The All-Inclusive, Exclusive God

Matthew 20:1-22:46

The All-Inclusive, Exclusive God

“Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

Go Deep: I am always amazed at people’s reaction to the tragic and untimely death of a pop culture icon like Michael Jackson, or a venerable political figure like Ted Kennedy.  Adoring fans, devotees and sycophants assume that no matter what kind of life the famous led and what kind of dysfunctional behavior might have contributed to their death, they get a free and easy pass to heaven.

How often have you heard a heartbroken fan trying to find some comfort in their favorite celebrity’s death say something like this: “I’ll sure miss ’so and so’, but I know they’re in a much better place. I’ll bet they’re smiling down on us right now.”

Of course, death is tragic, whether it is a celebrity or not. And of course, God loves famous people just as he loves not so famous people. God love all people so much that he has made room for everyone in his eternal kingdom. But no one gets a free and easy pass to heaven—unless, that is, they go through Jesus. He is the only free and easy way to the Father. (John 14:6)

“Many are called, but few are chosen.” Those sobering words appear at the very end of the Parable of the Banquet, and if you read that entire parable (Matthew 22:1-14), you find that Jesus is not painting the picture of a narrow, exclusive God. Quite the opposite—he invites pretty much everybody to the party. The problem is, most reject the invitation. They want to come to it when they are good and ready. They don’t want to change into proper banquet attire. In the words of that famous theologian Frank Sinatra, the vast majority of people want to do it “my way.” But it doesn’t work that way. Only a few get chosen, not because of the exclusivity of God, but because of the resistance of those who demand entrance into the banquet on their terms.

Let’s be very clear about this: God is not willing that any should perish; He desires that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) But we don’t get to tell God how we are going to get into his heaven. We can only get there on his terms.

And his terms are very clear: Complete and total surrender to Jesus Christ as Savior AND Lord. We must receive him as the only one who can save us from our sins, and we must crown him as the Lord and Ruler of our lives—which means every dimension of our being. It is on those terms that we are given the free and easy pass to heaven.

Many get invited, but only the few who come on God’s terms will get in on the party that will never end.

Just Saying… The great Bible commentary Matthew Henry wrote, “None shall be saved by Christ but those only who work out their own salvation while God is working in them by His truth and His Holy Spirit. We cannot do without God; and God will not do without us.”

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