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Acts 26:24-30

ALMOST

Intro:  Ill. The Context.  Ill. The various attitudes people hold concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. For instance, in this passage, three different men are mentioned: Festus, Paul, and King Agrippa II.  Each of these men represents a different attitude toward Jesus. 

·         Festus represents those who HATE the Lord.  He was antagonistic toward the Gospel message.  He accused Paul of being “mad”.  (Ill. They said the same thing about Jesus when He was here, Mark 3:21; John 10:20.  No one says that about people who go all out for money, pleasure or power. But, they do about those who go all out for the Lord!) 

·         Paul represents those who HONOR the Lord.  He was sold out and living every minute of his life for Jesus, Phil. 1:21. (Ill. I want to be like Paul!) 

·         Then there is Agrippa.  He represents those who are HOLDING OUT on the Lord.  People like Agrippa are right on the verge of coming to Jesus, but for some reason, they are holding out.  He was close, but as they say, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”.  An “almost Christian” is still not saved!

The Bible is filled with stories of people who were “almost” where they needed to be. 

·         Ill. Israel at Kadesh-Barnea, Num. 13-14.  They were almost in Canaan. 

·         Ill. The concubine in Judges 19.  She was almost back in the house. 

·         Ill. The Scribe in Mark 12:28-34.  He was close to the kingdom; he was almost there.

According to verse 26, “almost” is where we find King Agrippa.  He is almost a Christian, but he is still lost.  He is almost a believer, but he is still an unbeliever.  He is close, but he is not there yet!

I am afraid that many people, probably some in this room today, are in that very same place.  You are close to coming to Jesus, but you aren’t there yet.  Friend, I can think of no greater tragedy in life than for a person to be blessed to hear the Gospel; for them to feel the tug of the Spirit; for them to know they need to be saved; and then for them to walk away and continue on toward Hell.  That is a tragedy.  And, it is a tragedy that is repeated far too often.  I want to preach on the subject of Almost today. I want you to see that being almost is not good enough.  I want to show you how you can get beyond almost saved and come to the place where you are altogether saved.  This passage contains a message that we all need to hear today.  Let’s consider what it means to be “Almost” saved.

 

  I.                                 ALMOST AND THE TRUTH

      (Notice the things that brought Agrippa the to place of Almost)

A.  v. 26-27  The Testimony Of The Scriptures – Paul reminds Agrippa of the Word of God.  He tells the king that he both knows these things and believes these things. What things? The things contained in the Law and the Prophets, v. 22.  Paul is using the Bible as tool to bring Agrippa to faith in Christ.

 

Note: This is exactly what the Bible is designed to do, 2 Tim. 3:25; John 20:31.  The Bible is designed to reveal the glory of God and the sinfulness of man.  It shows man what he is and of his need for salvation. 

·         The Bible is a mirror and it shines its light on man’s sin, James 1:23.

·         The Bible is a sharp two-edged sword.  It cuts to the very heart of a man, Heb. 4:12.

·         The Bible is a hammer.  It can crush the hardest heart, Jer. 23:29.

·         The Bible is a fire.  It can cause the coldest heart to burn for God, Jer. 23:29.

      The Bible is a tremendous and powerful book.  It can penetrate any heart and draw that person to Jesus.  If fact, the Word of God is how you got saved, if you did, Rom. 10:17.

 

(Ill. Mitsuo Fuchida – The commander-in-chief of the Japanese air forces that attacked Pearl Harbor was converted through a tract that seemed to come into his hands accidentally.  That tract referenced the New Testament.  Fuchida became interested, so he purchased a copy of the New Testament and read it.  He was convicted of his sins and was saved, just through reading the Bible!)

 

(Ill. The workman saved at the Metropolitan Tabernacle simply by Spurgeon’s quoting John 1:29 to test the acoustics.  Spurgeon did not know the man was there, but the Holy Ghost did.)

