THE GOSPEL

How to Confront Sinners

When David sinned with Bathsheba, he broke all of the Ten Commandments. He coveted his neighbor’s wife, lived a lie, stole her, committed adultery, murdered her husband, dishonored his parents, and thus broke the remaining four Commandments by dishonoring God. Therefore, the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to reprove him (2 Samuel 12:1–14).

There is great significance in the order in which the reproof came. Nathan gave David (the shepherd of Israel) a parable about something that David could understand— sheep. He began with the natural realm, rather than immediately exposing the king’s sin. He told a story about a rich man who, instead of taking a sheep from his own flock, killed a poor man’s pet lamb to feed a stranger. David was indignant, and sat up on his high throne of self-righteousness. He revealed his knowledge of the Law by declaring that the guilty party must restore fourfold and must die for his crime. Nathan then exposed the king’s sin of taking another man’s "lamb," saying, "You are the man...Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?" When David cried, "I have sinned against the Lord," the prophet then gave him grace and said, "The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die."

Imagine if Nathan, fearful of rejection, changed things around a little, and instead told David, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. However, there is something that is keeping you from enjoying this wonderful plan; it is called ‘sin.’" Imagine if he had glossed over the personal nature of David’s sin, with a general reference to all men having sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. David’s reaction may have been, "What sin are you talking about?" rather than to admit his terrible transgression. Think of it — why should he cry, "I have sinned against the Lord" at the sound of that message? Instead, he may have, in a sincere desire to experience this "wonderful plan," admitted that he, like all men, had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

If David had not been made to tremble under the wrath of the Law, the prophet would have removed the very means of producing godly sorrow, which was so necessary for David’s repentance. It is "godly sorrow" that produces repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). It was the weight of David’s guilt that caused him to cry out, "I have sinned against the Lord." The Law caused him to labor and become heavy laden; it made him hunger and thirst for righteousness. It enlightened him as to the serious nature of sin as far as God was concerned.

Personal Witnessing—How Jesus Did It

How to address the sinner’s conscience and speak with someone who doesn’t believe in hell John chapter 4, verses 7–26 give us the Master’s example of how to share our faith. Notice that Jesus spoke to the woman at the well when she was alone. We will often find that people are more open and honest when they are alone. So, if possible, pick a person who is sitting by himself. From there, we can see four clear principles to follow:

First: Jesus began in the natural realm (v. 7). This woman was unregenerate, and the Bible tells us "the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:14). He therefore spoke of something she could relate to—water. Most of us can strike up a conversation with a stranger in the natural realm. It may be a friendly "How are you doing?" or a warm "Good morning!" If the person responds with a sense of warmth, we may then ask, "Do you live around here?" and from there develop a conversation.

Second: Jesus swung the conversation to the spiritual realm (v. 10). He simply mentioned the things of God. This will take courage. We may say something like, "Did you go to church on Sunday?" or "Did you see that Christian TV program last week?" If the person responds positively, the question "Do you have a Christian background?" will probe his background. He may answer, "I went to church when I was a child, but I drifted away from it." Another simple way to swing to the spiritual is to offer the person a gospel tract and ask, "Did you get one of these?" When he takes it, simply say, "It’s a gospel tract. Do you come from a Christian background?"

Third: Jesus brought conviction using the Law of God (vv. 16–18). Jesus gently spoke to her conscience by alluding to the fact that she had transgressed the Seventh of the Ten Commandments. He used the Law to bring "the knowledge of sin" (see Romans 3:19,20). We can do the same by asking, "Do you think that you have kept the Ten Commandments?" Most people think they have, so quickly follow with, "Have you ever told a lie?" This is confrontational, but if it’s asked in a spirit of love and gentleness, there won’t be any offense. Remember that the "work of the Law [is] written in their hearts" and that the conscience will bear "witness" (Romans 2:15). Jesus confronted the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18–21 with five of the Ten Commandments and there was no offense. Have confidence that the conscience will do its work and affirm the truth of each Commandment. Don’t be afraid to gently ask, "Have you ever stolen something, even if it’s small?" Learn how to open up the spirituality of the Law and show how God considers lust to be the same as adultery (Matthew 5:27,28) and hatred the same as murder (1 John 3:15). Make sure you get an admission of guilt. Ask the person, "If God judges you by the Ten Commandments on Judgment Day, do you think you will be innocent or guilty?" If he says he will be innocent, ask, "Why is that?" If he admits his guilt, ask, "Do you think you will go to heaven or hell?" From there the conversation may go one of three ways: 1. He may confidently say, "I don’t believe in hell." Gently respond, "That doesn’t matter. You still have to face God on Judgment Day whether you believe in it or not. If I step onto the freeway when a massive truck is heading for me and I say, ‘I don’t believe in trucks,’ my lack of belief isn’t going to change reality." Then tenderly tell him he has already admitted to you that he has lied, stolen, and committed adultery in his heart, and that God gave him a conscience so that he would know right from wrong. His conscience and the conviction of the Holy Spirit will do the rest. That’s why it is essential to draw out an admission of guilt before you mention Judgment Day or the existence of hell. 2. He may say that he’s guilty, but that he will go to heaven. This is usually because he thinks that God is "good," and that He will, therefore, overlook sin in his case. Point out that if a judge in a criminal case has a guilty murderer standing before him, the judge, if he is a good man, can’t just let him go. He must ensure that the guilty man is punished. If God is good, He must (by nature) punish murderers, rapists, thieves, liars, adulterers, fornicators, and those who have lived in rebellion to the inner light that God has given to every man. 3. He may admit that he is guilty and therefore going to hell. Ask him if that concerns him. Speak to him about how much he values his eyes and how much more therefore he should value the salvation of his soul. (For the biblical description of hell, see Revelation 1:18 footnote.) If possible, take the person through the linked verses in this Bible, beginning at the Matthew 5:21,22 footnote.

