We come to another parable today, comprising only 4 verses. Please remember that such is the infinite wisdom of our Saviour that in a few words He can impart immeasurable instruction and teaching.
This the 7th parable He spoke at this time. They proved beneficial when we compare verses 36 and 51. They were growing in understanding!
How familiar to the Saviour’s hearers was such a scenes as is his depicted in this latest, the seventh parable. Verse 2 tells us that “great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.” However, in verse 36 it says: “Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house.” The multitude has gone but the disciples that remained with Him would have been very familiar with the substance of this new parable. Many were fishermen and who benefitted from the labours of fishermen.
Here the Saviour speaks of the fisherman’s net. Oh what heavenly teaching is to found in the pictures presented by nature all around us!
The parable depicts the working of God’s word through the gospel. The Saviour told the disciples: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Matthew 4:18-19. The net in this parable is the net used by the Saviour’s ‘fishermen’ when they preach the gospel.
I. THE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THE NET DOES ITS WORK
“The sea” the place into which the net was cast was a deep, dark and cold place!
Such is this world in which sinful men dwell. That is the environment in which fish are at home, far down in the deep darkness of the sea!
1. God calls the seas “the deep”. Genesis 7:11.
2. Again, the world is a dark place. Pro 2:12-15. Ephs 5:8.
3. It is a cold place. Little warmth of kindness. “The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.” Psa 74:20.
Those of you who are saved, that is where you once dwelt.
If you who are not saved, that is where you are still!
May the Lord open your eyes to see your lost and sinful state.
It is at the coming again of Christ. Matt 24:30-31. At Christ’s return, angels sent forth to reap the harvest, Matt 13.41.
The harvest is at the end of the age. In verses 38 and 39 is the word ‘world’. But the underlying Greek word is different. One refers to the ‘kosmos’, which refers to creation, the universe. This is the word in verse 38.
The other word is in verse 39. It is a different Greek word. It is ‘aion’. It refers to a period of time. We speak of the ‘aeons of eternity’.
Consider its first appearance in the NT. Matt 6:13 “for ever.” Our word is translated ‘ever’. That is a reference to the period of eternity. Another appearance in Eph 2:7: “The ages,” Our word is the word ‘ages’. So it is in our verse 39. “The harvest is the end of the age.”
It is to be noted that the wicked are dealt with first of all. Verse 41. It is believed by some that the saints will be gathered out from the world secretly 31/2 years before the visible return of Christ in power and glory. This shows it is not so.
What a terrible contrast in the destination of those who shared so much in life. THE WICKED – “Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them.” THE SAINTS – “but gather the wheat into my barn,” Matthew 13:30.
“Let both grow together,” verse 30. Unique word, only appears here. Cain & Abel, Jacob & Esau, Judas & other apostles. Together yet so far apart! Totally different natures – one BORN AGAIN, a NEW NATURE, 2 Cor 5:17. “ . . . he is a new creature.”
It is Christ’s kingdom that these activities are centred upon. “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity,” Matthew 13:41. His KINGDOM is IN the world. Sinners may profess to belong. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, . . . . . . And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” Matthew 7:22-23.
This purging of wicked professors is in preparation for the new age – The Millennial Reign of Christ.
BECAUSE WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD WE ARE THE TARGET OF THE DEVIL. . . . . Continued.
There is a day of recompense. “The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,” Matthew 13:39-43.
How terrible will be the punishment of the wicked!
“His angels, . . . shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” There is no exaggeration in God’s words.
How wonderfully will be the reward of the righteous!
“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
This is mentioned in many places. Here are two.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever,” Daniel 12:1-3.
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself,” Philippians 3:20-21.
What a change!! It will according to His almighty power and we shall be “like Him.” “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2.
May we keep this ever before our eyes that it might impact upon our walk.
A message preached at the Young People’s Fellowship meeting in Kilskeery, Friday 1st December by Rev Ivan Foster.
“I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds,” Philemon 1:10.
