Who Can Go to Heaven?
Who can go to heaven? In today’s sermon we take a look at the great invitation that has been revealed to us through the parable of the wedding feast.
We have reached the fourth sermon in our series of sermons – Do You Want to Go to Heaven? After preaching about both Hell and Heaven, I would hope that all of us would want to go to Heaven instead of Hell. I would hope that all of us would choose heaven after all of the hell we have lived through in this world today.
We have answered the question of whether the Lord is real and whether both heaven and hell are real. Yet, there are still a couple of questions that remain that we must answer. The first question we must answer: who can go to heaven? The second question: how do you get to heaven. What I will do in today’s sermon is answer the first question. I feel we must spend a great deal of time and focus on answering this question. Who can go to heaven?
Are there special qualities one requires?
I want to immediately take a look at the key verse for today’s sermon and start from there.
This particular scripture is one of the most misunderstood and misused scriptures you will find. My uncle often gripes about how people misuse this scripture and he’s right. You may ask, how is it misquoted or misused?
Often times, people refer to this scripture in a manner for those who are called to preach. This makes the call to preach and teach the gospel of Christ out to be the most unique calling from the Lord. Truly, the gift of preaching is special, but so is the gift of being able to sing or patiently sit by to learn and understand. I consider it to be a gift when one can find a means to remain happy in their spirit regardless of what they are going through. Paul taught about the gifts of God and told us that there are many different gifts but the same Spirit (God) working and giving to all (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
Used to deny others
You will also see this scripture be used to deny others of the privilege of entering heaven because they were not uniquely called. I want you to understand, that could not be any further from the truth! Again, we know that Jesus said the Lord loved mankind and gave mankind His Son that whosoever believes
We must stop misusing this scripture and come to understand the context for which Jesus says, “many are called, but few are chosen.” There is certainly a special quality that is required to get into heaven, but this
The Parable of the Wedding Feast
We find an answer to this question by taking a dive into the passage of scripture that proceeds our key verse. Jesus, prior to what we read in the first verse of this chapter, had been teaching parables to those in the temple when the chief priests and elders – the religious leaders – confronted Him (Matt. 21:23).
This confronting of Jesus occurred after Jesus had His triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. Jesus taught the parables of the two sons and the wicked vinedressers and those parables really angered these men. They were so angry that they considered laying hands on Jesus until the realize the multitude that loved and followed Christ (Matt. 21:45-46).
What I want you to understand is that what we will read here in Matthew 22 is being said to religious leaders and the multitude who were in the temple.
The great wedding
Jesus starts out by saying:
2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his sonMatthew 22:2 NKJV
You will recall that in the previous part of this series, we took a look at the bride of Jesus in heaven (Rev. 21:9-11). The parable of the wedding feast is all about who will attend the wedding – more specifically, who will make up the congregation that marries the Lamb of God. We should understand that the certain king mentioned in this scripture is the Lord (God the Father). Let us also understand that the son is still the Lord (God the Son – Jesus).
Again, I say to you, that the Lord has always wanted to dwell with mankind! To be more specific about how God wants to dwell with mankind, He describes His dwelling with mankind as a marriage. Marriage should be the ultimate connection and relationship, right? God says that in marriage two come together to be one (Gen. 2:24). Ideally, we believe that a marriage should last forever – even beyond the “till death do us part”. Well, in heaven there will be no death, so again, this points out to how God views His dwelling with mankind.
Those originally invited
We then see that there was an original invite that was sent out, in the following verses:
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.Matthew 22:3-6 NKJV
Those who were originally invited spit on the invite – turned it down. His servants, we should understand, were some of the prophets in the Old Testament. Those who received the original invite were the children of Israel. Sadly, the children of Israel often turned their nose up to the invite to be the Lord’s bride.
No matter how many prophets were sent to the children of Israel, they, as a nation, would stay in their ways. Many prophets died along the way who were spitefully used and killed. Think about all that Elijah went through in his time when Ahab and Jezebel w
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.Matthew 22:7 NKJV
Both the northern and southern kingdom of Israel was conquered. In one of the saddest scenes you will see in scripture, the temple that Solomon built, fell and was destroyed after the Lord’s glory left the temple (Ezekiel 10).
The new invitation
I want you to pay close attention to what we read next. You will notice that the certain king (God) does not give up on His idea of this marriage! Again, He truly intends to be married!
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.Matthew 22:8-10 NKJV
The wedding was made ready when Christ entered into Jerusalem for that final time and gave up His life on Calvary. I want you to understand that the wedding was made ready when Christ died for our sins and rose with all power in His hands!
The new invitation, I want you to notice, was sent out in all manner of directions! The certain king sent (and still sends) His servants out into the highways inviting folks to this wedding! Can you imagine that? Wanting someone to attend your wedding so badly that you will go out on the highway and invite all of those going up and down the highway? (Let’s also make a note that the servants are all of those who have and still do share the gospel today.)
Can I go to heaven?
Now, let us pay very close attention to the King’s response to those who are gathered in the wedding hall. We are told both bad and good are gathered together in this wedding hall. We will quickly notice that there’s a telling difference between the good and the bad. You see, the good actually read the invitation but the bad did not read the invitation. The invitation told people how to dress for this wedding, and the attire is of the utmost importance.
“Why is it important?” you might ask. Let’s see what Jesus says next:
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.’Matthew 22:11-13 NKJV
Now we covered part of this parable in the second sermon of this series – That Place of Torment Is Not For You. Those who read the invite were told how they should come dressed to this wedding. Personally, I believe that invite says in big letters: IMPORTANT – PLEASE WEAR THE PROPER ATTIRE. The proper attire is a robe of righteousness that is given by the Lord to all of those who not only read the invitation and accept the invitation through faith.
You see, the truth of the matter is that everybody can go to heaven but will everybody accept and have faith in the invite is another (Matt. 22:14). Many are called to this wedding but only a few will accept what they have been chosen for – to be married to God! I want you to understand that the Lord chose everybody when He loved the world and gave us His Son!
I said it a couple of Sundays ago and I will say it again: we find a warning in this scripture that we must take seriously. If you want to go to heaven, I tell you to read the invitation – the gospel of God – and get yourself ready down here! Sadly, there will be some who glance at the invite, show up for the wedding, and realize that they did not read the invitation fully. They will show up to the wedding and be thrown into outer darkness – that place of torments is not for you. Do you want to go to heaven and be married to the Lord? Will you accept that invitation?