 

(Ill. The old preacher who stopped and preached to no one in the woods.  A man in the ditch heard the Gospel and was saved.  He was hiding from the preacher, but he could not hide from the Lord.)

 

B.  v. 2-24  The Testimony Of The Saints – Not only did Agrippa have the testimony of the Scriptures, he also had the testimony of a saint of God.  This whole chapter is devoted to Paul telling Agrippa how he was saved.  Paul told it all.  He told what a sinner he had been and how the Lord gloriously saved his soul.  There stands Paul, bound in chains, with the scars of his love for Jesus all over his body.  He tells Agrippa that he is happy and that his whole life has been changed.  It was a powerful witness and it brought Agrippa to the place of Almost believing!

 

(Note: There is something powerful about the testimony of one who has been changed by Jesus Christ.  This room is filled with such testimonies, and they should not be taken lightly.  There are folk here who used to be drunkards.  There are folk here who used to live promiscuous lives.  There are people here who used to hate this church.  There are people here who used to mock, ridicule and make fun of this church.  But, today they have the testimony that they have been changed by the power of God!  What happened to them?  The met Jesus and He changed their lives, 2 Cor. 5:17!

      Lost friend, what Jesus has done for them, He can do for you too!  There is something powerful and persuasive in a personal testimony!)

 

(Ill. In Num. 21 the Bible tells us about an occasion when poisonous snakes invaded the camp of Israel.  They bit the people and many people in Israel died.  Moses was commanded to make a bronze snake and place it on a pole.  Anyone who looked at that snake would be healed.  I am sure that some who had been healed after being bitten went and told others about what could happen if they would only look for themselves.

      Friend, listen to the testimonies of those around you today.  They were bitten by the same serpent of sin that has its fangs in your soul right now.  They looked to Jesus by faith and they were saved.  He can do the same thing in your life, and He can do it today, Isa. 45:22; Acts 16:31.)

 

C.  v. 23, 26b  The Testimony Of The Savior – Paul tells Agrippa that the things he is talking about “were not done in a corner”. In other words, Paul is telling Agrippa, “You know who Jesus is and what He did!  Everyone knows that Jesus died on the cross and that He rose again from the dead.”  Agrippa takes Paul to Calvary and reminds him of the price Jesus paid for sin. This reminder Almost beings Agrippa to Jesus.

 

(Note: There is something powerful about the cross of our Savior!  Go with me to Calvary for a moment.

·         Can you see the crowds? 

·         Can you hear their taunts and their curses? 

·         Can you see Jesus as He hangs there, bruised and bleeding? 

·         Can you here Him as He speaks; as He prays; as He forgives? 

·         Can you comprehend the truth that everything He endured – the nails; the whips; the spit; the beating; everything – He did it all for you, Rom. 5:8? 

·         Does His cross move you? 

·         Does His cross fill your heart with love for Him? 

·         Does His cross make you want to be saved today? 

·         Don’t stop at almost.  Come to Christ and He will save you.)

 

II.                                  ALMOST AND THE TRAPS

(Ill. Agrippa heard some pretty persuasive arguments.  His heart was stirred.  He saw Paul; felt his sincerity and believed his words.  What caused Agrippa to stop at “Almost”?  I would suggest two obstacles that stood in Agrippa’s way.)

A.  The Power Of Sin – In verse 30 and in Acts 25:23, a woman by the name of Bernice is mentioned.  Agrippa is living with her as if she was his wife.  She is actually his sister!  They are living in an immoral relationship and Agrippa understands that if he comes to Jesus, he will have to let go of his relationship with Bernice.  His addiction to his sin caused him to stop at “Almost”.

 

(Note:  I want you to know the truth and here it is: There is no such thing as a cheap salvation!  One of the keys to salvation is repentance.  You must come to the place where you hate your sins and become willing to let them go.  Yes, you can come to Jesus just as you are.  But, you cannot come to Jesus until you are willing to repent of your sins, Luke 13:3.  He loves you so much that He will accept you just like your are; but He loves you too much to allow you to stay as you are!