Fourth: Jesus revealed Himself to her (v. 26). Once the Law has humbled the person, he is ready for grace. Remember, the Bible says that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). The gospel is for the humble (see Luke 4:18 footnote). Only the sick need a physician, and only those who will admit that they have the disease of sin will truly embrace the cure of the gospel. Learn how to present the work of the cross —that God sent His Son to suffer and die in our place. Tell the sinner of the love of God in Christ; that Jesus rose from the dead and defeated death. Take him back to civil law and say, "It’s as simple as this: We broke God’s Law, and Jesus paid our fine. If you will repent and trust in the Savior, God will forgive your sins and dismiss your case." Ask him if he understands what you have told him. If he is willing to confess and forsake his sins, and trust the Savior with his eternal salvation, have him pray and ask God to forgive him. Then pray for him. Get him a Bible. Instruct him to read it daily and obey what he reads, and encourage him to get into a Bible-believing, Christ preaching church.

The Firefighers

Imagine seeing a group of firefighters polishing their engine outside a burning building with people trapped at a top floor window. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with cleaning a fire engine—but not while people are trapped in a burning building! Instead of ignoring their cries, the firefighters should have an overwhelming sense of urgency to rescue them. That’s the spirit that should be behind the task of evangelism. But according to Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, “Only 2 percent of believers in America regularly share their faith with others.” That means that 98 percent of the professing Body of Christ are “lukewarm” when it comes to obeying the Great Commission (Mark 16:15).

Oswald J. Smith said, “Oh my friends, we are loaded down with countless church activities, while the real work of the Church, that of evangelizing and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.” We have polished the engines of worship, prayer, and praise and neglected the sober task given to us by God. A firefighter who ignores his responsibilities and allows people to perish in flames is not a firefighter; he is an impostor. How could we ignore our responsibility and allow the world to walk blindly into the fires of hell? If God’s love dwells in us, we must warn them. The Bible tells us to “have compassion...save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 22,23). If we don’t have love and compassion, then we don’t know God—we are impostors (1 John 4:8).

Charles Spurgeon said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.” Please, examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Don’t be part of the great multitude who called Jesus “Lord,” but refused to obey Him. It will be professing believers who will hear those fearful words, “I never knew you: depart from me” (Matthew 7:21–23).

Backward Christian Soldiers

Backward Christian soldiers, fleeing from the fight

With the cross of Jesus nearly out of sight.
Christ, our rightful master, stands against the foe
But forward into battle, we are loathe to go.

Like a mighty tortoise moves the Church of God
Brothers we are treading where we’ve always trod.
We are much divided, many bodies we
Having many doctrines, not much charity.

Crowns and thorns may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the Church of Jesus hidden does remain.
Gates of hell should never ‘gainst the Church prevail
We have Christ’s own promise, but think that it will fail.

Sit here then ye people, join our useless throng
Blend with ours your voices in a feeble song.
Blessings, ease and comfort, ask from Christ the King
With our modern thinking, we don’t do a thing.
(Anonymous)

If God is speaking to you about your lack of evangelistic concern, pray something like this now: Father, please forgive me for my lack of love for this dying world. From this day forward I will strive to be a “true and faithful witness.” Please give me the wisdom to know what to say to reach the lost. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

"When were the Gospels written?"

