Devotional Thoughts for Today
Matt. 13:47-52 (NIV): “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous  and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  ‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked. ‘Yes,’ they replied.  He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’”
Many Mexican pastors do not have seminary training; some have barely finished elementary school. One day, a pastor visited my friend who ran a Bible institute in Mexico, begging for an admission. Having preached and taught the Bible for awhile without any formal training, the warning given in James 3:1 suddenly dawned on him: “Not many of you should become teachers, . . . because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). Subsequently, this pastor became terrified that everything he had ever taught might have been wrong; instead of treasures, he feared that he had brought out poison. While that is not a healthy attitude, his new found seriousness toward God’s word was refreshing only because too many people take the “teaching of Christ” (2 Jn. 1:9) quite casually.
In the today’s parable, the good fish (i.e., those who hold to the correct teachings of Christ—a.k.a., orthodox) and the bad ones (i.e., those who hold to wrong doctrines—a.k.a., heresy) are in the same net, and they aren’t separated until the end of age. This indicates that the correct teachings of Christ and the incorrect one are very similar. And this similarity is what makes teaching of God’s word not so easy.
For instance, do you know why the Mormon Church is not considered as part of the historic Christian faith? One reason is this: While Christ’s atonement forgives the original sin, it is by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Mormon Church (which there are many) that one’s own sins are forgiven. How about the Jehovah’s Witnesses? They certainly believe Jesus as a deity but not as an eternal being; to them, Jehovah created Jesus who, then, created the rest of the world. While some believers are alarmed by this type of doctrinal deviations, too many folks in the church would “put up with it easily enough” (2 Cor. 11:4). Referring to teachers who spew out false teachings, Paul commented, “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:12-5).
Sadly, those who thought that they had the truth are thrown into “blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It’s because “a different gospel . . . is really no gospel at all” (Gal. 1:6).
So, even as we seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit and practice all of his gifts to the church, “watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). Study the Bible. Get good books to help you understand it.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 52