Salvation Is Not An Easy Business

Samuel Smith


"And if the righteous scarcely be saved, WHERE SHALL THE UNGODLY AND THE SINNER APPEAR?" (1 Peter 4:18; Capital Emphasis Added)

"For many are called, but FEW ARE CHOSEN." (Matthew 22:14; Capital Emphasis Added)

My dear Brother or Sister in Christ, HOW DO WE GENERALLY CONSIDER THE SOULS OF OUR RELATIVES, AND FRIENDS, AND NEIGHBOURS WHILE THEY LIVE at this end of the world? Consider just how this question can be answered. If Christ does not return in our generation, we know that every one of us is going to die, and after death there is going to be a judgement (Hebrews 9:27). We know that we have souls to save or to lose. But do we consider how our end is likely to be? Do we ever consider we are in danger of eternal death in hell? There is nothing whatever to show that we think so. We eat and drink together. We laugh, and talk, and walk, and work together. We scarcely or never speak to one another of God and of eternity, of heaven and of hell. I am asking you, as in the sight of God, is it not so? Do we ever admit that anyone is wicked or ungodly at this end of the world? NEVER, hardly, whatever may be his way of life. He may be a breaker of the Sabbath. He may be a neglecter of the Bible. He may be entirely without repentance and holiness. But we say often that, "It does not matter! He has a good heart at the bottom, and is not entirely a wicked man." I am asking you, as in God's sight, is it not so? And what does all this prove? It proves that we flatter ourselves that there is no great difficulty in getting to heaven. It proves most plainly that WE ARE OF THE OPINION that most people will be saved!

Again, my dear Brother or Sister in Christ, HOW DO WE GENERALLY CONSIDER THE SPIRITUAL STATE OF PEOPLE AFTER THEY ARE DEAD? Consider just how this question can be answered. We admit, if only we are not atheists, that anyone who dies will go to a place of happiness, or to a place of misery at the resurrection. But to which one of these two places do we often consider that the greater part of people will go on the day of the resurrection? I say, without any fear of contradiction, that there is, unhappily, A COMMON FASHION OF SPEAKING WELL of the condition of everyone who departs this life. It matters little, how a man behaved while he lived. He may have given no signs of repentance, or faith in Christ. He may have been ignorant of the plan of salvation set forth in the Bible. He may have shown no evidence whatever of conversion or sanctification. He may have lived and died like a creature without a soul. And yet, AS SOON AS THIS MAN IS DEAD, we say that he is "happier than he ever was in his life." We say complacently, that "he has gone to a better world." We shake our heads gravely, and say that "he has gone to heaven." We follow him to the grave without fear and without trembling, and speak of his death afterwards as "a blessed change for him." We may have hated him, and considered him a bad man while he lived. But the moment he is dead, we turn round in our opinions and say that he has gone to heaven! I HAVE NO WISH TO HURT THE FEELING OF ANYONE. I am only asking that is it not true? And what does it all prove? It supplies just one more sad proof that we believe it is an easy business to get to heaven. It proves most plainly that WE ARE OF THE OPINION that most people will be saved!

Now what solid reason can we show for these common opinions? Upon what Scripture do we build this notion, THAT SALVATION IS AN EASY BUSINESS, and that most people will be saved?

We have none. We have none at all. We have no text of Scripture which, when fairly interpreted, supports our views. We speak SMOOTH THINGS about the spiritual condition of one another, just because we don't want to admit that there is danger. We cry that "Peace, peace," (1 Thessalonians 5:3) because we want it to be so, and gladly persuade ourselves that so it is.

But WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY about the number of the saved? It is the only standard of truth and error to which we ought to make an appeal. Whatever is there written, we must receive and believe. Whatever cannot be proved by Scripture, we must refuse.