It is important to understand that the dating of the Gospels and other New Testament books is at best an educated guess and at worst foolish speculation. For example, suggested dates for the writing of the Gospel of Matthew range from as early as A.D. 40 to as late as A.D. 140. This wide range of dates from scholars indicates the subjective nature of the dating process. Generally, one will find that the presuppositions of the scholars greatly influence their dating of the Gospels.

For example, in the past many liberal theologians have argued for a later dating of many of the New Testament books than is probably warranted or valid, in an attempt to discredit or cast doubts upon the content and authenticity of the Gospel accounts. On the other hand, there are many scholars who look to a much earlier dating of the New Testament books. There are some that believe there is good evidence to support the view that the whole New Testament, including Revelation, was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It is our contention that the evidence supports the earlier dating more than it does the later dating.

There are scholars who believe the Gospel of Matthew was written as early as ten to twelve years after the death of Christ. Those who hold to this earlier dating of Matthew believe he first wrote his Gospel in Aramaic, and then it was later translated into Greek. One of the evidences of this earlier dating of Matthew’s Gospel is that early church leaders such as Irenaeus, Origen, and Eusebius recorded that Matthew first wrote his gospel for Jewish believers while he was still in Palestine. In fact Eusebius, (a bishop of Caesarea and known as the father of church history), reported that Matthew wrote his Gospel before he left Palestine to preach in other lands, which Eusebius says happened about 12 years after the death of Christ. Some scholars believe that this would place the writing of Matthew as early as A.D. 40-45 and as late as A.D. 55.

Even if the Gospels were not written until 30 years after Christ’s death, that would still place the writing of them prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This presents no major problem with their authority or accuracy. Passing on oral traditions and teachings was commonplace in the Jewish culture of that day, and memorization was highly cultivated and practiced. Also, the fact that even at that time there would have been a considerable number of eyewitnesses around to dispute and discredit any false claims, and the fact that none of the “hard sayings” of Jesus were taken from the Gospel accounts, further supports their accuracy. Had the Gospels been edited before being written down, as some liberal scholars contend, then it was a very poor job. The writers left far too many “hard sayings,” and culturally unacceptable and politically incorrect accounts that would need explaining. An example of this is that the first witnesses of the resurrection were women, who were not considered reliable witnesses in the culture of that day.

The bottom line for Christians is this—whether the Gospels were written soon after the death of Christ, or not until 30 years after his death, does not really matter, because their accuracy and authority does not rest on when they were written but on what they are: the divinely inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). We should also remember that one of the promises Jesus gave His disciples was that He would send them “another helper,” the Holy Spirit, who would teach them all things and ‘bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). So, whether it was few years or many after Jesus' death that the Gospels were written, we can have total confidence and faith in their completeness and accuracy, knowing that they were written by “men moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), who accurately recorded the very words of God.

The Great Commission

"Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
- Mark 16:15

"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that."
- Charles Spurgeon

"If you do not make it a matter of study, how you may successfully act in building up the kingdom of Christ, you are acting a very wicked and absurd part as a Christian."
- Charles Finney

"The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest"
- Matthew 9:37,38

"Oh my friends, we are loaded down with countless church activities, while the real work of the church, that of evangelizing the world and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected!"
- Oswald J. Smith

"Why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
- Luke 6:46

The Key to Reaching the Lost

Have you ever thought, "There must be a key to reaching the lost"? There is—and it’s rusty through lack of use. The Bible does actually all it "the key," and its purpose is to bring us to Christ, to unlock the Door of the Savior (John 10:9). Much of the Church still doesn’t even know it exists. Not only is it biblical, but it can be shown through history that the Church used it to unlock the doors of revival. The problem is that it was lost around the turn of the twentieth century. Keys have a way of getting lost.

Jesus used it. So did Paul (Romans 3:19,20), Timothy (1 Timothy 1:8–11), and James (James 2:10). Stephen used it when he preached (Acts 7:53). Peter found that it had been used to open the door to release 3,000 imprisoned souls on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus said that the lawyers had "taken away" the key, and even refused to use it to let people enter into the kingdom of God. The Pharisees didn’t take it away. Instead, they bent it out of shape so that it wouldn’t do its work (Mark 7:8). Jesus returned it to its true shape, just as the Scriptures prophesied that He would do (Isaiah 42:21). Satan has tried to prejudice the modern Church against the key. He has maligned it, misused it, twisted it, and, of course, hidden it—he hates it because of what it does. Perhaps you are wondering what this key is. I will tell you. All I ask is that you set aside your traditions and prejudices and look at what God’s Word says on the subject.

