Greetings MOL Family!
Welcome back to our study on Peter – to learn practical principles that are to govern our everyday lives…
Thou Shalt Catch Men
And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. – Luke 5:1-11
Peter had been catching fish. Now he was going to do what? Catch men. You know when I read this, I think of some months later when this same man let down the net on the day of Pentecost, and 3,000 souls were added to the church that day. This is what Jesus was looking forward to, and He was calling Peter away from ordinary things to extraordinary things.
My dear friends, there are some [who are reading this lesson] that if God can use you –as He wants to– you will have a wonderful part in some of the most glorious soul winning in the history of the world. I read a comment on this story in Desire of Ages:
In the common walks of life there is many a man patiently treading the round of daily toil, unconscious that he possesses powers which, if called into action, would raise him to an equality with the world’s most honored men. The touch of a skillful hand is needed to arouse those dormant faculties. It was such men that Jesus called to be His co-laborers; and He gave them the advantage of association with Himself. – The Desire of Ages, pg. 250
Yes, I believe Peter was a good fisherman, but God had something more important for him to do than that. Other men could catch fish. The fishing industry in Galilee didn’t stop when Peter and John and Andrew and James left their boats and their nets and followed Jesus. That went right on. Doubtless, if we would go over there today, we’d see men still fishing.
But Jesus had something more important for them to do. And to every soul [reading this lesson] I would give this challenge: Are you sure that you are doing the thing which will result in the most souls in the kingdom of God? Is your daily experience such, that you are learning how to win souls, so that you can have a part in the great Latter Rain, Loud Cry, ingathering of souls?
Several years ago, at Wildwood, a young man and his family joined the group there. This man was a nurse, and had had some successful experience in hospital work administration, but he wanted to get some spiritual training. He decided to attend Wildwood.
During the early months he was there, there was a great burden on his heart. He was burdened for his sister who was also a nurse, and who was working in a large city some distance from Wildwood. This girl had had training not only as a nurse, but as an anesthetist. And you know those people who give anesthetic make pretty good money. She was up there in this hospital and making her money. She was losing her Christian experience.
She was being drawn more and more into the world. She was going with a worldly young man. In fact, she was engaged to him. So this brother of hers who was down there, was greatly burdened for her, [and he and I used to have prayer together]. This was one of the burdens on his heart that we prayed together about.
Well, in the providence of God, she came to visit them one weekend. She attended a Friday night vesper service, and the Sabbath morning service. She got a blessing. Some weeks later she went back again. Well, one Sabbath morning as she was there in the meeting, the Lord spoke to her heart, and she came to the altar and poured out her heart to Jesus with tears, giving her life to Jesus.
Well, then the question was what was she going to do for the future. Would she just simply give up sin and go ahead with the work she was doing? The time came when she sought counsel, and the Lord impressed me to say something to her. I’d never said this to anybody before, but I know the Lord impressed me.
I said, “Sis. L, you’ve been putting people to sleep. The Lord would like to have you in something to wake people up. Now, I said, “I realize that somebody has to put people to sleep, if they’re going to have their gallbladder out or their appendix out, but up there in that big worldly hospital, they’ll find somebody to do that whether you are there or not. They’ll get the aesthetics given. But there’s a work you could do for God in soul winning.
And I said, “Sis. L, I believe that if God could help you to see the vision and throw your life into the work one hundred percent, I believe God would give you at least a hundred souls between now and the coming of Jesus.”
Well, she had some things to think about, of course. She was paying for a car. That’s what a lot of people are doing. And this is a test that’s hard for people to meet. But bless the Lord, that young woman met that test. She went back, made arrangements to give up her work there, and she came down. When the time came, which it soon did, that she was faced with the problem that unless the Lord worked a miracle she’d lose her car, she sold the car.
She ended up getting a training in soul winning, and helping bear the burdens of the place (without an automobile). You know, to some people that would almost be like being without a hand. It made me so thankful to see that God had put the call in her heart, and the answer into her heart, that she was willing even to be without a car, in order to get into soul winning 100%, full time. She could go back anytime, you see, pull down those hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month in what she’d been trained for.
A Special Lifework
You notice, friends, in our lesson, that Peter left what kind of nets when he answered the call of Jesus? Empty nets? Full nets. You know there are people that suppose that the signal to get into the Lord’s work is when you’ve made a failure of everything else. “I’ve tried this and I’ve tried that. And that didn’t work and this door was closed, so maybe I ought to get into this.” And it could be that the Lord in His mercy leads some people that way. I wouldn’t say He doesn’t.
I simply show that the opposite of this is not always true. The fact that a man is making a success in a certain line of work is no evidence that God wants him to continue with that for always. Peter, as a fisherman, was called from full nets to catch men. And oh, how he caught them through the years – hundreds of them, thousands of them – bright stars to shine forever, in the kingdom of God. Friends, soul winning is the greatest work in the world. Let me read that here:
The work above all work, – the business above all others which should draw and engage the energies of the soul, – is the work of saving souls for whom Christ has died. Make this the main, the important work of your life. Make it your special life work. – Messages to Young People, pg. 227
Oh, this is the call that I hope will ring in some hearts; that you’re going to be a soul winner. Now, let me make plain what I’m talking about. God has called everybody to be a soul winner, in a sense. God has called many people to earn their living in some vocation in life, and win a few souls on the side. He’s called everybody to do that.
Peter had been working on that program previous to this morning’s experience. He’d been fishing part time and working with Jesus part time. And this is good. This is a step. This is as far as many people get. It’s as far as some people are supposed to get. But my point is, here was a man who had been engaged in part time service for the Master, and Jesus called him now to what? Full time. He’d been working with his nets to make a living and then spending part time in giving the gospel. Now Jesus said, “Leave the nets and come with me full time, and I’ll make you a fisher of men. I want you to catch men. I want you to spend all your time, Peter, catching men.”
In the future, we’re going to see this more and more. The work of the Loud Cry is going to be given largely by men and women who are called from their ordinary vocations. Now, of course, the question is, how would a person make a living? That’s another subject, and we won’t go into that in this lesson. But God has a thousand ways of providing for us, of which we know nothing. But it takes faith and sacrifice as well as hard work, to find and enter into those providences.
My point is, it is established by our lesson today, that God does call some people from part time to full time service for Him. And He does it on the basis of faith. Now, it’s a great honor thus to be called. It’s true that those disciples who answered the call that morning, as the result of doing that, spent some hungry hours during the next three years. None of them ever rolled up a big bank account. None of them ever rolled around in a big car. No. They walked. They walked with Jesus. They were poor. They were despised. But they became soul winners, great soul winners. And the greatest thing in all the world, my friend, is to be a soul winner.
Until next week – Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then…
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* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.