What will be the total number of people who live forever in heaven? The answer to that question is not revealed in the Bible. Jesus taught that after judgment, there will be those who will enter into life eternal (Matthew 25:46). Will all humans be in heaven? No: the Master also spoke of those who will go into everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46). Thus, in eternity “some” humans will be in heaven: “some” – more than one, but not all.
There are those who are persuaded that access to the forgiveness of sins in this life and access into heaven in the age to come is too limited. They wonder, “Why did God make the way of salvation so narrow? Why does He not want more people to be saved?” Oh, my friend, the Bible declares that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Before talking about why the Lord’s plan for human redemption is “so narrow,” consider this: Why did God make the way of salvation? Quite simply, God is the One Who arranged a plan for the salvation of our souls because only He has the wisdom and power to do so. Puny people like you and me could never come up with a scheme by which our sins could be removed.
Why did God make the way of salvation? It is because of His rich mercy, great love, and gracious kindness that salvation from sin is available (Ephesians 2:4,5). The Lord certainly was not indebted to us; rather, despite our crimes against Him, He extends the offer of salvation. That is some special kind of love and graciousness!
Why did God make the way of salvation? It is a single path. An inspired apostle described it as “the way of truth,” “the right way,” and “the way of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:2,15,21). Jesus proclaimed Himself as the way, the truth, and the life, saying further, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Men can oppose that truth, debate it, and deny it. Still, it remains the truth. Per God’s plan, there is one path of salvation – it is through the Christ and no other.
Why did God make the way of salvation so narrow? Now, we are getting to the question that bothers a great number of people. Jesus said, “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 thereare few who find it” (Matthew 7:13,14). According to Jesus, those who follow the path that leads to life eternal are “few” in number. “But that is the point: why could God not make it easier to go to heaven?”
God saw that, due to mankind’s sin, we need a Savior. Did He do something about it? He sure did. He “sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14) that “we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
Know this: “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). God’s wisdom is “off the charts,” so high that it is beyond human calculation. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! . . .” (Romans 11:33). In the Bible, God has revealed the way of salvation which is best suited for man’s spiritual needs. By God’s wisdom, what is the plan?
– Jesus tasted death for all (Hebrews 2:9) and salvation is available to all (Mark 16:15,16).
– Salvation is available through Jesus, and only through Him (Acts 4:12).
– Salvation is available in the Christ, and only in Him (Romans 3:24).
– Jesus is the Savior of His body, the church for which He died (Ephesians 5:23,25).
– Individual salvation is conditional – Jesus saves those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9).
Is God’s way of salvation narrow? It is. But is it too narrow? Because there is no unrighteousness, that is, no wrongdoing in God (Psalm 92:15), then He does not make mistakes. Whatever He has said about salvation, how it is provided, how it is obtained, and who can receive it – all that He says about salvation is the truth.
For those who think that God’s plan of salvation is “too narrow,” we would ask, “Just how many people should be saved? How narrow or broad should the path of salvation be? Should every person go to heaven?” If one says that some people should go to heaven, but others should not, then we are really facing this question: “Who gets to decide?” Is it our Creator-Savior-Judge who has the intelligence and authority to make that decision, or is it flawed humans who get to make that determination?
Rather than criticize God for the way of salvation that He provides, humans would be better off if they would humble themselves, obey His will, and let Him keep the count on how many are saved.
— Roger D. Campbell