The Marks of a Real Soul-Winner

How to Identify a Fisher of Men

Matthew 4:18-25


I.        Introduction (Matthew 4:18-25, 19)


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


1.       Shining a light

2.       Feeding the hungry

3.       And fishing for men


B.      How can you identify a real fisherman? I.e., What makes a fisherman, a Fisherman?


1.       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.

2.       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.


C.      So, what are the characteristics of a Soul-Winner / a Fisher of Men? As we learn this, we will learn how become fishers of men ourselves!


II.      Message – The Identifying Marks of a Real Fisherman


Some marks of a REAL fisherman are:


A.      A Fisher of Men Plans His Trips (John 21:1-3a)


1.       A fisher of men always makes time to go fishing – it doesn’t “just” happen


a.       A fisherman doesn't catch them while he is wrapped-up at work. He makes time to BE fishing even while he is at work – talk about this more in a minute!

b.       He doesn't catch them on the way to the grocery store.

c.        He sets a time JUST for FISHING.


2.       He has a territory to work


a.       Jesus always planned where He was going to preach next (John 4)

b.       The apostle Paul planned his missionary journeys.

c.        Jesus saw an area as HIS area to work. Like a corner of a field


3.       He has a task to perform


a.       He is going fishing, not boating.

b.       He is going fishing, not picnicking.

c.        There is a difference between going soul-winning and visiting people.

d.       When we go fishing, that is, soul-winning, our task is to present the gospel to someone and press for a decision. It comes when we have PLANNED to say something at least

e.        In other words, you ain’t ever gonna catch fish unless you keep a plan to fish always as part of every other plan


B.      A Fisher of Men Gets Pleasure From Fishing (Ps 126:5,6) – not a chore!


1.       It helps him relax. Although it is work, it gets his mind off the other pressures of life. This is so important for the Christian.

2.       It helps him get refreshed (John 4:31-34)

3.       It helps him rejoice. You might not be such a grouch, sour-puss or whining complainer if you would just go soul-winning regularly!


C.      A Fisher of Men Prepares For His Fishing Trips (Mt 4:21) They were mending their nets. Are you anywhere near prepared to go fishing?


1.       You need a good, strong line – a love for souls that people will sense when you are witnessing

2.       You need good concentration – a walk with God that holds your concern and burden steady – not on and off

3.       You need some strong bait


a.       Tracts - Collect some good Gospel tracts. Read through them. Use them when witnessing

b.       Testimony - You need a clear profession of faith – no more of this wimpy “I felt Jesus!” “I feel I am already saved” “I hope to get to heaven!” You need a clear, simple testimony of your own salvation! It is part of the proof that the Gospel works!

c.        Key Scriptures – King James Bible verses


1)       Hebrews 9:27

2)       Romans 3:10

3)       Romans 3:23

4)       Romans 6:23a

5)       Romans 5:8

6)       Romans 6:23b

7)       Titus 3:5

8)       Ephesians 2:8,9

9)       1Timothy 2:5

10)   Acts 13:38,39

11)   Romans 10:13


4.       You need the power of God – where GOD speaks when you speak – only comes by a surrendered, obedient life that is clean living

5.       You need the Holy Spirit guiding you, and drawing the sinner

6.       You need to believe that it works (Rom 1:17; Isa 55:11)

7.       You need a good pattern to follow (i.e., “Follow me…”)


a.       Just talk like Jesus talked

b.       Care about souls – don’t just see people, or customers (THANK GOD MAUREEN SMITH CARED FOR MY SOUL)!

c.        Cast your line where HE says throw it (John 21:5,6)



D.      A Fisher of Men Has A Partner (Eccl 4:9,10) 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 (Luke 10:1). Ignore the abuse of the JW’s


1.       The partner can work the boat. He can help with opening conversations. He can help when you run out of things to say.

2.       The partner can pray

3.       The partner can ward off problems


a.       When you're catching "a big one," there might be things that hinder you from catching him -- snakes, alligators, limbs, snags, stumps, KIDS!

b.       The soul-winning partner can help to handle dogs, TV, children, phone calls, and other interruptions while the soul-winner is presenting the gospel.


