Almost Christian

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Last night, on my way home from a speaking event I turned on the Christian radio station and heard one of my favorite pastors, Dr. John MacArthur. He was discussing Philippians 3 and a Puritan book called The Almost Christian Discovered, written in 1661 by Matthew Mead. I want to share with you portions of the sermon transcript because I thought they were very thought provoking.

He [Matthew Mead] wrote the book because he wanted to address a very significant problem. The problem he wanted to address was the fact that there were many people who thought they were saved and weren't. . . . So he was addressing the problem 300 years ago that Paul was addressing [Philippians 3] nearly 2,000 years ago that we are now addressing today.

Matthew Mead has a long section in the book of about 120 pages in which he addresses how far a person can go and still not be a true Christian . . . how far a person can advance toward heaven, toward Christ, toward God and still not truly be saved. And these are the things he suggests.

A man may have much knowledge about Christ and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may have a great and eminent gift, yet be but almost a Christian." He means by that a speaking gift, a leadership gift.

A man may have a high profession of religion. He may be much in external duties of goodness and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may go far in opposing his own sin and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may hate sin and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may make great vows and promises, strong purposes and resolutions against his sin and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may maintain a strife and a combat against sin and yet be but almost a Christian.

A man may be a member of the church and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may have great hopes of heaven and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may under visible changes, altered life and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may be very zealous in matters of religion and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may be much in prayers and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may even suffer for Christ's sake and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may outwardly obey the commandments and yet be but almost a Christian. A man may perform external worship yet be but almost a Christian. And a man may have faith and yet be but almost a Christian.

Matthew Mead is right in assessing, however, that you can have all of those things and be but only almost a Christian. These are not enough. These are not enough. Well what does it take? What is the evidence? What is the mark of the true Christian?

Worship in Spirit and in truth, giving all the credit to Jesus Christ who is their only pride and joy, and repentance which turns totally from the wretchedness of the sinful condition to accept the salvation that only comes through God's grace. That's the true circumcision.

It's so easy to think that many of the things Mead talks about are evidence of being a Christian. However, these external things are meaningless in the eyes of God if they are not the result of an internal change of receiving Christ as our Savior. Almost Christians don’t go to heaven. God says, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16). I encourage you to read or listen to this powerful sermon in its entirety and know for certain that you are not an “almost Christian.”

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