Net Profit (3)
John 21:1-12 (1) After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. (2) There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. (3) Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. (4) But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. (5) Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. (6) And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. (7) Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. (8) And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. (9) As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. (10) Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. (11) Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. (12) Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. This meditation is the third in this short series in which we are simply drawing parallels from the historical event in our text with some spiritual truths about the present era of the kingdom of heaven (the gospel church) that culminates in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the glorified state of “...the everlasting kingdom...” (2PE 1:11). To catch the drift of our reasoning, the reader is referred to the two previous installments (Net Profit, 1-30-08; Net Profit 2, 1-31-08). Consider today some observations based upon v.10: A) With the labor of catching having ended, Jesus said unto the disciples, “...Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” The catching of the fish was one thing; the presentation of the fish to Christ was another. We might be reminded by this that gospel work is designed to not only bring the elect to Christ (2TI 2:10) but to keep them in Christ, i.e., to save them from casting away their faith before death or Christ's return. The full assurance (not the means) of eternal reconciliation unto God by the blood of Christ is “...if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel...” (COL 1:20-23). The crown of life is particularly promised to those who are “...faithful unto death...” (REV 2:10), to those who are ever watchful: “...unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (HEB 9:28). “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching...” (LUK 12:37). So gospel work entails not only converting but continual preaching, “...warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (COL 1:28). To that end, Paul instructed Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1TI 4:16). The Biblical way of keeping men in Christ (in the sense of faith and practice) is by sound doctrinal preaching that they be not “...carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (EPH 4:14). And those who think other means are preferable are themselves deceived or deceivers. B) The phrase, “Bring of the fish which ye have now caught...” is interesting from another angle. Jesus acknowledges that His laborers are active in the catching and gives them credit for it even though it was obvious that He had directed their success. The church is indeed the flock of God, His heritage (1PE 5:2-3) and it is Jesus Who ultimately builds it (MAT 16:18 c/w ACT 2:47). It is God's husbandry and building, yet His ministers are laborers together with Him “and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (1CO 3:8-9). The Spirit commends those who win souls (PRO 11:30) or convert erring brethren from the error of their ways (JAM 5:19-20) and credits them accordingly. But effort in witnessing alone will net no true converts unless the Lord first opens the heart (ACT 16:14) and gives “...repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2TI 2:25) and so Paul says of his efforts in preaching, “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (2CO 10:17). C) Mind that the disciples were to “bring of the fish which ye have now caught...” God had made the fish and they had but caught them. Gospel workers are at best only catchers, not creators. Creation is the sole province of the Creator Who first makes His elect new creatures in Christ Jesus (2CO 5:17) so that when the gospel is preached to every creature (MAR 16:15 c/w COL 1:23) the new creatures amongst them who have inwardly been changed by grace might be gathered in. Paul labored not to make sinners into God's elect, but to lead God's elect out of sin and to Christ (2TI 2:10). “Feed my lambs” and “Feed my sheep” (JOH 21:15-17) is a distinctly different order than “Make goats into my sheep and lambs.” Let preachers and witnessers understand their business and do it. More later, Lord willing (JAM 4:15).