ARE THERE FEW THAT BE SAVED?
Text: LUKE 13:23-30
- Here in Luke’s Gospel, some one – we are not told his name – asked Jesus, "Lord, are there few that be saved?"
- This is a good question and there is no doubt in my mind but that the man was sincere. He had probably seen the big crowds gathering around our Lord, and then noticed how most of the people drifted away as our Lord explained what it really meant to be one of His disciples (cf. Luke 9:23-26).
- As you study this passage, you will notice that our Lord does not answer the man directly, but rather He gets right to the heart of the problem (Luke 13: 24).
- In other words, never mind how many will be saved – the real important question is: ARE YOU SAVED?
- And though our Lord doesn’t answer the question directly here, we know from other Scriptures that, sadly, the answer is, "Yes, there are few that be saved."
- In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord stated that most people prefer the wide road that leads to hell (Matt.7:13,14).
- Jesus said that He alone is the way to heaven (John 14:6). When you consider that most people in the world (e.g., Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, et al) do not believe in Jesus Christ, then it is obvious that relatively few are saved – most people are lost and on their way to hell.
- Jesus told Nicodemus that in order to get to heaven, one had to be born again (John 3). When you consider that most of the world’s billion and a half nominal Christians (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Greek Orthodox, whatever) are not born again, then it is clear that few are saved. Surveys tell us that many of the people who claim to be born again hardly attend church, do not read the Bible, do not believe in hell, and live and act just like those who do not profess to be Christian – it is obvious that they are not truly saved.
I. THERE ARE FEW THAT BE SAVED BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO ENTER IN AT THE STRAIT GATE (13:24).
- The "strait (narrow) gate" represents repentance (Luke 13:3,5).
- The strait gate represents the new birth (John 3).
- The strait gate represents submission to Christ (Luke 13:34).
- "We must be earnest when the door to life stands open, and we are invited to enter in; we must be sure that we heed the gracious invitation and do not pass carelessly by, lest we find at last that we have lost our opportunity" (Harry Ironside).
- Notice the word "strive" (13:24). It is from this Greek word that we get our English word agonize – there is a struggle involved when a sinner comes to faith in Christ.
- "Jesus never suggested…that it was going to be an easy thing to be a Christian. That heresy has been reserved for this soft age, in which we are more concerned about statistics than about spiritual power" (G. Campbell Morgan).
- The fact is most people are too proud to enter in at the strait gate – they are much like these worldly unbelievers who thought they were good enough to deserve a place in heaven (13:25).
- But striving to enter in at the strait gate means humbling yourself and admitting that you are a lost, hellbound, hell-deserving sinner.
II. THERE ARE FEW THAT BE SAVED BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE PROCRASTINATE (13:24,25).
- Someone has rightly said, "If unbelief has slain its thousands, then procrastination has slain its ten thousands."
- Our Lord says that the opportunity to enter the door is limited: "For many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door…" (13:24,25).
- Most people do not realize the danger and the folly of putting off salvation – some day the door will be slammed shut and it will be too late (Matt.25:10-13). They think they have all the time in the world to get saved but the Bible teaches just the opposite (Pro.29:1).
- A man went to bed one night and fell asleep. He started dreaming and he dreamed he saw the devil on his throne and all his demons gathered around him. Satan asked his evil spirits, "Who will go forth to ruin souls on earth?" One demon quickly answered, "I will." "What will you tell them?" Satan wanted to know. "I’ll tell them there is no God," was the answer. "That will not do – man knows that there is a God." A second demon came forward and said, "Here is my plan – I’ll tell them that there is a God, a just and holy God, but that they are too bad to come to Him." "That won’t do," replied Satan. "There are Bibles all over the world and they can read that God invites them to come to Him." The devil asked again, "Who will go forth to ruin souls?" Finally, a demon stepped forward and said "I will." "And what will you tell them?" Satan asked. "I’ll tell them that there is a God. I will let them hear the Gospel as often as they like. I’ll tell them that everything in the Bible is true – but I’ll tell them that they have plenty of time before they repent and come to Christ." The devil and all his demons applauded happily and then the devil said, "Go forth, your plan will work."
- The longer sinners wait and put off salvation, the harder their hearts become. That is why the writer of Hebrews says: "Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb.4:7).
