Friday, October 13, 2017

2017-10-13 [Month of Mission 2017] Kingdom Parable#5 -- The Net

Kingdom Parable#5 -- The Net

"Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."      (Matthew13:47-51 )
Jesus' parable of the Net is perhaps the most poignant and disturbing of all. It was told to the twelve apart from the crowd. This alone should give us pause lest we fall prey to what John Stott describes as evangelical Schadenfreude, delight in the misfortune of others. Jesus speaks of separating "the wicked from the righteous", of "a blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." The language might be metaphorical but it is no less real. Lest we dismiss them in our PC world as 'theological hate speech' we do well to remember that they are the words of a loving Saviour.

Granted the gospel is not a message about hell. However, the gospel cannot be understood apart from its reality. Hell is real. It is vividly described in the New Testament. Granted it was originally "prepared for the devil and his angels". (Matt 25:41) However, it is shared by people. Sinclair Ferguson reminds us, 'if we need to be convinced of the reality of hell all we need to do is to consider the cross. It is all there... darkness, pain, isolation, sin bearing, divine judgement, curse, alienation, utter darkness, separation from God'.

The more profoundly we are aware of this, the more rigorous we will be with ourselves and the more tender toward the lost. Around 1843, the physically frail and soon to die aged 29, Robert Murray McCheyne wrote, 'As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power, that every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell. Oh how I wished that I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or that I had the frame like iron, that I might visit every one, and say "Escape for thy life!" ' On another occasion, when he met his dearest friend Andrew Bonar, McCheyne asked what Bonar had preached on Sunday prior. On receiving the answer 'Hell', he asked: 'Did you preach it with tears?'

Once more the words of Jesus should give us pause, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me' ". (Matt 7:21-23)

May the gospel of our great salvation, rather than hell, have the last word: "...whoever believes in him [Jesus] shall not perish but have eternal life". (John 3:16)
Alan Cameron. Minister at Trinity, Lynnwood. Married to Cecile. Blessed with three young adult children: Ross, Jess and Caitlin.

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