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Kingdom Parables: Bring Them In

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The Kingdom of Heaven is like a net cast into the sea.

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Text: Matthew 13:47-50
Theme: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a net cast into the sea.
Looking into the parables of Matthew 13 Jesus has given us a peak at the characteristics of the Kingdom. Through these short, pithy stories, Jesus has tried to show us something of what our Lord’s kingdom is all about.
He took us into the fields of planting and harvesting. There he spoke to us about the broadcasting of the gospel seed upon the soils of the hearts of mankind.
He showed us the work of the enemy to discount and destroy the gospel message through false prophets and false gospels.
He took us into household kitchen where the everyday bread was made. There he revealed to us the phenomenal impact of the kingdom of heaven upon the world.
From the kitchen Jesus took us out into the market place and there showed us the immense value of the kingdom of heaven and how we should value its truths and principles at any cost.
And now He comes full-circle and presents the end results of our belief or unbelief in the gospel – the judgment of God. In the Parable of the Dragnet Jesus casts His words upon the sea of our minds to speak of the end times coming upon all mankind.
The day of judgment is a sure reality. In our day, it seems that people, both saved and unsaved, give little thought to eternity and the day of judgment that is coming.
ILLUS. It is said that Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright once asked in a revival meeting, "All who desire to lead a new life, to give their hearts to God, and go to heaven, will you stand." A sprinkling of men, women, and children stood up. Then he exhorted, "All who do not wish to go to hell will you stand." All stood up!
There are four points to this parable:
Jesus lays out the Picture
Jesus lays out a Principle
Jesus lays out the Peril
Jesus lays our the Promise


““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.” (Matthew 13:47–48, NIV84)
1. using words from the profession of fishing Jesus paints a word picture of the coming judgment
a. now hear was a parable the disciples would understand
1) at least four of them were fishermen
2) the rest would have understood the story because they all knew how fishermen fished in that day
2. fishing was one of the major industries in New Testament times
a. there were three ways of fishing . . .
1) line and hook
ILLUS. Jesus dealing with temple taxes tells Peter, " ...go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first." (Matthew 17:27)
2) one man net
ILLUS. Jesus called Andrew and Peter to follow him while they were fishing. "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers." (Matthew 4:1)
3) the third type of fishing was done with a "dragnet" a large net that was often attached to two boats sometimes a half of mile wide
3. the dragnet is the kind of net Jesus is talking about in this parable
a. the net had floats on the top and weights on the bottom so as to create a wall of net so that nothing escaped
b. as the net was pulled toward shore, fish of every kind would be gathered into the net
c. once the haul was pulled to the beach, those awaiting would begin the process of separation
1) the useful fish that could be sold at market were gathered and separated from the useless fish that would be thrown away
2) the word bad literally means rotten, foul and worthless
4. Jesus tells His disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven will be like this process seining – everything is eventually caught


“This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous” (Matthew 13:49, NIV84)
1. Jesus, with skillful words, paints for His hearers a picture of the end time when God will judge the peoples of the earth
a. it’s a picture that depicts the separation of the just – the good fish – who represent true believers, from the unjust – the trash fish – who represent unbelievers
b. it’s a picture of the judgment that falls upon the lost, those who have not confessed and believed in Him as Savior and Lord
2. all parables have a central point
a. the central point of this Kingdom Parable is judgment
b. I don’t know of any preachers who really like talking about the judgment, but it is a doctrine that we cannot ignore
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27, NIV84)


1. here is one of the radical truths of the Gospel – God’s Kingdom is like a net seining through the tides of restless, surging humanity
a. whoever is caught in it – and that’s everyone – is forced to declare himself
b. we are forced out onto the light of the beach to reveal whether we are good or bad, righteous or unrighteous
2. now, let me quickly say that we are all part of a fallen race – born into a lost humanity
a. we all have evil at work within us and that evil will create in our character a resistance to truth if God does not intervene
b. the bad or good in this parable refers to how we respond to the truth of the Gospel
c. the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the basic truth, the ultimate reality, the fundamental secret of life, and the way things really are
1) those who receive the truth are the good fish – they are considered valuable and kept
2) those who do not receive the truth are the bad fish – they are considered trash to be tossed aside
3. Jesus makes clear reference in this parable to the end time judgment
a. he says So it will be at the end of the age
b. the dragnet has been cast out into the sea of mankind and no person will escape it
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;” (Hebrews 2:3, KJV)
ILLUS. John MacArthur writes: “The dragnet of God's judgment moves silently through the sea of mankind and draws all men to the shores of eternity for final separation to their ultimate destiny - believers to eternal life and unbelievers to eternal damnation."
c. the truth is, you and I were created to be indwelt by God
1) the only way we can fulfill God’s original purpose for our lives is to be filled with God and to understand that we are to live, move, and operate by faith in him
4. as the fishermen of the day would separate the fish, God's angels will be His agents of gathering in the dragnet to begin the separation process of the just and unjust
a. it is the "Great White Throne Judgment" Jesus speaks of
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11–15, NIV84)
3. men and women alike live and swim freely thinking the dragnet of judgment will never touch them
a. but the fact remains judgment is coming!
b. it is a peril that awaits all who refuse to confess and believe upon Jesus Christ
c. it is a judgment from which there is no escape


