Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Note: Matthew’s wedding banquet parable elaborates on what happens after the original invitees refuse to come for similar reasons why they didn’t come to the great banquet in Luke: “They paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business” (Matt. 22:5).
Matt. 22:8-13: “Then [the king] 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.  But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.  And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Restaurants can ask people who don’t comply with their dress codes to leave after they have somehow snuck in. Likewise, anyone who enters a ticketed event with a counterfeit one can be removed if found out later. This parable shows that the same applies to an event held just before the ushering in of eternity: the wedding of the Lamb where Christ and his bride, referring to the church (believers), are officially unified. And the dress code for the participants? “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given [to his bride] her to wear” (Rev. 19:7-8). John explains that “fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.”
Before concluding that “righteous acts” imply a work-based salvation, note what Jesus said to the legalistic Jews who asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (Jn. 6:28-9). So, our work begins with believing in Jesus and continues with, “Work out your salvation” (Phil. 2:12). Jesus said, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good” (Matt. 12:33), meaning the true believers will produce righteous acts. It is not “either/or” (“you have faith; I have deeds” [James 2:18]), but “both/and” (“faith and actions . . . working together” [2:22]).
Also, this parable isn’t implying that some unbelievers will be mistakenly allowed into the wedding of the Lamb only to be removed later. What it does highlight is that there are some resemblances between the true gospel and the false, where in some cases, their differences won’t be clearly revealed until the end. In the parable of the weeds, when the servants noticed that the wheat and the weeds were growing together, they asked the master, “Do you want us to . . . pull them up?” But the master responded, “No. . . because while you are pulling the weed, you may root up the wheat with them” (Matt. 13:29).
The true gospel, nicely summarized by Martin Luther, is this: “We are saved by faith (in Christ) alone, but the faith that saves is never alone”—meaning that faith is always evidenced by good works. Any teaching that doesn’t uphold this is false. So today, do an act of kindness because of Christ who is changing us.
O God, I uphold your word that is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). “I do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4); “Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). I will daily “buy the truth” (Prov. 23:23) to get wisdom, discipline and understanding. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 26
Lunch Break Study
Read 2 Cor. 11:4 (ESV): “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”
Gal. 1:6-7 (ESV): “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—  not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
1 Tim. 4:16 (KJV): “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (Timothy was the pastor of church in Ephesus.)
Question to Consider
- What do these phrases “another Jesus,” “a different spirit” and “a distorted gospel” imply?
- What is implied by Paul giving the same warnings to the three churches (Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians)? What does he command that we do?
- What are some questions you have about salvation? Do you any problems accepting some aspect of salvation? Why? Have you resolved it?
- In short, “another Jesus,” “a different spirit,” and “a distorted gospel” are not efficacious to save. It comes down to what kind of doctrines are attached next to the word “Jesus,” “Spirit,” and “gospel.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in a created Jesus who is inferior to Jehovah God and the Holy Spirit as a force instead of a person: these distortions are what constitute a different gospel.
- This strongly suggests that the distortion of key doctrines is not uncommon; actually, it is rampant today, even in churches. Therefore, we must know and understand important doctrines and guard them.
- A Methodist student in my class said that belief in the eternal security (“once you’re saved, you’re always saved”) is like the 007 movie, “The License to Kill,” that is, they promote a license to sin. I explained to him that there are two sides to this view: the irresponsible and unbiblical version of this, which, in effect, promotes licentiousness; but the other view is that if one is truly saved, the result will be bearing of fruits.
As you are about to turn in, reflect on a great doctrine of the Bible and present a prayer based on it. For instance, “In light of the Trinity, O God, empower and motivate me to seek unity in my relationships.”