Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reformation or Transformation

The word "transformation" occurs twice in Scripture with reference to Christians (Romans 12:2, and 2 Corinthians 3:18). Every believer tries to be reformed, but very few apprehend the great moral difference between reformation and transformation.

As a rule believers rejoice that they are saved, and aim to be up to the language of Micah 6:8, "to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

There are increasing numbers who have accepted the truth that by the grace of God they have been transferred from Adam to the Messiah, and that they are clear of the old man in God's sight; yet they have no true understanding of what it is to be "transformed."

Reformation is improvement, and refers to what already exists; but transformation means a change of being. This, it is feared, is little known.

In Romans 12:2, we are exhorted not to be "conformed to this world," but to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind." This means a new mind, something altogether new; so that you are not to walk before men according to this world, but according to the mind of the Messiah, your life. Hence, at the end of this exhortation, the Apostle says, "put you on the lord Jesus the Messiah, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Romans 13:14).

It is not a question as to whether the order of this world is good or not, but you are not to be conformed to it any more: you are to be "transformed" according to a new mind, and thus be able to "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."

Everyone who knows anything of his own heart must know that he has tastes and desires connected with this earthly scene, and the more they are gratified the stronger they become. But as he walks in the Spirit he finds that what he likes most in the natural order of things is the very thing he must avoid: "No man . . . having drunk old wine straightway desires new; for he says, The old is better." Very slowly do we learn to be altogether non-conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind.

As to the transforming of 2 Corinthians 3:18, the blessedness of it is that it is by beholding the lord Jesus' glory with unveiled face that we are transformed into the same image; that is, we are brought into moral correspondence with himself.

It is not merely a new course outside and apart from the world as in Romans, but here we are in conscious union with the risen lord Jesus the Messiah in glory.

It is true that every convert does not enjoy the light of his glory, because many are dwelling more upon the work than upon the person who did the work. The fact is, the nearer you are to him in glory the more assured you are of being in the righteousness of God, and that you are there without a cloud; and it is as you behold the lord Jesus there, you are gradually transformed into moral correspondence to himself.

Many have been misled by thinking that by reading the Bible you become like the Messiah; transformed; but you will find diligent students of the Scriptures, who may never say anything incorrect in doctrine, yet who never seem to grow in grace and walk in spiritual reality.

When we learn that we are united to him who is in glory, we can come forth in the new man to manifest his beauty and grace here on earth. This transformation is of the highest order. The lord lead our hearts to apprehend the great contrast between the old man, however reformed by law, and the new man growing by grace into the likeness of the lord Jesus the Messiah.


God's Way and How to Find it

"There is a path which no fowl knows and which the vulture's eye has not seen:  the lion's whelps have not trodden it nor the fierce lion passed by it".  Job 28:7-8.

What an unspeakable mercy for one who really desires to walk with God, to know that there is a way for him to walk in!  God has prepared a pathway for His redeemed in which they may walk with all possible certainty, calmness and firmly attached.  It is the privilege of every child of God, and every servant of the Messiah, to be as sure that he is in God's way as that his soul is saved.  This may seem a strong statement; but the question is, Is it true?  If it be true, it cannot be too strong.  No doubt it may, in the judgment of some, savor a little of self-confidence and dogmatism to assert, in such a day as that in which we live, and in the midst of such a scene as that through which we are passing, that we are sure of being in God's path.

What says the Scripture?  It declares "there is a way", and it also tells us how to find and how to walk in that way.

Yes; the self same voice that tells us of God's salvation for our souls, tells us also of God's pathway for our feet; the very same authority that assures us that  he that believes on the son of God has new age life", assures us also that there is a way so plain that "the wayfaring men though fools shall not err therein".

This, we repeat, is a signal mercy; a mercy at all times, but especially in a day of confusion and perplexity like the present.  It is deeply affecting to notice the state of uncertainty in which many of God's dear people are found at the present moment.  We do not refer now to the question of salvation; but that which we have now before us is the path of the Christian; what he ought to do, where he should be found, how he ought to carry himself in the midst of the professing Church.  Is it not too true that multitudes of the Lord's people are at sea as to these things?  Are there not many who, were they to tell out the real feelings of their hearts, would have to own themselves in a thoroughly unsettled state; to confess that they know not what to do, or where to go, or what to believe?  Now, the question is, would God leave His children, would the Messiah leave his servants, in such darkness and confusion?

No; my dear lord, in following you,
And not in dark uncertainty,
This foot obedient moves.

May not a child know the will of his father?  May not a servant know the will of his master?  And if this be so in our earthly relationships, how much more fully may we count upon it in reference to our Father and master in Heaven.  When Israel of old emerged from the Red Sea, and stood upon the margin of that great and terrible wilderness which lay between them and the land of promise, how were they to know their way?  The trackless sand of the desert lay all around them.  It was vain to look for any footprint there.  It was a dreary waste in which the vulture's eye could not discern a pathway.  Moses felt this when he said to Hobab, "Leave us not, I pray thee; for as much as you know how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and you may be to us instead of eyes" (Numbers 10:31).  

How well our poor unbelieving hearts can understand this touching appeal!  How one craves a human guide in the midst of a scene of perplexity!  How fondly the heart clings to one whom we deem competent to give us guidance in moments of darkness and difficulty!

And yet, we may ask, what did Moses want with Hobab's eyes?  Had not Yahovah graciously undertaken to be their guide?  

Yes, truly; for we are told that "on the day that the tabernacle was reared up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of testimony; and at even, there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.  So it was always:  the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.  And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed; and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.  At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched:  as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle, they rested in their tents.  And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not.  And so it was, when the cloud was a few days on the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed.  And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed; whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.  Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents and journeyed not, but when it was taken up they journeyed.  At the commandment of the Lord they journeyed:  they kept the charge of the Lord at the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses" (Numbers 9:15-23).

Here was divine guidance; a guidance, we may surely say, quite sufficient to render them independent of their own eyes, of Hobab's eyes, and the eyes of any other mortal.  It is interesting to note that in the opening of the book of Numbers, it was arranged that the ark of the covenant was to find its place in the very bosom of the congregation; but in chapter 10 we are told that when "they departed from the mount of the Lord three days' journey, the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them, in the three days' journey, to search out a resting-place for them".  What touching grace is here! and what faithfulness!  If Moses will ask Hobab to be their guide, and that, too, in the very face of God's provision; even the cloud and the silver trumpet, then will Yahovah leave His place in the center of the tribes, and go before them to search them out a resting-place.  And did not He know the wilderness well?  Would not He be better for them than ten thousand Hobabs?  Might they not fully trust Him?  Assuredly.  He would not lead them astray.  If His grace had redeemed them from Egypt's bondage, and conducted them through the Red Sea, surely they might confide in the same grace to guide them across that great and terrible wilderness, and bring them safely into the land flowing with milk and honey.

But it must be borne in mind that, in order to profit by divine guidance, there must be the abandonment of our own will, and of all confidence in our own reasoning, as well as all confidence in the thoughts and reasoning of others.  If I have Yahovah as my Guide, I do not want my own eyes or the eyes of a Hobab either.  God is sufficient:  I can trust Him.  He knows all the way across the desert; and hence, if I keep my eye upon Him, I shall be guided aright.

But this leads us on to the second division of our subject, namely, How am I to find God's way?

An all-important question, surely.  Whither am I to turn to find God's pathway?  If the vulture's eye, so keen, so powerful, so far-seeing, has not seen it; if the young lion, so vigorous in movement, so majestic in mien, hath not trodden it; if man knows not the price of it, and if it is not to be found in the land of the living; if the depth says, It is not in me, and the sea says, It is not with me; if it cannot be gotten for gold or precious stones; if the wealth of the universe cannot equal it, and no wit of man discover it; then whither am I to turn? where shall I find it?

Shall I turn to those great standards of orthodoxy which rule the religious thought and feeling of millions throughout the length and breadth of the professing Church?  Is this wondrous pathway of wisdom to be found with them?  Do they form any exception to the great, broad, sweeping rule of Job 28?  Assuredly not.

What, then, am I to do?

I know there is a way.  God, who cannot lie, declares this, and I believe it; but where am I to find it?  "Whence, then, comes wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.  Destruction and Death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears".  (Job 28:20-22).  Does it not seem like a hopeless case for any poor ignorant mortal to search for this wondrous pathway?  No, blessed be God, it is by no means a hopeless case, for "He understands the way thereof, and He knows the place thereof.  For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and He weighs the waters by measure.  When He made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then did He see it and declare it; He prepared it, yea, and searched it out.

