D. Eric Williams Online

The Wedding Feast
© 03.14.09 By D. Eric Williams


In the parable of the wicked vine dressers Jesus told his adversaries that the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to the nation bearing the fruit of it. It is in light of that fact that the parable of the wedding feast is presented in Matthew chapter 22. In other words, Jesus says that since the kingdom of God will be taken away from those who reject the Messiah the reign of God in Christ must be understood in this way.

Because Jesus has prefaced his parable of the wedding feast with the claim that the kingdom will be given to a nation producing the fruit of it we need to ask who this nation is. Well, Christ will develop that idea somewhat in the parable of the wedding feast but we know from additional Scripture that the nation he speaks of is not defined by temporal politics, national boundaries or ethnic considerations. As the apostle Peter writes in his first epistle:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

This nation is a kingdom of priests made up of all those who are found in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul expands our understanding concerning this issue:

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:14-22)

So Jesus is saying that this is what is going to happen. There will be a new nation established that is based on faith. There will be new people created in Jesus Christ that is not defined by ethnic descent but is defined by spiritual heritage.

It is in light of this fact that Jesus presents the parable of the wedding feast. He says the rule of God in Christ and all of the attending blessings are illustrated by this particular parable. We must keep this in mind as we examine what Matthew has recorded for us in his Gospel.

What we will see is that some reject the invitation to be part of this new nation. We will find that some accept the invitation and third we will discover that some neglect to dress for the occasion. Moreover, weneed bring to mind the fact that Christ's ministry was to the Jewish people. If we keep this parable in the proper context, we will understand that it is directed at the Jews who were contemporary to Christ's ministry.

And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding." ' But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:1-14)

Some reject the invitation The first things we need to do is determine who the king is in his parable and who is represented by the son for whom the marriage feast was arranged. Well, without much discussion on this issue I want to present my view that the king and his son are both illustrating the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. In their commentary on this portion of Scripture Jamieson, Fausset and Brown say that "[Jesus] appears as Himself at once the King and the King's Son." This is an assessment that I agree with. In Psalms 72:1 it says, "Give the king Your judgments, O God, And Your righteousness to the king's Son" a prayer that is equivalent to a prediction. In this messianic Psalm the Christ is called both the king and the king's son. I think that this is what Jesus has in mind in this parable.

You see, the popular Jewish conception of the Messiah in Jesus' day, was that the Messiah would be a "Superman" but not deity. They believed he was the son of David but did not accept the idea that the Messiah was likewise the son of God, and indeed, very God of Very God.

Thus I think it is best to understand that the king and the son are both representative of Jesus Christ in this parable of the wedding feast. The son does not figure into the parable beyond a brief mention at the beginning. After that there is no additional acknowledgment of the son of the king or his marriage. Thereby, the king becomes the central figure in the story.

It is also interesting to note that the Greek word translated as "marriage" is actually plural and literally says that a keen made "marriage feasts" for his son. I don't think we should press this too far but it does remind us that there were a number of administrations of the covenant relationship. This is not to say that God or the son practice polygamy; rather, it is more akin to a renewal of vows. Indeed, we read in the older Testament win the covenant vows were renewed on more than one occasion. Moreover, if we understand this as a series of marriage feasts, a series of covenant renewals and then we see how this parable has "legs" and covers the whole history of God's dealing with his people.

The idea of a marriage is often used to illustrate God relationship to his people. The overall theme of Scripture is God's drawing out from humanity a people for himself. He draws out from humanity a people to be a bride for the everlasting son. For example, in Ezekiel 16:1–14 we read:

Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem: "Your birth and your nativity are from the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. As for your nativity, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. "And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' Yes, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. "When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine," says the Lord GOD. "Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil. I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you," says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 16:1-14)

There are a number of Scripture passages like this: Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 3:14, Hosea 2:19–20 and many more.

Therefore we need to recognize that the covenant relationship God has with his people is typically equated with a marriage relationship. We also need to pay attention to the fact that the marriage relationship between God and humanity is arranged by God and not man.

So this parable of the wedding feast is telling us about God's covenant relationship with his people. God is using a wedding feast to illustrate the nature of the reign of God in Christ and is driving home a particular point that is immediately relevant to his contemporaries.

