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ALMOST SAVED – BUT ENTIRELY LOST!

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, January 16, 2016

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).


The Bible divides the human race into two groups. You belong to one or the other. The first group is those who trust Jesus Christ, God’s Son, and have eternal life. Our text says, “He that hath the Son hath life.” Everyone else belongs to the second group, who do not have life. “He that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” There is no one in between. You trust Jesus or you don’t. You have life or you don’t.

The Scripture makes this clear. It says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). The Greek words translated “believe on” mean “believe into.” It’s not a doctrinal or mental belief. It’s a personal trust in Jesus Christ Himself. Some believe on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and have everlasting life. The rest “shall not see life.” The wrath of God abides – remains – on them. You have life or you don’t.

We have seen direct statements from the Bible that separate the two groups. And that separation is shown in the words the Bible uses to describe humanity. Christ said that at His Second Coming He will “set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:33). To the sheep He will say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom” (Matthew 25:34). To the goats He will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41). No one is part sheep and part goat. You will go into Christ’s kingdom, or you will go into everlasting fire.

The Bible speaks of the groups using the words life and death. One group of people remain “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). The others have been “quickened” [made alive] (Ephesians 2:1, 5). You’re either dead or alive. And you can’t make yourself alive if you’re dead! Only God can give you life through Christ. Jesus said those who trust Him have “passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Again, the Book of I John says those who are converted have “passed from death unto life” (I John 3:14). Some of you have been given life. The rest of you have only death. There is no other possibility. Life – or death.

The separation of the two groups is shown in the words God uses to describe salvation. Jesus said, “Except ye be converted...ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). You’re converted or you’re not. The Bible says that salvation is a new birth. Christ said to a religious man, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Can you make yourself be spiritually reborn? Have you got it in you to do that? No. And the Bible says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [a new creation]” (II Corinthians 5:17). Can you change yourself into a new creation? No, you need God to do that for you! The Scripture says that God has delivered the Christians from “the power of darkness, and hath [transferred them] into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). You’re either under the power of darkness, or you’re in the kingdom of God’s Son. You can’t transfer yourself from one to the other. Only God can do that. You’re either in darkness or you belong to Christ. You’re one or the other.

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).

The two groups will be separated forever after death. For the saved, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Revelation 21:4). But the lost “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Abraham spoke from paradise to the rich man in Hell, “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26). The two groups will be eternally separated. After death the separation between the saved and the lost will become infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.

Which group is bigger? Which has more people? Most will die without Christ and lose their souls forever. Only a few will trust Jesus and be saved. Christ said, “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Matthew 7:13). Then He said, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). Again Christ said, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Someone asked Jesus, “Are there few that be saved?” (Luke 13:23). And Christ answered him, “Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24). The Disciples asked Christ, “Who then can be saved?” (Mark 10:26). And He answered, “With men it is impossible” (Mark 10:27). Almost everyone will be lost. Only a few will be saved – and they by a miracle of God.

Many of you here tonight are lost. You have not trusted Jesus Christ. You have not had your sins pardoned by His Blood. You have not been converted. If you die now you will go to Hell. If you thought about this, you might become awakened to your sin and your need for Christ. You might call out to God to draw you to Christ. You might begin to strive and struggle to enter into salvation (cf. Luke 13:24). With your mouth you admit you are lost. But in your heart you do not think of yourself as a lost, helpless sinner, guilty before God, “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). That is the truth. But you don’t want to think and feel that way. It would be unpleasant and negative. It would make you feel bad. So you think of yourself in another way, to avoid the truth. You invent a group to put yourself in.

Some of you have been coming to church for a few weeks, or months, or longer. You invent a way to think of yourself. You think you are on the way to salvation. You think you are partly Christian. You think you are “trying to trust Jesus,” or “almost a Christian,” or “learning about Christ,” or “going to be a Christian some day.” You come to church – and after all, you didn’t used to come. After all, there are a lot of people who don’t go to church. You don’t commit all the sins that others do. You read the Bible. You’ve learned about Christian doctrine. You have friends in church. You fit in. You tell yourself that you would like to become a Christian. You think you will surely trust Jesus one of these days, although Christ said only a “few” would do that. But this is how you think of yourself – and you can live with yourself this way.

There’s just one problem. God doesn’t think there’s any such thing as an “almost Christian.” If you are not converted, God thinks of you as lost. Whatever you think, God knows your sins are not pardoned. God is angry with your sin, for He is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). “The wrath of God abideth on” you (John 3:36). God knows you are one of the “children of disobedience,” one of the “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:2, 3). God knows you are His enemy (cf. Romans 5:10; 8:7). God is right and you are wrong.

There is no such thing as what you think you are! The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). You have deceived yourself! God knows there’s no such thing as “on the way to being a Christian” or “learning to be a Christian.” God knows there are saved people and lost people – nothing else! Nothing in the middle! No “part Christians”! You’re not a Christian at all!

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).

The Bible tells of so-called “part Christians” who never got saved, and who are now in Hell. The Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus and said to Him, “All these [commandments] have I kept from my youth up” (Matthew 19:20). He thought he was good. But he never trusted Jesus. He “went away” from Him (Matthew 19:22). A Roman named Felix listened to the Apostle Paul and “trembled” at his preaching (Acts 24:25). He heard Paul speak again many times, but he always hardened his heart and was never converted. Another man, named Agrippa, heard Paul speak and said to him, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28). But, like Felix, Agrippa never trusted Christ. He died and went to Hell. This shows that you can hear preaching over and over and still be lost. To be an “almost Christian” is very dangerous.

