Almost Persuaded

The power of persuasion is not the skill of a military officer, who barks his orders and commands his subjects to act immediately without a second thought. Obedience is to the will, what persuasion is to the heart. A good soldier obeys his commanding officer, regardless of personal persuasion. Obedience reaches its fullness, however, only when the heart too is overwhelmed and broken and "fully persuaded" of personal sinful disobedience before God. Friend, are you yielded in your heart, "fully persuaded," living in hot pursuit at the center of God's will for your life? Or, do you live on the dangerous fringe, that knife's edge of being "almost persuaded?"

by Jerry Gentry

"King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:27-28).

You are acquainted with people who are almost persuaded. Commitment is not their strong point. False starts plague their lives, like an automobile that lurches into the intersection, then almost dies, and quickly lurches again, only to fall back, still in need of that engine tune up its owner was almost persuaded to have done many weeks ago.

Being almost persuaded is like a little league batter who hesitates before swinging at the ball. He always strikes out. Being almost persuaded is like the person who quits smoking at least twenty times a year, like the woman who has gone on fifteen diets in exactly that many weeks, yet has still gained ten pounds, like the man at the bar who must have one more drink tonight while he promises himself that he will go cold turkey and quit drinking altogether beginning tomorrow morning.

Being almost persuaded is a most dangerous position of the human heart.

Being almost persuaded acknowledges wrong doing, but fails to take necessary corrective action now. Being almost persuaded straddles the fence of right and wrong. Being almost persuaded has the best of intentions of fixing tomorrow what is neglected today. Being almost persuaded holds one foot in church, while the other dances in worldly pursuits. Being almost persuaded is evidence of a heart convicted of sin, but yet without repentance.

Being almost persuaded has sent millions of convicted yet unrepentant sinners into the flames of hell. Being almost persuaded crumbles life messages, destroys life visions, and traps well intentioned persons in impossible quagmires of doubt and self delusion. Being almost persuaded is the perfect excuse for the almost Christian.

Being almost persuaded leads to a life bound up in denial. Being almost persuaded is an impasse of the heart that refuses yieldedness and brings ultimate death to its victim, as surely as Lot's wife doubted and was turned into a pillar of salt.

The Bible says, "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32). Why should we "Remember Lot's wife?" The simple reason is that we must learn the danger of a heart that is almost persuaded to live for God.

"The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar" (Gen 19:23).

"Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven" (v. 24).

"And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground" (v. 25).

"But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt" (v. 26).

Lot's wife was almost persuaded to leave Sodom. Though she reluctantly followed her husband, her heart remained deep inside the walls of that wicked, reprobate city she loved so much.

The Bible warns that in the last days, it will be "as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded" (Luk 17:28). People were living mostly as they had always lived.

"But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all" (v. 29).

"Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed" (v. 30).

Friend, how far have you journeyed out of the Sodom of your life? Did you know that you are personally called to remove yourself entirely from modern Sodom and Gomorrah? Otherwise the fires of God's end time judgments will scorch you as surely as fire and brimstone swallowed up those ancient sinners, as surely as Lot's wife herself became a pillar of worthless salt.

Are you looking back, yearning to see what you are missing, as Lot's wife looked back? Are you almost persuaded today? Then you are as worthless as a pillar of salt without savor, uncommitted to your Christian calling, holding in your heart that worldly thing you so yearn for, much like Lot's wife who yearned for her former lifestyle? The Bible says, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men" (Matt. 5:13).

Friend, "Remember Lot's wife," who lost her savour because she was almost persuaded, yet neither fully committed nor one hundred percent yielded to God's will. This is a lesson of becoming fully persuaded, committed to and zealous for a life foreign to our old nature and our old worldly lifestyle. We must learn to set our hand to the plow and not look back at the worldly furrows we have plowed before.

Even as King Agrippa confessed to the apostle Paul, everyone who stands almost persuaded to be a Christian, stands just outside the door of salvation, within eye shot of God's saving grace, yet not having overcome the half heartedness of unbelief.

How can you know for sure that you are not one such as Lot's wife, or one such as King Agrippa, who was almost persuaded to become a Christian? You can know by a simple test of Holy Scripture. Every person who will be a Christian is commanded: "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matt. 3:8). Have you repented of your worst sin? Have you yielded your whole life to Jesus Christ, even "present[ed] your bod[y] a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service?" (Rom. 12:1). Can you say with the apostle Paul, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20)? Would Christ do all the things that you do? If not, then you have some things you yet must yet nail to the cross and yield to Him.

Husband, have you yielded your hands in diligent provision for your household? Yes? Then you have heeded the Bible warning: "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1Tim. 5:8). We must learn to bear fruits where our lives have been barren before.

Wife, have you given your womb to God for multiplication of children? Or do you find excuses why childbearing is not for you? "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (Gen. 9:1).

Millions of freelance, headless women walk today as pillars of salt, without savour, ready "to be trodden under foot of men," even as Lot's wife, whose half hearted double mindedness ultimately destroyed her. These are women of the church, "the daughters of Zion [who] are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet" (Isa. 3:16).

"Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war" (v. 25 ).

"And she being desolate shall sit upon the ground" (v. 26).

"And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach" (Isa 4:1).

Wife, have you yielded your heart in service and "reverence. . . [to your] husband" (Eph. 5:33)? Yes? Then your conscience is clear of offense toward God and man. You are "Even as Sarah [who] obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement" (1Pet. 3:6).

To every almost persuaded sinner, whether man or woman, the Bible says: "And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform" (Rom. 4:21). Do you believe that God can finish the work he has started in you? Are you cooperating with Him, or rebelling against Him? Are you strong in faith, as Abraham, who "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God" (Rom. 4:20). Are you as Sarah, who "Through faith also. . . received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised" (Heb 11:11). Sarah was a wife fully persuaded in fear of God and service to her husband Abraham.

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebr. 11:6). Being almost persuaded is not good enough. Putting off until tomorrow to pay the debt of love you owe today is sure proof that you are only almost persuaded, only an almost Christian.

To all the almost persuaded, but doubting Thomases among us, Jesus exhorts:

"Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27).

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done" (Matt. 21:21).

Friend, are you today almost persuaded to become a Christian? Then your clock is ticking and your time is running out. Submit your life to God, through confession of personal sin and acknowledgment of Christ's blood shed for you personally.

Are you already a Christian? Yes? Then have you yielded both your hands and your heart to God in diligent pursuit of His will for your life? If not, then you are not "fully persuaded" that Christ's way is really best for all areas of your life. You are a disobedient Christian. You are asking for a good paddling from God, to bring that precious change of heart called repentance.

To you, the voice of God thunders: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev. 3:19).

Christian, become "fully persuaded" this day through renewed commitment and accountability. Depart wholesale from that dangerous state of the heart called almost persuaded.

Because, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15), lest you become as Lot's wife, who turned into a pillar of salt. Be not as King Agrippa, who "said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Two sad examples, one great lesson.

Friend, commit your life fully today to Jesus Christ and remove from that disobedient limbo zone of being almost persuaded.

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