Marks Of A Real Fisherman

Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday morning and evening, May 21, 2000, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia.


By Michael D. O’Neal                 Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church                 Albany, Georgia

Scripture Reading: Matthew 4:18-25

Text: Matthew 4:19

Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Introduction: The Bible teaches that EVERY Christian should endeavor to tell other people how to be saved. We call this “soul-winning.” The Bible compares giving the gospel to people to:

  1. winning a soul
  2. shining a light
  3. feeding the hungry
  4. fishing for men

How can you identify a real fisherman?

You can’t always tell a fisherman by his clothes, although it is unlikely that a man is going go trout fishing in a three-piece suit.

You can’t always tell a fisherman by his conversation, although it is likely that a man who never TALKS about fishing never actually GOES fishing.

Some marks of a REAL fisherman are:


John 21:3a Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee.

A. He has a time to go fishing

  • He doesn’t catch them while he is at work.
  • He doesn’t catch them on the way to the grocery store.
  • He sets a time JUST for FISHING.

B. He has a territory to work

  • Jesus planned where He was going to preach next.
  • The apostle Paul planned his missionary journeys.

C. He has a task to perform

  • He is going fishing, not boating.
  • He is going fishing, not picnicking.
  • There is a difference between going soul-winning and going visiting.
  • When we go fishing, that is, soul-winning, our task is to present the gospel to somone and press for a decision.


Psalms 126:5-6 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. 6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

A. It helps him relax

  • Although it is work, it gets his mind off the other pressures of life.

B. It helps him get refreshed

C. It helps him rejoice

  • You might not be such a grouch, sour-puss or whining complainer if you would just go soul-winning regularly!


Matthew 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

They were mending their nets.

A. His pole is the power of God – Acts 1:8

B. His line is his love for souls

C. His weight is his walk with God

D. His hook is the Holy Ghost

E. His bait is the bread of life – Christ and the gospel

  • You might catch other fish on various types of bait, but there is only ONE bait that will save a sinner: the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

F. His cork is the confession of the convert

  • That cork indicates that you HAVE him!


Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Although there are times when you will be alone, God’s usual plan for soul-winning is to send TEAMS of TWO. Jesus sent out the disciples by two’s.

A. The partner can work the boat

  • He can help with opening conversations.

B. The partner can watch the line (pray)

C. The partner can ward off problems

  • When you’re catching “a big one,” there might be things that hinder you from catching him — snakes, alligators, limbs, snags, stumps.
  • The soul-winning partner can help to handle phone calls, dogs, TV, children, and other interruptions while the soul-winner is presenting the gospel.


Luke 5:5 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.

A. With the wind

  • Sometimes the winds are contrary.
  • Things are going to work against you when you decide to be a soul-winner.

B. With the water

  • Sometimes the water is rough.
  • Sometimes the water is muddy.
  • Sometimes it is too high or too low.

C. With the warmth

  • Sometimes it is too hot to fish and enjoy it.
  • Sometimes the same is true of soul- winning. It works against the flesh.

D. With the will

  • That is the main problem.
  • You must submit your will to GOD’S will and go soul-winning because HE wants you to go soul-winning.


Acts 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

A. He thinks about it all the time

  • He rejoices in past trips.
  • He is thinking about future trips.
  • He likes to hear about other successful fishing stories.
  • He will attend conventions about it.
  • He will buy books and tapes about it.

B. He tries it again and again

  • He will fish all day long, from dawn until dusk.
  • He will go out fishing next week, even if he caught nothing this week.
  • He will go out fishing next week, even if his boat capsized this week!

C. He triumphs eventually

  • A real fisherman won’t go forever without catching some fish.
  • He will eventually catch some fish, which brings me to my final point:


John 21:10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

Notice the word “doubtless” in the following verse:

Psalms 126:6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

A. Caught fish are an example

  • They are examples of the obedience of the soul-winner.
  • They are examples of the power and grace of God. A saved soul is a “trophy of grace.”

B. Caught fish are encouraging

  • They show that it CAN be done!
  • They encourage others to go fishing!

C. Caught fish are enjoyable

  • It is enjoyable to catch a fish!
  • It is enjoyable to EAT a fish that you caught!
  • I’m not saying that we should devour our new converts, but the church benefits from them. They are a blessing. They become tithers. They become workers!

Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19)

When is the last time you went fishing for men?
When is the last time you caught a “trophy of grace”?
Will you get a partner and go soul-winning this week?

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