Philip Bliss was the son of a Christian father who taught him to pray every day. When he was twelve years old he was finally converted. He was baptized and became a member of a Baptist church. Philip was a musician, and a few years later he began leading the singing for an evangelist named Daniel Whittle. He was also writing hymns and Gospel songs for the famous evangelist D. L. Moody. In one evangelistic meeting he heard a preacher named Brundage preach a sermon that ended with the words, “To be almost saved is to be entirely lost.” Philip was very impressed by those words. He remembered that this had been true of him. He had been attending church, reading the Bible, and praying every day, but he had been a “church kid,” almost saved but entirely lost. The thought of his own conversion moved Philip when he heard those words, “To be almost saved is to be entirely lost.” He went to his room and wrote the words of a hymn we often sing. It became his most popular hymn. He himself had been almost saved but entirely lost, and he wrote about it in that famous hymn that we often sing,

“Almost persuaded” now to believe;
   “Almost persuaded” Christ to receive...
“Almost” cannot avail; “Almost” is but to fail!
   Sad, sad that bitter wail, “Almost – but lost.”
(“Almost Persuaded” by Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876).

Although you come to church and fit in with the crowd, you are “entirely lost.” Some of the newer kids in church think you are a Christian, but you know in your heart that you are entirely lost. And when you die and sink down into Hell you will cry and wail, “Almost – but lost.” You were in our church but not of it! You were in the church on earth, but cut off from Heaven forever! Sad, sad, will be your bitter wail – almost – but lost. “To be almost saved is to be entirely lost.” You are not on your way to anything except Hell. You are entirely lost.

There is another group to which I must speak. There are children and young adults who have grown up in the church, but remain unconverted. You fit in. After all, you’ve been here all your life. You come to church because it’s your habit. Your parents brought you, and you’re here now. You’ve avoided some of the sins of the world. You know how to dress in church. You have a Bible. You know some of what’s in the Bible, and something about Christian teaching. You have friends here. People know you. You fit in. Sure, you haven’t trusted Christ. His death on the Cross has not been applied to pay for your sin before God. His Blood has not washed your sin away. You don’t have the life of His resurrection. Oh, you’d like to be saved some day, but you get along with yourself for now.

You may have fooled your parents. They love you. They may think you are a Christian. Even if they know you are lost, loving parents usually think their children will become Christians. After all, their children hear sermons. After all, they hear personal testimonies from others who are saved. Thus parents are tricked into thinking their children will become Christians. Such parents often think, “Of course they’ll become Christians. How could they not?” They assume their children will be converted although Christ said, “few there be that find it.” Your parents may think, “We’re doing all we can.” But do they weep for you? Do they pray hours for you in private? Do they constantly urge you to be saved?

Like many who come in from the world, you think of yourself as “partly Christian.” After all, you are learning about becoming a Christian, aren’t you? After all, you’re almost a Christian, aren’t you? Your parents think of you that way too, because they love you. They want to believe you’re going to become a Christian. It would hurt them to lose you. Your parents, without saying it, think of you as little Christians. You fit in outwardly, so you’re an almost Christian, a little Christian, who will surely become a real Christian – some day. Christian parents often think of their children that way – as little Christians, almost there, certain to trust Jesus – some day. They can’t imagine you losing your soul – but you will.

There is no such thing as a “little Christian.” There is no such thing as a Christian in training, or in learning, or on the way. There is nothing between saved and lost! There is nothing between Heaven and Hell. The pastor was right when he said, “To be almost saved is to be entirely lost.” You sit here, but you are entirely lost.

The Bible doesn’t treat religious people as little Christians. To Nicodemus, the great teacher of Israel, Jesus said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). The Apostle Paul had a religious background, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee” (Philippians 3:5). He had the outward forms of being one of God’s people – but he wasn’t! He was lost and going to Hell until he trusted Jesus. The Pharisees said to Christ, “Abraham is our father” (John 8:39). They said, “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41). “We’re not like those people on the outside.” But Christ said to them, “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). He knew they were depraved sinners – and nothing more.

God knows you are a depraved sinner – and nothing more. You may have fooled yourself. You may have fooled your parents. But you can’t fool God! The Bible says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7). God knows you are “dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5). God knows you are a child “of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:3). God knows that your “carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). God knows that in your heart you are “not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). He knows that you have “the understanding darkened” (Ephesians 4:18). He knows that you “are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). Yes, God knows – and you know in your heart – that you are not a little Christian, but a little devil. God knows, and you know in your heart that you are really a little devil. That’s why you resist God in your heart, like your father the Devil.

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).

You can’t be changed from a little devil to a real Christian by simply coming to church. You can’t have a conversion by learning things. Your heart is wrong. You are wrong inside. Your heart is “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). You cannot change yourself from a goat to a sheep, from a little devil to a real Christian. “With men it is impossible” (Mark 10:27). And with you it is impossible. You need God’s grace! You need a miracle of conversion from God. You are almost saved, but entirely lost. Without a miracle from God, you will always be entirely lost – lost in this life and lost forever in the next world.

Oh God, I pray that Thou wilt use these words to speak to someone’s heart. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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