Mark 1:16-20 “Called To Follow, Called To Leave”

Posted on July 6, 2008. Filed under: The Gospel of Mark |

Sunday, July 6, 2008– Here is a copy of my sermon from this morning. I had previously preached through Mark’s Gospel at my former church, but this sermon is pretty much a new sermon. I did include some from the previous studies, but not much. Following this sermon are the 3 sermons I originally preached from this text.

REDEEMER CHURCH

126 n. Judd St., Fort Worth, TX. 76108; founded 2005, affiliated with SBC

Tim Presson, D.Min. Pastor Telephone: (817) 292-4722

www.RedeemerFortWorth.org

Bryan Walker, Sunday School Teacher, bewalk357@hotmail.com

Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Soli Deo Gloria

Mark 1:16-20 “Called To Follow, Called To Leave”

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Greeting: I want to begin by thanking Tim and the elders for allowing me to preach today. I really look up to Tim a lot, in fact, I think I may be the only preacher in this church who actually, physically looks up to Tim. I think that maybe one of his motives in allowing me to preach today was so that he could finally have somebody in the pulpit shorter than him! And I want to thank all of those folk who persevered with me this semester in the Genesis class. When we came to this church we were wounded, worn out and clueless about what the Lord wanted in our lives. The Genesis class has greatly helped us in recovering. And also, to that class, I must tell you that I will actually get through these verses in Mark 1 in just one sermon- though I asked Tim for about 4 weeks to get through it, we agreed on just one sermon for this text.

Please Stand as I Read Mark 1:1-20

Pray

What is your calling in life? What is your purpose or mission? Through the years of ministry the Lord has granted me, there are some questions that people ask time and again. One such question goes something like this: “I wish I knew what God wanted me to do in life. I just wish I knew what big thing He has for me. I know it’s out there, I just have to find it.” Have you ever asked that kind of question?

I think that is a normal question that may be rooted in our need for significance. We tend to get tired of the humdrum, everyday normal stuff of life and we feel so small and insignificant, nameless and voiceless in this computerized world where we are often just a number. As Christians we can even get trapped into thinking that because I am not a missionary, I am not a pastor or elder, I am not a teacher or professor, that I have no calling. And we can feel so insignificant that we start to focus on ourselves and even throw a pity party for ourselves and slip into some kind of depression.

Well folks, I am here to announce to you today that the Lord of the Universe, Jesus the eternal Son of God, is looking right at you and saying, “Follow me!” You, you and you are being summoned by the King of kings this morning to personally follow him wherever he leads. This is no quiet, polite little invitation we are talking about. This is a command given with authority. What will be your response?

Here is the main idea of today’s text: Jesus, sovereignly and authoritatively, calls us to himself, for his purposes. This call is powerful, it is personal and it has a high price for we are also called to leave behind whatever would hinder us answering His call.

I. Context and Setting of this Call

1. This briefest of the Gospels we believe to have been written by John Mark whom the early church places with Peter in Rome. Mark, though not himself one of the apostles, is writing down the gospel as preached by Peter. We believe that his readership was likely Roman gentiles. Some of the characteristics of the gospel seem to make more sense in that Roman context. This gospel is very fast paced and action packed. It does not have the birth stories or genealogies that you find in Matthew and Luke, nor does it have the intricate teachings that you find in John. Mark gets to his point very quickly and moves from point to point with the word “immediately”. The focus seems to be more on Jesus as a man of action rather than on Jesus the teacher. You don’t have the Sermon on the Mount or nearly as many parables as the other gospels.

2. Let’s look briefly at the geographical setting of this calling of the 4 disciples, since Mark gives this to us. The Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Kinnereth for it is in the shape of a harp, in Numbers 34:11, or the Lake of Gennesaret in Luke 5:1, Sea of Tiberias- (John 6:1) named for the city on its shore by that name which was built by Herod Antipas in honor of the Emperor Tiberias. The Lake is about 13 miles long and 6-7 miles wide and it is about 700’ below sea level, being situated in the Jordan River valley which is a part of the Great Rift Valley that stretches all the way into Africa.

The climate and soil make the region very profitable for agriculture with a growing season of up to 10 months. The lake itself has an abundance of fish and was in fact famous for its fish, shipping its fish to places as far away as Alexandria, Egypt. The sea was also famous for its sudden storms, and we may look at an example of that in a little bit. Josephus tells us that in his day there were as many as 300 fishing vessels sailing from the various ports along the shore. The cities in the area have some interesting names: Bethsaida- meaning house of the fisher; Magdala- meaning fish tower; Tarichaea- meaning salt fish.

3. Now let’s look at these four fishermen in their culture. You have two sets of brothers, all of whom were in the fishing industry. Simon and Andrew were originally from Bethsaida, on the northern shore of the Sea according to John 1:44, but had apparently relocated now to Capernaum where Simon’s wife’s family was apparently from. While Simon has a Hebrew equivalent name, Simeon, his brother Andrew has a Greek name as does Philip in John 1. This shows that there was a Greek influence, perhaps, in Simon’s family.

Both pairs of brothers were fishermen. While they both probably had boats, only John and James are mentioned as having hired servants. This likely indicates that James and John at least, were in the middle class, the entrepreneur class, owning their own business and hiring a work force. Keeping in mind the thriving trade in fish and the international markets for their fish, you begin to realize that these men may not have been the lowly, uneducated fishermen that some make them out to be. They were likely smart businessmen and those of you in the John SS class know that John wrote a brilliant masterpiece in his gospel.

Simon and Andrew were casting a net into the sea. This would be a circular net with weights along the outer edge. When the fishermen spotted a school of fish they would skillfully cast the net out over the school of fish and it would take the form of something like an umbrella in shape and drop down over the fish. The fisherman would then have to wade or dive into the water to gather up his catch. James and John, apparently done with fishing for now, were mending their nets, a daily task.

4. Now let’s look at our context and setting, for the point of this is not so much a history lesson but for you to understand that when Jesus calls, he breaks into your normal, every day world, he meets you first on your turf, in your normal situation.

Our context is that of a post-christian, post-modern world, that lives for the here and now. We live in a youth and beauty oriented culture that is all about thrills, pleasure and success. Hmmm, sounds a lot like the Age of Solomon we have been studying in Ecclesiastes to me. Now I am old enough to remember a different day. When I was 8 years old and Jesus came to me and commanded me to follow him, it was a different kind of world. But right now we live in a day that says truth is what you want it to be. We live in a day where false religions, heresy, and cults flourish and compete for the souls of men. We live in a day where good is called evil and intolerant, and is being prosecuted as a hate crime, and evil is called good and they hold parades proudly proclaiming their sinful lifestyles. We live in a day where church after church, denomination after denomination has compromised the gospel and the Word of God takes second place to the evil imaginations of the heart of fallen man.

