The gospel will lead far more people to condemnation than to salvation.
David counsels that when God speaks once, we should hear him twice (Psalm 62:11). That does not mean twice literally, but several times. Similarly, Jesus maintains we must forgive our brothers seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22). That does not mean four hundred and ninety times, but indefinitely. Therefore, when God speaks, we should review what he says again and again.
Because we have listened to God as we do to men, we have missed a lot of what he has been saying. God does not think like men, and he does not speak like men. His thoughts are not our thoughts; his ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Therefore, when he says something, we must be careful to make sure we understand exactly what he is saying.
Jesus says to his disciples: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). We have heard about this and talked about it. We have been singing about being fishers of men since we were little children in Sunday school. But should we not pause for a moment and ask what Jesus means by saying he will make us fishers of men? Is it wise to jump to the conclusion that he wants to turn us into exceptional evangelists and mega-pastors using combine-harvesters to bring men into the kingdom of God?
We know who fishermen are. They are fishers, not of men, but of fish. But now Jesus is talking of fishers, not of fish, but of men. So to start with, we need to determine what it means to fish men. How does a man fish other men? What does he do with the men he “catches?”
God as fisherman
Once we look to the bible for answers to these questions, we are in for a rude awakening. In quick order, we discover to our surprise that when God fished men in the scriptures, it was never for salvation. “Behold, I will send for many fishermen,” says the LORD, “and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them” (Jeremiah 16:16). “Behold, the days shall come upon you when He will take you away with fishhooks, and your posterity with fishhooks” (Amos 4:2).
The net was a weapon of warfare which gladiators used to hamstring their opponents in combat. Therefore, to be a fisher of men biblically is to be an instrument of God’s judgment. God says of disobedient Ephraimites: “Wherever they go, I will spread my net on them” (Hosea 7:12). Solomon echoes him: “Like fish taken in a cruel net, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time” (Ecclesiastes 9:12).
Once caught, fishes end up in the frying-pan and eventually in someone’s dinner-table. The same applies to men with regard to the gospel. As fishes are taken unexpectedly in a net, so sinners are taken by the gospel. The prophetic design in preaching the gospel is that it will lead far more people to condemnation than to salvation (Matthew 13:47-50).
Rejection of the gospel
Hear and understand: God has designed the gospel in such a way that sons of God will receive it but men will reject it. Jesus tells his disciples: “It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:11). Isaiah says: “The word of the LORD was to them, “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little,” that they might go and fall backward, and be broken and snared and caught” (Isaiah 28:13).
The same person who sends us to preach the gospel also tells us beforehand that men will not accept it. God said to Isaiah: “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive’” (Isaiah 6:9). This scripture is repeated more times in the bible than any other scripture. John says: “They could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn- and I would heal them” (John 12:39-40).
The true gospel empties the churches (John 6:60-66). It is preached as a testimony against men (Mark 6:11). Jesus says: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22). Through the gospel, ALL MEN are fished to condemnation; but SONS OF GOD are saved. The word of God that men reject is precisely what will judge them on the last day (John 12:48).