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WE FEW! WE BAND OF BROTHERS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, October 16, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).


I did very poorly as a student in high school. And I failed in college before I finally threw myself into study and succeeded. And I can still remember being afraid. I think it's good for us to remember the things we were afraid of when we were young. Recalling those fears keeps us humble and thankful. But I remember being afraid of school. I don't know if any of you have ever felt that way - afraid of taking a college course. Maybe you have felt that fear, maybe not. But, whether you admit it or not, I think most of you know what I mean.

Our church is full of college-age students this morning. Have you ever approached a new class with your hands sweaty and your mouth a little dry - afraid that maybe that class would be too hard? That's exactly the way I felt in the fall of 1964, on the first night that I took a course at Los Angeles City College. It was what would be called today, "English 101." Or, as the good students called it, "Dumbbell English." Needless to say, I was not one of the good students. I was scared. That was a long time ago, but I'm glad I can remember that feeling of fear, because it puts me in touch with the feelings that you may have when you come to this church for the first time. I was afraid like that when I first went to a Baptist church. I didn't know how to sing the hymns properly. I didn't know how to find the right place in the Bible. I didn't know what they expected from me. To be quite honest, the whole experience of going to that church was a little bit frightening to me, a little unsettling.

Many of you young people are in this church for the first time this morning. Several others have only been coming a short time. Now I am going to spend the next few minutes trying to set your mind at ease and let you know, in a very simple way, exactly what you are experiencing here at church, and exactly what we expect will happen to you. You might call what I am going to say, "Christianity 101," because I am going to give three questions you are probably thinking about, and I will answer all three of them from this simple verse of Scripture. This will give answers to three basic questions many of you may be asking. The verse that answers them is our text, Matthew 22:14.

"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).

I. Question number one - Why are you here this morning?

That is answered by the first few words in the text, "For many are called…" Isn't that exactly what happened to you? We called you on the telephone a couple of days ago and invited you to come. Now, isn't that exactly what happened to you? We called you on the phone. "Many are called."

You see, we went out to the college campuses and malls and streets, and we invited you to come, and you gave us your name and phone number. Then we phoned you and told you what would happen here this morning. Those who phoned you told you that Mr. Griffith would sing and I would speak. We told you that we would then go upstairs and have a birthday party for one of the members of our church. We invited you to come. And you said, "yes," so we arranged a ride for you and brought you to be with us. And here you are! It's as simple as that!

"Many are called" (Matthew 22:14).

Now, you may wonder why we did that. You may be asking yourself why we went to all that trouble to invite you to be here. Why didn't I just speak to the people who are already here at church? Why didn't we just have the birthday party afterwards by ourselves? Why did we go to all the trouble and work of inviting you to be with us? Those are good questions and they deserve an answer. The answer is really quite simple. We invited you to come because Jesus told us to invite you. You say, "He did? How did He do that?" Well, He told us to invite you in the Bible. Look at verse 9. Let's stand and read verse 9 aloud. Before we read it, remember that this is what Jesus said to us. Now read it aloud.

"Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage" (Matthew 22:9).

You may be seated.

So, this is what Jesus told us to do. And that's why we invited you. Jesus told us to go into the "highways" or streets. That's what we did. Jesus told us to invite as many people as we met to the wedding feast, or banquet. And that's just what we did. We invited you to come and be with us this morning because Jesus told us to invite you.

"For many are called…" (Matthew 22:14).

And you are one of those we called. In obedience to Christ, we called you on the telephone and invited you. It's as simple as that! Jesus said,

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in" (Luke 14:23),

and we did what He said - and, so, you are here with us. Good! We're glad you came!

"Well," you say, "there must be more to it than that!" And, of course, there is. Which takes us to the next question you may be asking.

II. Question number two - What will we be doing with you now that you have come?

That question is also answered by the first few words of our text,

"For many are called…" (Matthew 22:14).

