Being “Almost” Christian

fakeChristian King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.- Acts 26:27-29

There are many times when studying my Bible that I read multiple translations to see how different words are translated as well as textual variants in order to get the fullest picture of what the word of God is telling us. The above passage is from the ESV and is a very accurate rendering of the text, but I like how the KJV translates v.28 in a way that really has provoked my thoughts. It renders the text, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

Acts 26 contains an admirable account which Paul gives of his conversion from Judaism to Christianity. He is doing so because he had been called to give a defense of the faith before Festus a Gentile governor, and King Agrippa. In his proclamation of the Gospel, Paul speaks his testimony with a great demonstration of Spirit and power. As he bore his testimony, the passions of the king began to work so strongly in himself that in open court he would show himself affected by Paul’s message and give a reply to Paul, but his reply is that there is no way he can be persuaded to be a Christian in such a little time, no matter how good the argument was. You see there are many today who are like King Agrippa, they receive the Word, they know it’s true, and will even say that what we teach is correct, yet they are never raised to anything more than “almost” Christians.

You may be asking, “What is an ‘almost’ Christian?” An “almost” Christian is someone that bounces between two opinions. They shift between Christ and the world. They integrate God and mammon, light and darkness, righteousness and self indulgence. They have an inclination to religion, but are very cautious to how much they invest in it. They pray for God’s hand in their lives, but are extremely partial in their obedience to Him. They depend on their outward actions and consider themselves better than most, while they are just as much a stranger to God than the unbeliever. They love religion, but they have never experienced the power of godliness in their heart. They treat all their neighbors fairly, but that only proceeds from their attempt to improve their reputation rather than from a genuine love of the Master. They see themselves as a good person because, “They have not caused anyone harm.” Yet in their few attempts of reading the Bible, they find the parables of the unprofitable servant who was cast into outer darkness; and of the barren fig tree which was cursed and dried up by our Lord not for bearing bad fruit, but for bearing no fruit. Such is the “almost” Christian.

obamosespickandchoose Now I want you to note that are many “almost” Christians who surround us today, and the question arises, “Why are there so many?” The first reason is because they do not know what Biblical Christianity is. Some consider it a sense of morality, some a list of duties, and some a model of performance, but very few acknowledge what it really is. Christianity is a thorough inward change, a divinely given life, a vital relationship with Jesus Christ, a reconciliation of our soul with God and a new birth that must take place. No wonder there are so many “almost” Christians that don’t know what Christianity is. They reflect the shadow, but do not know the substance. A second reason is because of a fear of man. There are many who have been awakened to a sense of God, yet out of a sinful fear of being condemned and ridiculed by men, they have shut off the idea of getting in too deep. It is true they may respect Christ, but like Nicodemus they come to Him by night. They have a mind to see Jesus, but they cannot come to him out of fear of being mocked, laughed at, and ridiculed by their social groups. They love the praise of men more than the honor that comes with God. A third reason is for the dominating love of possessions. This was the very heartbreaking case of the rich young ruler. There are many who come running to worship the Lord publicly, pray to him privately, and inquire of Him, “what they must do to inherit eternal life?” However, when they realize the cost, they do not count God worthy of the price. Is Heaven so small a reward, that the playthings of men capture their hearts more than the presence of Almighty God? Unfortunately, this is much the census among the world. The final reason I will briefly accredit to this cause is the love of pleasure. The Lord has said, “Whoever comes after him must first deny himself.” Like the rich young ruler, many who hear this go away sorrowful, for their love of sensual pleasure is too great. They come to church excited to hear preaching, but when that minister preaches that they must denounce the things that please their sinful appetite, they shut their ears and harden their hearts, and this my beloved are why there are so many “almost” Christians. Maybe after painting this picture of an “almost” Christian, you are seeing more and more a resemblance of yourself. I want you to know the dangers of being “almost” Christian. First, it is ineffective to salvation. There are many who are almost good, but to almost hit the mark is really to miss it. God loves us too much to have any rival, if a heart is not fully His, it will have a place in eternity with the devil and his angels. Secondly, it is the greatest instance of ingratitude one can express toward the Lord. Did He come from heaven, and shed His precious blood in order to purchase our hearts that we should only give him half of them? How can we say we love Him, if our hearts are not totally His? Let us be heart broken by such treacherous treatment of our Lord.

So I exhort to you, let us give God our whole hearts! If the world is your god serve it, if pleasure is your god then serve it, but if the Lord is your God serve Him and Him alone! What are we afraid of? Is God’s reward for our obedience not enough! We have become so keen to partial devotion. We must denounce the love of the world, so we can be filled with the love of God. Let it be our daily endeavor to give up ourselves more and more to Him. Be always watching, always praying, always aspiring after further degrees of purity and love, and preparing our hearts for a fuller knowledge and enjoyment of our great God. Let us not be “almost” Christian, but altogether Christian.

Blake Hart
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Blake Hart and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Blake Hart is currently serving in the army as a unit supply specialist in Ft. Richardson, AK where he is stationed with his wife Rae and their 7 month old son Colt. Blake has served in the military for 5 years and has been deployed once to Afghanistan for a total of 12 months. He is currently transitioning into the civilian arena in the area of full time ministry. He is finishing up his Bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Liberty University, and has applied to start Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall of this year to begin the process of earning his Master’s of Divinity in Homiletics.