He said to man: 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding'".  (Job 28:23-28).

Here, then, is the divine secret of wisdom:  "The fear of the Lord".  This sets the conscience directly in the presence of God, which is its only true place.

The object of Satan is to keep the conscience out of this place; to bring it under the power and authority of man; to lead it into subjection to the commandments and doctrines of men; to thrust in something between the conscience and the authority of the lord Messiah, it matters not what it is; it may be a creed or a confession containing a quantity of truth; it may be the opinion of a man or a set of men; the judgment of some favorite teacher; anything, in short, to come in and usurp, in the heart, the place which belongs to God's revelation alone.  This is a terrible snare, and a stumbling-block; a most serious hindrance to our progress in the ways of the Lord.  God's revelation must rule me; God's pure and simple word, not man's interpretation thereof.  No doubt, God may use a man to unfold that revelation/word to my soul; but then it is not man's unfolding of God's word that rules me, but God's word by man unfolded.  This is of all importance.

We must be exclusively taught and exclusively governed by the revelation/word of the living God.  Nothing else will keep us straight, or give solidity and consistency to our character and course as Christians.

There is a strong tendency within and around us to be ruled by the thoughts and opinions of men; by those great standards of doctrine which men have set up.

Those standards and opinions may have a large amount of truth in them; they may be all true so far as they go; that is not the point in question now.  What we want to impress upon the Christian reader is, that he is not to be governed by the thoughts of his fellow-man, but simply and solely by the revelation/word of God.  It is of no value to hold a truth from man; I must hold it directly from God Himself.  God may use a man to communicate His truth; but unless I hold it as from God, it has no divine power over my heart and conscience; it does not bring me into living contact with God, but actually hinders that contact by bringing in something between my soul and His holy authority.

We should greatly like to enlarge upon and enforce this great principle; but we must forbear, just now, in order to unfold to the reader one or two solemn and practical points set forth in the eleventh chapter of Luke, points which, if entered into, will enable us to understand a little better how to find God's way.  We shall quote the passage at length.  "The light of the body is the eye:  therefore when your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light; but when your eye is evil, your body also is full of darkness.  Take heed, therefore, that the light which is in you be not darkness.  If your whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle does give you light".  (Luke 11:34-36).

Here, then, we are furnished with the true secret of discerning God's way.  It may seem very difficult, in the midst of the troubled sea of Christendom, to steer one's course aright.  So many conflicting voices fall on the ear.  So many opposing views solicit our attention, "men of God" differ so in judgment, shades of opinion are so multiplied, that it seems impossible to reach a sound conclusion.  We go to one man who, so far as we can judge, seems to have a single eye, and he tells us one thing; we go to another man who also seems to have a single eye, and he tells the very reverse.  What, then, are we to think?

Well, one thing is certain, that our own eye is not single when we are running, in uncertainty and perplexity, from one man to another.  The single eye is fixed on the Messiah alone, and thus the body is filled with light.  The Israelite of old had not to run hither and thither to consult with his fellow as to the right way.  Each had the same divine guide, namely, the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night.  In a word, Yahovah Himself was the infallible Guide of each member of the congregation.  They were not left to the guidance of the most intelligent, sagacious, or experienced man in the assembly; neither were they left to follow their own way; each was to follow the Lord.  The silver trumpet announced to all alike the mind of God; and no one whose ear was open and attentive was left at any loss.  The eye and the ear of each were to be directed to God alone, and not to a fellow-mortal.  This was the secret of guidance in the trackless desert of old, and this is the secret of guidance in the vast moral wilderness through which God's redeemed are passing now.  One man may say, Listen to me; and another may say, Listen to me; and a third may say, Let each one take his own way.

The obedient heart says, in opposition to all, I must follow my Lord. This makes all so simple.  It will not, by any means, tender to foster a spirit of haughty independence; quite the reverse.  The more I am taught to lean on God alone for guidance, the more I shall distrust and look off from myself; and this, assuredly, is not independence.  True, it will deliver me from servile following of any man, but giving me to feel my responsibility to the Messiah alone; but this is precisely what is so much needed at the present moment.

The more closely we examine the elements that are abroad in the professing Church, the more we shall be convinced of our personal need of this entire subjection to divine authority, which is only another name for "the fear of the Lord", or, "a single eye".

There is one brief sentence, in the opening of the Acts of the Apostles, which furnishes a perfect antidote to the self-will and the servile fear of man so rife around us, and that is, "We must obey God".  What an utterance!  "We must obey".  This is the cure for self-will.  "We must obey God".  This the cure for servile subjection to the commandments and doctrines of men.

There must be obedience; but obedience to what?  To God's authority, and to that alone.  Thus the soul is preserved from the influence of infidelity on the one hand, and superstition on the other.

Infidelity says, Do as you like.  Superstition says, Do as man tells you.  Faith says, "We must obey God".

Here is the holy balance of the soul in the midst of the conflicting and confounding influences around us in this our day.  As a servant, I am to obey my Lord; as a child, I am to hearken to my Father's commandments.  Nor am I the less to do this although my fellow-servants and my brethren may not understand me.  I must remember that the immediate business of my soul is with God Himself.

He before whom the elders bow,
With Him is all my business now.

It is my privilege to be as sure that I have my Master's mind as to my path as that I have His Word for the security of my soul.

If not, where am I?  Is it not my privilege to have a single eye?  Yes, surely.  And what then?  "A body full of light".  Now, if my body is full of light, can my mind be full of perplexity?  Impossible.  The two things are wholly incompatible; and hence, when one is plunged "in dark uncertainty", it is very plain his eye is not single.  He may seem very sincere, he may be very anxious to be guided aright; but he may rest assured there is the lack of a single eye; that indispensable prerequisite to divine guidance.

The Word is plain: "If your eye is single, your whole body also is full of light".
God will ever guide the humble, obedient soul; but on the other hand, if we do not walk according to the light communicated, we shall get into darkness.  Light not acted upon becomes darkness, and oh, "how great the darkness"!

Nothing is more dangerous than tampering with the light which God gives.  It must, sooner or later, lead to the most disastrous consequences.  "Take heed, therefore, that the light which is in thee be not darkness".  "Hear you, and give ear:  be not proud; for the Lord has spoken.  Give glory to the Lord your God, before He cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, He turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness".  (Jeremiah 13:15-16).

This is deeply solemn.  What a contrast between a man having a single eye, and a man not acting on the light which God has given him!  The one has his body full of light; the other has his body full of darkness.  The one has no part dark; the other is plunged in gross darkness.  The one is a light-bearer for others; the other is a stumbling block in the way.  We know nothing more solemn than the judicial acting of God, in actually turning our light into darkness, because we have refused to act on the light which He has been pleased to impart.

Christian reader, are you acting up to your light?  Has God sent a ray of light into thy soul?  Has He shown you something wrong in your ways or associations?  Are you persisting in any line of action which conscience tells thee is not in accord with your Master's will?  Search and see.  "Give glory to the Lord your God".  Act on the light.  Do not hesitate.  Think not of consequences.  Obey, we beseech you, the word of your Lord.  This very moment, as your eye scans these lines, let the purpose of your soul be to depart from iniquity wherever you find it.  Say not, Whither shall I go?  What shall I do next?  There is evil everywhere.  It is only escaping from one evil to plunge into another.  Say not these things; do not argue or reason; do not look at results; think not of what the world or the world-church will say of you; rise above all these things, and tread the path of light; that path which shines more and more unto the perfect day of glory.

Remember, God never gives light for two steps at a time.  If He has given you light for one step, then, in the fear and love of His Name, take that one step, and you will assuredly get more light; yes, "more and more".  But if there be the refusal to act, the light which is in you will become gross darkness, your feet will stumble on the dark mountains of error which lie on either side of the straight and narrow path of obedience; and you will become a stumbling-block in the path of others.

Some of the most grievous stumbling-blocks that lie, at this moment, in the pathway of anxious inquirers are found in the persons of those who once seemed to possess the truth, but have turned from it.  The light which was in them has become darkness, and oh, how great and how appalling is that darkness!  How sad it is to see those who ought to be light-bearers, acting as a positive hindrance to young and earnest Christians!  But let not young Christians be hindered by them.

