Who Will Be Saved?

In August 2005, a survey conducted by Newsweek and Beliefnet asked 1,000 Americans what they believe and how they practice their faith. One of the questions asked was Can a good person who isn’t of your religious faith go to heaven or obtain salvation, yes or no?

Of those that answered this question, 68 % of evangelical Protestants said yes. 83 % of non-evangelical Protestants said yes, 91 percent of Catholics said yes and 73 percent of those classified as non-Christians replied yes. An overall average of 79 % thinks that you can get to heaven just for being good. The responses are interesting. Most people believe those of different faiths will be saved. Among Catholics and more liberal Protestants, that view is overwhelming. These results would suggest that despite what the Bible teaches, most people believe most everyone will be saved.

Jesus was asked a similar question, recorded in Luke 13:22-27. He spoke and taught often on who would be saved.

“And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.”

Over in Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus was recorded as saying something similar.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

We need to remember history; only 8 souls were saved from the flood, 3 from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and out of the exodus from Egypt only 2 men over 20 out of 603,550 made it into the land of Canaan.

It is a sad fact that only a few will find the way that leads to life.

What is the way that leads to life? Jesus taught that he is the way and the only way.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

The poisonous notion that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe you will be saved might be a fuzzy feel good solution for the worldly, but we know that isn’t true. Look at Cornelius in Acts 10. He was a religious person, yet he still needed salvation. Peter recounts this in Acts 11:13-14.

“And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’”

If belief is enough, why did Peter have to tell them the words by which they would be saved? Other examples are the Jews on the day of Pentecost, the Ethiopian Eunuch, Lydia, and Saul. All of them believers, yet they needed salvation. Being religious isn’t enough. You can not be a Christian if you believe that salvation can be found anywhere outside of Christ. Jesus taught specifically that salvation is for those who obey. Many want to think that all who believe in Jesus will be saved; that we are saved by faith only with no need for obedience. Yet Jesus warned us of those who believed in Him but were lost.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

These men believed Him to be their Lord. They spent their lives in service to the Lord but they had not done the Father’s will! Can it be any more plain than that? Jesus is the author of salvation to all who obey Him, and the end to those who do not obey His gospel. Not all believers will be saved. Remember James 2:19. The demons believe, yet tremble! Believing that many (if not all) will be saved is a comforting doctrine and a view praised as tolerant and loving, but it is still poison. If one really desires to follow Jesus, they must abide in His teaching (John 8:30-32). Few will be saved. Jesus is the only way and salvation is for those who do His Father’s will.

God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-6; 2 Peter 3:9). He has given His Son as the perfect sacrifice and the perfect mediator. But it will only benefit us if we believe and obey His Son.

By Mitch Erickson