Shifting Sand

I’m reading about the Southern Baptist Convention and their International Mission Board’s involvement in supporting the construction of a mosque in New Jersey.  Do we, as Christians, allow other people to choose their religious preferences?  Yes, because we are no greater than God, Who allows all men free will to choose their devotions.  Do we, as Christians, encourage or promote other religions that deny that Jesus is the Son of God, Lord of all creation, and the only Name given by which men may be saved?  No, because to do so is to go against the very faith we claim to hold in Christ and His Gospel of Salvation.  To encourage anyone’s denial of Christ is to be complicit in such a denial (Matt 10:32-34; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26).  A saving belief in Christ is faith in Him as Lord, and a genuine faith in Him as Lord compels us to share that truth with anyone who will listen.

Jesus Christ is the Son of YHWH God and He is also YHWH God in the flesh.  Jesus is fully God and fully man, He was crucified as the propitiation for the sins of mankind, He died and rose again, conquering sin and death once and for all, and He is the only way to salvation.  Any religion that denies these eternal facts cannot be supported or encouraged by Christians who are commanded to “Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not, shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15,16) and “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19,20).

I will never forget when, in my mid-twenties, I came face-to-face with the reality of the exclusivity of the path to eternal salvation in Christ.  Although, throughout my college years I would readily acknowledge my Christian faith, I fell into the same seductive humanistic mindset that so many lukewarm Christians fall into during their most formative years.  My relationship with Christ was shaped by the ideas, customs, and social behavior of society, rather than scripture.  My Christian faith was based on humanism and subjective personal experience, rather than Who God has revealed Himself to be in scripture.  Because my faith was based on subjective experience and cultural influence, I had built my house on shifting sand:  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock…But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” (Matt 7:24,26).

The trendy cultural “inclusivity” that was hammered into me during my late teens and early twenties, crashed head-on into the exclusivity of Jesus’ claim that, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).  It was one of the many forks-in-the-road I have encountered in my walk of faith, times when I reached certain milestones in which I could choose my own reasoning, over the truth of God’s word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  At that time, my personal experience and reasoning posited that God transcended all religion, including Christianity, and could not be defined by any one religious structure, but rather, it was our myriad of religious structures and experiences that altogether led to the one, true God.  The humanism and cultural inclusivity that was so seductively appealing to my intellect, dictated that God is all-loving and all-merciful, therefore surely, He will not turn away anyone who seeks Him, no matter what path they’re on. Besides, I reasoned, we have His assurance: “Knock, and the door shall be opened unto you.” (Matt 7:7).  A brilliant intellectualization of my subjective spiritual experience, if I do say so myself.  But it’s total garbage.  It may be a convincing argument for those who know just enough scripture to recognize it as scripture, but not enough to be transformed by it.

Lest we forget, Satan manipulated God’s words to deceive Eve.  A few verses down from “Knock, and the door shall be opened…” at Matthew 7:7, Jesus also says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (v. 13,14).  At John 10:9, Jesus plainly tells us that He is the gate.  And yes, scripture says that if we knock, the door shall be opened, but Jesus plainly tells us that He is the One standing on the other side of it (Rev 3:20).

It grieves me to see so many who are well-intended toward the Christian faith, fall into the trap of vanity by consuming the bait of over-intellectualizing their spirituality, as Paul warns:  “I am afraid, however, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may be led astray from your simple and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it way too easily.” (2 Cor 11:3,4).

Which is not to say that we are to neglect our intellectual reasoning, but rather, we are to have it fully submitted to Christ, “We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5).  We subject our intellect to obedience in Christ because Satan appeals to our intellect and reasoning, and without the authority of Christ over our mind, we do not stand a chance against our eternal enemy.  Satan seeks to entice and deceive us through our intellect and reasoning, while God seeks to set us free through our childlike faith and surrender.  So many have condemned Eve for her disastrous choice in the Garden to pursue her own reasoning, over her faithful trust in God, all the while not realizing that we make the same choice over and over in our own lives.

True brilliance is the humility to admit that we are but dust and true wisdom is the meek surrender to God’s revelation to us through scripture.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt 5:5)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov 9:10)

“And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'” (Job 28:28)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.” (Psalm 111:10)

“But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” (Eccl 12:12-14)

“Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them, I will show you what he is like:  he is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” (Luke 6:47,48)

The Only Way Out

As I was spending time with God in my morning prayers, He began to impress upon my spirit to pray for those who are living in spiritual bondage. As I prayed for these unknown people, He began to speak into my spirit what to pray. One of the things that was impressed in my mind was that “the narrow path is their only way out.” I prayed for God to show them that there is hope by showing them the light at the end of their seemingly dark tunnel. But His reply was that it is only the narrow path that will lead them from their current spiritual state to the light they so desperately desire.

The narrow path means you gotta dust off that Bible and stop sleeping in on Sunday mornings.  Even more than that, I can tell you from personal experience that the narrow path means you will probably have to change your lifestyle.  The narrow path means you will have to allow God to change the way you think. I can also tell you from personal experience, that you don’t realize how infected you are with the way the world thinks until God delivers you from it. And God can and will deliver you from it by leading you down the narrow path, but it requires genuine and perpetual surrender and personal death. That is why Jesus said very few find it: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matt 7:13,14).  Very few find it because our natural tendency is to love ourselves more than we love God.

If you are frustrated in your walk with Christ, if you are crippled by depression, anxiety, fear, doubt or confusion, if you feel like you are a slave to your flesh, whether it be food, drugs, alcohol, sexual impulse, or a spirit of rebellion, stubbornness or pride, then the narrow path is your only way out. When a Christian is living in spiritual bondage, it is usually because they are trying to follow Christ on the broad path. And anytime a Christian tries to follow Christ on the broad path, they soon realize that they are only spinning their wheels and living a life without any spiritual traction. But to walk the narrow path, we must make a conscious and purposeful decision to do so.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Our perception of being victims of circumstance is an illusion, because God always gives us a choice. However, sometimes God will allow us to dig our hole so deep, so He can remind us that He is our only hope of ever getting out. So He can remind us that He doesn’t speak to be heard, He speaks to be obeyed.

“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.” (Isaiah 35:8)

“You adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world renders himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

“‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD..” (Jer 29:13,14)