The Almost Christian 5

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

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.

Luke 13:24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Take heed of resting in a form of godliness; as if duties could confer grace. A lifeless formality is advanced to a very high esteem in the world, as a cab of dove’s dung was sold in the famine of Samaria at a very dear rate. Alas! The profession of godliness is but a sandy foundation to build the hope of an immortal soul upon for eternity. Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ called him a foolish builder, “that founded his house upon the sand,” and the sad event proved him so, “for it fell, and great was the fall of it.” O therefore lay thy foundation by faith upon the rock Christ Jesus; look to Christ through all, and rest upon Christ in all. (The Almost Christian Discovered, International Outreach, Inc.)

Matthew Mead wrote his book in the 1600’s, but his words should pierce hearts in all times. The Pharisees, though they had many problems and many false teachings, did indeed rest in a form of godliness. It would appear that this is a great deception in our day as well. What duty can we do that will bring us grace? What duty can we do that will bring God into our debt or bring and obligation upon Him to save us or do what we want? The New Testament looks at the formality of the Pharisees with utter disdain, but it is perhaps even more clear in the Old Testament.

Isaiah 1:10 Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah. 11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. 12 “When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? 13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies– I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. 14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.

Revelation 3:16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

What did God think of the duties that the Israelites performed in the Old Testament? What did Jesus think of the duties the people of the church of Laodicea? Duties, or forms of godliness, are simply reprehensible to God because they have no life in them and no love for Him and His glory. They are actions that men do that are the forms of godly actions but they are worse than nothing in the sight of God.

You can almost hear the shocked voices of the Israelites. “But Lord, these are good cattle and good rams. These are the best I have. You have commanded us to do this and we are doing it, so why are these such an abomination to you? How can you hate our very works that you commanded us to do?” We might also words like those in Matthew 7:”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.’”

How solemn we should be when we read these words and how solemn and reverent we should be as we approach the throne of the living God. Could it be that my heart is not right as I do my duties before the Lord? Could it be that my works are not pleasing to God? Do I think that my works and duties are pleasing to Him just because I do them? Could it be that my prayers are not heard by God and He intentionally does not hear them? Could it be that I am lukewarm, though I may be the warmest person I know in the things of religion, and that Jesus would spew me out of His mouth? Are my sacrifices and deeds nothing more than a trampling upon holy things? Oh how we need to search our hearts and pray that God would open our eyes to what truly pleases Him. We must not merely rest in our duties, but our hearts need grace to open our eye and rest in Christ alone.

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