How many will go to heaven?
A man once asked Jesus, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’ As a Jew he probably assumed that most Jews would be saved, but not many others. So, how many do you think will be in heaven?
Around Christmas a lot of people will attend churches for special services. We might assume that most of them will be in heaven. We could be mistaken.
How did Jesus answer the man’s question? He said, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to’. Jesus is saying that it doesn’t matter to you how many there will be in heaven. The only thing that matters is to make sure that you are there.
We can debate fine points of theology that really have no practical significance for us. Does it matter whether there will be pets in heaven or whether we shall need to eat? Our priority should be making sure that by God’s grace we get there.
Right now it doesn’t matter whether there will be 10,000 in heaven or 10 billion. The big question is, will I be there? Will you?
This is the overriding issue. What do you see as the most important goal in your life? Making money? Finding a job? Getting a good education? Finding a life partner? These are important but we need to get things in perspective. How do they compare with the salvation of your soul? You may achieve every earthly goal, but what good is that if you spend eternity in hell?
Salvation requires great effort
The Lord says, ‘Make every effort to enter’. The words used mean strive or agonise. Anything less than all-out effort is inadequate.
There are some things we can be casual about. I enjoy watching birds, and can do that sitting in my living room. But if I were training for the Olympic Games I couldn’t be casual. It would demand great effort and a rigorous training schedule.
How much more important it is to prepare for that day when we shall stand before God! We need to strive, to agonize, to put forth a wholehearted effort.
Don’t misunderstand me. It is not our efforts that earn us a place in heaven, for salvation is an unearned gift from God. But when things are this important we need to get serious.
‘Many will try’, said our Lord, ‘and will not be able to enter’. Jesus is not talking about entering a church, but about entering the eternal kingdom of heaven. Those who are casual about it will be shut out.
He speaks later of ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’. Some will be shut out of heaven, doomed to everlasting destruction. Attending an occasional Christmas service won’t guarantee your place in heaven. Much more is needed than that.
What sort of effort is required?
The simple answer is, every effort – whatever it takes to be converted. I stress again that our efforts will never qualify us for heaven, for we are saved by grace not works (Ephesians 2:8) But if we see the importance of being there, then we will make every effort to achieve our goal.
We will certainly need to use our minds. In any search we need information. If we are looking for buried treasure, we need a map or a metal detector to direct us. God has given us a book that contains all the information we need to find him and enter heaven. Read the Bible – study it, hear it preached, and respond to its directions.
We also need to pray – to ask God to help us understand the Bible. His Holy Spirit delights to give us wisdom and show us the saving glory of Christ.
When we get serious about salvation we will begin to see that what keeps us out of heaven is our sin. We need to confess our sin and to ask the Lord to forgive us. Jesus Christ died on the cross to bring forgiveness and salvation. He took the punishment we deserve, and if we ask God he will forgive us for Jesus’ sake and make us his own children.
May God grant that all who read this will believe in Christ and be assured of heaven!