This particular subject has been on my mind frequently as of late. This is partly due to a conversation I’ve been having with a friend, and partly due to the great lesson delivered this past Sunday night. Notice the words of Jesus in 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.”
Certainly there is much that could be said about these 2 verses, but I want to emphasize the phrases “there are many who enter through it [gate of destruction],” and “there are few who find it [gate of life].”
According to many sources, 2.2 billion people (about 1/3 of the population) are “Christians.” All sects of Christianity believe that a person needs to “believe in Jesus” to be saved (at least in part), but many denominations claim that this is all that is needed for salvation. Several of these same denominations believe that a person cannot be lost once they have been saved, no matter what they do from then on.
Matthew 7:13-14 is a very clear indicator that these denominations are mistaken. Think about it. If all a person needs to do to be saved is to “believe in Jesus,” then potentially 2.2 billion people are saved and will go to heaven. This means 2.2 billion will enter heaven every 60-80 years (the span of a generation). Certainly these numbers have been this way for hundreds of years and will probably continue until the end of time. But does this fit Jesus words, “there are few who find it”? Not at all.
We simply cannot follow the popular mold of the denominations to find salvation. Let’s look to the Bible for the answer. Scripture says that one is saved by…
- Hearing the gospel of Christ (John 6:45; James 1:18, 21).
- Believing that Jesus is God’s Son (Romans 10:17; John 8:24).
- Repenting of past sins (Luke 13:3; 2 Peter 3:9).
- Confessing that Jesus is the Lord (Romans 10:9-10).
- Being baptized for the purpose of having sins forgiven at that very moment (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-4).
- Remaining faithful until death (Revelation 2:10) – because one can fall away from God and lose salvation (Galatians 5:4; 2 Peter 2:20-21; Hebrews 3:12; 8:4-8).
Something to keep in mind is that all verses of Scripture must fit together. We cannot take one verse that says we are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8) and ignore the many others that say salvation comes through repentance (Luke 13:3), confession (Romans 10:9-10), and baptism (1 Peter 3:21; Romans 6:3-4). All have to fit together! In fact, many Scriptures list several at the same time (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12-13; 18:8). Every single item mentioned in the list above plays a part in obtaining and keeping salvation. Baptism is the final act, after the others have been done, to bring a person from a lost condition to a saved condition (Acts 2:37-41).
Does your congregation or denomination teach and follow these things? If not, then the words of Jesus indicate that you are traveling down the wrong path with the “many” (Matthew 7:13). We must make sure we are on the right path (Matthew 7:14). Heaven is just too good to miss, and hell is too terrible to attend. They only way make sure we are on the right path is to follow all the turns on God’s road map, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3).