- Harry Ironside was teaching a small children’s Sunday school class and told them: "How sad to know, each time you say `No’ to the Lord Jesus, your heart gets harder and harder until by-and-by God calls it a heart of stone, and if you persist in spurning His grace, you will die in your sins and go to hell." One little girl was only five years old and her mother brought her to church but her father was not saved. As soon as she got home she jumped into her father’s arms and said, "Daddy, Daddy, feel your heart! Is it getting like a stone yet?" He said, "What are you talking about?" and she told him what she learned in Sunday school. The father said angrily to his wife, "What have they been teaching her down there in Sunday school anyway?" So the wife tried to explain to him but started crying and his little girl hugged him and said, "Oh, Daddy, don’t go on saying `No’ to Jesus – you need to get saved." When he saw his wife crying and his little daughter pleading, he said, "Well I think I had better settle this thing," and he got on his knees and asked Christ to save him.
- The unsaved Jews Stephen preached to had hardened their hearts and then started gnashing their teeth at him. The Bible teaches that this gnashing of the teeth goes on for all eternity (Acts 7:51-54; cf. Luke 13:28).
- Some of the saddest words in the Bible are found here: "I know ye not…" (13:25). Most people claim to "know God" but my friend, does He know you? (cf. Gal.4:9).
- This brings us to my final point – There are few that be saved because most people do not understand the Gospel.
III. THERE ARE FEW THAT BE SAVED BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL (13:26-30).
- These people our Lord describes had a familiarity with Him but did not have a personal relationship with Him (13:26-30).
- There are millions of people today who sincerely believe that they will get to heaven because of their baptism or church membership, or because their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds, etc.
- They have a false sense of security, a false peace – they are self- deceived and under a strong delusion; they are confused. They do not understand the Gospel.
- A little boy came to a famous preacher in London, England and said, "You’ve got to see my mother – she’s dying." The pastor was hesitant to go because he knew the neighborhood she lived in was bad and it was late at night. But the boy pleaded and so the pastor went with him up to her mother’s run-down old apartment. He sat down next to her and tried to comfort her with nice little stories but the lady interrupted him by saying, "That’s nice but I’m dying and I don’t want to go to hell – please show me how to get into heaven – I want to get in!" The preacher told her to live a good life but she replied, "Live a good life? I’ve been a drunken prostitute most of my life and now I’m dying and you tell me to live a good life! Please, get me in to heaven – get me in" The pastor didn’t know what to do because he was a liberal and she kept crying, "Please, get me in, get me in." Finally, he remembered that when he was a little boy his mother taught him John 3:16 and other similar verses. He never really preached the Gospel before but now he explained it all carefully to the dying woman. Her dying words were, "Praise God, now I understand the Gospel – Jesus died for my sins and I am trusting Him to save me." Later on, the pastor told explained to his congregation, "I got her in, and what’s more, I got myself in too!"
- Many Israelites expect to get into heaven because they are descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (13:28-30), but Jesus said that they will be "thrust out" (vs. 28). Likewise, many Gentiles are expecting to get into heaven because their parents were good Christians.
- But they will be "thrust out" of the kingdom of God (vs. 28). Jesus said that only those who are born again can enter into the kingdom of God. A friend told me some months ago on TV Barbara Walters asked Mrs. Dole if she was born again and she denied it (Luke 9:26).
- Unless she repents, some day she will be "weeping and gnashing" her teeth (vs. 28). Weeping indicates the pain, suffering and anguish of eternal torment; and the gnashing of teeth indicates their torment as well as their bitterness and hatred towards God – the sufferings of hell do not change the wicked heart of man (cf. Rev.22:11).
- One of the supreme agonies of hell will be the remembrance of wasted opportunities.
- A pastor was witnessing to an unsaved lady but the lady objected by saying, "I cannot understand why some one like me who has tried to live a good, clean, moral life should not stand a better chance of heaven than a dirty, wicked person."
- The pastor said, "Suppose we wanted to go into a place of interest where the admission fee was one dollar. You only have fifty cents, I have nothing, which would stand the better chance of getting in?" She replied, "Neither."
- "Right, therefore the moral person stands no better chance than the dirty, wicked sinner. But suppose a rich man who saw our situation presented a ticket of admission to both, at his expense, then what?"
- The lady replied, "Then we could both go in." The preacher then explained, "Our Lord knows all about our situation, and He came and died on the cross so that we might be saved. Heaven is available to those who receive God’s free gift of salvation. Only be careful that your fifty cents doesn’t make you too proud and you refuse God’s free offer."
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