But folks, I am here to proclaim to you today that Jesus still shows up and calls people to follow him. Whether they be fishermen, firemen, architects, bankers, businessmen, nurses and school teachers, soldiers, carpenters and homemakers, Jesus still calls individuals to himself. Whatever your geographic setting, whatever your education level, whatever your race or occupation, Jesus still calls. He breaks into your world, he condescends to come to you.

II. We Are Called To Follow

1. Jesus told these men to “Follow me” and they “immediately” left their nets and boats and family and followed. We are called to follow. Now the first thing we need to see here is that Jesus speaks with great authority. That is in fact one of Mark’s key themes in his gospel so let’s take a minute and track this through the gospel. Look at 1:21-22 and we see that the crowds recognized Jesus as teaching with authority. In vs. 27-28 the crowds see Jesus cast out a demon with authority. In 1:29-44 Jesus has authority over disease and even leprosy. In ch 2 is the healing of the paralytic who was lowered down through the ceiling. Look at 2:10 and you will see that Jesus claims to have the authority to forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins. This is a claim to being God and exercising an authority that only God has. In 2:13-17 Jesus calls Levi authoritatively. In 2:23ff he has authority over the Sabbath. In ch.4 he exercise the authority that only the Creator has, he rebukes the wind and waves and orders them to be still.

Mark is speaking in a language that the average Roman would understand because Roman culture was built upon authority. We live in a day that rejects authority everywhere so this message is exactly what we need to hear. This anti authority attitude affects the church as well.

I don’t know where some of you have been, but in the churches I have seen prior to coming here, authority was not only lacking but not wanted. In the church today everybody’s opinion is equal and opinion weighs more than Scripture. No wonder our society is in such a mess when the church no longer listens to the authority of Christ in his Word. And so much of today’s church forces the Scriptures to submit to the inner voice of sinful man that they think is the Holy Spirit. Much of the church has lost the idea that the Spirit never contradicts the Word.

Jesus spoke with authority back then, and Jesus speaks with authority to us today.

2. Notice that Jesus tells these men, “Follow me” This is unusual in the sense that Jesus is the one seeking them out, he is calling them, they are not seeking him, they are not volunteering for him. The Rabbis of the day did not do this. If you wanted to learn from a rabbi the proper thing for you to do was to seek out the rabbi you wanted and then you approached him for instruction in the Torah, the Law. Jesus absolutely reverses this, again as a sign of his sovereign authority. It is Jesus’ prerogative to choose whomsoever he wills. It is Jesus who does the seeking, thus pointing us again to the doctrines of sovereign election and total depravity. Simon, Andrew, James and John did not seek him. Jesus shows up and issues the summons, the command- Follow me.

I’m sorry, but when I meet one of those people who say, “I am a seeker” I just kind of get the willies you know what I mean? Most seekers I have met were not really seeking to repent and believe in Jesus, they are just kind of seeking for the thrill of seeking. The journey is the point, not the destination. Now if you are one of those “seekers” here this morning, I do not mean to make light of your situation. I would exhort you to stop your seeking, because Jesus is right here, right now calling you to follow him. Your search is over. No need to continue seeking because the Lord of the Universe is calling us to Follow.

When Jesus says to Follow him, it is a personal call to himself. We are called first and foremost to him personally. We are called to enter into a personal relationship with Christ where he is the Lord and we are his followers. It is a relationship of worship, he is God, we are his creatures designed by him to worship and adore him. It is a relationship of love, he loves us more than we can ever understand and we are to return his love. It is a relationship of faith, we are to believe his every word and trust him no matter what happens. It is a relationship of obedience, we are to hear his word and say, yes Lord.

So many people I have met and shared the gospel with will say things like, “Well I just don’t believe in organized religion.” OK, does that mean you like disorganized religion? Basically it means they don’t want to follow Jesus they want God in a box in their hip pocket and they will do whatever they want. Jesus commands, “You- Follow Me”.

Many people, when asked about their salvation experience, tell me, “Well I joined the church back when I was a kid…” Jesus did not say, “join this church first.” He said, You follow me. Many others have told me that they try to be a good person and they think their good outweighs their bad. But Jesus said, Follow me.

The world does not really want a personal savior who exercises authority over them. The world wants a savior who winks at their little sins and gives them extra credit for good intentions. But a savior who personally calls them to follow…no thanks.

3. Notice the urgency of the call. It is in the context of what Mark records in 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” The last days are here, there is judgment in the air, but good news of God’s grace is also here. The disciples are shown to be repentant and to exercise faith here as they respond immediately to the call. Mark tells the story in a compressed form when compared with how John tells of how the disciples meet Jesus. But the impact Mark is seeking here is to show that this call is an urgent summons, a command that requires an immediate response.

I happen to believe in the doctrine of irresistible grace or otherwise known as effectual calling. When God calls you to salvation he sends the Holy Spirit to you to effect regeneration. That call by God to Christ is urgent and I cannot, will not resist. That is what goes on behind the scenes in the eternal and spiritual realm of the Spirit. But how some people experience it is different from how I experienced it. For some there is a lot of wrestling with God. It can be a lengthy process of witnessing to someone before they eventually respond to the gospel. Whenever we present the Gospel there needs to be an urgency in the message because none of us is guarantied tomorrow. The call is always an urgent call.

III. We Are Called To Follow and To Become Fishers of Men

1. What does it mean to follow Jesus? These 4 men now went everywhere with Jesus and learned from him as well as joined with him in ministering to the people. To follow Jesus is to become a disciple. Here we see another of Mark’s Themes. This call to follow and to be a disciple is part of the very literary structure of the Gospel. The first half of Mark’s gospel is from 1:16 (the first 15 vss are like an introduction) to 8:26. Inside that half are 3 sections, each beginning with a “call story”. 1:16-20 that we are presently looking at; 3:13-19, the calling of the 12; and 6:7-13 as he calls the 12 to go out 2X2.

What this shows us is that Jesus’ calling on the disciples is a central theme, an essential part of the gospel story. This means that the calling Jesus places on us is also central. You and I are not saved in order to sit on a pew in comfort and live our lives however we want. We are called to be learners, servants, evangelists, disciple makers, encouragers, etc. We are called to know Christ and make him known. We are called to minister to the hurting around us and to confront our culture with the truth of God’s Word. To be a disciple is to follow Jesus wherever he uniquely leads you.

Some things we will have in common, such as sound doctrine, worship, church membership in a local body of like minded believers. But the particulars of your call may vary greatly from my call. Simon went on to Rome and was crucified upside down. James was actually the first disciple to die a martyr’s death in Acts 12:2 when Herod put him to the sword. John would live to old age, but suffered exile on Patmos.