      This is what makes a lot of people stop at “Almost”.  They want to come to Jesus and they want to continue to drink their beer and liquor, sleep around, and do all the things they want to do.  Well, it does not work like that!  You must come to the place where you see your sins for what they are and to where you are willing to break your relationship with your sins.  You cannot have Jesus and your sins too!  He will take you when you come His way and His way is for you to come in humility and repentance!)

 

(Note: There are some here today who are walking in Agrippa’s shoes.  You know you need to be saved, but you are allowing some sin; some fleshly pleasure; some ungodly relationship keep you away from Jesus.  Friend, that thing you love so dearly is going to wreck your life and take you to Hell if you don’t let it go.  No one, no thing, and no pleasure is worth going to Hell over, Mark 8:36-38.  Jesus tells us that whatever steps we need to take to get away from sin and its power are worth taking, if they bring us to Him, Mark 9:43-48.)

 

B.  The Power Of Self – It wasn’t just sin that stopped Agrippa at “Almost”.  There was also the problem of self.  Notice how self kept this man from coming to Jesus.

1.  He Was Concerned About His Position – Agrippa was a King!  If he had professed faith in Jesus Christ, his Jewish subjects and his Roman superiors would have turned on him like a pack of rabid wolves.

2.  He Was Concerned About His Pride – The Roman Governor Festus was in that room that day.  If Agrippa had accepted Jesus as his Savior, he would have lost face before this man.  Agrippa could not allow Festus to see him confess his sins and bow to an invisible Christ at the word of a prisoner in chains.  His pride would not allow Agrippa to bow.

3.  He Was Concerned About The Price – As he sat there that day, Agrippa could see Paul.  Paul was chained and his body was scarred by all the persecution he had suffered because of his relationship with the Lord Jesus.  Agrippa knew that is he came to faith in Christ; he would lose everything he valued in life.  He was not willing to pay the price to come to Christ.

 

      So, here is the real problem.  Agrippa wouldn’t believe because Agrippa didn’t want to believe!  That is always the problem.  Lost people remain lost because they refuse to accept Jesus into their heart and life.  They might be motivated by what they will have to give up.  They might hold back out of pride.  They might be afraid of what the Lord will require from their lives.  They might be concerned about saving face before their friends and family.  They might be afraid to pay the price.

      But, when you boil all the fat away and are left with the bare, naked truth, people don’t get saved simply because they don’t want to, John 8:24; John 3:18, 36; Mark 16:16.  Here is the truth about this matter: “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life,” John 5:40. And, without Jesus, you never will be saved, 1 John 5:12.   Please beware that you don’t fall into the same traps that caught Agrippa. 

 

(Ill. Every decision in life is a three-part decision.  There is a mental aspect; and emotional aspect and an aspect of the will.  For instance, most of us will leave this service and find something to eat.  The fact that you know you need to eat is the mental aspect of that decision.  The desire to eat your meal is the emotional aspect.  But, before you can eat the meal, there must be a decision of the will.  The table can be spread before with ample food to satisfy the mental and the emotional desires.  But, unless the will is activated and you eat the food, you will starve to death in the face of plenty.

      Now, let’s look at this thought from a spiritual vantage point.  If you know you need to be saved, you are one-third there.  If you have a desire to be saved, you are two-thirds there; you are “Almost” there.  All you need to do is come to Jesus and you can be saved today.  Then you will be there and not just “Almost” there.

      If you are lost, come to Jesus and be saved.  Allow nothing to stand in your way.)

 

III.                             ALMOST AND THE TRAGEDIES

(Ill. Agrippa refuses Paul’s invitation to receive Jesus.  In fact, verse 30 tells us that he just got up and walked out on Paul.  What does it mean to be “Almost”?  For a football team that “almost” wins the Super Bowl it means they lose.  For an archer who “almost” hits the bull’s eye it means he missed.  For a runner who “almost” hit the tape first it means he comes in second place.  For a person who “almost” comes to Jesus there is a high price to pay.  Let me share with you the tragedies that come upon those who “almost” get saved.)