The reason the bride is not in view here is because Christ is making a point about the visible church rather than the invisible church. In other words, the bride represents the true people of God and it would be inappropriate to use that's particular metaphor to make a point about the visible church. For us, Jesus uses the illustration of the wedding feast and the bride is never in view.

And so the king sends out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding. These servants are the preachers, the prophets, the righteous men of the old covenant administration who had proclaimed the truth of God throughout the centuries. However, those who heard the message of these servants by and large rejected the invitation. Now, we need to note that the invitation had already been made. These servants went out to gather together guests who had previously been invited. This was the way of things in that culture. It was common to issue an invitation and then follow-up with a second invitation very near to or perhaps on the day of the event. The fact that an invitation had gone out previously points to the fact that these are the covenant people of God who are in view. Remember, we are talking about the "visible church" and that includes all those who have the covenant sign and participate in the ritual of the covenant.

This may seem odd to us but if we take a moment to think about how God has dealt with his people in history we should remember that God has called his people returned to him over and over. In other words, they had received the invitation – they have been included in the covenant community of God – and yet they wandered away from the truth. They retained the covenant relationship in an outward fashion but their hearts were far from God. Thus, as is recorded in Isaiah 65:1–5:

"I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am,' To a nation that was not called by My name. I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts; A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; Who sacrifice in gardens, And burn incense on altars of brick; Who sit among the graves, And spend the night in the tombs; Who eat swine's flesh, And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Who say, 'Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, For I am holier than you!' These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day. (Isaiah 65:1-5)

Isaiah speaks of this new nation that Christ had mentioned in the parable just previous to this story about the wedding feast. He also recognizes the fact that God has "stretched out his hands" all day long to a rebellious people. They had been invited. They had become part of the covenant community of God based upon their receiving the covenant sign and participating in the covenant ritual. Nevertheless, their hearts were far from the Lord.

In this parable we see the same type of attitude. They had received the invitation but when they are called to dedicate themselves wholly to the work of God they reject the request to return to faith.

Thus this is a call to true commitment. It is a call to submit to Yahweh and to be true to their covenant vows. They are being called to acknowledge the covenant stipulations and to leave behind their self-centered ways. The invitation is to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4–5). Yet they persist in their rebellion and reject the invitation of God's servants.

Some reject the call to commitment because of their entanglement in the things of the world. The farm, their business, their worldly involvements are like thorns that choke out any godliness which may be present due to the warming influence of common grace. Others are more vehement in the rejection and not only miss treat the servants of God but indeed kill them.

The servants in this parable represent God's messengers throughout history. Not only does Jesus have the prophets of old in mind but he is also thinking of John the Baptist, his apostles and even his own ministry. Although this is a parable the behavior of those to reject the invitation of God's servants is accurately rendered. The people who had already been invited – you were already members of the covenant community – rejected the second invitation and did so often with violence. If you are unaware of this behavior on the part of the Old Testament covenant community I invite you to read through the books of King's, the Chronicles, Isaiah and Jeremiah.

The patience of the King is, frankly, astounding. Nonetheless his patience eventually finds its limit and he becomes enraged. He sends out his armies to destroy those murderers and to burn up their city. Now, what does Jesus have in mind here? Is this supposed to be a picture of the final judgment? No: this event found its fulfillment in the well attested destruction of Jerusalem A.D. 70.

Flavius Josephus lived from about A.D. 37 to 100. He was a Jew, the son of a priest who became a Pharisee at the age of 19. Later, when the Jews rose in rebellion against Rome, Josephus assumed a position of command in a Jewish forces and oversaw the work of fortification in Galilee. As the rebellion progressed Josephus and his army were defeated and Josephus himself was captured and taken to Rome. Through a series of unusual event's Josephus found favor with the new Emperor Vespasian and in A.D. 69 was released from prison, allowed to return to Judea and became an advisor to the Emperor's son Titus who was bringing the Roman offensive in Judea to a successful conclusion. Thus Josephus was on hand to witness the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. He has this to say about the event:

