Friday, August 26, 2011

Can Wedding Garments of Salvation Be Lost?

Who Are Invited To The Wedding Feast? The Church or The Old Testament Saints

By Abraham Israel

Hear the Parable:

"And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, 3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 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.”’ 5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. 6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. 7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 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. 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 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.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”" (Matt 22:1-14).

This parable has been a bone of contention for many people to say that a believer who is saved can again lose his wedding garment of salvation and go straight to the outer darkness or be kept for hell fire in waiting. Still others try to argue that the outer darkness means just a lack of revelation and not eternal lostness of soul. But when ever we want to understand a parable of Jesus, the most important thing to consider in understanding it is to look in to the context, people or situation Jesus was speaking in to. Was He speaking to the Church or the Jews in general or the all the Old Testament saints in general who lived before the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The reason why we should see the context in which all the parables of Jesus are given has been beautifully explained by Mike Scott in the following quote.

Mike Scott says, "The present New Testament verses were introduced by Robert Stephens first in his Greco-Latin Testament published in 1551 A.D., and then later Stephens published the Latin Vulgate of 1555, the first whole Bible divided into the present verses. Legend has it that Robert Stephens numbered the verses of the Bible while on horseback on a trip. His son testifies that his father did indeed number the verses of the Bible while on a trip from Paris to Lyons, but that the work was done while resting at the inns along the road.

Since this division of the Scriptures was done by man unaided by inspiration there are notable instances in which the context caused by a division into verses and chapters is destroyed. The careful Bible student will always read verses and even paragraphs before and after a statement to insure that the complete thought of a context is considered." [1] 

Getting the Context Right

Here Apostle Matthew the writer was giving a answer of three parables in succession which was ignited by the question which the chief priests and elders of the people asked Jesus. Here is the verse which starts the whole context,
"Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”" (Matt 21:23). In other words, the very authority of Jesus was questioned by religious chief priests and elders of the Jewish people. So the next three parables the writer uses to explain how Jesus defended the divine authority with which he was demanding a verdict from people to believe Him.

So the three parable was not directed towards the Church but first to the unbelieving Jews mainly, then the Jews of that first century to believe and accept Jesus as their Messiah and then finally to all believers to understand the gospel of Jesus and believe Him. Always the parable of Jesus are heavenly realities explained in earthly language of stories and metaphors, so that those who are spiritual can understand the meaning of it through the help of the Holy Spirit
(1 Cor 2:12-14).

The Kingdom of Heaven

Jesus answered these chief priests and the elders of the Jewish people and explained with what divine authority and purpose He was approaching the Jewish people with the message,
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 4:17; Matt 21:23). The authority of Jesus did not start with any humans but with God Himself who has sent Jesus as His servant and representative to call the Jewish people for the Wedding Feast (John 8:18).

If the Church is as Apostle Paul call it implicitly, the Bride who is betrothed to one husband Christ as a chaste virgin, the Church was not present at all at that time
(2 Cor 11:2). Paul also spoke of the Jesus Christ and Church, comparing them using the imagery and symbolism of marriage only later after Christ died and rose again (Eph 5:23-27, 29-30, 32).

We ought to see that Jesus did not say in the gospels,
'Now I am building my Church' but only promised that He will in the future build His Church (Matt 16:18). Also He promised that in the future where ever two or three will gather together in His Name, immediately the corporate Presence of Jesus will show up to identify the place as His legal authorized Church on earth (Matt 18:15-20). And the Church was brought in to existence as a corporate entity only on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came mightily upon the 120 disciples of Jesus in the upper room and as a result of it three thousand souls were added in to the Church on that very day (Acts 1:13-14; 2:1-4, 40-41).

So the whole parable is about heavenly wedding feast that the God the king is arranging for His Son. In
Matt 3:17 God declared from heaven who his Son was and how much He was pleased with Jesus. When Jesus starts the parable saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son", he was clearly pointing that the marriage for His Son [i.e. pointing to Himself] was not his own idea or imagination of fantasy, but it was God's idea to unite Jesus with the Church.