We called you last week and you came. Now that you have come, we will call you again next week. But before we phone, you will receive a letter from me, with a short article I wrote called, "Loneliness - the Greatest Problem Facing Most Young People Today." You will read that letter from me, and then we will call you again - and invite you to come back and be with us again. What will we say when we call you? We'll say, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church next Sunday!" Simple! Easy! Good! Come home - to the warmth, love and friendship of the family of God! Simple! Easy! Good!

God said,

"It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18).

Loneliness is a by-product of sin. Sin separates us from God and from each other. But God sent His Son Jesus to call us out of this lonely world, and bring us together in one family in Christ, and in the local church!

So, we will be calling you again - because we want you to come back and be with us again.

Now, this is a Baptist church. It's important for you to know that. Here's why it's important - Baptists strongly believe in the importance of the local church. The local church is this group of people. It's not a building. The church is the people inside the building - us! We are the church. Baptists strongly emphasize that point - and rightly so, for that is what the Bible itself teaches. We don't go to church. We are the church! And we want you to come and be friends with us - in the fellowship of this church.

No, we are not asking you to join this church. We don't ask that. It's something that happens, but we don't force it. Nobody here will ever try to force you to join this church. You could come to church here for years without joining. If you some day decide you want to join, it will be several months before we baptize you. We have a training period, after a person is converted, before baptism. So you don't have to worry about us asking you to "join" the church. We are not going to do that - that is for you to decide - later. Right now we are simply asking you to come and be with us. We are doing that because Jesus told us to do it. And we will call you again next week.

"For many are called…" (Matthew 22:14).

III. Question number three - how will you respond?

That question is answered by the second half of our text. Let us stand and read it aloud, Matthew 22:14,

"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).

You may be seated.

How will you respond to our calls? Since many are called, but few are chosen, we know that many of you will not respond positively. You will be called by God through His messengers here in the church but, alas, many of you will not come back. You will come a time or two, perhaps a few more times after that, but then other things will come up. You will admit that we were nice and friendly to you. But when the time of America's pleasure-mad "Holidays" comes, you will desire the things of this world more than God. You may then find no compelling reason to come back and be converted. Your heart may then become so hard that you will not want to be called again. You may even say, "Don't call me any more." That will make us sad because we really like you and we really want you to be with us. But, sadly, you may very well decide that you are no longer interested in becoming a true Christian and then, no matter what we say, you may go back to a meaningless life without God, living only for material gain and earthly pleasure - with no desire for God and the knowledge of His ways, no desire for Christ, or the offer of salvation He brings to sinners. In that sad day you may reject, not only our calls, but also the call of God. You may then refuse to listen to the call of God's still, small voice in your heart. You may stifle your conscience and say to yourself, "I want nothing to do with Christ or the church." And in that sad day, God Himself will say of you,

"I have called, and ye refused" (Proverbs 1:24).

And you will be placed by God in the category of those many who are called instead of the category of the few that God has chosen. We hope and pray that this will not happen to you. But we know that Christ said,

"Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).

Now, how can you tell which group you are in? How can you tell whether you are one who is called but refuses to become a Christian, or whether you are one of God's chosen? How will you know which group you are in?

The answer to that is simple (Christianity 101). If you listen to the calls from the deacons and other leaders, who were sent by God to call you, you may well be one of those that God has chosen. If you listen in your heart, to the conviction and drawing of God's Spirit, you may well be one of those that God has chosen. If you begin to come to the Sunday evening services here at 6:00 o'clock, you may be one of those that God has chosen. You may soon come with us Sunday mornings and Sunday nights. The light of the gospel of Christ may begin to shine into your soul. You may begin to desire to know God and to be forgiven, justified, and saved from the penalty of sin by Christ Jesus. You may be humbled and convicted of your sin, and come to Jesus Christ in an instantaneous moment of conversion. We would rejoice to see you born again into this family of God through such an instant experience of God's converting power and love toward you.

But we realize, with sorrow that this happy experience may never be yours. We know by experience, and by what the Bible says, that

"Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).

Will you be one of the many or one of the few? Will you be called by God and reject the call? Will God finally say,

"I have called, and ye refused" (Proverbs 1:24)?

