Shocking perspective?!! Did Jesus lie when he said that the gospel was only for a very few?
Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
There are few who find it? This passage seems to set a nearly hopeless tone for the future, don’t you think? A guy on Facebook recently said that there are only about 2% of the people in the world who are really saved and that the scriptures confirm that we can only expect this since there are “few who find it.”
Is this really what Jesus intended? Are we urged to reach the whole world, but at the same time to expect meager results?
Let the weight of these expansive, inclusive, extraordinary scriptures settle into your heart. Let them speak for themselves:
Ps. 86:9, “ALL nations whom you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.”
Ps. 65: 2, “Oh, You that hears prayer, unto you shall ALL flesh come.”
Ps. 22: 27, “ALL the ends of the earth shall remember and TURN unto the Lord; and ALL the kindreds of the nations shall worship before you.”
Isa. 45:24-27, “Look unto me and be you saved, ALL the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else. I have SWORN by myself; the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that unto me EVERY knee shall bow, EVERY tongue shall swear, surely shall say: “In the Lord have I RIGHTEOUSNESS and strength.”
These scriptures indicate a dramatic difference in the words of Jesus. So which is it? Will there be unprecedented bowed knees, allegiant families, and saved nations? Or will there only be a few people over history that are saved? Did Jesus lie?
WHO ARE THE FEW WHO FIND IT?
So what did Jesus mean that there would only be few who find it? This saying has an historical-cultural referent. Some tend to dismiss the Bible because of seeming shocking contradictions, but a closer examination of the historical context will clarify this (and every) passage.
Jesus is referring to the remnant of Israel that would be saved before the final destruction of the city, the temple, the priesthood and the entire Jewish system. In the overall picture only a few would find it compared to the nation as a whole. This was a promise of hope that in the midst of the final judgment of the nation (Deut. 32) there would be a remnant (a few who would find the gospel, the narrow path, and the small gate.)
There is a path of destruction that most of them would take in killing Jesus, his prophets, and his saints (Mat. 23:34-36), but the destruction that would come on that generation wasn’t without hope. A remnant (a few) would be saved from that destruction by trusting in Christ and fleeing the city when the Roman armies approached (Mat. 24:17-22).
This remnant was also called the first-fruits by James and John, while Paul quotes OT scriptures to declare that those remnant scriptures were being fulfilled in his day. In fact, Romans 11 is devoted to quoting remnant passages leading up to Paul’s grand declaration that “all Israel” would be saved. In what way? The context reveals that it is all the true Israel (Rom. 9:6-9), who were by faith trusting in Christ (Gal. 3:7). The “all Israel” he is referring to are all of the promised remnant, not all of the entire nation:
Isaiah 1:9, “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small REMNANT, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.”
Isaiah 37:31, “And the REMNANT that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward…”
Isaiah 37:32, “For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a REMNANT, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.”
Pay particular attention to this one which is almost identical to the above passage in Isaiah and from which Peter quotes and applies to his day on the Day of Pentecost: Joel 2:32, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the REMNANT whom the Lord shall call.”
Isaiah 11:11, 16, “It shall come to pass in that day That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the REMNANT of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea…There will be a highway for the remnant of His people Who will be left from Assyria, As it was for Israel In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt.”
Romans 9:27-29, “Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
THE REMNANT WILL BE SAVED.
For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness,
Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth.”
And as Isaiah said before:
“Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed [REMNANT],
We would have become like Sodom,
And we would have been made like Gomorrah.”
Romans 11:5, “Even so then, at this PRESENT TIME there is a REMNANT according to the election of grace.”
As you can see, James calls them firstfruits from the remnant of the 12 tribes being saved in his generation before the Day of the Lord in AD 70. There can only be one first-fruits therefore Revelation’s 144,000 from the 12 tribes is symbolic of the “few who find it” remnant as well.
James 1:1, 18, “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the TWELVE TRIBES tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings…Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”
Revelation 14:4, “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”
Therefore, Jesus’ words regarding the many who follow the path of destruction and the few who find the narrow path and gate, is historically the remnant of the Old Covenant people who put their faith in Christ before the destruction of the city and the entirety of the Old Covenant system.
The expectation of who can/will receive Christ is enormous! Preach, teach, and share the good news!!