This book has challenged me on several points. Could it be possible that I am among the multitudes of religious self-deceived professors who will say on the Day of Judgement “Lord, Lord”? However, Meade makes it clear that he has no intention of discouraging the true child of God and it is those who will respond to such questioning with the deepest concern for their soul. “Is it I?” was the sorrowful reaction of the disciples when Christ declared that one of them would betray Him. God doesn’t want His children to be burdened with doubt but desires that we have full confidence and joy in our salvation. Furthermore, it is this kind of scrutiny that will produce that assurance. The Scriptures themselves make it very clear that it is possible to know that we have been born again.
In 1937 Arthur Pink wrote,
“The “Gospel” which is now being proclaimed is, in nine cases out of every ten—butba perversion of the Truth, and tens of thousands, assured they are bound for Heaven, are now hastening to Hell, as fast as time can take them!” 1
And the beat goes on. Evangelicals en masse believe they will inherit eternal life because they have “asked Jesus into their heart”, even though many know nothing of what it means to test themselves to see if their faith is genuine.
In the past, the practice of carefully examining ourselves was considered normal and necessary in order to expose self-deceived professors and hypocrites, rebuke worldly Christians, and assure genuine believers.
Matthew Meade (1629– 1699), was a Puritan and contemporary of John Owen, Bunyan, and Richard Baxter, who lived in a time when Protestantism had spread quickly and hypocrisy was rampant. But the diligent Puritans had no “lack of fidelity in applying to the churches tests of fearless thoroughness.” 2 Appointed by Oliver Cromwell to the New Chapel at Shadwell, England, Meade’s works were held in high esteem and are still considered to be some of the greatest writings on Christian living. “The Almost Christian Discovered” was written as a wake-up call to devout parishioners who believed themselves to be Christians but were not born again. The book poses four questions giving the most attention to the first—“How far may a man go in the way to heaven, and be almost a Christian?” Twenty ways an unregenerate person can appear to be a Christian are explained using Biblical examples, raising objections, and comparing the counterfeit to the real McCoy.
- He may have much knowledge.
- He may have great gifts.
- He may have a high profession.
- He may do much against sin.
- He may desire grace.
- He may tremble at the word.
- He may delight in the word.
- He may be a member of the church of Christ.
- He may have great hopes of heaven.
- He may be under great and visible changes.
- He may be very zealous in the matters of religion.
- He may be much in prayer.
- He may suffer for Christ.
- He may be called of God.
- He may, in some sense, have the Spirit if God.
- He may have some kind of faith.
- He may love the people of God.
- He may go far in obeying the commands of God.
- He may be, in some sense, sanctified.
- He may do all, as to external duties, that a true Christian can, and yet be no better than almost a Christian.