Many are called, but few are chosen

I’d like you to consider the statement, “many are called, but few chosen.” Let that resonate within you. Can you feel the tragedy within this statement?

This week, the full tragedy of this comment struck me, and the Lord showed me something I had never been before. I’d like to share this with you today.

Many are called, but few are chosen

In doing this, we’re going to revisit the Exodus to see the great similarities between the nation of Israel and the Church today. Let’s step back in time. Our great God had led Israel out of Egypt with miracles and majesty, promising them entry into a land flowing with milk and honey. It started out with so much promise.

Yet, out of millions of adults who started the journey, only two crossed the Jordan. Why? Let’s look closely.

Tragedy in the wilderness

God promises Israel that he will deliver Palestine to them, driving out their enemies from before them. 

“I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land” (Exodus 23:27-30).

When Moses sends out spies to spy out the land, they bring back a bad report.

“And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight’” (Numbers 13:32-33).

“Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, ‘The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.’ 

“Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The Lord your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 1:28-32).

“Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?” (Numbers 14:11).

“And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in” (Numbers 14:26-30).

So we see, Israel's fear leads to a failure to trust God. As a result they rebel against God's plan for them to enter the land He promised them. All along God wanted Israel to trust Him, to believe Him, that He could drive out their enemies from before them. To conquer their enemies.

The end result of two and a half million people leaving Egypt is that only two adults arrive at the promised land flowing with milk and honey. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, because they had a different spirit in them and who followed The Lord fully. Everyone else in that generation were destroyed in the wilderness.  

What we can learn from Israel

If you really think about it, there many parallels between the experience of Israel in the wilderness and the Christian experience. The following chart demonstrates these parallels. 

Nation of Israel compared with the Church

In the story of Israel, their great enemies were the Hittites, the Hivites, the Amorites and all the other “-ites” living in the land. 

So the question is: Who is the big giant and the great enemy in our lives?

The majority of Jews in Jesus’ day rejected him because, in their eyes, he failed to do what they expected their Messiah to do —  to thrust out, drive out and destroy their enemies and establish an eternal kingdom with Israel as the preeminent nation in the world. They believed that the coming of the kingdom of God meant the ousting of Rome. The Promised Land was being ruled by the Romans, who kept Israel in bondage to feed its empire. However, God’s kingdom was not made manifest through the ousting of Rome, but rather through the defeat of humanity’s real enemies: namely, sin, Satan and death that have held Israel captive.  

Jesus said, 

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

The kingdom of God denotes the coming of Israel’s God in person and power, and this, through forgiveness and deliverance, is happening now. Israel’s God becomes king through Jesus’ work, life, death and resurrection. And the enemies — sin, Satan and death are being cast down.

So what is God delivering us from now? Sin, Satan and death. 

“ALL OF SIN.”

Sin, Satan and death is the big giant and great enemy in our life.

Why are so many called but few are chosen?

Why do only a few find life?

For the same reason the nation of Israel did not enter. They don't go on trusting and believing God to thrust out their enemy. They don't go on trusting and believing God to thrust out their enemy "SIN" from their life. They don't overcome sin in their life through faith in Jesus. They don't allow Christ to complete the good work He has started in them.

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Beloved, Jesus came to save us from our sins: not in our sins.

Wilful sin

As I was preparing this sermon, the Lord put something on my heart. I’d like to share that with you now.

The Lord said, “nearly all the sins my people commit against Me are wilful sins.” And as I was thinking to myself what He meant by wilful.

He said, “every sin committed against me, where you have the choice, not to commit it, is wilful.” And He said, “To to make it worse, you ask for forgiveness then three, four days later, you’re doing it again. You ask for forgiveness to appease your conscience. But five, six days later, you do it again, and again, and again.”

He said, “Tell my people to turn so I can heal them.”

True repentance

Beloved, we cannot commit a sin, ask God to forgive us of that sin, then commit it a day or two later, ask for forgiveness, and say we are believing and trusting the Lord. 

What is our definition of believing and trusting God? What is our definition of believing and trusting God?

Repentance is a change of heart and mind that must, must include a turning away from sin to God. 

“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?

“For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

When we repent, we are believing not only that Jesus forgives us of that sin, but also gives us the power and victory over that sin, not to do it again. That is repentance.

