Fishers of Men

“And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:16-18).

This phrase, “fishers of men,” occurs only here and in Matthew 4:19. A similar statement is found in Luke 5:10, “And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.'”  These are the only references in the New Testament about “fishing” for men, and we note that here Simon is assured, “You will catch men.”

Those who once were real “fishermen” were met by the Master, and He effectually said to them, “Follow me.” Isn’t it extremely noteworthy that our Lord did not go to the halls of learning or to the seats of government to get His disciples, but to the seashore? Does this not tell us that Christ’s mission was different? He even prayed to His Father, saying, “As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). How glorious! Christ had come to do “the will” of His Father (John 6:38), and true believers have as their mission to proclaim the Son of God in His glory, just as the Son was “sent” by the Father to “glorify” Himself (John 17:1-4).

The task of evangelism is to point sinners away from dead, fleshly religion, including all self-righteousness, to Christ the Lord. Using the metaphor of fishing, the heaven-sent Servant teaches His learners to become “fishers of men.” This does not mean that we can actually “save” people from sin or hell, or “save” them for heaven. The way we are “fishers of men” is to do as Paul did at Antioch, saying, “And we declare to you glad tidings, that promise which was made to the fathers; God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus.” Yes, we proclaim the crucified but risen Lord! Then Paul quotes Isaiah’s prophecy as fulfilled in Christ: “I will give you the sure mercies of David” (Acts 13:32-34). This is true evangelism, when we tell sinners that the “mercies” of God are “sure” to an elect people!

The apostle Paul taught God’s electing grace and His absolute sovereignty (Romans 8:28-35), the Father accomplishing salvation for all of His people through the Savior’s intercession: “Christ Jesuscame into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15); “For Christ also suffered once for us, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ Jesus does bring us to God, as Him being substituted in our place is totally effectual. “Fishers of men” means that we are following Christ, telling His story, saying with John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The “world” of “God’s elect” is thus redeemed, justified, called, and kept because of the manifold grace of God shown to poor, unworthy sinners in Christ Jesus. Our being “fishers of men” is always successful, the Lord powerfully “drawing” all of His elect into the great net of His sovereign, distinguishing grace!

Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly….
Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.
~Charles Wesley

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A Scripture Meditation by W. F. Bell (1948-2018)

Tom’s Song

Tom Carpenter
Tom Carpenter

One wretched sinner, saved by grace
Through Christ the Son Who took my place
Once dead in sin, a guilty man
Until I met the Great I AM

He knows the number of my days
Discerns my thoughts, sees all my ways
Sealed with the Spirit – guaranteed
O Praise His name! How can this be?

His way, His path, His narrow road
My life’s journey will yet unfold
And when “God help me!” is my cry
My Sovereign knows, He’s not surprised

Though dark and desperate days find me
I’ll fix my hope on Calvary
For Sin and Death cannot prevail
When Christ, the Cure, has made me well

Behind the lines

This song, and the idea behind the GraceSyllables blog, was inspired because of how God worked through Tom Carpenter’s life and his final days with terminal cancer. Tom passed away February 16, 2010 at the age of 51. You may learn more here along with the compelling words he wrote before he died.

 

Sovereign Grace

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Our ears have heard the famous stories
Of the wonders You have done
Our eyes can’t know those ancient glories
But our hearts and minds are won

It wasn’t the strength of an army
That gave Israel the land
No, it was Your arm, Great and Mighty
And the fury of Your hand

It’s not in the bow, sword, or armour
That we place our hope and trust
It’s in the Spirit, Son, and Father
That we will forever boast

Let not our hearts go back to Egypt
Let not our hearts idols raise
But give us other god amnesia
And lips to sing Sovereign Grace

Behind the lines

Psalm 44
O God, we have heard with our ears,

our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them (Psalm 44:1-3).

Can you answer?

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The LORD questioned Job,
He called to him from the storm,
His voice would thunder:

What can you make known?
Who darkens counsel by words?
Job, can you answer?

