“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) “Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen” (Tom Edwards)
2) False Standards (Andrew Mitchell)
“Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen”
In His parable of a king giving a wedding feast for his son, in which many individuals had been invited, but turned down the offer, the Lord then concluded by saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).
The parable reminds us of the many in real life whom God desires to come to salvation – but they are unwilling and reject His gracious invitation! For “The Lord is…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). And Paul speaks of the Lord as being One “who desires all men to be saved…” (1 Tim. 2:4); and through Isaiah, God had implored people to “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isa. 45:22). Even to that wicked one called “Jezebel” in Revelation 2:20-21, who was leading God’s “bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols,” the Lord declares, “I gave her time to repent…” (v. 21). But He also goes on to point out that “she does not want to repent of her immorality.” And think of all the people in Noah’s day whose minds were only on evil continually (Gen. 6:5), yet God was also patient in giving them time to repent (Gen. 6:3; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:15).
In thinking how his life had been prior to his conversion, the apostle Paul referred to himself as being the “chief” of sinners because of his persecution toward the church and even consenting toward the death of Christians. But he also cites himself as an example of the mercy of God. For if the Lord could pardon Paul of all his past sins, then the Lord can pardon anyone who will meet His conditions — for “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Tim. 1:15-16). And “whosoever will” may come (Rev. 22:17). So, yes, many are called because God does not want anyone to be lost; but, sad to say, many will be lost for rejecting the call of the Lord. And all who reject Him will also have to be rejected by Him (cf. Matt. 10:33; Luke 9:26).
But for those of us who have accepted the Lord’s gracious invitation, we can know that God “has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10).
This does not mean that every saved person was arbitrarily chosen to be saved before the world began, and apart from any necessary belief and obedience on the individual’s part. For salvation has always been based on meeting certain conditions that no one – not even God – can do for us.
Paul makes this calling clear. He explains: “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this he called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14).
Again, we see of the desire God has had from the very beginning toward saving the lost. Yet, we also see in this passage that one’s salvation involves not only the Lord, but also the individual’s response toward God. So, according to this passage, one’s salvation was not totally brought about before the world began or prior to the birth of that individual. But, rather, it was the plan of salvation that was prior. And that plan would involve the need to hear God’s word to acquire faith (cf. Rom. 10:17), to believe in Christ (Jn. 8:24), to repent of sins (Luke 13:5), to acknowledge faith in Jesus (Acts 8:36-38; Rom. 10:9-10), to be baptized in water (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Pet. 3:21), and to continue in the faith (Rev. 2:10). In other words, these steps can be clearly seen as that which we are each to make in faithfully responding to God’s plan of salvation and benefiting from it. For look again at 2 Thessalonians 2:13: We must not only be sanctified by the Spirit, but also have faith in the truth in order to be saved, which indicates our responsibility in that. So our salvation is not totally up to God — though without His love, His grace, and His mercy, all the believing, repenting, and meeting other conditions on our part would be to no avail.
The need for our involvement in our calling can also be inferred from 2 Peter 1:10. For here Peter exhorts, “…give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Such exhortation would be unnecessary, if one’s calling were totally up to God and separate from any necessary action on the believer’s part. But living a life unto the Lord is part of God’s purpose for His people – and that which He had planned from all eternity (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9). For Jesus “died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor. 5:15). “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:7). The King James Version renders “sanctification” in this passage as “holiness.”
So our calling from God leads to a new way of life. As Paul instructs: “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).
And the importance of living this new life can be seen in Hebrews 12:14-15: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”
And when does that new life begin for the penitent believer who has confessed his faith in Christ? “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). So baptism is in order that “we too might walk in newness of life.” Compare also the following: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:27). “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Again, we see baptism in connection with receiving the new life.
Yes, Christians are “called to be saints” (1 Cor. 1:2); and, as the term denotes, a “saint” is one who is “made holy” and “set apart” for a special service unto God. May all of us who are Christians ever live to carry out our calling from the Lord. For by meeting His conditions of salvation, that were in His mind before the world even began, He is then able to accept us as His chosen ones who are on that narrow road that leads to eternal life, though few there be that find it (cf. Matt. 7:13-14).
So, yes, many are called, but few are chosen. And as we have seen in all this, the choice is really up to us. For God wants us to be saved, to be one of His chosen — for He loves us more than we can fully realize and wants no one to be lost. But in order to be one of His chosen, we must accept the Lord Jesus Christ by submitting to His plan of salvation (as mentioned above).
God is lovingly calling through His gospel message — but we must obediently respond to that gracious call.
(All Scripture from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
I often hear people trying to establish right and wrong based on the wrong standard. Here are some examples:
Our Parents (Mt. 10:21,34-37). As much as we should love and respect our parents, we cannot establish right and wrong on the basis of our parents alone.
Our Conscience (Ac. 23:1; 26:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:12-13). Even though our conscience can be useful, we may still be wrong even though our conscience doesn’t bother us. Paul had followed his conscience even when he was a persecutor.
Emotions & Feelings (Pr. 14:12; 28:26; Jer. 10:23). Just because something “feels” right to you, that doesn’t necessarily make it right. Sin can even “feel” right.
The Majority (Mt. 7:13-14). Don’t ever think that something is right simply because most believe it. The majority is headed to destruction.
Preachers & Religious Leaders (2 Cor. 11:13-15; 2 Pet. 2:1-3). Your preacher may be a great guy, but that doesn’t mean he is right.
Tradition (Mt. 15:1-9; Col. 2:8). Truth is not established by how long something has been around. Sin has been around a long time, too.
The Good End (Rom. 3:8). The end doesn’t always justify the means. Something is not right just because we may think it is causing “good.”
What is the “RIGHT” way to tell right from wrong? God’s WORD, and HIS word ALONE (Jn. 12:48).
– via the bulletin of the Collegevue church of Christ, July 23, 2017
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)