Acts 17:11 Archives

The Remnant, the Chosen Few

In response to the questions: "Will many be saved?" and, "What does "remnant" mean?" "If only a few are saved, as Jesus said, then why it is called a 'heavenly host'?" by Dean VanDruff.

It seems like speaking of the "remnant" nowadays seems inherently cult-like, but Scripture speaks of such and so we should not shy away from it. I take it to be a small remnant indeed, a "chosen few".

Jer 3:14 (NIV) "Return, faithless people," declares the Lord, "for I am your husband. I will choose you--one from a town and two from a clan--and bring you to Zion."

Consistent with this, the answer from Jesus is that "few" will find the way even in the New Covenant.

Luke 13:23-24 (NAS) And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able."

Mat 7:13-14 (NKJ) "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 there are few who find it."

This also matches experience. In Dallas some 75% of people claim to be Christians, likely only 1 in ten of these makes any serious effort to be a Christian, and likely only one in ten of these really has been born again into new life. This is less than one percent, if you are counting. The tests of the New Testament are stark and clear, and modern Christianity has tried to skirt or avoid them to broaden the gate. But we have to deal with what Jesus said, as it will judge us in that day. Self-claims of being "saved" do not impress God, those who are truly born of God will obey His commands by grace. In fact, Jesus warned of calling Him "Lord, Lord" and not doing what He said. Paul takes this up as well, telling us to "test ourselves" (in other words, don't assume) to see if we are in the faith. John sums it up well...

1John 3:6,9-10 (NIV) No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.... No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God....

As to the apparently paradox of few / many you cite, I take the "few" of any time period to add up to a great multitude in eternity. For He is the Lord of Hosts... as you note. The chosen few--even if one from a town and two from a clan--add up to a vast crowd over 6000 years.

Anyway, that is my read. Christianity here is a bit of a fad or phase that people go through. People we would have sworn were Christians 10 years ago have no interest at all in the things of God now. They got married, which seemed to be the real motive for play-acting as long as they did: they had to choose between meeting the opposite sex in the night-club scene or church, and picked the less smoky environment and acted accordingly. There are few who openly or zealously practice actual Christian living in this city of insipid faith. Now a lot of people go to church in Dallas, but that is about it. As A.W. Tozer lamented, where are the real Christians? I found them easier to find in San Jose, where only 6% claim to be Christians (this includes Mormons, Unitarians, Catholics, etc.) and perhaps only 10% of this group really is. Likely this is because it is not "cool" or socially useful to claim to be a believer in San Jose as it is in Dallas. Here the odds are that a self-claimed Christian has no idea about the faith, has never substantially changed, has never had any experience of receiving a "new nature", but goes to church 1) for dating purposes, 2) to make friends, 3) for business contacts, or 4) out of social habit, or 5) for the kids.

"Few will find it..."

This is why fear is appropriate. We too have failed. We too find sin in us. We should not be flippant about this or form ear-tickling doctrines, but fear. This is serious business. If my eye causes me to sin, it would be better to poke it out than to end up in hell, no matter what I "claim". God is perfect. If we want to be with Him, we need to be sanctified into His nature in ever increasing measure and glory.

Mat 21:28-31 (NIV) "What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you."

1 Cor 11:31 (KJV) For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

Mat 7:21 (NRS) "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."

Titus 1:16 (NRS) They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

2 Cor 13:5 (NRS) Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!

2 Pet 1:10a (NAS) Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.

For a related Bible Study on "Are You a Christian?".

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