And where were you when
The earth’s foundations were laid?
Do you remember?

Did your skillful hands
Make boundaries for the sea?
What was their measure?

Can you make snowflakes?
Can you lift the clouds and rain?
Control the weather?

Who argues with God?
Did you form the mouth to speak?
Can you answer me?

Behind the lines

Job 38 – 42:6

And the LORD said to Job:

“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the LORD and said:

Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further (Job 40:1-5).”

 

Be Still

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Though tears will flood,
As the whole earth shakes,
And mountains fall into the sea,
God is my Refuge and Strength.

Be still, my soul,
Be still, and know,

I AM – The LORD,
Is my Refuge and Strength,
My Help in trouble’s way,
Trust the LORD of hosts,
Who breaks fears and woes,
And turns sorrows to praise.

Though emotions rage,
He utters His voice,
Great struggles and battles cease,
God is my Refuge and Strength.

You reign on the throne,
Sovereign over all,
Whom shall I fear?

Behind the lines

Psalm 46, which inspired Martin Luther to write A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46:1 ESV)

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalm 46:10 ESV)

Small

imageUnsaid prayers for little needs,
Lord, I know You care for me,
When I see a glimpse of You,
In the timing of small things.

They may be small,
But they make my heart worship,
So I will worship,
Worship You,
And throughout my life,
Give me eyes to see,
The small, and worship,
Worship You…

Folded hands on little knees,
Lord, I know You care for these,
Little prayers from little ones,
You said, “let them come to me.”

Little ants near sidewalk streets,
Lord, I know You have made these,
Working hard to gather food,
They live in community.

Behind the lines

My wife (Amy) told me how God worked out the timing of a small thing and it made her heart worship.

The Unknown

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Enter the unknown,
Blind, in a maze of broken mirrors,
And lose all control,
Deaf, but there’s a Hearer.
So cry out to Him,
For He knows something better,
And through the unknown,
His grace remains the answer.

Enter the unknown,
Walk, through a sandstorm in the desert,
Lost and forgotten,
Wait, to be delivered.
So hold on to Hope,
For He knows something better,
And through the unknown,
His grace remains the answer.

Behind the lines

As we enter the unknown of a new year, I’m reminded of God’s grace and providence in the story of Joseph and his brothers culminating in Genesis 50:19-21:

[19] But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? [20] As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. [21] So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Forevermore

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You…have,
Created the heavens and earth,
You mapped out the future before time’s birth,
You have always been, and Your years have no end.

Your throne, O God, is forever,
Your throne, O God, is forever,
Forevermore,
You’re forevermore,
Your love is for-ev-er-more.

You…have,
Chosen a people for Your own,
You gave them a king to reign on the throne,
But there’s One Greater, and You reign forever.

You…have,
Revealed Your will through Your Word,
You sent Your Son to be crowned with sorrow,
And our Redeemer, conquered death forever.

You…have,
Trampled our sins under Your feet,
You drowned our burdens in a gracious sea,
You have made a way, to Your throne of praise.

Behind the lines

Psalm 45

Habakkuk’s Song

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LORD, here I stand in awe of You,
I’ve heard the report of Your fame,
In Your wrath remember mercy,
And revive the fear of Your name.

Your splendor reigns in the heavens,
Creation is full of Your praise,
Your brightness outshines ev’ry sun,
And Your flames dance like solar rays.

LORD, grant me a right perspective,
May I trust in Your sovereign plans,
The righteous live by faith in You,
And salvation is in Your hands.

Your judgment will come like a plague,
When You rise the nations shiver,
Mountains will break and then scatter,
And the earth will shake and quiver.

Though the fig tree never blossoms,
Though there is no fruit on the vine,
Even when the flocks have perished,
And there is no food I can find…

Yet, I will rejoice in You, LORD,
You are my hope through Your justice,
I will sing of Your salvation,
And rejoice in Your righteousness!

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