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor 7:10).

“He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov 28:13).

We need to forsake our sins to have mercy. Only he who forsakes his sins is demonstrating repentance. Only he who forsakes his sins is demonstrating godly sorrow. Only he who forsakes his sins is demonstrating that he is believing and trusting the Lord.

The goal of the plan of salvation is to conform man to the image of Christ. The goal of the Gospel is to restore all that was lost through sin. God’s purpose for us is nothing less than Christlikeness.

Beloved, we will never know how much it costs to have our sins upon that cross. We will never know.

And yet the cry of many Christians today is, “I can't live without sinning.” They haven't even started resisting the Devil and temptation, “I can't live without sinning.” They live a weak and defeated life because there is no faith in the Living, Saving, Cleansing, Empowering, Healing, Purifying, Victorious, Awesome and Mighty God. There is no faith.

The Lord is saying to you today, He wants to drive out this great and strong enemy from your life. He wants you to conquer sin in your life through faith in Him. 

He says, do not be terrified, or afraid of this enemy, I go before you, I will fight for you, according to all I did on the cross, and much more by the everlasting life that I live. I will carry you, as a man carries his son, believe Me, trust Me, obey Me.

Victory over sin

By faith you have power and victory over sin in your life. Live the life of faith day by day. The Lord will give you the grace to bridle your tongue, He will help you think before you speak, He will help you to measure every word before you open your mouth. The Lord will help you bring every thought into subjection. You need not entertain evil thoughts, just call upon His name and He will deliver you. Do not become anxious and distressed in the time of trouble, just know the Lord is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you.

You are to live for the present, for this day only. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today you are to maintain the victory over self and sin.

  • Will you believe Him?
  • Will you trust Him?
  • Will you obey Him?

But He also warns to take heed least you cling to any sin and it become a snare and a trap to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes until you perish.

Beloved, we need to bring our mind and body into subjection lest we be castaway. Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked, you will reap what you sow. If you sow to the flesh you will reap destruction, but if you sow to the Spirit you will reap of the Spirit everlasting life. 

Beloved, coming to church every week and just going through the motions is not trusting and believing God, trusting and believing God is overcoming sin in your life, true worship is obedience to the faith.

It is presenting your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.

Jesus said that He was seeking worshipers. Worshipers who would worship Him in spirit and in truth, for only their worship is acceptable to God. Only those whose lives are in harmony with God’s will are worshippers, pleasing to God. Only their worship is genuine and giving God the glory.

Much of the Old Testament is filled with God’s disgust toward the multitude of worshippers who did not live for the purpose God created for them. And yet, they thought that if they would go through the motions of a worship service, God would be impressed. Consider the word of God through his prophet Isaiah:

“Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies — I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting”(Is. 1:13). Therefore the Lord said: “In as much as these people draw near with their mouths And honour Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me” (Is. 29:13). 

Beloved, we must take heed least we fall into this kind of assembly where we honour Him with our lips, but our hearts are far from him.

Many are called

And so the Lord says, “many are called, but few are chosen.”

Do you know where that text comes from, it's the conclusion of the parable of the feast, Matthew 22. Where people are invited, the whole emphasis is on filling the seats at the feast. My house shall be full. But the parable ends with a man turning up who has not bothered to change his clothes. He has responded to the invitation, his come to the feast, but he has not bothered to change. And he could of done, because the owner of the feast said, “why have you turned up like that?” This is my Son’s wedding, you're insulting my Son by not bothering to change.

Then he says, “bind this man and throw him into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

So this text is saying, “many are called, but few are chosen.”

Those who are chosen, are those who bother to change their clothes. In that context, the called are those who are invited to the feast. And the chosen are those who change their clothes.

And we know what changing clothes means in the New Testament, it is putting on the righteousness of Christ. Beloved, the Bible does not teach you can enter the kingdom of heaven by the skin of your teeth. In fact Jesus says, if you are lukewarm, He will spew you out of His mouth. 

He said, narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Few. He said, “unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

Beloved, a lot of people have a form of godliness but denying its power. 

  • Is God's power evident in your life?
  • Is God's power cleansing you from inside and out?
  • Are you on that difficult way leading to life?
  • Are you purifying yourself, just as He is pure?
  • Do you thirst for righteousness?