I am repeating my answer here from one I gave on Quora
The Range of Religious Beliefs:
According to Wikipedia, there are an estimated 4,200 religions currently in existence.
However, within the Abrahamic Tradition there are many branches or sects holding different forms of their belief systems, such as
- Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Secular Jews;
- Sunni, Shia, Kharijite, Ibadi, Kalām, Traditionalist, Fundamentalist, and Secular Muslims;
- and amongst Christian sects, too many to mention, but mainly branches of Oriental and Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Fundamentalism, Protestantism, or Non-Denominational/Secularist
with the majority, except for in the Americas, and some African countries, not really knowing much about their religion, or caring much about it.
Choices and Religious Differences:
Sometimes the differences between branches of a belief system are minor, sometimes major, and they don’t all hold that their chosen version of God chooses to save only a few people.
In some forms of the Abrahamic tradition, such as Protestantism, emphasis is placed on the belief that ‘in God’s house there are many mansions’, meaning that there is a place for people of all cultures.
In Roman Catholicism, there is a prevalent belief that so long as you confess your sins before death, you get to enter Heaven, even if you are a child molester or serial killer.
In Islam, there are different opinions as to whether non-Muslims may enter their version of Heaven — Jannah, although there is a common belief that some animals will be able to enter Jannah, and some will not, whereas throughout Christianity it is generally held that animals have no souls and therefore cannot enter Heaven.
In Judaism, some branches, particularly Orthodox, believe in Heaven, but others are either not so sure, or do not believe in an afterlife of any kind, concentrating, like the secular of other belief systems or of no belief system on good works in this present life. Some Jews, such as the Kabbalists, believe in Reincarnation, similar to some Buddhists and most Hindus.
The Differences in More Recent Religious Sects:
If you do hold the belief that God chooses only a few people to allow into Heaven, you may be a member of one of the minor Christian Sects, such as one of the 8 million or so Jehovah’s Witnesses, who believe, somewhat ironically, that only 144,000 people will be allowed through the holy gates.
But remember that there is a vested interest, particularly in Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and for example, in Roman Catholicism in the poorer countries—where the believers pay one-tenth of their income after taxes—in not only perpetuating that belief system, but also in spreading their beliefs, (for such are the good works that may get them into Heaven), or in the case of Mormonism, raise them to Godhood and provide them with their own planet to rule over.
So to get back to the question, Why does God choose only a few of us to save? The answer will differ according to which branch of which particular religion you hold as your own belief system, and it could also differ according to whether or not you attend a place of worship and follow the beliefs of a particular preacher, (Mullahs, Priests, Ministers, Rabbis, etc.), because they too can have a great influence on the beliefs of their congregations, and each preacher, of each sect, of each religion, is likely to hold his or her own particular set of beliefs, since environment, education and learning greatly influence each of our beliefs, and they will perhaps attempt to instill their own set of beliefs through the texts, prayers, and in Judaism and most branches of Christianity, songs, chosen throughout that preacher’s reign at the Pulpit, Minibar, or on the Bema.
But with all that in mind, in most belief systems, there is a common belief that doing good works during this life may help ensure your passage to ‘Heaven’. And throughout the Monotheistic Tradition, excluding non-Orthodox Jews, in whichever belief system you adhere to, it is commonly held that your personal belief or faith in that system and in particular in certain tenets of that belief system, are important factors on whether or not you will be allowed through the ‘Heavenly Gates’.
Who Wrote your Religious Texts?
At the end of the day, so to speak, someone, somewhere, sometime, (probably in a tent or hut in some oasis in the deserts of the Middle East) wrote something on a scroll or other kind of what we would now call a notebook, or passed it down through oral tradition, and that something has become part of your holy book or associated documents, which may say that the number of people allowed into your version of Heaven is restricted to those who comply with certain rules, or do certain things like pay their monthly 10% tithe, dress in a particular way, have sex only with certain people, usually of the opposite gender, under certain conditions, (although in one case a particular animal is also allowed, but only for men), and otherwise comply with what is required by your church, neighbourhood, branch of religion, or preacher.
The Difference Between Ethical Atheism and Religiosity
The difference between an ethical and good life through indoctrination in an ancient and highly intolerant belief system full of superstition and ignorance, and coming to an ethical and good life through ethical atheism should be clear. Ethical atheism condemns violence, slavery, blind obedience to a book, sex with minors, torture, às well as the common non-ethical forms of behaviour such as theft, blackmail and indoctrination, whereas the Bible condones this behaviour. The God of the Bible allows slavery, including selling your own daughter as a sex slave (Exodus 21:1-11), child abuse (Judges 11:29-40 & Isaiah 13:16), and bashing babies against rocks (Hosea 13:16 & Psalms 137:9). This will shock any moral person, Christian, Jew or Muslim, unless, of course, they take their morality from that same collection of stories. This may be why it is often said that a surefire way to get people to leave their religion behind is to actually read the entire book.