“and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50, NIV84)
1. Jesus uses this parable as a frightening warning of the peril of God's final judgment that awaits those who fail to respond to the good news
a. the bad news of hell awaits all who do not confess and believe in Jesus Christ
ILLUS. C.S. Lewis wrote, "There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this (hell), if it lay in my power . . . I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully: All will be saved."
b. the fact of the peril remains a reality ... hell is real and no man can make it go away by believing it doesn’t exist
ILLUS. In a recent poll, George Barna discovered that 70% of Adult Americans do not believe in a literal hell. 37% say “hell is not a place, but it represents a state of permanent separation from the presence of God.” For goodness sakes, where do they think that permanent separation is – New Jersey? 19% of adult Americans believe that hell is merely symbolic of evil in the world.
ILLUS. It is said that Robert Ingersoll, a famous lawyer and atheist in the latter part of the nineteenth century, once delivered a blistering lecture on hell. He called hell "scarecrow of religion" and told his audience how unscientific it was, and how all intelligent people had decided there was no such place. A drunk in the audience came up to him afterward and said, "Bob, I liked your lecture; I liked what you said about hell. But, Bob, I want you to be sure about it, because I'm depending upon you."
c. convincing yourself that hell is not real, does not make it so


1. this parable stands with the many other warnings Jesus gave of the coming judgment
a. in Matthew 8:12 he warns that unbelieving Jews will be cast out into outer darkness
b. in Matthew 23:33 he warned the scribes and Pharisees that their self-righteousness was no guarantee that they would escape hell
c. in Mark 3:29 he warns that those who blasphemy the Holy Spirit will inherit eternal condemnation
d. in John 5:29, Jesus speaks of two resurrections: the Resurrection of the righteous to eternal life and the resurrection of the unrighteous to condemnation


1. he spoke of this separation in His Sermon on the Mount
““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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 perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21–23, NIV84)
ILLUS. It was Dante who said in his epic poem on hell: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” Dante also said, “If you insist on having your own way, you will get it. Hell is the enjoyment of your own way forever.”


1. he says that the unjust, non-believers, are cast into the furnace of fire
a. in this furnace of fire we see the judgment of hell is a constant torment of misery and pain (wailing and gnashing of teeth)
b. the term that Jesus used most often to describe the destiny of the wicked is the Greek word Geenna (gheh’ -en-nah)
1) the term is a reference to the Valley of Hinnom just south of Jerusalem
2) it’s one of the places were the Canaanites burned human sacrifices to their god Moloch
3) after the return of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, it became the refuse dump for the city of Jerusalem
4) the valley literally burned and smoked 24-hours-a-day
c. it came to be seen as a symbol of the punishment that awaited the unrighteous
2. in Mark’s gospel, Jesus speaks of hell as a place where the fire . . . shall never be quenched and where Their worm does not die
ILLUS. Martin Luther states . . . "The gnashing of teeth is despair, when men see themselves abandoned by God. The sorrow must be from the knowledge of their purposeful rejection of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.”


1. in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says of hell that it is everlasting – there is no end to it
““Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”” (Matthew 25:46, NIV84)
2. for most of the world’s inhabitants, Hell is “a truth seen too late” (Tryon Edwards)
ILLUS. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage said, “The pain of punishment will be without the fruit of penitence; weeping will be useless, and prayer ineffectual. Too late they will believe in eternal punishment who would not believe in eternal life.”
a. it is a peril that awaits all who fail to prepare themselves to enter the kingdom of heaven through the confession and belief in Jesus Christ
3. we must always remember that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, for His desire is that they might be saved
“Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23, NIV84)
“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.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV84)


1. God through His grace has provided a bridge to His Kingdom
a. that bridge is Jesus Christ – He provides a way to escape hell and its eternal separation from God
ILLUS. One of the great hymns of the faith says:
My hope is built on nothing less
Then Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. verse 1
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
b. but those who arrogantly believe their self righteousness will gain them a place in heaven are sadly mistaken
1) they will be caught in the dragnet of God's judgment and be cast into the peril of hell
2. the promise of eternal life is our through a simple confession
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9–10, NIV84)
“for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”” (Romans 10:13, NIV84)
Some time ago, I came across a news item. It’s supposedly true. Somewhere in Indiana, there is a cemetery with a tombstone which bears the following epitaph:
Pause Stranger, when you pass me by,
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you will be,
So prepare for death and follow me.
An unknown visitor to the cemetary—at some point—read those words and underneath scratched this reply:
To follow you I'm not content,
Until I know which way you went.
You don’t have to worry about which way Jesus went. If you will commit your life to Jesus Christ, and follow Him all the days of your life, you’ll never have to worry about your final destination.
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