AFTER YOU HAVE CAUGHT THE FISH
After we have spent a lot of money to prepare for this fishing experience and spent a lot of time learning how to catch the fish, the question we want to address is what do you do after you have caught the fish? Sometimes when we are fly fishing, we are restricted from taking the fish home. The program is called “catch and release” and the purpose is to help you to enjoy the fishing experience and at the same time enable the fish to keep growing and reproducing. But we are not talking about that kind of fishing. The question is what do we do with the fish to prepare it for the purpose of which it was caught? If it is a large fish, its purpose is to feed a family. If it is a smaller fish the purpose is the same but we will need to catch more than one. As we continue this chapter we need to point out the difference of fishing for fish and fishing for men. In fishing for fish, we are catching fish that are alive. For them to be used for food, they must die first. It is just the opposite in fishing for men. We are catching men who were dead in trespasses and sin and we are bringing them to find new life and purpose in Christ. In preparing the fish, there are similar steps that we must take.
It is important that after we catch the fish that we keep it alive if possible before cleaning it. Fish have the tendency to deteriorate quickly and if we wait too long they could spoil. Now when we think of the new convert quick action is necessary as well. In his first experience as a Christian he will be filled with much joy and emotion, but like all feelings, if we do not treat them properly the new Christian could get discouraged and give up easily because they lacked understanding. So, the first thing we want to do is to take that new Christian as our own responsibility and meet with them often, teaching them the word of God, and introduce him to people in the local church and especially help them to understand how important it is to pray. The first stage is cleaning the fish but with the new Christian the cleaning process is different, Jesus, when speaking to his disciples said to them “now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
The word of God is the first stage of helping the Christian to grow. In Psalm 119:9, 11 we have these words “wherewithal shall a young man cleanses his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word: Thy word has I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” While it is important to teach him to memorize important portions of God's word, it is more important that he study them to understand and see how they work out practically in his life. Scripture verses regarding assurance of salvation, prayer, facing temptation, and the need for Christian Fellowship must be emphasized. It is important that we spend time with him as much as possible to answer his questions and help him to grow and understand God's word. Eventually, get him involved in a one-on-one Bible study or even a group Bible study where he meets with other Christians. You, yourself, need to be the example to him as to what a Christian is and how he is to behave himself. It is important also that you are committed to the Fellowship of the local church and understand its importance. It is of no value if you have a negative attitude toward the church and avoid these meetings. I must be an example to the person that I am nurturing.
This matter of soul winning is something that we do not stop learning. At first, we learned methods and got involved in programs, but after a while, they become outdated and ineffective, so we must be involved in personal development. The earlier we start in the Christian life the greater should be our effectiveness as we get older. I recall when I first became a Christian, being in the service there were many Christians around me who are concerned about the souls of their unsaved friends. We all had that in common and it is interesting that we all saw the need for the local church at that time.
I spent my time with the pastor and fellow Christians as much as possible and I received much encouragement by the example of the members of the church, singing in the choir, watching my unsaved friends respond to the invitation by the pastor. All of that was so exciting. In Hebrews 10:24,25 we have these words of encouragement: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” As time progresses, there is a greater need for receiving help from the body of Christ and we must take our responsibility seriously.
Again, I repeat that all of this is necessary to produce a functionally mature Christian. If this new Christian is left on his own for too long a period, he will not be properly informed, he will think his Christian life is based on how he feels and when times get tough and when the feelings are gone he will think that his salvation is as well. So, I repeat the reminder to take quick action, personal involvement, proper instruction, encouraging fellowship and most of all the importance of prayer. When he learns how to pray and sees God answering those prayers he will be encouraged to continue doing so. I can spend much time and many hours on this matter of Christian follow-up. It is not difficult for a Christian who lives his life before God faithfully and that is what we want to produce: faithful Christians.
May God help us to see that catching the fish is important but that is where the hard work begins. The purpose of the fish is to feed hungry people and that is exactly what the purpose of the Christian is. In this section completing this book, we have an appendix. In that appendix, we will deal with the subject of understanding what the Christian life is all about, and how to effectively share the gospel with others.