THE GREATEST DECEPTION
Most religious people have an understanding that if your good outweighs your bad then you will wind up in that catch all term “heaven”. If that turns out to be true then the Bible was the most deceptive and worthless book ever written, and Jesus was a ego-maniac who invented the Messiah complex. But people refuse to investigate the New Testament for themselves and see just what Jesus said and what He taught and who He claimed to be. You see, as it pertains to heaven and eternal life Jesus was the most intolerant man who ever walked the earth.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.”
Here is a monumental statement. Do you see what is missing? There is no mention of good works at all. And in that statement there is an incredibly narrow path to the Father God. Jesus says that all, not some and not most, but all who desire to go to heaven with the Father can only go through faith in Him. In Jn.3:16 we hear “so loved the world” but we seem to downplay the “whosever believeth in me”. And this is where is gets extremely dicey.
We have established that Jesus claimed to be the exclusive path to eternal life. And we also understand that He taught that only by faith in Him, and trusting in what he did and not what you have done, can a sinner be born again and see the kingdom of God. But what does it mean to believe in Jesus? An accomplished tight wire performer attached a wire across deep ravine. He the walked across the chasm and walked back again. The crowd applauded. He then walked across and back pushing a wheelbarrow. The crowd held their breath but he made it back safely. He then placed two hundred pounds of rocks in the wheelbarrow and the crowd gasped. Slowly the man pushed that heavy wheelbarrow across the ravine on that thin wire and back again. The crowd applauded loudly as the finally exhaled.
The man stood before the crowd and asked them if they thought that he could place any one of them in the wheel barrow and push it across and back with them in the wheelbarrow. Everyone nodded and whispered, “Yes, of course”. Then the man asked for a volunteer to climb into the wheelbarrow. No one moved. You see it is one thing to say you believe, it is another to exhibit behavior that authenticates that belief. The Scriptures tell us that demons believe and tremble, but they are not redeemed. It also says that faith without works is dead. And that is an incredible phrase which sheds some light on what is called “saving faith”.
Again, please understand the progression and the redemptive process here. Before good works count for anything you first must be born again through faith alone. The cross paid for all our sins and no amount of good works can forgive one little sin to say nothing of redeeming an entire filthy sinner. So how do we understand faith which results in a life changing experience called salvation? I have known many good people who are a little religious and some who go to church and even some who are more kind and generous than some true believers I know.
But that is a great deception. Again many use works as a path to salvation and that is gross error with eternal complications. And on the other side of the same coin some believe you can mumble a prayer and be saved without a corresponding commitment. That is also a gross error. Saving faith is when you recognize something is going on in your heart. You are sensing an emptiness even though your life seems good. Perhaps you are searching for answers about eternity. Perhaps you are sorely vexed over you sin. There have been people converted as they set out to disprove the claims of Jesus and found them to be true. The Holy Spirit roams this world and knocks of the heart’s door of sinners, and when a sinner acknowledges that beckoning it may come in many forms.
In the natural no one can understand and believe that God was born of a virgin and came as a man. It is foolishness to believe that anyone can be granted eternal life because they believe in a dead Jew on a Roman cross. The human mind automatically rejects such mythology because it can do no other. No one can understand who Jesus was and what He did without the illumination of the Spirit. And when people lightly genuflect to the notion of Jesus it is because they desire heaven but are unwilling to relinquish ownership of their earthly lives. But all that means is that they still do not understand who Jesus really was outside of a lightly salted religious notion. You cannot change in order to believe in Jesus, and you cannot truly believe in Jesus without changing. It seems like an enigma, however once you are born again you begin to understand what you previously could never understand.
So those who do good works in order to receive eternal life are doomed, and those who say they believe but do not follow are likewise in great peril. No amount of manipulation or coercion can push a sinner into Christ. It is exclusively the work of the Spirit. We can be used of the Spirit to speak gospel words that the Spirit can use, but we must be very careful about leading people with the strength of our personality or oratorical prowess. I fear I have done that more than once and I have repented.
If Jesus is the only way to receive eternal life, and if that way is only through faith, then what could be a great deception that alters the faith and leads men astray? As I said it is a two sided coin but both are cousins of deception. One states that good works are necessary to gain an entrance into heaven while the other states that you can believe and go about your business as usual. The Roman Catholic Church teaches a salvation of good works, and much of the evangelical church teaches a shallow self serving believism. They both are wrong. But it is impossible for a lost good person to understand that he is walking in unbelief because many go to church and have a sentimental and religious concept of Jesus.
And here is a deception which strongly reinforces the notions that lost people have about Christianity and Jesus. When those who claim to know Jesus are just as capitalistic as are they, and when they are just as political as are they, and when they are just as economically angry as are they, and when they support war just as they do, and when the mock people as do they, and when they complain as do they, and when they seem very self righteous, then those that are lost feel as though they too are just as good as their evangelical neighbors and they have just as good of a chance to make heaven.
Yes, perhaps there is no greater stumbling block and no greater deception in this world that the church and professing believers. Gandhi once said that he would have become a Christian and not a Hindu if it were not for Christians. Sad…
"You must be born again." - Jesus around A.D. 29