Weekly Devotional 12-4-17 Almost Persuaded
All Christians know of the apostle Paul and who he was before he was brought to salvation. How that after the Lord apprehended him by bringing him to salvation he became a mighty witness for the Lord. That eventually he was put to death because of his commitment and faithfulness. In his witness he appeared before many people, Jews and Gentiles, commoners and kings. One such king was King Agrippa and the following is an excerpt from that appearing.
“1Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You are permitted to speak for yourself.’ So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2 ‘I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. 4My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. 5They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
6And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.
8Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? 9Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. 12While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ 19Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come– 23that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.’
24Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’ 25But he said, ‘I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.’ 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’” (Acts 26:1-28 NKJV).
What a tragedy, to be almost persuaded but not persuaded. In King Agrippa’s rejection or non-commitment to the inward conviction that what Paul testified was true, he is forever separated from God and the Lord Jesus Christ. He must forever suffer the sentence of separation from Holy God. Salvation was at his fingertips, so to speak, but for whatever reason he would not accept Paul’s testimony. Nor would he accept that voice within himself from the Holy Spirit that assured him that what Paul spoke was true. This same tragedy is being repeated every day by those who hear the gospel but reject it.
What about you? Jesus proved Himself to be God in the flesh by many proofs. He gave sight to the blind, He caused the lame to walk again, He cleansed lepers, He restored hearing to the deaf, and He raised persons from the dead. These things were not done in secret but openly. There were eye witnesses to these things. Some of them went to their death rather than deny what they had seen. Persons today cannot witness these things because Jesus is not present in physical form. But, He is not without witness. He has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to convict (reprove) every person of his or her sin (John 16:7-8) and, He has given all of us the testimony of creation itself (Romans 1:19-20).
To those who reject this revealed truth, the miracles of Jesus, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, who is even now testifying to you, and the testimony of nature it is not pleasant to write of what the consequence of your rejection is, but consider this; “18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness… 21because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:18…21-32).
King Agrippa was convinced that what Paul testified was true, but he was not persuaded to become a Christian, and He remains subject to the wrath of God. Why join with him? Why not join the millions who have turned to Jesus for the forgiveness of their sin? Why not allow the Holy Spirit to breath into you newness of spiritual life and begin enjoying a relationship with Holy God? Honestly, it just doesn’t make sense; for what profit is it to you if you gain the whole world, but lose your soul?
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man