Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Narrow is the Gate and Narrow is the path

I was reminded by a great message by Paul Washer about this sobering truth.

Many who profess to know Jesus are not truly saved. It is a sad fact. Unless they are truly converted, they will hear those horrible words when Christ returns, "Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness, for I never knew you."

We know the statistics show this fact. Forget the statistics for a minute. Statistics have a way of showing us a problem but keeping it just far enough away for us to really get the sense of it. It isn't personal when it is a statistic. So, look around you. Look at those who profess to know God around you. Look at those who name the name of Jesus. Look at your friends, neighbors, fellow church-members, spouses, brothers, sisters, children, even yourself, and consider that some, maybe even many of them are deceived. They will, on that fateful day, cry, "Lord, Lord..." but He will say He does not know them.

It is very sobering to seriously consider this. Sometimes we look at people and start to think that salvation is a bit broader than we imagine. We are blinded by appearances. If the way is narrow to life but broad is the path to destruction, my impression is that we will generally be shocked on that day. People we might have expected or hoped to belong to Jesus will be lost forever.

It is not always easy to recognize it in others, but we can, and should, look at ourselves. If we do not walk the narrow way, if we walk the broad path, then we are deceived. If we do not care deeply for the will of the Father and endeavor for it, but are instead caught up with the loves of the world, then we are either receiving or about to receive the Father's stern correction... or... we just don't know Him.

Self-examination isn't bad. It is necessary. Some might think that the reality of self-deception means we can't know if we are truly saved. That is not true. If we are truly believers, we will see evidence. It may be dim and dull at times. We will stumble. We will sin. We will always see our need for Jesus. We may be crawling, or we may even be stopped, but we will be facing the same direction -along the narrow path. We will be aware that we daily depend on Jesus as our righteousness and pardon and Shepherd, and we will see the fruit of a new heart that God has given us.

Do you know God? Do you know Him to be a holy fire? If you do not desire to follow the will of the Father, then you have great reason to be very afraid. If obeying Him is not a primary aspect or descriptor of your lifestyle, then you should soberly consider the thread you dangle from. It has been God's will, up to now, that you have been spared from meeting Him. If this is you, be warned and repent while there is still time.

Some may ask, "But you are talking about works. Are you a legalist? I thought we weren't saved by works." Not to obtain God's favor, no. As Piper said, we are not saying this is how one becomes justified before God. However, it is how a justified person becomes. Make no mistake about it. If no good fruit, then no good tree, no new heart, no conversion. If we are not being conformed into the image of Jesus, then we aren't His. It really is that simple, and frightening.

See the video by Paul Washer here.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Um, scary post.

SO...is there any way we can we know FOR SURE?

Tim said...

Yeah, it is scary.

Can we know for sure? I think we can have sufficient certainty, yes. I think the Bible talks about that. Paul says he knows Him in whom he has believed, that Jesus loved him and gave Himself for him, etc. Peter talks about making our calling and election sure.

I won't get into full details about assurance, but yes, I think we can have assurance. It doesn't mean it is all introspection (but it doesn't mean that our assurance is completely apart from noticing God working in us). I think a summary, off the top of my head, would be something like this:

1. Is our hope in Jesus alone, and His doings and dying? God's promise assures us. If we are looking for salvation elsewhere, then we shouldn't be assured at all.

2. Do we treasure Jesus? John Piper talks about true faith including a spiritual apprehension of and treasuring of Jesus Christ. I think this is why true faith always produces good works. If you value and gush over Jesus Christ, because you have a new nature, you will desire the things He loves.

The danger is that some will take introspection to the point of works-righteousness (ie. I can't be assured unless I have some arbitrary level of actual righteousness), but I do think the Bible talks about internal evidence on top of the sheer promises of God. I think the point is that a true conversion, in which the person truly embraces Jesus as his salvation, will be evidenced.

We don't find assurance by wondering if we are elect or something. We find our pledge of life through looking in the face of Jesus (can't forget or eclipse this), and we know Him and, through there, we see evidences of His work in us, which confirm that we are not just self-deceived. That is maybe a bad summary, but I think that is how it is.

Check out the video message found in this blog entry. I think this link cuts the video off short. Check sermonaudio.com for the full thing, if you wish. I think Paul Washer at least alludes to true assurance evidences.

I do want to put more time into learning about assurance. I think it would make a good blog article. This might be a little thrown together for a response.

Tim said...

Of course, the opposite danger, on the other extreme, is the "easy believism" stuff. This is why faith including a treasuring of Jesus Christ, I believe, is paramount for a definition of true faith. Why? Because the "easy believism" folks just say "Oh, I got my ticket punched, prayed a prayer, invited Jesus into my heart, and I'm good, now." Then they go and live like demons, without a care. The problem is that they were never converted, obviously. There is no treasuring of Christ as He is revealed to the soul. These is no apprehension and delight in His glory. Check out 2 Cor 4:6-8.

jsbear2008 said...

Thanks for this post. It is honest and real, and a blessing.

I personally struggled with assurance of salvation a while ago (6 weeks maybe). And I set about to make my calling and election sure. I spent a lot more time in hearing and reading His Word. And whilst today I still have doubts at times, there are times in one day or certain days where I have felt unassured, today this is not so. I am assured, but it isn't a feeling. It is knowledge as it was shown to me that I am in Christ, and He in me. And I cling to the Word, Christ, and particularly in my daily relationship with God who loves me and has called me to Him, He reassures me that Christ is with me and will be with me always, and I in Him. But I had to work in His Word and thankfully there is much preaching available on the web that has helped me so much in this struggle. John Piper of desiring God is in His Spirit, Tim Conway is very much in His Spirit, and tells of things that are painful yet necessary on God in order that we grow in Him; and Paul Washer is also a very honest preacher, who brings me to tears - these men, and I know there are many more, can help you to either know you are not saved, or can help you in the assurance of the security you already have.
Justin