Marriage of the Lamb

All those whom God the king invited to the wedding were only invited to enjoy the wedding as spectators and participants, and thus were not part of the Bride the Church. So afterwards when Jesus continues with the parable saying,
"3 and [the king] sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. 4 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.”’", he was saying that God sent all the prophets of Old Testament to invite people to get saved and become a partaker of the friend company of Israel in the wedding of the Son. Jesus said John was the the final Old Testament prophet and many prophesied until John, from that day of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven suffered violence because many believed the message of the coming Messiah and entered the kingdom of God except the religious crowd of people who rejected the king's invitation (Matt 11:12-13; Luke 7:29-30). Many prophets message in the past was rejected and still some other prophets were stoned and killed by the forefather's of Israel. The same was happening when the apostles who were sent by Jesus with the invitation for wedding feast to the kingdom of Israel on the last ditch attempt to save them from God's wrath (Matt 23:34-38; 10:1,7, 16-28).

The marriage of the Lamb is clearly described in
Rev 19:7-8 which says, "7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." So these previous verses implies that just before the time of the Rapture of the Church this following verse will be pronounced in heaven after which the marriage of the Lamb will take place. But only the Church will be the bride of Christ in the marriage. The ceremony will be a very private affair in which Christ will reward his bride with ornaments of glory and be granted to be arrayed in fine linen of the righteous acts which the saints did it with the help of God. In this ceremony the Old Testament saints will not be able to partake as they were already invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.

The Lamb represents Jesus Christ who died and redeemed all the saints of God with His blood
(Rev 5:6, 9-10). We know from John the Baptist that He called himself and the Jewish people who followed His teaching as the "friend of the bridegroom" (John 3:29), hence we can call all those Jewish people who awaited for the Messiah and died until Jesus died and got resurrected with Him as God's friends in Friend's Resurrection (Matt 27:52-53). All the friends of the Bridegroom Jesus will stand, hear and rejoice greatly in hearing his voice, their joy will be fulfilled in it (John 3:29). The time before Jesus death was friend's time, even though the apostles of the Church were allowed to participate in it, they later understood after Christ's resurrection that they were not just friends but the bride of Christ (John 15:14-15). He who had the Bride with Him was Jesus who prepared a separated people for the Bride's Resurrection (John 3:29).

The marriage supper of the Lamb is clearly described in
Rev 19:9 where it says, "9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”" The people called to the marriage supper of the Lamb are blessed because this opportunity to get invited in to it was closed at the time of Friend's Resurrection. So the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place in which all the Old Testament saints who partook in the Friend's Resurrection at the time of Jesus will without fail partake in it (Matt 27:52-53). But the Rapture of the saints that will happen very soon will be the Bride's resurrection in which the resurrected Church of all time will be then taken to marriage of the Lamb (1 Thess 4:14-18). Both are two different things.

Those Who Rejected The Invitation Were Destroyed

The wedding supper of the Lamb was in the eyes of God happening at the time the invitation went out. Those who heard the good news of the opportunity to be a part of the heavenly kingdom were ushered in spiritually as though they were in the wedding hall which was ready to start the program any time. In other words, those who accepted the salvation message of Jesus were immediately considered as the part of the guests sitting in the wedding hall. And these people who rejected the message of salvation and forgiveness of sins through believing in Jesus were the people who rejected to be a part of the wedding supper of the Lamb, they were seen in the eyes of God the king as those who were sitting in the marriage hall of the believing community of Israel without the wedding garment of salvation
(Isa 61:10).

God did destroy those who rejected the message of salvation to enter in to the wedding supper of the Lamb
(Matt 22:7). The last ditch effort of God to rescue these friends of God was finally closed on the day Jesus pronounced that the kingdom of God has been taken from them and given to a new Church Era of the whole world (Matt 21:43; 23:34-39). Only after this he looked over Jerusalem and cried for it because already the invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb has been closed and the God's wrathful woe's had been announced which took over the whole nation of Israel under His curse (Matt 23:34-39; 27:25). After the resurrection of Jesus the time for the first fruit of gathering the Bride's Resurrection company from the Jews started to take place until 70 A.D.