A.  Almost Always Leads To Destruction – If Agrippa had come to faith in Christ, it would have changed his life.  Jesus Christ changes everything he touches.  There is Paul, locked down in chains, yet his heart is filled with joy and peace, Acts 26:2. His salvation would have altered the course of the nation of Israel.  If he had been saved, it might have brought his sister Bernice to Jesus.  Festus also might have been saved.  But, because he refused to bow to Jesus, he continued on in his sins and left many wrecked and ruined lives in his wake.

 

      (Note: We need to understand this truth: Almost no one goes to Heaven alone and no one goes to Hell alone!  If you refuse to come to Jesus, you need to stop and think about who will follow you there. Friends lead their friends to Hell.  Parents lead their children to Hell.  Husbands and wives lead their mates to Hell.  No one wants that to happen!

            On the other hand, who would be touched if you came to Jesus; a child, a spouse, a friend, a community?  When Jesus brings you in, He will use you to help bring others in too. Don’t let your “almost” stand between you and you salvation!  Don’t let your “almost” push those you love closer to Hell.)          

 

B.  Almost Always Leads To Damnation – Agrippa lived his life the way he wanted to live it.  He “Almost” came to Jesus, but one day death came for King Agrippa II and he died without Jesus and went to Hell.  His “Almost” was nowhere near good enough.  One day, he will stand before Jesus at the Great White Throne and he may say, “Lord, I believe everything the Law and the prophets say about You.  I believed what Paul said about You.  Lord, I came to the place where I almost accepted you.”  The Lord will look at Agrippa and say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

      But, Agrippa won’t be alone.  No, there will be a vast multitude of people who “Almost” got saved standing there with him.  Think about that.  Here are a few people who came close to Jesus, but did not get saved.

·         Judas Iscariot – Three years with Jesus.  He kissed the Door of Heaven and went to Hell, Luke 22:47-48.

·         The Jewish Religious Leaders – They knew the truth, but they crucified the Lord anyway, John 5:39.

·         The Rich Young Ruler – He was “almost” there, but he would not believe, Matt. 19:16-30.

·         Malchus – Jesus healed the ear that Peter cut off, John 18:10; Luke 22:50-51

·         The Lost Thief – He saw Jesus dying and He watched Jesus save his companion, but he still dies lost, Luke 23:39-43.

·         The Soldier Who Gambled For Jesus’ Garments And Won – He had a testimony and probably told it everywhere he went, but he was still lost, Matt. 27:35.

·         Felix – He heard the Gospel and wanted to wait until a more convenient time came around, Acts 24:25.

·         Festus – He heard the Gospel and called Paul a mad man, Acts 26:24.

·         Bernice – She heard the Gospel and walked away, Acts 26:30.

      The question today us this: when Agrippa stands before Jesus and hears his sentence, will you be with him and the rest who “almost” made it?  Or, will you be standing with the redeemed saints of God?  What will “almost” cost you?

 

Conc:  I once read about a man by the name of William Hyatt. He was a 62-year old miner, and his dead body was found out in the Mojave Desert.  When his body was found, his face and his hands were buried in the sand.  He died while trying to dig for moisture.  It turns out that his car had broken down; he had walked some 22 miles through the Mojave Desert until he succumbed from dehydration and died.  He had crawled on his hands and feet the last two miles.  Sadly, just over the hill less than a half-mile away was a spring, an oasis of water that could have saved him.  He was almost there, but almost was not good enough for William Hyatt!

      Do you know you need Jesus?  Do you have a desire to be free from your sins and to be saved?  If you can say “Yes!” to these two questions, then you are “almost” there.  But, I hope you know by now that “almost” is not good enough.  If Jesus is calling you, throw down your sins, your pride, and the rest of your objections and come to Jesus right now.

      Do you know someone who is “almost” there?  Come and pray for them today.

 

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