But as for that house [the temple], God had, for certain, long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous, [Ab,] upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon; although these flames took their rise from the Jews themselves, and were occasioned by them; for upon Titus's retiring, the seditious lay still for a little while, and then attacked the Romans again, when those that guarded the holy house fought with those that quenched the fire that was burning the inner [court of the] temple; but these Romans put the Jews to flight, and proceeded as far as the holy house itself. At which time one of the soldiers, without staying for any orders, and without any concern or dread upon him at so great an undertaking, and being hurried on by a certain divine fury, snatched somewhat out of the materials that were on fire, and being lifted up by another soldier, he set fire to a golden window, through which there was a passage to the rooms that were round about the holy house, on the north side of it. As the flames went upward, the Jews made a great clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered any thing to restrain their force, since that holy house was perishing, for whose sake it was that they kept such a guard about it.

NOW as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury, (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done,) Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple. (6:250-253, 7:1)


Therefore Josephus confirms the prophecy of Jesus as accurate. This is not the only time the Jesus prophesied concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. We will look at additional prophecies concerning that event as we continue the chronological survey of life of Jesus Christ. By the way, these prophecies of Christ concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple have been misunderstood by many. Indeed, there are those who have used these prophecies as "evidence" of Christ's inability to accurately predict the future. This is because they have misunderstood the prophecies. Unfortunately there are many Christians who misunderstand these prophecies as well. We'll cover that issue in more detail when the continue our survey of the Gospels.

In our parable about the wedding feast we see that Jesus is telling his audience that the years of accumulated wickedness of those two were invited to the feast but unwilling to calm will eventually be accounted for. Elsewhere Jesus said that punishment for the blood of all the prophets shed throughout history was required by the Jews who were his contemporaries (Matthew 23:35-36). Their rejection of Jesus Christ filled up the measure of their sin and therefore judgment was imminent. They could have forestalled that judgment by simple submission and obedience. Gods judgment in the temporal realm is never written in stone from a human perspective. However, they follow the footsteps of their wicked forefathers and so they received like judgment. Consider 2 Chronicles 36:15–21:

And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. (2 Chronicles 36:15-21)

Some accepted the invitation
As he had done in the previous parable Jesus now turns his attention to events which - in part - will unfold after his completed work. This is not to say that Jesus is referencing circumstances that took place only after A.D. 70. We might say that this parable looks at this ministry of the servants who go into the highways and byways to gather together a crowd for the feast as something of a separate event. In other words, the king sends his servants to gather together a crowd for the feast before the ministry of Jesus Christ during his earthly sojourn and after his death and resurrection as well. In fact, this ministry continues to this very day.

Of course, we want to keep our context clear and recognize that Jesus has in mind the "in between time" when the old covenant age was coming to its conclusion and the new covenant age was in its infancy. It was the time when the old covenant age was growing old and ready to vanish away (Hebrews 8:13), and the new covenant was only beginning. It was during this "already but not yet" that the exclusiveness of the invitation to join the feast was beginning to wane. There was still a flavor of this; even Paul always went to the Jews first no matter what city he found himself in. Indeed, this "Jew first" aspect of the invitation continued until the destruction of Jerusalem or at least until the last apostle died around A.D. 65.

In any case the servants go into the highways and invite everyone they find to come to the feast. This reminds us that the Gospel should be preached to everyone.

Does this square with the doctrine of election or selection which we discussed in our examination of the parable in Matthew chapter 20? Of course it does. We don't know who is going to respond to the preaching the gospel. We are never given the responsibility of deciding who should hear the Gospel and who should not. When Jesus told us not to cast our pearls before swine nor to give what is holy to dogs, he was referring to those who are already in the visible church. Jesus tells us to refrain from speaking truth to those who are in willful rebellion and who willfully reject things of God. Those who show themselves to be dogs or swine should be avoided.

The servants in this portion of the parable represent the apostles and their followers in the first generation after Christ's death and resurrection. In that evangelistic effort both good and bad were brought into the church. Certainly everyone is "bad" apart from the new birth; there are some who are "more bad" than others. For example, the Ethiopian eunuch was good in comparison to the apostle Paul before his conversion.

