"Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen"

Why would God call many to salvation, and then choose only a few?
Are you one of the few chosen? Here's how you can know!


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Christ concluded the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22 with the perplexing statement, "Many are called, but few are chosen" (verse14).


How do we explain this? Why would God call many to salvation, and then choose only a few? You might also ask, "If Christ has called me, how can I know if he has also chosen me?"


How God calls


When Christ walked this earth, he personally called his disciples. After preaching the gospel in Galilee, he called Peter and Andrew to discipleship as they were fishing: "Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17).


Later that same day he saw James and John, "and immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him" (verse 20).


When Jesus ate at Matthew's house, he mentioned why he called people. The self-righteous Pharisees scorned him for spend­ing time with sinners. So Jesus said: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Mark 2:17).


Christ called disciples through his preaching. But Christ doesn't walk the earth today. How does he call you and me? Paul told the Thessalonians that God "called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Thessalonians 2:14).


God calls us today through the preaching of the gospel. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14).


The Father draws


Christ told the Jews, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.... No one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father" (John 6:44, 65). While Christ was calling disciples through his preaching, God the Father was also "drawing" these disciples to Christ.




The human mind, by itself, cannot naturally understand spiritual truth. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.... The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:9, 14).


God has allowed Satan toblindfold this world spiritually. "If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age [Satan] has blinded" (II Corinthians 4:3-4).


In Revelation we read of "that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Revelation 12:9).


Since God allows it, he takes responsibility for it. "God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear" (Ro­mans 11:8).


When the Father draws us to Christ, he removes this blindness-this spiritual inability to understand.


When the Old Testament Scriptures were read in the synagogue, the Jews could not under­stand, Paul says, because "their minds were hardened.... Even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart" (II Corinthians 3:14-15).


So when does God take away the veil? "When one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" (verse 16).


There's the key. We must turn to God. We must respond to his calling.


Then he will begin to remove the spiritual blindfold. The more we respond by changing our lives, the more truth he reveals. "But we all, with unveiled face, be­holding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image" (verse 18).


The wedding feast


Now we can understand the parable of the wedding feast and Christ's enigmatic statement, "Many are called, but few are chosen."


Many are invited to the wedding feast to be held at Christ's return (Revelation 19:9). But we must be appropriately dressed (spiritually). Notice, in Christ's parable, the king "saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment'' (Matthew 22:11).


At the wedding feast at Christ's return, Christians will be in the role of the bride (II Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:23-32). How should we be dressed?


Revelation tells us those who come to the marriage supper of the Lamb are clothed in fine linen, for "fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" (Revelation 19:8).


"Righteous acts"­ that is, a changed way of thinking leading to a changed way of living. God expects us to start changing our lives after we begin hearing his call. To be chosen for the wedding, we must respond to God's calling by living in a way that pleases him. We decide whether we're chosen.



Not chosen, but not rejected


What happens to those who were called but not chosen-­those who don't respond to the preaching of the gospel? Are they lost forever? Paul answers this in his letter to the Romans.


"To Israel he [Isaiah, speak­ing for God] says: `All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.' I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! ... What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect [the few who responded to the preaching of the gospel] have obtained it, and the rest were hardened" (Romans 10:21, 11:1, 7).


Is this hardening-this blindness-forever? Paul explains: "Hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: `The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob'" (Romans 11:25-26).


Here we have a prophecy of Christ's return to earth. After setting up the kingdom of God on earth, God will remove the blindness of all peoples.


God will ultimately save most of mankind after Christ's return- not now. Most are not responding to the preaching of the gospel. Only the few who do respond are being chosen now.


Called, chosen and faithful


If you are reading and understanding this, God is calling you. Will he choose you now? That depends on what you do. If you act on the knowledge God is revealing to you, he will communicate more understanding. The more we act, the more he reveals. Christianity is not just about learning. It's about living­putting into practice what we learn.


James writes, "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only ... He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:22, 25).


And what if we have already become doers of God's Word? Then God is choosing us, and we must remain faithful to our calling. Peter exhorts us to "be even more diligent to make your calling and election [or "choosing"] sure" (11 Peter 1:10). Christ tells us, "He who endures to the end shall be saved" (Mat­thew 24:13). God has chosen us and delivered us from "this present evil age" (Galatians 1:4), but our salvation is not yet com­pleted. That will occur at Christ's return-if we remain faithful to our calling.


To rule with Christ in his kingdom, we must hear God's calling, respond to the calling with a changed life and be faithful to that calling until the end of life.


When Christ returns, "those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful" (Revelation 17:14).


The choice is yours!

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