The Kingdom and the Judgment
There are many today who would rather treat the judgment as a product of someone's overactive imagination. They do not want to consider the prospect of some facing an eternity separated from God's love. However, our Lord makes it clear that men will one day be separated into two groups, the good and the bad. The good will be kept in the presence of God's love. The bad will be cast away from God.
The Parable of the Dragnet
Fishermen in Christ's day used a seine net. It sucked up all kinds of fish in its path. The fisherman would then pull the net up on the shore and sort the various fish. There were two types of fish, those good for eating and all others. The good fish were placed in vessels, taken to market and sold. The others were thrown away.
Jesus briefly explained the parable. He said it was describing the events at the end of the age. The angels would be sent forth to separate the wicked from the just. The wicked would be cast into a furnace of fire where there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Striving To Be Among the Good
Clearly, every Christian should set a goal of being found among the good the Lord will keep. Paul wrote, "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The man who would be an elder must be "a lover of what is good." The older women are to be teachers of good things. They are to specifically teach younger women to be good." Titus and other young men were to show themselves "to be a pattern of good works." Jesus "gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 1:8; 2:3, 5, 7,14).
Paul warned, "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.'" John said, "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God." Ultimately, "Who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?" Others may say one is an evil person but their good way of life in Christ will make them ashamed (1 Corinthians 15:33; 3 John 11; 1 Peter 3:13, 16).
The Christian's final goal should be to be separated into the group of good people in the day of judgment. "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." A part of the purpose of such good deeds would obviously be to receive a good reward from the Lord (1 Peter 2:12; Ephesians 6:8).
Paul says everyone will appear before Christ's judgment seat to receive a reward according to what he did in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10). His words were consistent with the Lord's teachings. "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth‑‑those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:28‑29).
The Furnace of Fire
If people do not want to consider the possibility of coming judgment, they surely do not want to think of impending punishment. Yet, the Lord speaks of a "furnace of fire." That it is a real fire is seen in his statement that "there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
The fire will be for the chaff and those who do not bring forth good fruit. Jesus warned his disciples to cast aside those things that offended them lest they should enter hell's fire with that offending member. He described the fire as everlasting "where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'" Of course, it was never intended for man but for the devil and his angels (Matthew 3:12; 7:19; 18:8‑9; 25:41; Mark 9:46, 48).
Paul told the brethren at Thessalonica, "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." Through John, Jesus delivered a revelation to reassure those suffering Christians of the first century. He said the devil would be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. He also said those whose names were not found written in the book of life would be cast into the lake of fire. Then, he listed those types of sin which would consign one to the lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (2 Thessalonians 1:7‑9; Revelation 20:10, 14‑15; 21:8).
No doubt, hell is real. The Lord told us those things we must do to be counted among the good. We should strive to be among that number the angels will separate to be with their Lord in eternity!
1. What did Jesus say the
parable of the dragnet meant?
2. What can you do to help others and yourself be found among the good?
3. What things can prevent you from being among the good?
4. List some of the things you know about the judgment.
--Gary Hampton, author, evangelist, and preacher training school
--Gary Hampton, author, evangelist, and preacher training school director