Sermon #62 Series: Matthew
Title: “MANY ARE CALLED, BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN.”
Text: Matthew 22:1-14
Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:1-14
Subject: The Parable of the Marriage Feast
Date: Tuesday Evening- November 14, 1995
We have before us the parable of the marriage feast. It is the third in a trilogy of judgment parables, parables by which our Lord describes the basis of God’s judgment upon those who despise the blessings and privileges of grace. The parable of the two sons (20:28-32), the parable of the husbandman (20:33-46), and this parable of the marriage feast, our Savior shows us why God cast off the nation of Israel and sent the gospel to the Gentiles. Without question, it was God’s purpose from eternity to save his elect among the Gentiles. Without question, God predestinated the fall of the Jews as the very means by which he would save his elect among the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11,25,26). There are no accidents in God’s universe (Rom. 11:33-36). Yet, the cause of divine judgment upon that nation was not God’s predestination, but their unbelief.
The gospel was first revealed to the Jews, the nation of Israel, in the types and shadows of the Mosaic economy. To Israel alone God gave his law, the priesthood, the tabernacle, and his prophets. When Christ came, he preached the gospel to none but the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Yet, that nation, being blinded by their religious leaders, despised the opportunities of grace God gave them, the gospel of his grace, and his dear Son. Though they feverishly adhered to the rites and ceremonies of the law, they had long rejected the message of God’s prophets. When John the Baptist came preparing the way of the Lord, they ignored him. When God’s own Son came, they hung him up on the cursed tree to die. And when God sent the apostles and disciples of Christ to proclaim the message of Christ the risen Lord and ascended King, they rejected their message, imprisoned them, beat them, and murdered them.
Therefore, in 70 AD the Lord God sent the Roman army, under the command of Titus, into Jerusalem. By the hand of Titus, God destroyed both Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. At the end of Daniel’s 70th week, the house of Israel was left desolate. Their light was turned into darkness. Never again would that nation have a word from God or a visitation of his grace. God said to his servants, Israel will not hear. Leave her alone. Go ye therefore into the highways of the world, and as many as you find, whether Jew or Gentile, bid them come. And whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Israel rejected God; therefore God rejected Israel. Israel despised the light God had given her; therefore God withdrew the light. Israel despised and rejected God’s Son; therefore God cast her off forever. God’s judgment upon the nation of Israel stands as a beacon to warn us. God will not trifle with those who trifle with his Son and the gospel of his grace. An awesome weight of responsibility lies upon the shoulders of all who hear the gospel of Christ faithfully preached unto them. It will not be heard without consequence. It will either be to you a savor of life unto life or of death unto death (II Cor. 2:15-17; Rom. 11:21; Pro. 1:23-33). The same sun that melts the candle hardens the clay. And the same messages that melts the believer’s heart before God hardens the unbeliever’s heart to judgment.
In this parable of the marriage feast, our Savior plainly teaches us seven things.
1. The salvation proclaimed in the gospel is comparable to a marriage feast (v.2). At a marriage feast everything is provided for the guests. They are not expected to bring anything. It would be an insult for them to do so. Even so, in the gospel of Christ there is complete provision for all the needs of a man’s soul before God. Everything needed to relieve spiritual hunger and thirst is found in Christ. The pardon of sin, peace with God, and the hope of eternal life are all spread before us in rich abundance in the gospel. This is truly “a feast of fat things.” And all this bounty comes to us through the love, grace and mercy of God, by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. By the preaching of the gospel, Christ himself speaks to sinners. H offers to take us into union with himself. He offers to restore us to the family of God as dear children. He offers to clothe us with his own righteousness, give us a place in his kingdom, and present us faultless before the presence of his Father’s glory in the last day (Matt. 11:28-30; John 7:37).
J. C. Ryle wrote, “The gospel is an offer of food to the hungry, of joy to the mourner, of hope to the outcast, and a loving Friend to the lost.”
The gospel of Christ truly is “glad tidings of good things!” God offers through his dear Son to be at one with sinful man! God invites sinners to be reconciled to him in Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:18-21).
