The Almost Christian 8

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, whatever 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.)

It is a very, very important point here by Mead that the grand reason why most men have their affections go after the world is that they don’t see eternal things as the greatest reality. If it is true that our hearts go after the things we think of as the greatest good for us, then it is clear that most people seek worldly things or even religious things that have to do with this world and do not see eternal things as the greatest reality. The world is what takes the hearts of men and the world is what men chase after with the greatest and highest of their affections.

Mead then sets out for us a reality that should be quite striking to us. Most men, which in our day seems to be virtually all men, judge the reality of things by their visibility and proximity to the senses or sense. This is quite a profound and telling position. Men go by what they hear, see, and taste rather than what is best for them. Men want what they want right now rather than seeking God for eternal things. This is a terrible result of the fall. Regardless of how obvious it is that eternal things are best for men, the eyes and hearts of men are on their present pleasures.

The Scriptures are clear that greed and/or covetousness is idolatry, but most likely it is rare for people to think of themselves as idolatrous or as being guilty of coveting. As Mead points out, however, a covetous heart chooses this world as its god. This shows us the terrifying reality of a covetous heart. God beholds a covetous heart as a person that has a god in that heart. This shows us what a person looks like to God that has a pursuit of the world that is greater than eternal things, which is to say greater than God. This is not just some little desire; it is a full-blown wickedness that is having other gods before God.

How can a covetous person strive to enter the kingdom at the narrow gate? How can a covetous person be so deceived as to think that s/he is truly striving to enter? The Scriptures speak of our deceptive hearts and how deceptive riches are. How deceptive the covetous heart must be to be deceived by riches and blinded to eternal things! The mouth of hell gapes open and each person stands upon the precipice of eternity each moment, yet the desire for things of this world blinds people to eternal things. Men and women appear to be so blinded that they pursue the things of this world with great intensity and yet they will say that they are living for the things of eternity. How close these people may appear to be Christians, but how far they are from the reality of it. These people do not have changed hearts, but instead they have hearts trained in greed and trained in deception of themselves and others. It is only the free-grace of God that can open blinded eyes and grant contrition for the wickedness of greed and idolatry.

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