Summary: Almost Persuaded - that’s the terrible thought of so many people who come close to Heaven but lose out with God because of one eternal decision.
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Pastor James May
June 30, 2002 – Sunday AM
Acts 25:22-23, "Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth."
Acts 26:1-3, "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently."
Acts 26:22-29, "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him: for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds."
This, to me, is one of the saddest incidents in the entire Bible. Looking upon this story we can see that this is an example of God reaching out to the sin-blighted heart of a man to give that man a chance to be saved. And yet that man would not hear because of the love of the world and the circumstances of his life.
Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, was on trial once again. This old warhorse for the Kingdom of God had faced many trials and tests before but this one was going to be his final exam to prove once and for all, his faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
God was going to use Paul to bring forth a message as he stood before King Agrippa and Festus, the governor, to proclaim the gospel and to give testimony of his conversion on the road to Damascus. Paul was fighting for his very life. He had been arrested and put under protective custody of the Roman army because the Jews had determined to kill him. Paul had appealed to Caesar, since he was a Roman citizen by birth.
Paul was God’s instrument to bring about the preaching of the gospel to King Agrippa. God knew that Agrippa’s heart was ripe for the gospel and God determined to give him a chance to hear and to repent.
As Paul stood between his Roman guards that day, waiting for his audience with Agrippa, I cannot help but believe that he stood there in silent prayer. He was seeking God for wisdom, asking the Lord to give him the right words to say in presenting his case for innocence. He had been charged with many false charges because of his preaching of the gospel.
(What a hard thing to bear – to know that you are only preaching and teaching the truth, in love, to reach out to a hurting world – and then to be condemned for doing so.)