'If you ain't fishing, you ain't following,' says pastor
by Vicky Kaniaru
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) — "As followers of Jesus, too often we exit chapel services, we exit our studies, and we hide the light of the Gospel in our hearts," said Levi Skipper, senior pastor at Concord Baptist Church, Cleveland, Ga. Skipper spoke Feb. 9 at Truett-McConnell College's weekly chapel.
Expounding from 2 Cor. 5, Skipper emphasized the importance of preaching the Gospel, stating that believers are currently living in an unseeded generation. Referencing a book titled Just Walk Across The Room, Skipper stated that the longer a person is a Christian, the fewer people he or she knows and associates with who are not Christians.
Skipper said such is a far cry from Jesus Christ, who is the "friend of sinners."
"We are commanded by God to make disciples," Skipper said. "We are called by God to witness of his immediate grace, which covers sin and offers new life in the Lord."
Drawing from Acts 1, Skipper added, "As we make disciples and we witness of God's grace in Christ, we are simultaneously populating heaven with eternal worshipers of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb."
Recounting his college and seminary years, Skipper said he noticed few believers concerned with sharing the Gospel. He also noted that some Truett-McConnell students might not know Christ.
"I really want to challenge those of you who know the Lord," Skipper said. "Why are you sitting on the Gospel when you know that individual you play ball with doesn't know Christ?"
"The perfect opportunity is now," added Skipper, who reiterated that believers are paralyzed by waiting to share the Gospel.
Skipper recounted the tragic story of his brother Lance, who died of a brain tumor. The pastor added that, if he knew a person who had a cure for his brother but refused to give it, Skipper would be angry.
"But you know people are dying of a much greater disease than cancer or brain tumor; they're dying because of the disease of sin," said Skipper, who added that the Gospel is the good news that rescues people out of darkness and brings them into the light.
Skipper listed three ways believers should live in order to be passionate about sharing the Gospel: We must live with the end in mind, we must live with the adventure in mind, and we must live with the Gospel in mind.
"As soon as you came to faith in Christ, you became a missionary," Skipper said. "As soon as you were saved, God gave you every single thing you need to go out and declare the Gospel."
God gave believers the Spirit of God which empowers them, added Skipper, who reminded the audience that "what we do in our temporal bodies to spread the Gospel will hold reward or loss for us the judgment seat."
"How great it will be for Christ to view your life and my life knowing that we gave our life to his service and his kingdom work on the earth," Skipper said.
Stating that believers are ambassadors of Christ on earth, Skipper added that believers need to live with the adventure in mind.
"Jesus said, 'You follow me, I'll make you fishers of men.' If you ain't fishing, you ain't following," said Skipper, who recounted the story of a former church member named Fronzo.
Fronzo committed his life to Christ and became passionate about God. He would share his conversion with co-workers and everyone he met. One of Fronzo's co-workers, Tim, decided to visit Skipper's church. Skipper preached the Gospel that day but Tim did not surrender his life to Christ.
When Skipper visited Tim at his house, he met Tim's wife, who committed her life to Christ. She was baptized the next Sunday as Tim watched but refused to commit his life to Christ. Later, Tim's three sons surrendered their life to Christ, but Tim remained resistant. Skipper continued to visit Tim.
"You say, 'Why do you keep going back?'" Skipper said. "Because my Bible says persistently intrude."
On a Wednesday night as he preached, Skipper noticed Tim seated toward the back of the room. Skipper gave the invitation to receive Jesus Christ. Tim did not budge. Later, Tim told Skipper he received Christ but was afraid to tell him. Changed by Christ, Tim became passionate like Fronzo and began inviting people to come to Christ.
"All of this happened because of one person named Fronzo," Skipper said. "He was just faithful in his mission to share Christ. God can use you to start a chain reaction that you may never know of until you get to the judgment seat."
Believers must live with the Gospel in mind, Skipper added. Drawing from verse 21 of the text, Skipper reiterated how Jesus absorbed the wrath of sinners and God the Father imparted Jesus' righteousness to any person who received Him as Lord.
He took the pages of his son's book, Jesus, and put it in my book, Skipper said.
"All of you who know the Christ, don't sit on this Gospel," Skippers said. "Get out there and share it with people."
Vicky Kaniaru is senior staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.