Vol. 8, No. 8
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"King Agrippa, Believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said to Paul; 'Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian'" (Acts 26:27-28). The apostle Paul is an example to all Christians in his dedication to preach the Gospel of Christ to every person. He felt indebted to the human race because he possessed the knowledge of the truth and was ready always to preach the good news of salvation (Romans 1:14-16). He proclaimed that Gospel as a free man, and according to the context of this passage, as a prisoner for the sake of the Lord. Thus, before King Agrippa, he expounded the glad tidings that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament (Acts 26:22-23). Paul's sermon was so convincing that Agrippa exclaimed, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Let us now observe some of the pertinent messages contained in this statement of the king.
"ALMOST" Paul, in asking Agrippa if he believed the prophets (concerning Jesus), mentioned that he knew that he believed. Yet, Agrippa was not a Christian. A believer has the right to become a child of God, but faith alone does not save a person (John 1:11-12; James 2:24, 26). Almost is not all the way. Here you have a believer who was not yet a Christian. "Almost cannot avail; almost is but to fail: Sad, sad, the bitter wail, almost, but lost."
"THOU" Agrippa said, "Almost thou..." that is to say, he was addressing the apostle Paul, the preacher. This infers that the Holy Spirit in a direct manner was not trying to get Agrippa to obey Christ. Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 4:7 that the Gospel of Christ at that time was in the inspired apostles. In every example of conversion mentioned in the Book of Acts, it was always a man preaching to men and a man endeavoring to get men to believe and obey the Gospel (Romans 10:13-17). There is not one example wherein an angel or the Holy Spirit ever preached the Gospel to a human. God used the agency of man in the spreading of the Gospel (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19).
"PERSUADEST ME" To persuade is to "prevail by advice, urging, reason and inducement." The sinner needs not to persuade God to save him. God is willing to save all men who will turn from their sins and obey his Son (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). The idea found in the 'mourner's bench,' that is, to 'pray through,' begging God to save an individual is not according to the Lord's divine scheme of redemption for mortal man.
"TO BE" True religion of God is not something we get, but rather something we do. "To be" is to do (James 1:27). The term "be converted" in Acts 3:19 (KJV) actually means to "turn again" (ASV). The sinner is not passive in the process of conversion. To "turn again" infers action on the part of the one needing to be saved. The eunuch in Acts 8:35-39 confessed his faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized. The Jews on Pentecost believed in Christ, repented of their sins and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:36-41).
"A CHRISTIAN" There is something in a name. God changed Jacob's name to Israel (Genesis 32:28). The last two letters of the name Israel are EL which is a Hebrew name for God. You cannot say Israel without saying a name of God. In the New Testament, the disciples were called (divinely called) Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:26). In principle, as with the name Israel, you cannot say "Christian" without saying Christ. The name Christian was given by God and by that name many saints suffered (Isaiah 62:1, 2; 1 Peter 4:16). It is in the name of Jesus Christ that we are saved. "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we much be saved" (Acts 4:12).
As far as we know, King Agrippa died without ever obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even though he possessed a faith in Jesus. How sad to know and not to do what is required of God in order to be saved from our sins. Salvation is only promised to those believers who are obedient to the Son of God (Hebrews 5:8-9).