Let's face this question — it concerns our eternal future! Exactly what did Jesus mean when He told the disciples, "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14)? What does it mean to be "called" or to receive a "call" from God? And what is the significance of being "chosen"? Is there any difference between being called and being chosen? Could you confidently and correctly explain Jesus' statement? Christianity today is confused! Most professing Christians, even some who are supposedly in God's true Church, have not realized that before anyone can become a bona fide member of God's Church — Christ's Body — that person must first be both specially called and chosen by God.
"A chosen generation"
Jesus Christ told the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" (John 15:16). Christ elsewhere intimated, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). The apostle Peter, addressing true Christians — true members of God's Church — wrote: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God" (I Pet. 2:9-10). Peter further admonished God's people — God's elect, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (II Pet. 1:10). What is this whole business of "calling" and "choosing" and "election" about? And why were the saints admonished to make their calling and election "sure" — certain?
Bidden to the wedding
Since this era of God's Church began this end-time Work in the early 1930s, millions of people have been reached, in one way or the other, with the true Gospel — by way of radio, television, publishing or personal evangelism. But of those who have been reached or witnessed to with Christ's true Gospel and who have been actually called by God, only a very few have ever fully accepted and responded to that call. The vast majority seem to pay little or no attention. If we diligently study the parable of the king who made a marriage for his son (Matt. 22:2-14), we can better understand the meaning of Christ's statement that "Many are called, but few are chosen." In this parable, the king "sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come" (verse 3). How does God call us? By the preaching of His Word. But the majority spurn that call. They pay little or no attention to God's royal invitation (verses 4-7). Finally the king said, "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid [call] to the marriage" (verse 9). Of the millions who hear God's Word preached, few ever pay serious attention to that message. Primarily, it is the "poor" of this world — those who are dissatisfied with their lot and who are willing to give God the time of day — who pay any real attention to God's message: "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (Jas. 2:5). The rich, the noble, the powerful and the wise are too self-satisfied with their lot in this life to heed God's call. They don't need God — so they think! "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (I Cor. 1:26-31).
Parable of the sower
Jesus Christ commissioned His apostles to preach the true Gospel to all the world (Matt. 28:19-20). The apostles were to "shake off the dust" from their feet when they left any house or city whose inhabitants would not heed their message or receive them (Matt. 10:14). The parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15) reveals that when the "seed" (God's Word) is sown, some seeds fall by the "way side" (verse 5). The vast majority who hear the Gospel do not let the Word of God take root in them. They hear God's Word, but they do not act on it (verse 12). The "seed" that fell on "a rock" (verse 6) represents the Word of God being actually received by certain careless ones. They do not, however, lay a good foundation — do not put down deep roots. In a time of temptation they fall away (verse 13). The "seed" that fell among the "thorns" (verse 7) represents those individuals who actually receive the Word of God and begin acting on it — even let it take root — but then allow various things to "choke" the Word so that it does not bring any fruit to full maturity or perfection (verse 14). Only some of the "seed" falls on "good ground" (verse 8), representing "they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (verse 15). In which of these four categories — the seed by the wayside, the seed on a rock, the seed among the thorns or the seed on the good ground — are you? If we are in God's Church — if we are part of God's elect — then we have been both called and chosen. The seed along the wayside represents those who were called, but were not chosen. It appears, however, that the seed on the stony places and among the thorns were both called and chosen by God but did not endure. The seeds that fell on good ground represent those who hear the Word of God, receive it, are faithful to their call and endure unto the end, finally bringing forth good fruit: "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word [that's his call], and understandeth it [because God opens his mind]; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matt. 13:23).
The Bible often speaks of God's "elect." Who are these "elect"? They are God's chosen ones. God is the one who chooses us, as Christ told His disciples (John 15:16). God's elect are the ones He calls out of this world. He opens their minds to grasp and understand His Word, His plan and His will. Those whom He calls out of this darkened world and into "the light of the glorious gospel of Christ" (II Cor. 4:4) collectively form the Church of God. The English word Church is derived from the Greek term ekklesia and means "the calledout ones." Now notice the three important steps we must take before we can actually be born into the Kingdom of God as God's very children: 1) We must be called by God. 2) When we respond to God's call, then God chooses us and grants us repentance, forgiveness, His Holy Spirit and His grace. 3) After God calls us and chooses us, we must "endure unto the end" (Matt. 24:13). We must hang in there — must be faithful unto death — or we will never be born, as glorified, spirit-composed beings, into the very Kingdom of God (John 3:3, I Cor. 15:50) When the glorified, crowned Jesus Christ returns to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords, He will immediately gather unto Himself His elect (Matt. 24:31). Who is it who will be united with Jesus Christ at that momentous occasion? It will be those in the Church who are clothed in "fine linen, clean and white" (Rev. 19:8) — those who are without "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," those who are "holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27).
"Called, and chosen, and faithful"
When Jesus Christ returns to this earth as world ruler — as King of kings and Lord of lords — He will be joined by those and only those who have faithfully kept His commandments: "And they that are [at that time] with him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Rev. 17:14). Yes, "Many are called, but few are chosen." Few ever become part of God's Church — part of God's elect, His specially chosen ones. And, even if Christ chooses us and puts us into His Church, we will not be with Him at His Second Coming unless we remain faithful unto the very end (Rev. 2:10)! Some who have been called and chosen have not been faithful unto the end. Look at the many God has called and chosen — placed in His Church — who have not remained faithful. It is truly saddening. Those who haven't endured this life's trials will not make it into the Kingdom of God at Christ's Second Coming unless they deeply repent of their faithlessness, throw themselves on God's mercy and receive the grace and strength from God to be counted faithful at Christ's coming. When you study the parable of the sower, where do you think you fit in? Will you be among those seed that fell on the stony places? Or will you be among those that fell amid the thorns? Or will you be counted among the seed that fell on the good ground and brought forth good fruit — 30-fold, 60-fold or 100-fold?