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In John 21: 1-15 we read at Peter went a fishing, and that though he toiled the whole night he caught no
fish at all. Then the risen Lord appeared to him and asked him whether they had any food; but the answer
was in the negative. Then the Lord told Peter to cast the net on the right side. As he obeyed the Lord the
net was found to be full of fishes. They were brought to the shore safely, where they were roasted on the
fire. The Lord said: "Bring of the fish which ye have now caught". This narrative can be used to illustrate
various stages through which saints after salvation pass, before they are brought to that stage of spiritual
maturity in which they will be of value in the service of the Lord. Let us look at these spiritual stages.


Peter, Thomas and some other disciples went for fishing in the sea of Tiberias (John 21: 1). The fishes in
the sea are typical of sinners in the world. This was exactly our condition before we were saved. Paul
says: "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world... Among whom also we all
had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the
mind"(Eph.2: 2-3). What was true of the Christians in Ephesus before their salvation is true of every
Christian before conversion. The fishes drank the water of the sea, and ate the small insects and herbs in
the sea. This was also our condition before salvation. We drank the filth of the world, and ate the weeds
of fleshly desires. Many fishes are found in the deep waters, and in the same way many of us were once
right out in the depths of sin.


"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" (v.6). "...our Lord Jesus Christ, Who
gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of
God and our Father" (Gal.1 :3,4). In the seven parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, the last one is the
parable of a net (Matt. 13:47). This net in the parable is the net of evangelism, and the casting of the net
in the sea refers to world-wide evangelism (Matt.28:19-20). Now let us return to our story. In his
profession of fishing, Peter trusted in his own experience and human wisdom when he cast the net, but
the result was an empty net, disappointment and failure. Then he obeyed the Lord, and the net was found
full of fishes. It is not our experience or cleverness which will bring souls into the net cast by preaching,
but our obedience to the Word of the Lord. When casting the net of evangelism we must preach the
message of the cross like Paul: "For determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and
him crucified" (1 Cor.2:2). "Christ, Who gave himself...that he might deliver us from"(Gal.1:
3,4). It was the message of the cross, which delivered us from the evil world, and it is as you allow the
cross to work in your daily life, that you will experience day-to-day deliverance from the world.


"And the other disciples came in a little ship; ...dragging the net with fishes...they were come to
land" (John 21 :8,9). " are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world" (John 15:19).
Now we see that the fishes, after they were caught in the net, were dragged right to the shore. Here is an
illustration of God's purpose of complete separation from the world. "I have chosen you out of the
world". The children of Israel were first delivered from Egypt, and then they went through the Red Sea:
and were completely separated from Egypt. Deliverance and separation go together; you cannot separate
them; they are interlinked. Once I was in Berhampur for special meetings, and I saw a number of
fishermen dragging a net to the shore. Due to their negligence and the weakness of the net, some of the
fishes jumped out into the pond. How often due to the negligence of the preachers, and their weak
presentation of the Gospel message, people who appeared to have been secured in the Gospel net, have
slipped back into the world! Then there is another side. If the fishes, after they are caught in the net are
kept very near the shore, they will jump back into the sea if they get a chance. Some people are like that.
Take for example, the case of Lot. First he pitched his tent toward Sodom (Gen.13:12}. A little later you
find him right in Sodom (Gen.19:1 }. Demas was a fellow-worker of Paul, but he was again attracted by
the world, and slipped back into it (2Tim.4: 10). If the Lord has delivered you from the wicked world of
sin, keep yourself far away from the temptations of the world and live a life of complete separation from
its vanities.


"As soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread" (John
21: 9). First the fishes were in the sea, then in the net, next on the shore, and finally on the fire. Similarly
we were once in the world. Then the Lord delivered us from the world, to live a life of full separation
from its ways. But He also wants us to be prepared to go through fire, so that we may be ready and able
to feed the people of God.


"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with
fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet.1: 7).
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing
happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings" (1 Pet.4: 12,13). In
these passages reference is made to the fire of suffering. You must be prepared to go through suffering,
hardship, difficulties and painful experiences. Perhaps you may be persecuted, tortured, badly treated and
evil spoken of. You may go through sickness, poverty and calamity. You may experience tribulation, or
distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or jail, or danger to life. But the Lord will use
such things as fire to test and mature you. It is fire, which takes away the dross from the gold, and makes
it pure, solid, shining and precious. It is fire, which makes the earthen vessel strong for use. It is the heat
of the sun, which takes away the rawness, hardness, and sourness of fruit, and makes it juicy, sweet, ripe,
and eatable. Other things, like fishes, we have to put in the fire, so that they may be made fit for food.
How many times God's people murmur and grumble when they go through suffering! How many times
saints are disheartened and discouraged and dismayed when they face hardship! How many of us are
confused, perplexed and disturbed when we are permitted to go through sickness and poverty! How many
times some of us reason with God and question His faithfulness and Almighty power when we are
tortured and persecuted! How many have backslidden under painful experiences! If under difficulty,
suffering or persecution, you have murmured, or have been discouraged or perplexed, or have reasoned,
doubted and gone astray, you can ask the Lord's forgiveness, and He will forgive and cleanse you, but He
will not spare you the fire. "Passing through the fire you will not be burned", but He will bring you to a
"wealthy place". Taking you through the fire like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, He will burn all the
various kinds of cords, which are binding your spiritual life, and will enable you to enjoy full liberty as
sons of God. Yes, through that very fire He will bring you to maturity and readiness to fulfill all His
purposes. God's ways are strange but wonderful.

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