The way is plain.  "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding".  Let each one hear and obey for himself the voice of the Lord.  "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me".  The Lord be praised for this precious Word!  It puts each one in the place of direct responsibility to the Messiah himself; it tells us plainly what is God's way, and, just as plainly, how to find it.

C. H. Mackintosh [edited by Bruce Lyon]

The "Gospel of Success" - Is it the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Many years ago, Paul wrote to the saints at Colosse:  "See that there be no one who shall lead you away as a prey through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the teaching of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8).  Christians have always had to be careful about deceptive teaching, and today the "gospel of success", by way of motivational authors and speakers such as Zig Ziglar, has spread into business settings where we might not expect it.  Proponents of this "different gospel" (Galatians 1:6) often quote scripture passages, whose interpretation is subtly altered to suit their hidden agendas.  And during the last few years especially, these teachings have infiltrated various marketing seminars.

So let's look briefly at the origins and goals of Zig Ziglar's philosophies:

In Ziglar's recent book, Over the Top, he states (p. 273), "Many men qualify under one word or the other, but 'world renowned' and 'humble' are seldom used to describe one man.  Godly, gentle, modest, generous, compassionate, dignified, and respectable all describe the character of the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.  I know this to be true, first, because as I mentioned earlier, I studied and applied his philosophies to my life with great success, and second, because I had the privilege of knowing him personally.  Many times Dr. Peale and I shared the platform.  I knew the public and the private man.  He truly was what he appeared to be; and then some.  His enormous success and popularity never turned his head or caused him to lose his sense of awe and gratitude.  The people he inspired and took over the top by way of his books, cassette recordings, and publications such as 'Guideposts' number in the millions.  It is safe to say that Dr. Peale finished well."

The editor of Freemasonry, A Celebration of the Craft states that Norman Vincent Peale "is the best known champion of Freemasonry in America today".  Peale wrote, in the Introduction, "There is, as I see it, nothing like Masonry.  It is unique in its fellowship which spreads over much of the earth, in addition to our own country.  Moreover, this in-depth fellowship spans the years, even the centuries, running back into antiquity.  To me it means a personal relationship with great historical personalities and, taken by and large, also with about the finest body of men whom it is possible to assemble anywhere".

So Ziglar is clearly a disciple of the late Norman Vincent Peale, the "best known champion of Freemasonry in America".  Now let's briefly see what Freemason authors write about their beliefs:

Manly Hall, 33rd degree Mason, in Lost Keys of Freemasonry, wrote, "When the Mason learns that the key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of living power, he has learned the Mystery of his Craft.  The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands" (page 48).

Albert Pike, 33rd degree Mason, Grand Commander, and author of Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, in his Instructions to the 23 Supreme Councils of the World on July 14, 1889, reportedly stated that "Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay is also God.  ... Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil". *

These statements clearly show the evil nature of Masonry.  God says that Lucifer is "fallen from heaven" and assigns him "to the recesses of the pit" (Isaiah 14:12-15).  But Adonai is our Lord:  "The Lord Jehovah" in Ezekiel 2:4 is "Adonai Jehovah" (see Darby translation footnote), and we read of "the ark of Adonai Jehovah" in 1 Kings 2:26.  He is the One of whom we read:  "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5).

Masonic teaching really calls evil good, and good evil; and puts darkness for light, and light for darkness.  In Isaiah 5:20, God pronounces "Woe" on those who do this.  I would add that James Taylor, in Ministry by J. Taylor, New Series, volume 45, page 176, perceptively links Masonry with Shinar (see Genesis 11:1-9) and notes that secret organizations including Masons "are inimical to the truth".  (The word inimical means hostile.)

Let us now consider some of the authors whom Ziglar espouses:

In See you at the Top, he recommends books by Norman Vincent Peale, Robert Schuller, and Napoleon Hill in the "Further Reading" section.  In Secrets of Closing the Sale, he states, "The following books have been very meaningful to me and I believe you will glean some useful ideas and inspiration from them".  The book list includes The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do by Robert Schuller, and Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone.

In their well-researched book The Seduction of Christianity, Dave Hunt and T. McMahon write:  "Ernest Holmes founded the Church of Religious Science, also known as Science of the Mind, upon the 'Supreme Secret' that the 'Masters of Wisdom' revealed to Napoleon Hill.  It is closely related to the Positive Thinking of Norman Vincent Peale and the Possibility Thinking of Robert Schuller.  ... In 1958 Holmes prophesied, 'We have launched a Movement which, in the next 100 years, will be the great new religious impulsion of modern times ... [destined] to envelop the world ... .'" (page 23).  Let's briefly see what these men teach:

Napoleon Hill states, in Grow Rich with Peace of Mind (pp. 158-160), "Now and again I have had evidence that unseen friends hover about me, unknowable to the ordinary senses.  In my studies I discovered there is a group of strange beings who maintain a school of wisdom.  ... The School of Masters who can disembody themselves and travel instantly to any place they choose ... to give knowledge directly, by voice ... Now I knew that one of these Masters had come across thousands of miles, through the night, into my study ... much of what he said already has been presented to you in the chapters of this book and will follow in other chapters. 'You have earned the right to reveal a Supreme Secret to others', said the vibrant voice.  'You have been under the guidance of the Great School.  ... Now you must give the world a blueprint'."

In Think and Grow Rich (pp. 215-219), Hill writes of his "meetings" with nine men from the past:  Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon,Ford, and Carnegie, stating, "I now go to my imaginary counselors with every difficult problem which confronts me and my clients.  The results are often astonishing."

But God forbids such practices.  In Leviticus 20:26-27, we read:  "And you shall be holy unto me; for I Jehovah am holy, and have separated you from the peoples to be mine.  And if there be a man or a woman in whom is a spirit of Python or of divination, they shall certainly be put to death:  they shall stone them with stones; their blood is upon them."  And in Deuteronomy 18:10, we read:  "There shall not be found among you he that ... uses divination, ... or a sorcerer, ... or one that consultes the dead."  (Divination is the art or practice that seeks to discover hidden knowledge usually by means of augury or by the aid of supernatural powers.  Sorcery is the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits especially for divining.)

The late Norman Vincent Peale, a 33rd degree Mason, confessed his indebtedness to Science of Mind founder Ernest Holmes, writing on the back cover of Ernest Holmes:  His Life and Times:  "Only those who knew me as a boy can fully appreciate what Ernest Holmes did for me.  Why, he made me a positive thinker."  In 1980, during his keynote address at Mormon president Spencer Kimball's 85th birthday party, Peale called Mormon leaders men of God who are doing God's work and praised Kimball as a true prophet of Jesus Christ.

To which god was Peale alluding?  Well, Peale was a Mason, Mormon church founder Joseph Smith was a Mason, Mormon leader Brigham Young plainly declared in Journal of Discourses (v. 5, p. 331) that the Christian God is "the Mormon's Devil", and the third Mormon president John Taylor stated in Journal of Discourses (v. 6, p. 167) that Christianity was "hatched in hell".  We have already noted that Lucifer is the god of the Masons.  These things are very sobering to consider, especially for those who espouse the writings of Peale or his disciple, Zig Ziglar.
Robert Schuller, in Time magazine, March 18, 1985, stated, "I don't think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition".

Yet Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:2, "proclaim the word; be urgent in season and out of season, convict, rebuke, encourage, ...".  To convict a person is to find or prove him guilty, to convince him of error or sinfulness.  Jesus told the Pharisees in John 9:41, "If you were blind you would not have sin; but now you say, We see, your sin remains".  Was Jesus being "crude, uncouth, and unchristian" when he made them "aware of their lost and sinful condition"?  Far be the thought!  And Stephen said in Acts 7:51-52, "O stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers, you also.  Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain those who announced beforehand concerning the coming of the Just One, of whom you have now become deliverers up and murders!"  Were his Holy Spirit-inspired words "crude, uncouth, and unchristian"?  Surely not.

These are just a few examples of the strange and unscriptural New Age practices and teachings of Hill, Peale, and Schuller.  And over the years, we have known the heartbreak of persons whom we love coming under these deceptive influences.

Well, Paul wrote these sobering words to the saints at Corinth:  "But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craft, so your thoughts should be corrupted from simplicity as to the Christ.  For if indeed he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or ye get a different spirit, which ye have not got, or a different glad tidings, which ye have not received, ye might well bear with it"
(2 Corinthians 11:3-4).

And John wrote:  "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, if they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world".  Then he added this encouraging word:  "Ye are of God, children, and have overcome them, because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:1).  Thank God for the blessed Holy Spirit who indwells us!