Darrell G. Young says, "In 70 A.D., after a 143-day siege which began at Passover, a Roman military force consisting of about 30,000 troops under the command of Titus battered the walls and entered the city. They destroyed everything, including Herod's Temple, exactly as spoken by Jesus Christ 40 years earlier
(Matt 24:1-2)....By 70 A.D., Jerusalem and Judea were left desolate, most of the people either killed or being held in captivity, or had become refugees fleeing to remote lands." [2]

Those who were considered as friends of the bridegroom Jesus was no more considered as one by God after the Friend's Resurrection
(Matt 27:52-53). God Himself now looks toward the Bride of Christ in favor unconditionally because of their faith, and broken off the friendship with his covenant friends because of their unbelief till the Millennial Kingdom of Christ in which He will mercifully quicken them and bless them to be a blessing to the whole world for thousand years (Rom 11:20-23, 25-26). God is not partial to any one people group (Rom 2:11). From the time of Adam to Abraham God looked on the whole world to find any one who will seek Him with faith (Psa 53:2), many who sought God by faith were blessed, preserved and used as His servants during that time (Rom 5:13-14; Heb 11:4-7). God has been merciful to His Jewish friends who were the descendant of Abraham His friend for nearly two thousand years from 2000 B.C. to the time of the death of Christ (Isaiah 51:2; 41:8; James 2:23). Now he has looked to the whole world for another two thousand years to take a chosen royal priests for Himself out of it from the death of Christ to the Rapture of the Church who is the Bride of Christ (John 3:16; Eph 5:23-24, 26-27; 1 Thess 4:14-18; 1 Peter 2:9-10). After this God will again quicken the people of Israel with His Spirit and will make them a blessing to the whole world for a thousand years through Jesus Christ (Gal 3:8; Rom 11:26-29; Isa 2:3; Psa 9:8).

The King Gives a Wedding Suit

We know that the people who seek God with faith are given a salvation garment which He requires from all the person who will finally attend the Wedding Feast of the Lamb
(Matt 22:11; Isa 61:10). That means when the wedding hall is full and God comes to see them all, is it in heaven that he sees these people who have peeped through and have come in to the wedding hall in heaven without Him noticing it? By no means. God is omnipresent and knows even the thoughts of all humans (Psa 139:7-10; 94:11).

Then the question that arises out of it is, 'Can a person who is given the garment of salvation by the kingdom of heaven, can he lose it?' The answer is no, because according to the word of God the salvation we receive is a eternal one
(Heb 5:9). But in the context of Jesus speaking to the unbelieving Jewish chief priests and elders of the people, the robe of salvation that is given to them is the gospel of forgiveness that has come to them through Jesus. But we see that they questioned his authority to provide salvation (Matt 21:23-27; 9:1-8; Mark 2:6-7; Luke 5:21), and therefore they were the guests of the wedding hall which was the nation Israel in the eyes of God. But because of rejecting the message of salvation, God finds these religious people as odd men in the midst of many believing people who accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Lord thus receiving forgiveness even at that time.

Unworthy Rejecters Were Rejected

First the learned religious Jews who did not want to partake of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb were rejected by God as unworthy of attending his royal feast when all of them gave reason for not attending the feast
(Matt 22:5-8). When Jesus proceeded with the parable and said, "11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless." (Matt 22:11-12). God will not demand a wedding garment from a poor man who have been invited from highway rag clothed community of people to whom He has not supplied it previously (Matt 22:9-10). Therefore because He has already supplied the opportunity to get saved to all people in Israel through Jesus, he was again demanding the garment of salvation when he came to see the friends in the wedding hall of the nation of Israel who were ready and waiting for the wedding and got an opportunity to attend through the resurrection of God's friends which happened when Jesus was resurrected (Matt 22:10, 11; 27:52-53). God has clearly spoken through Jesus that Jesus in the only way to attend the Wedding Feast as the friends of God (John 14:6). Many Jews who religiously heard the good teaching of Jesus and received with Joy, but did not surrender their lives to be born again in their spirit-man were found without the salvation garments in that generation along with all the religious gospel rejecting Jews who questioned Jesus authority (Matt 13:18-21; 7:24-29).

