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Evidence

May 10, 2009

Mt 22:7:1-14 “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he *said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 13 “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

As is our practice for Lords Supper Sunday, our lesson for this morning will be one of self examination. This is a command from the Scriptures! We must constantly examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. And what we are looking for is evidence. We are looking for actual real, tangible evidence that Jesus Christ lives in us. If there isn’t any, we have failed the test.

It is frightening to think of the myriads of people who have ‘made a decision’ or ‘had some religious experience’ or ‘performed many good deeds’ who believe that these things will get them into heaven. Consider that many, standing before the judgment seat will list their credentials before The LORD. Jesus spoke of this happening in Mt 7:22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

It is interesting to me that the ones who are performing these religious acts believe that the deeds they perform should have enough merit to get them into heaven. But Jesus sees their ‘religious deeds’ as ACTS OF LAWLESSNESS! Our best deeds are sin in the eyes of God. They have no merit whatsoever and to even consider the thought that they do is sin. Paul says in Tit 3:5 “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, Why? Because there is no work that we could ever perform, which would attract Christ to us or make Him choose us. In fact the scriptures paint a very clear picture of the men and women of this world. In Isa 64:6 the prophet declares; “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Do you see the truth here? We are void of righteousness. We are sin and all we want to do is sin in some form or another.

Paul, in the 5th chapter of the book of Romans tells us that we are helpless! We haven’t got a leg to stand on before a righteous and holy God who is of purer eyes than to look upon sin. Outside of divine intervention we are guilty, condemned already before the Righteous Judge of the universe. But God! Pastor John’s two favorite words! We were without hope, being without God in this world…But God! We were lost and undone; an unclean thing and our iniquities have taken us away…But God! We were dead in trespasses and sins with no hope of ever bridging the mighty chasm that stands between us and God!

But God! “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,” Tit 3:5

The grace of God is truly amazing. The scope of salvation is breathtaking to behold as we begin to comprehend the truth that God has saved us with a complete salvation. In Heb 7:25 the writer says “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Peter tells us that we have inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for us who love Him; who are have been called by God out of darkness and into the realm of His amazing grace!

The truth of scripture is that there is none righteous, no not one. But sinful men and women continue to seek ways of circumventing this truth. Just consider “Jude” the woman preacher from the truth project. Because the scriptures condemn her she has rejected them and has embraced the doctrines of the religions of the world to justify herself. This is always the way of the world. Congress is trying once again to legislate its idea of morality which involves protecting the rights of pedophiles to practice their wickedness, of homosexuals to propagate their disease and any other brand of monstrous evil. At the same time they are violating the first amendment rights of the people of this nation in that they are restricting the free exercise of religion. How? By declaring the preaching of the gospel to be hate speech! If a preacher declares the whole truth of the Word of God and in doing so declares homosexuality to be a sin as stated clearly in the Word of God, he could be thrown in jail for a hate crime.

Truly this world is upside down.

But the world has always been upside down. And the world doesn’t like to be confronted with the truth. The new ‘philosophy’ of the day is called ‘post modernism’ which believes in a nutshell that there is no such thing as truth, absolute truth. This is why you hear people say, “I’m glad that’s working for you” or “what’s true for you is not true for me.”

And then there is the modern ‘evangelical church’. Much of modern ‘Christendom’ has embraced a watered down version of bible doctrine which is mixed with the plans and schemes of ravenous wolves whose sole purpose is gain. The modern church offers trinkets and baubles, free breakfast, a free ride to and from church and anything else the pastor and deacons can dream up; all for the purpose of gaining a following, of being known as the ‘happenin place’ where the pews are full and Baptist math is practiced in all of its ‘splendor.’ All these things appeal to the worldly nature of sinful man who loves to have his ego stroked by things.

Now consider step by step what Jesus is saying in our text for this morning. Mt 22:7:1-14 “Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. What is this? Well in Re 19:9 it is called the marriage supper of the Lamb. “Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.” Here is a picture of the bounty of heaven, of the rest promised to the people of God. Consider what a marriage feast is; there is great joy because of the glorious union that has taken place, there is happiness and food a-plenty. Now try to multiply the joy of human union infinitely and you begin to get an inkling of what is occurring in heaven as we are granted to be in the presence of Him whom our souls love. It is a picture of union with God!

