An Alabama preacher, Kevin Jones, tells the sad story about a 62-year-old man named William Hyatt. He was found in the Mojave Desert with his face and his hands buried in the sand seeking water.
Hyatt’s car had broken down, and he had walked 22 miles through the Desert. The last two miles, he crawled on his hands and feet and finally died in the sand. Just over the hill, in ½ mile was the Saratoga Spring that could have saved him.
The desert of defeat, sorrow, regret, and failure is littered with the sad souls of so many who almost survived, who almost succeeded, who almost took the risk, who almost launched out on faith, who almost made it, but….
In yesterday’s post, from Acts 26, we discussed Paul’s conversion account but did not consider the response of the hearers.
After two years of being imprisoned for preaching Christ, Paul is summoned to appear before King Agrippa, who assembled a prestigious crowd of prominent people, military commanders, and the governor, Festus.
Paul’s passionate presentation is loudly interrupted by the Governor who accused Paul of being insane. Paul quickly denied the accusation and affirmed that he spoke words “of truth and reason.”
The apostle then turned to Agrippa, and asked, “Do you believe the prophets?”
The King is put on the spot. If he says, yes, then he must admit that Jesus is the fulfillment of those prophecies. Instead, he replied, “You almost persuade me to be a Christian.”
Paul responded that he “would to God” that not only Agrippa, but everyone present would “almost, and altogether” become a Christian. (Ax 26:24-29).
Almost. The word hangs in the air like a last-second shot that bounces off the rim. Almost. But the home team lost.
Almost. How many stories have we heard or told about that prime real estate or Amazon or Apple stock that soared in value, and we almost bought it? But didn’t.
Almost. Life is filled with them. Almost made a hole in one. Almost won the race. Almost made the team. Almost got a promotion. Almost. But….
Some say that Agrippa wasn’t serious. It was a statement of derision, ridicule, and contempt. Maybe. But consider, what Agrippa almost had.
He almost received God’s grace. Forgiveness of sins. A relationship with the Lord. Peace of mind. The privilege of prayer. A new purpose in life. The hope of heaven. Almost, but….
What prevented Agrippa from almost being a Christian? Pride? His political position? Fear of losing prestige or power? An unwillingness to change his lifestyle? We don’t know. But we do know that almost wasn’t good enough.
Are you a Christian? Or almost a Christian?
Sadly, some who learn the truth and obey the gospel quit. Imagine standing before God in judgment and saying, “I almost remained faithful.” But hearing those frightful words, “Depart from Me.” Almost. But….
These thoughts remind us of the sobering hymn by Philip P. Bliss. He’d attended a Revival and heard a preacher named Brundage who concluded his sermon with these words: “He who is almost persuaded is almost saved, and to be almost saved is to be entirely lost.”
Bliss went home and immediately penned the words to one of his most famous hymns sung as a compelling invitation song.
“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!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman