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Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen

As Jesus finished telling the parable of the marriage feast in Mathew 22:1-14, He said, "For many are called, but few are chosen."  The illustration that He gave in the parable demonstrates how many fail to seize the opportunities that God sets before them.  More specifically, it is a fact that few take the opportunity for salvation which God has afforded to mankind in Christ.


The fact that few will be saved was affirmed by Jesus on several occasions.  Once Jesus was asked, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?"  Jesus responded, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Luke 13:23-24).  Another time Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" (Matt. 7:13-14).


Why is this so?  Is there a problem with the call, the caller, or the ones called?  Consider 2Thess. 2:13-14: "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."  There is no fault in the call or the caller, for the call is the gospel, God's power for salvation (Rom. 1:16), and the caller is God Himself.  It is not God's will that few be saved but rather that many be saved (1Tim. 2:3-4; 2Pet 3:9).  He wants to choose many, but He cannot unless many respond.  Therefore, the fault must be with the many who hear the gospel call and fail to answer appropriately.


One reason that many who are called fail to be chosen is that they misunderstand the requirements of the gospel call.  Some think that a mere acquaintance with Jesus is enough to obtain salvation.  Many teach that simply claiming belief in Jesus will save a person's soul.  The Scriptures deny this teaching but rather require obedience to the gospel of Christ.  Jesus' teaching in Luke 13:23-28 shows that just knowing Jesus is not enough for salvation.


Another reason many fail to be chosen is that they do not consider the gospel call important enough to answer.  They give other things priority over the gospel, such as work, entertainment or school.  This is shown in the parable of the marriage feast by those who ignored the invitation and went on about their business.  These were called "unworthy" by the king (Matt. 22:1-14).


Other reasons why only few are saved are given in the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3-23).  This parable shows that some do not understand the word of God, others give up because of persecution, and others allow the word to be choked by the cares of the world.


Whatever the reasons are, the fact is that few will be saved when compared to the number of people who have lived.  Thus we should be careful and heed the word of God through Peter: "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you" (2Pet. 1:10-11).


Stacey E. Durham



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