Text: ACTS 26:27-32
- If you want to learn how to give out the Gospel, study carefully the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. He was always tactful, yet forceful; gracious yet direct and pointed. He certainly did not pull his punches.
- Paul’s defense before King Agrippa begins in Acts 26:1. He begins with his testimony which is an effective way to witness. Tell others how you were converted (26:1-19).
- Next, Paul gets down to where the rubber meets the road (26:20-23).
- Festus interrupted Paul’s preaching and accused him of being mad (26:24,25).
- Next, Paul directed his Gospel message to King Agrippa (26:26,27). It is this part of the chapter that we will look at.
- King Agrippa was descended from the infamous house of Herod, a long line of wicked, immoral villains. He was the son of Herod the king, referred to in Acts 12:1-3,21-23.
- The apostle Paul preached the Gospel clearly to this wicked king and King Agrippa was under conviction. He was very close to getting saved. In his own words, he was "almost persuaded" (26:28).
I. HELL IS FULL OF PEOPLE THAT WERE ALMOST PERSUADED
- There are many wretched sinners in hell today who were almost persuaded. Many were at a meeting where the Bible was preached. They heard the Gospel. They realized their lost condition. They knew what they had to do BUT THEY WOULD NOT DO IT. So they stopped short. They pulled back. They were almost persuaded. And then they died and went to hell. How terrible! How tragic! How sad!
- Read your Bible and you will see many people who were almost persuaded. Just a couple of chapters back, Paul preached to Felix and we are told "Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" (Acts 24:24,25).
- Personally, I do not think Felix ever found his "convenient season." Historians tell us he lived his whole life as a wicked sinner. They say he committed suicide. When the Spirit of God is drawing a lost sinner, the worst thing he can do is to put off salvation.
- Let us consider the rich young ruler who came to our Lord (Mark 10:17-22). Worldly riches meant more to him than following Jesus.
- This was probably King Agrippa’s problem also. He loved his "great pomp" (Acts 25:23) too much to follow the Lord.
II. ALMOST PERSUADED REVEALS A WICKED, REBELLIOUS HEART
- Paul said to King Agrippa: "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest" (Acts 26:27). Paul does not refer to any one prophet in particular but perhaps he was thinking of Isaiah 53. As a Jew, King Agrippa should have believed the OT.
- Paul preached that this suffering Messiah, prophesied hundreds of years before, was Jesus Christ (Acts 26:23).
- Paul preached that sinners must repent and turn to God (26:18-20).
- This was King Agrippa’s opportunity to repent of his sin and receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.
- Paul said, "For the king knoweth of these things…" (26:26). King Agrippa knew the prophets, and he knew that Christ fulfilled the OT Messianic prophecies.
- King Agrippa understood the Gospel. He knew the truth. He certainly knew enough to be saved. Yet he said to the apostle Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (26:28).
- What was the problem? Why was this worldly king unconvinced? Why was he "almost persuaded"? The problem was his wicked, rebellious heart.
- King Agrippa did not want to repent of his sins. He did not want to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was king and he would bow down to no other (except Caesar), but not the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Men make all kinds of excuses for not getting saved. Sinners often tell me, "I don’t want to be a hypocrite. If I get saved I want to make sure I am ready." This may sounds nice to some people, but it really is a lie. What they really mean is: "I love my sin so much that I do not want to give it up" (cf. John 3:19-21).
- I often hear sinners say, "I am almost ready, but not yet. But when I am ready I am going to do it right." I have yet to meet one person who ever got right with God after talking like that.
- People say they have an intellectual problem with the Bible and so they just cannot believe. They are "almost persuaded" but they cannot accept the Lord at this time. Beloved, it is not an intellectual problem, it is a heart problem – a wicked heart of unbelief.
- The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).
- Let me be blunt. When a person hears the truth of God’s Word and remains unconvinced, he is calling God a liar. And the penalty for that is eternity in hell. Which brings us to my third point.
III. ALMOST PERSUADED MEANS ALTOGETHER LOST
- Some lost souls comfort themselves with the notion that being almost persuaded means being halfway to heaven. What a delusion!
