The Narrow Way
As mentioned before on this website, man is totally depraved, meaning that there is nothing he can do to save himself. Even the faith he has to believe in Christ is the gift of God, not of works, let any man should boast. If you think that faith is the product of your own ability or will power, then you have completely misunderstood the biblical doctrine of justification.
The easy-believism so rampant in our churches is the result of a faulty view of justification. John MacArthur once spoke of a large church that reported 28,000 conversions in one year. Of these, only 9,000 had been baptized, and only 123 had joined the church. I often hear reports of dozens or even hundreds of people being converted on mission trips without any mention of how many of them were “added to the church.” This deeply concerns me. Jesus did not command us to lead people in the sinner’s prayer. He said, “Make disciples … by baptizing them and teaching them.” True believers, whether new converts or mature saints, will long for the milk of the Word of God and Christian fellowship (Acts 2:42).
In rural Virginia where I live, there are many people who have called themselves Christians for years but who have never truly understood the Gospel. Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Sadly, far too many of our “converts” are mad-made. They are the trophies of evangelists who present the Gospel in way that will not offend the flesh.
We can now see the folly and danger of those who distort the Gospel in the cause of their own personal agendas. The true way is narrow, and few there be that find it. If we lead a person to the Lord, then it is our responsibility to see that this newborn baby is placed in a healthy incubator where it can grow. The church must welcome any repentant sinner, no matter what sins he has committed before his conversion, but it must not welcome anyone who refuses to repent. Meaningful discipleship involves sanctification as well as justification, and if a “convert” is not making progress in holiness, he is probably not saved to begin with.
The apostle Paul constantly prayed for the spiritual growth of his converts, that they would grow in love and obedience (Phil. 1:9-11). He emphasized sanctification every bit as much as he did justification. We who are messengers of God’s Word bear a serious burden and responsibility to be faithful to this message. The truth of the Savior’s propitiation must be preached, and preached often and with emphasis, but any attempt to preach Christ without His cross is to betray Him with a kiss.
February 18, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.