Those who are born again are those people whom God undertakes them for eternity ahead to keep their garments of salvation always white through the blood of Jesus and sealing them with a guarantee of the oil of the Holy Spirit which their head will never lack
(Eph 1:13-14; 2:10; Heb 9:14; Eccl 9:7-8; John 10:28; 1 Thess 5:23-24). God always sees the glorious end of all believers lives even from the beginning of their salvation, and so when God clothes all believers in His appointed time and gives reward, they all shall be clothed in white garments during the Rapture of the Church and the succeeding judgment for reward (Isa 46:10; Rev 19:7-8; Acts 15:18; Heb 9:28; 2 Cor 5:10). From the beginning to the end of the earthly lives of all believers who are already accepted in the beloved, are therefore seen as complete as Jesus is by the Father in heaven (Eph 1:6; Col 2:10). The beauty of the Bride who is the Church is greatly desired by the Bridegroom Jesus the King who is in love with her and has given himself unconditionally to make her glorious, holy and without blemish (Psa 45:11; Eph 5:25-27).

Finally Found the Culprit

Therefore the man found without the wedding garment was neither the Church believer nor the Jewish believer who lost their salvation, but he is the one who has rejected the authority of Jesus to receive salvation through Him
(Matt 22:11). When God the king asked that man, "Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’, he was speechless" because he knew already that God demands salvation through the Messiah Jesus to enter in to heaven as His Jewish friend company (Matt 22:12). But he must have remembered the word of Jesus who had clearly spoken that those who enter by Him will be saved and find pasture (John 10:9). Alas, it is too late when one has ruthlessly lived in unbelief by rejecting the gospel message of salvation throughout their earthly lives.

God demands a verdict from people who have not accepted His verdict which made Him to sacrifice His own Son for the sins of all humanity
(Isa 53:4-6, 10-11). So the culprit are those who have rejected the gospel and have been found by God as men without the wedding garment who were also trying to claim the covenantal benefits just because they were born and present physically within the religious nation of Israel which claimed Jehovah God as its leader and King. But according to God only those who are of faith are the real friend company that He accepted through the line of Abraham (Gal 3:7). He did not just accept all the physical descendants of Abraham as his friends who did not have an iota of real faith (John 8:39). But God called all those people as friends who believed in Jesus (Gal 3:29; John 15:14-15).

So the final result for those who rejected the faith of Jesus was no other place other than the outer darkness of prison of Hades where all the dead spirits will be in torment and be kept in that prison for the White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennial rule of Jesus on this earth
(Luke 16:23-31; Rev 20:11-15). Here is what happened, "13 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.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”" (Matt 22:13-14). Here in the outer darkness there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth which is nothing other than the torment of Hades prison which is present in the lower parts of the earth (Eph 4:9; Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). The outer darkness is referred implicitly one time when the unfaithful servant is appointed his portion with the hypocrites (Matthew 24:51). Two times when the wicked will be gathered from God's kingdom and cast into a "furnace of fire" (Matthew 13:42, 50). Evidently, outer darkness can also be called a furnace of fire. The outer darkness is again referred implicitly outside of the book of Matthew in Luke 13:28. This passage in Luke 13:28-29 is a parallel passage to the outer darkness reference in Matthew 8:11-12. As a whole the "outer" in "outer darkness" probably refers to being outside of the earth, the kingdom of God and the Presence of God (2 Thess 1:9). Even the angels who sinned before the flood of Noah's time by possessing people and filling their mind with evil thoughts of violence and sex were arrested and kept by God in the same place of darkness till the time of judgment take place before the White Throne Judgment (2 Peter 2:4, 17; Jude 1:6, 13). It is called as outer because this place is outside of the earth (Eph 4:9). It is called as darkness because the revelation of God's presence and His life will not be available over there (2 Thess 1:9; John 1:4-5). It is also called as "furnace of fire" because of the spiritually tormenting atmosphere that will make them weep and gnash their teeth (Matt 8:12; Luke 16:23-24).

The bottom line is that people with out faith will only wait for the eternal hell fire and the White Throne judgment in Hades and there is no respite for them. Here is the contrast of a overcoming faith believer's wonderful future with the gloomy future of unbelievers as revealed by God,
"7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”" (Rev 21:7-8). Believers in Jesus as God's sons will inherit all the riches of God forever and ever and live to enjoy life with Him in the future, while the unbeliever's will be tormented without God's presence because of rejecting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. All humans are called to partake in the wonderful future life with God, but only those who choose to accept His invitation becomes chosen (Matt 22:14). Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!





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