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Sermon 7/8/07
Matthew 22:14 – Many Are Called


 Audio Sermon

Many Are Called

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

In late June of this year, my wife and I read a newspaper article which reminded me of a class I took in college. The class was taught by Dr. Wilson, an interesting man who boasted that he never had given an “A” grade to any of his students in any of his classes – ever. I took that as a challenge and gave that class everything I had. He was right, though. I got a “B,” as did a few others, and those “B’s” were indeed the highest grades in the class. Dr. Wilson was originally from South Africa, but he relocated to Western Canada as a younger man, where he was the dean of a Bible College. At some point and for reasons I don't recall, he relocated once more, this time to Southern California, where he was our teacher.

Professor Wilson presented himself as a “Lower Biblical Critic,” which can be defined as someone who analyzes manuscript evidence to better determine the original wording of the original text, leading to more accurate Bibles. Dr. Wilson, who had many stories to illustrate his examination of Bible verses, was a Greek and Hebrew scholar.

Some of his stories have stuck in my mind for the past thirty years. In one of them, Dr. Wilson told us about someone who was his friend, during his years at that Bible College in Canada. The man was fairly young at the time and was struggling to decide what to do in life. He had a God-given talent for manufacturing and the making of money, but as Dr. Wilson related, the man also had a specific “call” to enter God’s service. What would he do? he wondered, and he told Dr. Wilson about that “call” in great detail.

The two gradually lost contact with one another, but Dr. Wilson was able to keep track of the other man’s career by simply reading the newspapers. The man had NOT responded to God’s call to ministry, entering instead a very successful life as a provider of goods and services. Dr. Wilson called him, “The Industrialist.”

You have heard about the “call” that was given, but have likely not known about this part of it. As Dr. Wilson related it, when the other man stood at the crossroads of his decision, the life that he turned down was instead was given to the evangelist Billy Graham. It was the same call.  As Dr. Graham’s life has unfolded, it was precisely the same as described by the young man who became an industrialist. Instead of what he became, the man might have been a world-famous evangelist, with Crusades all over the world.

And this is not the only story I have heard like this. I avoided the ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman for a long time. Her flowing robes and extravagant personality “turned me off” and when I had a ticket to attend one of her crusades, I did not go. Subsequently, my schedule at work changed and I was on the road at precisely the time of her radio show. I began to listen to her sermons, reluctantly at first, but with growing enthusiasm. I remember thinking at the time, “It’s like listening to an angel sent from God.” She was good.

I would like to obtain a written book containing as many of her sermons as possible, but for some reason can’t find them in print. I did get a couple biographies of her life, and was fascinated to read the story of how God called her. He “spoke” to her heart, revealing in detail what she would do. Her response was: “I can’t do that, Lord, I’m a woman.” His answer to her, the best I can recall it, was this: “I have called three men and all of them have turned Me down. Will you turn Me down, too?” She said "yes" to the Lord and followed Him.

The newspaper article mentioned earlier was an Associated Press release in the Long Beach Press Telegram, dated June 30, 2007, entitled “Katrina Victims Home in Canada.” It stated that a “Canadian Industrialist” built a town in Louisiana, in the USA, where victims of Hurricane Katrina could live rent-free, simply by following simple rules. Families who benefit from this offer report they “can sleep at night without hearing gunshots.” The “industrialist” in the article was “Frank Stonach, Chairman of Canadian autoparts maker Magna International.” A Magna spokesperson said the housing was a “hand up, not a hand out.” The housing development was outside the hurricane zone, where families can start again.

I, of course, wondered if this was the same “industrialist” mentioned by Dr. Wilson. It’s possible he was not the same industrialist, but it’s also possible that he is. By making a “secular” decision and following a different path than the best that God offers does not mean you will lose your salvation. It simply means that you will miss God’s best for your life. Your joy will be less, and of course, your choice should be to respond to the call of God. And how do you know He has called you? You just KNOW.

Today’s Scripture verse is very interesting and you have to wonder, how many others were called to the ministry of Billy Graham before Dr. Graham himself said, “Yes!” and took that call? The Scripture is the conclusion of a parable Jesus told about a wedding feast where all those invited to the wedding “were not willing to come” (Matthew 22:3). Those who refused had even gone so far as to kill some of the king’s servants who had been sent to invite them to the wedding. This was to be the wedding of the King’s Son, and the king was furious at their refusal. He sent armies who “burned up their city.”

More servants were sent, this time to anyone who was willing, and finally, “the wedding hall was filled with guests.” But the King saw someone among them “who did not have on a wedding garment” and the King had the man “cast into outer darkness.” You can read about this in Matthew 22:1-14. We are to be more than outwardly religious – we must be changed in order to enter the Kingdom of God. The servants in this parable are those sent by God to help this world, including the ancient prophets of Israel and the evangelists and teachers who swept through the Roman Empire following the Resurrection of Christ.

God the Father has every intention of bringing us to a place where we will honor His Son by saying “Yes” to His invitation to the wedding honoring the Son of God and the people God has called to Himself. The parable was addressed directly to the “chief priests and Pharisees” of Israel. Amazingly most in Israel refused God’s Son, but not all, and those who said “Yes” had lives that included the joy of serving the Lord. They were sent principally to the non-Jews of that time, who were astonished to find that the promises of God are now offered not only to Israel, but to everyone. Will you say yes to Him?

Lord, I say “yes” to You. Dress me in the “wedding clothes” of faith, hope, righteousness and love, that I may be Yours forever. When You call, I will go. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
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