Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark
“Walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And immediately abandoning their nets, they followed him. Then, going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And immediately abandoning the boat and their father, they followed him.”
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and it gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew up on the shore; and when they sat down, they gathered the good ones into vessels, but threw the bad ones away. This is how it will be at the close of the age.”
From these scriptures we see that four of our Lord’s apostles were fishermen. This is a worthy occupation; nevertheless, Jesus wanted these four men, along with all whom he chooses to preach the gospel, to leave their nets (occupations) and to follow him in fishing for the men and women who are dying in a sea of sin and despair.
Of course, not every fish will be caught and rescued from the sea (the sea is the peoples of the earth – Rev. 17:15). Indeed, this kingdom net holds only a small number of fish in comparison to those left in the sea; and yet, not all those who are brought out of the sea will be saved in the end, for there are some bad fish in the net of the kingdom of God (Mt. 13:47-48) as well as good. When the net was full, our text tells us, “they drew up on the shore; and when they sat down, they gathered the good ones [obedient believers] into vessels, but threw the bad ones [disobedient believers] away. This is how it will be at the close of the age.”
Many saints are constantly vexed by the presence of these trouble-making bad fish, or “foolish virgins” (Mt. 25:1-12), among us. But do not fret yourselves, faithful ones. It won’t be long. “For in just a very little while, ‘He who is coming will come, and he will not tarry.’ ” (Heb. 10:37). In the appointed time, foolish virgins will be cast out of the kingdom of God. The whole point of Jesus’ parable of the net is that some who are born of the Spirit will be damned in the Final Judgment because they have been disobedient children of God since their new birth experience. “So, judge nothing before the time, but wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will expose the intentions of hearts” (1Cor. 4:5).
God’s kingdom must bear among its citizens both good and bad until the harvest. Remember, the servants of God “when those servants went out on the roads, they gathered together all, as many as they found, both evil and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” We are also told that “when the king came in to view the guests, he saw a man there not clothed with wedding garments. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you enter here not having wedding garments?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to his ministers, ‘Bind his hands and feet, take him away and cast him into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called but few are chosen” (Mt. 22:11-14). Yes, thank God, the time is near when “The Son of man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom [net] all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness. . . . Then will the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mt. 13:41; 43). God will purge His family of all disobedience before the end of this age.
Sinner, you have one thing especially for which to thank God, and that is, His net is still in the water. However, the net is being drawn nearer to shore each day. The day is approaching when we shall hear Him say, “Bring near the fish which you have now caught.”
This same truth is revealed in a parable which Paul explained to the saints in Galatia: “For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one [Ishmael] by a servant-girl [Hagar] and another [Isaac] by a free woman [Sarah]; however, the one by the servant-girl was begotten after the flesh, while the one by the free woman was begotten through promise. Which things are used for an allegory [a story which is told to explain something else]” (Gal. 4:22-24). In this allegory, Abraham typified God the Father. He was father to both Ishmael and Isaac, who symbolized the foolish and wise among the children of God today. To those who walk in the liberty of Christ, Paul continued, “Now we, brothers, are children of promise [the Spirit], as was Isaac, but just as then, the one who was born after the flesh [Ishmael] persecuted the one born after the spirit, so it is now as well. But then, what does the scripture say? ‘Cast out this slave-girl with her son! For the son of this slave-girl will not inherit’ with the son of the free woman.”
Do you recall how it grieved Abraham when he had to “cast out this slave-girl and her son”? Yes, “the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son [Ishmael]” (Gen. 21:11). Nevertheless, he had to give him up. Friend, don’t you know that it will be grievous to God when He casts some of His children out of His kingdom?
May God help Isaac to grow and be weaned from the ceremonies and traditions of men which so heavily burden the body of Christ. It was when Isaac was weaned that Sarah saw Ishmael mocking! Oh, how the foolish virgins now mock the few who have been wise enough to withdraw themselves from “commandments and teachings of men. Which things, though having an appearance of wisdom in a self-willed religion, humility, and abuse of the body”, but “are all headed for destruction by the use” (Col. 2:22-23). The separation of the foolish and the wise in God’s family is drawing near. Sarah is about to cry, “Cast out this slave- girl and her son!” According to Jesus’ parable of the tares in the field (Mt. 13:24-30, 36-43), this separation will occur before the coming of the Lord! Pray, my friend, to be found worthy to escape the “strong delusion” which God will soon send, which delusion will deceive every stubborn soul in His kingdom, every heart not completely yielded to Christ.
The gospel ship has been launched into the sea of humanity. The net has been cast on the right side of the ship and is being filled with the souls of men. Hurry, sinner, ere you be left in the sea to perish in the destruction of the earth. Hurry, lukewarm child of God! Prepare your heart to be tried by the Almighty. On that day, may we all be able to say, “Thou, O God, hast proved us. Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net. Thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads. We went through the fire and through water, but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Ps. 66:10-12).
May every true fisherman stay by the net, with hands steady in faith, until we hear the words of the Master, “Bring of the fish which you have now caught.”