I want to continue on the subject of the Wide Gate Convert. As I said yesterday, I started writing a book on this subject about 8 years ago. I didn’t finish it to my satisfaction, and didn’t publish it. I have returned to it because I am working on a course on evangelism to Muslims.
When we get into the subject of bringing the Gospel to the lost, teaching their lost condition, and need for a Saviour, we need to teach them that their sin is a crime against a holy God. Sin is the breaking of God’s commandments.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)
God has given us His law, and when we measure ourselves against it, we find that we come up short. The fact that we can’t keep God’s law shows us the insufficiency of our self-righteousness and our need for His mercy. Too many are filled with their self-righteousness. They say their sins are not really sins, they are just mistakes.
They don’t believe they are bad enough that God would send them to Hell. A person with this attitude is in big trouble. They are candidates for being a wide gate convert. I believe our churches are filled with those who have been converted to religion, and not truly converted to Christ. They are not narrow gate converts who have humbled themselves before a holy God, called out to Him for mercy, and repented of their dead works, their self-righteousness. The person who goes through the narrow gate has come under conviction of his sin and seen that he deserves God’s wrath. He understands that only God’s grace can save him, and he places his faith in the one who died in his place on the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ.
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)
So many have followed the social gospel. They turn to Jesus to fix their lives and are trying to reform their ways. Many of these people are Christian in name. They would declare that Jesus is God in the flesh, that He died on the cross, that He rose again from the grave, but they don’t understand how it really applies to them. These are the wide gate converts.
I believe this explains why many of our churches are impotent. If we are honest, we will admit that God’s power seems to be missing from far too many of our churches today.
My question for you today is, Can you spot a wide gate convert? You might have been sitting on the pew last Sunday by a wide gate convert. You might be living in the same home with a wide gate convert. In fact the person who preached the sermon, taught the Sunday school lesson, or sang in the choir might be a wide gate convert.
The wide gate convert has followed a false teaching. They have an intellectual knowledge, but it has never become practical in their lives. It has never been fully understood and applied correctly. They have not really trusted in Christ as Saviour, but are trusting in religious practice.
One of the best tests of whether or not someone is a narrow gate convert is found in 2 Corinthians:
Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Things really change when someone is saved. That person is not reformed, he is a new creature. Things have really changed in his life. The old, sinful ways are gone, and the new creature shows through. So many of today’s converts have not shown any change in their lives.
I certainly would not want to discourage anyone who goes out “soul-winning,” but too many of them are just good salesmen. Sometimes it is like they are in a competition and they want to show off that they got 4 or 5 saved this week. It is kind of like notches on a gun belt in the old west.
I was in a missions conference in a church a number of years ago, and on Saturday we were going out “soul-winning.” The pastor went down the line asking each person how many they were going to get saved this week. It was a real competition. One said he would get 2 saved, the next said he would get 3 saved, and so on down the line. When he got to me, I responded, as many as the Spirit gives us.
I have led many people to the Lord, but I can’t save anybody. Only Christ can save, and only the Holy Spirit can work real conviction and repentance. I appreciate the enthusiasm of those who do this, but they have the wrong idea on soul-winning. We can’t save anyone.
Many people have missed the mark and entered the wrong gate. The Bible says that few find the narrow gate.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
The reason so many miss the narrow gate and enter the wide gate, is they are trying to reform themselves. It is like taking a dirty shirt out of the clothes hamper, starching it and ironing it. It is stiff and wrinkle free, but it is still dirty. The Bible says we are to be transformed, not reformed. (Romans 12:2). God is in the transformation business.
I know that justification is part of salvation, but sanctification is an ongoing process. I am not talking about sinless perfection, which says when you get save you no longer have the capacity to sin. Sinless perfection is neither a biblical teaching, nor a practical reality. However, when a true Christian does sin, there will be genuine remorse and a desire to change.
There is a time of growth, and the longer a person is saved, the more Christ-like he should become. As we learn more about Christ, and as we experience more of His grace and provision in our lives. we should be less like the world, and more like a child of God.
Some people go through the wide gate because they are trying God to see if He will fix whatever problems they have in their lives. Maybe they have a failing marriage, failing health, a drug addiction, an alcohol addiction, an anger problem, or financial problems. When soul-winners come across this kind of person, they are open because they have a need, and they tell them to pray the “sinner’s prayer,” confessing their sins, to do it with sincerity, and Jesus will be the answer to all of their problems. Some of these people really are sincere, and they really want to give God a chance to fix their problems, but it goes no deeper than that.
I want to share an example I learnd from an evangelist in California. Imagine you are on an airplane. You are told to put on a parachute and it will make your flight more enjoyable. Who wouldn’t want a more enjoyable flight? You put it on, and you find that it is not very comfortable to sit in your seat with a parachute. You look around, and others are giggling at you. Then the flight attendant accidentally spills hot coffee on you. You would probably get up and take off that stupid parachute and say, I’ll never put that on again because it failed in its promise to give me a more enjoyable flight.
This is the way we are presenting Christ and salvation to people today. We are giving people the wrong reasons to come to Him for salvation. We keep telling people that they have a God shaped hole, and only God can fill it. Instead of trying to fill it with alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. you need to fill it with God. We are teaching people that God is a fix. We are presenting a life enhancement gospel.
Here is how we should present the Gospel. I will still use the parachute example. We should tell people they need to parachute because they will need it for the jump. They won’t mind being uncomfortable in their seat if there is a real risk of the plane going down. They don’t mind others laughing at them. They are concerned that the others don’t have parachutes as well. They don’t even mind when there is some pain (spilled coffee) along the way.
Do you understand what I am talking about? We are presenting Jesus as a quick fix for the problems of life. Is life better with Christ? Of course it is, but there will still be problems. The difference is, He goes through the trials with us. He gives us comfort and strength through them. We know that God will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able to bear.
As Christians, we still have problems in our lives, so this isn’t the reason to come to Christ. The reason is that, without Christ, our sin against a holy God condemns us to eternity in the Lake of Fire. If Jesus is our parachute, He is not there to make life on this earth better, just look at the Apostle Paul. He is there for the jump at death. With Him we will land safely in Heaven.
At the beginning I asked if you would be able to spot a wide gate convert. Remember Judas Iscariot? He was not a true believer, was he? He had all the other disciples fooled. Remember when Jesus said one of them was going to betray Him? None of the other disciples said, We know who the fake disciple is. No, they asked if it was them. The point is, it is very difficult to spot a wide gate convert.
How do you go through the narrow gate? it is not impossible, but you must humble yourself, and fall on your knees, call out to Heaven and ask God for mercy. The good news is that He will have mercy upon you, and He will point you to His Son, Jesus Christ. When you put your faith in the Son, He will save you from your sin, make you a child of God, and take you to Heaven to live for all eternity in His glorious presence.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)
The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:18)
Is your heart broken over sin? Humble yourself before God today.
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