What Did Christ Mean – Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen?
Raymond F. McNair (originally published in the Good News magazine, April 1982; with scriptures expanded here later)
Let's face this question — it concerns our eternal future!
Exactly what did Jesus mean when He told the disciples, "many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14)?
What does it mean to be "called" or to receive a "call" from God? And what is the significance of being "chosen"? Is there any difference between being called and being chosen?
Could you confidently and correctly explain Jesus' statement?
Christianity today is confused! Most professing Christians, even some who are supposedly in God's true Church, have not realized that before anyone can become a bona fide member of God's Church — Christ's Body — that person must first be both specially called and chosen by God.
"A chosen generation"
Jesus Christ told the disciples, "You did not choose Me, but I chose" (John 15:16). Christ elsewhere intimated, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (John 6:44).
The apostle Peter, addressing true Christians — true members of God's Church — wrote: "9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God" (1 Peter 2:9-10).
Peter further admonished God's people — God's elect, "10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble" (2 Peter 1:10).
What is this whole business of "calling" and "choosing" and "election" about? And why were the saints admonished to make their calling and election "sure" — certain?
Bidden to the wedding
Since this era of God's Church began this end-time Work in the early 1930s, millions of people have been reached, in one way or the other, with the true Gospel — by way of radio, television, publishing or personal evangelism.
But of those who have been reached or witnessed to with Christ's true Gospel and who have been actually called by God, only a very few have ever fully accepted and responded to that call. The vast majority seem to pay little or no attention.
If we diligently study the parable of the king who made a marriage for his son (Matthew 22:2-14 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 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.”’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 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.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 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.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”), we can better understand the meaning of Christ's statement that "Many are called, but few are chosen."
In this parable, the king "sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come." (verse 3).
How does God call us? By the preaching of His Word. But the majority spurn that call. They pay little or no attention to God's royal invitation (verses 4-7 4 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.”’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.).
Finally the king said, "9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding." (verse 9).
Of the millions who hear God's Word preached, few ever pay serious attention to that message.
Primarily, it is the "poor" of this world — those who are dissatisfied with their lot and who are willing to give God the time of day — who pay any real attention to God's message: " 5 Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:5).
The rich, the noble, the powerful and the wise are too self-satisfied with their lot in this life to heed God's call. They don't need God — so they think!
"26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
Parable of the sower
Jesus Christ commissioned His apostles to preach the true Gospel to all the world (Matthew 28:19-20 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.). The apostles were to "shake off the dust" from their feet when they left any house or city whose inhabitants would not heed their message or receive them (Matthew 10:14).
The parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15 4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” 9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.) reveals that when the "seed" (God's Word) is sown, some seeds fall by the "way side" (verse 5). The vast majority who hear the Gospel do not let the Word of God take root in them. They hear God's Word, but they do not act on it (verse 12).
The "seed" that fell on "rock" (verse 6) represents the Word of God being actually received by certain careless ones. They do not, however, lay a good foundation — do not put down deep roots. In a time of temptation they fall away (verse 13).
The "seed" that fell among the "thorns" (verse 7) represents those individuals who actually receive the Word of God and begin acting on it — even let it take root — but then allow various things to "choke" the Word so that it does not bring any fruit to full maturity or perfection (verse 14).
Only some of the "seed" falls on "good ground" (verse 8), representing "are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience." (verse 15).
In which of these four categories — the seed by the wayside, the seed on a rock, the seed among the thorns or the seed on the good ground — are you? If we are in God's Church — if we are part of God's elect — then we have been both called and chosen.
The seed along the wayside represents those who were called, but were not chosen. It appears, however, that the seed on the stony places and among the thorns were both called and chosen by God but did not endure.
The seeds that fell on good ground represent those who hear the Word of God, receive it, are faithful to their call and endure unto the end, finally bringing forth good fruit:
" 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty (Matthew 13:23).
The Bible often speaks of God's "elect." Who are these "elect"? They are God's chosen ones. God is the one who chooses us, as Christ told His disciples (John 15:16).
God's elect are the ones He calls out of this world. He opens their minds to grasp and understand His Word, His plan and His will.
Those whom He calls out of this darkened world and into "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4) collectively form the Church of God. The English word Church is derived from the Greek term ekklesia and means "the called out ones."
Now notice the three important steps we must take before we can actually be born into the Kingdom of God as God's very children:
1) We must be called by God.
2) When we respond to God's call, then God chooses us and grants us repentance, forgiveness, His Holy Spirit and His grace.
3) After God calls us and chooses us, we must "13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 24:13).
We must hang in there — must be faithful unto death — or we will never be born, as glorified, spirit-composed beings, into the very Kingdom of God (John 3:3 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”, 1 Corinthians 15:50 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.)
When the glorified, crowned Jesus Christ returns to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, He will immediately gather unto Himself His elect (Matthew 24:31 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.).
Who is it who will be united with Jesus Christ at that momentous occasion? It will be those in the Church who are clothed in "fine linen, clean and bright" (Revelation 19:8) — those who are without "spot or wrinkle or any such thing," those who are "holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27).
"Called, and chosen, and faithful"
When Jesus Christ returns to this earth as world ruler — as King of kings and Lord of lords — He will be joined by those and only those who have faithfully kept His commandments: "and those who are [at that time] with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).
Yes, "Many are called, but few are chosen." Few ever become part of God's Church — part of God's elect, His specially chosen ones.
And, even if Christ chooses us and puts us into His Church, we will not be with Him at His Second Coming unless we remain faithful unto the very end (Revelation 2:10 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.)!
Some who have been called and chosen have not been faithful unto the end. Look at the many God has called and chosen — placed in His Church — who have not remained faithful. It is truly saddening.
Those who haven't endured this life's trials will not make it into the Kingdom of God at Christ's Second Coming unless they deeply repent of their faithlessness, throw themselves on God's mercy and receive the grace and strength from God to be counted faithful at Christ's coming.
When you study the parable of the sower, where do you think you fit in? Will you be among those seed that fell on the stony places? Or will you be among those that fell amid the thorns?
Or will you be counted among the seed that fell on the good ground and brought forth good fruit — 30-fold, 60-fold or 100-fold?
Those who wish to learn more about this may wish to read the article Predestination: Did God really call You? Why? Here is a link to a related video sermon: Predestination: What it is and what it is not. Another related video is Predestination and Pentecost.
To learn more about living as Christian, please study the article Living as a Christian: How and Why? and How to Prevent Sin. There is also a YouTube video available that is called Living as a Christian: How and Why?
Note: The old Worldwide Church of God no longer exists and the group that took it over would not make Herbert Armstrong era writings available, even when I offered to pay. So the above article is freely shown in the public interest. The most faithful remnant of his old church is the Continuing Church of God.