Summary: When the Gospel of the Lord Jesus is preached in its fullness, those who hear will respond in one of three ways.
MAN’S THREE RESPONSES TO THE GOSPEL
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this matter." So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them. Acts 17:30-34 (NKJV)
When the Gospel of the Lord Jesus is preached in its fullness, those who hear will respond in one of three ways. The way you respond determines where you will spend eternity. Paul makes it clear that believing in the resurrection of Christ is essential to salvation. “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
I. “Some mocked”.
In today’s world there are many who mock the claims of Christ. Some professed Christians deny the bodily resurrection of our Lord, saying that He arose only in spirit. Others mock our Lord’s declaration that He is the only way to the Father by teaching that there are many roads to God. To mock God, His Son, or His Word is to invite eternal damnation. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he shall also reap.” (Galatians 6:7).
II. “Others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”
These Athenians may have been sincere in their reply to the Gospel message; maybe they were really interested but not fully convinced. Perhaps it may have been a polite way to say “I’m not really interested.” A vivid Bible example of this response is found in Acts 24:24-25. Felix, a Roman magistrate, already had an accurate knowledge of “the Way” when he summoned Paul to stand before him. “...Felix sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as Paul reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ’Go away for now, when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”
Acts 26:27 records Paul testimony before King Agrippa, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” And so it is with many today. They have every intention to give their heart to God in saving belief but they are not ready to make that decision and commitment now.
There is an old invitation hymn that you may not find in today’s hymnals. One account tells us that Philip P. Bliss was present in a service conducted by the Rev. Mr. Brundage who closed his message with a statement that Bliss could not get out of his mind. That sentence: “He who is almost persuaded is almost saved, and to be almost saved is to be entirely lost” was the inspiration for the hymn “Almost Persuaded”. The message of the song is one that needs to be pressed upon the minds and hearts of people today.
“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’ll call.”
“Almost persuaded,” come, come today;
“Almost persuaded,” turn not away;
Jesus invites you here, Angels are ling’ring near,
Prayers rise from hearts so dear, O wand’rer,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.
III. “Some men joined him, and believed.”
“However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” (Acts 17:34) We do not know the percentage of believers in relation to unbelievers but what we do know is that those who believed were saved.
The declaration of Paul and Silas to the jail keeper at Philippi is still valid today, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) The same, simple, trusting faith in the Lord Jesus Christ brings salvation to all who will believe. If you have not yet believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, why not now? Revelation 22:17 says, And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.