The Almost Christian 3

Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

It is said of the truly righteous, that he shall “scarcely be saved;” and it is said of the seemingly righteous, he shall be almost saved; “Thou are not far from the kingdom of God.” The righteous shall be saved with a scarcely, that is, though much difficulty; he shall go to heaven through many sad fears of hell. The hypocrite shall be saved with an almost, that is, he shall go to hell through many fair hopes of heaven. There are two things which arise from hence of very serious meditation. The one is, how often a believer may miscarry, how low he may fall, and yet have true grace. The other is, how far a hypocrite may go in the way to heaven, how high, he may attain, and yet have no grace. (The Almost Christian Discovered, International Outreach, Inc)

We need to look at the chilling reality that it may be the case that there are very few true Christians (compared to the number of those who profess it) in our nation today. It may be the case that the vast majority are deceived by various things as to whether they are Christians or not. If the Scriptures are true (and they are), then the fact that they teach that the righteous are scarcely saved should cause us to think and to think deeply and then to cry out to the Lord. It may be that “I” am the one deceived and it may be that if I died now I would lift up my eyes in hell. It appears that all think of themselves as rather special and have a hard time thinking that God will send them to hell, but understand and know that all those other people without Christ will perish and that regardless of how special the other people think that they really and truly are.

We must always stand for the glorious doctrine of God’s free-grace in saving sinners, but we must also know that there will always be an inner fight and struggle. There will be striving and afflictions, though none of those contribute to God’s motives in saving sinners and to the work of Christ. However, even when there are those who struggle and seek a little, those struggles and seeking a little can be a deceptive thing. On the one hand we must know that God saves by grace alone, yet we know that His grace shines in saving sinners and part of the narrow way is to struggle.

Those who have Christ must grow in their learning to rest in Christ and His free-grace alone despite many failures, many inward struggles, seeing their many sins, and many doubts brought to them by the fiery darts of the evil one. These things are not inconsistent with free-grace, but instead can be evidences of it. The heart of those with free-grace, though inconsistent, will long to be free of sin and the doubts. The Lord in His sovereignty brings inward and outward trials to those whom He loves and through suffering He causes them to grow. It seems as if they are holding on by the smallest of threads, and at times it may appear to them that they are not holding on, but the reality of the matter is that it is the hand of God and His free-grace holding on to them. God is stripping these people of themselves and of their hope in themselves and the strength that they have in themselves though it is hidden to them before their trial. Yes, it will seem that they are scarcely saved.

The religious person who is an unbeliever is one with a lot more confidence in his faith than the true believer. The true believer will struggle as s/he loses hope in self and looks more and more to grace, yet the religious person will continue confident in his faith because he trusts in himself to trust in Christ. This means that the unbeliever has never really lost his faith in himself and so he has unbounded confidence in his own faith in Christ, which really means that he is trusting in himself and not Christ. This person’s religious life may go quite well and this person may gain a lot of the esteem of others in how far s/he goes in the things of religion. This person does not struggle with the fiery doubts of the evil one as the evil one wants this person to be confident. This person does not struggle with the hand of God bringing hard things to strip him or her of self, and so this person goes on in the confidence that self and pride bring. This person goes far in outward religion and far in the strength of pride and self, so it will certainly appear that this person is a believer or at the very worse ever so close.

What we must see is that a person that pursues salvation in and by the strength of self and pride may appear to be so close to the kingdom (or even high up in the kingdom). It is also clear that some who doubt and cannot believe that someone with so many doubts and sins are true lovers of Christ and are held up by Christ. What is seen is temporal and what is not seen is eternal. Despite the glowing externals of many, they don’t have eternal things in them and upholding them. Despite the struggles of others regarding the externals, they do have eternal things and their inward person is growing. Beware of glowing externals in the things of religion, even when they are seen in the evangelical stars of the day.

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