The Almost Christian 6

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.

Look upon things to come as the greatest realities; for things that are not believed work no more upon the affections than if they had no being; and this is the grand reason why the generality of men suffer their affections to go after the world, setting the creature in the place of God in their hearts. Most men judge of the reality of things by their visibility and proximity to sense; and, therefore, the choice of that wretched cardinal becomes their option, who would not leave his part in Paris for his part in Paradise. Sure, whateve his interest might be in the former, he had little enough in the latter. Well may covetousness be called idolatry, when it thus chooses the world for its god. O! consider—eternity is not dream; hell and the worm that never dies, is no melancholy conceit. Heaven is no reigned Elysium, there is the greatest reality imaginable in these things; though they are spiritual, and out of the ken of sense, yet they are real, and within the view of faith. “Look not therefore at the things which are seen, but look at the things which are not seen; for the things that are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (The Almost Christian Discovered, International Outreach, Inc.)

What will it take to get men to strive to enter through the narrow gate and to follow on the narrow way? Whatever else it will take is that they must look upon eternal things as the greatest realities. Satan brings temptations to men and wants them to focus on how wonderful those things are to the senses and how pleasurable those things will be to the flesh. He also does not want them to think of eternal realities and tries to dull them to anything like that. However, the blindness of fallen hearts and the deceptive work of the devil do not do anything to the reality of eternity, but they do blind us to that reality. In a sense they work to lessen how eternity appears to us.

While men say that they believe in eternity, and in some way they do as God has written these things on their hearts, unless these things become a deeply held belief they have no real effect upon the actions and thinking of men. When men only have a surface belief and not one that has sunk into the depths of the soul, they will have no affections for eternity at all. They will have a surface belief and yet not have one that absorbs their whole being, which is to say that they will be guided and tempted by things that appear more real to them. This must be driven into our hearts. A simple belief or a surface belief is not enough.

Men do not really think that God should have the greatest part of their hearts when in fact the things of the world provide them with security and pleasure much more in line with their sinful hearts. Their superficial beliefs about eternity are passed over quite lightly and they may even give a nod to them as they follow their sinful hearts. It is not only people who are obviously of the world that do this; however, it is also the practice of those who fill the churches. People are religious for the things they can obtain in the world as well. One can obtain much honor from others and glowing statements from other for religious devotion or knowledge of the Bible. However, being religious for the present things of this world is no better and perhaps more deceptive than those who have just a little religion. We must look at our own hearts in this matter.

Have I truly sought for God at the narrow gate? Am I really following hard after Christ on the narrow way? Do I truly know that all my seeking and following hard cannot earn grace for me? Do I truly know that the things of eternity are so pressing on men and that even now that my heart and mind are guided by those things rather than the things of the world? Do I truly look to Christ and hold to Christ alone as opposed to just believing with some relatively superficial belief that Christ alone saves? The free-grace of God in Christ will break a person’s heart and that will lead to a person seeing eternal things as the real reality.

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