And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from.’ “then you will begin to say, ‘we ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ “But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” Luke 13:22-30
Jesus is speaking directly to the Jewish nation, admonishing them that they would be thrown out of the kingdom of God. Why would they be thrown out? Because they would not repent, believe the kingdom message and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5
In Matthew chapter 21 Jesus told the Jews the parable of the two sons, one who refused to work in the vineyard and the other who agreed to work in the vineyard, but later the first repented and did what was asked of him, while the second after agreeing did not do the work. Then Jesus asked them:
“Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first,” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of heaven before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him, and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him. Matthew 21:31-32
Jesus goes on to further rebuke them for their unbelief and refusal to come to Him.
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builder rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”
Jesus rebuked the Jewish nation for their refusal to repent at the preaching of John, and turn to believe in Him as their Messiah. Many were doomed to destruction because of their sinful unbelief.
This passage from Matthew parallels the passage in Luke, but the verses that follow are for all who claim faith in the Messiah.
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: Matthew 7:12-24
As we compare what the passages from Luke and Matthew say, we can then answer the question, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
Both passages refer to the narrow gate. Faith in Jesus Christ is narrow. Genuine faith in Jesus Christ rejects anything that adds to or takes away from His work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead on our behalf. Genuine faith closely follows the truth of the Scriptures as the resource for faith in Jesus Christ, believing what it says about Him, and so believing in Him for salvation. Genuine faith believes and obeys the Word of God. Genuine faith rejects all that is false and knows that no lie is of the truth. Genuine faith enters through the narrow gate. Both passages state plainly that many will go to destruction because of sinful unbelief. This sinful unbelief is the fruit of following false teachers. This sinful unbelief is the result of rejecting God’s way and following one’s own way. This sinful unbelief is the result of arrogantly claiming to know Jesus Christ when truthfully the sinner in not known by Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ makes is abundantly clear what is necessary to be known by Him and so to truly know Him in the gospel of John.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words, and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. . John 14:21-24
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” John 15:9-11
So we return to the question “Lord, are there few who are saved?” Based upon the words of Jesus Christ the answer is yes. Based upon our experience with those who profess to believe, again we have to say yes. Based upon the false teaching that has proliferated within the church, we have to say yes. Based upon the huge numbers that are embracing the ecumenical movement leading to the end time evil church the answer is yes. Let’s return to the words of Jesus Christ:
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you , will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15
We strive to enter through the narrow gate by believing what Jesus Christ says in His Word the Bible, and rejecting the evil of the apostasy of false teaching. We strive to enter through the narrow gate by repenting of our sin and putting our faith in Him. We strive to enter through the narrow gate by rejecting the world with its evil and believing in and obeying the Scriptures. We strive to enter the narrow gate by loving the Savior and loving one another, our fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. We strive to enter the narrow gate by sharing the gospel with the lost, whoever they may be, and by contending earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. As we believe in Jesus Christ, filled with His Holy Spirit, living for Him, we give evidence that we belong to Him and are known by Him. We give evidence that we have entered into life by the narrow gate.