Summary: To be almost saved by Him is not what life is.
"To Be Almost Saved is to Be Totally Lost"
INTRODUCTION: Ever since the coming of Christ into the world there have been people who were "almost persuaded to be a Christian; but to be almost saved is to be totally lost.
Today’s scripture focuses on Paul’s defense of the gospel before Festus and King Agrippa. For a little bit of background, Paul, a Roman citizen, had charges brought against him for preaching the gospel. Many were upset because he preached the resurrection of Jesus. Although the Pharisees believed in the resurrection, the Saducees didn’t. There were charges made against Paul that could not be substantiated. Some wanted to see Paul put to death or at least imprisoned. Paul, a Roman citizen, requested to go to Rome; but first he came before Festus for a preliminary hearing. Festus was out of his league because he didn’t know what to put in the report that was to be sent with Paul. He found a way out of this difficulty when he invited King Agrippa to sit in on the hearing and help him to formulate the report. King Agrippa was known to be an expert on all matters relating to the Jewish religion and professed this himself, however, he aligned himself with the Saducees when he appointed high priests and was likely to reject both the resurrection and also the resurrection of Jesus. Apparently King Agrippa had some interest in the gospel that Paul preached because he immediately agreed to be present. He said in an earlier verse, "I would like to hear this man myself" (Acts 25:22).
Paul began to state his case with no reluctance to say exactly how he felt. He told them how fortunate he was to have the opportunity to make the message known to such a distinguished audience and especially to Agrippa who was well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. He described his conversion experience and told how God had called him to preach Christ to his own people as well as to the Gentiles. His call said, "I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (v. 18).
Today’s scripture begins with Paul saying, "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven." Paul wanted more than anything else for people to hear and accept the gospel message, but people reacted in a variety of ways sometimes very negatively just as we find today. Festus interrupted Paul by saying, "Your great learning is driving you insane." Agrippa said, "You are almost persuading me to be a Christian."
How does this scripture from A.D. 59 apply to us today? Three things are evident in this scripture:
1. Almost is not Enough: At this point neither Festus nor Agrippa received the message of Christ that Paul preached. Festus seemed far from the truth, and even though Agrippa was more knowledgeable in the Jewish religion, when Paul confronted him, he took it lightly and evaded the question. Different translations of the scripture put it a little differently. The KJV says, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Yet other versions show that he probably was not really all that sincere about making this very important decision. Paul asked him, "Do you believe the prophets?" and then continued with, "I know you do." Paul knew that if he believed the prophets that he would come to agree with Paul’s conclusion about Jesus. Agrippa evaded his question by asking another question. "Do you think you can make me a Christian so quickly?"
The Message translation puts it this way, "Keep things up much longer and you’ll make a Christian out of me."
The Amplified Bible suggests that Agrippa didn’t really take Paul’s message all that seriously. "You think it is a small task to make a Christian of me just off hand to induce me with little ado and persuasion at very short notice."
Why was he almost but not totally willing to become a Christian? And why do people today show SOME interest--maybe they are almost convinced but still so far from receiving? Maybe you are like this too. It could be a variety of reasons.
Paul’s appeal to Agrippa put this man in a real dilemma. He had his reputation at stake and even though he had followed Paul’s talk with interest, he did not want to even APPEAR to commit himself in agreement with Paul and lose face with Festus and the others. On the other hand, he did not want to forfeit favor with the Jews either by appearing not to believe the prophets. So he shrugged it off.