Few There Be…The Narrow Way

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matt. 7:13-15; Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to multitude and disciples)

“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).  Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, not to the world at large, when he said this. Paraphrased, He was saying, “Many of the Pharisees are invited, but few choose to enter in.”

How many compose a few?

Some pacify their concern about the dwindling numbers by viewing it as a sign of the Lord’s return and their own righteousness. The lack of numbers is a badge of honor. Only Noah and his family were saved out of all of the world—so why care about numbers? And Jesus said to remember Noah.

Jesus also said, “When the Son of man comes again, will He find faith on the earth.” This has been spoken about at convention as a warning that those present could be lost until none of the Lord’s people are left on the earth.

Many seem to believe that to qualify as part of the few, it is important to be part of an earthly grouping system. Jesus does not explain what this passage means or what the terms stand for. When He doesn’t explain his parables or examples—you can never be absolutely certain of what they really mean or apply to. You can only THINK you know.  And you could be wrong. You can only draw a conclusion of man and make a man’s interpretation, which is a theory, not proof.  And men are fallible.

The phrase few will be saved is sometimes used to validate the assumption that since the 2x2s have relatively few members in their group, that trait somehow makes them THE FEW.  When and where did this idea originate?  It seems that it started with the very first workers.  They took comfort and reassurance that their small number of followers was proof they were “right.”  They used this verse to encourage themselves. 

Alfred Magowan, one of the workers in the early days, when the sect was first getting started, wrote:  “The Clergy used to say the same to persuade themselves that they were right…But we persuaded ourselves that we were right, BECAUSE we were few.  We got encouragement from the words of Jesus about the Gate being Strait and the Way being Narrow, and few there were that found it.” (Outline of History of Peculiar People 1900-31 by Alfred Magowan, pp 20-21).

Friends and Workers do the same today.  Being few in number lends assurance to them that only those who attend meetings will be saved; thereby making the 2×2 belief system God’s only right way.  They are using the following form of reasoning:

(1)  The Bible says that FEW find the way that leads to eternal life
(2)  The Friends & Workers Fellowship has FEW in number;
Therefore, the 2×2 fellowship is the “narrow way” of the Bible because it is FEW in number. 

This is a fallacy of logic. An example of this type fallacy is:

(1) I live on a narrow street
(2) Italy has narrow streets
(3) Therefore, I must live in Italy

Because two methods or entities have one common characteristic (FEWNESS) doesn’t make them the same entity, nor does the shared characteristic make them God’s only right way. The F&W Fellowship may have many or few similarities to the New Testament church and ministry, but the conclusion that the mere presence of a similarity in quantity does NOT prove that it IS the New Testament church, or that it is God’s only true church. That si an unproven theory of man.

If being few in number is a quality of the “narrow way”, then other groups having few in number are also candidates for being the “narrow way.” The Amish and Mennonites use this passage to support their rightness with God also. Does being few also “prove” that the Amish and Menno­nites are also God’s only right way(s)?  If not—why not? 

John 14:6 says the way that few are willing to trust and traverse is JESUS: “no man cometh unto the Father, but by ME (Jesus).” Jesus became the “narrow way” which few find, since few see that they can’t do it by themselves. Works, self‑denial, performance or by identifying with a certain fellowship or ministry won’t open the door of eternity.  Salvation is a free gift that cannot be earned.  Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  A gift is voluntarily and freely given. If it is worked for, pur­chased or earned, it’s not free nor a gift. Good works and fruit count toward a Christian’s reward—and not toward salvation, Matt. 16:27, 2 Tim. 4:14; Rev. 18:6. 

What is a “few” with God?  What does “few” and “many” symbolize to God in a world of over eight billion people, with the total number of people throughout all history being unknown to us? Jesus also said in Matt. 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for MANY for the remission of sins.”  The total number of the friends who have followed the workers in this church since 1897 wouldn’t come close to “a multitude which no man could number,” nor would there be some friends from every tribe and nation.

Some workers have speculated that as few as 25‑50% of the friends will be saved.  The number of people relying on the church Irvine started is far too small to fit the Biblical description of “many” in Mat. 26:28. The description seems appropriate when applied to the combined total number of collective believers over the centuries who have relied upon the blood of Christ for their salvation.

Some 2x2s think larger crowds might detract from the quiet solemnity of their worship services.  Though there may be value in certain Bible study groups being smaller and more intimate, when it comes to times of worship, the Bible doesn’t teach us that the goal is quietness and solemnity.  Throughout scripture, there were worship celebrations in remembrance of God’s greatness and what He had done for His people in the past and His promises for the future. (i.e., Psalm 145, 149 and 150) 

Imagine how large the celebration of the Passover was when all the Israelites gathered together in Jerusalem once a year! 2 Chron. 30:5 speaks of the “large numbers,” and verse 13 refers to “a very large crowd.”  Many will experience gathering with large numbers in heaven… as John related his revelation in Rev 7:9-10, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count… standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb… And they cried out in a loud voice…” and in Rev 19:6, “Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting…”  Whatever our feeling about large or small groups, the joys of heaven promised to those who go there will be thoroughly enjoyed at that LARGE celebration!!

Jesus often drew his disciples apart in a small group for a time.  However, much of his instruction left on record for us today comes from times when He was teaching to the multitudes. Does the size of the group really have any effect on salvation?  Note Acts 2:41-47, after the disciples had received the Holy Spirit, it says, “about 3,000 were added to their number that day.”  Then, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship… ALL the believers were together… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” This was not just a few people gathering together.

Then, Acts 5:12-13 (after Acts 4:4 tells that the number of men who believed the message grew to about 5,000) tells us, (“and they [believers] were ALL with one accord in Solomon’s porch [part of the temple]. And of the rest [onlookers] durst [dared] no man join himself to them [believers], but the people magnified them [highly regarded them]. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)”  It would seem there were not just a few believers who came together at the temple in this instance.

Let us remember: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).