The Celtic Revival: Patrick (11)
from every nation men will come and grieve
for their iniquities and will receive
the Lord. And just as firmly, we believe
it is our obligation from the Lord
to diligently fish for men. His Word
is clear: “Come follow Me and I will make
you fish for men.” In this you’ll see I take
Him at His Word: “Behold, I’m sending out
so many fishermen and hunters.” Doubt
it not; it is His Word. From which you see
it is most clear, that all who wish to be
His followers are obliged to cast their nets
to catch a multitude of fish and get
a mighty gathering for the Lord.
- Patrick, Confession (5th century)
The Lord chose him so that he might teach the barbarian
nations, so that he might fish with nets of doctrine;
so that he might draw believers out of the world to grace,
and they might follow the Lord to a heavenly seat.
- Sechnaill, Audite Omnes Amantes, Irish, 6th century
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
- Luke 5.4
Fishers of men. We all know that this is the work to which Jesus called the disciples; and, in some vague and haunting way, we believe this to be our calling, too. Jesus instructs us to launch out into the waves of the unbelieving world, and let down our nets for a catch.
Patrick took this calling seriously. He saw himself as doing only what the Lord commanded, and in his Confession, he simply reported on his efforts, and how the Lord had blessed them. He firmly believed he was called to fish for men, and as Sechnaill, Patrick’s contemporary, further explained, “nets of doctrine” were Patrick’s preferred means.
These days, fishing for men in most churches looks a lot like waiting around for the fish to swim into our pool. We seldom launch out beyond the safe confines of our church building, and the “nets” we have chosen to use in drawing people to the grace of Jesus look more like the lures of self and entertainment than the hard but saving truths of God’s Word.
Patrick preached the Gospel of grace to the pagan Irish. He told them their idols could not save them, and their kings would not be able to deliver them from the coming judgment of God. He proclaimed the unfathomable love of God, Who called even lowly slaves to seek Him with all their heart, so that they might find Him and His salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Patrick told those who heard him that following Christ is a difficult and demanding road, that they would have to lay aside their former beliefs and ways of living, and be clothed with Jesus for a life of self-denial and service. He told them they might suffer for believing in Jesus. He insisted that they neither hesitate nor doubt. He explained that God demanded total obedience, sincere repentance, and earnest devotion to prayer and the Word of Christ.
And they heard his preaching and believed the Gospel by the thousands.
Patrick launched himself into the depths of Irish paganism, immorality, ignorance, and unbelief, and unleashed the nets of God’s Word, believing God would enable him to catch a great multitude for Christ. Where are the preachers today who think like this? Who take God’s Word seriously, and equip the people in their care for lives as fishers of men? Where are the church members who every day launch out into the deep waters of their Personal Mission Field, letting down their nets of loving service and ready witness, believing they will realize a great catch?
This is why we need to understand the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD). If we had the faith of Patrick, we would believe the Word of God and launch into the deeps each day. We have made the Christian life too confusing and complex: join our church, get involved, be in a small group, come to this seminar or course, learn these new praise songs, and on and on. “If our love were but more simple,” the old hymn has it, “we should take Him at His Word.” And His Word to each of us is the same as it was to Patrick: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Patrick followed Jesus, and all Europe was revived. What can happen if we follow Him?
Psalm 67.1-3 (Solid Rock: My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)
O bless us, Savior, by Your grace, and shine upon us with Your face,
That we Your way may loud proclaim and tell to all the earth Your fame!
Let all the peoples praise You, Lord,
Rejoicing in Your holy Word!
Rejoicing in Your holy Word!
Let Your face shine on Me, Lord Jesus, that I may launch out today and…
Mission Partners Outreach
Our Mission Partners Outreach can help you follow God’s call to share the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom with the people in your Personal Mission Field. The training and materials are free, and the program is available in two formats, and can be used in your Bible study group or Sunday school class. Watch this brief video (click here), and download the informational flyer to learn more.
The Legacy of Patrick
Patrick made a lasting impact on Ireland and Europe, igniting a revival that lasted for nearly four centuries. He has left for us a legacy of priorities which we can appropriate for our own walk with and work for the Lord. Order your copy of The Legacy of Patrick from our online store (click here).
Like Patrick, we depend on the Lord to support our ministry, which He does through friends who pray for us and share their gifts with us, as the Lord leads. As you pray today, ask the Lord whether He might use you to support this work. You can do so by clicking the Contribute buttonat our website, or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Thank you.
T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Carey, pp. 152, 153.