However, the point here is the same that was made in the parable of the dragnet. In other words the process of invitation attracts all kinds of fish (so to speak), to the wedding feast. Some who respond to the invitation are truly born-again. Others who respond to the proclamation of the Gospel find their heart warmed my the action of common grace. These latter attendees are not born again but will continue for a time only to be found wanting as they are buffeted by the trials and tribulations of this life. As is always the case those who are truly born-again reveal as much by their new character. Once again we are reminded that it is critical for those who are in Christ to cultivate a new creation so that they may demonstrate the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their life.

Thus, here in the parable, the kingdom feast is open to all. The sons of the kingdom (the Jews), have been tossed out and the exclusive nature of the invitation has passed. Certainly there were many Jews who accepted the invitation delivered in the first century to participate in the kingdom feast just as there were many Gentiles who accepted the invitation. Unfortunately there were some who accepted the invitation but did not see the need to change their clothes.

Some neglect to dress for the occasion
In the past we have discussed the fact that in ancient near Eastern cultures that King would show honor to a special guest by providing him with a row which the king had previously worn. The guests who wore this robe would be considered part of the royal family and would be known as the Kings friend. He would be allowed to participate in the righteousness of the king in that the king's righteousness would become his own, motivating his actions rather than simply circumscribing his behavior (cf. Esther 6:7–9).

Moreover it was customary for a king or a wealthy person to supply special clothing to those who were invited to a feast. This clothing would most often be in the form of a white robe and would be given to each guest as they arrive at the home of the king. In either case a failure to accept the gift of new clothing and to where it would be considered a grave insult to the host.

Therefore, the king in our parable enters the Hall of the feast to view his guests. He wants to make sure that each person is enjoying himself. Suddenly the king spies someone who is not wearing a wedding garment. Although this is an affront to the king, we see that his initial response is one of kindness and mercy. He says "friend how did you come in here without a wedding garment?" In other words the king does not immediately throw the man out. Instead, he gives him an opportunity to explain himself. Perhaps the man had a reasonable excuse. But, alas, he did not. Jesus tells us that the man was speechless. In other words he had no excuse. In other words he was caught red-handed in his rebellion and hatred toward the king. The man knew his faults. He knew the truth. And what this parable is telling us is that the man had been at the feast and had tasted of the things of the kingdom of God. Hen had tasted of the blessings of relationship in Jesus Christ. The writer of the book of Hebrews comments on this very circumstance:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

These very same Jews that Paul addresses in his letter to the Hebrews are the intended audience of Christ's parable as well.

Thus I am inclined to think that Christ has the Jews in mind who were contemporary to his ministry and to that of his apostles, when that King tells his servants to bind the improperly clothed man and cast him into the outer darkness. In other words, I do not think that Jesus is referring to the final judgment here. Instead he is simply saying (again), that even though the Jews were members of the "visible church" that did not guarantee them a place in the "invisible church." Even if a jew were to claim to be a follower of Jesus, they were not allowed to partake of the banquet unless they had been born again. This is true for every man or woman no matter their racial heritage.

Christ has used this same illustration before when dealing with the centurion who sought Christ's favor on behalf of his servant. In Matthew 8:8–13 we read:

When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour. (Matthew 8:10-13)

Jesus is not talking about the final judgment but a temporal reality. To be outside, in the outer darkness, meant to be excluded from a participation in the covenant community. Those were not submitted to the king were not allowed to enjoy the blessings of the covenant (cf. Matthew 18:15-20).

It was common for a wedding feast to extend for several days. In the evening hours the hall where the feast was taking place would be lit by a multitude of candles and torches. Therefore, anyone who was "thrown out" of the feast would be cast into the outer darkness. Those who experienced this indignity would certainly show their displeasure with a wrathful countenance. As I have said before the weeping and gnashing of teeth is an expression of anger toward the host. If we look at what the Bible has to say about the existence of the wicked in hell we discover that there is no place for wrath against the king. Hell is a place of absolute despair and no one in the lake of fire is gnashing their teeth at the king of kings.

