By Paul Godfrey
A question was posed to Jesus.
Luke 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 13:25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 13:26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 13:27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you [yourselves] thrust out.
The question we want to study is how many shall be saved? We shall address this question but also consider whether we are among the truly gracious in this world. We shall make these truths as clear as possible and straight to the point. The scripture reading calls for a straight to the point approach and so do the times in which we live.
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
There is a broad path and many of this world go down that path because straight is the way that leadeth unto life and few there be that find it. The scripture is saying there is a broad road that leads to destruction, to hell. The majority, the large populace go down that road. There is a gate and few people actually find the gate. Out of those few that find it, there are fewer still that enter in as we compare with the scripture we just read.
Luke 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
The many that are seeking to enter in are the few that found it. The majority of the world has gone on the main road to destruction. There are a few people who have found this gate and many Jesus says shall seek to enter in and shall not be able. It goes on to say he is talking to one of his followers who asks how many shall be saved? He answers;
Luke 13:25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
Who is standing without? A follower of Christ asking the question. How many shall be saved? Christ says;
Luke 13:25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you [yourselves] thrust out.
For us to consider how many will be saved we look at the antediluvian world as there were millions of people and the bible says that few were saved. This gives us a biblical account of what few is.
1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
But even of the eight, Ham was taken over by the curse. Few will find it and few again will actually be saved. They were saved by water and as these few faithful people multiplied and repopulated the earth, there weren’t many righteous people left.
Isaiah 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock [whence] ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged. 2 Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah [that] bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
How many people were faithful to be called that God could establish his seed? Him alone. Abraham came from those that came from the ark. There were few only eight and even in that eight they weren’t all true and out of that offspring there only turned out to be one. Abraham alone. Genesis gives us another picture of those that were following God.
Genesis 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. 23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
This is the question.
Genesis 18:24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that [are] therein? 25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? 26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. 27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which [am but] dust and ashes: 28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for [lack of] five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy [it]. 29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do [it] for forty’s sake. 30 And he said [unto him], Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do [it], if I find thirty there. 31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy [it] for twenty’s sake. 32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy [it] for ten’s sake. 33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
The numbers are fast dropping. How many will be saved?
1 Peter 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned [them] with an overthrow, making [them] an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] unlawful deeds;)
Not was vexed with the way the city was. But how many came out with Lot? In the cities? There were four cities that were destroyed not just Sodom and Gomorrah. In four cities, how many people came out? Four, only a few. What happened to his wife? She turned into a pillar of salt. What happened with his daughters? How many were saved really? Four came out but only one was saved. The application goes that many have gone down the road to Sodom and Gomorrah and few, four came out but out of those four not all made it, only one.
Caleb and Joshua
Numbers 26:65 For the LORD had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
Only two from Egypt made it to Canaan. Over a million people came out. Not all came out by Moses but two of those that came out entered into the promised land. Egypt is the world, it is the broad road. The Israelites were the few that found the gate out but they all died at the gate bar two.
David and Solomon
Psalm 12:1 Help, LORD; for the Godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.
In the time of David to actually find someone upright was so hard. Even Solomon says I have searched among the women and I find none. In a thousand men there is one. In the time of Elijah how many prophets of Baal? 400 prophets within Israel and only one stood for God on Mt Carmel. Zion was the city, the headquarters in Jerusalem.
Isaiah 1:8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.
What happened to the city? How many dwell in a city? Thousands, millions. How many dwell in a cottage? Less than ten?
Isaiah 1:9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, [and] we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
In the time of Jeremiah we see the outline that God has given that has set behind us in history.
Jeremiah 5:1 Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be [any] that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.
It says Jerusalem not Damascus or Jericho or any other wicked city. What was about to happen to Jerusalem in Jeremiahs time? It was about to be destroyed by Babylon and in Isaiah it says if it wasn’t like the little remnant we would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed. Now in Jeremiah in the future, run to and fro and if you can find anyone I will pardon Jerusalem. Same story as Sodom and Gomorrah. If you can find anyone in Jerusalem I will pardon it.