From Eternity Past, God has decreed all that will come to pass. He has chosen His children, knows them by name and has written their names down in His book from the foundation of the world. If we believe that God is truly Sovereign then we must conclude that He has decreed the fall of man in the garden by His appointed instrument, the devil. He has also decreed their redemption in the sacrifice of His own dear Son who is Himself God! Now contrary to the doctrines of the modern church, man is not good and perfectible. Instead He is fallen and cannot get up. He is helpless to do anything to accomplish his salvation.

I remember a question asked by one dear friend and mentor, Dan Caffese. We were standing around during an intermission between speakers at a bible conference when he asked: “Why do men believe in the Arminian version of salvation in which man has a part in the process?” Surprisingly, I actually had an answer for this. My answer came from something I had been pondering for a while. There is a product called nicorette gum and in one commercial for this product the statement was made, “I’m participating in my own deliverance from the addiction to cigarettes.” In the same way the Arminian version of salvation men believe that salvation is mano a mano and he gets to have a mano in there somewhere. Infinite God does all He can but then it is up to finite man to finish the job.

But notice again what is being stated in our text: 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. God is giving a wedding feast for His Son. Now this implies that there is a bride, I mean, you can’t have a wedding without a bride can you? I don’t think so!

Now notice the next verse. 3 “And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. God had sent out an invitation to come to this great feast of Grace! And further He has decreed that His servants call to those who had been invited to the feast. Who had been bidden first? Was it not the Jews? Were they not God’s chosen people, who are a picture of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ? Abraham had been called to leave all he knew to follow after God. He was given the sign of circumcision to identify God’s chosen ones from the pagan world.

But as we go through the scriptures we see how time after time the Israelites were unwilling to follow after God. They loved the world more than they loved the One who had delivered them from bondage to Egypt. Understand that the whole nation of Israel had been delivered from bondage but not all Israel loved the God who had delivered them. Indeed there was a faithful remnant who loved God while the others were just hangers on or clingers. Follow the wilderness wanderings of Israel and you will see time after time how the clingers raised their fists to the God who led them through the trackless deserts and kept their clothes from wearing out, who provided food and water and all things necessary for life.

And then consider the church. In the visible Church of the Lord Jesus Christ we have the faithful remnant, who truly love God and His Son Jesus Christ and you also have the clingers: those who attend Church for whatever reason, be it social status or because they are the recipients of free rides or free breakfasts or whatever other trinkets and baubles are being passed around. If it’s free, the clingers want in. But when you begin to dig deep into the word of God and reveal the precious gems of His glorious truth, they say “That’s legalistic” or “My god is a god of love who would never do what you just said.” And when you point out that you have merely read a passage of scripture they deny the truth and the authority of God and His word over the souls of men.

Notice that God’s servants called men to come to the feast. You’d think that the rabble from the wilderness and the clingers in the church would latch on to this freebie like a leach. But now their true nature is revealed. Oh they want the stuff but they don’t want anything to do with the LORD of the stuff.

Notice the mercy of God in that He calls again. 4 “Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ Everything is ready!

You’d think that people would come running to the feast. But I ask you to remember Adam and Eve. When God came to visit them in the Garden they would come running out to meet Him. But after they had sinned, they couldn’t stand to be near Him. His Holiness repelled them. And even though they knew He was gracious and merciful they still hid themselves among the trees. They had chosen evil and now couldn’t stand the good! Even more, they hated His message and His messengers. Notice how they responded to the ones He sent.

5 “But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. When Jesus came to His own, the nation of Israel, His own did not receive Him. Instead He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. They looked at Him as if He were afflicted. How many times, after hearing Jesus speak as never a man spoke before, did the Jews say, “He has a demon.” Many paid no attention to Him but went about their business like those of Noah’s day, not knowing that destruction was coming.

In the same way when Jesus sent prophets to speak to Israel, how many did they kill? Isaiah was sawn in two, Zechariah was killed between the Temple and the altar. Heb 11:37-38 “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy 🙂 they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

From the time of Jesus’ resurrection how many of Christ’s messengers died a natural death? All the disciples except for John died as martyrs. The inquisition slaughtered thousands, perhaps millions of true disciples of Christ. In John Bunyan’s England, if you were not part of the official Church of England you were imprisoned. Many were so badly beaten while there that when they were released they were invalids who could neither see, hear, nor speak, such was the hatred of the truth of God.

