Friday, July 5, 2013

Would You Like To Be Excused From Attending God’s Party?

 (Luke 14:16-24)

Would you like to attend the President’s New Year gala? You would be greatly honored to get such an invitation, wouldn’t you?  A certain wealthy man had a great wedding banquet in his house.  Perhaps his oldest son was getting married.  We can imagine what joy that would have brought to the house and they wanted to share it with their friends.  The rich man wanted to make sure that everyone remembered that great day.  He wanted to organize the biggest banquet the town had ever known.  A great occasion was taking place in his house and he wanted to make sure that he marked that great occasion with style. 
And so he sat down and planned a great banquet.  Then, before the big event he sent his servants to all his friends in town to tell them that the banquet was coming up.  “It is going to be a big banquet, the biggest ever.  Please make sure you are free that day and will come.  The master will be very disappointed if you do not come.”  All the friends agreed that they would come.
Finally the D-day arrived. The man’s servants spent the whole night preparing the food.  Bulls and rams and goats were slaughtered. Pilau and chapatis were all prepared in large quantities.  Fresh vegetables and fruits such as bananas, oranges, pineapples and melons were carefully prepared.  Soft drinks such soda, juice etc were brought in. Lovely flowers and buffets were very nicely laid out and the outcome was very good. The food was very delicious and the place looked good to behold. Three lessons that we would be wise to learn from this parable:

1.    The kingdom of God is like a great banquet

A banquet is a place full of good things.  When we read this parable we are astonished that people turned down the opportunity to go to such a kingly banquet and made excuses.  In the normal way of things, this would not happen.  Everyone who was invited to a banquet would come gladly because the banquet is a place full of good things.  In the same way the kingdom of God is a place full of good things. The kingdom of God is where we find full and free forgiveness for all our sins. We read the invitation to the banquet, "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  (Isa 55:1)
The kingdom of God is where we find eternal fellowship with God.  Man was made to have fellowship with God.  When God made Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden they were completely happy not because they had material possessions, but because they had fellowship with God.  Then sin invaded this happy scene and brought separation between God and man.  Thankfully, Christ came to look for the wandering sheep and to bring it back to the flock of God.  Those who by faith in Christ are in the kingdom of God have eternal fellowship with God.  They may not have any of the world’s goods and they do not pursue the pleasures of this world, but they have the satisfaction and joy that the world does not have.

2.     People make excuses so as not to enter the kingdom of God
When the food was ready the servants went to those who had originally been invited and told them, “Come, for everything is now ready.”  This parable was originally addressed to the people of Israel, for they were the first people whom God called into His kingdom.  They, however, turned down the invitation and rejected Christ.  The invitation into the kingdom of God was then extended to non-Israelites – i.e. to you and me!  Now when we look at the excuses that were made in this parable we see two things about them.
The excuses were all to do with the things of this world.  One man says he wants to look at a field, another says he wants to make sure that the oxen he has bought are able to work his field, and another says he has just got married.  This is how it is always with those who are invited to come to Christ for salvation but do not respond.  Their excuses are always to do with the things of this world.  Would it be that this is true of you?
You have heard the gospel many times and you know that Christ offers you a full and free forgiveness of all your sins.  You also know that Christ commands you to leave your sins and come to Him in faith.  But the things of this world are a great attraction to you.  You know that Christ demands complete devotion and this you are not willing to give.  You are determined to accumulate the possessions of this world and to seek the pleasures of this world.  And so when you hear the gospel invitation you make excuses that are to do with the things of this world.  Perhaps you say, “One day, when the time is right, I will come to Christ and be saved.  Meanwhile, you want to acquire this or that and enjoy the possession and pleasures of the world.”  I urge you to remember the words of Christ, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
You notice that the excuses made were foolish.  The first man says, “I have just bought a field, I must go and see it.”  Can we really believe that man would buy a field without first looking at it?  It is really possible that the man pays a large sum of money and gets a title deed and then afterwards goes and looks at what he has bought?  Of course not!  The man who is thinking of buying a field will go many times and look at the field before he hands over a single shilling.  The second man says, “I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I am on my way to try them out.”  In other words what he is saying is, “I need some oxen to work on my land and I have just paid out a large sum of money to buy some.  Now I must go and see if they are strong enough to work on my land.”  Again, we can see the foolishness of this excuse.  Is it really possible for a man to buy some animals to work on his land without first making sure that they are strong enough for the work?  Surely he would first bring the animals to his land for a few days to try them out and make sure they are strong enough to work the land.  Only then he would pay the money.  Again it is a foolish excuse. 
The third man says, “I have just got married, so I cannot come.”  This again is a very strange excuse.  If a man says, “I have a funeral in the family so I cannot come,” we can understand.  But the man who has just got married is happy, he is celebrating.  If someone comes to him and invites him to a banquet he will gladly come along with his wife because he is happy and is celebrating All the excuses that were made were foolish because they were all things that could wait for another time. They were also morally wrong excuses because they did not even bother to tell this man that they will not come. Do you think anyone will admit that he is not interested in heaven? Please brethren we live in a culture where people would rather not disappoint others by saying ‘no’ but just disappoint by keeping quiet which finally is more expensive. Please when you are invited to a function say immediately that you would or would not attend.
This is how it is with those who make excuses when they hear the gospel.  The man who says, “I will wait a few years and then I will come to Christ for salvation” is foolish.  He does not know when he will leave this world.  He may be involved in a motor accident the very next day.  He cannot tell God, to whom we must all appear, “I really intended to get saved one day.”  God will not listen to such an argument.  God only asks one thing: “Are you saved today?” not “did you intend to get saved one day?”  Whatever excuse you make for not seeking salvation in Christ today, you may be sure, is a foolish excuse in the sight of God.  You may think it is a valid excuse, but one day when you stand before God your excuse will look completely inadequate and you will even be too ashamed to say it.

