Ninth in a series of short answers to questions about the New Testament.
Consider Matt. 7:13-14: Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
So, will only a few be saved? And if so, how few? Clearly, the Bible does not teach universal salvation. And Jesus takes great pains to inform us that many will spend eternity apart from Him. Just how many will receive eternal life and how many will perish is not for us to know. The claim of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that only 144,000 will reign with Jesus in heaven is based on a distortion of Scripture. Equally disturbing is the Mormon possibility of “exaltation,” or godhood, and the virtually assured life in some level of heaven for almost everyone else.
But there are some important things Jesus and the New Testament writers taught about salvation and want us to know, among them:
- Salvation is an everlasting relationship provided by Holy God for sinful man through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (John 3:16-18).
- Jesus is the only way a person may receive forgiveness of sins and find eternal life (John 14:6). He is the narrow gate — the door (John 10:9).
- All people are sinners and invite the wrath of God (Rom. 3:23, 6:23). No one deserves heaven, nor can they earn it (Rom. 4:4-5).
- Christ died for sinners and rose from the dead to conquer sin and death for us (Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:3-4).
- Not hearing the gospel is no excuse (Rom. 1:18-23).
- Many will be in heaven (Rev. 5:9) and many will not (Rev. 20:11-15).
- All people will be raised from the dead and judged one day (John 5:28-29).
- Your eternal destiny is based on how you answer the question Jesus asked in Matt. 16:15: “Whom do you say that I am?”
- The correct answer is: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).
- We should be less concerned with how many will be in heaven than we are with whether we are headed there.
- Jesus came to give us life and offers it freely, if we will receive Him (John 10:10).