In Acts 28:23 the Bible tells us that Paul sought to persuade his hearers "concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets." Here we have two effective means of persuading the unsaved "concerning Jesus." Let’s first look at how the prophets can help persuade sinners concerning Jesus.

Fulfilled prophecy proves the inspiration of Scripture. The predictions of the prophets present a powerful case for the inspiration of the Bible. Any skeptic who reads the prophetic words of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, etc., or the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 cannot but be challenged that this is no ordinary book.

The other means by which Paul persuaded sinners concerning Jesus was "out of the law of Moses." The Bible tells us that the Law of Moses is good if it is used lawfully (1 Timothy 1:8). It was given by God as a "schoolmaster" to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Paul wrote that he "had not known sin, but by the law" (Romans 7:7). The Law of God (the Ten commandments) is evidently the "key of knowledge" Jesus spoke of in Luke 11:52. He was speaking to "lawyers"—those who should have been teaching God’s Law so that sinners would receive the "knowledge of sin," and thus recognize their need of the Savior.

Prophecy speaks to the intellect of the sinner, while the Law speaks to his conscience. One produces faith in the Word of God; the other brings knowledge of sin in the heart of the sinner. The Law is the God-given "key" to unlock the Door of salvation. See Matthew 19:17–22 footnote and Romans 3:19,20. "I do not believe that any man can preach the gospel who does not preach the Law. The Law is the needle, and you cannot draw the silken thread of the gospel through a man’s heart unless you first send the needle of the Law to make way for it." Charles Spurgeon

"What are the four spiritual laws?"

The Four Spiritual Laws are a way of sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a simple way of organizing the important information in the Gospel into four points.

The first of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 10:10 gives us the reason that Jesus came, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." What is blocking us from God's love? What is preventing us from having an abundant life?

The second of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "Humanity is tainted by sin and is therefore separated from God. As a result, we cannot know God's wonderful plan for our lives." Romans 3:23 affirms this information, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 6:23 gives us the consequences of sin, "the wages of sin is death." God created us to have fellowship with Him. However, humanity brought sin into the world, and is therefore separated from God. We have ruined the relationship with Him that God intended us to have. What is the solution?

The third of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "Jesus Christ is God's only provision for our sin. Through Jesus Christ, we can have our sins forgiven and restore a right relationship with God." Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 informs us of what we need to know and believe in order to be saved, "...that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." Jesus Himself declares that He is the only way of salvation in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." How can I receive this wonderful gift of salvation?

The Fourth of the Four Spiritual Laws is, "We must place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior in order to receive the gift of salvation and know God's wonderful plan for our lives." John 1:12 describes this for us, "Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." Acts 16:31 says it very clearly, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved!" We can be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If you want to trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, say the following words to God. Saying these words will not save you, but trusting in Christ will! This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!"

"Why do the four Gospels seem to present a different message of salvation than the rest of the New Testament?"

We must keep in mind that the Bible is intended to be taken as a whole. The books preceding the Four Gospels are anticipatory, and the books which follow are explanatory. Throughout the whole Bible, what God requires is faith—Genesis 15:6; Psalm 2:12; Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 9:28; John 20:27; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 10:39. Salvation comes not by our own works but by trusting what God does on our behalf.

Each of the Gospels has its own emphasis on the ministry of Christ. Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, emphasizes Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, proving that He is the long-awaited Messiah. Mark writes a fast-paced, condensed account, recording Jesus’ miraculous deeds and not recording His long discourses. Luke portrays Jesus as the remedy of the world’s ills, emphasizing His perfect humanity and humane concern for the weak, the suffering, and the outcast. John emphasizes Jesus’ deity by selecting many conversations and sayings of Jesus on the subject and also including “signs” that prove He is the Son of God.

The Four Gospels work together to provide a complete testimony of Jesus, a beautiful portrait of the God-Man. Although the Gospels differ slightly in theme, the central Subject is the same. All present Jesus as the One who died to save sinners. All record His resurrection. Whether the writers presented Jesus as the King, the Servant, the Son of Man, or the Son of God, they had the common goal—that people believe in Him.

We’ll delve into the theology of the Gospels now. John includes many statements of faith and commands to believe. These inclusions fit his stated purpose, “that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name” (20:31). The other Gospels (the Synoptics) are no less concerned that we trust in Christ. Their appeals to faith are less overt but are just as genuine.

Jesus proclaims the need for righteousness, and He warns of the penalty of sin, which is hell. However, Jesus always presents God as the standard of righteousness and Himself as the means of righteousness—without Christ, righteousness is unattainable and hell is inevitable. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is a case in point:

- Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with a description of the blessed life (5:1-12). The Beatitudes are not telling us “how to” be righteous, but are simply describing righteousness.

