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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, October 11, 2009

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

This verse comes at the end of the “Parable of the Marriage Feast” (Matthew 22:1-14). At the beginning of the parable the king sent out servants to call people to the wedding supper, but “they would not come” (Matthew 22:3). In fact, “they made light of it” (Matthew 22:5). They paid no attention to the call, and went away. Then the king said to his servants,

“Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests”
     (Matthew 22:9-10).

They called in a great crowd of people. Some of them are called “good” and others “bad” (Matthew 22:10). I take it that this means some were good prospects for conversion, and some were bad prospects. One of the “bad” prospects came into the marriage feast without having on a wedding garment, which means he remained unconverted. It speaks of him as a church member who has had a false conversion. 

“Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).

I take it that this fellow represents all of those who came into the church, but are not clothed with the wedding garment of salvation. That means he represents the other “bad” prospects who, like him, remain unsaved. Spurgeon said,

This is seen practically in the experience of the church of God. Those who are permitted to see large additions to the church will find this parable…singularly appropriate and timely. Whenever…many are brought [in] it seems inevitable that at the same time a proportion of unworthy persons should enter the church. However diligent may be the oversight, there will be pretenders creeping in unawares…We must use the net to draw in the many, but all are not good fishes that are taken [in] …While a part refuse to come [at all] others press into the banquet and [remain] his foes [because they have had false conversions] (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Wedding Garment,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1971 reprint, volume XVII, p. 97).

Then the parable ends with those haunting words,

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

What does this parable mean to us? In general, it means that we are called to go out and evangelize many people. Some will refuse to come and hear the Gospel preached. “They would not come” (Matthew 22:3). Others will “make light of it” and go on their way, soon leaving the church (Matthew 22:5). But others will come to hear the Gospel. Among them are those who are “both bad and good” (Matthew 22:10). After a time, the Lord Himself will reveal those who refuse to be clothed in Christ’s righteousness, and the Lord Himself will cast them out of the church one way or another (Matthew 22:11-13), which takes us to those probing words,

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

The text divides naturally into two points.

I. First, many are called.

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

"Many are called." This is often spoken of as the “general call” to lost sinners. How are they called? They are called by those of you who invite them to church to hear the Gospel, when they obey the command of Christ,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

They are also called by the preaching of the Gospel. Some hyper-Calvinists say that we should only preach the Gospel to the elect. But how are we, as human beings, able to know who is among the elect? Since only God knows who they are, we are told to

“…preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Some will believe, and others will not.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

It is obvious from the Book of Acts that the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel to everyone. That is why he was able to say to those at Corinth,

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”
       (I Corinthians 1:18).

The preaching of the cross could not have been “to them that perish foolishness” if Paul had not preached the Gospel to them!

Therefore, it is our duty to preach “Christ, and him crucified” in every Sunday service, both morning and evening (I Corinthians 2:2). Because we have brought many lost people to every service, it is our duty to preach Christ to them all! The Apostle Paul is our example when he said,

“…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

We, too, should preach “the unsearchable riches of Christ” to all the lost, as we bring them into our services. The pastor is the human instrument through whose preaching God calls lost souls to Christ, for

“how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

The preacher is to call lost sinners to Christ in his sermons. He is to tell them that they are lost, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). He is to tell them that

“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

He is to tell them to repent and believe on the once crucified, now resurrected and glorified Son of God! The preacher is to tell them, in his preaching,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
       (Acts 16:31).

These are ways that lost sinners are given the “general” call to salvation. But there is a second clause in the text, which leads us to the next point.

II. Second, few are chosen.

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

That should be no surprise to us if we know a little about the Bible. Do we not remember the clear words of Jesus?

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”
      (Matthew 7:13-14).

“Many there be” that go in the way of destruction. “And few there be that find” Jesus, the “narrow way, which leadeth unto life.” Since we have heard those words so many times, we should not be surprised by the second half of our text,

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

“Few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14). 

Nor should those of us who believe in salvation by grace, apart from human effort, be surprised when Jesus said,

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

So it should not surprise us at all that

“Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14)


“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44).

“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14)

Also, it should not surprise us that God made this choice before the foundation of the world, for the Bible says, 

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved”
     (Ephesians 1:4-6).

I for one cannot fully explain predestination. But, though I cannot fully explain it, I certainly should not explain it away, as many do today! Since I see "predestinated" on the page of my Bible, I must believe what the Scripture says in those plain words. This is not for me to fully understand. I am only a man. I do not see things as God does. Therefore it is not for me to

“…[utter] that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not” (Job 42:3).

Our task is not to question God. Our task is to obey God – to go out “and compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23), and to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14)

May you be one of those who is not only called to salvation, but is actually chosen by God to experience real conversion!  That is our prayer for you!

Please stand and sing the last song on the song sheet. Sing it thoughtfully!


Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
   Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
   From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
   Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Not the labor of my hands
   Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
   Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
   Thou must save, and Thou alone.
(“Rock of Ages” by Augustus Toplady, 1740-1778).

You can read Dr. Hymers’ sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Ephesians 1:3-6.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus is Tenderly Calling” (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

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

(Matthew 22:3, 5, 9-10, 13)

I.   First, many are called, Matthew 22:14a; Luke 14:23; Mark 16:15-16;
I Corinthians 1:18; 2:2; Ephesians 3:8; Romans 10:14; Ephesians 2:1;
I Corinthians 15:3-4; Acts 16:31.

II.  Second, few are chosen, Matthew 22:14b; 7:13-14; John 6:44;
Ephesians 1:4-6; Job 42:3; Luke 14:23; Mark 16:15, 16.