Luke 8

Read Luke 8.

Why is it that only a few people respond to the gospel message and are saved?

Jesus answered that question in the parable of the soils here in Luke 8:4-15 and the illustration of a light on a stand in verses 16-18.

The parable of the soils teaches that people don’t respond to the gospel because of problems in their hearts. Sometimes the devil distracts them before the word can be planted in their hearts (v. 12). Sometimes their response is superficial not genuine (v. 13). Sometimes the distractions that come from living in this world (v. 14). Only the heart that is prepared can truly receive the word (v. 15).

The gospel is God’s word. The problem of unbelief is clearly not with God’s word. God scatters his word widely so that it falls on all kinds of hearts (vv 5, 11). He puts his word high on stand like a lamp (vv. 16-17) so that the light goes all over the place. The word of God is not defective. It is not hidden or sterile. It is neither hard to find nor expensive to acquire.

Given the pervasiveness of God’s word, we need to be careful listeners according to verse 18. That verse goes on to say, “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.” The more you listen to God’s word, respond to and obey it, the more truth God sends into your life.

On the other hand, when you don’t receive God’s word, you don’t stay in one spot spiritually. Instead, Jesus said, “even what they think they have will be taken from them.” Your grasp of truth weakens when you don’t apply God’s word in your life.

How’s your response to God’s word? Are you eager to receive it, believe it, and obey it? Or are you distracted by other things. If your spiritual life is not moving forward, it is going backward. Ask God to give you a responsive heart to his word so that you can grow in your faith and knowledge of God.

Matthew 22

Read Matthew 22.

The parable about the wedding banquet, here in verses 1-14, is about Israel’s rejection of Jesus as Messiah. God the Father invited them to the wedding banquet and everything was ready (vv. 1-4) but Israel was too busy with their own stuff, even getting angry enough to persecute and kill some of God’s servants, the prophets (vv. 5-6).

God judged Israel (v. 7 is a veiled prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70) and turned his attention to inviting us, the Gentiles through the gospel message (vv. 8-14).

Notice, though, that all the “bad as well as the good” (v. 10) were gathered in, you still needed an outfit appropriate for a wedding (vv. 11-12). Jesus did not explain what this meant other than verse 14’s statement that, “…many are invited, but few are chosen.” That statement does not explain the image of the wedding clothes and how it relates to the parable.

As God’s revelation continued to unfold in the New Testament, we can see clearly that the wedding clothes Jesus referenced in verses 11-12 refer to the righteousness of Christ that God credits to us by grace. When you and I put our faith in Christ, God began to treat us as if we are as righteous as Jesus Christ is, even though we are not.

Jesus’s perfect life clothes you like a garment. His atonement on the cross was applied to you when you trusted in him, washing all your sins away. But the perfect life of Jesus Christ was also gifted to you, covering your imperfections and making you acceptable in the sight of God.

You and I have a long way to go before we will actually be righteous in the sight of God. God is working on us to make us righteous people but you still belong at the wedding feast because you are covered by the righteousness of Christ.

This is why you don’t need to worry about “losing your salvation.” You didn’t earn your salvation in the first place. It was given to you by God. You can’t lose the garment of Christ’s righteousness any more than you can lose the shirt on your back. If you’re someone who struggles with feelings of assurance in your faith, let this passage encourage you. Trust in the gracious gift of Christ, not your own performance.