Many Are Called, But Few Are…Chosen…?

A shot of the Head Table at my wedding reception. Done by Karl Anderson. Couldn't have asked for a better photographer! 😀

A recent devotional that my wife and I did led us to the passage of Scripture that dealt with the parable of the Wedding Feast. To make a short story..well..short-er…a King had invited some guests to his wedding banquet. However many of the persons invited either ignored the invitation or they beat the servants up pretty badly (maybe they were having a rotten day or something). The King got angry and torched the city in short order. He then commanded his servants to go and invite just about anyone they could find since those who had been invited were not worthy. It was done, but in the midst of everyone, the King found someone who did not have his wedding clothes on. When asked how he got in, he was speechless. Needless to say, he was thrown out with the famous captioned conclusion of “for many are called, but few are chosen”.

I posted an article from GotQuestions.org about this very parable in Godbit’s LinkedIn group to get some feedback and a pretty heated (but clean) debate has been going on for a little while as a result. I don’t feel bad about it, I think it’s important as Christians that our beliefs are challenged and that we correct each other in love, not hate. In that way we sharpen each other and will always be ready to give an answer as is commanded in 1 Peter 3:15. In looking through the commentary I noticed a common revolving point of contention, and that was the question of what it meant to be “chosen”. Most articles or studies I’ve found surrounding that verse tend to deal with what it means to be “called”. I think that it is fairly obvious that according to the context used by Jesus, this “call” is an invitation which, in and of itself, is fairly broad in its spread. This is in keeping with the fact that all are called to repentance and salvation in Christ. Indubitably, since we are fallible beings, it goes without saying that there are those who will not however make it to Heaven for they, like some of those whom the servants met, will turn away or even beat the messengers themselves. So the call is for everyone who is wise enough to hear, which in turn means these are most likely people who will become Christians, but even so the choice belongs to He who did the calling does it not?

The word “chosen” noted in the Scripture comes from the Greek word eklektos, which can also mean “selected” or “elected”. The verse itself is written in the passive voice which is perhaps why many tend to misunderstand the gist of this passage.  We don’t do the choosing. That’s God. It’s important to remember here that Jesus himself said in John 6:44 that no man could come to Him unless he was “drawn” by the Father. But this raises another question–and this is yet another reason why some consider this to passage to be difficult to decipher. At the very core of this Scripture on being “called” vs being “chosen” lies a meaning which is most deterministic–which is at times a hard pill to swallow since it signifies that God knows beforehand who will actually heed is Word and honour Him with their obedience. It is these persons who will hear God’s call in their lives that are His chosen–in effect–they are predestined to be His sons and daughters (see Ephesians 1:4-6). For an all-knowing God, this should really not come as a surprise to any of us.

But enough about that. What does it mean for us as Christians? For me it meant a very serious change in perspective. James put it quite bluntly, “faith without works is dead”. This should not be taken to mean that your certainty of salvation is any way performance-based because that would be looking at the entire thing backwards. Rather, this means that if you are indeed a new person in Christ, and you have committed to be submissive to His authority, that your labour will instead be prompted by the same love He had for us when He died on that cross on Golgotha. For that was His work and a mighty one it was, so that we could be saved. How have we been involved?

Have we taken His Word as the authority in our lives? Or do we simply believe that it is written by man and is thus an uninspired book of blatant nothingness?

Do we help those in need as He has commanded? Or do we simply leave them to be taken care of by whosoever else comes along?

Are our personal lives committed to being as closely conformed to His likeness? Or are we still wayward like the man who has seen his reflection in the mirror and has moved on?

We are urged to test ourselves and to make our calling and election sure (2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet 1:10). This is not a test for God for He already knows the outcome. This is for us so that we remain true in faith and our conviction as bondservants. Remember that fellow who got thrown out during the banquet? He couldn’t even give a reason for his being there. Was he even a guest? There are those of us who will follow the crowd because it seems like a good idea at the time. When asked to give an account for our actions, there really is no suitable answer. Think carefully on this.

Do you not see that the days grow shorter already, year upon year? And that the very disasters mentioned in Scripture have been occurring? This is not mere coincidence. In all this remember that no man knows the day nor the hour of the Lord’s coming so do not listen to those who proclaim to know when the end will come. Listen only to the Spirit, and focus your eyes heavenward. Be prepared to meet your King at the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Yours in Christ,

Josh.

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