Hi @srodgers, that’s a good question!
When Jesus says “the way is straight and narrow that leads to life… those who find it are few”, He means that life only comes through Him: there is no other way to obtain true life in this world and the world to come. (Act 4:12; Jn 14:6). So this already cuts off all other avenues to life. And narrows the path to the extent that all who don’t come to God through Christ will perish for eternity (have no life).(*)
Jesus extends this concept in the following verses:
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
What is the will of the Father?
- To abide in God through faith in Christ. (Joh 15:4-6; Joh 15:14; Heb 2:11).
- And faith brings sanctification. E.G. (Rom 12:2; 1 Thes 4:3).
So in simple terms “those who find it are few” means that only those who have faith in Christ find life. Unbelievers are dead in their sin, but believers are made alive in Christ. (1 Cor 15:22).
And as indicated in John 15, faith is a process of obedience, a pilgrimage if you will.
A believer carries their cross daily, denies their flesh, worldly pleasures, and puts full trust in Christ with obedience. (Mat 10:38; 16:24). On this narrow path to the promised land, believers will eventually be glorified with Christ in heaven, where our bodies become transformed from mortal corruption to immortal life. (1 Thes 5:23)
I think its important to mention, however, that God’s grace is so abundant that even sinners who repent and don’t necessarily have the opportunity to develop a lifelong commitment to Christ can be saved. Look at the thief on the cross for instance. Luk 23:41-43
So a narrow path is ultimately obtained by those who accept Christ. But it especially refers to those who commit their lives to Christ by faith.
And this narrow way of life is totally dependent on the grace of our Lord. (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17; Rom 11:6).
This same principle applies to the few in human history that will be saved. If it is true that salvation is in Jesus alone, then it is obviously true that anyone who hasn’t heard the gospel can’t be saved. God is loving, and wants all people to come to salvation. But repentance it is a free choice and those who don’t come to Christ are not in the narrow way, and thereby can’t enter heaven. (2 Pet 3:9)
It is interesting that Paul mentions that there is no excuse for not believing in Christ. (Rom 1:20). In this context it is clear that people have enough evidence to respond to God’s existence and to subsequently seek out a creator: the natural world provides enough evidence to suggest a Divine creator exists, and thus a person is led to Christ in this way. God preaches to us in creation as well as the gospel, and his love gives assurance that the un-evangelised will receive just treatment.
On another note, one’s moral conscience (natural law) urges questions of, and directs people to a moral law-giver. (Rom 2:15) Just yesterday I heard a testimony of woman being saved while questioning the origin of morality and the existence of (objective) good and evil.
This argument line by William Lane Craig might help:
“…God created a world that has an optimal balance between the saved and lost, and those who never hear the gospel and are lost would have not believed in it even if they had heard it.”
I think the fact that we are a child of the King is enough for us to be extremely thankful!!! The great commission should also urge us to bring as many people as we can to the gospel. And not spreading the good news enough may be a sin that I am and I am sure some other but not all Christians are guilty of.
*There is a possible exception here, because a remnant of Jewish unbelievers may be saved at the second coming of Christ (Zec 12:10).
And I think Paul suggests that the people of Israel in the OT could be saved because they had faith in the promises of a Messiah. Obviously Abraham and Moses are in heaven
I hope this helps