3.    Salvation is being offered to all

When the people who were originally invited did not come, the master of the house sent out his servants into the streets to invite all to come and enjoy the banquet.  People who we would not expect to be invited were brought in: the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.  Then even after they had come in there was still room in the banquet, and so more people from the streets came in.  This is a great reminder to us that Christ does not offer salvation to an exclusive few; He offers it to all. Perhaps you have thought that salvation is on offer only to those who are religious and go to church each week. so you are wrong, Christ invites all, even those who have never been to church and would not describe themselves as religious.  You are not exempt from this invitation, come for it.
Perhaps you think that salvation is offered to only those who live good decent lives here on earth.  It might be that you think to yourself, “I could never get saved.  Christ would never hear me if I asked Him for forgiveness of sins, my sins have been so many.  I have been so bad there is no hope for me.”  But you are wrong.  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15) even the very worst
Perhaps you think that salvation is only offered to those who were born in a Christian home.  You perhaps were born to parents who follow another religion.  You have heard about people getting saved but you have never thought this is something that you could do.  You have always thought that you had to be born in a Christian home before you could get saved.  This is not true at all. 
God offers free salvation in Christ to all.  He offers it to you today.  I am telling you that, “Still there is room.”  Millions and millions have already accepted the offer and have been saved.  Some have left this earth and are in heaven, many are still on earth but have a place reserved in heaven.  And still there is room.  We invite you to come today and be saved in Christ.
What must you do to get it? Perhaps this is your question.  You can see that you are a sinner and that you must be saved.  You have also seen that Christ invites you to come to Him for full and free forgiveness of all your sins.  You no longer want to make excuses; you want to take up this offer.  What must you do?  God requires two things of you.

1.    You must repent (Acts 20:21)

“… testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Act 20:21)

To repent means to turn from sin.  It is a resolution of the mind and the will of the heart.  You must be resolved in your mind to turn from sin and be willing in your heart to keep turning from sin the rest of your life.  As long as you cling to sin you are unfit to come to God.  God cannot have anyone who still has a love for sin and a desire for sin.  You must come to him with a determination to flee your sins.

2.     You must come to faith in Christ (Acts 20:21)
You must come to Christ in the knowledge that He alone can save you from your sins.  Many people imagine that their good works and their religious works will be good enough to save them.  Such people will never be saved as long as they hold to such beliefs.  You must come to Christ knowing that nothing you can do will ever save you.  You must come to Him and ask Him to do all that is necessary to save you.  You must ask Him to cleanse you in His blood; you must ask Him to forgive you all your sins through His death on the cross of Calvary.  Once you have come to Him you must live the rest of your life in the knowledge that the only reason you are a child of God accepted and forgiven is because Christ lived and died for you.  You must never have any confidence in your own works. You must have the righteousness of Christ if you will be saved.
3. You must come today
“Still there is room,” is what the servants told those who were called on the streets. This is the same the preachers of the gospel like me will tell you. However, what should ask is, “for how long there will be room?”  How long will the gates of heaven remain open for sinners to enter?  We simply do not know.  As you listen to me here preaching, you might be thinking, “One day in the future I will come to Christ and be saved.” My question to you then would be, “but how do you know you have a future at all?”  One man in the Bible thought he had a long and comfortable future only to be told, “This very night your soul will be demanded from you” (Luke 12:20).  You must wait no longer.  You must come today and seek salvation in Christ.  It is foolishness to remain in your sins while Christ offers you salvation.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts;
Let him turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him,

And to our God, for He will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

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