Compel Them to Come In!
There is a natural reluctance in fallen man to everything that is spiritually good. Represent it as clearly and positively as you may. Illustrate it in whatever manner you will. Urge it by whatever arguments you choose — it is of no avail.
The gospel is set forth by a feast, a great supper; a feast when the hours of business are over. A general invitation is sent — but all with one consent, begin to make excuse. To prove the sincerity of the Lord, and his heartiness to make sinner's happy by the gospel, he not only invites — but He says, "Compel them to come in — that my house may be filled." Luke 14:23. Notice,
WHERE THEY ARE. Outside, in the streets and lanes of the city. Either employed in business, seeking pleasure, or committing sin. In the highways and hedges — so sunk, depraved, and vile, that they shun city society. The gospel is sent to all places, to all classes of society; all characters are invited to come and share in the blessings of grace — both the busy citizen, and the idle loiterer in the country lanes.
WHAT THEY NEED. They have many needs — but all may be comprised in one, they need a home. A home where they can enjoy sweet repose, meet good society, obtain plenty of nourishing food, find true comfort, and rest in constant safety. All this, the grace of God has provided. All this is to be found in Christ. To all this, sinners are invited by the gospel. Yet, strange to say, homeless and miserable as they are — they will not come!
WHAT THEY MANIFEST. Disinclination. They make excuses. The real reasons are — they love sin, they prefer carnal pleasures, they utterly dislike spiritual religion — and they are willing to risk the most fearful consequences, which must result from a rejection of the gospel. Some few, disbelieving the gospel message, imagine that it is of no use for them to apply, that there is no room at the feast for such sinners as they are, that the provision is not made for them, that for them there is no hope. All this is utterly groundless, and is the result, either of misunderstanding the gospel, or of disbelieving it.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO? "COMPEL them to come in." Not use physical force — but all the moral and intellectual power we can obtain. We are to make up our minds — to persuade some. We are to go to the work in downright earnest. We are to expect divine enablement. We are to persevere, refusing to take a denial. We must endeavor to remove every impediment out of the way, answering all objections, and showing the folly of all their excuses. We must bring them under the gospel, and if possible to Christ.
But some may object, "I am so unworthy to be saved!" The deeper your sense of unworthiness — the better, if you do not let it keep you from Christ. He looks for no worthiness in you. Strange to say, the worse you are — the more welcome!
"But I have sunk so very low in sin." So much the greater reason is there for you to come, and to come at once. The more desperate the disease — the more need for the physician. Just so, the greater your sin — the more your need of the Savior.
"But perhaps I am not elected." If you knew you were, you would have no more right to come than you have now. The invitation is not sent to the elect — but to all who are in the streets and lanes of the city, to all who are in the highways and hedges, to all who need salvation and cannot save themselves. Whoever will, may come. All who hear the invitation should come, and take of the fountain of the water of life freely. There is no presumption in coming — but there is gross ingratitude in staying away.
"But after all, I am afraid." Afraid of what?
Afraid of being refused? That is impossible.
Afraid of whom? Of Jesus? He sent the invitation to you.
Afraid of the Father? He made the feast for you.
Afraid of the Holy Spirit? He drew up the invitation received by you.
Afraid of the Lord's people? They will only be too happy to see you come. Come then, O come, for all things are ready! Come to the gospel feast!
Beloved, are you at work? Are you going into the streets and lanes of the city, and out into the country villages, to tell of this glorious feast, and bid poor starving sinners to it. Every Christian should be engaged in this work. There is room, therefore there is work for all, and to each and all — the Master says, "Compel them to come in."
How are you succeeding? Have you induced many to come in? Success is encouragement — but whether we succeed or not — our duty is plain. The reward of every active, diligent, persevering servant is certain, according to his work — not according to his success. "Every man shall receive his own reward — according to his own labor." Success may crown your future efforts — if it has not the past. But whether successful or not — it will be glorious to hear the Master say at last, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things — I will make you ruler over many things! Enter into the joy of your Lord!"