The Good Fish And The Bad Fish

The Good Fish And The Bad Fish

He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him.
–John 12:48

Some years ago, I was watching an interview with a television preacher who was known for his positive messages. The interviewer attempted to pin him down on some controversial subjects, but this guy was a master at bobbing and weaving. Finally, he said, in essence, “You know, it’s not up to me to make judgments. I’m not a hellfire and brimstone preacher. I’m not going to go around telling everybody else if they don’t believe what I believe then they’re going to hell. I’m here to encourage people.”

As I listened to him, I was reminded of the words of J. C. Ryle: “The watchman who keeps silent when he sees a fire, is guilty of gross neglect–the doctor who tells us we are getting well when we are dying, is a false friend; and the minister who keeps back hell from his people in his sermons is neither a faithful nor a charitable man.” By that standard, Jesus was both a faithful and a charitable preacher, because He spoke more often of the subject of hell than all the other New Testament contributors combined. He did so not out of hatred but out of love, wishing to warn people of the tremendous and awful fate that awaits those who die without Jesus Christ.

Last week we looked at the parable of the wheat and the tares, in which Jesus explained that not everybody who claims to be a believer is in fact a believer. He said these two groups of people will exist alongside each other until the harvest, when the fake believers will be cast into hell. This week we are going to look at another parable about hell. It is found in Matthew 13:47-50: “The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Now, this parable seems so much like the one about the wheat and the tares. But this parable does not go into the same detail. In fact, the only two elements that are repeated in this parable are the separation of unbelievers and the suffering of unbelievers. It is as if Jesus were saying, “Here is your final warning about the reality of hell. There is a judgment coming, and those who do not survive will be cast into an everlasting judgment.”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Good Fish And The Bad Fish” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.

J. C. Ryle, “Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots,” Christian Classics Ethereal Library,

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.