It can be pretty tough to understand your calling in this particular church at times. We have the pleasure of seeing many get called to the mission field, to the pastorate, to teach in colleges and seminaries. But most of us here are called to work a regular job, keep the kids in line and try to pay the bills and keep the house up. Most of us are called to be laymen who live for the glory of God in the normal affairs of life.

Mark records a high calling in ch.12:29-31 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this; You shall love your neighbor as your self.” Or. Paul words it this way in 1Cor 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Those verses pretty well sum up what a disciple is to do. This is part of what we can understand Jesus’ call to follow him as meaning.

Before one is a fisher of men, one has to be a follower of Jesus first. Jesus calls people to himself, calls us to learn from him, to imitate him, to partake of him. To be a disciple is to be a learner, to be submissive to Christ in every area of life.

So many people come to Christ for only fire insurance, to be just a nice moral and religious person. Many come to Jesus out of right motives but just get too comfortable and settled into an easy Christianity that has nice, godly habits, but is no longer vital, alive, vigorous. To be a disciple is to study and apply the whole counsel of God’s word, to be intimately acquainted with God’s Word, Old and New Testaments. To be a disciple is to know more than Bible stories (which is where most people stop) it is to know and understand the doctrines, the teachings of Christ throughout Scripture. A disciple applies what he/she knows, doctrine affects your life as a disciple, ideas have consequences, doctrine is practical. A disciple is involved in worship, corporately and privately, you just love to praise and worship and thank God.

All to many who come to Christ stay in the crowd along with the 5000 who got fed that one day. They like to eat at the fellowships, they show up to hear the preacher once in a while (or even regularly), but they miss out on the deep stuff, they don’t have an appetite for the richer things of God.

2. Fishers of men. I think obviously Jesus is using the men’s current activity and profession as a metaphor for what they will be doing as they follow Him. If they had been auto mechanics, or I should say chariot mechanics working on the latest version of the chariot, he might of said something else. But the imagery of being a fisher of men works. Think of casting a net and capturing men for Christ. Or think of baiting a hook with the gospel and reeling in men to salvation. Proverbs 11:30 “He who wins souls is wise”.

Notice that Jesus says He will make you fishers of men. This is a miraculous transforming of your character, personality and soul into a person who fishes after men with the gospel of Jesus. Jesus, through his Holy Spirit who indwells every believer, and the Word of God, transforms every believer into a fisher of men. This is a work of God’s grace known as Sanctification. We are being made holy for Christ, we are being purified as his Bride. Part of the sanctification process includes being his witnesses.

Jesus is not merely referring to the men’s vocation and making a joke. Jesus is referring to some Old Testament texts that use a fishing motif in relation to the judgment of God upon people. Look at Jeremiah 16:16-18 “But now I will send for many fishermen, declares the LORD, and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks. My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes. I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land…” The fishermen in this prophecy are to pluck the rebellious people of God out like fish in a pond; this is judgment day.

Look at Amos 4:2 “The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness; The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks.” This prophecy was of the Assyrian Captivity for northern Israel in 722BC and can even refer to the appearance of the captives being led off into captivity chained together, like fish on a stringer; and even the cruel practice of literally hooking people together with large hooks through their flesh.

There are some other references to fishing and fishhooks in the OT but you get the idea now. So what was Jesus referring to when he called his disciples Fishers of Men? I believe that there is a good side and a bad side to this being fishers of men. The Gospel is a double edged sword, Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword…” The coming of the Kingdom is both a sign of grace (to those who repent and believe) and a sign of judgment (to those who reject the good news). To be a fisher of men is to bring judgment upon those who reject God’s grace and refuse to repent or believe. To be a fisher of men is to pluck the repentant fish out of the waters of judgment; those who don’t take the bait of the gospel stay in the waters of judgment to their own destruction. The men who stay in the waters of judgment are taking the bait of Satan, swallowing the lies of the devil hook, line and sinker.

Anytime you present the gospel you are not just offering God’s grace and mercy, you are also confronting them with their sin for the gospel is a call to repentance. People must be made aware that they are sinners facing the just wrath of a holy God and that they need to be saved from the day of wrath, the judgment of hell. If people reject the gospel, then judgment will be even more severe for they have been confronted with Jesus and rejected Him.

We are called to be fishers of men. I do not have time to get into evangelism in depth, but let me say that it is more than being a good example, a silent witness, though our lifestyle should certainly earn the opportunity to be heard. We must live a joyful, obedient life that is Christ centered, we must show and demonstrate genuine care and concern for those to whom we are witnessing, and we must verbally share the Word of the Gospel, we must pray for those we know to be lost, and we must be able to answer their questions and defend the gospel. This is what it means to be called to be fishers of men.

IV. We Are Called To Leave

1. Mark showed the 4 men leaving their jobs, possessions and families immediately. Instant obedience. When Moses was called of God at the burning bush in Ex. 3, he argued with God for a while, but he eventually left his sheep behind and followed. When Gideon was called, he had to throw out a fleece a couple of times, but he eventually did what God called him to do. But here in Mark the response is immediate. That is how it should be.

Mark 10:28 Peter tells the Lord that “we have left everything and followed you”. Peter had given up his career as a fishing entrepreneur. Luke 9:23 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Whenever Jesus calls us to himself, calls to be a disciple and a fisher of men, there is always the negative side of leaving. Whether it is the initial call to salvation and we are called to repent and leave off sin or whether it is as a mature Christian and we called to go to seminary, called to go to the pastorate, called to the mission field, there is a leaving.

For those of us who are laymen we are called to sometimes leave a job that is too demanding of our time so that we can spend more time with our family or more time serving in our church. For the many young moms here, your calling may be to selflessly raise, nurture and educate your 2, 3, 4, or more children for the next 15 or 20 years. Do not underestimate the sacrifice involved there! In economics there is something called “opportunity cost” which is the value of a product forgone to produce or purchase another product. When we follow Christ, we are choosing to not follow the world.

Conclusion: #285 Wherever He Leads I’ll Go

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****** *** BAPTIST CHURCH

“Preaching the Doctrines of Grace and Making Disciples Beyond 2000”

*************************** founded 1955, affiliated with SBC

Bryan E. Walker, Pastor since 1992 Telephone: *********************

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Sola Scriptura, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Soli Deo Gloria

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Mark 1:16-20 “Has Jesus Called You To Follow Him?”

15 August 1999 PM

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Outline:

Introduction

I.Who Does The Calling?

II.Who Are The Called?

III.From Where Are We Called?

IV.To Whom Are We Called?

