Back when I was still coaching high school football I received the following sermon illustration from Grady Vigneau, who was at that time anyway, the director of the All-Star Football Camp in Burlington, VT. In the times I was talking with him Grady never gave me any indication of being interested in spiritual things, so I don’t believe he had any real idea of the deeper truth he was speaking. During a short lecture to the young men, and young woman on my team, concerning making good choices in life, Grady then asked the players a great question using a riddle:
“There were 5 frogs sitting on a log. And suddenly 4 of them decided to jump off that log. How many frogs are left on that log?” Grady paused; and then he pointed out, “The answer is all 5. You see, making a decision to do something, is not the same as doing that something. Because to actually accomplish something requires an effort.”
Now here is that illustration applied to the spiritual life; making a decision to follow Christ, is not the same as actually following Him. Making the decision to be born again, is not the same as really being born again. And if you haven’t seen your life change since you made your “decision,” then you do have every reason to question whether you simply made some decision, or whether you were actually regenerated and placed into Christ’s hands.
For it is written — Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5). While not a blanket endorsement of all he taught, consider the oft-quoted words from A.W. Tozer below. I ask you to pray and ponder, if you will, while considering the fact that Tozer is preaching this sermon around the mid-50’s. I’d also like to ask you to carefully think about something else as well as you read.
Do you really think that the visible church of our Lord Jesus Christ here in America is stronger now than it was then? Do you think that we are seeing the radically changed lives of God’s true people, which we read about in the Bible, and have seen down through the ages in Church history? And are we turning the world upside down like Christians did in the New Testament? The truth is that Tozer put his finger right on the problem when he said:
The old cross [killed] men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter. The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the [old] cross; before that cross it bows and toward that cross it points with carefully staged histrionics— but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of that cross it stubbornly refuses to bear.
I well know how many smooth arguments can be marshaled in support of the new cross. Does not the new cross win converts and make many followers and so carry the advantage of numerical success? Should we not adjust ourselves to the changing times? Have we not heard the slogan “New days, new ways?” And who but someone very old and very conservative would insist upon death as the appointed way to life?
And who today is interested in a gloomy mysticism that would sentence its flesh to a cross and recommend self-effacing humility as a virtue actually to be practiced by [so-called] modern Christians? These are the arguments, along with many more flippant still, which are brought forward to give an appearance of wisdom to the hollow and meaningless cross of popular Christianity. (The Pursuit Of Man, 53, 54)
But in the end men and women, what are we to make of these Words spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth — Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, He must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Today, shall we pray — My Lord and my God, please help me to deny myself, take up my cross, and to follow You. No matter what; to the end…