You will recall I spoke about a line fisherman catching one fish at a time and net fishing catching many fish at a time. God sets apart evangelists for a special purpose.
1) The office.
Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.
The word “evangelists” here refers to “those heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles.” These are men who would minister the Gospel to one or many people and would see many come to faith in Christ. God gifts them specifically to draw lost souls to the Savior. One could think of men like George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards and Billy Graham. They fell into this category. In South Africa we have retired Bishop Frank Retief. These were men who had the gift that when they preached the Gospel they were able to convince and persuade the “lost” of the Truth about God’s rescue plan. They could reach one or many. They were both spiritual line fishermen and spiritual pelagic fishermen. The first would be to win one soul at a time and the latter would be to catch a “net” full of souls at a time. Although Peter was an apostle, he was an evangelist (which was a function of an apostle). Read his Pentecost Sermon in Acts 2. After he preached the people wanted to know what to do. He explained the way of repentance … and then we read:
Ac 2:40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
2) An example of catching both one or many. Philip was set apart in Acts 6 as a deacon
Ac 6:5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
Although a deacon, Philip was known as “the evangelist”.
Ac 21:8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.
We read that many were converted to Jesus through his ministry …
Ac 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
He cast the net to save many, but he also went after the one!
Ac 8:34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. Ac 8:36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
3) The pastor as an evangelist. Timothy was Paul’s apprentice even though he pastored a Church. Paul says to him:
2 Tim 4:5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
He and all pastors are called to do the work of an evangelist. They need to be soul winners. They need the passion and the desire. Bishop Frank Retief had one word written on His pulpit … “eternity”. His passion was to reach the lost for eternity so he preached for eternity.
4) But then, each Christian needs to serve God as an evangelist in their own right. Wherever you are to be found you ought to seek souls for eternity. You might pray for specific people to be saved. You might pray for specific people to share the Gospel. You might be a contact maker providing others with names to follow up. You might be an inviter, inviting people to Church. All these are part and parcel of evangelism. Whether it is a boat or a trawler casting a net to catch fish, many people are involved, not just the fishermen. The same is true in evangelism.
5) Jesus loved speaking about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. On an occasion He said:
Mt 13:47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
(1) Always remember that the Kingdom of Heaven is firstly a people before it is a place.
(2) When fishing in a lake like the Sea of Galilee, a net is cast and dragged until it is full of fish and then brought to the shore. Many different kinds of fish of different sizes are caught, but not all can be used to sell for food. Those not suitable would be dumped because by this time they are dead. At the fishing factory where I worked we had a Fish Meal Plant. All unwanted fish would become fishmeal. They go through an extreme heating and boiling process where all the moisture is removed, the meat cooked and the product ground into a meal. The good fish would go to tin food or fish paste, depending on the type of fish.
(3) Jesus interprets His illustration in verse 49-50.
(i) The end of the age refers to Jesus’ Second Coming and the Judgment.
(ii) There will be a separation of the wicked and righteous. That is, believers who are covered in the Blood of Jesus will be separated from the wicked lost souls. On earth we live together, work together, school together and do all sorts of “life” together … but on this Day we will be separated from each other.
(iii) The horrific end to the lost will be the beginning of their eternity! Look how our Lord describes hell … “throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Surely this shows us …
(a) The importance of evangelism. The center and focus of evangelism is the Gospel of Jesus … His incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension. No one comes to the Father unless they come through the Son. God has one rescue plan and that is Jesus. Unless Jesus is shared far and wide, be it the world or your personal world, many souls with land up in the fiery furnace.
(b) The need for eternity consciousness. Part of Jesus training Peter, Andrew, James and John to be fishers of men was that they be conscious of what happens after death … heaven or hell … and the Gospel directs people to heaven when they believe.
Father, thank You for using us to reach the lost so that they too might enjoy an eternity with You in Your Glory through Jesus. Amen.