A soteriological approach to scooping up lots of fish

For those who were at Liberty when Jay Lowder came in 2021, you’ll remember the murmurs of excitement for how many people came up to the stage that day to get saved or to rededicate their lives to Christ. Perhaps you too were excited for the hundreds of students. 

Well, I was rather depressed about it. 

“Why on earth,” you might be thinking, “would you be depressed about such a great movement on this campus for Christ?” 

I wasn’t upset that people got saved. I was upset that many of those people would forget what gospel they accepted within a week. 

And this idea isn’t scripturally unwarranted; in fact, Jesus lays out the cost of discipleship in the Gospel of Luke: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’” (14:28-30).

I’m all about counting the cost. Upending your life for Christ — completely changing your perspective on what you believe — ought to require serious understanding for what Christ has done for you. And this is why I was so upset that day. I remember asking the Lord, “Are they sure they know what they’ve just signed up for?”

Let’s backtrack: rewind the clock to just after the resurrection of Jesus. Many of the disciples go out to fish one night. They’re out in this boat all night. Cast the net. Wait for the fish to weigh down the net. Nothing tugs. Pull in the soggy ropes. Cast, wait, nothing, pull. Cast, wait, noth—

“Children, do you have any fish?” asks Jesus (John 21:5). But the disciples, overwhelmed and angry from not catching anything all night long, grumble back with a “no.” “‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. … So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn” (John 21:6-11).

This net was so full, so filled to the brim with 153 fish, that any normal strands of rope would’ve snapped at the weight. But these ropes, being miraculously reinforced through Christ’s power, held up and brought in the fish.

Now, I don’t particularly care to get into predestination, the “elect” and all that — to me, these are important, but secondary, issues about salvation. But I will say that Christ’s gospel is like that net:

Miraculously reinforced.

How are we to respond? I mean, it is possible to hear the good news, love it and then disregard it. It’s possible to be caught in the net of good news and then hear the siren call of that deceptive one. But Christ can miraculously reinforce the net that holds us in his salvation.

So here I was with my heart full of sadness for those who would desert the gospel.

Then I went to my ENGL 102 class that day. My professor asked the class for prayer requests, as was his custom, and this one lady raised her hand. “Lots of people just got saved at Convo today. Can we pray for them to spiritually maintain their newfound faith?”

Bam. Props to that lady.

Perhaps my heart can’t help but break when I know many will disregard the faith they just accepted. But if I don’t pray for those people, what does that benefit anyone? It’s a good thing Christ’s net is strong enough to hold the fish who are caught in the good news.

Gilmer is the opinion editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on X

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