Ezekiel has a vision given of what he was to do. Does God know the amount of hairs on your head? Is he acquainted of every particle on this earth? Indeed he is.
Ezekiel 5:1 And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause [it] to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the [hair].
He has taken all his hair off and divided into sections.
Ezekiel 5:2 Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, [and] smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.
How much of the hair is gone? Three parts of three. One was burn, one taken by the sword and one was thrown in the wind.
Ezekiel 5:3 Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts.
Just take a few hairs, just a few.
Ezekiel 5:4 Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; [for] thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel. 5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This [is] Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries [that are] round about her.
There were a few he was to take out and put in the fire for a different purpose than the others. They were to be purged and refined. All of this planet shall go through fire and some shall be saved through the fire. There was a few to be taken and this is Jerusalem.
John the Revelator saw that in the future that the whole world wandered after the beast and he also saw that the dragon was wrath with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed. This may be discouraging, so few saved.
Romans 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:
A left over. We can see in history that there was a remnant and there is a remnant and there shall be a remnant. The scripture gives us across history how many were saved in each dispensation. It doesn’t leave us with the stories of what happened only but illustrations to compare.
We are aware of the comprising of Gods church and the place where the wheat and the tares come.
Psalm 72:16 There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and [they] of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
A hand full of corn. What is a handful compared to the vintage of the crop? The whole collection. What is a handful? Have you gone to a big silo and taken a handful of grain? What is a handful compared to the rest?
Song of Solomon 2:2 As the lily among thorns, so [is] my love among the daughters. 2:3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste.
Here God is likening his people to the lily among the thorns. Which come up more easily? Thorns or lilies? How many thorns do you see compared to lilies?
The lily, the upright compared to all the people in this world as thorns. There the lily is in the pricks of persecution and then it likens Jesus, God as a apple tree among the forest. When do you work through the bush in Australia and come across an apple tree? You don’t but if you did it would be very special. Out of all the gods of this world how many are there that are true? There is one. So like the apple tree among the trees, there is only one. So the lily among the thorns is but few.
Another illustration is in Micah. Here this is often the sentiment of Christians when they coming into a small congregation, the same sentiment.
Micah 7:1 Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape gleanings of the vintage: [there is] no cluster to eat: my soul desired the first ripe fruit. 2 The good [man] is perished out of the earth: and [there is] none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
Woe is me, we are like the few left over, all the grapes, the big harvest and now there is none I’m hungry I want grapes and there is none. If we understand the parable of the wheat that the tares were gathered first and the wheat was left. The main harvest is taken and the gleanings are left. The gleanings are a representation of Gods people.
Isaiah 17:5 And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim. 6 Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two [or] three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four [or] five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the LORD God of Israel.
How many? Once all the grapes have been taken, the olives have been taken off the trees, what is left? One or two on one branch, four or five on another. The parable, the tares were gathered in bundles to be burned and then eth wheat was put in the garner.
Malachi 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
When was it last you were walking on the ground and you stubbed your tow on a diamond?. When was it last you saw a piece of gold on the floor of your house? All the jewelry that we see has come out from extensive energy found in the ground. If you are walking in the bush, when do you find these precious stones? The bible teaches that in Gods house there are many vessels, some of wood, hay and some precious vessels. How often do you see wood in a house? How often do you see, bricks, clay, tin and metal? God is giving an illustration that his jewels are precious and the rest are just your common pea gravel. How many shall be saved? This is not meant to discourage us but it is a truth. Jesus said many shall seek to enter in but shall not be able.
Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. .
Fear that we actually don’t claim the promise. We should fear that we should take the wrong road and make our own decisions. How many shall be saved and why?
