Fishing with compromised nets
Mending the holes of doubt
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22)
Jesus’ promise to make His disciples ‘fishers of men’ is understood quite plainly. Christians are commanded to cast out the Gospel net and proclaim Jesus as the Saviour of the world so that God may draw people into His Kingdom.
Sharing the Gospel/Casting the nets
Ideally, sharing the Gospel of Jesus with someone involves communicating two primary components; sin and grace. The first is to explain Christ’s moral standard for all people so that people can compare themselves to it, revealing their sinful state and their need of salvation from God’s judgement (eternity in hell). The second is to show God’s grace in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us so that those who put their faith in Him can be saved (the ‘Good News’!). Christ paid the penalty that we deserve to pay, He is the way of salvation. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.
Repairing the nets/Apologetics
The aforementioned verse in Matthew describes two activities, casting for fish and repairing the nets. Obviously, uncast nets will not catch anything. But nets with holes in them are of little use as well. Small catches might still be possible, but large hauls will be harder to land no matter how much effort is put into casting. A net riddled with holes is compromised and allows many fish to wriggle out through the gaps. Similarly, a Gospel net that is severely compromised may function the same way.
Apologetics is giving a reasoned defence (1 Peter 3:15) of God’s word with the purpose of refuting arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5) that conflict with God’s word. The purpose of biblical apologetics is twofold. One is for believers, to build up their faith by using reason to show the entire Bible (the back story of the Gospel) can be intelligently defended. The second is for the non-believer, to remove objections (stumbling blocks) and to show that all other worldviews are deficient when examined logically. Apologetic arguments reinforce to the unbeliever that they will have no defence (Romans 1:20) when they face their Creator and to (hopefully) allow us to share the Gospel with them again.
Apologetics in submission to God’s word
Christians are to “ … take every thought captive to obey Christ”. To take a thought captive is to isolate and examine it so that it can submit to the authority of God’s word. To obey Christ is to obey His word, which is all of scripture. So if a thought does not match up to the revealed word of God then it should be rejected.
It is therefore imperative that believers examine the net they are ‘throwing’ to see if it is sound or not. The best way to know if it is or not is to constantly compare it to God’s word just as the Christians in Berea did in Acts 17:11.
A ‘holey’ net
This is why adding ‘millions of years’ (MOY) and other pagan evolutionary ideas to the Bible are not helpful when sharing the Gospel. They create tears of inconsistency in the fabric of the message that most intelligent people will use to squirm out of.
For example, there are many objections to the Christian faith but by far the most popular comes in some form of the question; “If God is good why is there so much death and suffering in the world?” By saying God used MOY of death and suffering to create, you are opening a gap that anyone can easily walk through.
If we find cancer in the fossil record for example and we tell people that the rock layers containing fossils were laid down MOY before Adam sinned then cancer is not the result of sin. It is just a ‘creative method’ that God used that He called ‘very good’. But how can a ‘good’ God have used cancer to create? There is no good answer and so the fish escapes the Gospel net!
Repair the nets
Apologetics and sharing the Gospel go hand in hand. The more you share the more you will see the need for study. Millions of people, many with a church background, have used evolution and/or MOY as a reason for their unbelief, so study in the area of creation apologetics can go a long way in reaching the lost. Believers should examine and mend the holes in their nets so they can cast a clear, strong and uncompromising Gospel message.