I received the following question:

Will only a few people be saved? It seems to me that there are only a few. Do you think this is true?

This exact same question that you asked me was asked of our Lord Himself in Luke 13:23.

23. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”

It seems to me that, if we would seek to answer a question that was already asked to our Lord, it would be wise for us to see how He answered it before we jump in to answer ourselves. His answer is found in the following verses.

And He said to them, 24. “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25. 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,’ 26. then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27. But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28. 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. 29. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”

Okay, well, maybe that answer seems clear as mud. But what we can clearly see is that the Lord didn’t answer the question after the manner of, “Yes, only a few will be saved,” or, “No, many will be saved.” He seems to have guided His answer down a different course. I believe we can see clearly the direction He took from verse 24.

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

The Lord does not answer the questioner with a “yes” or “no” answer. Instead, He seems to tell the questioner that he is asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, “Are there few who are saved?” he should rather have been asking, “Am I saved?” So the Lord tells him basically to stop worrying about what number, relatively many or few, will be saved. The fact is, the Lord assures him, when the time comes, many will seek to enter in, and will not be able. Therefore, he should really exert himself to enter by the narrow gate. He should be certain he has entered here himself before he worries about all the others.

Now as we examine the rest, it seems clear that the Lord avoids answering the question. He tells us many will seek to enter in and not be able. Does that mean few will be able? But then He tells us that those who enter the kingdom of God will come from east, west, north, and south. Does that mean many will be entering in? Ultimately, He does not give us the answer.

I believe He is basically reminding us that He is God, and we aren’t. We can sit and theoretically postulate about the billions of people in the world and wonder how big a percentage of them might be saved. Yet God can look out and see all those billions of people. For Him, they are real people, not an abstract and not a percentage. Moreover, it would be utterly impossible for us to examine the cases of all those people and decide what is right for them in judgment. We can’t, but God can. He will judge every one of those cases.

Yet really all that God is going to do does not concern us. His judgment of each of them is between Him and them. This passage reminds me of His conversation with Peter in John 21:20-22. The Lord has just talked to and restored Peter after he had denied the Lord three times. The Lord has assured him that he will do better in the future, and that he will even die a martyr’s death for the Lord, something he obviously utterly failed to do when he denied the Lord. Well, now Peter is feeling good, and yet we read that he gets distracted in verse 20.

20. Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21. Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

Peter now knows his own fate, and he starts wondering about John. Will John die a martyr’s death too? The Lord does not answer his question either, but straightens him out.

22. Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

The Lord basically tells him that this is none of his business. John may or may not die a martyr’s death, but that should really not matter to Peter. Peter’s job is to live for the Lord and to die his own death for the Lord. John will face that issue himself when the time comes. Peter’s concern should be with how he serves Christ himself.

I can’t help but think that the Lord’s answer to this question in Luke 13:23 about few being saved is the same kind of thing. He is basically telling his questioner that it is none of his business whether few or many are saved. Instead, he should be worried about whether or not HE is saved and entering through the narrow gate. As for everyone else, he is not really big enough to worry about them. The Lord is, however, and He will see to it that what is right is done in the case of each one. This man’s job, however, and ours today, is to follow Him, to enter by the narrow gate, and to urge others to do the same. Beyond this, we can only leave this thing in the hands of the Lord. He is big enough to handle the many, many people there are in the world, and He will do it. We must just trust Him to do what is right.

So do I think there are many who are saved? No, I’m not saying that. Am I saying then that there are few who are saved? No, I’m not saying that either. I honestly don’t know how many are saved. What I do know is that God is bigger than I am, and He is able to handle it. He will see to it that what happens ultimately will be good and right. In the mean time, I just trust Him to do that, and worry about living for and serving Him myself. This is about all I am capable of doing.

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