What I hope to say to you is something that I learned about a long time ago – in my second year of study as a student for the ministry. That takes me back to 1966 and to the class in the English Bible conducted by Rev John Douglas. It was his study outline of this book which gave me the basis of a message which developed and added to over the years. I first preached on this book in my first gospel mission in an old green army tent in a place called ‘Snowy Glen’ which lies north west of Carrickfergus. I was a student minister in Whiteabbey Free Presbyterian Church at the time. I preached in Larne on 19th November past and a man reminded me of that mission. It is nice to meet people who recall meetings from 50 years ago!
Now, having given due credit to Dr Douglas, I will endeavour to press upon you some precious truths from this tiny epistle which is filled with gospel gold and jewels.
We might ask why should such a small epistle and that of such a private and personal nature be included in the Bible?
God is pleased to set forth His truth in such a manner as will be easily understood by the youngest reader. This epistle deals with an incident in the home of a good man, Philemon, a Christian, a Greek and likely a convert of Paul’s. It was written from Rome where Paul was a prisoner, verse 1. It would have been written about the same time as the epistle to the Colossians because there are references to the same people with Paul at the time of writing both epistles, Phm 1:23,24 and Col 4:10,12,14 and Archippus, the minister in Colosse, is mentioned in both letters, Phm 1:2 Col 4:17. It was likely written in the year AD 60 or thereabouts.
That this incident of the runaway slave Onesimus being converted is included in the Bible reminds us that in his conversion, as in all our conversions, there is a setting forth of the great truths of God which is the central subject of the Bible generally.
The Bible is not a theological text book in which the doctrines of the gospel are set down in a systematic fashion but rather God is pleased to record some accounts of His dealings with men and women, and boys and girls, in everyday situations and thereby reveal and illustrate the grand truths of the gospel in a practical setting.
I want us to see that in this story we have:
I. A PICTURE OF THE SINNER’S PRIVILEGES.
The home of Philemon, where Onesimus lived and worked, was very like the circumstances into which many are born, especially you here in this meeting.
It was a home influenced and ruled by a good man and a good woman. Verse 1-2.
2. It was a home which Paul calls a church. The Greek word is ekklesia and means “the called out ones”. The ‘Church’ consists of those called out by the Spirit of God to faith in Christ through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are separated from the world. Paul uses the word to describe the household of Philemon for his home had all the marks of a church assembly. It was governed and ruled by the Word of God and was kept separate from the ways and fashions of the world.
3. It was a home where the saints of God were loved and refreshed. Verses 5, 7. (Bowels – heart.)
These are the privileges that you have enjoy along with many others in our land. What a mercy to be born into such circumstances. It is something we should never forget and ever praise God for.
The Prodigal of Luke 15, brought upon his head many miseries of which he later became greatly ashamed because he FORGOT the privileges he enjoy and strove to get out from under them.
II. A PICTURE OF THE SINNER’S PERVERSITY
Despite being surrounded by such mercies, Onesimus considered them of no value. Instead looked out enviously upon the world and desire to escape the home of Philemon and plunge into the ways of the world around.
In order to achieve this he was ready to steal from his master Philemon. He became ‘unprofitable’, verse 11. The attention and care lavished upon him bore no fruit. He wronged Philemon and stole from him and then ran away, verse 18.
III. A PICTURE OF THE SINNER’S PROVIDENCES
“I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds,” Philemon 1:10.
He ran away but in the mercy of God he was guided to Paul.
What brought about the meeting we don’t know except it was a wonderful example of sovereign grace of God.
How wonderfully the gospel changes our circumstances. “Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me,” Philemon 1:11.
BECAUSE WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD WE ARE THE TARGET OF THE DEVIL. . . . .Continued.
We are called upon to endure the presence of sinful men and to seek their good. “But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them,” Matt 13:29. Were we to start uprooting those we considered the wicked we would make mistakes. We would permit “Judas” to stay and likely uproot the “Lots” of this world.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” Matthew 5:44.
The example of how we treat evil men is given us by the Saviour.“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” Luke 23:34.
As Peter teaches us: “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps,” 1 Peter 2:20-21.
That was the spirit of the apostles. Consider Stephen, who “Kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep,” Acts 7:60. “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good,” Rom 12:17-21. Here is God’s will for us!