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Almost or Altogether?

Almost or Altogether? 

     Most students of the Bible readily recognize the Words which comprise this article’s title as those spoken by the apostle Paul as he stood before king Agrippa in Acts 26:28.   We might also recall that just prior to this, Paul had been accused by Governor Festus of having too much learning and being mad.   We also can be reasonably sure that neither Festus, Agrippa, nor any of those gathered there had obeyed the gospel, because Paul’s statement indicates as much. There is also no doubt as to why the Spirit had Paul make such a strong proclamation before these men who literally had Paul’s life in their hands.   The only other thing Paul desired at that time was that those who heard him would not be subjected to being bound as he was.

     We have another time in which the Spirit had Paul express his desire for the Salvation of others in Romans 10:1.   At this occasion, Paul made it known that he even prayed that Israel be saved. The primary difference between the Jews of which Paul spoke here and the Gentile king and governor was that the Jews had a zeal of God.   While there were also several other things that divided these Jews and the Gentile rulers, they shared commonality in at least two things. 1) They were not saved, and 2) they lacked the knowledge they needed to become Christians.

     Herein lies the problem with many a people today. There are many who have been deceived by various denominational doctrines and beguiled into a false belief that they are saved. Why do some not have proper knowledge of God’s plan to save the souls of men? In Romans 10:3, the Spirit had Paul reveal the source of the problem.   Zeal without knowledge causes man to rely upon himself rather than upon God and His Word.   As this occurs, men commend themselves. 2Corinthians 10:18 clearly teaches such an one is far from being approved of God. Because of a lack of, or a refusal to receive proper knowledge, they are not “almost”, but altogether lost in sin.

       This is of utmost importance because one can’t be “almost” lost or saved.

King Agrippa, while being “almost” persuaded, was still altogether lost.   God does not desire that any be lost. In 1Timothy 2:3-4 we are told this, as well as God’s desire that all learn, or come to the knowledge of the truth. Was it not the Lord Himself in John 8:32 who told the Jews that believed on Him that they would “know the truth”, and thereby be made free? From what would they be freed? Romans 6:3-7 clearly reveals the answer to this question. Would they be “almost freed”, or altogether freed from sin? Acts 2:47 provides this answer, as God added the ones who had learned the truth and obeyed the gospel to the church daily.

     We are also reminded in 2Peter 3:9 that it is not God’s desire that any perish (their souls be lost), but rather that all would come to repentance. The Spirit also had the apostle remind those recipients of that second letter in 2Peter 1:3 that the knowledge of truth of which Jesus spoke, the Word of God, provides all that man needs for “life and godliness”. That which God has provided and clearly shows one how to be “altogether saved” is the gospel.   Additionally, 1Corinthians 1:18 makes it clear that the “preaching of the cross” is the “power of God”. This is also affirmed in Romans 1:16 in the letter to those brethren.   It was that same power of God that Paul proclaimed before Agrippa, Festus, those gathered there as well as all who would receive that soul saving message.  

     According to Acts 26:16-18, this was the purpose Paul was a chosen vessel unto the Lord. As such, Paul would testify of what he had seen, what the Lord delivered unto him, and be delivered from the persecuting Jews and Gentiles. His message would shine the light of the gospel before them that they “may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance”.   It appears very certain that the sins God would “remember no more” in Hebrews 10:17 were not “almost” forgotten, but altogether forgotten.   These (past) sins were taken away and no longer remembered (brought up year after year).  

   Christians must then make sure that they do their absolute best to remain as free from sin as is possible so they can continue to be “altogether saved”. This does not mean that we will not sin, because we are told in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.   But each child of God will examine him/her self as 2Corinthians 13:5 directs to ensure they are still “in the faith”.   Are we, as children of God, almost, or altogether following His Holy Word?   This is what will make the difference in whether or not we will be spared condemnation at the judgment.  

     Can one “almost” or partially do God’s Will and be pleasing to Him?   Such is not possible. Can the child of God “almost” evangelize?   Can one almost follow the Lord?   Is not this the point the Lord was making in Matthew 7:22 in regard to those who said unto Him, “Lord, Lord?   As the next verse in that great Sermon on the Mount shows, He will say unto those who “almost” serve Him, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

     Don’t be as Agrippa of old. Don’t be “almost” persuaded and altogether lost! Be fully obedient to that soul saving gospel message. That is the only way one can be “in Christ”. Faithfully serve in accordance as God has directed in His New Testament Word.   Only then it can be said of you, as was said of the brethren in Colossians 2:10, that “ye are complete in Him”.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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