The Almost Christian 1

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Anyone who even has a moderate respect for Scripture should be chilled by the words of Jesus above. While the modern day does not think deeply on things like this, since we know that if we have prayed a prayer or been born into a Christian home we are a Christian and can remain at ease in Zion. However, in the past when Christianity was taken more seriously, men spent years devoting themselves to writing books and giving sermons on the difference between false conversions and true conversions. While men and women struggle with doubt in their souls, pastors and conference speakers strive to give them assurance of salvation. It may be that in our day a greater number have arrived at the assurance of salvation before they are saved than in other time. This speaks of a terrible situation in the modern professing Church.

For some it is nothing more than a trip down the aisle, saying a prayer, or perhaps making some form of commitment. For others it is simply a matter of being moral and taking the sacraments. Still others think that as long as you believe that there is a God and you are somewhat moral God will take care of the rest. The apostle John spent a long letter in writing to people in order that they could discern whether they had eternal life or not. Jesus, who was quite aware of the false teaching in His day and in ours, said this: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14)

The power of the words of Jesus is nullified by the voices of seemingly the whole world. The various pagans (whether they claim to believe or not) tell us that God loves everybody and all will be saved. Various Arminians (whether they profess to be Arminian or Calvinistic or not) urge people to believe as if they can do so in their own power. Various ministers and theologians among the “Reformed” tell us things that are little different (if at all) than the Arminians. We must go back and back some more to find that the older Reformed writers (Presbyterian, Congregationalists, and Baptists) stressed the fact that proud sinners cannot be saved. While this is a hard way to put it, the point is that God must save sinners and when He does He humbles them from their pride and gives them a humble heart by His grace.

The question that Matthew Mead dealt with, however, is one that should grab the attention of every professing Christian. He wanted to know just how far a person could go in the things of religion and yet be unconverted. In our day they make men elders, ministers, and leaders as long as they are successful in business or have a modicum of religious interest. The ministers of our day preach (so-called) more like energetic car salesmen who are trying to talk a person into buying a car out of nothing but self-interest. In other words, Mead’s question has no place in the world of today. No one thinks you have to go very far at all. In the words of William Williams who wrote a prefatory note to the 1850 edition of this book, “In proportion as the possession of a religious hope becomes common, facile, and lucrative, in that same degree does self-delusion become more easy; and, in that same proportion, should this thorough scrutiny of our own motives and way, this sub-soil ploughing of the heart, be regarded as the more necessary.” (From a Modern Reprint, International Outreach, Inc).

With the words of Jesus, then, it would behoove men and women today to get a reprint of this book and search their own souls. There is but a narrow gate and a narrow path that leads to life, yet there is a wide gate and a broad road that leads to destruction. Not only that, there are false prophets who are everywhere preaching and teaching about how wide the gate is and how broad the road is. Let the words of Jesus (from Matthew 7) ring in our ears and move our hearts. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Note that Jesus said that many would say to Him that they prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His name, and in His name performed many miracles. They were shocked and surprised that they were not going to enter. Despite their preaching and the supernatural power that they thought they had, they were unconverted people. They thought that they were following God and serving God, but they were told to depart from Him. They were also told that they practiced lawlessness. Are we sure (as in really sure) that we are truly following God in love? Are we sure that we have eternal life and that our religious life is not based on pride and self-interest? Maybe, just maybe it might be important to cry out to the Lord to show us who we are. Perhaps we should use this book by Mead to examine our hearts to see if we are under the delusion of false religion (even if orthodox) or under Christ and free-grace.

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