Again, I have been prompted to write by a post on Alan's blog at The Assembling of the Church.
In our desire to see the community of believers grow, we sometimes drop our guard to the fact that all who call themselves "Christian" are not necessarily so. Sometimes we can present a way of salvation which is much broader than the narrow way of Jesus.
I commented on Alan's blog that I have been blessed to be used to bring several, who were members of a church, to know the saving grace to be found in Christ. I will relate the short account of one of these precious ones.
The son of a prominent church member, and deacon, he had now attained his mid-fifties. He had been 26 years a member of the church his father (who had passed away by this time) attended. He became a deacon, then church secretary, and a Sunday School teacher and leader of Boy's Brigade.
During those 26 years he was heavily involved in representing the church at regional meetings, preached regularly, and enjoyed prominence in the local community.
We began to disciple some with the hope that they in turn would disciple others. Learning to share their faith was a part of this.
Quite unexpectedly, I received a phone call from our friend, asking to come and speak to me about something important.
The conversation was also unexpected: "John! I have a confession to make. I have realized that I am not a Christian and have been living a lie for the last 26 years. I was taught the right words to say, the right things to believe, but it was all in my head and not in my heart. I became a Christian because my father expected me to follow in his footsteps, and to not profess to be a Christian would have brought my Father's displeasure upon me. I am still lost in my sin!"
The conversation followed on in this vein for some time, and with deep sobbing and tears of repentance, this tough guy, who worked with men of the world, confessed his sinfulness and deserving of the wrath of God, and his faith in the finished work of Christ, and desire to follow Him faithfully for the rest of his life.
The next Sunday morning, this man, who usually was full of confidence, humbly, and tearfully stood before this church in which he was so well known, and confessed the counterfeit life he had been living.
He resigned his positions in the church. The absolute change in his life was so amazing that all who knew him wondered what had happened, and he told them.
Only the Lord knows how many there are who have been put in this position by parents who take over from the Holy Spirit, because they want their children to be Christians, often for the wrong reason.
How many have been coerced into professing faith in Christ by slick tongued "evangelists" and church leaders who want to add notches to their guns, and build a reputation, without any real thought for the spiritual well-being of the people they persuade by good sales pitches.
Jesus said, “Go in through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is spacious that leads to destruction, and many people are entering by it." (Matt. 7:13 ISV)
I am convicted that the wide gate is the one which is being thrown wide in many communities.
In v.14 Jesus said, "How narrow is the gate and how constricted is the road that leads to life, and few are the people who find it!”
If it was an easy thing to believe and trust in Him, why did Jesus say, in Luke 13:24 (ISV)“Keep on struggling ( agonizomai = labor fervently, strive) to enter through the narrow door. For I tell you that many people will try to enter but won't be able to."
The sad thing is that the pretenders ( hupokrites = actors, hypocrites), like my dear brother above, deceive themselves as well as others.
I thank God that He brought him to Himself, because the last twenty years of his life were a struggle with Parkinson's disease, from which he died.