4.       The partner can encourage – sometimes a hard witness leaves you drained and you walk away from a house, or a person and you feel like you blew it, or should have had better answers, and your partne gives you a “shot in the arm” – what a blessing!


E.       But, A Fisher of Men Has Problems (Luke 5:5)


1.       Sometimes Problems With the wind (Eccl 11:4)


a.       Sometimes the winds are contrary.

b.       Things are going to work against you – uphill battle - when you decide to be a soul-winner.

c.        Like changing cultures, and bad attitudes

d.       But that’s okay… He didn’t come for the wind


2.       Sometimes Problems With the water


a.       Sometimes the water is rough. Choppy. Can’t get to the point.

b.       Sometimes the water is muddy. Can’t see through their smokescreens

c.        Sometimes it is too high or too low. Can’t relate to them

d.       But the water is not the reason to go fishing – that is just WHERE the fish live!


3.       Sometimes Problems With the warmth


a.       Sometimes it is too hot to fish and enjoy it.

b.       Sometimes the same is true of soul- winning. It works against the flesh.


4.       Usually Problems With the will


a.       That is the main problem.

b.       Just getting yourself to go fishing for men is our biggest battle

c.        You must submit your will to GOD'S will and go soul-winning because HE wants you to go soul-winning (Acts 5:17-20).

d.       Look at Peter – pressed to witness to a Gentile, a hated ROMAN soldier (Acts 10:9-19,28)

e.        Look at Jonah – forced to preach to his enemy in Nineveh

f.        Look at Jesus facing the cross! “Not my will, but thine!”


5.       Every fisherman has problems. But that’s part of the challenge!


F.       A Fisher of Men Is Persistent (Acts 20:31)


1.       He thinks about fishing all the time


a.       He rejoices in past trips.

b.       He is thinking about future trips.

c.        He likes to hear about other successful fishing stories.

d.       He will attend conventions about fishing.

e.        He will buy books and tapes about it. He will watch people fishing, and read about them fishing, and search for helps with fishing!


2.       He tries it again and again – never gets really discouraged


a.       He will fish all day long, from dawn until dusk.

b.       He will go out fishing next week, even if he caught nothing this week.

c.        He will go out fishing next week, even if his boat capsized this week!

d.       That’s why Jesus chose to compare soul-winning with fishing!


3.       It’s not really much of HIM that’s catching the fish – the bait, and the line, and the hook are – much the same as with farming (1Cor 3:5-9)

4.       He triumphs eventually


a.       A real fisherman won't go forever without catching some fish.

b.       He will eventually catch fish, which brings me to my final point:


G.      A Fisher of Men Has Proof of His Fishing (John 21:10) Notice the word "doubtless" in the following verse (Ps 126:6):


1.       Caught fish are encouraging


a.       A fisherman loves fishing because of the FISH he has caught! Not because of the sun-tan, or the fellowship, or the picnic!

b.       Fish in hand encourage others to go fishing! You hold up a bunch of fish, and invariably, someone is going to shout, I WANT TO GO TOO!


2.       Caught fish are enjoyable


a.       It is enjoyable to catch a fish!

b.       It is enjoyable to EAT a fish that you caught!

c.        I'm not saying that we should devour our new converts, but the church benefits from them.

d.       Fresh fish are a blessing.


1)       Like a new born baby, they bring joy to every one

2)       They keep us young at heart

3)       They become workers! They become tithers. They become Sunday School teachers, and RU workers, and preachers and soul-winners

4)       And best of all, they become soul-winners themselves!


3.       Caught fish are an example - They are examples of the power and grace of God. A saved soul is a "trophy of God’s grace”

4.       Caught fish are Eternal – they will be around for ever, and ever!

a.       Someone says, you can’t bring it with you

b.       Ah, but there ARE some things you can bring to heaven with you


1)       Your family

2)       Your friends

3)       Your co-workers

4)       Your wife, your husband


III.   Conclusion - Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Mt 4:19)


A.      When is the last time you went fishing for men?

B.      When is the last time you caught a real trophy catch? A "trophy of God’s grace"?

C.      Will you get a partner and go soul-winning this week? We need to get more organised, and get fishing, every day, and every week!

D.      You are just doing what the Master Fisher of men did – just follow Him