The Invitation has Been Given
In Matthew Chapter 22 Jesus told the parable of an invitation to a wedding.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”‘ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways and as many as you find, invite to the wedding. So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”.(Matthew 22:2-14)
The king in this parable represents God, our heavenly Father – The same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Old Testament of the Bible. The son represents Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Christ first revealed Himself as God’s Son the Messiah, to the Jews, but they would not believe Him. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
God then sent His disciples to the Gentiles to offer them the same Salvation through Christ that the Jews had rejected. Paul and Barnabas said to the Jews; “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us:’I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth” (Acts 13:46 & 47).
This offer of Salvation through Christ, is still freely offered to all today. It is Christ’s desire that all would come to know and believe in Him and receive the eternal life that He freely offers.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”.(2 Peter 3:9 NIV)
- Christ’s invitation for eternal life has been freely given to all – first to the Jews, then to the gentiles.
- Christ’s invitation is declared through His servants – those who believe in and follow Him.
- Christ’s invitation awaits a response!
God Chooses Us When We Choose Him!
Just like those in Jesus’ parable who were called to the wedding; Christ’s invitation for Salvation requires a response. God’s ability to choose us depends on our response.
God chooses us when we choose him!
In the parable of the wedding invitation there were three wrong responses:
1. Some were unwilling.
Some invited to the wedding were unwilling to come. Consumed by their own affairs, they made light of the king’s invitation and went their own way; one to his farm, another to his business. We all have that same choice to make. Will we pursue the affairs of God’s Kingdom, or will we pursue the things of this earth?
By choosing to pursue the things of God’s Kingdom, Jesus led by His example. Even at twelve years old He said; “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
Jesus also taught us not to worry about our lives on this earth. He promised us, that if we seek Him first, then He will take care of tomorrow. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:31 – 34).
2. Some saw a threat.
To many of the Pharisees and religious leaders amongst the Jews, the message of the cross was seen as a threat. It threatened their religious establishments and their man-made plans. So they seized God’s servants and killed them. By killing God’s servants, they sought to remove that threat – but the consequences of their actions remained. In AD 70 after their rejection of Christ, as the parable of the wedding described; the Jewish temple was destroyed by fire and many lost their lives. There are many yet today, who still see the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth as a threat. A threat to their own agendas and to their lawless lives. They, too, still seek to destroy and silence His servants, but God’s Kingdom will remain!
In the last days Jesus warned; “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:9 -14).
3. Some came unprepared.
A third man responded favourably to the invitation, but he came unprepared. The king refused him, because he did not come dressed in the wedding clothes that the king required. There is a response needed on our part, not just to accept Christ’s invitation, but to come dressed in the wedding clothes that He provides. “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments. And as a bride adorns herself with jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
Many like this man will face God at the end of the age, expecting good works alone to save them. But the Bible tells us, that good works alone cannot save us. That our righteous acts alone, to Him are like filthy rags. “But we are All like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
We Must Enter by God’s Grace
The only way to enter heaven is by receiving the grace of God. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God”.(Ephesians 2:8)
Those at the end of the age who come to God without the wedding clothes that He freely provides, will be speechless and without excuse.
Jesus said; “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).
The Apostle Paul said; “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:18 -20, NIV).
The only way to enter heaven is to be born again by the Spirit of God. “but as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His Name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12 & 13).
- No man can enter heaven without the robe of righteousness given by God.
- Salvation is a gift of grace freely given by God.
- God’s eternal power and divine nature are seen in His creation – so that men are without excuse.
- God’s ability to choose us depends on our response.
- God chooses us when we choose Him!
God Has Enabled Us to Come
Christ declared that He would draw all men to himself when He was lifted up on the cross. “‘And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.’ This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:32 & 33).
- All of mankind is intentionally drawn by God, through the hearing of Christ’s death and resurrection from the cross.
- Our spiritual ears and eyes must be opened and each one of us must make an individual response.
Jesus spoke in parables to His disciples about the Kingdom of God. He said; “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them” (Mark 4:11 & 12).
God requires a willing response!
Though God draws each one of us, we cannot be taught by Him unless we are willing to hear and receive what He has to say. Jesus rebuked the Jews for complaining because He spoke the truth to them, in order to draw them to Himself. Unless they were willing to be taught by God, however, they would not be able to come to Christ. He answered them:“Do not murmur among yourselves. no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:43 – 45).
Again when many were offended (because they were unable to receive Christ’s words) He said:“The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled Him” (John 6:63 & 64).
If we truly desire to know God, He will reveal Himself to us if we ask Him.
God gives us free will to choose and awaits our response!
- Christ continues to draw all men to Himself through His message of the cross.
- The Father Himself enables us to come to Christ when we make a willing response!
- To come to Christ, we must be willing to be taught by God!
- God knows in advance those who will not believe.
- Everyone who is willing to hear and learn from the Father will come to Christ!
We Must Be Believers in Christ
Believing in Christ precedes or comes before the forgiveness of sins. The Apostle Paul, when speaking of Jesus said; “To Him (Jesus) all the prophets witness that, through His Name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).
Paul is stating here, that for any person to receive the forgiveness of sins, he or she must first believe in the Name and the person of Jesus Christ.
Again, the writer of Hebrews says: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Jesus said to the Pharisees who would not believe in Him; “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Our repentance and confession before God also precedes the forgiveness of our sin. Jesus said to His disciples:“Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:46 – 48).
The Apostle John said:”If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 john 1:8 & 9).
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John writes about all that God revealed to him, concerning the things that were yet to come and the end of the age. John writes that he heard a voice come from the throne of heaven that was like the voice of a great multitude, and as the sound of many waters and mighty thunderings saying:”Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write:’Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.'” (Revelation 19:7-9).
The earthly concept of marriage between a man and his wife is also a picture or analogy of Christ and His Church. The marriage supper of the lamb spoken of in Revelation, celebrates the joining of Christ with His bride the Church, at the end of the age.
Christ was the sacrificial Lamb of God. Through His death on the cross, His church is washed clean, set apart for His purposes and justified in the name of Jesus, by the Spirit of God. “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
God is omniscient (having complete and unlimited knowledge); having foreknowledge of those who will receive Him and those who will not (John 6:64). Because of this foreknowledge, the Apostle Paul tells us that every believer in Christ is predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ!
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son”.(Romans 8:29)
It is not enough to simply have a salvation experience by receiving Christ. We must also allow the Holy Spirit to change our lives, so that our actions reveal what has taken place in our hearts.
These righteous acts represent the fine linen worn by Christ’s bride
- When we are saved we are sanctified or set apart for God.
- It is not enough to have a salvation experience and simply be cleansed from our sins.
- We must show by our righteous acts, the change that has taken place in our hearts.
- We make ourselves ready, by allowing God to change us, working His holiness into our lives.