t he? Maybe God brought the corona virus for a particular purpose.

“Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heals.”

—Habakkuk 3:5

Throughout the Bible God used disease as judgment.

God brought pestilence as judgment on Egypt and he will bring it as judgment at the end of days to judge the world system of Babylon (Revelation 18:8). Our God protects and blesses, but he also brings pestilence to accomplish his righteous purpose on earth (See Isaiah 45:7; Ezekiel 5:16-17; Amos 4:10).

When Moses finished writing the Torah he warned God’s people that they would rebel against the Lord, do evil in the sight of the Lord provoking him to anger through the work of their hands. So, as judgment for their idolatry; evil would come upon them. (See Deuteronomy 31:24-32:47) Disease was part of the judgment (Deuteronomy 32:24).

Other examples where disease is used for judgment can be found in Jeremiah 42:22 and Numbers 25:9.

Awake O Sleeper

If the coronavirus is not judgment, then surely believers can see it as a wakeup call:

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. —Ephesians 5:14-16 (ESV)


Wouldn’t the best use of our time during this pandemic be to examine our walk with God? We can use this time to address the sins we have clung to (Psalm 66:18) and expunge them from our lives. We can ask God to show us sins we aren’t aware of (Psalm 139:23-24).

The law of God reveals our sin to us (Romans 7:7-8). The blessed man delights in it and meditates on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). The one who turns away his ear from it utters abominable prayers (Proverbs 28:9). 

What if we aren’t close to God? What if we have strayed?

Take the first step.

In James, chapter 4, the author attributes division in the church to worldliness. James beckons us to draw near to God so that he will draw near to us. He exhorts us not to be double-minded, to repent and purify our hearts.

Do we not find ourselves in a situation that is an opportunity to seriously examine our hearts, repent and humble ourselves to receive the promise that the Lord will exalt those who do?

When we walk each day submitted to the Holy Spirit will we not then be under the shadow of the Almighty?

Be Ready to Witness

We know that earthquakes, floods, pandemics and all natural disasters affect everyone in their path, both Christian and non-Christian. Our response should correspond to our relationship with God:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” —Luke 13:1-5

Jesus focuses here on what is a main reason for suffering—to lead people to repentance.

Regarding coronavirus, unbelievers should fear more than a disease that could kill their body. They should fear God who can cast both body and soul into hell (Matthew 10:28).

But God has not given Christians a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). When we are burdened beyond our own strength we develop reliance upon God (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). In the midst of this crisis and thereafter we have a mission.

These two workings of God in human hearts can come together magnificently in this crisis.

Christian, is not Jesus telling us now–“Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest!” (John 4:35-38)

Let’s use our time well during this crisis and be ready to share the Gospel!

Do you know someone you can call or chat with online who needs to hear the Gospel?


Photo from CDC.