Almost, Almost I Am Persuaded ...

by Rolaant L. McKenzie

"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, 'Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.'" Acts 26:28 (KJV)

Acts 26 tells the story of Paul witnessing, testifying, and preaching before the Roman authorities. Brought there on false accusations of the Jewish religious leaders, it was hoped by them that Paul would be found guilty of the capital offense of sedition and he and his preaching silenced forever. But instead, Paul made an impassioned, eloquent, and powerful presentation of the gospel. One that convicted the heart of King Agrippa to the point where he said that he was almost persuaded to be a Christian. But was this enough to save him?

The gospel Paul preached was the death of Jesus Christ for our sins and His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This gospel is called "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). He taught that salvation is by the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 4:3-5, 10:5-13). He was uncompromising in his message, and condemned all attempts by others to add anything to it and thereby compromise the plan of salvation. He taught that any gospel that differed from the one he preached was "another gospel" that brought God's condemnation rather than salvation (Galatians 1:6-9).

The gospel is like the door of Noah's Ark. Immediately before the Flood, the door on Noah's Ark was the sole means of entry into the refuge of the Ark. The only way to safety from the flood that would engulf the world outside.

The long legged, long necked, tallest land animal the giraffe had to go in by the door just like the smallest lowliest animal alive. Even the majestic eagle that soars hundreds of feet up in the air, had only one means by which to enter the Ark, and that was by way of the door. If not by the door, then nothing could enter. Either the animals along with Noah and his family came through by way of the door or not at all.

Those who may have been almost persuaded by Noah of the impending flood and the necessity of entering the door to safety were not among those who survived. They may have been almost saved, but they were not saved. They died along with those who outright rejected Noah's message.

Likewise the Lord Jesus Christ is the "only" door whereby man can safely enter into the eternal rest of God's salvation. There is no other way. (John 14:6)

No matter how one may feel, if he is depending on some other means for salvation, then he is placing his soul in a false hope. If someone condones in "any way" others who seem so sincere by accepting their personal beliefs of adding something to "faith alone in Christ," then they are guilty of vindicating another gospel by supporting them in their false belief.

It is Jesus Christ and Him alone, or there is no salvation.

For the person who is in any degree whatsoever trusting in their water baptism, observance of particular days, church activities, denominational affiliation, faith, repentance, or anything else as a means to being saved, finishing or securing their salvation, then they are not at all saved or almost saved. They are still as lost as they have always been. If you are not in Christ, then you are without. Almost is not sufficient. King Agrippa was almost persuaded to accept Christ, yet he did not get to the point of accepting Him.

Do you believe that you will see Agrippa in heaven based on some special dispensation of being almost saved ? No, unless he came to Christ later on. And while it is hoped that he did, no such account is recorded in God's word.

A Christian brother once told me a story about his efforts to get his father to accept the gospel, to accept salvation through faith in Christ alone. His father wept on more than one occasion when he discussed his need to repent and trust in Jesus Christ alone. Oh, how brokenhearted he was. His mind was at its most tender point. He possessed in those moments enough knowledge to know that there is a God, that God loved him, and that Jesus died on the Cross of Calvary for his sins. But before his son he only came close. Almost. He could hear him say, "Almost, my son, you persuade me."

Today, my friend does not know if his father is in glory, or eternally lost. It is his fervant hope and prayer that he is in glory with Christ this very hour, and that someday he will see him again with exceedingly great joy. But if he is, it is only because he repented and called on Christ at a time and place of which he was not aware.

Almost. Almost is a very dangerous place to be. Almost means that you are not there. If you are almost home, then you are not home. Recall the 747 Korean Air passenger jet that crashed in Guam on August 5, 1997. The plane was on final approach and just a couple of miles from the airport. It was nearly at the airport after a long flight from Seoul, South Korea. Yet something went wrong at the last minute and the plane crashed, and well over 200 people were killed. You see, the plane was almost safely at the airport, but it was not at the airport.

Likewise, if you have a religious experience and you almost repent and trust in Christ alone, but instead continue to hold on to some additional means such as water baptism, the observance of certain days, diet, or some sacrament, then you almost were saved .

Almost. How close is almost? Almost may as well be a million miles away. That is how close almost is.

Which gospel do you proclaim and defend? Is it the gospel of Jesus Christ and faith in Him alone? Or do you preach a different gospel, a gospel that brings divine condemnation? What gospel do you preach?

Perhaps when you testify, witness, or preach, you present the pure gospel. If so, that is wonderful. But when you see or come in contact with someone whom you think is a great and wonderful person, and among the very best people you have ever met, but they are trusting in something else besides Christ a lot or just a tiny little bit, are you guilty of condoning their false belief through your silence or open acceptance?

Anything other than faith alone in Christ is almost, and almost leads to eternal condemnation!

Do you believe this? How determined are you to stand for the truth so as not to allow the true gospel to be compromised? There are many false gospels going around today, and they deceive many, placing them on the broad way that leads to everlasting destruction. There is only one true gospel that leads to eternal life.

I cannot, nor will I ever compromise the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know in today's social climate of toleration and "believe whatever you want" attitude I can remain silent. It would be the socially acceptable thing to do. But my conviction and fellowship with my Lord will not allow me to be quiet.

How is it with you? Do you defend the gospel, or do you defend an almost gospel? One is a defense of the truth; the other is a defense of that which leads to eternal damnation.

"Almost persuaded" now to believe;
"Almost persuaded" Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
"Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On thee I will call."

"Almost persuaded," come, come today,
"Almost persuaded," turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!

"Almost persuaded," harvest is past!
"Almost persuaded," doom comes at last!
"Almost" cannot avail;
"Almost" is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail --
"Almost," but lost!

-- Philip P. Bliss, Almost Persuaded Now to Believe

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