The Almost Christian Discovered - Book Review Intro
As most of you are familiar with, when trying to keep up with a reading schedule, we often look at a book, consider how much we’ve been reading, and automatically say to ourselves “I will read it in THIS amount of time”. Surely as we read academic books we tend to read at a consistent pace and retain a decent percentage of what we read. I considered this book no different. It had been sitting on my bookshelf for over a year, now before you go on to think that I bought this book and never opened it I would like to give you a little back story as to how I came across this book.
An elderly saint in the Lord had passed away, this woman had a reputation of being the sweetest amongst the congregation. Always encouraging mothers, encouraging fathers, and encouraging young preachers. After her passing my pastor had reached out to two of my closest friends and myself and said that our sister had some books that she wanted to pass along after her death. To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much, maybe a nice bible or an older book that would look nice on my shelf. As we arrived, our sweet sister’s daughter greeted us rather quickly and showed us to the books we had “inherited”. It was about two boxes worth of books! We thought we hit the jackpot, and as we are leaving through the garage I look to my right and these books caught my attention. They were short, bulky, and dark green. Automatically I knew they were Charles Hodge’s systematic theology. Accompanied by multiple boxes full of books, books written by John Murray, and Charles Hodge, John MacArthur, John Owen, Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, B.B. Warfield, Puritan Paperbacks, Systematic Theologies, commentaries, biographies, I think you get the idea, these are to name a few of the authors that we found in the boxes. All in all it must have been close to 200+ books we sorted through. And the majority were read through and through by her, evidenced by all of the underlining she did in her books.
Now we come to the point of what caused me to read this particular book. As of most of us have many books we have yet to read, this book was no different. After having to “drop out” of seminary due to financial reasons, I took it upon myself to continue in the vigorous reading schedule I was accustomed to. I began to read the books on my top shelf, left to right, regardless of the title or topic. So after finishing some books I picked up, “The Almost Christian Discovered” by Matthew Mead (1629-1699). With much eagerness I endeavored to finish this book in two days, but the Lord in His providence caused this to be a very slow read for me. Even as I write this semi-brief blog, I have yet to finish reading the entire book. I thought it would be a great privilege of mine, and Lord willing beneficial for the reader to understand how the Lord has used this book to bless my soul.
I must be honest that this book has challenged me in a real meaningful way. It has caused me to look inwardly and do as the scriptures command us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail the test!” Now this is a real warning that even the most seasoned of men must take to heart. But at the start of his book, in the manner of a true loving shepherd, he takes precaution as to not beat the weakest of sheep under his care. His concern was with those who sat under his preaching and never actually came to faith. Those who like many in our day are able to affirm, and willingly confess the Christian faith. Those who have sat under so many gospel centered, Christ saturated sermons Lord’s day after Lord’s day, and yet never casted themselves upon Christ. Those, who like the many that were invited to the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14, found themselves much busier elsewhere, and therefore considered the feast of little value, scorning the King’s invitation. This is to whom his sermons were addressed. His heart lamented over them, in the same manner our Lord Jesus lamented over Israel. Matthew Mead was truly a puritan through and through. His Calvinism hindered him not from desiring the salvation of the people among him, nor from lamenting over the state of their souls. “Calvinist” would do well to learn from this puritan preacher.
Truly not much has changed since the days of Matthew Mead. Our churches are full of “Christians” who know nothing of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. One might even say that this book is better suited for todays “Christian” community than that of the 17th century. Our goal is that those who do know the Lord even in the “smallest” way would be edified, those of us who preach would be discriminatory in our preaching, and that the almost Christians would become as Matthew Mead describes, an “altogether” Christian.
Soli Deo Gloria