I note, in closing, that John Darby wrote as to wrong teaching in his day:  "I send you a few remarks on modern rationalist views and their bearing on Christianity (just as I penned them down for myself), that Christians may not lightly suffer the taint of such views to approach them; whatever may be their patience with those who may be deceived".  (Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, volume 9, page 360).

* Recorded by A. C. De La Rive and reported in La Femme et l'Enfant dans la Franc-Maconnerie Universelle, page 588, as found in Edith S. Miller, Occult Theocracy, volume 1, pages 220-221 and in Ed Decker & Dave Hunt, The God Makers, page 130.

"For the rest, brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the might of his strength.  Put on the panoply of God, that you may be able to stand against the artifices of the devil:  because our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against principalities, against authorities, against the universal lords of this darkness, against spiritual power of wickedness in the heavenly places.  For this reason take to you the panoply of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having accomplished all things, to stand."  Ephesians 6:10-13.

Stephen Hesterman

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Few Saved!

      "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won't be able." Luke 13:23-24

      "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it." Matthew 7:13-14

      I take it for granted that every reader of this paper calls himself a Christian. You would not like to be reckoned a deist, or an infidel. You profess to believe the Bible to be true. The birth of the Messiah the Savior; the death of the Messiah the Savior; the salvation provided by the Messiah the Savior, all these are facts which you have probably never doubted. But, after all, will Christianity like this profit you anything at last? Will it do your soul any good when you die? In one word; Shall you be saved?

      It may be you are now young, healthy and strong. Perhaps you never had a day's illness in your life, and scarcely know what it is to feel weakness and pain. You scheme and plan for future years, and feel as if death was far away, and out of sight. Yet, remember, death sometimes cuts off young people in the flower of their days. The strong and healthy of the family do not always live the Longest. Your sun may go down before your life has reached its mid-day. Yet a little while, and you may be lying in a narrow, silent home, and the daisies may be growing over your grave! And then, consider; Shall you be saved?

      It may be you are rich and prosperous in this world. You have money, and all that money can command. You have "honor, love, obedience, troops of friends." But, remember, "riches are not forever." You cannot keep them longer than a few years. "It is appointed unto people once to die, and after this the judgment." (Prov. 27:24; Heb. 9:27.) And then, consider; Shall you be saved?

      It may be you are poor and needy. You have scarcely enough to provide food and raiment for yourself and family. You are often distressed for lack of comforts, which you have no power to get. Like Lazarus, you seem to have "bad things" only, and not good. But, nevertheless, you take comfort in the thought that there will be an end of all this. There is a world to come, where poverty and need shall be unknown. Yet, consider a moment; Shall you be saved?

      It may be you have a weak and sickly body. You hardly know what it is to be free from pain. You have so long parted company with health, that you have almost forgotten what it is like. You have often said in the morning, "Would God it were evening,"; and in the evening, "Would God it were morning." There are days when you are tempted by very weariness to cry out with Jonah, "It is better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:3.) But, remember, death is not all. There is something else beyond the grave! And then, consider; Shall you be saved?

      If it was an easy thing to be saved, I would not write as I do in this volume. But is it so? Let us see.

      If the common opinion of people of the world as to the number of the saved was correct, I would not trouble people with searching and hard questions. But is it so? Let us see.

      If God had never spoken plainly in the Bible about the number of the saved, I might well be silent. But is it so? Let us see.

      If experience and facts left it doubtful whether many or few would be saved, I might hold my peace. But is it so? Let us see.

      There are four points which I propose to examine in considering the subject before us.

      I.   Let me explain what it is to be saved.
      II.  Let me point out the mistakes which are common in the world
           about the number of the saved.
      III. Let me show what the Bible says about the number of the saved.
      IV. Let me bring forward some plain facts as to the number of the 

      A calm examination of these four points, in a day of wide-spread carelessness about vital religion, will be found of vast importance to our souls.

      I. First of all let me explain what it is to be saved. This is a matter that must be cleared up. Until we know this, we shall make no progress. By being "saved" I may mean one thing, and you may mean another. Let me show you what the Bible says it is to be "saved," and then there will be no misunderstanding. To be saved, is not merely to profess and call ourselves Christians. We may have all the outward parts of Christianity, and yet be lost after all. We may be baptized into the Messiah's Assembly; go to the Messiah's table; have Christian knowledge; be reckoned Christian men and women; and yet be dead souls all our lives, and at last, in the judgment day, be found on the Messiah's left hand, among the goats! No; this is not salvation! Salvation is something far higher and deeper than this. Now what is it?

      (a) To be saved, is to be delivered in this present life from the guilt of sin, by the faith in Jesus the Messiah, the Savior. It is to be pardoned, justified, and freed from every charge of sin, by faith in the Messiah's shed  blood and mediation. Whoever with his heart believes on the Lord Jesus the Messiah, is a saved soul. He shall not perish. He shall have eternal life. This is the first part of salvation, and the root of all the rest. But this is not all.

      (b) To be saved, is to be delivered in this present life from the power of sin, by being born from above, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. It is to be freed from the hateful dominion of sin, the world, and the devil, by having a new nature put in us by the Holy Spirit. Whoever is thus renewed in the spirit of his mind, and converted, is a saved soul. He shall not perish. He shall enter into the glorious kingdom of God. This is the second part of salvation. But this is not all.

      (c) To be saved, is to be delivered in the day of judgment, from all the awful consequences of sin. It is to be declared blameless, spotless, faultless, and complete in the Messiah, while others are found guilty, and condemned forever. It is to hear those comfortable words, "Come, you who are blessed!" While others are hearing those fearful words, "Depart, you who are cursed!" (Matthew 25:34, 41.) It is to be owned and confessed by the Messiah, as one of his dear children and servants, while others are disowned and cast off forever. It is to be pronounced free from the portion of the wicked; which ultimately is destruction in the lake of fire which is the second death. It is to receive the reward prepared for the righteous, in the day of the Messiah's second coming; to have a place in the coming Kingdom of God as glorified men and women co-inheriting and co-ruling with the lord Jesus the Messiah on this earth. This is complete salvation. This is the "redemption" for which true Christians are bid to look and long. (Luke 21:28.) This is the heritage of all men and women who believe and are born from above by the spirit of the living God. By faith they are being saved. In the eye of God their final salvation is an absolutely certain thing, if they hold fast their profession. Their names are written into the book of life. Their mansions are even now being prepared in heaven. But still there is a fullness of redemption and salvation which they do not attain to while they are in the body. They are saved from the guilt and power of sin; but not from the necessity of watching and praying against it. They are saved from the fear and love of the world; but not from the necessity of daily fighting with it. They are saved from the service of the devil; but they are not saved from being vexed by his temptations. But when the Messiah comes the salvation of believers shall be complete. They possess it already in the bud. They shall see it then in the flower.

      Such is salvation. It is to be saved from the guilt, power, and consequences of sin. It is to believe and be sanctified now, and to be delivered from the wrath of God in the last day. He who has the first part in the life that now is, shall undoubtedly have the second part in the life to come. Both parts of it hang together. What God has joined together, let no man dare to put asunder. Let none dream he shall ever be saved at last, if he is not born from above first. Let none doubt, if he is born from above here, that he shall assuredly be saved hereafter, if he remain true to his calling and election.

      Let it never be forgotten that the chief object of a minister of the Gospel is to preach the coming Kingdom of God and set forward the salvation of souls, to prepare a people for positions of responsibility in the coming Kingdom of God, in the Theocratic Government. 

      For what purpose do people suppose that ministers are sent forth? Is it merely to get a comfortable living, and be in a respectable profession? No, indeed! we are sent forth for other ends than these. We are sent to turn people from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. We are sent to persuade people to flee from the wrath to come. We are sent to draw people from the service of the world to the service of God; to awaken the sleeping, to arouse the careless; and "by all means to save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22.)

      Think not that all is done when we have set up regular services, and persuaded people to attend them. Think not that all is done, when full congregations are gathered, and the Lord's table is crowded. We want to see manifest work of the Spirit among people; an evident sense of sin; a lively faith in the Messiah; a decided change of heart; a distinct separation from the world; a holy walk with God. In one word, we want to see souls saved! And we are fools and impostors; blind leaders of the blind, if we rest satisfied with anything less.