Today in the Sudan it is against the law to be a Christian and the penalty is death. And now in our own country, the preaching of the gospel, the proclamation of the whole council of God is in danger of being forced underground by the homosexual/pedophile/feminist agenda which has found its champion in Barrack Obama and his minions in the three branches of government which have united in their hatred of God and His truth. We too are in danger of being mistreated and killed for the sake of the gospel.

But this danger is only for those who truly love Jesus Christ, who are living for Him and who refuse to compromise with the world no matter what! Is this you? Are you living for Jesus in an uncompromising way? Are you willing to take a stand for the sake of Jesus Christ even if it costs you your life? Because that is what is on the very near horizon! Christians here in America will be rounded up and thrown into prison simply because they preach Gods message of love and grace and truth. The Sodomites have risen up and their hatred knows no bounds. The Feminists cannot stand the God ordained order of marriage and will have nothing to do with the sanctity of live. They are a bloodthirsty lot who kill for the sheer pleasure of it. And their champion will do everything in his power to establish laws in their favor.

But will they not be dealt with? Has God cast us off forever? I doth say thee nay!

Notice how He dealt with those who rejected Him. It is interesting to me how men try to make God like them; a Ruler whose laws have no teeth. But throughout history, God has judge those who have risen up against Him. Note how He dealt with those first invited. 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. I want you to remember the destruction of Jerusalem where the people were slaughtered wholesale and the city was burned with fire. Remember how at Jesus condemnation before Pilate the Jews had shouted, “His blood be upon us and on our children.” Spurgeon says: “Never did any other people invoke such an awful curse upon themselves and upon no other nation did such a judgment ever fall. We read of Jews crucified till there was no more wood  for making crosses; of thousands of people slaying each other in fierce factions within the city; of so many of them being sold as slaves that they became valueless (too many and not enough buyers) and of the fearful carnage when the Romans entered the doomed capital.

And though this is an indictment upon the Jews but remember that only those who truly belong to Jesus will be saved. Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Only His true servants will enter in.

8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. In other words, the wedding feast is going to occur. Nothing will alter this fact. But only those who are worthy, who have been called and drawn to Jesus by the Father will enter into the joy of their Lord!

Verse 9 deals with the call of the gospel. As I have said before, during the proclamation of the gospel from the pulpit there are two separate gospel calls occurring simultaneously. There is the general call of the gospel which everyone hears. All who attend church services, if they haven’t fallen asleep hear the words uttered by the preacher. But then there is the effectual call of the gospel. What is this? It is God the Holy Spirit who drives the Word of God into the soul of the sinner, convincing him of sin, righteousness and judgment. The sinner is crushed under by the weight of his sins and cries out to God for mercy and compassion and grace.

Here is the difference between the general call and the effectual call. Now the Word of God is no less the Word of God in either case but since the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, since he sees them as foolishness, because they are spiritually understood only by those who have been awakened by the Holy Spirit, we once again see the scriptural truth; that it is God who saves us and not we ourselves. This is why God speaks thus in Ps 100:3 when He says through the Psalmist “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.”

Note that in the preaching of the gospel there is no ‘target audience’ which we are to limit ourselves to. We are not to ‘gear our message to the youth because they are the future.’ We are not to direct our message to the Gen Xers or the Post Mods or even to those who are successful in business so we can fill up the coffers of the Church. This is what many churches have done. They have selected who they believe to be the target audience and then they go after this group compromising the Word of God to gain their goal which boils down to numbers and money.

Now in contrast to this God directs His servants to ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; that is, without making any distinction between open sinners and the morally correct. The Gospel call fetched in Jews, and Gentiles, religious and heathen alike and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

Note what happens next.

11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, God does not care about the outward appearance; HE LOOKS ON THE HEART. That is He looks deep within the soul of a man and the Lord knows those who are His. The redeemed of the Lord will say so with their lips and by their lives.

Note that as our Lord looks upon His dinner guests he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, this is a reference to Zep 1:7- 8  ” Be silent before the Lord GOD! For the day of the LORD is near, for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice, He has consecrated His guests. Then it will come about on the day of the LORD’S sacrifice that I will punish the princes, the king’s sons and all who clothe themselves with foreign garments.

Now what is the wedding garment that is spoken of here? It is the robe of Christ’s righteousness. In Isa 61:10 we read “I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. We will not come to the feast in our own goodness, by our own merit. But as the Isaiah passage states; we will be robed, clothed in the righteousness of Christ by Christ Himself. It is by His merit that we can enter boldly into the throne room to find help in time of need.