- He presents Himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament law (5:17-18). This is a key verse because, to earn our own righteousness, we must fulfill the law; here, Jesus says that He will do it for us.

- He says that no amount of our own good works will gain us entrance to heaven (5:20). This is another important statement in the sermon. The Pharisees were the most religious people of the day, but Jesus says even they are not good enough to enter heaven. Jesus will go on to say that it’s not a religious system that saves, but He Himself.

- He “raises the bar” for righteousness according to God’s standard, instead of man’s interpretation of the law (5:21-48). He explains God’s intent behind seven Old Testament laws. The bar is raised so high as to make everyone, even the most dedicated religious practitioner, guilty before God.

- He describes three popular religious activities—almsgiving, prayer, and fasting—as hypocritical when practiced by the outwardly religious (6:1-18). Jesus’ focus, as with the seven laws He just mentioned, is the heart condition of man, not the works we can see.

- He warns that there will be “many” in the day of judgment who will have performed great works for God yet will be turned away from heaven (7:21-23). The reason given is that Jesus never “knew” them. There was no familial relationship, only “good” works, which is not enough.

- Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with the audacious statement that He alone is the foundation for building one’s religious life (7:24-27). It is an appeal to trust “these sayings of Mine” enough to abandon all other foundations.

To summarize, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus meticulously deconstructs the pharisaical religion of good works, points to a holiness greater than our own, and offers Himself as the sole basis of religion. Accepting what Jesus says in this sermon requires faith in His Person.

Matthew’s Gospel goes on to emphasize faith in the following verses: 8:10, 13, 26; 9:2, 22, 28-29; 12:21; 13:58; 14:31; 15:28; 16:8; 17:17; and 18:6. Also, Matthew includes a very clear presentation of Jesus as the Son of God in this exchange: “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” (Matthew 16:15-17).

Mark’s Gospel contains the following references to faith in Christ: 1:15; 2:5; 4:40; 5:34, 36; 6:6; 9:19, 23, 42; 10:52; 11:23; and 16:14. In Luke’s Gospel we see these verses promoting faith in Christ: 1:1; 5:20; 7:9, 50; 8:12, 25, 48, 50; 9:41; 12:28, 46; 17:19; 18:8, 42; and 24:25. As we continue to see scripture as a unified whole, we will see that there is only one message of salvation, and the Four Gospels provide the basis for that message.

The Epistles which follow the Gospels elaborate upon the same theme: salvation by faith in Christ. The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes through God and the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. The central theme of Galatians and Colossians is the same same. The book of Hebrews stresses the pre-eminence and perfection of Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith.” First and Second Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the pastoral epistles of Timothy and Titus, Philemon, James, 1 and 2 Peter, all describe the holy living, both personally and corporately within the church, and the hope for the future which should be the natural result of life in Christ. The three epistles of John reiterate the basics of the faith and warn against those who would call them into question, also the main theme of Jude. Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, presents the last act of God’s plan for mankind and the fate of those who hold onto the same faith expounded in the entirety of the New Testament—faith in Christ alone.

The Parable of the Fishless Fishermen  Anonymous

Fellowship. They were surrounded by streams and lakes full of hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish, and the thrill of catching fish. They got excited about fishing!

Someone suggested that they needed a philosophy of fishing, so they carefully defined and redefined fishing, and the purpose of fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics. Then they realized that they had been going at it backwards. They had approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman, and not from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat, and when? These are all good things to know. So hey began research studies, and attended conferences on fishing. Some traveled to faraway places to study different kinds of fish with different habits. Some got doctorates in fishology. But no one had yet gone fishing.

So a committee was formed to send out fishermen. As prospective fishing places outnumbered fishermen, the committee needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all of the fellowship halls. But still, no one was fishing. A survey was launched to find out why. Most did not answer the survey, but from those who did, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, a few to furnish fishing equipment, and several to go around encouraging the fishermen. What with meetings, conferences, and seminars, they just simply didn’t have time to fish.

Now, Jake was a newcomer to the Fisherman’s Fellowship. After one stirring meeting of the Fellowship, he went fishing and caught a large fish. At the next meeting, he told his story and was honored for his catch. He was told that he had a special "gift of fishing." He was then scheduled to speak at all the Fellowship chapters and tell how he did it.

With all the speaking invitations and his election to the board of directors of the Fisherman’s Fellowship, Jake no longer had time to go fishing. But soon he began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug on the line once again. So he cut the speaking, he resigned from the board, and he said to a friend, "Let’s go fishing." They did, just the two of them, and they caught fish. The members of the Fisherman’s Fellowship were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few!