Remembering Roy Fish on the Anniversary of His Passing
A year ago today, my friend Roy Fish died. If you don't know about Dr. Fish, as we called him, you might want to take a look at this article which explained, "Fish impacted the lives of thousands of students, many who credit him with instilling a fire for evangelism in their souls."
Or, see what my friend Bob Roberts said about Dr. Fish.
He was a great man of God that influenced so many. Thousands could share about what he taught them, but I'll mention two things he taught me-- things I needed to hear from a leader of his character and stature.
I wrote about him twice on my blog—once just before his death and once just after. This week, I was thinking about his words and the advice he gave me-- and his impact on my thinking. Perhaps it will be helpful to you as well.
In the first post, I shared his comment about engaging other denominations.
The last time I spoke at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, my friend Dr. Roy Fish invited me to speak to his class. Dr. Fish introduced me with something like the phrase, "Ed is the most ecumenical person I know." It's interesting, because to Dr. Fish that was a very gracious compliment (and I took it that way). However, when that phrase is used in my denomination about me (or others), it is generally not a positive comment.
What Dr. Fish meant was that I tend to build bridges and engage in relationships with people both inside and outside of my denomination. For some people having relationships with Christians who are not in your denomination is not just bad, but it is seen as a threat to the denomination itself. (I have the letters to prove it.)
He had a different approach. For example, he taught Evangelism Explosion, written by a Presbyterian no less, because his focus was evangelism and EE motivated people to that cause.
I'm thankful that Dr. Fish knew the gospel was bigger than our mutual denomination. I was thinking of him, and that fact, this week. I recently tweeted:
Don't make your denomination a prison. Make it a home. It will anger small-minded people, but will honor a big God.
That's one of the things Dr. Fish taught me. But, he also taught me to stay focused on evangelism when other things can distract.
In the blogpost I wrote after he died, I shared about a time that he admonished me. Yep, admonished!
During a break for lunch, I brought up the fact that, well, certain people do not like one another in our denomination. I was great impressed that he just did not worry about such things. Roy Fish did not care about petty politics. He just wanted to tell people about Jesus. He gently admonished me to remember that—and I received it because he was right.
Well, I wish he was here today. The pettiness-- it appears-- is always with us, but the lost matter more.
Right now, we need to see the focus that Roy brought. He was focused on evangelism. He thought that the petty arguments just distract us from a big calling.
You might find it interesting that every Bible published at LifeWay has an gospel presentation that Roy and I wrote together. Thousands upon thousands of people are reading Roy's words-- words of the gospel.
If we all focused on that, what a difference it might make.
By the way, here is that brief gospel presentation:
God's Plan for Salvation
"How can I find meaning and purpose in life?" is a common question and worth considering. So what is life all about--and how does this relate to God, me, and eternity?
It's about how we got here.
People on this planet didn't get here by some cosmic accident. At creation, God said "Let Us make man in Our image" (Genesis 1:26). God created men and women and placed us here on the earth.
It's about why God put us here.
God loved what He created and created us to truly know and enjoy Him. He loved us and wanted to live in fellowship with us. In the beginning, we lived in harmony and happiness with God and one another (Genesis 1:31).
It's about how we responded.
In our early history the first humans turned away from God and went their own way--and fellowship with God was broken. Now, all people are born with a sinful nature, and without exception all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). The consequence of this is that we are separated from God and deserve punishment for our sins.
It's about how God rescues us.
Out of His deep love for us, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to rescue us from our dilemma by dying on the cross (John 3:16). By sacrificing His life on behalf of sinners He took the punishment we deserve in order to provide salvation. Then God raised Jesus from the dead, confirming the work of Jesus on the cross and establishing His power over death.
It's about our response.
Jesus has sufficiently paid the debt for all of our wrong-doing, and we are called to turn from our sin, rebellion, and isolation and trust what Jesus has done on our behalf.
God makes very clear the conditions by which the salvation Jesus offers can be ours. In Mark 1:15 Jesus said, "Repent and believe in the good news!" First, God says we must repent. The word "repent" means a change of direction. This means when we turn to God, we are turning away from sin and giving up on the attempt to make ourselves right before God.
Second, God says we must believe. The word "believe" as it is used in the Bible means trust. The object of our trust is the One who paid the price for our wrong-doing. We must trust Jesus to remove our guilt and the penalty of all the wrongs we have done. The Bible says when we put our faith in Jesus, God takes our sins away and gives us the gift of eternal life.
How Will You Respond?
The Bible says that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord" will be rescued (Romans 10:13). If you've not trusted in Christ as Lord and Savior, why not stop right now, turn from your sin, and believe in Him who alone can save you and give you new and eternal life?
My denomination—and churches across all denominations—would be a much better place if we were more people like Roy Fish.