The Parables Series #5
TEXT: Matt. 13:47-50
INTRO: A famous rock group years ago wrote a song about dying that had a phrase in it that said, "I DON'T KNOW IF THERE'S A HEAVEN, AND I PRAY THERE AIN'T NO HELL, I JUST WANT TO DIE NATURALLY!"
ILLUS: You might wonder why I believe in heaven in an age like this. One of the Russian cosmonauts came back and said, "Some people say God lives out there. I looked around, and I didn't see any God out there." Billy Graham's wife, Ruth, says he looked in the wrong place. If he'd stepped outside the space ship without his space suit, he would have seen God very quickly. -- Leighton Ford, "Hope for a Great Forever," Preaching Today, Tape No. 96.
It has become somewhat fashionable today to talk about life after death ... especially the many reports of people who have died and returned to life, except most of what you hear is that there is soft lights, love, peace, harmony after life, not much is said about hell, only the prospect of a warm loving place like heaven.
It is much more convenient to believe there is a heaven, but most don't want to think of the possibility that there is a hell!
PROP. SENT: Jesus teaches us that one day there will be a separation of all people; some to heaven, and some to hell ... it is as real as the fact that you are here and alive today!
A. Dragnet & the Gospel Matt. 13:47a
1. The preaching of the Gospel is like a net thrown in the sea of humanity.
2. It is our duty to spread the Gospel, you don't catch fish without throwing out the net!
a. Remember Jesus' words to Peter and Andrew in Matthew 4:19, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
b. This is still true for His disciples today!
c. Too many churches today still think the “Gospel” is only about the church, it is NOT! It is about the church reaching the masses of humanity with a message that God has “good news” … Christ has made a way of cleansing through His son Jesus Christ.
ILLUS: A person may go to heaven-
But no one can go to heaven without Christ. – Source Unknown
d. The church is supposed to be “throwing out the net” and trying to bring in a catch!
3. The very fact that Jesus introduces this concept with “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like…” suggests the importance of command for the believer to “reach out” with the Gospel!
a. The “once again” meant that Jesus tried to get this point across already!
b. This is critical for the church – especially since Jesus is repeating the concept with another parable!
c. Yet, how many churches today have mandated reaching out vs. taking care of just the flock they have?
d. The church cannot afford an inward focus.
B. All Kinds Matt. 13:47b
1. The beauty of the Gospel like a dragnet is that more than just a single type is caught in this net. Notice Jesus said, “…and caught all kinds of fish.”
2. Distinct types – the Gospel will have broad appeal to a variety of people, it is beyond a personality type.
a. Personality differences
b. Emotional differences
c. Race differences
d. Different in talents
3. Variety is beautiful!
a. The church benefits from the differences!
b. God never designed that we be alike, just alive!
4. The Gospel and salvation was meant for everyone. Christ died for all! Yes it is true that not everyone will be saved, but potentially everyone could be! The Gospel wasn’t meant for just a certain segment of society, or a certain ethnic group.
a. Christ’s hope was for “all” to come: 2 Pet 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
b. And the Gospel will touch many, a variety were “caught” in the net!
5. The church must be careful never to think that a “certain” type of person only can become true Christians … the door must remain open for the diversity of whom God calls into the kingdom.
a. Some people never catch fish because they quit too early!
b. Others never learn how to fish properly!
c. Some are just too lazy to let down the net!
d. Others might not want to help deal with the catch anyway!
II. "SEPARATE ACCOUNTS!" Matt. 13:48
A. Collection Time Matt. 13:48a
1. Day of reckoning:
a. When time is full or complete there will come a day when the final “harvest” of fish is over … when they are gathered up “on shore.”
b. There is coming a time of fullness – Note in the text that it said, “when the net was full” … indicating there is a time when it is over! God has an end to time just like there was a beginning to it! Anything that has a beginning also has an ending!
ILLUS: In the day when all men will stand before God, the significant question for each of us will no longer be what we think of Christ, but what he thinks of us. – Elva J. Hoover – Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 4718.
c. Stewards will always have to give account for what they have been entrusted with ... all men has been entrusted with time and their own soul!
d. The church and the believer will have a final moment when there will be no more throwing the net out! The final catch will be done, everything is brought “on shore” and the catch will be evaluated (sorted) by the great fisherman! (Christ)
2. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven..." Matt. 6:19-20
a. Jesus is speaking here of the moment of finality. The end will come, there will be no more opportunity for a new catch; the final catch is brought “on shore” and the entire catch is going to be sorted.
b. There is coming this event sometime in the future, and none of us knows when it will happen.
c. It could be right around the corner, or a hundred years from now.
d. The critical point: What are you – a good catch or a throw-a-way? You WILL BE one or the other!
B. Eternity Revealed Matt. 13:48b
1. Good Fish -- those who accepted Jesus Christ as savior. And because they did they invested in God's Kingdom rather than laying up treasures only on earth.
2. Bad Fish -- (Charlie the tuna type) those who invested in this world or just themselves! For them life was about “self” … not the “savior.”
3. It will matter tomorrow who you know today!
a. Your eternal dwelling is determined by your present decision concerning Jesus Christ.
ILLUS: As John and Betty Stam, early missionaries to China, were led to certain execution by their communist captors, someone asked, "Where are you going?" After saying he didn't know where the guards were going, John added, "But we're going to heaven." -- "Hudson Taylor and Missions to China," Christian History, no. 52.
b. No one goes to heaven just because they think they deserve it, only because their sins are forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.
c. And there is no “second” chances, the catch is separated only once … and there is no other opportunity for another catch!
III. "ACCOUNTS CLOSED!" Matt. 13:49-50
A. Separation Matt. 13:49
1. Wicked from righteous. These 2 verses are still connected with the preceding parable … explaining the previous parable.
2. The separation of righteous from unrighteous will be real and final, there is no guesswork in Jesus’ language here!
3. It is convenient to not believe in hell, but to hope for a heaven ... the problem is that it is convenient AND catastrophic!
ILLUS: If you insist on having your own way, you will get it. Hell is the enjoyment of your own way forever. – Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 5695.
4. Hell will be a real place of real torment!
a. That's not man's teaching, but it is Jesus’ teaching.
b. How people can say Jesus was a great moral teacher and then just choose to ignore this part of His teaching makes no sense!
5. Heaven holds to the reality of real bliss as well!
6. A real end of time exists; God will call it to a halt one day and usher in eternity. No “change of mind” will be allowed at this point; today is the day of salvation!
B. Cashed In! Matt. 13:50
1. Eternal dividends on investments.
a. Righteous to heaven
b. Wicked to hell
2. God pays great interest in this life on our investments! The “returns” on what we dedicate to the Lord are far in excess on what we give, and they last “forever.”
a. And Christ paid the entire price to allow us “in!”
b. Why anyone would NOT take advantage of such a generous opportunity is lunacy!
3. The Devil charges great interest on his accounts and the goods of this world that are opposed to God.
a. He is a loan shark! In the end the devil will bankrupt every person who has followed him and ignored Christ! They will be eternally separated from God not because God has sent them to eternal hell but because they chose NOT to be with Christ!
b. Demands your life! Unlike Christ who “gave Himself” to us, Satan “takes everything” from those who serve this world and self.
c. The final “dragnet” has not been cast yet … but could any day. The “good news” (Gospel) is that you have the opportunity yet to be a “good catch.”
CONCLUSION: There is coming a dragnet when we will be given a place in eternity, destinations are only two -- Heaven or Hell, what kind of fish are you, worth keeping or throwing away!?