      After all the grand object of having a religion is to be saved. This is the great question that we have to settle with our consciences. The matter for our consideration is not whether we go to church or chapel; whether we go through certain forms and ceremonies; whether we observe certain days, and perform a certain number of religious duties. The matter is whether, after all, we shall be "saved." Without this all our religious doings are weariness and labor in vain.

      Never, never let us be content with anything short of a saving religion. Surely to be satisfied with a religion which neither gives peace in life, nor hope in death, nor glory in the world to come; is childish folly.

      II. Let me, in the second place, point out the MISTAKES which are
          common in the world about the number of the saved.

      I need not go far for evidence on this subject. I will speak of things which every man may see with his own eyes, and hear with his own ears.

      I will try to show that there is a wide-spread delusion abroad about this matter, and that this very delusion is one of the greatest dangers to which our souls are exposed.

      (a) What then do people generally think about the spiritual state of others while they are alive? What do they think of the souls of their relatives, and friends, and neighbors, and acquaintances? Let us just see how that question can be answered.

      They know that all around them are going to die, and to be judged. They know that they have souls to be lost or saved. And what, to all appearance, do they consider their end is likely to be?

      Do they think those around them are in danger of destruction? There is nothing whatever to show they think so. They eat and drink together; they laugh, and talk, and walk, and work together. They seldom or never speak to one another of God and eternity. I ask anyone, who knows the world, as in the sight of God, is it not so?

      Will they allow that anybody is wicked or ungodly? Never, hardly, whatever may be his way of life. He may be neglect the Bible; he may be utterly without evidence of true religion. His friends will often tell you, "It does not matter! He has a good heart at the bottom, and is not a grossly wicked man."

      I ask anyone, who knows the world, as in God's sight, is it not so? And what does all this prove? It proves that people flatter themselves there is no great difficulty in getting to heaven. It proves plainly that people are of opinion that most people will be saved.

      (b) But what do people generally think about the spiritual state of others after they are dead? Let us just see how this question can be answered.

      People allow, if they are not infidels, that all who die have gone to a place of happiness, or of misery. And to which of these two places do they seem to think the greater part of people go, when they leave this world?

      I say, without fear of contradiction, that there is an unhappily common fashion of speaking well of the condition of all who have departed this life. It matters little, apparently, how a man has behaved while he lived. He may have given no signs of repentance, or faith in the Messiah; he may have been ignorant of the plan of salvation set forth in the Gospel; he may have shown no evidence whatever of conversion or sanctification; he may have lived and died like a creature without a soul. And yet, as soon as this man is dead, people will dare to say that he is "probably happier than ever he was in his life." They will tell you complacently, that "he has gone to a better world." They will shake their heads gravely, and say they "hope he is in heaven." They will follow him to the grave without fear and trembling, and speak of his death afterwards as "a blessed change for him." They may have disliked him, and thought him a bad man while he was alive; but the moment he is dead they turn round in their opinions and say they trust he is gone to heaven! I have no wish to hurt anyone's feelings. I only ask anyone, who knows the world; Is it not true?

      And what does it all prove? It just supplies one more awful proof that people are determined to believe it is an easy business to get to heaven. People will have it that most people are saved.

      (c) But again, what do people generally think of ministers who preach
           fully the doctrines of the New Testament? Let us see how this
           question can be answered.

      Send a preacher into an assembly who shall "declare all the counsel of God," and "keep back nothing that is profitable." Let him be one who shall clearly proclaim justification by faith; regeneration by the Spirit; and holiness of life. Let him be one who shall draw the line distinctly between the converted and the unconverted, and give both to sinners and to saints their portion. Let him frequently produce out of the New Testament a plain, unanswerable description of the true Christian's character. Let him show that no man who does not possess that character can have any reasonable hope of being saved. Let him constantly press that description on the consciences of his hearers, and urge upon them repeatedly that every soul who dies without that character will be lost. Let him do this, ably and affectionately, and after all, what will the result be?

      The result will be, that while some few repent and are saved, the great majority of his hearers will not receive and believe his doctrine. They may not oppose him publicly. They may even esteem him, and respect him as an earnest, sincere, kindhearted man, who means well. But they will go no further. He may show them the express words of the Messiah and his apostles; he may quote text upon text, and passage upon passage; it will be to no purpose. The great majority of his hearers will think him "too strict," and "too close," and "too particular." They will say among themselves, that the world is not so bad as the minister seems to think; and that people cannot be so good as the minister wants them to be; and that after all, they hope they shall be all right at the last! I appeal to any minister of the Gospel, who has been any length of time in the ministry, whether I am not stating the truth. Are not these things so?

      And what does it prove? It just makes one more proof that people generally are resolved to think that salvation is not a very hard business, and that after all most people will be saved.

      Now what solid reason can people show us for these common opinions? Upon what Scripture do they build this notion, that salvation is an easy business, and that most people will be saved? What revelation of God can they show us, to satisfy us that these opinions are sound and true?

      They have none; literally none at all. They have not a text of Scripture which, fairly interpreted, supports their views. They have not a reason which will bear examination. They speak smooth things about one another's spiritual state, just because they do not like to admit that there is danger. They build up one another into an easy, self-satisfied state of soul, in order to soothe their consciences and make things pleasant. They cry "Peace, peace," over one another's graves, because they want it to be so, and would gladly persuade themselves that so it is. Surely against such hollow opinions without foundation as these, a minister of the Gospel may well protest.

      The plain truth is that the world's opinion is worth nothing in matters of religion. About the price of an ox, or a horse, or a farm, or the value of labor; about wages and work; about money, cotton, coals, iron and corn; about arts, and sciences, and business--about railways, and commerce, and trade, and politics; about all such things the people of the world may give a correct opinion. But we must beware, if we love life, of being guided by man's judgment in the things that concern salvation. "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him." (1 Corinthians 2:14.)

      Let us remember, above all, that it never will do to think as others do, if we want to have a part in the Kingdom of God. No doubt it is easy work to "go with the crowd" in religious matters. It will save us much trouble to swim with the stream and tide. We shall be spared much ridicule; we shall be freed from much unpleasantness. But let us remember, once for all, that the world's mistakes about salvation are many and dangerous. Unless we are on our guard against them we shall never be saved.

      III. Let me show, in the third place, what the Bible says about the
           number of the saved.

      There is only one standard of truth and error to which we ought to appeal. That standard is the Holy Scripture. Whatever is there written we must receive and believe; whatever cannot be proved by Scripture we ought to refuse.

      Can any reader of this paper subscribe to this? If he cannot, there is little chance of his being moved by any words of mine. If he can, let him give me his attention for a few moments, and I will tell him some solemn things.

      Let us look, then, for one thing, at one single text of Scripture, and examine it well. We shall find it in Matthew 7:13, 14. "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it." Now these are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are the words of him who knew what was in man; who knew things to come, and things past; who knew that he should judge all people at the last day. And what do those words mean? Are they words which no man can understand without a knowledge of Hebrew or Greek? No; they are not! Are they a dark, unfulfilled prophecy, like the visions in Revelation, or the description of Ezekiel's temple? No; they are not! Are they a deep mysterious saying, which no human intellect can fathom? No; they are not! The words are clear, plain, and unmistakable. Ask any laboring man who can read, and he will tell you so. There is only one meaning which can be attached to them. Their meaning is, that many a vast majority of people will be lost; and very few will be saved.

      Let us look, in the next place, at the whole history of mankind as respects religion, as we have it given in the Bible. Let us go through the whole four thousand years, over which the history of the Bible reaches. Let us find, if we can, one single period of time at which godly people were many, and ungodly people were few.

      How was it in the days of Noah? The earth we are told expressly was "filled with violence." The imagination of man's heart was only "evil continually." (Genesis 6:5, 12.) "All flesh had corrupted his way." The loss of paradise was forgotten. The warnings of God, by Noah's mouth, were despised. And at length, when the flood came on the world and drowned every living thing, there were but eight people who had faith enough to flee for refuge to the ark! And were there many saved in those days? Let any honest reader of the Bible give an answer to that question. There can be no doubt what the answer must be.

      How was it in the days of Abraham, and Isaac, and Lot? It is evident that in the matter of religion they stood very much alone. The family from which they were taken was a family of idolaters. The nations among whom they lived were sunk in gross darkness and sin. When Sodom and Gomorrah were burned there were not five righteous people to be found in the four cities of the plain. When Abraham and Isaac desired to find wives for their sons, there was not a woman in the land where they sojourned to whom they could wish to see them married. And were there many saved in those days? Let any honest reader of the Bible give an answer to that question. There can be no doubt what the answer must be.

