Many years ago an old pastor said to me, "Not many men finish well." Forty years later those words are still ringing in my ears. I made a commitment that day, I said, "Lord, by thy grace, I will finish well." I have not arrived yet, but I am pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
We have seen a multitude of professing believers turn back over the years. Some ran well for awhile and others ran well for a long time, but they went back. Our great burden these days is for professing evangelicals who are not in the kingdom.
Jesus said, "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:14). Will you join us on that narrow road?
Both Matthew and John tell us very clearly that in the last days church there will be multitudes on the broad road who profess salvation but only a very few that are actually saved. John tells us that multitudes of Laodicean/Evangelicals will be spewed out of the mouth of Christ. Matthew tells us that Jesus will say to a multitude of Laodicean/Evangelicals, "Depart from me I never knew you." How tragic to go through life as an evangelical, professing faith in Christ only to discover at the last, that your profession was not genuine.
Jesus laboured much to describe genuine salvation as opposed to pseudo salvation. He summed up His efforts in Luke 14:26-27, "And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Christ must be first in the life of a true believer, this is not an option. A commitment to put Christ first in the life is a mark of genuine saving faith. A failure to put Christ first in the life is evidence of a faith that is not genuine saving faith.
In verse 33 Jesus caps off what it means to be a believer, "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." These are the words of Jesus; we ignore them at our peril.
It says of the disciples in Luke 5:11, "And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him." You can't follow Christ with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom, millions of evangelicals are trying to do just that today. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
The believer is one who is called out of the world, he does not love the world and the world does love him. The truth is that the world hates him and he hates this world system. John 15:19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
I repeat; the true believer is one who is called out of the world, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2Cor. 6:17-18). Separation from the world is a mark of true discipleship, the mark of genuine salvation, it is not an option.
Paul said, "Make your calling and election sure." While the Lord gives us breathe, that will be our cry to evangelicals.
The cross must come first, then the crown, the robe, the harp and the heavenly home.
Paul said, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
I am not talking about sinless perfection. Every believer still has an ever present sin-nature, though provision has been made for us to live in victory over that sin-nature, a believer may and does stumble at times. David said, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24).
John tells us that believers do sin, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). John addresses that word to professing believers. John also tells us that the Lord has made provision for the sin of believers, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The mark of true discipleship is not found in sinless perfection, but it is found in a deep, total commitment to Christ.
I am not setting myself up as a judge of who is saved. It is often self evident as to who is saved and who is not saved, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). However in a wider sense, though we are to discern who is judged fit to be included in the list of members in the local church, yet we are not the final judge of who is saved and who is not saved. Matthew 13:27-30, “So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”
This is such a crucial issue; I exhort you to do what Paul called for:
2 Corinthians 13: 5 - “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (counterfeit)?”