Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pitching the "Bait" of Grace

This is part of a post I made on another blog page, but I thought I would share it here as well.  It is my pitch for the day!

My reason for this post is to look at the verses and gospel truths in the Bible where Jesus uses fishermen and talks about being “fishers of men”.  In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus calls his first disciples.  This comes at the start of His ministry.  He walks beside the Sea of Galilee and goes to Simon Peter and Andrew, both fishermen.  Jesus calls them to drop their net and follow Him and he will make them “fishers of men”.  He then went on to call James and John, also fishermen. 

We have all heard this story growing up and may have looked at it in our maturity, but I have never heard this story with a grace-alone mindset.  Jesus didn’t make these disciples fishers of men by giving them a to-do list or five-step program to catching Christians for the Kingdom.  He worked on these born fishermen by changing their hearts and minds by grace.  He showed them how all of Scripture points to Him.  He healed broken people before their eyes.  He preached the gospel unashamedly in the synagogues.  He gave them Grace!  By Jesus being able to live the gospel out amidst Peter, Andrew, James, and John he changed their hearts and opened their eyes to Him.  Jesus made them fall in love with Him.  They constantly saw His mercy, forgiveness, devotion to the Father’s Will, and grace in practice. 

In chapter 4 of Matthew, Jesus calls them.  Then in chapter 5 he gives His Sermon on the Mount.  This preaching was not to be a self-help manual.  It was to break any self-righteousness the people might have been holding on to.  This sermon was meant to make these folks run to Jesus, for His righteousness.  When seen the right way, the Sermon on the Mount is about freeing the captives of sin.  If you may have slipped through by not understanding parts of the Sermon, thinking you are doing ok, the end should be the wall you crash into.  Jesus says therefore “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect”.  As humans, in total depravity, we can’t do that.  Thank God for Jesus fulfilling the Law and satisfying the things seen in the Sermon on the Mount for us!  When we grasp the gospel more and more we then feel free to obey God and be “Christ-like” out of a joyous, thankful heart.  There is no freedom in works-righteousness, trying to please God by obeying the Law. 

The topic at hand is being “fishers of men”.  Our role in others’ salvation is just to tell them about God’s grace found in the life-death-resurrection of Jesus.  As these “fishermen”, we are to make folks wish the gospel was true and then show them that it is.  We can’t live out the gospel, even a little like we need to, to be like Jesus.  What we can do is tell of His grace and mercy as faithful believers changed by the Good News.  This is the “bait” that will change hearts through the Holy Spirit. 

My prayer is that we can believe this better.  The truth of the gospel needs to be believed in all aspects of our life.  My hope is that the Spirit will work in me where I bring this from my home to the bank and from the bank to my baseball lessons.  Everyone needs grace and the life-giving freedom that it brings.  As I deal with my wife, kids, customers, friends, young ballplayers, parents, and family members, these gospel truths should be the center of my thoughts and actions.  So to be fishers of men is to give people the truth of the gospel:  that our sin is big, but God’s grace is bigger.  You can’t outrun His love for His children.  Bring this to wherever God has you right now.  That is your mission field, given by His sovereignty.  We are empowered and freed, as Christians, to live our life as "sent" people within our culture (John 17:17-19).  That is living in light of the gospel.  There are people around you, including yourself, that need it everyday!  Amen.
That is my pitch for the day.

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