      How was it with Israel in the days of the Judges? No one can read the book of Judges, and not be struck with the sad examples of man's corruption which it affords. Time after time we are told of the people forsaking God, and following idols. In spite of the plainest warnings, they joined affinity with the Canaanites, and learned their works. Time after time we read of their being oppressed by foreign kings, because of their sins, and then miraculously delivered. Time after time we read of the deliverance being forgotten, and of the people returning to their former sins, like the sow that is washed to her wallowing in the mire. And were there many saved in those days? Let any honest reader of the Bible give an answer to that question. There can be no doubt what the answer must be.

      How was it with Israel in the days of the Kings? From Saul, the first king, down to Zedekiah, the last king, their history is a melancholy account of backsliding, and declension, and idolatry; with a few bright exceptional periods. Even under the best kings there seems to have been a vast amount of unbelief and ungodliness, which only lay hid for a season, and burst out at the first favorable opportunity. Over and over again we find that under the most zealous kings "the high places were not taken away." Mark how even David speaks of the state of things around him, "Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases; for the faithful fail from among the children of men." (Psalm 12:1.) Mark how Isaiah describes the condition of Judah and Jerusalem, "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot, even unto the crown of the head, there is no soundness in it." "Except the Lord of Armies had left unto us a very small remnant, we would have been as Sodom, and would have been like unto Gomorrah." (Isaiah 1:5-9.) Mark how Jeremiah describes his time, "Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if you can find a man, if there be any that executes judgment, that seeks the truth, and I will pardon it." (Jer:5:1.) Mark how Ezekiel speaks of the people of his times, "The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross--all they are brass, and iron, and tin and lead in the midst of the furnace--they are even the dross of silver." (Ezek:22:17, 18.) Mark what he says in the sixteenth and twenty-third chapters of his prophecy about the kingdoms of Judah and Israel. And were there many saved in those days? Let any honest reader of the Bible give an answer to that question. There can be no doubt what the answer must be.

      How was it with the Jews when our Lord Jesus Christ was on earth? The words of the apostle John are the best account of their spiritual state, "He came unto his own, and his own received Him not." (John 1:11.) He lived as no one born of woman had ever lived before; a blameless, harmless, holy life. "He went about doing good." (Acts 10:38.) He preached as no one ever preached before. Even the officers of his enemies confessed, "Never man spoke like this man." (John 7:46.) He did miracles to confirm His ministry, which, at first sight, we might have fancied would have convinced the most hardened. But, notwithstanding all this, the vast majority of the Jews refused to believe Him. Follow our Lord in all His travels over Palestine, and you will always find the same story. Follow Him into the city, and follow Him into the wilderness; follow Him to Capernaum and Nazareth, and follow Him to Jerusalem; follow Him among Scribes and Pharisees, and follow Him among Sadducees and Herodians; everywhere you will arrive at the same result. They were amazed; they were silenced; they were astonished; they wondered; but very few became disciples! The immense proportion of the nation would have none of His doctrine, and crowned all their wickedness by putting him to death. And were there many saved in those days? Let any honest reader of the Bible give an answer to that question. There can be no doubt what the answer must be.

      How was it with the world in the days of the Apostles? If ever there was a period when true religion flourished it was then. Never did the Holy Spirit call into the fold of the Messiah so many souls in the same space of time. Never were there so many conversions under the preaching of the Gospel as when Paul and his fellow-laborers were the preachers. But still, it is plain from the Acts of the Apostles, that true Christianity was "everywhere spoken against." (Acts 28:22.) It is evident that in every city, even in Jerusalem itself, true Christians were a small minority. We read of perils of all kinds which the Apostles had to go through; not only perils from without; but perils from within; not only perils from the heathen; but perils from false brethren. We hardly read of a single city visited by Paul where he was not in danger from open violence and persecution. We see plainly, by some of his epistles, that the professing Churches were mixed bodies, in which there were many rotten members. We find him telling the Philippians a painful part of his experience, "Many walk, of whom I tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things." (Philip:3:18, 19.) And were there many saved in those days? Let any honest reader of the Bible give an answer to this question. There can be no doubt what that answer must be.

      I ask any honest-minded unprejudiced reader of the volume to weigh well the lessons of the Bible which I have just brought forward. Surely they are weighty and solemn, and deserve serious attention.

      Let no one think to evade their force by saying that the Bible only tells the story of the Jews. Think not to comfort yourself by saying that "perhaps the Jews were more wicked than other nations, and many people were probably saved among other nations, though few were saved among the Jews." You forget that this argument goes against you. You forget that the Jews had light and privileges which the Gentiles had not, and with all their sins and faults, were probably the holiest and most moral nation upon earth. As to the moral state of people among the Assyrians, and Egyptians, and Greeks, and Romans, it is fearful to think what it must have been. But this we may be sure of, that if many were ungodly among the Jews, the number was far greater among the Gentiles. If few were saved in the green tree, alas, how much fewer must have been saved in the dry!

      The sum of the whole matter is this; the Bible and the people of the world, speak very differently about the number of the saved. According to the Bible, few will be saved; according to the people of the world, many. According to the people of the world few are going towards destruction; according to the Bible few are going to inherit the coming Kingdom of God and have a place in it as kings and priests. According to the people of the world salvation is an easy business; according to the Bible the way is narrow and the gate is strait. According to the people of the world few will be found at last seeking admission into the coming Kingdom of God when too late; according to the Bible many will be in that sad condition, and will cry in vain, "Lord, Lord, open to us." Yet the Bible was never wrong yet. The most unlikely and improbable prophecies about Tyre, Egypt, Babylon, and Nineveh, have all come true to the letter. And as in other matters, so it will be about the number of the saved. The Bible will prove quite right and the people of the world quite wrong.

      IV. Let me show, in the last place, some plain facts about the number
           of the saved.

      I ask particular attention to this part of the subject. I know well that people flatter themselves that the world is far better and wiser than it was 1800 years ago. We have churches, and schools, and books. We have civilization, and liberty, and good laws. We have a far higher standard of morality in society than that which once prevailed. We have the power of obtaining comforts and enjoyments which our forefathers knew nothing of. Steam, and gas, and electricity, and chemistry, have effected wonders for us. All this is perfectly true. I see it, and I am thankful. But all this does not diminish the importance of the question--Are there few or many of us likely to be saved?

      I am thoroughly satisfied that the importance of this question is painfully overlooked. I am persuaded that the views of most people about the quantity of unbelief and sin in the world, are utterly inadequate and incorrect. I am convinced that very few people, whether ministers or private Christians, at all realize how few there are in a way to be saved. I want to draw attention to the subject, and I will therefore bring forward a few plain facts about it.

      But where shall I go for these facts? I might easily turn to the millions of heathen, who in various parts of the world are worshiping they know not what. But I shall not do so. I might easily turn to the millions of Muhammadans who honor the Koran more than the Bible, and the false prophet of Mecca more than the Messiah. But I shall not do so. I might easily turn to the millions of Roman Catholics who are making the Word of God of no effect by their traditions. But I shall not do so. I shall look nearer home. I shall draw my facts from the land in which I live, and then ask every honest reader whether it be not strictly true that few are saved.

      I invite any intelligent reader of these pages to imagine himself in any parish in Protestant England or Scotland at this day. Choose which you please, a town parish, or a country parish; a great parish or a small one. Let us take our New Testaments in our hands. Let us sift the Christianity of the inhabitants of this parish, family by family, and man by man. Let us put on one side anyone who does not possess the New Testament evidence of being a true Christian. Let us deal honestly and fairly in the investigation, and not allow that anyone is a true Christian, who does not come up to the New Testament standard of faith and practice. Let us count every man a saved soul in whom we see something of the Messiah; some evidence of true repentance; some evidence of saving faith in Jesus, some evidence of real evangelical holiness. Let us reject every man in whom, on the most charitable construction, we cannot see these evidences, as one "weighed in the balances, and found lacking." Let us apply this sifting process to any parish in this land, and see what the result would be.

      (a) Let us set aside, first of all, those people in a parish who are living in any kind of open sin. By these I mean such as fornicators, and adulterers, and liars, and thieves, and drunkards, and cheats, and revilers, and extortioners. About these I think there can be no difference of opinion. The Bible says plainly, that "those who do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:21) Now will these people be saved? The answer is clear to my own mind--In their present condition they will not.

