In the parable of the marriage feast in Matthew 22:14, Jesus makes the statement, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” I was thinking of that and a quote came to my mind from Ellen G. White where she said over a hundred years ago, that if Jesus was to return today, not one in twenty would be ready to meet their Lord. That means 100 are called, but not even five of 100, are chosen. It almost sounds like this is kind of unfair, but is God unfair or unjust? No! What is the reason that so many are invited and only a few are finally selected? God is the one who is sending out the invitation and He is the One who makes the decision as to who shall enter the pearly gates.
I first want to ask the question, what kind of God do we serve? Is He merciful? Is He long-suffering? Is He kind? Is He just? Is He fair? In Acts 10:34, it says, “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, ‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.’” God is not looking at my position; He is not looking at my profession; He is not looking at my good looks or bad looks; He is not looking at my wealth or lack of wealth; He is not looking at my status or worldly accomplishments; at my intelligence or church office. The next verse makes it a little clearer, “But in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him.” These are exactly the same qualifications of the same message which is preached in the First Angel’s message in Revelation 14:7. It says there, “Fear God, and give glory to him.”
What Is God Like
Moses wanted to know what God was like. Moses said, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory.” Exodus 33:18. Was that a good request? He wanted to know what God was like. We read in Exodus 34:5-7, “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.’” It is good to know that He is a God who is merciful. However, in the next verse it says, “That will by no means clear the guilty.” Even though He is merciful, long-suffering and kind, yet, He is also just.
In Micah 7:18 it says, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever because he delighteth in mercy.” He loves to do it. Should not we also delight in mercy? “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3, 4. God wants everyone to be saved. He wants everyone to learn truth and to accept Him and to have salvation. This shows us His desires and what He is like.
God Wants You Eternally Saved
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11. Again, God does not want anyone to be lost, rather He wants every single person to have salvation. That is why He sends the invitation to all.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. Over and over again the Bible tells us that the Lord wants every single person to be saved. He has this desire because He wants us to live with Him. One of the greatest truths is that God is merciful and gracious, and one proof is that you and I are still here today so that we can receive a message of invitation. God is merciful, He is still waiting, He is still pleading. He does not want us to be lost.
The Wedding Feast
In Matthew 22:1-14 we read a parable about a wedding feast. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants [that was the first time] to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.” A king’s invitation is refused. “Again, [a second time] he sent forth other servants, saying, ‘Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.’ But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But saith he to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.’” Now comes the third call. “’Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.’ So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.’”
Why Will So Many People Refuse a Free Gift?
If the Lord called so many people and sent out all the invitations, what is the reason that only a few are responding? “The Word of God plainly tells us that few will be saved, and that the greater number of those, even, who are called will prove themselves unworthy of everlasting life. They will have no part in heaven, but will have their portion with Satan, and experience the second death.” Testimonies to the Church, vol. 2, 293, 294
In Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, 50, it says, “Many hear the invitation of mercy, are tested and proved; but few are sealed with the seal of the living God. Few will humble themselves as a little child, that they may enter the kingdom of heaven.” Pride makes it difficult to humble ourselves. The reason it is so difficult is because of self. Self is not dead, and it must be crucified.
Make Your Calling and Election Sure
“Probationary time is granted us, opportunities and privileges are given us to make our calling and election sure.” Review and Herald, November 22, 1898. We need to feed upon Jesus. We need to look beyond like Abraham. He looked at the city whose builder was God.
In Psalm 90:12 it says, “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” When you realize that everything you have here is only for a short time, you start thinking about things which are eternal. Review and Herald, May 8, 1900, says, “’Many are called, but few are chosen.’ This is a true statement of the final outcome. Man is very dear to the heart of God, and all are invited to this feast. But many come not having on the wedding garment. They do not accept Christ’s righteousness. They have not repented and made peace with God. They have not received his free gift.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:20, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
True or Artificial Righteousness?
