Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 13, 1967
NUMBER 10, PAGE 5b-6a

When The Lord Said Few He Meant Few

Harry Ozment

We've heard preachers quote it again and again. We've read it again and again. And, as a result, I'm afraid that Matt. 7:13-14 has lost its impact upon most of us. Jesus said, "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 there at: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be which go in there at."

How many times have you heard someone say, in effect, "Do you mean God would send me to hell just because I do...?" Then, they quote some "little" sin, and threaten to laugh at anyone so brazen as to answer in the affirmative. Yes, I even recently read an article by a preacher that manifested this attitude.

(1) Some people do not understand the nature of God. One outstanding characteristic of God Almighty is His infinite holiness. Isaiah said in Isa. 6:3, "And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." John said in Rev. 15:4, "Who shall not fear thee, 0 Lord, and glorify thy name? for thy judgements are made manifest." Because God is infinitely holy, He cannot bear the presence of sin, even those sins which we think are small and insignificant, either of omission or commission. Isaiah said in Isa. 59:2, "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." There is no such thing as a "big" or "little" sin to God. One unforgiven sin, no matter how insignificant we think it might be, will keep us out of heaven because God abhors all sin - period. James says in Jas. 2:10, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Therefore, if we understand this principle of the infinite holiness of God, we will understand such passages as:

Heb. 10:30-31 - "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Rom. 11:22 - "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off."

II Cor. 5:10-11 - "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest in your consciences."

(2) There are others who don't want to think that God would condemn them for "dabbing" in their "little" sins." This attitude springs from the old conception that "God is love and He will overlook my little vices. These people lack the determination and the dedication to live the life of a Christian (thus, they are lacking in their love for God.) They have "little" habits they just don't want to give up. Thus, when they are admonished to correct their "little" sins of commission and omission, they just laugh in your face and infer that you're a narrow-minded fanatic. Of these people the inspired writer speaks in Heb. 10:26-27: "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."

There is an Old Testament incident which very strikingly illustrates what Jesus meant by "few" in Matt. 7:13-14. In Num. 1:46, we read: Even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty." Think about it! 603,550 started from Egypt to Canaan! Do you know how many reached Israel's promised land of rest? Num. 26:65 tells us: "For the Lord had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun." Out of the original number of 603,550, only 2 reached the promised land. Now, does the Lord mean few, or doesn't he mean few? How many make up the congregation where you attend - 50? 150? 300? 725? Remembering how many made it out of the congregation of Israel, what do you think your chances are of reaching the Christian's promised land of rest? Pretty slim, aren't they - unless you and I buck up and start marching on that narrow path instead of haphazardly ambling. Makes you think, doesn't it? And while you're thinking about that 603,448 that did not make it to the land of promise, read Heb. 10:28-29: "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, and unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"