Monday, July 25, 2011

From the Pen of J. C. Ryle: Few Saved

"Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won't be able." Luke 13:23-24

"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." Matthew 7:13-14

I take it for granted that every reader of this paper calls himself a Christian. You would not like to be reckoned a deist, or an infidel. You profess to believe the Bible to be true. The birth of Christ the Savior—the death of Christ the Savior—the salvation provided by Christ the Savior, all these are facts which you have probably never doubted. But, after all, will Christianity like this profit you anything at last? Will it do your soul any good when you die? In one word—Shall you be saved?

It may be you are now young, healthy and strong. Perhaps you never had a day's illness in your life, and scarcely know what it is to feel weakness and pain. You scheme and plan for future years, and feel as if death was far away, and out of sight. Yet, remember, death sometimes cuts off young people in the flower of their days. The strong and healthy of the family do not always live the Longest. Your sun may go down before your life has reached its mid-day. Yet a little while, and you may be lying in a narrow, silent home, and the daisies may be growing over your grave! And then, consider—Shall you be saved?

It may be you are rich and prosperous in this world. You have money, and all that money can command. You have "honor, love, obedience, troops of friends." But, remember, "riches are not forever." You cannot keep them longer than a few years. "It is appointed unto people once to die, and after this the judgment." (Prov. 27:24; Heb. 9:27.) And then, consider—Shall you be saved?

It may be you are poor and needy. You have scarcely enough to provide food and raiment for yourself and family. You are often distressed for lack of comforts, which you have no power to get. Like Lazarus, you seem to have "bad things" only, and not good. But, nevertheless, you take comfort in the thought that there will be an end of all this. There is a world to come, where poverty and need shall be unknown. Yet, consider a moment—Shall you be saved?

It may be you have a weak and sickly body. You hardly know what it is to be free from pain. You have so long parted company with health, that you have almost forgotten what it is like. You have often said in the morning, "Would God it were evening,"—and in the evening, "Would God it were morning." There are days when you are tempted by very weariness to cry out with Jonah, "It is better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:3.) But, remember, death is not all. There is something else beyond the grave! And then, consider—Shall you be saved?

If it was an easy thing to be saved, I would not write as I do in this volume. But is it so? Let us see.

If the common opinion of people of the world as to the number of the saved was correct, I would not trouble people with searching and hard questions. But is it so? Let us see.

If God had never spoken plainly in the Bible about the number of the saved, I might well be silent. But is it so? Let us see.

If experience and facts left it doubtful whether many or few would be saved, I might hold my peace. But is it so? Let us see.

There are four points which I propose to examine in considering the subject before us.

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