Summary: Many professing Christians treat the Faith as though it were optional; God calls us to absolute commitment.

“We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard,” [1]

“How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” The Great Question posed in the message this day is frequently employed when confronting outsiders. However, the question was intended to confront those who appeared at one time to be walking in the Faith, but who have begun to turn aside. On one occasion, Jesus made a startling statement when He said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” [MATTHEW 7:13, 14]. The entrance to one gate is wide and easy, and the way beyond the gate is spacious; but it leads to destruction and ruin. The majority of mankind opts to follow that path and to pass through that particular gate. Another gate that Jesus described is said to be constricted; and after you have passed through that gate you will discover that the path leading beyond is narrow, requiring your full attention.

You know quite well the encouragement Paul and Barnabas offered to those who had come to faith during the first missionary tour. “When [the missionaries] had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” [ACTS 14:21, 22].

This same theme was presented at other times as the Master taught. Near the end of His ministry in Judea, facing the Passion that was about to break over Him, we see the Master presenting this same teaching. “[Jesus] went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” then he will answer you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!” In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last’” [LUKE 13:22-30].

Canada is not a Christian nation; Canada has a Christian heritage, but the nation has largely jettisoned the Christian Faith for an eclectic, pragmatic compilation of philosophies that permit a patina of religion over much of the life of the nation. Tragically, there is no way that any conscientious and knowledgeable person could say that Canada is a Christian nation, unless they meant by such a statement that it is not primarily Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu.

I was visiting a congregation just across the border in Washington on one occasion. The pastor recognised me and asked me to say a few words concerning my service before the Master in the Lower Mainland where I was then pastoring. I pointed out some of the needs and explained that despite a Christian heritage, the area was largely unchurched.

After the service, a couple were quite deliberate in making their way toward me. They introduced themselves, explaining that they were visiting from Vancouver. The woman got right to the point. “You make it sound as if we were all pagans.” I asked how many of her neighbours attended a church service with any regularity. That was none of her business, she explained. “Well, madam,” I explained, “the evidence is that less than one percent of the population self-identify as evangelical Christians. Over one-quarter of the province self-identifies as either atheists or agnostics. By these criteria, we are pagans.”

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