Conclusion

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Introduction: In our study of mark’s Gospel we have reached one of my favorite passages. It is a favorite of mine because it is so important, full of doctrine and very practical both. I know that some do not like me to preach for more than one sermon on one text, but this text merits three sermons: 1) Today’s sermon “Has Jesus Called You To Follow Him?” 2)”The Call Is To Discipleship” 3) “The Call To Be Fishers Of Men”

This morning we will examine Who does the calling, Who are the called, From where are we called, and To Whom are we called.

Have you ever been called to an important task? Have you ever been selected for a high honor? has someone of vast importance ever payed attention to you, chosen to spend time with you? In this morning’s sermon text we will find that we are called by God, called by the Lord Jesus Christ hinself. We shall also find whom the Lord calls, what are your qualifications? Who are we to be called to such a high calling? We are called to a task for sure, to a lifestyle even , but preeminently we are called to a person, to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

This morning I am asking you Has Jesus Called You To Follow Him? Have you answered the call?

I.Who Does the Calling?

Obviously we see Jesus approaching the fishermen on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and issuing a call to follow himself. What you do not see is how unusual this is in the ranks of rabbis. Usually the prospective students of a rabbi would seek out the rabbi and try to study under him. For Jesus to seek out his followers was radical and bold. But we will see how so much of Jesus’ ministry was very radical!

Let us look briefly at the idea of Jesus’ calling these men, and how He calls us as well. From John 1 we see that Jesus actually had some contact with these men before this calling as disciples. But before this even there is a calling from God that stretches back to before the creation of the world. John 6:44,65; 17:6; Eph. 1:4-5; Rom.9:11-13.

Prior to the dramatic events on the shore of the Sea of Galilee is the plan of God, sovereign and all-encompassing. Does this take away the choosing of Jesus? The decision making of the disciples? Not a bit! The sovereignty of God goes before, permeates and ensures all the individual choices of each person involved. So it is with you and I . Long before we answered the call, God chose us, singled us out for His glorious purposes. Many people object to this doctrine of election, but personally i rejoice in the fact that I serve a God whose will is sure to be worked out, whose sovereignty extends to include being sovereign over me and my stubborn sinful will.

Who does the calling? God calls, chooses, elects, and appoints from before the creation of the world, but He does it in such a way that we still hear His voice and choose to follow Christ willlingly, freely, responsibly.

II.Who Are The Called?

In this wonderful story we see 4 fishermen from a tiny non-descript village. Small businessmen who worked hard at their business. James and John at least were well enough off to have some hired men working in the business. But these men were not remarkable, and if Jesus had never touched their lives they would probably never have traveled anywhere other than Jerusalem. They would have lived and died in their small town. These are humble folk, quite normal and unremarkable. Just average men with an average education and average income.

Yet Jesus called them.

In God’s story, the Bible, He seems to call several different types of people. Abraham was a pagan from Ur of the Chaldees, and God supernaturally revealed himself to him and called him to start a new people. Joseph, the next to the youngest son of Israel, called to be Prime Minister of Egypt. Moses, a Hebrew slave under a death sentence, raised in Pharaoh’s court as a son of the king, became a wanted man for murder and was exiled to the desert as a shepherd, called of God to lead God’s chosen people out of bondage.

Who are the called? People like you and me. Think about the various backgrounds we have here in this room now. Yet God has called each of us to follow Jesus. Whom does God use for his Kingdom purposes? Normal folks like us. How astounding is that!? The God of the universe, our Creator, calls us to his service.

God calls those who are poor in spirit- who acknowledge their own spiritual poverty. We have no spiritual wealth of our own, we are bankrupt spiritually, and God calls us anyway. God calls those who mourn- mourn over their sinful condition; mourn over the grievousness of their sin before a holy God. God calls the meek-those who are not too proud to serve the God of all; those who are willing to humble themselves and submit to the authority of Jesus. God calls those who hunger and thirst after righteousness- are you hungry for the things of God? Does hungry for righteousness describe you? Are you thirsting after the righteousness of God? God calls the merciful- he who shows mercy and forgiveness is forgiven much. To be merciful and gracious is to be able to receive God’s grace and mercy. God calls the pure in heart-those who seek Jesus for pure motives, not selfish reasons.Those who have God at the center of their world. Jesus said He did not come to call the righteous but sinners Mk 2:17.

III.From Whence Are You Called?

For simon, andrew, James and John they were called out of the fishing business. Now we could focus on the call that goes out to ministers and missionaries, who leave behind careers, who change their education plans. But that would not be where most of you are this morning. I want to emphasize two main aspects of the call.

We are each called out of our selfcentered existence, out of sin. We are lost in sin apart from Jesus, by nature we are stuck in the mire of sin and we don’t want to leave it on our own. We may try to reform and be respectable sinners, but we are happy in our sin. But Jesus calls us out of that sinful existence. “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore; very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more; but the master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me now safe am I .”

Look at the conversion of Saul. Here was a man who was greatly educated, yet was warring against the church of God, throwing the saints into prison. So deep in sin he could not see straight . Yet Jesus called him.

“Just as I am tho tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt, Fightings within and fears without,O Lamb of God I come. I come

“Just as I am , poor, wretched, blind; sight riches healing of the mind, Yea all I need in Thee to find, O Lamb of God I come. I come.

“Just as I am Thou wilt receiive, Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve. Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God I come. I come.”

From whence are you called? Wherever you are today my friend, God is calling you. Jesus is tenderly calling, a nice hymn, but jesus is urgently calling yu, boldly calling you. Calling you out of your complacency, and apathy; out of your mindless faith and habitual ritualistic worship. From out of your self confidence and pride Jesus is calling you today.

IV. To Whom Are You Called?

Simon and Andrew, James and John were called to Jesus. So too are we today called to the Jesus of the gospels, the Jesus who reigns from heaven, the Jesus who is coming back soon. The disciples had a typical Jewish idea of the Messiah, they thought of a revolution, a new kingdom with a throne and armies.They thougt of a victorious warrior Messiah, but Jesus was the suffering servant who was on the way to the cross.

We are called to Jesus and that means suffeering today as well. We are called to Jesus who is Lord and demands our all- our heart, mind and body. We are not called to a weak religious figure of ancient history. We are called to a living Lord, mighty in power and love, victorious over sin and death.

Many mistake their call to be only a call to a church or a religion or a moral code. We are called to the Saviour who changes hearts, the Great Physician who heals the lepers with a touch (and we are all lepers at heart). Many answer the siren cries of the world and never answer the saviour’s call. We hear all to clearly the calls to pleasure, wealth , business, power or fame, or the subtle call of a lazy cozy safe christianity that is not concerned with spiritual warfare.

We are called to march with our conquering Lord who is waging spiritual warfare against the forces of evil. But instead of answering that call so many of our number want to sit back and play armchair preacher, chief suggestion maker, constant critic. You and I are called to serve the Lord, to be with the Lord, to follow Jesus.