Or will you be one of the chosen few, who not only keeps coming to church, but also searches for Christ until you find Him? He loves you. He wants to save your soul from the penalty of sin. Will you come to Christ and be converted, or will you ultimately reject Christ - and go back to a meaningless, lost and lonely life?

"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).

You see, Christ has done everything necessary for you to be saved. He died a horrible death on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. The Blood He shed is available to wash away your every sin, and erase your sins from God's record books. And Christ has risen physically, bodily, from the dead. He ascended back up to Heaven, where He is seated at the right hand of God, praying right now for you to be saved, to become a real Christian.

But now the question comes to you, will you be one who is called, but refuses Christ? Or will you be one of those happy few who are chosen by God in Christ for salvation?

We hope that you will be one of God's chosen few! We pray that you will come and be with us in this happy house of God, that you will soon come to Jesus and be saved, that you will soon be able to say with us the words of Shakespeare's men, who followed King Henry, as I paraphrase the quotation:

We few, we happy few,
We band of brothers
For he today that [comes to Christ] with me
Shall be my brother!
   (William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV).

Whether you are Hispanic, or Oriental, or white, or black, we say with Jesus that this statement is true,

For he today that [comes to Christ] with me
Shall be my brother!

And we say, whether you are from a Catholic, or Buddhist, or Muslim, or some other religious background, this does not exclude you. This does not stop you from Christ's joyful offer of fellowship and salvation,

For he today that [comes to Christ] with me
Shall be my brother…and my sister!

"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).

The call of our voices, and the call of God, ring out to you this morning - begin this awesome quest for God in Christ by coming home to church tonight at 6:00 PM. We will have a service quite different from this one at 6:00 tonight. We will sit down promptly at five minutes to six, after grace is said. We will have a meal together, followed by the Lord's Supper for members, eating the bread and drinking the cup to memorialize the crucified Body and the shed Blood of our Saviour. There will be a special class for non-members during the Lord's Supper, taught by Dr. Cagan. After the Lord's Supper, we will go downstairs and see a new video from Voice of the Martyrs, called "The Martyr's Cry." This video will show the suffering Christians go through in Sudan, in Africa; in Southeast Asia; and in Indonesia. This video on the suffering of Christians in those nations will stir your heart and inspire you to have faith in Christ. And, finally, we will go back upstairs for the birthday party of one of our members. It will be very exciting and quite different from this morning's service. Don't miss the fellowship meal at 6:00 PM, the celebration of the Lord's Supper, the special class for new people, the video of Christian persecution in Africa, and Southeast Asia and Indonesia, the hearty preaching, and the awesome fun and fellowship of the birthday party at the end. Come home to church - and do it tonight!

One young Chinese student came for the first time last Sunday morning. He liked it so much he came back Sunday night, and loved it even more! Several other college-age students came back Sunday night and they loved it too! So will you!

A little song I wrote a couple of weeks ago says it all. Let's stand and sing it. It's hymn number one on your song sheet. Sing just one stanza, stanza number three. Sing it good and loud!

The big city people just don't seem to care;
They've little to offer and no love to spare.
But come home to Jesus and you'll be aware,
There's food on the table and friendship to share!
Come home to the church and eat, Gather for fellowship sweet;
It'll be quite a treat, When we sit down to eat!
   ("Come Home to Dinner" by Dr. Robert L. Hymers,
      sung to the tune of "On the Wings of a Snow White Dove").

Come on home to dinner at 6:00 o'clock tonight!

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 22:8-14.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling" (by Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909)/
"Come and Dine" (by Charles B. Widmeyer, 1884-1974).


THE OUTLINE OF

WE FEW! WE BAND OF BROTHERS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).

I.   Question number one - Why are you here this morning?
Matthew 22:14a; Matthew 22:9; Luke 14:23.

II.  Question number two - What will we be doing with you now
that you are have come? Matthew 22:14a; Genesis 2:18.

III. Question number three - How will you respond?
Matthew 22:14b; Proverbs 1:24.