Let me start by saying the title is not meant to ascribe blame, to belittle or to humiliate anyone. Nor do I want to come across as a know-it-all; in fact, I know what I know only because God has revealed it to me in His Word, the Holy Bible. That means that you can know it too and verify what I write is true, like the Bereans used to do in the book of Acts.
Why do I use the word “deceived”? Because it means to have been given a purposefully mistaken impression, to believe something that is not true (as told from a person to gain an advantage), or to fail to admit to oneself that something is true. The first two are related as they both contain the notion that someone is misleading you, whereas the third is you misleading yourself. Any one of us can be and are beguiled at one point or another during our lives out of ignorance, but to become aware of the truth and to reject it for some reason is stubborn, prideful, foolish or all three.
Let me be candid with you and you will, hopefully, understand what leads me to post this. Beyond that, and more importantly, learn not to become deceived or let go of a deception that has ensnared you. You must be humble and teachable for it to happen. Humans are prideful by nature. We don’t like to admit guilt or wrongdoing, ignorance or fault, so we must be intentional.
For several years now I have been praying for my family members to come to know the Lord as I have. Knowing at least a little about where each one is in their walk with (or should I say without) God is deeply troubling. My oldest sister is one whose life in this manner I knew the least about. I heard in recent years of her going to church, praying and other vague Christian terms. I don’t know what church she goes to or what denomination, if any, with which she associates herself. It always gnawed at me a little, not knowing; not so I could be judgmental but because I didn’t know if she truly knew God or not. I suspected she didn’t because I have never heard her say or seen her write the name JESUS. This is frightfully strange and alarming for someone who attends church and claims to have a relationship with God; for God is Jesus and Jesus is God, and He the Savior of our souls.
A few short weeks ago I felt very impressed by the Lord to write a letter and send it to each of my immediate family members (mother, four sisters and a brother), and a few nephews and nieces too (three in all). It was not what I would have written, particularly. There was not a direct explanation or reference to the Gospel. Instead, the Holy Spirit had me write about the obvious state of the world, Matthew 24, the soon return in the air of Jesus and the ensuing period of great tribulation. The sense was not to scare them- although a healthy dose of real and holy fear is due and good- but to awaken them with truth and to avoid them having to live through the tribulation period “such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be.” Within a few days of mailing the letters, I also sent a copy of an end times PowerPoint message I had made when teaching at a Christian school a few years ago, as it was too large a file to be emailed.
A couple of weeks went by and I didn’t get any responses. Maybe they thought I was crazy. Maybe they didn’t care. Or perhaps they were actually receiving God’s Word into their hearts. I had hoped and prayed for the latter because that was God’s purpose and it is His heart. Then, a couple of days ago, I received a short email from my oldest sister. It was polite but concise. She is an intelligent, funny and kind-hearted woman. But, I must admit, part of me wishes I was still ignorant of her spiritual life. Now that I know enough of where she is, it is hard for my soul to be at rest. There is so much I want to talk to her about, so much I want to share with her but she has, respectfully, and in no uncertain terms, closed the door on me- and the windows, too.
In a nutshell she wrote that we both have very different religious beliefs, that she did not believe there was only one, right way to God and that she believed there were “many, many” paths to God. Yes, she felt the need to use the word twice. After reading this, my heart sank within me temporarily. It is still swallowing the unwanted salt water, but it is not by the unwanted gulp. I suppose that is a reasonable response, initially, when someone you love shares what I know is a life-stealing deception with you, yet one they hold onto with conviction.
When we hear the word “church,” we generally think of it to be a building where Christians gather to worship, fellowship and to hear the Word of God read and expounded upon. And I suppose that might fit my sister’s definition as well. But knowing what I know, in her case, that doesn’t line up. Moreover, the word “church” (ekklesia, in the Greek) is solely a New Testament term meaning assembly or congregation. It means people. It was initiated by Christ.
Having this terminology in mind, we know also that it is not just any people but God’s chosen people. People who have been born again and who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. People who read and are taught by His true Word, the Bible; not a falsely-translated version of it, not doctrines of men, not the devil’s mix of truth with lies whose purpose it is to lend some counterfeit measure of supposed credibility to his fabrications (see Genesis 3:1). God’s Holy Word given to ALL is inerrant and contradicts my sister’s fervent beliefs. A few examples that easily come to mind are:
“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” [John 14:6]
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12]
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:23]
If she believes there are many ways to God, then what are her faith and beliefs based upon? Clearly not the Bible. Does she read the Bible? Does her “church” read the Bible? From what source does her pastor teach and preach? This is extremely troubling to me. I almost feel better about other family members who are unsure or uncommitted. Though their eternal fates- as of this moment- are the same, at least they are not deceived into thinking they are Heaven-bound, nor do they appear to have such a cemented conviction. I am all for one’s immoveable and immutable convictions, as long as they are rooted and grounded in the truth of God’s Word.
My heartfelt, fervent, frequent prayer to the Father of truth on her behalf and anyone else who is courageous and honest enough to not only realize but to confess their own deception- including you- is that they would be humble enough to ask themselves before God, to admit the errors of their thinking and belief, ask forgiveness and give their hearts and lives to Him who is Truth and Life- Jesus Christ. He will forgive you. That is why He came to earth and died! I am one who likes to do. My letter to my family is good and was an act of obedience. This post to you is good. But I need to trust God for my sister’s salvation- and yours- just as I trusted Him for mine. He is faithful. But she, and you, must be willing. God bless her and you.