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Scripture Text: Luke 13:23,24 "Then said one unto Him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."

I would direct your attention to one of the many significant questions found in the word of God, and this question has to do with being "saved". It is a term which is found over 100 times in the word of God, yet there are many people today who do not like to hear the word "saved". The term seems to have a stigma connected with it. In fact, to some people , it is almost as repulsive as the words, "born again". Well friend, if you don't like to hear the words "saved", and "born again", then you can be sure of one thing---you're not "saved", and you've never been "born again".

The Lord Jesus Christ tells us in John chapter 3 and verse 3 that "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." So unless you've been "born again", then you're not "saved"; and if you're not "saved", then you're lost; and if you're lost, then you're under the condemnational wrath of God; and if you're under God's wrath, then you're headed for the place that Jesus Christ called "Hell", and the ultimate, "Lake of Fire".

In Luke 13:23 the question is asked, "Are there few that be saved?" Friend, how would you answer that question? I believe that the vast majority of you believe that most people who have died, have gone to Heaven. But the Lord Jesus Christ tells us that most people, who are accountable to God for their sins, go down to weep and wail in the flames of Hell. In the oft-quoted "sermon on the mount" the Lord declares in Matthew 7:13,14, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

The world today is hastening on to the judgment of God. Generally speaking, people today are so busy making money, seeking an education, getting married and raising a family, buying a home and preparing for a favorable retirement, that they fail to realize, that even though these activities are legitimate and may be commendable, the fact remains that the most important aspect of their life should be their preparation for eternity. The exhortation is given to all of us in Amos 4:12, "Prepare to meet thy God".

The time is coming, and perhaps sooner than we think, when the Lord's admonition in Matthew 6:33 to "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you", will no longer be a viable option for the unsaved. In answer to the question of today's scripture text, the Lord says, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Yes, the gate of salvation will be closed one of these days, and your chance to be "saved" will have ceased to exist.

Scripture has shown us that, down through the centuries of time, mankind has been reluctant to be "saved" from the coming judgment of a loving God, even though He has provided a means for their escape. We see it in the days of Noah, when God provided the ark of safety for those who would obey the message of Noah to enter the ark, or else suffer the consequences of a watery grave. Noah pleaded with the people for 120 years, and after that time he was only able to convince his wife, his three sons and their wives, to enter the ark and be "saved".

Similarly, we're told how Lot and his family were living in the sinful city of Sodom, and God was about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their homosexual conduct. We read how Abraham pleaded with God to spare the cities for the sake of the few righteous people who were living there. God then sent two angels down to warn Lot to take his wife and two daughters and to flee from the coming destruction of the cities. The only other condition for them being "saved" was that they were not to look back. Well, you know what happened. Lot's wife looked back and she was immediately turned into a pillar of salt. Her disobedience prevented her from being "saved". In Luke 17:32 the Lord Jesus Christ warns, " Remember Lot's wife." Yes, Lot's wife, perhaps like some of you who are reading this message, could have been "saved", but she disobeyed the warning from God's messengers, so she perished.

Since beginning my radio ministry on March 4, 1956, I have been warning people to accept God's salvation and be "saved", because to reject His Son as their Saviour, would most assuredly cause them to incur the wrath of God. Some have chosen to accept the love of God, as expressed in the substitutionary death of His Son at Calvary's cross, and they've been "saved". Others have rejected God's Son as their Saviour, and have died in their sins, and even now they are in the place of eternal torment and separation from God. In Ezekiel 33:7 God says, "warn them from Me." Friend, if you die unsaved, you'll have no one to blame but yourself, because we're told in I Timothy 2:4 that God would "have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

"Are there few that be saved?" At the present time there are over 6 billion people in the world, and even if everyone in the world who has heard the name of Jesus Christ were "saved", only about 40% of the world's population would be on their way to Heaven.

Now why is it that there are so few people who are really "saved"? We've mentioned that disobedience to God's warnings has been evident in the past, and it is obvious that it is still the main reason for people not being "saved", and prepared for eternity. However, let's take a brief look at some of the other reasons that are mentioned in the word of God, the Bible.

(1) People are not seeking God's salvation. In Romans 3:11 we read, "there is none that seeketh after God". Yet we're told in Isaiah 55:6, "Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near." Again we read in Hebrews 11:6 that God "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Friend, have you ever diligently sought after God's salvation, which He has provided for all those who want to be "saved"? If not, then let me remind you of what we're told in Ezra 8:22, "The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him."

(2) People are blinded to the truth of God's word. In II Corinthians 4:3,4 we're told, "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them." Over in the Book of Acts, in chapter 26, the Apostle Paul is giving his testimony to King Agrippa regarding how he was saved on the road to Damascus, and how God had sent him forth to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Why? In verse 18 we read, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins." In Ephesians chapter 4, the same Apostle Paul is reminding the Christians in verses 17,18, that they are not to live as they had lived previously, "in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart." Yes, before they were saved, they had been blinded in soul, body and spirit!

(3) People are listening to, and believing, unsaved preachers. There are countless numbers of both men and women who stand on church platforms throughout the world today, and even though they may have studied for many years in so-called "seminaries", and know their Latin, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic languages, and all about their church history, yet they, themselves, have never been "saved", or "born again". This is very sad, because the congregation just assumes that the person doing the preaching knows what they are talking about. The preacher can talk fluently about the social, political, economic and environmental problems of the day, but they never tell their listeners the truth about the fact that they are spiritually lost, and must be "saved" if they ever expect to be in God's Heaven. The reason this happens is because it is a case of "the blind leading the blind" ... Yes, the preacher, or priest, may be highly respected, cultured, moral, community-minded and educated; and they may have the initials "D.D." after their name, signifying "Doctor of Divinity", but those initials will mean "Doomed and Damned" unless they get "saved" too.