      (b) Let us set aside, in the next place, those people who seldom or never go to a place of worship, though they have the power, those who do not give time for God; but to themselves; those who think of nothing but doing their own ways, and finding their own pleasure upon Sundays. They show plainly that they are not fit for the Kingdom of God! The inhabitants of Kingdom of God would be company they could not like. The employments of the Kingdom of God would be a weariness to them, and not a joy. Now will these people be saved? The answer is clear to my mind; In their present condition they will not.

      (c) Let us set aside, in the next place, all those people who are careless and thoughtless professors. I mean by this expression, those who attend many of the outward ordinances of religion; but show no signs of taking any real interest in its doctrines and substance. They care little whether the minister preaches the Gospel or not. They care little whether they hear a good sermon or not. They would care little if all the Bibles in the world were burned. They would care little if an Act of Parliament were passed forbidding anyone to pray. In short, religion is not the "one thing needful" with them. Their treasure is on earth. They are just like Gallio, to whom it mattered little whether people were Jews or Christians; he "cared for none of these things." (Acts 18:17.) Now will these people be saved? The answer is clear to my own mind In their present condition they will not.

      (d) Let us set aside, in the next place, all those who are formalists and self-righteous. I mean by this expression, those who value themselves on their own regularity in the use of the forms of Christianity, and depend either directly or indirectly on their own doings for their acceptance with God. I mean all who rest their souls on any work but the work of the Messiah, or any righteousness but the righteousness of the Messiah. Of such the Apostle Paul has expressly testified, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified.", "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus the Messiah." (Romans 3:20; 1 Cor:3:11.) And dare we say, in the face of such texts, that such as these will be saved? The answer is plain to my own mind; In their present condition they will not.

      (e) Let us set aside, in the next place, all those who know the Gospel with their heads; but do not obey it with their hearts. These are those unhappy people who have eyes to see the way of life; but have not will or courage to walk in it. They approve sound doctrine. They will not listen to preaching which does not contain it. But the fear of man, or the cares of the world, or the love of money, or the dread of offending relations, perpetually holds them back. They will not come out boldly, and take up the stake, and confess the Messiah Jesus before people. Of these also the Bible speaks expressly, "Faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone." "To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin." "If any man is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." (James 2:17; 4:17; Luke 9:26.) Shall we say that such as these will be saved? The answer is clear to my own mind; In their present condition they will not.

      (f) Let us set aside, in the last place, all those who are hypocritical professors. I mean by that expression, all those whose religion consists in talk and high profession, and in nothing besides. These are they of whom the prophet Ezekiel speaks, saying, "With their mouth they show much love; but their heart goes after their covetousness." "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him." "They have a form of godliness; but they have not the power of it." (Ezekiel 33:31; Titus 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:5.) They are saints at church, and saints to talk to in public. But they are not saints in private, and in their own homes; and worst of all, they are not saints in heart. There can be no dispute about such people. Shall we say that they will be saved? There can only be one answer; In their present condition they will not.

      And now, after setting aside these classes which I have described, I ask any sensible thinking reader to tell me how many people in any parish will there be left who are true believers? How many, after sifting a parish thoroughly and honestly; how many men and women will remain who are in a way to be saved? How many true penitents; how many real believers in the Messiah, how many truly holy people will there be found? I put it to the conscience of every reader of this volume to give an honest answer, as in the sight of God. I ask you whether, after sifting a parish with the Bible in the fashion described, you can come to any conclusion but this, that few people; sadly few people, are in a way to be saved?

      It is a painful conclusion to arrive at; but I know not how it can be avoided. It is a fearful and tremendous thought, that there should be so many churchmen in England, and so many dissenters, so many seat-holders, and so many pew-renters, so many hearers, and so many communicants; and yet, after all, so few in a way to be saved! But the only question is, Is it not true? It is vain to shut our eyes against facts. It is useless to pretend not to see what is going on around us. The statements of the Bible and the facts of the world we live in will lead us to the same conclusion; Many are being lost, and few being saved!

      (a) I know well that many do not believe what I am saying, because they think there is an immense quantity of death-bed repentance. They flatter themselves that multitudes who do not live religious lives will yet die religious deaths. They take comfort in the thought that vast numbers of people turn to God in their last illness and are saved at the eleventh hour. I will only remind such people that all the experience of ministers is utterly against the theory. People generally die just as they have lived. True repentance is never too late; but repentance deferred to the last hours of life is seldom true.

A man's life is the surest evidence of his spiritual state, and if lives are to be witnesses, then few are likely to be saved.

      (b) I know well that many do not believe what I am saying, because they imagine that it contradicts the mercy of God. They dwell on the love to sinners which the Gospel reveals. They point to the offers of pardon and forgiveness which abound in the Bible. They ask us if we maintain, in the face of all this, that only few people will be saved. I answer, I will go as far as anyone in exalting God's mercy in the Messiah; but I cannot shut my eyes against the fact that this mercy profits no man so long as it is willfully refused. I see nothing lacking, on God's part, for man's salvation.
I see room in the Kingdom of God for the chief of sinners. I see willingness in the Messiah to receive the most ungodly. I see power in the Holy Spirit to renew the most ungodly. But I see, on the other hand, desperate unbelief in man; he will not believe what God tells him in the Bible. I see desperate pride in man; he will not bow his heart to receive the Gospel as a little child. I see desperate sloth in man; he will not take the trouble to arise and call upon God. I see desperate worldliness in man; he will not loose his hold on the poor perishable things of time, and consider eternity. 

In short, I see the words of our Lord continually verified, "You will not come unto Me, that you might have life" (John 5:40), and therefore I am driven to the sorrowful conclusion that few are likely to be saved.

      (c) I know well that many will not believe what I am saying, because they refuse to observe the evil there is in the world. They live in the midst of a little circle of good people; they know little of anything that goes on in the world outside that circle. They tell us the world is a world which is rapidly improving and going on to perfection. They count up on their fingers the number of good ministers whom they have heard and seen in the last year. They call our attention to the number of religious societies, and religious meetings, to the money which is subscribed, to the Bibles and tracts which are being constantly distributed. They ask us if we really dare to say, in the face of all this, that few are in the way to be saved. In reply, I will only remind these amiable people, that there are other people in the world besides their own little circle, and other men and women besides the chosen few whom they know in their own congregation. I entreat them to open their eyes, and see things as they really are. I assure them there are things going on in this country of ours of which they are at present in happy ignorance. I ask them to sift any parish or congregation in England, with the Bible, before they condemn me hastily. I tell them, if they will do this honestly, they will soon find that I am not far wrong, when I say that few are likely to be saved.

      (d) I know well that many will not believe me, because they think such a doctrine very narrow-minded and exclusive. I utterly deny the charge. I disclaim any sympathy with those Christians who condemn everybody outside their own church, and appear to shut the door against everybody who does not see everything with their eyes. Whether Roman Catholics, or Episcopalians, or Free Churchmen, or Baptists, or Plymouth Brethren; whoever does anything of this kind, I reckon him a narrow-minded man. I have no desire to shut up the kingdom of heaven against anyone. All I say is, that none will enter that kingdom, except converted, believing, and holy souls; and all I take on myself to assert is, that both the Bible and facts combine to prove that such people are few.

      (e) I know well that many will not believe what I am saying, because they think it a gloomy, uncharitable doctrine. It is easy to make vague, general assertions of this kind. It is not so easy to show that any doctrine deserves to be called "gloomy and uncharitable" which is scriptural and true. There is a spurious charity, I am afraid, which dislikes all strong statements in religion, a charity which would have no one interfered with; charity which would have everyone let alone in his sins--a charity which, without evidence, takes for granted that everybody is going to be saved--a charity which never doubts that all people are going to heaven, and seems to deny the existence of such a place as hell. But such charity is not the charity of the New Testament, and does not deserve the name. Give me the charity which tries everything by the test of the Bible, and believes nothing and hopes nothing that is not sanctioned by the Word. Give me the charity which Paul describes to the Corinthians; the charity which is not blind, and deaf, and stupid; but has eyes to see and senses to discern between him that fears God and him that fears Him not. Such charity will rejoice in nothing but "the truth," and will confess with sorrow that I tell nothing but the truth when I say that few are likely to be saved.