Conclusion: Notice the immediate response of these men to the call of Jesus. The call was urgent and demanding and required an immediate response. This morning I want you to recognize that you have been called by God since eternity past. God is calling you out of sin, out of your obscurity into the service of the King.

You must choose this day whom you will serve. Will it be Jesus? Some may have a hesitancy due to age and length of service. Yo u may be saying I have already served my time, this sermon is for the younger folks. Let me reasure you that God is not through with any of you yet! God can and does use senior adults all the time. God can use a 77yr old as a disciple, as a fisher of men.

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Mark 1:16-20 “You Are Called To Be A Disciple!”

Sunday August 22, 1999 AM

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Outline:

Introduction

I.The Problem: Members Instead of Disciples

II.The Urgency of the Call

III.The Immediacy of the Response

IV.The Cost of the Response

V.The Signs of Discipleship

Conclusion

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Introduction: Have you ever undertaken a great task, a huge project, an important job? Then, once you undertook that task did you have one of those “Oh no, what have I got myself into?” moments? Moms? Remember the joy you felt when you learned you were to be a mother, but then the weight of responsibility was pretty heavy that first night after you brought that precious baby home and you realized the importance of the task you now were engaged in. Men, when you first joined the military there may have been a sense of pride, excitement, patriotism, a longing for adventure; but when you reported for basic training or boot camp and were introduced to your drill sergeant, did you have a moment of second guessing? What have I got myself into? Students, when you first sign up for a class schedule, you may have some excitement about the coming courses, but half-way through the semester, when the work load seems horrendous, the tests are too hard, there is a temptation to slack off and take it easy, to settle for a C instead of striving for the A. In the work place there may be a tendency to settle down into a routine, to get into a comfort zone, to do things the way you have always done them, and all of a sudden the competition catches up to you.

Sometimes it may be a case of ignorance on our part, in that we did not know how hard a job was to be, maybe we did not realize what kinds of problems we would encounter in a particular job or task. Maybe there were some hidden costs that we would encounter later. Every task or job that is worth doing has its challenges as well as its rewards.

This morning I want us to look at this call to Follow Jesus in Discipleship. Last week we looked at “Has Jesus Called You To Follow Him?” and saw 1)Who did the calling-God; 2)Who is called-we are; 3)From where are we called- out of our sin; 4)To whom are we called- Jesus.

But this morning we will go farther into this calling we all have. This morning we will first of all look at 1)The problem of having too many members and not enough disciples; 2)The Urgency of the Call; 3) The Immediacy of the Response; 4) The Cost of the Response; and 5)The Signs of Discipleship.

I.The Problem: Too Many Members and Not Enough Disciples!

Most of the commentators on this text agree that this calling of the first 4 disciples occured after the first year of Jesus’ ministry see John Ch 1. These four men had been associated with John the Baptist’s ministry and had been around Jesus now for about a year (see John’s Gospel for the first calling of these disciples). This calling is the beginning of their close association with Jesus as the traveling band of disciples who are to be trained fully as his Apostles. This is the call to full discipleship. Now there were lots of people who were following Jesus, we will see those crowds and even individuals as we progress through the Gospel. But for right now I want to contrast this calling of the 4 with the masses of folks who followed Jesus for the miracles and signs. Mark will show us time and again that the miracles draw crowds, see 1:28, 32, 45; 3:7-10; 6:30-44 (5000 fed).

Now I know that none of us are called to be a member of the twelve, we are not on par with the original 12 Disciples or Apostles. Still, in this story there is much for us, we are called to be disciples or followers of Jesus. The universal call of Christ for his followers is a call to radical discipleship, not merely to be one of the hangers on, one of the crowd of onlookers.

In church life today, and it has been this way from the beginning(!) our churches have lots of members but few disciples. In most churches our rolls have fully 50% who are listed as inactive. Some of those have actually gone to other churches but of another denomination and Baptists just like to keep them on our rolls to make us feel good about ourselves. But in Seminary they teach us the 20/80 rule which is really true for just about any organization. That is, 20% of the people do 80% of the work and provide the leadership. Granted, there are only so many leadership positions available, but I am not even going to take on this aspect.

I want to address a more fundamental aspect of discipleship than merely doing the work of the church and filling a leadership slot. Because it is possible to be in the top 20% of the church, to be a leader and a faithful servant in the church, yet not be a committed disciple of the Lord. You see, our service in the church, our faithfulness in the church should be an outgrowth of our discipleship. Discipleship comes first, service is one aspect or fruit of our discipleship. And, you can be a true disciple and not be called to any leadership position in the church at all. Some people mistake their service to the church as being discipleship. You can serve without being a disciple, but you cannot be a disciple without also serving.

In a recent edition of Christianity Today there was an article about the biblical illiteracy of the Church. The article mentioned that university professors are having difficulty with many students who simply do not understand biblical references in the great works of literature; the students do not get it because they are ignorant of the scriptures. Then the article goes into a study of evangelical churches and shows that even in conservative Bible believing churches there is a huge ignorance of many key events, people and teachings of the Bible.

How many of our members can list in order all 66 books of the Bible? Can we identify in which books the key stories are located? Can any of us list the twelve tribes of Israel? All of the Ten Commandments in order? Can we list the twelve Apostles? The Beatitudes? Identify the authors of the Bible books? Can we adequately present the plan of salvation quoting the applicable scriptures? Can we explain to nonbelievers what we believe and why we believe it?

The fact of the matter is that most Christians have sat through thousands of Sunday School lessons and sermons yet cannot articulate their beliefs to unbelievers or even summarize the outline of Holy Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

My question is this, have we been making disciples or members? Surely a disciple is going to be knowledgeable in the Word? But I must sadly confess that I have met many church members who really do not care for the things of God, other than church as usual on Sunday at 11am.

Many studies have been done that show that the morals and ethics of average church members are not much better than those of the world who are not in church. Surely part of discipleship is imitating our master? But when church discipline is taken away, when there is no accountablity, no pastoral authority, no willingness to be subject to one another in love, no ability to be corrected gently (oh but surely a willingness to correct the pastor every time he doesn’t do what you want!) can there be discipleship? No! In the church of today we have few disciples because the framework is missing. The urgency is missing. Complacency has set in and we are too used to doing what we want instead of examining what real discipleship ought to be.

James Montgomery Boice, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia writes in his book, Christ’s Call To Discipleship, Moody Press: Chicago, Ill. 1986, p.13, “There is a fatal defect in the life of Christ’s church in the twentieth century: a lack of true discipleship. Discipleship means forsaking everything to follow Christ. But for many of today’s supposed Christians- perhaps the majority- it is the case that while there is much talk about Christ and even much furious activity, there is actually very little following of Christ himself. …p.14 “There are several reasons that the situation I have described is common in today’s church. The first is a defective theology that has crept over us like a deadening fog. This theology separates faith from discipleship and grace from obedience. It teaches that Jesus can be received as one’s Savior without being received as one’s Lord.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor martyred under Hitler in WWII writes in his book, The Cost Of Discipleship, 1937,p.47 “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

“Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ , for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.”