Friend, before I was "saved" back on June 2,1952, I was very religious. I taught Sunday School, and even preached occasionally in our denominational church. But if my heart had stopped beating while on the platform, my soul would have dropped from the podium to the Pit. Yes, I was religiously lost, like many ministers today.

In other places of so-called "worship", the speaker quite often gets the congregation "all fired up" emotionally with the flailing of arms, bouncing up and down the aisles, hauling their friends forward to the altar, and shouting "Hallelujah!, Praise the Lord!, Thank You Jesus!, Amen!" Is this salvation? Here's what we hear from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ in the well-known, and often quoted, "sermon on the mount". In Matthew 7:21-23, the Lord says, "Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity."

Yes, there are many apparent miracles being performed today in the name of the Lord, by so-called "Reverends", and the Lord says that He doesn't know them because they are workers of iniquity. Some such individuals are more interested in the physical and financial condition of their congregations, than they are of their spiritual condition.

(4) People are listening to unfaithful preachers. There are many preachers today, supposedly serving their congregations, and who know the truth of God relative to the salvation of souls, but they are not being faithful to that truth. They have professed to be "saved", and they know the consequences of dying unsaved, but they are not telling their listeners the truth. Many of these preachers know that if they did tell the truth, their financial support and the attendance would suffer for it. They just don't want to "rock the boat", so to speak, by getting the people upset. They are sacrificing truth on the altar of harmony!

Friends, these preachers are not doing their listeners a favor by keeping the truth from them. God's word says that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"- so I preach it! God's word says that we cannot reach Heaven because of our so-called "good works", or religious rituals - so I preach it! God's word says that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin"- so I preach it! God's word says that He loved us so much that He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on Calvary's cross for our sins - so I preach it! God's word says that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven-so I preach it! God's word says that if a person dies unsaved, that person goes to Hell - so I preach it! God's word says that the next great event on the prophetic calendar of God is the "second coming of Christ" - SO I PREACH IT !

Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in the following scriptures: "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile."(Romans 1:16) "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts." (I Thessalonians 2:4) "do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ". (Galatians 1:10) "For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel."(I Corinthians 9:16)

(5) People lack a reverential fear of God. Most people today have little, or no, reverential fear of the One Who holds their every breath in His hand. They can take His blessed name in vain, and they can spew the lovely name of His dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from their filthy lips. The last of the 14 indictments given by God against all mankind is recorded in Romans 3:18, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Yet we're told in Psalms 85:10 that "Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him".

If people today had a heartfelt reverential fear of God, they wouldn't be living in gross sin and iniquity. They wouldn't be having abortions or engaging in "same sex" marriages. They wouldn't be committing adultery or fornication. They wouldn't be living with a Devil-inspired philosophy of "eat, drink and be merry", failing to realize that there is a "toll gate" at the end of their highway, called "life". They would be convinced that there really is a Heaven to gain - and a Hell to shun! Yes, they would realize that God says what He means, and He means what He says!

In Proverbs 9:10 we read, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". Yet many people don't get "saved" because they are afraid of what their friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers or classmates might think. They fear man, but they don't fear God. Friend, this is a cunning device of the Devil, the enemy of your soul. We are reminded in Proverbs 29:25 that "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe."

(6) People are prolific and persistent procrastinators. How often we see people who have experienced deep conviction of sin and their need to be "saved", but they keep "putting it off". The Holy Spirit of God, through God's word, has revealed to them that they are spiritually lost and perishing in their sins, but for one reason or another, they decide to wait, like Governor Felix in Acts 24:25, who said, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." We never read where he ever had a "convenient season" to get "saved". The Bible makes it quite clear that salvation is being offered today, but that there is no guaranty that it will be available tomorrow. Over in Proverbs 27:1 we're reminded, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Again in II Corinthians 6:2 we read, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

There are countless souls in Hell today who expected to get "saved someday", but their "someday" never came, and now it's too late! We read those very solemn words in Proverbs 29:1, "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

In conclusion, let me ask you a few, but very pertinent, questions. Friend, are you depending upon your baptism to get you into Heaven? ­If so, you'll be in Hell! Are you depending upon your "good works", moral living, your culture or education to get you into Heaven? ­If so, you'll be in Hell! Are you depending upon your religious activities, trying to keep the "golden rule", or the "ten commandments" to get you into Heaven? ­If so, you'll be in Hell!

No wonder the Lord Jesus Christ said that "few there be that find it". Friend, look at it both logically and scripturally. IF  YOU  AND  I  COULD  BE  SAVED  AND  REACH  HEAVEN  BY  OUR  OWN  EFFORTS,  THEN  WHY  DID  JESUS  CHRIST  DIE  THE  SHAMEFUL,  AGONIZING,  AND  IGNOMINIOUS  DEATH  OF  CALVARY'S  CROSS ?

There is no salvation for your soul apart from having faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! In John 10:9 Jesus said, "I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." The Apostle Peter says in Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:9,10, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Friend, I plead with you today, in love for your soul, and in view of the vast eternity that lies ahead, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour, because if you do, according to God, Who cannot lie, you'll be "saved" for time, and thank God, you'll be "saved" for all eternity. And remember, my friend, THIS IS FOR ETERNITY!

Evangelist: Minor C. Hawk