Study 3 ARE ONLY A FEW PEOPLE GOING TO BE SAVED?
GREAT QUESTIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Luke 13:23)
This solemn question belongs to a group of three questions found in the New Testament which have to do with salvation: “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25); “Are only a few people going to be saved?” (Luke 13:23); “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Possibly you have found yourself asking the second of these questions, which forms the theme of this study. Most people seem to have little time for God or for the things of God; it is only the few who love Him, who are prepared to declare their love for Him, and to live for Him in a way that is pleasing to Him. Jesus gave a solemn answer to this question (Luke 13:23-30). His immediate answer to the question, “Are only a few people going to be saved?” was to say that “Many…will not be able” to be saved (verse 24). Does this mean that only a few will be saved? – look up Matthew 7:13-14; 22:14; 1 Peter 3:20. When you have done this be sure to look at verse 29 and compare Revelation 7:9. How grateful we should feel if we are among those who belong to Christ and have been truly saved by His grace! Consider the following five clear propositions that emerge from the question:-
1. It is quite clear that all may be saved.
The Bible surely teaches this. God has provided salvation and He offers this to all who will come to Him in repentance and faith and accept His salvation. When the Lord Jesus died on the Cross He died to make salvation available to all (Isaiah 53:6). While it is true that there is a sense in which He died only for those who are His own and who have responded to His grace, it is also true that by His death He made salvation available to all (Isaiah 45:22; John 3:16; 10:9; Romans 1:16; 10:12-13; 1 Timothy 2:4; Revelation 22:17). It is quite clear that all may be saved!
2. It is quite clear that all will not be saved.
This is the solemn teaching of God’s Word. The Bible does not teach the doctrine of universalism – that is to say, that ultimately all men will be saved. This is taught today; they tell us that the sinner and the saint, the man who has no love for God and the Christian, all will be gathered into God’s kingdom. This is not scriptural. The Bible does not teach this – look carefully at Luke 13:24, “will not be able”; verse 25, “Sir, open the door for us”; verse 27, “I don’t know you”; and verse 28, “weeping…” Surely this makes it very clear that all will not be saved – compare Matthew 13:29 with John 3:18 and John 3:36, and look up the three unanswered questions in the New Testament – Mark 8:36; Hebrews 2:3; 1 Peter 4:17. Thank God all may be saved, but all will not be saved.
3. It is quite clear that some will be saved whom we did not expect to be saved.
Where is our scriptural authority for this? We have it in Luke 13:30. Also note:-
- (1) It was a great surprise to the onlookers when a very sinful woman anointed the feet of Jesus. They thought she could not be saved, but she was saved (Luke 7:36-50); particularly notice verses 39 and 50.
- (2) It was a great surprise to the Pharisee to be rejected by God although he was such a ‘good’ man, and to find that the publican, who was such a sinner, was accepted by God (Luke 18:9-14); particularly notice verse 14.
- (3) It was a great surprise to the people when Zacchaeus, a notorious ‘sinner’, was saved by Jesus (Luke 19:1-10); particularly notice verses 1, 7 and 9.
- (4) It was a great surprise when the law-breaker who was dying on the Cross beside Jesus was saved and went to Paradise with the Lord Himself. But it all happened (Luke 23:39-43); particularly notice verses 42 and 43.
- (5) It was a great surprise to the disciples when Jesus preached the gospel and revealed Himself to a Gentile woman who was a great sinner. But he did, and she was saved (John 4:4-30); particularly notice verse 27.
- (6) It was a great surprise to Ananias when the Lord revealed Himself to Saul of Tarsus and saved Him. But He did (Acts 9:1-19)!
- (7) It was a great surprise to the Apostle Paul that the Lord had saved him at all. He never got over it (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
We shall get some surprises when we reach heaven and meet some people whom we did not expect would be there.
4. It is quite clear that others will not be saved who expected to be saved.
Luke 13:25-27 makes this fact clear, and these are the words of the Lord Jesus! The reference is to those who profess to know Him but who do not in fact know Him at all. How many people there are like this! They expect to be saved because they go to church, because they have been confirmed or baptised, because they say their prayers, because they are charitable, because they sing in the choir or attend Communion once a year! They do not know the truth of Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5. How tragic it is to expect to be saved, to think that you are saved and in the end to find that you are not! There will be many like this – look up 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16.
5. It is quite clear that no-one will be saved except in God’s way.
God’s way of salvation is by repentance and faith, and to understand the meaning of this you should look up Isaiah 55:6-7 and Acts 16:30-31.
- Jesus is the only Saviour – look up John 14:6.
He is a present Saviour – look up 2 Corinthians 6:2.
He is a complete Saviour – look up Hebrews 7:25.
He will save you – look up Romans 10:13!