How do we come out of this slumber? How do we regain our rightful place as disciples?

II.Notice The Urgency Of The Call

In vs17 Christ speaks authoritatively, issuing what sounds much like a military command, “Come, follow me!” This is the Lord’s command to those whom He has chosen to be his companions. This is a divine summons that must be answered, must be obeyed. This is not a casual request, not a polite and formal invitation with an RSVP. Jesus is here not asking these men to examine their schedules and put Jesus on their calendars for some later date when it might be convenient for them.

One of the most memorable things at Fort Benning , Ga. is the statue of Iron Mike in front of Infantry Hall with his motto “Follow me!” The statue is bigger than life of an infantryman in WWII uniform carrying his M-1 Garand Rifle in one hand and his other arm raised high motioning those behind him to follow, his mouth open in a shout “Follow me!” That motto was part of the Ft Benning School Bde. shoulder patch as well. In combat there is no time for hesitation, you must obey immediately, follow your leaders unhesitatingly.

The urgency that Jesus stressed back then is still the situation today. The call is now and always will be to “Come, follow Jesus!” Come today, not later, not someday, not whenever you get around to it, not after you get prepared, not when your life is perfect. Many people mistakenly believe they must wait until they get their life in order before they follow Jesus into discipleship. NO! Follow Jesus now, immediately and He will straighten out your life gradually as you follow him.

Certainly the situation of this world requires and urgent command to follow Jesus. This world is certainly in a mess of sin. But do not discount your own personal need to follow this urgent call by Jesus. There are many pitfalls awaiting the Christian in this journey, and to fail to answer the urgent call of the Master is to wander off the path and become easy prey for the devourer, the devil. The call to discipleship is urgent for your own good and for the glory of God!

III. Notice The Immediacy Of The Response.

In vs 18 we see Peter and his brother Andrew leaving their nets at once to follow Jesus. From their prior exposure to Jesus as recorded in John’s Gospel they knew Jesus was the Messiah, they were hungry for what he offered. Their hunger was given them by God’s grace. The true disciples respond to the voice of their Lord quickly, but not unthinkingly, not casually.Like a good soldier they heard the command and instantly obeyed. Their instant obedience was not without joy however; keep in mind they are called to Him, to the Master, the Lord of lords and King of kings.There is excitement in obedience.

Yet how many of us hesitate when Christ calls? We doubt his authority though we dare not say that out loud. We allow our complacency and coldness of heart to lead us to a slow halfhearted response.

IV.Notice The Cost Of The Response

In Luke 5 we see that at this occasion was also the miraculous catch of fish, in which Peter left behind this large cash haul to follow Jesus. In vs20 we see John and James also leave behind their profitable business (for they had hired help!). Small businessmen who walked away from a business they had been in all their lives, that they had inherited from their fathers and their fathers before them, for generations.

Now do not think that every person who is called to follow Jesus must leave their job. The Lord has called me to be a disciple and to be a pastor while specifically calling me to be a security guard too. Each person will have a different cost to his or her discipleship. No two of us will pay the exact same price. However, when Jesus calls us to himself He calls us to forsake every other priority in order to submit to His priorities for our lives.

These 4 men were called to leave their businesses, to leave their homes and families, to leave their comfort zones and familiar surroundings. Life was to be quite adventuresome from this point on. James would be the first of the disciples to die a Martyer’s death under King Herod in Acts 12:2. Peter would die in Rome, crucified upside down. John was exiled to Patmos. Andrew would be a missionary up to the borders of what would one day be Russia. These men were called to follow Jesus to the death.

Again let me quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p.99, “The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death- we give our lives over to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise godfearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man , he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him , or it may be a death like Luther’s , who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time- death in Christ Jesus, the death of the old man at his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. In fact every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die…”

Romans 12:1-2 Therfore I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship”

V.What Are The Signs Of Discipleship?

We must quickly put some practical meat on the bones of this sermon. How can we tell if we are responding to Christ’s call to Follow him?

1) A fervent love for Christ, a hunger for the things of God, an interest in things of the Spirit that goes beyond mere curiosity. Is your heart warmed by worship? by the reading of the word? by the preaching of the Word? In your heart of hearts do you crave righteousness, the righteousness of Christ?

2) Do you fear, loathe and despise sin? When you look inside your self through the lens of scripture do you see a constant need to be refreshed by the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit? Do you see that your own righteousness is as filthy rags and that apart from the righteousness of Christ you would be hopeless?

3)Are you hungry for , and feeding on the Word of God? Are you eager to hear it preached and taught? Do you come expectantly to services on Sunday, or are you so critical of what you hear that you lose your taste for the Word? Are you eager to read the Word? to study it on your own? Do you read Christian books to help you in your discipleship and Bible study? Are you memorizing scripture? When was the last time you tried to memorize a Bible verse? Do you meditate on the word of God, seeking to understand and apply doctrine to your life?

4)Are you praying regularly? Are you praying for others? or just yourself? Are you praying for lost people to get saved? Are you actively praising God and thanking God in your prayers? Do you worship God privately?

5)Are you ministering and serving as a result of your love for God and your time in the word and prayer? Are you serving out of habit or because the church needs you, or are you serving out of thanksgiving and a sense of calling by God?

6)When was the last time you witnessed to someone verbally? Have you ever shared the gospel with anyone? Has anyone ever asked you to explain your faith, to give a reason for the hope you have in Christ? Have you ever defended the faith with a skeptic?

7)Do you love the body of Christ? Are you regular in sunday school and worship? Do you minister to your brothers and sisters in Christ?

8)Do you have a learner’s heart? Are you humble enough to be a learner? Are you correctable?

Conclusion: If you are not following Christ in these areas, who are you following? If you are not a growing disciple, what are you? What is your burden for your soul? Do you have a vision for what Christ wants from you? Are you finished with growth as a disciple? Have you quit? Did you ever answer the call of Christ to Follow Him?

