THE MANY WHO ARE ‘CALLED’ AND THE ‘FEW’ WHO ARE CHOSEN.
Letter to a dear Brother explaining the meaning of the phrase –
“Many are called, but few are chosen”! [Matt 22:14]
Allow me to start by saying that much of the truth which I preach and contend for are truths which the Lord has taught me before I read it from some commentary or sermons of godly men of the past! I am constantly accused by rejecters of the truth that I have been ‘brain-washed’ by the writings of ‘men’ and what man wrongly teaches, rather than what God teaches in His Word.
Nothing could be further from the truth! Whatever truth I contend for is usually the truth which God has been showing me all along progressively either from His Word or from my own personal experience as a preacher. For instance, I was sovereignly taught by the Lord concerning Election and Predestination long before I ever picked up any book by Calvin or A.W. Pink! Even though in my initial years I sat amongst ‘Arminians’, I always knew in my heart that I had not chosen Him, but that He had chosen me! [John 15:16]
So when I finally ran into Calvinists/Monergists or whatever you want to call them, it was like finding your family after many years of separation! I knew I had found the fold where I belonged! It mattered little what language they spoke or what color they were; what mattered most was that God had already revealed to them, what he was now revealing to me!
Sometimes it was almost eerie when I would find some new revelation on God’s sovereignty or concerning his providential dealings with us, only to find later that what God had revealed to me, he had already revealed to some older saint hundreds of years ago! And this only confirmed my convictions that I was indeed being taught of God!
And Oh how anointed some of the Lord’s servants are!! I would be reading something by A.W. Pink and a question would arise in my mind, and lo and behold, before the chapter was over Pink would have already anticipated my question and given a scriptural answer to it, or honestly admitted that the answer to the question was among the ‘hidden things’ of God! [Duet 29:29]
But to return to the question you asked me – what is my understanding of the verse “Many are called, but few are chosen”. [Matt 22:14]
First of all we need to define what is meant by ‘called’ and how this ‘call’ comes to an individual.
The true means whereby one is ‘called’, however, is the gospel. “Whereunto He called you by our gospel” (2 Th. 2:14).
And this ‘call’ strictly speaking, does not come to ALL! Many die without hearing the gospel which is the good news of salvation! Contrary to the popular belief especially among those who have not understood the depths of the doctrine of the Fall, God does not ‘owe’ every man a ‘fair chance’ to hear the gospel.
Broadly speaking, there is a twofold calling of God or call from God: an external one and an internal one. The former is made to all who hear the gospel: “Unto you, O men, I call; and My voice is to the sons of man” (Prov. 8:4). This external call through the Scriptures is addressed to human responsibility and meets with universal rejection. “I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded” (Prov. 1:24). “Come, for all things are now ready; and they all with one consent began to make excuse” (Luke 14:18). etc
But God gives another call to His elect; a quickening call, an inward call, an invincible call, what the theologians term His EFFECTUAL call. “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified” (Rom. 8:30). This is calling from death to life. Out of darkness into God’s “marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). As the closing verses of 1 Corinthians1 tell us, not many receive this call; it is one of mercy and discriminating grace.
Few indeed have perceived that there is a double work of GOD being prosecuted under the ministry of the Gospel. Plain intimation of this is found in the words of Christ stated above, “For many are called, but few chosen.” Half of the human race has never heard the Gospel; and those who have, are divided into four classes, as Christ has taught us in His parable of the Sower. The “wayside” hearers are those upon whom the preaching of the Gospel produces no effect.
The “stony” and the “thorny” ground hearers however are they which form a very large percentage of “church members” or who are “infellowship” with those known as “the Brethren”. Of these it is said that they “for a while believe” [Luke 8:13]; nor are they unproductive, yet they “bring no fruit to perfection” [Luke 8:14]. In them the “enmity” of the carnal mind is, to a considerable extent, subdued; yet it is not vanquished. There is a work of the Spirit upon them, yet it falls short of the new creation. They are “called” but not “chosen”.
So there is a distinction, between those who are merely ‘called’ with an external call and those who are ‘the chosen’ i.e. those who are effectually called!
For example, in Romans 8:28, they are denominated the called “according to His purpose”, which notes a distinction from others who merely receive an inferior “call” according to His providence, under the general proclamation of the Gospel.
So too in 2 Timothy 1:9 we read of those “called with a holy calling… according to His own purpose and grace”, which is the language of discrimination, signifying there are others called yet not with “a holy calling”.
So again in 1 Peter 5:10, “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory”, is in antithesis from the many who are only called unto a temporal righteousness in this world.
It needs to be very carefully noted that the “us” of the Epistles is frequently used with a far narrower discrimination than from all the rest of the world: very often the “us” is in contrast from the great crowd of lifeless professors which ever surrounds the little handful of God’s true people — professors which, though spiritually lifeless, are yet to be distinguished from the vast multitudes of non-professors; distinguished by a real work of the Holy Spirit upon them, but still an abortive work. Of this class the Epistle of James has much to say. Concerning them John, in his first Epistle, declares
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us” [1 John 2:19].
A work of “calling” must have been wrought upon them, for they had once separated from the world, and united themselves with the true people of God. Moreover, that work of “calling” must have produced such a change in them that they had been accounted real Christians, or otherwise they had not been admitted among such.
Finally consider this scripture for instance –
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame”.
WHO is the Spirit describing in this verse?
Many who believe in the ‘Perseverance of the saints’ and the ‘Eternal security of the believer’ are completely stumped when they come to this verse. And the reason is not far to seek. They have not understood that there is an external, inferior work of the Holy Spirit in many which does not culminate in glorification!
Notice carefully, that in the above verse the apostle does notsay, “us who were once enlightened”, nor even “you”, instead, he says “those”. In sharp contrast from them, he says to the Hebrews, “Beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation” [Heb 6:9] etc.
Notwithstanding, the epistles are filled both with words of assurance and warnings against the danger of apostasy! The Lord would have us constantly ‘examine ourselves’ whether we be amongst the ‘many’ or amongst the few! As the Apostle says– “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates”? [2Cor 13:5]
So it is a fact that many are called, but amongst these ‘many’ only a few are chosen!
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath FROM THE BEGINNING CHOSEN YOU TO SALVATION through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he CALLED YOU by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ”. [2Thes 2:13,14]
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”! [2Pet 1:10]