Many or Few Saved? Thoughts from J.C. Ryle

This next Sunday (June 26, 2022) I will be presenting part one of an extremely important sermon taken from Pastor J.C. Ryle in his book Old Paths. If you don’t have that book, be sure and get it. What do you think? What does the Bible say?  Will there be many people saved, or few? Will most people make it to heaven, or few? Is salvation an easy matter, or a difficult one?  These and more questions will be addressed.

Here are a few paragraphs from that sermon to whet your appetite.  NOTE:  One of the chief reasons victims of evildoers in churches are made to continue to suffer is because they are told that they MUST regard their abuser as a Christian. That a person can walk in sin and still be saved. In his “Few Saved” essay, Ryle debunks that unbiblical nonsense.

(a) What then do people generally think about the spiritual state of others while they are alive? What do they think of the souls of their relatives, and friends, and neighbors, and acquaintances? Let us just see how that question can be answered.

They know that all around them are going to die, and to be judged. They know that they have souls to be lost or saved. And what, to all appearance, do they consider their end is likely to be?

Do they think those around them are in danger of hell? There is nothing whatever to show they think so. They eat and drink together; they laugh, and talk, and walk, and work together. They seldom or never speak to one another of God and eternity—of heaven and of hell. I ask anyone, who knows the world, as in the sight of God, is it not so?

Will they allow that anybody is wicked or ungodly? Never, hardly, whatever may be his way of life. He may be a breaker of the Sabbath; he may be a neglecter of the Bible; he may be utterly without evidence of true religion. His friends will often tell you, “It does not matter! He has a good heart at the bottom, and is not a grossly wicked man.”

I ask anyone, who knows the world, as in God’s sight, is it not so? And what does all this prove? It proves that people flatter themselves there is no great difficulty in getting to heaven. It proves plainly that people are of opinion that most people will be saved.

(b) But what do people generally think about the spiritual state of others after they are dead? Let us just see how this question can be answered.

People allow, if they are not infidels, that all who die have gone to a place of happiness, or of misery. And to which of these two places do they seem to think the greater part of people go, when they leave this world?

I say, without fear of contradiction, that there is an unhappily common fashion of speaking well of the condition of all who have departed this life. It matters little, apparently, how a man has behaved while he lived. He may have given no signs of repentance, or faith in Christ; he may have been ignorant of the plan of salvation set forth in the Gospel; he may have shown no evidence whatever of conversion or sanctification; he may have lived and died like a creature without a soul. And yet, as soon as this man is dead, people will dare to say that he is “probably happier than ever he was in his life.” They will tell you complacently, that “he has gone to a better world.” They will shake their heads gravely, and say they “hope he is in heaven.” They will follow him to the grave without fear and trembling, and speak of his death afterwards as “a blessed change for him.” They may have disliked him, and thought him a bad man while he was alive; but the moment he is dead they turn round in their opinions and say they trust he is gone to heaven! I have no wish to hurt anyone’s feelings. I only ask anyone, who knows the world—Is it not true?

And what does it all prove? It just supplies one more awful proof that people are determined to believe it is an easy business to get to heaven. People will have it that most people are saved.

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