The Almost Christian Discovered P.2
Some time has passed since I wrote my first blog introducing the notion of the almost christian. As I had previously written, I was introduce to this book authored by Matthew Mead earlier this year and was fascinated by the topic. I also have at time struggled with assurance, not because I think of Christ as insufficient, for on the contrary I have found all that I lacked in Him, and have read of Him in scripture as the all sufficient savior or as John says “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”, and also “in Him all the fullness of God dwell” and lastly “none who have trusted in Him, have been put to shame.” My lack of assurance in past times, comes from within myself. For I know that nothing good in me dwells, and the things which I wish to do I do not do. For I have compared myself to Christ and have seen how vile I am.
I’ve considered my life and seen many short-comings, many times I have failed to trust in God, countless times I have sinned when I have set my heart to not do so. My heart is burdened by my sins, my conscience finds no peace in ignoring the reality of my sin, and yet I still must trust and obey Him. If you have been given the slightest amount of grace, if the Lord has worked in your heart, you know exactly what I am speaking of. This is the difference between those who know of true faith and repentance, and those who have only experienced a form of penitent religion.
The matter I will address first, is that of the almost repentant, “ sin may be left and yet be loved” is how the elder of this church, charged the unregenerate. Many of us who have spent a significant amount of time in biblically centered churches know that many of our elders, or preachers, have labored in exposing those who have never been born again. Though they may appear to have turned from sin outwardly, yet their hearts have no true hatred for sin. Their inner man loathes the fact that they must abstain from various forms of sin. Although they may have stopped sitting with the scoffers, their hearts scoff at the very idea that our Lord has commanded man to repent of sin. This is the danger that many who sit in the pews, find themselves in. They have not the slightest motivation to cast off sin, but for the mere fact that they fear the furnace of God’s holy wrath. They have not seen sin, as an offense to a holy God, but rather as a tally mark set against them. While the truly penitent hate the fact that they have sinned against a holy God, the loving Savior, the lover of their souls. In their sin, they are reminded that they are but creatures formed from the dust of the Earth, and that the wrath of God is the only reasonable punishment for them. So unlike the repentant, the almost turned run heart first into a plethora of sin.
Next is that of the almost converted, Mr. Mead puts it this way, “ A man may be a member of the church of Christ, he may join himself to the people of God, partake with them in all ordinances, and share of all church privileges and yet be but almost a christian”. This is the man or woman who almost believed the promises offered us in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though for a great portion of their lives they sat under the preaching of this gospel, and they not believed in the power of it to save sinners, and even saw the conversion of many in their church, yet never took hold of Christ offered unto sinner. Much like the rich young ruler or scribes and pharisees, he or she is able to affirm the theology at the cross, but only in an intellectual level. Never having taken the time to truly considered what was offered to them, they were far more concerned that others believe in the promises of the gospel. They failed to see that it was them, who of all people, was in most need of the gospel. They pity the vilest of sinners and laugh at the fool who says there is no God, while at the same time rejecting Christ invitation. Or maybe they failed to see the great power of God to save sinners. While they whole-heartedly believe in the power of God to save other sinners, they foolishly and most arrogantly think of themselves far to vile to be saved, making little of the shed blood of Christ.
And lastly we shall talk about “counterfeit zeal” as Matthew Mead states “ there are several kinds of zeal, none of which are true and sound but false and counterfeit”. This speaks of the one who has labored much for the kingdom of God, while he himself being an alien to that kingdom. First, we may look upon the manner in which he serves. Perhaps he is busy occupying the office of pastor or preacher, week after week or rotation after rotation he “serves” the church by expounding the scriptures. With much zeal and desire he calls others to faith in Christ, to flee God’s wrath through Christ Jesus, and to take hold of God today. Yet he does so in an unprofitable manner, for he leads others somewhere he has never been. Much like the blind who leads the blind, their end is but a fiery lake. Yet there are also those, who for the sake of appeasing their consciences, are zealous to prove their willingness to sacrifice their daily lives in order to prove to themselves and to others of their regeneracy. I fear that much of the “ministry” ( using the term very loosely) work happening today is led and filled by many who have not yet been born again. Also we must deal with that of unlearned zeal, or better yet zeal with no knowledge. I do not mean zeal with no theological conviction, but rather zeal with no knowledge of God. Much like Papist, the Russelites, the Mormons, and Black Hebrew Israelites. They proclaim of one whom they’ve not and come to love. There is no knowledge of God’s love for sinners in their hearts, no knowledge of His holiness, no fear of his power, no consideration of His awesomeness, no desire for His likeness, no understanding of His holy and infinite attributes. So as they go out to preach “truth”, they do so in a manner that distorts truth. Whether it be in God’s deity, His purposes, His gospel, so they are as Matthew Mead says, “wildfire in the hands of a fool, or like the devil in the man possessed who there him sometimes into the fire, and sometimes into the water”. Dangerous to themselves and to others who listen and follow them, for they are like cancerous cells who only multiply and cause more harm, the longer they live.
Perhaps you worry you might fall into these categories, as said before, it is not whether you fall into one category or not, but whether your life is marked by them. If you find yourself in despair or trembling at the fact that you are living as an almost christian, cry out to the Lord and beg for repentance and true zeal. This is what separates the all together christian and the almost christian. If you see yourself as the almost christian, like the true christian cry out to God for faith and repentance. He is willing to save the most vile and hypocritical “christian” who cried out for deliverance
Soli Deo Gloria