The Strait Gate

The Strait Gate" and the "Few saved" are thought by many to indicate the final salvation of only a portion of the human family.

The question was asked by some one (Luke 13:23 and Matt. 7:13,14):

Lord, are there few that be saved? and he answered: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, open unto us, and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are; then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."

No intelligent reader suposes this language literal—that there is a gate at which men knock, after death, for admission into heaven. The Kingdom of God is Christ's reign on earth, and its gate signifies entrance into it. "The Kingdom of God," "Kingdom of Heaven," etc., is always in this world.

And every careful reader will see that the language is entirely confined to the present.

Lord, are there few that be 'saved'?" The literal rendering is: "Are those being saved few?" The question relates entirely to the number then accepting Christianity. But inasmuch as all partialist Christians believe that the great mass—all but a small minority of mankind—will be finally saved, it is very inconsistent for any one thus believing to apply this language to man's final condition. "Are there few that are now being saved?" is the literal rendering of the question From what? Not from endless torment, but from certain evil consequences in this world.

And the answer to Jesus shows that the application was confined to those to whom he was speaking.

"Lord" (they say) "we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets."

The words apply entirely to those who had heard him speak in their streets, namely the Jews, whose advantages were about to be taken away, and given to the Gentiles, who were to enter the kingdom by faith, with faithful Abraham, while they were thrust out. The weeping and gnashing of teeth represents their chagrin and rage at their lot, despising the Gentiles as they did.

This same subject is thus treated in Matt. 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."

As we just said, it is entirely inconsistent for any advocate of endless punishment to quote this language in support of that doctrine, inasmuch as all such believers now teach that the great majority of souls will be finally saved, while only the small minority will be forever lost. The Savior referred, by the Strait Gate, to the exacting nature of his religion. The road was narrow, and difficult to follow, and but few then followed it, while the many avoided it, and pursued the broad road of error and sin. The words have the same application today, well expressed by good Dr. Watts:

Broad is the road that leads to death,

And thousands walk together there,

But wisdom shows a narrow path,

With here and there a traveller.

The language teaches that only the few then walked in the narrow way marked out by Christ while the many chose the broader way of wrong.

If we refer the passage to the future world, we cannot excape the conclusion that heaven will only contain a few souls, while the great majority will be damned. It has no reference to the future world whatever, but denotes the few who in our Savior's day went right, while the great multitude went wrong. Dr. A. Clarke says: "Enter in through this strait gate—i.e., of doing to every one as you would he should do unto you; for this alone seems to be the strait gate."

The language in Luke has a more special application to the Jews than that in Matthew, which may be applied to every age since Christ, and to the present. It is as true now as at the time Jesus spoke, that the path of Christian goodness is a difficult one, followed by a comparative few, while the way of wickedness is broad and much travelled. But it will not always be so.

Whoever refers the language to the final condition of the human race must admit that only a few will ever be holy and happy, while the great multitude will be lost. It has no such application, but teaches that at the time Jesus spoke the many went wrong, while only the few chose the way of life.

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