- Almost persuaded means being halfway to hell! It means having one foot on a slippery slope and the other foot in hell (cf. Deut. 32:35).
- This was the text of the great preacher, Jonathan Edwards, when he preached his famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." He started this message by saying, "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell but the mere pleasure of God."
- Edwards went on to say that sinners "are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but…they are bound over already to hell. ‘He that believeth not is condemned already’ (John 3:18)"
- The Bible is clear: "almost persuaded" is already lost. "Almost persuaded" is condemned to hell. "Almost persuaded" is under the wrath of God (cf. John 3:36).
- Evangelist John R. Rice said this: "I imagine that if the Lord should allow me to go to hell to interview those who had a chance to be saved, I might there find King Agrippa. Well, he would have no crown, no robe, and no titles. Now he would be only a poor, doomed soul. I imagine that I might say to him in hell, ‘Agrippa, what a shock to see you here in hell!’
- "And Agrippa might answer, ‘Yes, just think! I heard Paul the apostle preach! He stood before me…and pleaded with me to be saved. Oh, just think! I heard Paul the apostle preach and still I was never saved, and I came to hell!"
- Then Dr. Rice went on to talk about others in hell who had great opportunities such as Felix and Judas Iscariot.
- We might also add the Governor Porcius Festus, who thought Paul was mad (26:24). We might add Bernice, Agrippa’s sister, who many scholars tell us was involved in an incestuous relationship with him.
- We might add the others that got up to follow King Agrippa. They were following him. He had heard enough of Paul’s preaching and so they had too (26:30). By getting up and leaving they were saying: "We are not interested in getting saved. We do not want Jesus."
- When the Gospel is preached, and the invitation is given, sinners must make a decision. If they decide for God they are saying, "I’m taking my stand for God and the Bible. I love Jesus Christ, and I want to go to heaven".
- On the other hand, those who refuse to trust Christ are saying, "I’m taking my stand with King Agrippa and Felix and Judas Iscariot. I don’t believe the Bible. I do not love Jesus Christ and I do not care if I go to heaven or hell."
- Our Lord has a warning for this second group (Matt.25:41).
- I heard Lester Roloff say he was talking to a lady about salvation and she said she was almost persuaded but would wait until Sunday morning when Bro. Roloff gave the invitation. Bro. Roloff pleaded with her not to put off salvation, that it was dangerous to put off salvation once you understood the Gospel, etc.
- She would not listen but insisted that she would come hear him preach Sunday morning, and then come forward at the invitation to get saved. She showed up Sunday morning like she promised but dropped dead right at the beginning of Bro. Roloff’s message.
- She was almost saved but she went to hell nonetheless. Hell is full of people like that lady who are waiting for another day to get saved. Hell is full of people like King Agrippa who were almost persuaded.
- I heard a true story about a man who was advised by a surgeon to have his finger cut off because of a serious infection. The man cried and argued until the doctor said, "Sir, you’d better hurry up and make up your mind because this infection is deadly."
- The infection started spreading rapidly and the man started getting very weak. Finally, he told the nurse, "O.K. Tell the doctor to come in and cut off my finger."
- The surgeon returned and said, "Your condition is much worse now. Now we will have to take off your whole hand." The patient said, "Oh, please give me time to think this over, Doc. I hate to lose my whole hand!" The doctor replied, "We have no time to waste. We must move quickly." But the man kept procrastinating and so the doctor left the room.
- After a while, the man told the surgeon, "O.K. Go ahead. I think I’m ready now." But by this time they discovered that the disease was spreading even more rapidly and he would have to have his arm amputated. He stalled some more, causing more precious time to be wasted. Several people pleaded with him to have the necessary surgery.
- Finally, he said: "Alright. Do what you have to do," and they brought him into the operating room. But by this time the disease had ravaged his whole body and he soon died.
- Sin is like an incurable disease. Unsaved friend, do not wait until it spreads all over and then you die and go to hell!
- Do not be like King Agrippa – almost persuaded but lost!
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