Summary: Based, in large part, on a sermon by John Wesley with the same title.
“The Almost Christian”
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
The apostle Paul was in chains. The religious leaders wanted him condemned…
…they wanted him killed because he had come into Jerusalem preaching the Gospel of Jesus the Resurrected Christ.
Paul had been in a Roman prison for more than two years…
…Then his final trial comes when King Agrippa comes to visit.
King Agrippa said to Paul: “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
So, once again, Paul tells his story.
It is essentially the same story he has told on many occasions.
Like all people whose lives are divided by an event which completely changes them, Paul goes back again and again to that decisive event.
While Paul was defending himself—what he was really trying to do was save the souls of those who were there to judge him.
As Agrippa listened to Paul, he listened like a person who is living in a different world…
…whose God is more like a piece of stage furniture…rather than the One for Whom and through Whom this entire stage has been built.
“King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.’
Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’
Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.’”
After Paul had finished his defense, both Festus and King Agrippa acquitted him.
They didn’t think that Paul had done anything that deserved the death penalty.
They had acquitted him but they didn’t appreciate him.
They were willing to let him go, but they weren’t willing to take him in.
They passed judgment on Paul, at least this is what they thought…
…but in reality…
…by Paul speaking to them the Gospel of Christ…
…They were passing judgment on themselves by not accepting it.
And the number of people who are doing this very thing to this very day are countless…
…these are the people who find no fault with Jesus…
…they are willing to let Him live…
…but they never see the greatness of Him and never feel His love.
They would raise no hand to hurt Him or block His way…
…but neither would they lift a hand to be part of his kingdom on earth…
…opening their hearts to receive the matchless power of His grace.
They are the silent, self-approving acquitters.
They go down among the scores of nameless men and women who have passed by the Glory of Life and have never known it.
It is hard to even try to conceive of a tragedy more terrible than theirs!
The classic Rock band: the Doobie Brothers have a song: “Jesus Is Just Alright With Me.”
There are many in this world who are willing to sing: “Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah.”
But Jesus is not JUST ALRIGHT!
That won’t cut it.
Jesus Christ is Lord!!!
Jesus Christ is God!!!
Jesus Christ is the One and Only Way for humankind to find the forgiveness of sins and enter into everlasting life!!!
Jesus Christ is the Truth, He is the Way, He is the Life… No one comes to the Father except through Him.
Did Christ die in vain?
Is Jesus JUST ALRIGHT?
Jesus is not JUST SOME lucky rabbit’s foot that we can rub when we want good luck…
…Jesus is not just some passing acquaintance of Whom we can say: “I don’t care what they may say, I don’t care what they may do, Jesus is just alright.”
Jesus is not just one among many other ways to enter the Kingdom of God!
Unless we call on the name of Jesus…
Unless we trust in Christ and Christ alone for our salvation…forsaking all others…even ourselves…
…There is no salvation for our souls!!!
“On Christ the Solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”
In our Epistle Lesson for this morning Paul warns: “the time will come when [people] will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
How many people who call themselves Christians will not put up with sound doctrine?
A good way to test this is to go witnessing.
I remember, one day, walking up to a man on the beach. I asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
He got very angry with me, and told me to…well…basically “Go away.”