Deception in the Pews
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:24. There is a prominent view these days among Christians which seems to have crept into the mainstream of Christianity. It is the view held by many professing Christians that sitting in a pew every Sunday morning is a good indication that a person is born again. Sadly, what we’re confronted with here is another of the enemy’s many deceptions.
Before continuing with the above deceptive view, I’d like to remind everyone that Satan came to kill, steal, and destroy. He will do everything in his power to keep people from God’s truth. He’s discovered that combining some truth with some lies brings about the results he wants. He’s also discovered that many of those he’s determined to destroy are willing accomplices.
From Jesus’ own words we know that there will be many who have been deceived into believing they are His, when in fact they are not. “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” Luke 13:25-27. The master of the house is God, and at this point He has locked the door to Heaven. Yet there are many who are outside still knocking, claiming they should be allowed entrance. Why would God not allow them to enter? I know you not… depart from me, all of you who work…for Satan.
Interestingly, when it comes to eternity humans are afforded only two choices. “He that is not with me is against me...” Matthew 12:30. We either say yes to Jesus, in which case we are with Him, or we refuse Him, in which case we are against Him. In regards to the above mentioned door knockers, they heard Jesus’ words as He taught in their streets, they even ate and drank with Him. Yet Jesus considered them workers of iniquity – in other words the opposition.
The unsaved are often taught that simply being a good person or doing good deeds is in accordance with God’s will, therefore God will not deny them their part in Heaven. This is a deception that in many cases resonates throughout many churches. All the “door knockers” works and good deeds were nothing to the King of kings. If we don’t believe in Him then His response to us will always be “I know you not.” Many will continue their bewailing and knocking as they are falling into the depths of Hell, all because they allowed the enemy to deceive them with the notion that all God desires is your good intentions and your good works. On the contrary, what God desires from each of us is a personal relationship with His only begotten Son.
Our relationship with God is twofold. First of all we must understand what constitutes a relationship. A relationship exists between people when we have established a link between us and them – there’s a connection. When Jesus said He never knew these folks He meant He had no knowledge of them ever attempting to establish a connection with Him. Secondly, what I mean by twofold is that both parties must acknowledge that there exists a relationship. No acknowledgement by one of the participants means there is no relationship. The people spoken of in Luke 13:25 who are crying Lord, lord were deceived into thinking they had a relationship with Jesus, but in fact the relationship they were convinced they had was only one sided.
What was it that was missing? Belief. They never got to a point that they actually believed in who Jesus was and is. Since Jesus plainly states He never knew them we can be assured something was missing that would link them to Him. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. The key here is belief. There is nothing to works or good deeds when we are considering our eternal salvation. There is only belief in the One who God sent.
When we first believe in Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, and that He alone is our hope for salvation, we are then brought instantly into a relationship with the God of all creation. Believing who Jesus is, and what He did for us is the means to establishing an everlasting relationship with Him – only then do we have a connection. Many sitting in those pews on Sunday mornings have never established that connection – relationship. How’s that possible you might ask?
The deception that has been burgeoning for many years in most cases involves the attributes of God. Is God real? Did He create the universe? Did He create the earth in 6 literal 24 hour days? Did He create man as it plainly states in His word or did He use evolution and millions of years? Jesus didn’t really walk on water, there’s no such thing as a virgin birth, He’s not really God Almighty, and on and on the deceptions flow. The enemy owns the field of deception and doubt. First he introduces the doubt “Did God really say” and then he introduces the deception “You shall not surely die”. With these two phrases that make up the core content of the enemy’s lies he has managed to convince many that the God of all creation, Jesus Christ, is only a myth. In some pseudo-Christian circles we are confronted with those who believe in Jesus but only as a lesser god, or in some cases merely a wonderful teacher. This attitude towards our God and Saviour does not lend itself to a twofold relationship with Jesus Himself. Many profess they know Jesus, but if He refers to them as workers of inequity (children of Satan) they are deceived. When we listen to mere men and glean our faith in God from what many teach we run the risk of coming away with a skewed view of who God is. We must always wash what we are taught by men by running man’s teachings through the pages of Scripture for accuracy.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9. Here Paul gives us the simple truth on how to become a born again follower of Jesus Christ. Believe it or not, as simple a gesture as this seems many sitting in those pews have never confessed Christ. And if they never confess Christ it’s a good bet that they don’t believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead.
What does it mean to confess Christ? It means we’re saying that we trust Jesus to be perfect in all His ways, and we’ve completely and unswervingly given ourselves over to Him. He alone paid the price for our salvation, thus He is our redemption. He owns us; we are no longer Satan’s possession, but Christ’s.
As I sojourn in this world I walk in God’s precepts and I adhere to His doctrines. Nothing is going to lead me away from my Lord. But if I can’t trust Him to tell me the truth about who He is and what He’s done then how can I pretend we have a relationship? No pretentious relationship is going to give me everlasting life in Heaven with my God.
There are many who sit in a pew on Sunday morning erroneously believing that because they diligently attend those services and tithe from their income that they are born again. Because they do good deeds and they are, for the most part, decent people they’ve earned their way to Heaven. The very fact that people have this type of mentality should tell the rest of us that a huge deception has infiltrated those sanctuaries. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. All the good deeds in the world will not suffice as payment for entrance into Heaven. The only way to avoid finding ourselves standing outside and knocking, asking to be let in, is to believe on the one God sent. “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:28-29. Only by believing in the One who came once and for all to reconcile us to God can we ever obtain entrance to that most glorious abode called Heaven.
There’s a catchy truism I’ve read lately that goes something like this, “Going to church makes you as much a Christian as standing in your garage makes you a car”. Granted, attending services might help you decide to say yes to Jesus, but in many congregations today you might be just as inclined to say no to Him, or nothing at all. Many things taught by cults and false teachers concerning who Jesus is quite often contradicts God’s inerrant word. A person might more easily be led astray than to be lead to the strait path and thus through the narrow gate which is Jesus Christ our Lord.
If we consider again that verse from Luke 13:24 it must be pointed out that the Greek word “polys”, which is translated into our English word “many”, actually means “a great number”. The numerical equivalent of that great number isn’t mentioned. However, we must see this as a mass of people. When combined with those who out and out reject Christ the numbers are innumerable.
Thinking we have a relationship with the One who created everything without actually believing who He really is, is folly. Many are caught up in this foolish mindset. Attending Sunday services and doing good deeds are not prerequisites for salvation. This incredibly pervasive deception continues almost unabated while taking a horrible toll on multitudes of folks around the world.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22-23. There’s that word “many” again. As I’ve stated, numerically we have no figure to place here but the language of those two verses indicates a vast number of deceived individuals all headed in the same direction, ultimately to destruction.
It’s interesting that we are given the words many and few to describe how many will perish vs. how few will enter Heaven. Jesus tells us few will enter in through the strait gate and narrow way. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14. Our English word “few” is translated from the Greek word “oligos”, which is another numerical term and means little, small, few, slight. In other words, Jesus will be saying “I know you not” to a multitude of very disappointed people. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. When we believe in Him we are acknowledging Him as God and Saviour and we can depend on our entering into a personal relationship with the King of kings.
Jesus, speaking to the Pharisees of His day, was very blunt as He responded to their disbelief “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am…, ye shall die in your sins.” John 8:24. Call Him a liar, deny His deity, write off His word as myth while sitting in your pew and your eternal destination will not be what you’ve planned – you will die in your sins.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed