Many Christians today stand by the idea of God “electing” specific individuals to receive salvation while denying salvation to the rest. In the five points of Calvinism (TULIP), this ideology lands within Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve heard this argument, and how strongly a majority of Christians today stand by it.
I bring it up because I recently had an old friend that needed some help. He has come across a string of bad choices and bad luck and it resulted in him becoming homeless. My wife and I have been trying to figure out how we can help this individual, and in doing so, we have reached out to others for assistance. The response that many give is absolutely shocking. And the most disgusting part is these people consider themselves Christians!
One of the responses, and what led me to write this post, was that since this person was a former drug addict, and is now homeless, then he obviously isn’t one of God’s “elect.” Then this person proceeded to quote the verse at hand: “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). According to the person we reached out to for assistance, since he backslid in the past and is now dealing with such consequences, then “apparently he isn’t chosen by God as an elect.”
Needless to say, this was pretty much a slap in the face to me. To misquote the Bible, while turning down someone in need, really proves to me that this person isn’t Christian at heart. And sadly, the majority of Christians are the same way.
Instead of going on a rant about how I feel about this particular situation, I would instead like to focus on this Bible parable. Hopefully, I can shed some light to those who use this verse as a means of claiming certain Christians are elected by God, while others are simply denied the opportunity of eternal life.
To begin, I would like to look at the contextual use of the verse, instead of just pulling one verse out of a complete lesson, which tends to be very common among Christianity today. Remember, this is a parable, so it has deeper meaning than what you see on the surface. This particular parable is about a wedding feast. The King (God) has arranged a marriage for His Son (Jesus) and has sent out His servants (the prophets) to call those who were invited (the Israelites) to the wedding. Those invited, however, were not willing to come. So more servants were sent out to those invited, but again they rejected the invitation and even went so far as to kill the servants. As a result, the King sent out His armies to destroy the murderers and their city. Now this can be attributed to a couple of different events, the exiles for instance, but it most likely is the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Once this occurred, the King again sent out His servants (the apostles), but this time He told His servants, “go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding” (Matthew 22:9). The next verse says, “So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good” (Matthew 22:10). Now this is the invitation to the Gentiles to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Notice, however, that God said “as many as you find” and the next verse says “they gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good.” This doesn’t sound like God picking and choosing specific people–the elect–but is giving an open invitation to everyone, even the bad. God didn’t send His servants out with a predetermined list of guests to invite to the wedding, but sent them out to invite anyone they saw.
If you step back and think about the idea of the elect and predestination, that would make God the ultimate phony. Why would He call many, but only choose a few? Under this notion, He is leading people to think they are Christians, but once they pass on from this earthly life, they realize they are condemned to Hell. Under this notion, it seems as though God would get pleasure out of denying those who think they are saved eternal life. Not only is that sick, but it would also make God a liar. And we know that simply can’t be the case. The Bible makes it very clear that God isn’t a liar, but that the Devil is the Father of all lies. This idea, in turn, places God equal to Satan. Not possible.
As the parable continues, it speaks of a man there who didn’t have on a wedding garment, and was, therefore, bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness. Ancient tradition holds that the King was to provide the wedding garments for all the guests. The meaning of the wedding garment here is the righteousness of Christ, which we are all to put on when we choose to put our faith in Jesus Christ. This man at the feast, however, chose not to do these things, or felt that he could enter into the feast by his own means. Sadly, this isn’t how it works. And we can see the end result very clearly.
Now when I say put on the righteousness of Christ, that doesn’t mean “faith alone.” That means a faith based relationship that leads to works. Works of love. There are countless verses in the Bible that point to faith and works going hand-in-hand. Modern Christianity today is strictly faith-based. There aren’t any works to go along with the faith, as we can see from the beginning of this post. Unfortunately, for those “Christians” this isn’t how Christianity works. And they are no closer to Christianity than an atheist. Actually, I’ve seen atheists be more charitable and caring than a majority of Christians. Sad isn’t it?
The the parable concludes with the verse at hand: “For many are called, but few are chosen.” As we can see, by breaking down the parable, God has called all to Him. The reason “few” are chosen is because they choose not to be with God. It isn’t God only selecting an “elect” few, but the few that are chosen, chose to lay their lives down for God. Are you choosing to lay your life down for God, or simply living by the standard that you have faith and that God has chosen you as an “elect?” If you stand by the latter, you should probably reconsider your stance in Christianity, as I think you will be very surprised come judgement.