WALK THE LINE
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. (Mat 7:13-14)
"Pastor Providian, I'd like to ask you a question, if you have the time."
"Certainly young man, but first might I ask your name so I'll know how to address you?"
"Oh, sure. Sorry about that. My name is Joe. I don't attend your church, but I hear you on the radio. You've answered a lot of questions people ask you, but I don't recall you ever answering this one."
"A new challenge then. I like a challenge. What is the question you have for me Joe?"
"I want to know the truth. What I mean is I hear all these people talking about God, Jesus, the Bible and what we're supposed to do to be saved, and it all sounds to me like a bunch of stuff and nonsense. One person says this, and another expert on the Bible who supposedly hears from God and understands the Bible says that. And they all contradict each other. Is there truth in the Bible or isn't there? I getting to the point where I think it's all just a con game, if you know what I mean."
"I do indeed understand how you feel Joe. I've been in the same place you have, as I suspect many of us who desire to know the truth have. It's a hard place to be. First of all, have you read the Bible for yourself to see what God has to say about truth? He's the one we must go to find what He considers truth."
"Sure I have. I've read the Bible lots of times. I've even gone to Bible school, and all any of it does is cause me confusion. I know there's truth in the Bible, but it seems to be presented as a riddle. What do you suggest I do Pastor? I suppose the best thing to do to learn what you have to say is to attend your church, but I live a long way from here, so that's out of the question. What church would you recommend I go to in order to learn the truth?"
"First of all, Joe, we have to ascertain what you mean by truth. Truth to one person is not truth to another. What I mean by this is some people want to learn truth so they can sound godly or super intelligent. They seek to impress others much like what we see the Pharisees of Jesus' day doing. What is your reason for wanting to know the truth Joe? Have you given this much thought?"
"To be honest with you Pastor, I haven't. I haven't even thought of there being different reasons for wanting to know truth. I guess the reason is because I feel like I'm being lied to by those who hold the secret to eternal life, and I don't like to be lied to."
"To be honest with you Joe, that isn't much of a reason to want to learn the truth. Truth doesn't come free. There's a high cost that comes with knowing the truth. In Luke chapter fourteen Jesus enumerates some of the cost of discipleship, then He warns His listeners that they should count the cost for deciding to follow Him. He then warns us to beware of those who would tell us something other than what He's said. We don't hear the costs preached today as we did in the past, which is part of the reason what we do hear lacks the ring of truth."
"What you're saying really doesn't make any sense to me Pastor Providian. It's a long way from what I've ever heard before. Maybe someday I'll understand what you're talking about, but for now, what should I do? What church can I attend that I can be assured of hearing the truth?"
"In spite of our not accepting the things we've been taught, and knowing there's something wrong with the commonly accepted doctrines, we still allow them to get in our way of finding truth. We judge what we hear by what we know to be wrong, and count what contradicts our old beliefs to be wrong. The truth you're looking for and the truth I'm telling you about, are two very different things. I told you at the beginning of our conversation that truth to one person is not the same as truth to another person. The truth you're looking for can be found in any church, or in fact any religion of the world. What I suggest to you Joe is for you to walk in any church you feel comfortable in, learn all they have to teach you, defend your version of truth to the death if need be, and know that you are one of the few holders of truth, and that all who disagree with you are doomed to hell and not worth your time to even talk to."
"Pastor, you're putting me on. That's not at all what you believe, and I know it. Come on now, give it to me straight. What have I got to do to find the truth?"
"Now you're asking a different question of me than you presented before. Your first question was, where do I go to find truth. Now you ask, what do I do to find truth. Where we go to find truth is to the Word. What we do is something almost impossible for humans to accomplish, and for this reason it's rarely mentioned in the churches of today. Again I refer you to the fourteenth chapter of Luke, and along with Luke, the seventh chapter of Matthew. Then, after you've done all that's presented here, read the entire Bible, mark those places that tell what God wants us to do, which is everything that we resist doing, and do them; and then list everything we're told not to do, which is everything we desire to do, and don't do them. Truth is not a destination, it's a path, a strait and narrow path, with lots of mountains to be climbed, and obstacles to be side-stepped. The road also has sections where the road signs and markings disappear altogether leaving you to feel you've been abandoned when you're at the most confusing and dangerous parts of the trail. At the end of this difficult trail you'll find truth."
"Pastor Providian, it sounds like you're trying to scare me away from finding truth. Surely it's not as hard to find as all that. If truth was that hard to find, then nobody would look for it."
"Very true Joe, and as you said earlier, no one is telling you where truth is, and that's because no one is willing to do what it takes to find it."
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. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Mat 7:13-15)
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:.... He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. ....For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ....But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (Mat 7,22; 2Peter 1:8-9)
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (2Tim 2:11-12)