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Mark 1:16-20 “Let’s Go Fishing!” 29 August 1999 AM

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Outline:

Introduction

I.Fishing and the Kingdom

II.Disciples Into Fishermen

1)Discipleship 2)Jesus changes us into fishermen

III.Fishing for Souls

1)Personal Integrity 2)Preparation 3)Pray 4)Practice 5)Persevere

Conclusion

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Introduction: How many fishermen and fisherwomen do we have here? Do you enjoy fishing? I have been fishing many times but I am not a fisherman by any means, but I know enough about it to know it is certainly enjoyable, relaxing, but to do it well requires a little bit of study, dedication and practice. For those on the gulf or ocean shores who fish for a living, it is work, hard work. I wonder if commercial fishermen ever go fishing for fun? One of the funniest fishing stories I have ever participated was when I was fishing with my neighbor as a child. We had a whole stringer of Bluegill Perch and we were getting ready to leave and come back home with our catch when my friend accidently let go of the stringer full of Perch and we watched it swim off into the pond. Not only did we feel stupid for letting our whole day’s catch escape, but I really felt bad for the fish; I wondered what they did, if they suffered and died or somehow managed to survive and thrive attached to that stringer of metal hooks.

When we see this story of Jesus calling these four men, professional fishers, to be fishers of men we automatically think it is an interesting play on words. This morning we shall see it is more than that! We will also be challenged this morning to examine our lives in light of scripture to see if we have been truly fishing or just drowning worms, spiritually speaking. What does it take to be a biblical “Fisher of Men”? How do we fish for souls? What can you do to help those who do fish if you yourself are not going to fish?

I. Fishing and the Kingdom.

Mark places the first two sayings of Jesus only two verses apart; there is a definite link between Jesus saying, “The Kingdom of God is near” and “I will make you fishers of men”. Those two sayings are linked in the middle with “Repent and believe the Good News!” What is the relationship between fishing for men and the coming of the Kingdom of God?

As is so often the case, if you really want to understand the New Testament, if you want to know the significance of what Jesus said, you have to read the Old Testament, the Bible that Jesus read. So much of what Jesus and the apostles said or wrote is referring to an Old Testament text that we frequently miss some of the richness of the gospel by denying its Old Testament roots.

Jesus is not merely referring to the men’s vocation and making a joke. Jesus is referring to some Old Testament texts that use a fishing motif in relation to the judgement of God upon people. Look at Jeremiah 16:16-18 “But now I will send for many fishermen, declares the LORD, and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks. My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me , nor is their sin concealed from my eyes. I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land…” The fishermen in this prophecy are to pluck the rebellious people of God out like fish in a pond; this is judgment day.

Look at Amos 4:2 “The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness; The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishooks.” This prophecy was of the Assyrian Captivity for northern Israel in 722BC and can even refer to the appearance of the captives being led off into captivity chained together, like fish on a stringer; and even the cruel practice of literally hooking people together with large hooks through their flesh.

There are some other references to fishing and fishooks in the OT but you get the idea now. So what was Jesus referring to when he called his disciples Fishers of Men? I believe that there is a good side and a bad side to this being fishers of men. The Gospel is a double edged sword, Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword…” The coming of the Kingdom is both a sign of grace (to those who repent and believe) and a sign of judgment (to those who reject the good news). To be a fisher of men is to bring judgement upon those who reject God’s grace and refuse to repent or believe. To be a fisher of men is to pluck the repentant fish out of the waters of judgment; those who don’t take the bait of the gospel stay in the waters of judgment to their own destruction. The men who stay in the waters of judgment are taking the bait of Satan, swallowing the lies of the devil hook , line and sinker.

This is a solemn teaching that came home to me personally this week. I have been witnessing to a certain group of folks who are religious but do not know Jesus. They are convinced that their man-made religion is better than the pure Gospel. As I was conversing with them about their faith I suddenly realized that their false gods were demons in disguise and that as they reject the pure Gospel of grace that I witness of, they take unto themselves the very judgment of God. The task of witnessing is a double edged sword; as we make people aware of the gospel, they become responsible for what they have heard. To reject it is to reject Christ and bring condemnation upon their own souls. Yes, the coming of the Kingdom brings peace, but a sword as well Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Folks, witnessing is not a game; proclaiming the gospel is not kid’s play, it is life or death, judgement or grace, eternal life or eternal death. To be a fisher of men is a solemn yet joyful task, a heavy undertaking.

II.Disciples Into Fishermen.

1)Discipleship comes First. Before one is a fisher of men, one has to be a follower of Jesus first. Jesus calls people to himself, calls us to learn from him, to imitate him, to partake of him. To be a disciple is to be a learner, to be submissive to Christ in every area of life.

So many people come to Christ for only fire insurance, to be just a nice moral and religious person. Many come to Jesus out of right motives but just get too comfortable and settled into an easy Christianity that has nice, godly habits, but is no longer vital, alive, vigorous. To be a disciple is to study and apply the whole counsel of God’s word, to be intimately acquainted with God’s Word, Old and New Testaments. To be a disciple is to know more than Bible stories (which is where most people stop) it is to know and understand the doctrines, the teachings of Christ throughout Scripture. A disciple applies what he/she knows, doctrine affects your life as a disciple, ideas have consequences, doctrine is practical. A disciple is involved in worship, corporately and privately, you just love to praise and worship and thank God.

All to many who come to Christ stay in the crowd along with the 5000 who got fed that one day. They like to eat at the fellowships, they show up to hear the preacher once in a while (or even regularly), but they miss out on the deep stuff, they don’t have an appetite for the richer things of God.

At work right now God has started 4 different Bible study groups. One is all mature believers, one has a mixture of mature and immature believers withmaybe even one or two lost people in it; the one that we are starting tomorrow consists of folks who are lost and know it, and folks who years ago were active in church but have been out of it for a while. The fourth group is purely evangelistic, I am the only Christian in the group and the others are from a different world view and world religion entirely. But what most in these groups have in common is a hunger for the things of God, and interest in the Word of God. Some are well on their way to being disciples, others are just beginning this pilgrimage, but none of them are satisfied with where they are currently, they want more, they are sure God has more, they want more of Jesus. That is the necessary attitude to be a disciple.

2) Jesus changes us from disciples to Fishers of Men. This takes discipleship up to the next level. Obviously the 12 Apostles had a peculiar calling as fishers of men to be the ones Jesus had as his special witnesses. But, we all fall under the Great Commission, we all have a calling to be Fishers of Men.

Notice that Jesus says He will make you fishers of men. This is a miraculous transforming of your character, personality and soul into a person who fishes after men with the gospel of Jesus. Jesus, through his Holy Spirit who indwells every believer, and the Word of God, transforms every believer into a fisher of men. This is a work of God’s grace known as Sanctification. We are being made holy for Christ, we are being purified as his Bride. Part of thei sanctification process includes being his witnesses.

I was 8-9yrs old when I was graciously saved from sin by Christ, and I can testify that I became a witness of the gospel right away. I was witnessing as early as the third grade.

3)Objections. Many people say that I can witness by my lifestyle but I just cannot speak to anybody about my faith. In my Bible study group with mature believers I asked them how many of them felt like they were trained and effective witnesses. Not a one of them! And these are all go getters, professionals with college degrees and many years of faithfulness in the church, raised in Baptist churches every one of them.