Christ concludes his parable with the statement that "many are called, but few are chosen." The gospel is preached indiscriminately. There are many who hear and many who respond to the message and even make some form of commitment to Jesus Christ. However many of those who do so harbor rebellion in their heart and are not willing to submit to Jesus Christ. They believe that their salvation is nothing more then fire insurance. They claim that they are not under law but under grace and so are not required to have Christ as Lord. They believe that he can be a savior without being a master. This is because they do not understand that to be under the law means to be in the natural state. To be under grace means to be brought into a relationship with Almighty God wherein the law is written upon one's heart. They do not understand that when the Bible tells us that the end of the law for righteousness is Jesus Christ it means that the "goal at which the torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts." In other words the law does not come to an end with Jesus Christ; it finds its fulfillment in him and his expressed by his followers as they walk in his footsteps.

Conclusion and application
The invitation to come to the wedding feast is published yet today! Many have heard - many have been called - but too many reject this invitation out of hand. There are many who live in this "Christian" nation who don't think they need to attend a banquet in order to be saved. They "have their own religion" and "their own god." Their "god" is a God of love who makes no demands on our life but simply wants them to be happy. This so-called God is simply a deity of their own devising.

These "Christians" use many of the same words as true believers and are often confused with those who do in fact attend the banquet. They call themselves members of the Church or even establish organizations they name the church (such as the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian science and so on), but in truth they refuse to accept the invitation to attend the banquet.

There are many who are just good old-fashioned "American Christians," citizens of this (once), Christian nation were good, moral people. They may tend a church service once in awhile but their religion is simply good behavior, patriotism and neighborliness. They hear the gospel but they do not believe they need salvation. Most of them simply shrug their shoulders, turned away and go about the business. Others attack the messenger and in some circumstance will even kill those who profess to be servants of the king. We are blessed to live in a nation where those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ typically do so without violence. However, we have brothers and sisters in the Lord around this world who find that those who reject the gospel often do so with violence.

Even though many refuse to hear the invitation there are many who do respond to the preaching of the Gospel. These respondents come from all walks of life and therefore we must be indiscriminate in our proclamation of the truth.

How are we to go about inviting others to the banquet? I do we go about sharing the Gospel with people? The first and most important way that we do that is through our personal witness. Our personal behavior will speak louder than anything we may say with words. Therefore, the first duty of every Christian is to preach the gospel with our actions. I know from personal experience that this is the most difficult way to preach the good news. It's easy to tell people about Jesus Christ; it is much more difficult to live Christ. So, we invite others to the banquet through our personal behavior as we impact those within our sphere of influence. We of course must also verbally share the good news with others. Our walk and our talk must correspond to one another and we must be educated enough about what we believe that we can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with other people in an understandable fashion.

A third way that we bring people to the banquet is to invite them to church. The church is in the banquet but it is that the church that day will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is that the churches they will meet other people who have responded to the invitation to participate in the banquet of the kingdom.

In the midst of all this we need to keep in mind that there are those who will attend the banquet but they will come to the conclusion that their own armaments are adequate for the occasion. There are those who will go forward at church or at the crusade and make a profession of faith. There are those who will say the sinner's prayer when prompted. There are those who will make a confession of faith, be baptized, partake of the Lord's supper and attend church and yet will never experience the new birth. It is not up to us to determine who these people are. True, their behavior will often give them away but we must not judge too hastily or too harshly.

Those without Christ's robe of righteousness will often show as much by their behavior and the lack of covenant blessings of their life. I'm not talking about financial or material blessing and prosperity; I'm speaking of spiritual lusting primarily. In other words those who are rogue in the righteousness of Jesus Christ will experience enjoyed no matter what their circumstance. Yet, even believers will often be downcast or dismayed for time due to the hardships which Christ allows into their life.

Finally, I must encourage you to examine your own heart to be sure that you are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We can not take it upon ourselves to judge others - and we cannot even judge our own heart in perfect accuracy. Nevertheless, I must encourage you to search your soul and be sure that you have put off the old man and put on the new. You will find evidence for this and assurance of your salvation in a life that is growing ever more Christlike. Thus I encourage you, along with the apostle Paul to:

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ--the Message--have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives--words, actions, whatever--be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:12-17, The Message)

Amen.





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