2. Our lord reminds us that the invitations of the gospel are full, free, and unlimited (v.4). “All things are ready, come to the marriage.” There is nothing lacking. No barriers are set before you. No conditions are to be met by you. “All things are ready!” The gospel sets an open door before all mankind, and says, “Come.” No one is excluded from the range of its invitation. “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.” Though only few enter in by the straight gate, all are invited to enter. And all who enter find that “all things are ready!”
-Pardon by Blood Atonement Already Made!
-Righteousness by Imputation Already Accomplished!
-Peace by Reconciliation Already Performed!
-Sonship by an Adoption Already Executed!
3. Our Lord shows us that the gospel of the grace of God is flatly rejected by many who hear it (v. 5). Most of those people who hear the gospel receive no spiritual benefit from it. Some of you hear the gospel of Christ week after week, month after month, year after year. Yet, you do not believe. The gospel profits you nothing. You see no beauty in Christ. You feel no need for Christ. You do not scoff and ridicule the message of grace. You do not outwardly oppose the gospel. You simply love other things and prefer other things. Your heart is full of this world, so full of the pleasures and cares of the world that there is no room for Christ. Money and property, fashion and pleasure, happiness ad popularity are the things that interest you. Christ and his gospel simply have no appeal to you. The sad fact is, multitudes will find themselves in hell, not because they were grossly immoral, but because they loved the world and gave no consideration to the Son of God.
4. Our Redeemer teaches us that many who profess to believe the gospel are yet without faith and under the wrath of God (vv. 10-13).
C.H. Spurgeon said, ”This man without the wedding garment is the type of those who pretend to be Christians, but do not honor the Lord Jesus, nor his atoning sacrifice, nor his holy Word. They are not in accord with the design of the gospel feast, namely, the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in his saints. They came into the church for gain, for honor, for fashion, or for the purpose of undermining the faith of others.”
NOTE: The vast majority of those who take up a profession of religion are walking in the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14, 21-23).
5. We are assured that man’s unbelief will not alter, thwart, or in any way hinder the purpose of God (v. 10). “The wedding was furnished with guests.” I remind you once more that the purpose of God does not depend upon man. Though the Jews rejected God’s Son, he had a remnant according to the election of grace who gladly embraced him. And though many refuse to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, every chosen, redeemed, and regenerated sinner in this world, everyone purposed by God from eternity to be saved shall be saved by him and shall believe on him (Rom. 3:3-4; 11:11, 24-26).
6. Sixthly, our Savior tells us that in the last day, on the day of judgment, all false professors will be detected, exposed, and eternally condemned (vv. 12-13). In this life a profession of faith and a fairly moral life is enough to secure a name and reputation as a Christian. But when we stand before God, he will examine us completely and judge us according to strict justice by those things written in the court books of heaven (Rev. 20:11-12). If we are not washed in the blood of Christ and robed with his righteousness, we will be lost forever.
7. Seventhly, the Son of God declares that the source and cause of true faith is God’s sovereign, electing love (v. 14). If you and I are true believers, if we truly believe the gospel we profess, if we truly rest our souls upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone, it is because God, from all eternity, chose us as the objects of his special love and grace (Jer. 31:3). We who believe God gladly confess...
“‘Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me:
Thou, from the sin that stained me,
Hast washed and set me free,
And to this end ordained me,
That I should live to Thee.
‘Twas sovereign mercy called me,
And taught my opening mind,
The world had else enthralled me,
To heavenly glories blind:
My heart owns none before Thee,
For Thy rich grace I thirst -
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first!’”
Let wrap this message up by showing you two facts revealed in this last sentence of our Lord’s parable.
I. “MANY ARE CALLED!”
That statement refers to the general call that goes forth to all who hear the gospel. There is an inward, personal, particular, divine call, which is issued by God the Holy Spirit to God’s elect and to them alone (John 10:3). This call of the Holy Spirit is always effectual and irresistible. In the new birth, the Holy Spirit effectually draws chosen, redeemed sinners to Christ by almighty grace (Ps. 65:4). This call always produces faith in Christ. It always results in salvation. This inward, irresistible call is given only to God’s elect, those who were chosen, predestinated, and redeemed (Rom. 8:28-29; I Cor. 1:21-24; II Tim. 1:9). The examples of this call are numerous.
