Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Almost is not Good Enough

Acts 26:28-29  Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”


The Apostle Paul

Paul was given the opportunity and responsibility to preach to Kings.  He preached to governors, kings and Caesars.  He may very well have preached to Nero.  Paul was a good evangelist and was the best there was at convincing the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles of his day that Jesus was the Messiah.  He used the resurrection of the Lord to prove his arguments.  He knew he had seen the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus in Acts chapter 9.  However, his best arguments could not convince King Agrippa.


King Agrippa

Convincing people of the truth of the Gospel is different that convincing them to buy life insurance or a car.  A good salesman can sell sand in the desert.  A good salesman can “close the deal.”  But only the Holy Spirit using the Word of God can convince people of the truth of the Gospel and cause them to believe it.  And even the Holy Spirit cannot convince people who do not want to be convinced.  As a result King Agrippa told Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”  Almost is not good enough. 


Current scholars have questioned whether the quote as found above is the best rendering of what King Agrippa said.  Many take the position that King Agrippa was sneering and was saying, “Do you think that in just a few minutes and with just a few words you can convince me to become a Christian?”  They say that he wasn’t almost persuaded at all.  However, there is good reason to believe that the heart of King Agrippa had been touched and that he knew he should believe what Paus was preaching.  History seems to indicated that he had a lot of Jewish influence in his background.  Paul himself reminds him that he believed the prophets.  Paul’s response in the next verse seems to indicate that he thought King Agrippa was being sincere when he used that word “almost.”  But King Agrippa must have had some reservation when it came to believing the truth.  Since the Jews were asking for Paul’s death, believing Paul would certainly not have made him popular with the Jewish leaders of that day.  He might very well have lost control of his subjects.  My personal opinion is that current scholarship does not address what King Agrippa said in its context and that King Agrippa really was “almost persuaded.”   However we never read of him coming to faith and almost is not good enough.  Believing about the truth is not good enough.  Hoping for a more opportune time to believe is not good enough.  Only faith in the Lord without any reservations is good enough.


People Today

The Bible says in Matthew 7:14, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  I don’t think we understand how few there are that really find that narrow gate.  As a Gospel preacher, I see many evangelists who “short-cut” the work of the Holy Spirit.  They use altar calls, the sinner’s prayer, baptisms, church membership, good works and many other techniques to convince themselves that that people to whom they are preaching are coming to faith.  Paul never used any of those techniques.  No matter what techniques we use, the only people who can truly claim the title Christian and who are truly saved are those who believe in or trust in the Lord Jesus.  I talk to many people who are Christian-like in their lives who have clearly rejected much of the Biblical message.  They want to believe some things that the Bible says, but they don’t want to believe all that the Bible says. 


My Personal Conviction

I personally believe all that the Bible says.  I don’t understand it all.  I find that I have misinterpreted the Bible at times.  Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between what is allegorical and what is literal.  But without reservation, I try to take the attitude that if it is in the Bible, then God said it.  And if God said it, I need to try to understand what God is saying to me today through whatever passage I am reading and studying.  I certainly do not accept a lot of the things that Christians say the Bible teaches today.  I don’t accept a lot of things that people who claim to be Christians are doing today that seem quite unchristian.  But I am completely persuaded that Christ died for my sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried and that He was raised the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).   Even if I were tortured and was forced to say I did not believe that Christ did that for me, in my heart of hearts, I would still believe in Christ.  There was a day when I was not almost persuaded, but I was completely persuaded.  Like Paul, I wish that everyone to whom I preach was not almost but altogether persuaded.  However, while I can present the Gospel, I cannot convince anyone of the Truth of the Gospel.  I cannot take the place of the Holy Spirit when it comes to persuading those I love to believe.


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of May 17, 2015

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