A Shocking Youth Message and Lord’s Day 32/33 of the Heidelberg Catechism.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Fittingly, someone sent me a video of Paul Washer, speaking on this topic. and asked me if it was relevant, or if it was based on works salvation. I had never viewed or heard Paul Washer prior to watching the video. In the video Mr. Washer accuses American evangelicalism and his own denomination of being on the broad road to destruction. Here is a quote:
…when you take a look at American Christianity, it is based more upon a godless culture than it is upon the Word of God. And so many people are deceived, and so many youth are deceived, and so many adults are deceived into believing that, because they prayed a prayer one time in their life, they’re going to Heaven. And then, when they look around at others who profess to know Christ and see those people also just as worldly as the world, and they compare themselves by themselves, nothing troubles their heart. They think, well, I’m the same as most in my youth group. I watch things I shouldn’t watch on television and laugh about the very things that God hates. I wear clothing that is sensual. I talk like the world. I walk like the world. I love the music of the world. I love so much that’s in the world, but bless God, I am a Christian. Why am I a Christian? I don’t look any different than most of the other people in my church. Why am I a Christian? Because there was a time in my life when I prayed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.
So I began thinking. This, aside from the part about “ask Jesus into your heart,” sounds very familiar to me. Let’s just humour me for a second. I am going to change the wording just a smidgen to refocus this to those of us who are “orthodox” or “reformed” in our doctrine.
… so many people are deceived, and so many youth are deceived, and so many adults are deceived into believing that, because they were born into a covenant family and professed their faith one time in their life, they’re going to Heaven. And then, when they look around at others who profess to know Christ and see those people also just as worldly as the world, and they compare themselves by themselves, nothing troubles their heart. They think, well, I’m the same as most in my youth group. I watch things I shouldn’t watch on television and laugh about the very things that God hates. I wear clothing that is sensual. I talk like the world. I walk like the world. I love the music of the world. I love so much that’s in the world, but bless God, I am a Christian. Why am I a Christian? I don’t look any different than most of the other people in my church. Why am I a Christian? Because there was a time in my life when I was baptized and professed my faith.
I am aware I am treading on dangerous ground here. I know many of you will scream at me about how God never forsakes his promises that he makes at our baptism. Of course he doesn’t and he never will forsake His promises…never! But we certainly can forsake our obligation to live a holy and god fearing life. What about the narrow way? I know what we believe about election and covenant …but what about Lord’s Day 32 and 33 of the Heidelberg Catechism? Do we simply sweep these Lord’s Days under the rug under the guise of the fact we are still sinful beings and that Christ covers all our sins? Let’s read it….
Q. Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace alone through Christ, without any merit of our own, why must we yet do good works?
A. Because Christ, having redeemed us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit to be His image, so that with our whole life we may show ourselves thankful to God for His benefits,1 and He may be praised by us.2 Further, that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by its fruits,3 and that by our godly walk of life we may win our neighbours for Christ.4
Did you read that …so that with our WHOLE life we may show our selves thankful. If my whole life does not show that I am thankful…am I really thankful? Am I saved? I am not saying you have to be perfect, we will never attain perfection in this life…but we should be striving to Christlikeness.
Q. Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitent walk of life?
A. By no means. Scripture says that no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, greedy person,drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like shall inherit the kingdom of God.
That is pretty clear. I know that we are a covenant people, we do not all need to “experience a conversion.” But I have to say that quote above sounds a lot like me about 5 years ago. I went to church…but I watched things I shouldn’t watch, I indulged in my desires, drinking too much, smoking too much, playing too many video games that glorified violence, but I hung around with people just like me; other Christians who smoked and drank and watched evil movies and listened to music that glorified sex and drugs and alcohol. We dressed the same, we acted the same, we looked the same. We made crude jokes and made comments about every girl that walked by, we gossiped and slandered. But we all went to church…so I must have been saved…right?
I was an idolater; I worshipped myself above God, even if I did not say it. I spent my money foolishly on addictions and was completely self-centered. I lived in sin, sins of all sizes and shapes. I was a bad husband, a bad father, I NEVER had personal devotions. I never had family devotions. I never prayed, except at meal time. I had no fruit to show for my supposed faith. When I look back on my life, I can see God’s hand leading me…but even though I professed to believe at that time…I am not so sure that I really believed. I am sure that I am elect of God, and God’s election is before all time, but that does not mean I was on the narrow way. I was certainly on the broad road to destruction, and God disciplined me and brought me back to repentance. Now I bear good fruit, even if it is not ready yet to be picked! Now I daily struggle against the very things I indulged in just over half a decade ago. I still struggle along the road fighting weakness and temptations by the power of Christ. Some might say that I am being Pharisaical by telling stories about myself. This has nothing to do with me, I am insignificant, this has to do with God and His glory. The way is narrow…are you on it? Or are you on the broad road that leads to destruction?
Let’s read Lord’s Day 33 now.
Q.What is the true repentance or conversion of man?
A. It is the dying of the old nature and the coming to life of the new.1
Q.What is the dying of the old nature?
A. It is to grieve with heartfelt sorrow that we have offended God by our sin, and more and more to hate it and flee from it.1
Q.What is the coming to life of the new nature?
Q.But what are good works?
Looking at Lord’s Day 32 and 33 of the catechism, which we Reformed Christians hold to be a faithful confession of what God teaches us in the Bible, let me ask a very simple question. How can we know if we really believe? Well it’s right there; even my 6 year old can answer it. Let me make it simple: Because you daily repent of your sin. Because you daily struggle against your sin. Because the Holy Spirit is working sanctification in you. And because of this you will bear fruit. You must bear fruit, the Spirit of God does not bear bad fruit. Even simpler: you know you believe by the fruit the Spirit works in you.
Some would say this is works righteousness, or that I am looking for evidence of salvation within myself. No it isn’t and no I am not…The spirit will inevitably work fruit in you, if you are of Him. It MUST happen. A Christian can fall into sin…but a Christian cannot live in sin! Our Father in Heaven will not permit it! He will bring you out of it! Make your calling and election sure. Is Jesus the very center of your life? If not then repent and believe. There is forgiveness in Christ. If you were living a life of un-thankfulness like I was, you are not too far gone; no one is beyond the power of the blood of Christ! There is forgiveness for everyone who repents and believes. God promises us so! Every sin you ever committed will be nailed to the cross with Christ if you repent and believe.
I admit that I am not an elder, I am not pastor, I am not a theologian. I am a simple Christian, and I know where I was not that long ago. I was on the broad way to destruction! I know what has been forgiven me. What about you? Please do not be like me…just sitting there in your comfortable existence thinking you are saved because you professed your faith when you were 20years old. Pick up the Word, get on your knees. Repent and believe. And if you do need some help, which we all do at some point in our lives, please talk to your pastor or elder, or a trusted mature Christian friend…Please make your calling and election sure. Not only is the gate narrow…so is the way.
I hesitated to, but I have attached the video, if you feel like watching it. This is honest, emotional and raw. Not everyone will appreciate this. Remember that this is not a church worship service; he is speaking at a gathering of 5000 youth, most of who are from the Southern Baptist Churches.