Let us look, then, at one single text of Scripture, and examine it well. We shall find it in Matthew 7:13, 14. It says that "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and MANY ARE THOSE who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! FEW ARE THOSE who find it." Now these are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are the words of Him who is very God of very God (John 10:30), and whose words shall never pass away. They are the words of Him who knows what is in man. They are the words of Him who knows things that are to come, and things that are past. They are the words of Him who will judge every one of us on the last day (John 5:22). But what do these words mean? Are they words which no man can understand without a knowledge of Latin, Hebrew or Greek? No! They are not! Are they a dark, unfulfilled prophecy? No! They are not! Are they a deep mysterious saying, which no human mind can understand? No! They are not! The words are clear, plain, and unmistakable. There is ONLY ONE MEANING which can be attached to them. Their meaning is that MANY PEOPLE WILL BE LOST AND FEW WILL BE SAVED!

Let us look, in the next place, at THE WHOLE HISTORY OF MANKIND AS WE HAVE IT GIVEN IN THE BIBLE. Let us go through the whole four thousand (4,000) years, which covers the entire Bible history. Let us find, IF WE CAN, one single period of time at which godly people were many, and ungodly people were few.

How was it IN THE DAYS OF NOAH? The earth we are told expressly was "filled with violence." The imagination of man's heart was only "evil continually" "All flesh had corrupted his way" (Genesis 6:5, 12). The loss of paradise was forgotten (Genesis 3:23, 24). The warnings of God, by Noah's mouth, were despised. And at length, when the flood came on the world and drowned every living thing (Genesis 7:21-24), there were only eight people who had faith enough to flee for refuge to the ark (1 Peter 3:20). And WERE THERE MANY SAVED IN THOSE DAYS? There can be no doubt what the answer must be.

How was it IN THE DAYS OF ABRAHAM, AND ISAAC, AND LOT? It is evident that in their time, they stood very much alone. The family from which they were taken was a family of idolaters. The nations among whom they lived were sunk in gross darkness and sin. When Sodom and Gomorrah were burned (Genesis 19:24, 25), there were not ten righteous people to be found in the four cities of the plain (Genesis 18:27-33). When Abraham and Isaac desired to find wives for their sons, there was not a woman in the land where they lived to whom they could wish to see them married (Genesis 24:1-3). And WERE THERE MANY SAVED IN THOSE DAYS? There can be no doubt what the answer must be.

How was it with the Jews WHEN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WAS ON EARTH? The words of John are the best account of their spiritual condition, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (John 1:11). He lived as no one born of a woman had ever lived before, a blameless, harmless, holy life. "He went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). He preached as no one ever preached before. Even the officers of his enemies confessed that, "Never man spoke like this man" (John 7:46). He did miracles to confirm His ministry, which, at first sight, we might have fancied would have convinced the most hardened. But, notwithstanding all these, THE VAST MAJORITY of the Jews refused to believe Him. Follow our Lord in all His travels in Israel. You will always find the same story. Follow Him into the city, and follow Him into the wilderness. Follow Him to Capernaum and Nazareth, and follow Him to Jerusalem. Follow Him among the Scribes and follow Him among the Pharisees. Follow Him among the Sadducees and follow Him among the Herodians. Everywhere you will arrive at the same result. They were amazed. They were silenced. They were astonished. They marvelled. But VERY FEW BECAME HIS DISCIPLES! The great majority of the nation had none of His doctrine (John 6:66), and crowned all their wickedness by putting Him to death (Matthew 27:11-50). And WERE THERE MANY SAVED in those days? There can be no doubt what the answer must be.

The sum of the whole matter is this. The Bible and those of us living at this end of the world, SPEAK VERY DIFFERENTLY about the number of the saved. According to the Bible, FEW WILL BE SAVED. According to us, "MANY". According to the Bible, few are going to heaven. According to us, few are going to hell. According to the Bible, the way is narrow and the gate is strait. According to us, salvation is an easy business. According to the Bible, MANY will be in a sad condition, and will cry in vain that, "Lord, Lord, open to us" (Matthew 25:11). According to us, few will be found at last seeking admission into heaven when it is too late.

Yet, the Bible has never been wrong. The most unlikely and impossible prophecies foretold in the Scriptures have all come true to the letter. And as in other matters, SO IT WILL BE ABOUT THE NUMBER OF THE SAVED!

Paul Fonsi