      (f) I know well that many will not believe me, because they think it presumptuous to have any opinion at all about the number of the saved. But will these people dare to tell us that the Bible has not spoken plainly as to the character of saved souls? And will they dare to say that there is any standard of truth except the Bible? Surely there can be no presumption in asserting that which is agreeable to the Bible. I tell them plainly that the charge of presumption does not lie at my door. I say that he is the truly presumptuous man who, when the Bible has said a thing clearly and unmistakably, refuses to receive it.

      (g) I know, finally, that many will not believe me, because they think my statement extravagant, and unwarrantable. They regard it as a piece of fanaticism, unworthy of the attention of a rational man. They look on ministers who make such assertions, as weak-minded people, and lacking in common sense. I can bear such imputations unmoved. I only ask those who make them to show me some plain proof that they are right and I am wrong. Let them show me, if they can, that anybody is likely to get to heaven whose heart is not renewed, who is not a believer in Jesus the Messiah, who is not a spiritually-minded and holy man. Let them show me, if they can, that people of this description are many, compared with those who are not. Let them, in one word, point to any place on earth where the great majority of the people are not ungodly, and the truly godly are not a little flock. Let them do this, and I will grant they have done right to disbelieve what I have said. Until they do this, I must maintain the sorrowful conclusion; that few people are likely to be saved.

      And now it only remains to make some practical application of the subject of this paper. I have set forth as plainly as I can the character of saved people. I have shown the painful delusions of the world as to the number of the saved. I have brought forward the evidence of the Bible on the subject. I have drawn from the world around us plain facts in confirmation of the statements I have made. May the Lord grant that all these solemn truths may not have been exhibited in vain!

      I am quite aware that I have said many things in this paper which are likely to give offence. I know it. It must be so. The point which it handles is far too serious and heart-searching to be otherwise than offensive to some. But I have long had a deep conviction that the subject has been painfully neglected, and that few things are so little realized as the comparative numbers of the lost and saved. All that I have written, I have written because I firmly believe it to be God's truth. All that I have said, I have said, not as an enemy but as a lover of souls. You do not count him an enemy who gives you a bitter medicine to save your life. You do not count him an enemy who shakes you roughly from your sleep when your house is on fire. Surely you will not count me an enemy because I tell you strong truths for the benefit of your soul. I appeal, as a friend, to every man or woman into whose hands this volume has come. Bear with me, for a few moments, while I say a few last words to impress the whole subject on your conscience.

      (a) Are there few saved? Then, shall you be one of the few? Oh, that you would see that salvation is the one thing needful! Health, and riches, and titles, are not needful things. A man may gain heaven without them. But what shall the man do who dies not saved! Oh, that you would see that you must have salvation now, in this present life, and lay hold upon it for your own soul! Oh, that you would see that "saved" or "not saved" is the grand question in religion! High Church or Low Church, Churchman or Dissenter, all these are trifling questions in comparison. What a man needs in order to get to heaven is an actual personal interest in Christ's salvation. Surely, if you are not saved, it will be better at last never to have been born!

      (b) Are there few saved? Then, if you are not one of the few already, strive to be one without delay. I know not who and what you are; but I say boldly, Come to the Messiah and believe and act upon his message about the coming Kingdom of God and repent and be baptized  and you shall be saved. The gate that leads to life may be strait; but it was wide enough to admit Manasseh, and Saul of Tarsus; and why not you? The way that leads to life may be narrow; but it is marked by the footsteps of thousands of sinners like yourself. All have found it a good way. All have persevered, and got safely home at last. Jesus the Messiah invites you. The promises of the Gospel encourage you. Oh, strive to enter in without delay!

      (c) Are there few saved? Then, if you are doubtful whether you are one of the few, make sure work at once, and be doubtful no more. Leave no stone unturned in order to ascertain your own spiritual state. Be not content with vague hopes and trusts. Rest not on warm feelings and temporary desires after God. Give diligence to make your calling and election sure. Oh, give me leave to say, that if you are content to live on uncertain about salvation, you live the maddest life in the world! The fires of hell are before you; and you are uncertain whether your soul is saved. This world below must soon be left; and you are uncertain whether you have a mansion prepared to receive you in the world to come. The judgment will soon be set; and you are uncertain whether you have an Advocate to plead your cause. Eternity will soon begin; and you are uncertain whether you are prepared to meet God. Oh, sit down this day, and study the subject of salvation! Give God no rest until uncertainty has disappeared, and you have got hold of a reasonable hope that you are saved.

      (d) Are there few saved? Then, if you are one of the saved, be thankful. Chosen and called of God; while thousands around you are sunk in unbelief; seeing the kingdom of God; while multitudes around you are utterly blind; delivered from this present evil world; while crowds are overcome by its love and fear; taught to know sin, and God, and the Messiah; while numbers, to all appearance as good as you, live in ignorance and darkness! Oh, you have reason every day to bless and praise God! Whence came this sense of sin, which you now experience? Whence came this love of the Messiah; this desire after holiness; this hungering after righteousness; this delight in the Word? Has not free grace done it, while many a companion of your youth still knows nothing about it, or has been cut off in his sins? You ought indeed to bless God!

Surely Whitefield might well say, that one anthem among the saints in heaven will be "Why me, Lord? Why did You choose me?"

      (e) Are there few saved? Then, if you are one, do not wonder that you often find yourself standing alone. I dare believe you are sometimes almost brought to a standstill, by the corruption and wickedness that you see in the world around you. You see false doctrine abounding. You see unbelief and ungodliness of every description. You are sometimes tempted to say, "Can I really be in the right in my religion? Can it really be that all these people are in the wrong?" Beware of giving way to thoughts like these. Remember, you are only having practical proof of the truth of your Master's sayings. Think not that his purposes are being defeated. Think not that his work is not going forward in the world. He is still taking out a people to his praise. He is still raising up witnesses to himself, here and there, all over the world. The saved will yet be found to be a "multitude that no man can number," when all are gathered together at last. (Rev:7:9.) The earth will yet be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. All nations shall serve Him; all kings shall yet delight to do him honor. But the night is not yet spent. The day of the lord's power is yet to come. In the meantime all is going on as he foretold 1800 years ago; many are being lost and few saved.

      (f) Are there few saved? Then, if you are one, do not be afraid of having too much godliness. Settle it down in your mind that you will aim at the highest degree of holiness, and spiritual-mindedness, and consecration to God; that you will not be content with any low degree of sanctification. Resolve that, by the grace of God, you will make Christianity beautiful in the eyes of the world. Remember that the children of the world have but few patterns of true religion before them. Endeavor, as far as in you lies, to make those few patterns recommend the service of your Master. Oh, that every true Christian would recollect that he is set as a lighthouse in the midst of a dark world, and would labor so to live that every part of him may reflect light, and no side be dim!

      (g) Are there few saved? Then, if you are one, use every opportunity of trying to do good to souls. Settle it down in your mind that the vast majority of people around you are in dreadful danger of being lost forever. Work every engine for bringing the Gospel to bear upon them. Help every Christian enterprise for plucking brands from the burning. Give liberally to everyone who has for its object, the spread the everlasting Gospel. Throw all your influence heartily and unreservedly into the cause of doing good to souls. Live like one who thoroughly believes that time is short and eternity near; the devil strong and sin abounding; the darkness very great and the light very small; the ungodly very many and the godly very few; the things of the world mere transitory shadows, and heaven and hell the great substantial realities.

      Alas, indeed, for the lives that many believers live! How cold are many, and how frozen-; how slow to do decided things in religion, and how afraid of going too far; how backward to attempt anything new; how ready to discourage a good movement; how ingenious in discovering reasons why it is best to sit still; how unwilling ever to allow that "the time" for active exertion is come; how wise in finding fault; how shiftless in devising plans to meet growing evils! Truly a man might sometimes think, when he looks at the ways of many who are counted believers, that all the world was going to heaven, and hell death and destruction was nothing but a lie.

      Let us all beware of this state of mind! Whether we like to believe it or not, destruction of all who are not true to God is soon coming. The Messiah is daily holding out his hand to a disobedient people. Many are in the broad way that leads to destruction! Few are in the way that leads to life! Many, many are likely to be lost. Few, few are likely to be saved.

      Once more I ask every reader, as I asked at the beginning of this paper; Shall you be saved? If you are not saved already, my heart's desire and prayer to God is, that you may seek salvation without delay. If you are saved, my desire is that you may live like a saved soul; and like one who knows that saved souls are few.

      "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it." Matthew 7:13-14

By J.C. Ryle [edited by Bruce Lyon]