But apart from Him we can do nothing and all our righteousness is as filthy rags which take us away. Isa 59:2  But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

With this in mind we now have an understanding of what goes on in verse 12 and he *said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. He had no answer but stood self condemned before the Host. There is a parable by a rabbi about a king who set no time for his feast. Some of the guests arrived early waiting in proper clothing while others who had been at work when the summons suddenly came, had no time to dress properly and came in their work clothes. These were made to stand and watch while the others partook of the feast.

Note in verse 13 that no one will be sneaking into the kingdom of heaven. None of the goats will create a disturbance so that God will not notice while others mingle with the sheep. There is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. He is the only door, the only way, the gate by which anyone entering will find life. But to those who have tried to go their own way, who have sought to tear off His fetters and cast His cords off, the King of Heaven laughs. And then He will have them in derision which means He will make them look ridiculous.

How ridiculous? “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Re 22:15 “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.”

The darkness which is outside is a horrifying place.” To be “outside” at all, to be “without” the heavenly city, excluded from its joyous wedding festivities; this is sad enough by itself, without adding anything else. But not only does the awful vengeance which awaits unrepentant sinners involve exclusion from the brightness and glory and joy and happiness of the heavenly kingdom above, but those who were unwilling to come, those who have ignored the message of salvation in Christ and those who have counted this world as their treasure, these will be thrust, flung, thrown, cast into a region of “outer darkness,” with the lake of fire and all of its horrors.

 14 “For many are called, but few chosen.”

 Is there evidence in your life to convict you of being a Christian? Consider that there are probably millions of hearers of the Gospel every Lord’s Day who gain no benefit from it whatsoever. Oh they may listen to sound doctrine Sunday after Sunday, and year after year, but they do not believe to the saving of their never dying souls. They feel no need to be saved. They see no special beauty belonging to Christ. They may not hate Christians; they may not oppose Gods word; they may not even scoff at it. But neither do they seek salvation in Christ Jesus. In fact they like other things far better. Their money, their lands—their business, or their pleasures, are all far more interesting subjects to them than their souls. It is a dreadful state of mind to be in, but awfully common. Let us search our own hearts, and take heed that it is not our own. Open sin may kill its thousands; but indifference and neglect of the Gospel kill their tens of thousands. Multitudes will find themselves in hell, not so much because they openly broke the Ten Commandments, as because they made light of the gospel. Christ died for them on the cross, but they neglected Him. And how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation!

Understand this fact; All false professors of religion will be detected, exposed, and eternally condemned at the last day. The Lord Jesus tells us, that when the wedding was at last furnished with guests, the king came in to see them, and “saw a man who didn’t have on wedding-clothing.” He asked him how he came in there without one, and he received no reply. And he then commanded the servants to “bind him hand and foot and take him away.”

There will always be some false professors in the Church of Christ, as long as the world stands. In this parable, one single castaway represents all the rest. It is impossible for us to read the hearts of men. Deceivers and hypocrites will never be entirely excluded from the ranks of those who call themselves Christians. So long as a man professes subjection to the Gospel, and lives an outwardly correct life, we dare not say positively that he is not clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

 But there will be no deception at the last day. The unerring eye of God will be able to discern those who are His own people, and who are not. Nothing but true faith shall abide the fire of His judgment. All counterfeit Christianity shall be weighed in the balance and found wanting. None but true believers shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It shall avail the hypocrite nothing that he has been a loud talker about religion, and had the reputation of being an eminent Christian among men. His triumphing shall be but for a moment. He shall be stripped of all his borrowed plumage, and stand naked and shivering before the bar of God, speechless, self-condemned, hopeless, and helpless. He shall be cast into outer darkness with shame, and reap according as he has sown. And there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth as they are tormented for eternity in the flames of judgment!

Let us learn wisdom from this parable, and give diligence to make our calling and election sure. We ourselves are among those to whom the word is spoken, “All things are ready, come to the marriage feast.” Let us see that we refuse not him that speaks. Let us not sleep as others do, but watch and be sober. Time moves on very quickly. The King will soon come in to see the guests. Have we put on Christ? Has He clothed us His robe of righteousness? Can we produce evidence? These are the questions we must ponder this morning. May we never rest until we can give a satisfactory answer! May those heart-searching words ring daily in our ears: “Many are called, but few are chosen!”

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