If you notice in a lot of these illustrations, the illustration within Jerusalem in the church that many find the gate but many are destroyed. s for the Amorites, and the Moabites, it is not spoken of. It is spoken of Jerusalem – Gods people and out of those few there is a few. We must think there is a few but there will only be a few. Not because I want it this way but it is what is revealed. To profess but not to have heart religion. We need to ask the question, are we a professor or are we striving to enter in at the straight gate? When the wheat and tares are growing, you can almost not see the difference between the two until the harvest comes and the grain is full but the wild tare is empty, there is no seed it’s just something that gets blown with the wind.
There is no weight in it. The professor and the truly gracious, there is not much difference between the two in the outward, it looks the same but one has a heart religion and the other doesn’t. Outwardly they look identical. The bible says don’t pull up the tares as you may pull up the wheat also because you can’t distinguish. A professor can have repentance, cry and acknowledge and loathe the sin but they shall not be saved. A dog loathes the food and throws up. It loathes the food because the food is troubling him. But when the dog throws up the food, the trouble has stopped and he goes and eats it up again. Repentance that is not genuine and may say I don’t like sin but as soon as the stress of sin is over, you will go back and eat it.
Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returneth to his vomit, [so] a fool returneth to his folly.
So the swine to the mud hole according to Peter. A professor may cry and have emotion when it comes to an awakening. A professor may have conviction but not all conviction leads to conversion. A professor may like to do many things of God but still perish. They have a form of Godliness.
2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
The form is there but there is no power or body in it. Professors have fallen by the thousands and we here are professors. We profess to believe in Jesus Christ. May our profession have a heart behind it. Many will seek to enter in and profess but shall not be able because a lack of power and body. A professor may have faith but it profits him nothing if he doesn’t have charity (love). Professors may be praying, fasting and tithing people but unless we beat our breast like the Publican we shall not be saved.
Luke 18:10-13is the story of this Pharisee, a hypocrite that prayed in the temple saying thank you Lord I pay tithe and do and do all these things and he never went to his house blessed. The hypocrite may show repentance, a spiritual awakening, a loathing of sin, a faith praying and fasting and committing your possessions to God and you’re not saved. Those who are truly gracious indeed repent, indeed have a spiritual awakening, loathe sin, have faith, pray, fast and tithe and are saved. The externals are exactly the same. Many professors. Are we professing only? There is a professor that has a religion that lies in his tongue.
Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:
He draws near to God with his mouth and honours God with his lips but the heart is far from him. The professor that professes in word only. In the life they are the same as the world. They are the same as the world but can just talk better. Good speech will not unlock the gates of heaven.
Proverbs 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
There is a covetous professor. Someone who has a religion for recognition because if we keep Gods sayings, we shall increase our favour with man and God and so many a professor like to increase their favour with man and so pursue a form of godliness, to impress, to covet position to rule. Judas’s religion lay in the money bag. He was there for the money. The bible says let us not care for the flock of God with constraint or filthy lucre but of a ready mind. There is a haughty professor, a person who is a Christian but they don’t fear God.
2 Peter 2:13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, [as] they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots [they are] and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
This is a professor. They are with people here and doing these things and feasting with you.
2 Peter 2:18 For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
Here is a people eating and drinking with the people of God and they do not fear. Their haughtiness, wantonness with vanities, they do not understand that God is not mocked. What we sew we shall also reap.
Jude 1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
The Christian Church
Here in the Christian church, are professors that are covetous, haughty, they do not fear. The word of God is saying these people are spots in your feasts of charity. Among Gods people these spots exist, many of them. The haughty professor do not fear God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. There is a circumstantial professor also. A professor that as long as their ideas are good and their circumstances are good, they will follow but when things come across them and cut across their circumstances of ease, they will not walk anymore. When the feeding of the five thousand was going on Jesus gained many disciples. It was circumstantial Things are good we will be part of it. When things go wrong we better get out of here.