-The Deserted Infant (Ezek. 16:6-8)
-The Dry Bones (Ezek. 37:1-14)
-The Disciples (Matt. 4:18-22)
-Zachaeus (Luke 19:5-6)
-Lazarus (John 11:43-44)
Were it not for this effectual call of the Holy Spirit, no one would ever be saved (John 6:44-45). But this is not the call mentioned in our text. The call which our Lord speaks of here is the earnest proclamation of the gospel by his servants.
A. Every time a true servant of God preaches the gospel of God’s electing love, redeeming mercy, and saving grace, sinners are called to faith in Christ (II Cor. 5:20).
1. It is universal in its scope.
2. It is a sincere call (Rom. 10:1-4).
3. It is an unconditional offer of grace.
4. It is a very gracious call (Isa. 1:18; 55:1-7).
5. It is a call issued by divine authority which all who hear it are responsible to obey (Pro. 1:22-33).
B. The question is often asked, “If only God’s elect are going to be saved, why do we preach the gospel to all men?”
Without entering into the controversies of men, let me give you four reasons why we preach the gospel to all men.
1. Our Lord commands us to do so (Matt. 10:27; 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8)
2. The preaching of the gospel is God’s ordained means of salvation for his elect (I Cor. 1:21-25).
3. We have no way of knowing who the elect are until they believe the gospel (I Thess. 1:4-5).
4. When we have faithfully preached the gospel to all men, we are free of their blood (I Cor. 9:16; Ezek. 33:7-9).
C. Sinners respond to the preaching of the gospel in many ways.
1. Some flatly reject the gospel call (v. 3).
2. Some lightly esteem it (v. 5; Lam. 1:12).
3. Others are enraged by it (v. 6).
4. Some pretend to obey it, taking up a profession of religion (vv. 10-11).
5. And some, those to whom the gospel comes in divine power, believe on the lord Jesus Christ. - Why? Why do some believe, while others believe not? It is because
II. “FEW ARE CHOSEN!”
The difference between those who believe and those who believe not is the choice of God. There are some people in this world whom God has chosen to salvation. Sooner or later, they shall be saved. They shall believe on the lord Jesus Christ. The rest are left in their sins. God has done them no injustice. He does not violate their will. He does not force them to do what they choose not to do. He simply leaves them to themselves. And you can be sure of this - If god leaves a man to himself, if God leaves a man to his own free-will, that man will never believe on the lord Jesus Christ and be saved (John 6:37-40; 10:16, 26; Acts 13:46-48).
Thank God, he does not leave all men unto themselves! He has chosen to save some. There is yet a remnant according to the election of grace of whom he says, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Let me make just four statements about this matter of election, as it is presented in our text.
A. It is a fact beyond dispute that the Bible teaches the doctrine of God’s sovereign, unconditional, election of his people unto salvation in Christ (John 15:16; Rom. 9:11-13; Eph. 1:4-6; I Thess. 1:4; II Thess. 2:13-14; II Tim. 1:9; I Pet. 1:2).
B. It is also a fact beyond dispute that the Bible declares that God’s elect in this world are few. “Few are chosen!”
C. Now, I solemnly admonish you to make your calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10).
D. If I am among the number of those chosen, redeemed, and called to salvation and eternal life in Jesus Christ, I ought to be filled with wonder, praise, and gratitude before the holy Lord God (Rom. 11:33-36; I Cor. 4:7; 15:10).
Election has secured for us a place with Christ in glory. And in the end, it shall be said, “The election hath obtained it!”
“Who shall condemn to endless flames
The chosen people of our God,
Since in the Book of life their names
Are clearly writ in Jesus’ blood?
He, for the sins of the elect,
Hath a complete atonement made;
And justice never can expect
That the same debt should twice be paid.
His sovereign mercy knows no end,
His faithfulness shall still endure;
And those who on His Word depend
Shall find His Word forever sure.’