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Roy Fish Has Died: A Heart for Evangelism and a Life Dedicated to Sharing the Gospel

Roy FishIt saddens me to hear of the death of one of my heroes, Roy Fish.

I had the privilege of knowing Dr. Fish for many years. Dr. Fish was the kind of man I aspire to be. He was focused on evangelism, had a distinct passion for wanting to see men and women won for Christ, and was an encourager to me and many others for decades.

He served as Distinguished Professor of Evangelism and held the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary prior to his retirement. Dr. Fish was further honored in 2005, when Southwestern’s division of evangelism and missions in the School of Theology was reorganized as the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.

In addition to serving Southwestern, Dr. Fish held several prominent denominational leadership positions, including being interim president of the North American Mission Board– his leadership was key in a crucial and difficult time. As a NAMB staff member at the time, I remember how we all breathed a sigh of relief when he was announced.

He served as pastor or interim pastor at more than 20 churches, and his speaking opportunities led him to preach on every inhabited continent.

Dr. Fish held master’s and doctorate degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and authored several books and contributed to numerous articles on evangelism. He is survived by his wife, Jean, four children and several grandchildren.

The last time we taught together, I dropped by and spent a day at his class at Southwestern. To my recollection, I was there in town speaking for another denomination, and he asked me to come by (the fact that I was in town speaking to another denomination sparked his “ecumenical” comment that I mentioned last week). 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.

Dr. Fish and I have had the privilege of working together on several projects, both while he was at NAMB and while I have been here at LifeWay. One of those lives on in the hands of thousands upon thousands of people each day.

Every HCSB Bible LifeWay produces contains a plan of how to become a Christian. When we wanted to update the evangelistic presentation in all of the HCSB Bibles, the person we enlisted was Dr. Fish. Our desire was something that shared the good news but in the context of a Bible– which itself tells of God’s redemptive purposes over the centuries. He wrote it, then we went back and forth to make it fit in one page– not an easy task.

I can think of no better testimony of his life and work than to include that here. I hope this will serve as a reminder for us to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to provoke one another to love and good deeds as I have been by Dr. Fish. The best way we can remember his legacy is to faithfully proclaim his Lord.

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?


Bio material via Southern Baptist Texan.

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