The Pharisees had righteousness, but what kind of righteousness did they have? “The rabbis counted their righteousness a passport to heaven, but Jesus declared it to be insufficient and unworthy. External ceremonies and a theoretical knowledge of truth constituted Pharisaical righteousness. While they were punctilious in ritual observances, their lives were immoral and debased. Their so-called righteousness could never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Desire of Ages, 309
“The greatest deception of the human mind in Christ’s day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness.” Desire of Ages, 309. Many today believe this, but it is not true. Jesus says it is unacceptable. “Men may profess faith in the truth; but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its possessors and through their influence it is a curse to the world.” Desire of Ages, 310
“’Many are called,’ Christ said, ‘But few are chosen.’ If we would remember that we are on test and trial before the heavenly universe, that God is proving us to see what spirit we are, there would be more serious contemplation, more earnest prayer.” Signs of the Times, August 9, 1899. We are living in the day of the investigative judgment. We are living in the time of probation. We are living in the time when God is testing us to reveal what character we have developed.
The Bible simply states in Matthew 22:3, that after the invited guests received the first invitation, they would not come. They were not interested, is what they were saying. Do you think people know what they missed? No, they did not. They had no idea what they missed, and that is why they refused.
In Luke 14:18-20, talking about the same parable, we are told, “They all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it.’” That is kind of foolish, because he had already bought it. He should have looked at it before he bought it. But he said he had bought a piece of ground and wanted to look at it. “And another said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.’” Today we probably would say, “We bought a car and we have to try it out.” “And another said, ‘I have married a wife.’” He should have brought her with him. Why are people making excuses? They are simply not interested. There is actually nothing wrong with all these things that the people did. What is wrong is their priorities. Jesus said to seek heaven first. After they were invited the second time, they went further and became more bold. Now they start making fun of the whole thing. They even went so far as to start persecuting the ones who preached the message killing some as they become more bold and hard.
Jesus said, “Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” Matthew 19:30. “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:11, 12. What a sad situation. The nation of Israel, chosen by God to be missionaries to the world, and He said that they would be in outer darkness.
The Wedding Garment
“When the wedding was furnished with guests, the king came in to see the guests, he saw there was a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’” Matthew 22:10, 11. What was his answer? Nothing. He had nothing to say. He was invited, and he knew what he was doing, because he was invited and accepted the invitation, but he refused the wedding garment. “By the wedding garment in the parable is represented the pure, spotless character which Christ’s true followers will possess.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 310. That is a requirement; the pure, spotless character of Jesus Christ.
“Are you ready? Have you the wedding garment on? That garment will never cover deceit, impurity, corruption, or hypocrisy.” Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, 220. “It is character that decides destiny.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 74. “It is not money or land or position, but the possession of a Christlike character that will open to us the gates of paradise.” Christian Service, 247
What are True Christians Like?
What is a Christlike character? A Christlike character is “purity, refinement, peace, and love.” Counsels on Stewardship, 113. “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, and charity are the elements of a Christlike character.” Reflecting Christ, 173. “When the Holy Spirit is abiding in the heart, it will lead the human agent to see his own defects of character, to pity the weakness of others, to forgive as he wishes to be forgiven. He will be pitiful, courteous, Christlike.” The Faith I Live By, 53. “No rebuffs, no harsh, stinging, condemnatory words will come from our lips.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 17, 204. “Those who profess to be followers of Christ, and are at the same time rough, unkind, and uncourteous, in words or deportment, have not learned of Jesus. A blustering, overbearing, faultfinding man is not a Christian; for to be a Christian is to be Christlike.” Reflecting Christ, 305
A holy temper, and Christlike life is not only accessible, it is attainable; and my friends, it is also mandatory. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:14, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” The decision is ours. Let us accept the wedding garment on God’s simple condition of obedience. “The white garment is purity of character, the righteousness of Christ imparted to the sinner. This is indeed a garment of heavenly texture, that can be bought only of Christ for a life of willing obedience.” Testimonies to the Church, vol. 4, 88. Many are called, many are invited, but few are chosen. The outcome is based solely on a personally acquired Christlike character, and this is the only condition. If we are like Christ, we will be chosen. God has given us the power, He has given us the promise, He has given the help. May God help us as we do this with a humble heart, is my prayer.