When Jesus said except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you, those disciples walked no more with him from that time onwards. Those disciples were at the gate. There were only a few that found it but many of the disciples, the seventy left and left only a few. Even in that few, there was still one a devil. The circumstantial professor will be there when it’s good but won’t be there when it’s bad. There is also the formalist or legalistic professor. As long as it’s the same, the traditions of me are performed, there is the liberal professor. They pretend to be against forms and duties but neglect the order of God. They are free willers. They are independent. They do what they like. There is a willingly ignorant professor who is someone afraid to know more for fear of the cross.
2 Peter 3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
I don’t want to know, because then I will be accountable. You already are accountable. There is a professor that will judge his standard against another. They compare themselves with themselves.
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
They say as long as I am as good as the other or better, God will receive me. How much do these characteristics of professing where we have the talk compare ourselves with ourselves as long as everything is good I’m here or as long as there is not too much detail of Gods will in my life I will be there.
What sort of Christians are we today?
There is the professor for God and the world. He’s like the frog of Egypt. He lives in the water and out of the water. His religion alters as fast as does his company. When he is in one crowd he behaves in one way, when in another crowd, he behaves in another way. He can serve God at church and the world at work. He is a person that commits spiritual adultery according to James 4:4. He can throw stones with both hands. He is for God and against God. All these professors the bible says will have weeping and gnashing of teeth. To profess is to seek after God, to seek to enter in but you are not able. The professors will look to escape hell but shall fall in it. They shall look to heaven but it shall be shut to them and they will expect Christ’s compassion in the day of judgement and find there is none.
No wonder the bible says that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. It doesn’t say there will be weeping of gnashing of teeth to the ones that go down the broad road of destruction. They expect to go to damnation because that is the road they are on but the weeping and gnashing of teeth refers to those who come to church and have a form of Godliness that actually engage in religious exercise.They are the ones who will have the weeping and gnashing of teeth because they will look to heaven but it’s locked.
They will say Lord, Lord didn’t we do these things? God will say, I don’t even know you. They will try and avoid hell but they will be there. We need to consider very very carefully of what sort of Christian we are. Are we a Christian because our mum and dad were and we were dragged along? Do we actually have a form of religion in our mouths only? Do we profess in any one of these departments? Do we have a secret desire to be the first? It’s in humanity, you can’t deny it. This study is to help us to identify to strive to enter in at the gate. Seeking is not enough, you must knock and knock with all your might.
The instruction that the bible tells us is that we are to ask, we are to knock and seek. I encourage each one to pray to Jesus for awakening in our hearts. That we can be aware of our condition. You know not that you are poor, miserable, blind and naked. You don’t know. The professors don’t actually know these attributes. They genuinely think they are ok. We have twelve considerations for us to conclude with.;
- Pray to Jesus for an awakening of heart that we may be allured to him.
- Ask for a deeper awakening of our sin and about grace, hell, and Jesus righteousness.
- Cry for a spirit of discernment.
- Study the scriptures to show yourself approved.
- Take heed that a sin in your life doesn’t go unrepented of.
- Remember that only a few are saved and for us to be saved only by the mercy of God and for us to plead for mercy, have mercy on me a sinner.
- Be thankful for conviction for conviction is the beginning of conversion. When conviction strikes, don’t shun it, thank God.
- Be willing to see the worst of our condition. How many of us aren’t willing to see where we are really at. It’s better to see it now than to see it in hell.
- Beware of little sins. The little things.
- Take heed of bad company and evil communications for it will corrupt your good manners. By beholding you will become changed.
- Seek to have association with those who have a high standard in their action. Associate with them. Beware of the thoughts that bid you to delay repentance. There are many thoughts that come to us, tomorrow is a better day. Don’t have these thoughts, beware of them.
- Keep in remembrance that Gods eye is upon your heart.
There are a few that shall be saved is the answer to how many shall be saved. A few. Do not be discouraged, strive to enter in.