Let me tell you that if you are able to talk to a lost friend about the price of eggs in the grocery store, if you can discuss the Rangers game with someone, then you can also witness about what Christ has done for you. The fact that you don’t, and about 95% of all Christians do not witness, ever, is a testimony of the weakness of our churches for generations. We have churned out members who are faithful to the organization of the church, faithful to the various programs and committees, but are not gospel fishers of men! That is a serious weakness of our discipleship efforts for the past 50 years. Members can sit and hear evangelistic messages preached every Sunday morning for decades and not be out there fishing for souls, and that is a disgrace to our Lord. It seems to me that our churches through the decades have hired preachers to do the fishing for us, while we sit comfortably in the pews and critique the preacher for not doing enough.

The fact is that most Baptists I know are not fishers of men because of three main causes: 1)lack of adequate training; 2)sinful disobedience; and 3)fear, embarrassment, lack of confidence, etc. which is the result of the first two I mentioned.

Jesus can change you from a pew sitter to a fisher of men if you surrender your pride, fear, apathy and ignorance. Now I am going to tell you how to fish for souls.

III.How To Fish For Souls

This is the practical application part of the sermon. I used to always hate sermons like this when I was a kid because I felt bad because I did not feel like I ever witnessed enough, I always came out of these kinds of sermons feeling guilty. Here I am going to tell you how to take this sermon and run with it so that you can really change. I am really expecting God to change some of you into fishers of men by the way.

1)Personal Life- Are you presently living a holy sanctified life of obedience unto Christ for the glory of God? I am not saying are you perfect, none of us are. But is your life genuinely reflecting the abiding presence of Christ ? Integrity is a must before you can be much of a witness. Let me tell you what God has done in my work place. The first thing is that I had to be good at what I was paid to do, I had to work with a positive attitude and do my job well, with a high degree of professionalism. People will not listen to your witness if they see you do not care about your work. Then you must also work with a degree of holiness, that is not participate in the ungodliness that we are surrounded in. But we must also avoid the trap of being self righteous, holier than thou, and too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good. People must see that you are real, genuine, alive alert and glad to be here! You have to be friendly and concerned about the people around you, you must earn the right to be heard, and that took about the first year of my assignment.

2)Prepare- Study your faith, and this is more than reading the Bible through every year, although that is certainly one good way of preparing. But if that is all you do, it is not enough! Study the doctrines of our Faith so that you can adequately explain what you believe and why you believe it to a non-believer. keep in mind I am not talking about witnessing to total strangers, this is friendship evangelism. If you can discuss the latest Clinton scandal (Waco) you can discuss the atonement of our sins by Jesus dying upon the cross.Most Christians, most Baptists I know do not ever read a serious book about their faith. The folks in my Bible studies at work are now reading, and thoroughly enjoying it too! They are hungry! Are you hungry for learning more about the Faith so that you can witness, so that you can be a fisherman? There are lots of good books on how to witness, SBC has several good programs for learning how to witness. I have a great video and cassette tape library along with my book library to help you study .

3)Pray- pray first of all for a desire to grow in the faith! If you are sitting here now feeling like you are hopelessly behind, begin by praying for a heart to prepare, and then a heart to witness. Pray for a desire to share the gospel. If you have fears, pray for courage. If you say you just aren’t gifted in evangelism (guess what? i am not either) pray for a heart to witness anyway. Pray for God to take away your pride, apathy and every other obstacle that is preventing you from witnessing. Maybe you just aren’t around many people and those few you are around are already Christians. A big part of what I do at work is encourage weak Christians, in between Christians and strong Christians. Speak about God stuff! Pray for whoever you are in contact with. Pray that God opens your eyes to the lost around you. Pray for specific lost people. One of the things that distresses me greatly about prayer meeting is how few prayer requests there are for the lost. Pray for God to lay some soul upon your heart! Pray for a burden for souls who are lost and going to hell for all eternity. If you cannot find anybody in your circle to pray for, come to prayer meeting and i will give you the names of my lost friends to pray for (we only average 6-8 in prayer meeting anyway). Let me testify to the powere of persistent prayer. My prayer partner at work, James, and I have been praying together daily for almost a year now. He came to me at first for some counselling but we also covenanted together to pray for our work place to experience revival. It took from Sept til May before God gave us our first Bible study, from May til August we have added 3 more! Witnessing to lost people is taking place because God is answering our prayers. Divine appointments are virtually a daily experience now. Pray! Pray! Pray!

4)Practice, practice, practice! There is no substitute for just doing it! Begin by encouraging a Christian friend, start by talking about what the Lord is doing in your life. Talk about doctrine, pray together, share your weaknesses and struggles. Then move into a friendship with a non-christian. Find out what their likes and dislikes are. Become their friend for friendship’s sake, whether you ever witness to them or lead them to Christ or not.Do not use people so you can get a notch on your gospel gun! But at some point, as part of a normal conversation, ask about their spiritual background. Ask for their opinions on spiritual matters. You don’t have to share the whole gospel with them inthefirst conversation! Allow spiritual things to become a part of your normal talk and eventually you can share the gospel thoroughly with them. The importatnt thing is to start! Practice practie practice!

5)Persevere- this approach requires patience! Consistency and perseverance. Longsuffering even! Sometimes God moves quickly, but usually it takes a long time to adequately witness to people these days. They have lots of questions, not a few objections and misconceptions that witll need some study on your part. The days of being able to share a quick Gospel tract with someone are almost gone! We have to be in this for the long haul!

Conclusion: Do you want to be a fisher of men? i am not asking anyone here to become a fulltime evangelist! I am asking you to be a disciple first, and then to pray about becoming a witness, and then doing it. Are you satisfied with where your Christian life is at this point in your life? The real question is this; Is your Lord satisfied with where you are today? Let’s go fishing!

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2 Responses to “Mark 1:16-20 “Called To Follow, Called To Leave””

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Bryan,
Wow, you got to preach at Redeemer! That’s great. I’m so mad that I missed it. I will have to go and listen to the audio sometime this week. Kim and I just got back from our trip home yesterday. We were probably driving somewhere between Nashville and Memphis, Tenn. while you were preaching. We drove straight through and got here last night around 8:30pm. I look forward to hearing your message.

Billy, Yeah it has been a year and a half since I last preached, so it was a bit scary or weird?? I am certainly not used to that large of a crowd! Tim had asked me to cover for him once before but I just wasn’t ready to get back on that horse yet. This time, I had no excuse! The Lord was gracious and I am thankful for the opportunity. It was a humbling experience.It was also Luke’s last day at home on leave; he left for Fort Bragg after lunch, so that was kind of weighing on my heart too.


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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!

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