Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” – Luke 13:23
Jesus worked His way to Jerusalem in preparation for the coming tragic death by which He was to suffer for the sins of many. On one of those times as He spoke in the towns leading up to Jerusalem, someone asked Him a direct, poignant question: Are there few who are saved? Jesus then began a discourse instructing the people to make every effort to enter in by the narrow gate because many would try but only few would enter.
What is the way to be saved? Many teach that it’s merely the act of saying a brief prayer and all is well. Some teach that good works will grant a person entry into heaven. Others still deny that there even is salvation; they say man lives and dies and nothing more. What is the correct answer? Paul taught that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved and that we are saved by grace through faith and not of works but the gift of God unless anyone should brag about it. Moreover, Paul wrote of those calling on the LORD’s name: how can they call on His name unless they hear about Him, how can they hear about Him unless someone preaches about Him, and how can they preach about Him unless they are sent?
Elsewhere in scripture, Jesus taught that no one comes to God the Father except through Him because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Peter would later add that there is no other name given among men under heaven by which we must be saved – that name is Jesus! Jesus, elsewhere, stated that there are two paths in life: one that is broad and easily accessible and leads to death while the other is narrow, difficult, which leads to life and few there are that find it. If Jesus is the Way to the narrow gate and in fact is that narrow gate and on the other side of the gate is eternal life, then we must go through Jesus to enter into eternity with God.
Look in the Johannine account of the gospel where Jesus spoke of Himself as the gate. He says, Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:7-9) Just prior to that He said that anyone who tries to enter by any other way except through Him is a thief and a robber!
Here we have other proof of Jesus’ claim of being the only way to God and an explanation as to why. His sheep only hear His voice. They don’t follow others. There are, however, other sheep who don’t know His voice and will follow other voices claiming to be Jesus. He warns us of such in the Matthean gospel during theSermon on the Mount, where we pick up Matthew’s rendition of our passage today about entering in by the narrow gate.
“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.
You Will Know Them by Their Fruits
“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 thorn bushes 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.
I Never Knew You
“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!’ (Matt. 7:13-23)
Do you see what happens in this passage? Jesus warns us to enter in by the narrow gate. Why? Because the path to destruction is wide and found by many while the narrow gate leads to a path that is difficult but leads to life and found by few. Doesn’t this claim match up with what Jesus said elsewhere in that many are called but few chosen? Furthermore, Jesus in John’s account warned about hearing othervoices, and in Matthew’s account he warns us against these other voices known to us as false prophets/teachers. He tells us that they appear as other sheep but inside are ravenous wolves. Their mission is to sneak into the fold (climb up by some other way) and devour as many sheep as possible or at least to lead the sheep astray (out of the sheep pen), where they are vulnerable and subject to attack by the enemy.
Then, in Matt’s account, Jesus went on to say that not everyone who calls Him, LORD, will enter into heaven. Why? Because they are thieves and robbers who tried to climb up into the sheep pen by some other way than through THE WAY, Jesus! Refer to the passage above where Jesus says: He is THE WAY, the truth, and the life. NO MAN COMES TO GOD THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH HIM! There is NO OTHER WAY to be saved! You cannotpass go and collect $200. You cannot go around, over, or under THE WAY. You MUST GO THROUGH JESUS.
If you want to read of the salvation experience, as one would endure, then I recommend to you the great written classic authored by one of the greatest evangelists of all time, John Bunyan. His literary work, Pilgrim’s Progress, was written while Bunyan sat in a prison. This epic saga of Christian, and later in the 2nd half about his wife, Christiana, one reads of the truth about salvation and the perils that await a pilgrim that dares to find the narrow gate that leads to the difficult, narrow path that leads to life. It is written in Elizabethan English, which may present a bit of hardship on the modern English reader, but nevertheless, the work will open your spiritual eyes and ears to the truth of salvation through the experiences of the everyday man, Christian. Download your own copy of this great epic saga at Pilgrim’s Progress. (You will need Adobe Reader to open and read the file. Download the latest free reader at Adobe.com.)
Father, thank You for not only calling me but choosing me to be a member of Your royal, eternal, heavenly family! Without Jesus there is no spiritual, soulful, or physical way possible for anyone, including me, to partake of Your grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. Most people have no idea what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. They think that labeling themselves as a Christian or believer will earn them a place at Your banquet table. They must not have read the passage in Your Holy Word where those that were invited but refused to accept will be turned away and denied entry into the banquet hall of heaven, as You tell them, Depart from me because I never knew you, workers of iniquity. Lord, my hearts breaks at the thought that even one person would decline Your holy invitation to salvation through Jesus. Many will attempt to enter in Your kingdom by climbing up the walls, digging a tunnel underneath the walls, or blasting their way through the walls, but You will prohibit their vain attempts. They are simply thieves and robbers trying to steal, kill, and destroy Your remnant of sheep, who love You and know Your voice. Jesus is that door. He will allow in only those who You’ve called and chosen. May I be an instrument of Your righteousness to call those sheep into the fold. In Jesus’ name, Amen.