God has no grandchildren. While children and youth who grow up in a Christian home receive more exposure to the Gospel than those who don’t, it certainly is no guarantee that they’ll receive that they will repent and believe the Good News and receive Christ as Savior. There are also “good” people who many in our culture believe will be in heaven or “deserves” to be in heaven won’t be.
Anthony Russo had on his blog a quote from a sermon given by British preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) given in 1855 entitled “Heaven and Hell.” Spurgeon was preaching on Matthew 8:11-12 when Jesus said, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” (ESV).
There was a dreadful dream which a Christian mother once had, and she told it to her children. She dreamed the judgment day had come. The great books were opened. The people all stood before God. And Jesus Christ said, “Separate the chaff from the wheat; put the goats on the left hand, and the sheep on the right.”
The mother dreamed that she and her children were standing right in the middle of the great assembly of people. And an angel came, and said, “I must take the mother, she is a sheep: she must go to the right hand. The children are goats: they must go on the left.”
She thought as she went, her children clutched her, and said, “Mother, do we have to part? Must we be separated?” She then put her arms around them, and seemed to say, “My children, I would, if possible, take you with me.”
But in a moment the angel touched her; the tears on her cheeks dried, and now, overcoming natural affection, being rendered supernatural and exalted, submissive to God’s will, she said, “My children, I taught you well, I trained you, and you abandoned the ways of God; and now all I have to say is, Amen to your condemnation.”
They then were snatched away, and she saw them in perpetual torment, while she was in heaven.
A rather poignant story. Some will cry out, “that’s not fair!” Some will say, “how horrible that she would say ‘amen’ to their condemnation” which all that really means is “true.” It is agreeing with God. In this circumstance the mother is recognizing that He is the righteous and just Judge. Her children were children of wrath (as we all were or are) and they have rejected the Good News of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Spurgeon’s ultimate point is that not everyone you think should be in the Kingdom will be. It isn’t up to us, and it isn’t based on outward appearances or one’s works.
Which relates to my scripture reading this morning I read in Matthew 22 the parable of the wedding feast. The king prepared a wonderful spread for his son, but people refused to attend, some even violently rejected the invitation. Jesus shared the response of the King in verses 8-10, “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests,” (ESV).
Many people are called, Jesus proclaims, not all are chosen, (Matthew 22:13). When they are not chosen it isn’t as though it is God’s fault – they rejected the calling. They are without excuse. We are the ones who are responsible as to how we respond to the calling. In our sinful condition none of us would naturally respond to the invitation as Jesus describes in Matthew 22, we had to be chosen.
As Spurgeon noted in that same sermon:
There is one more word I must discuss before I will be done with this sweet portion–that is the word "will." Oh! I love God’s "wills" and "shalls" There is nothing comparable to them. Let a man say "shall," what good is it? "I will," says a man, and he never performs; "I shall," he says, and he breaks his promise. But it is never that way with God’s "shalls." If He says "shall," it shall be; when He says "will," it will be. Now here He has said, "many will come." The devil says, "they will not come;" but "they will come." Their sins say "you can’t come;" God says "you will come." You, yourselves, say, "you won’t come:" God says "you will come." Yes! there are some here who are laughing at salvation, who can scoff at Christ and mock the gospel; but I tell you some of you will yet come.
"What!" you say, "can God make me become a Christian?" I tell you yes, for herein lies the power of the gospel. It does not asks for your consent; but it gets it. It does not say, "Will you receive it" but it makes you willing in the day of God’s power. Not against your will, but it makes you willing. It shows you its value, and then you fall in love with it; and immediately you run after it and make it yours. Many people have said, "we will not have anything to do with religion," yet they have been converted. I have heard of a man who once went to church only to hear the singing, and as soon as the minister began to preach, he put his fingers in his ears and refused to listen. But in time a small insect landed on his face, so that he was forced to take one finger out of his ears to brush it away. Just then the minister said, "he that has ears to hear let him hear." The man listened; and God met with him at that moment and converted his soul.
He went out a new man, a changed person. He who came in to laugh left to find a quiet place to pray; he who came in to mock went out to bend his knee in repentance; he who entered to spend an idle hour went home to spend an hour in devotion with his God. The sinner became a saint; the shameless became ashamed. Who knows but we might have some like that here tonight. The gospel does not want your consent, it gets it. It knocks the hostility against God out of your heart. You say, "I don’t want to be saved;" Christ says you shall be. He makes your will turn around, and then you cry, "Lord, save me, or I will perish." "Ah," Heaven might exclaim, "I knew that I would make you say that;" and then He rejoices over you because He has changed your will and made you willing in the day of His power.
If He didn’t choose some, however, none would enter the Kingdom. That is grace. “The gospel doesn’t want our consent, it gets it.”