Acts Series #44
Back to the Beginning: When Church was Church
Almost Will Never Be Enough
Acts 24:25-27; 26:28,29
If you've seen the Movie Gone with the Wind, you may remember when things got tough, Scarlet was heard to say "fiddle dee dee, I'll think about that Tomorrow"
Did you know that there is a group called "The Procrastinators Club of America." They were formed in 1957, and is devoted to putting off just about everything until tomorrow - or later. Their President says "We feel that anything worth doing is worth putting off." None of their members pay their dues on time. President Waas says "If they did, we'd throw them out of the club." "we feel that the ultimate thing to procrastinate against is war. Just think, if you keep putting off wars, eventually you might forget what you wanted to fight about."
"Wait a minute" Some people with more time to waste, figured that if you make $50,000 a year, every minute you wait costs you 50 cents. That could get expensive.
For every new idea or invention, you can find a dozen people who thought of it first. The problem is, they only THOUGHT of it.
Read Acts 26 and Acts 24:25-27
1, Tomorrow is too Late
Poem about tomorrow
He was going to be
All that a mortal should be,
No one would ever be
Better than he,
Each morning he stacked up
The letters he'd write.
Each evening he'd count
The battles he'd fight,
He was a man who
Would work like a fiend.
The world would have known him
Had he ever seen,
But the fact is he died
And faded from view.
And all that was left
When living was through,
Was a mountain of things
He intended to do
Festus had the Truth of God proclaimed to him by Paul, and he said
"I'll send for year another time"
A. Don't show contempt for the gifts of God
1. Revelation is a gift from God. God reveals himself to a sinner as their hope for Salvation … don't look the other way in contempt. God reveals himself to a believer in mission and majesty … don't ignore God and show contempt for his revelation.
2. Revelation is an Invitation. When God reveals himself to us, that revelation is an invitation from God
Perhaps the first time you saw you majesty of the ocean, or saw the sunrise over the rim of the Grand Canyon, or saw an eagle fly high, you thought, there must be a God.
3. That Revelation was an invitation from God.
Rom. 1:19,20 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
What are you going to do with this invitation?
4. As a believer and follower of Jesus, Revelation of what God is doing is an invitation for you to join him and Tomorrow is too late. God has invited you today
We have been studying the Calling of God on believers and our accountability to that calling.
I gave those in that study a formula that I will give you today
Revelation = Invitation
Invitation = Expectation
Expectation = Provision
Provision = Subtraction of Excuses
B. Don't wait until it is convenient because it never is
1. You must be ready before you need to be ready
2. Mt 25:1-14 - Jesus
a. 10 maidens waiting for the coming of the Bridegroom --- If you read the story you will find that these girls were to carry Torches so that when the Groom came they could light the way for the procession. The torches would have consisted of the cloth wick at the top and Oil to burn.
b. 5 of the girls were prepared with the oil needed
c. 5 of the girls looked the same, dressed the same but were missing the critical ingredient … the oil - What is the oil? Well it has been described as 2 different things, and I think it is easily both. The Oil is the Word of God and the Spirit of God
d. the point is that the girls dressed the part, were in the right place, but they were missing the critical internal ingredient. Without the Holy Spirit within and the Word of God received in obedience into our lives, we are shut out.
e. the 5 maidens without the oil left to try and find some oil, and the Groom came, closed the door. When they knocked he said "I never knew you." Some would say, but weren't they Christians, they were part of the wedding party. No, he didn't say "I don't know you anymore" … he said "I never knew you"
f. you can't hang around and wait until it's convenient because Tomorrow may be too late
The Gospel Family Group, The Winans, hit it big with a song titled "Tomorrow"
Jesus said, here I stand
Won't you please let me in
And you said, I will
Jesus said I am he
Who supplies all your needs
And you said, I know but
I'll give my life tomorrow
I thought about today
But its so much easier to say
Who promised you tomorrow
Better choose the Lord today
For tomorrow very well
Might be Today
Whether a Christian who God is calling to join him on Mission or worse yet a seeker who has still failed to surrender to Christ as Lord …
Tomorrow may be too late
And secondly as we look at these two encounters …
2. Almost is Never Enough
Now, the King James says "almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian"
The NIV and most modern translations translate the word "in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian"
The Holman Christian Standard says "are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?"
The Greek word is Oligos /o-ee-gos/ which can be translated both ways. The primary is "a little, small, or few" and the secondary is "light or slight" like the word almost
But the point is that Agrippa was saying "I understand, I'm thinking about it but NOT YET"
CLOSE BUT No Teddy Bear
A. Almost is disobedience to the revelation of Heaven
1. what good is it to know and even believe the truth of God but not be willing to surrender to it?
2. v27 Paul says "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do"
3. Most likely there are some here today who have heard the truth of scripture, believe the scripture, believe that Jesus is who he says he is, but you have not done anything about it. You have not surrendered.
4. almost is disobedience to the revelation of heaven. God reveals himself to us with the expectation of our obedience to that Revelation. It is not an option it is a revelation to which we MUST respond.
5. How did Paul respond to the Revelation of Christ on the Road to Damascus? vv16-20 - He believed, he got up, he went, he preached --- Paul didn't ALMOST believe --- Paul didn't ALMOST preach --
B. Almost doesn't deliver God's power and provision
1. I can't tell you how many times over the years I've seen people under the preaching of Christ. They hear the truth. I've seen their emotions stirred, perhaps tears in their eyes and yet when the invitation to respond and receive Christ comes, they stay in their seat, they say "not today". They say "I'm thinking about it."
2. But almost doesn't deliver the power of the resurrection into their live sin the indwelling personhood of the Holy Spirit. - Pauls said in v22 "I have had God's help to this very day'
3. Almost doesn't deliver the provision of Christ's sacrifice placed in our account to make us acceptable before God
4. There is no power for life and godliness when we are ALMOST obedient
5. this is true for the believer as well. If we are ALMOST obedient to God's revelation for our lives, we cannot know the power, blessing, and provision of complete obedience
vv 28,29 --
Jesus told a man in Mark 12:34 - You are not far from the kingdom of God
But one inch or 10 miles if you miss Christ you miss the Kingdom
Jesus told Nicodemus "except a man be born again, he can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven"
A lot of folks will miss Heaven by the space between their head and their heart
They will miss heaven by the difference between the sentences "I understand" and "I receive him as Lord"
In Mark 10 a Rich Young Man of Influence came and asked Jesus what he had to do for Eternal Life.
Do, well if you want to do something Jesus said "Keep the Commandments" to which the guy responded, I've don't that since I was little."
Jesus told him, that he was missing something, "sell it all and follow me." The man was holding on to his wealth and position and placing his hope there instead of God. Mark 10:22 says "at this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth." - he came to the right man, asking the right questions, seeking the right thing, but was not willing to take the right step and follow him in obedience and leave all to follow him
Almost is never enough
Tomorrow may be too late
C. What was Agrippa turning down?
1. a telemarketer?
2. a life insurance salesman?
3. a time share offer, a vacation club?
4. Agrippa was turning down Jesus Christ, Creator, Redeemer, King of Kings and Lord of Lords
5. if you are saying "no" you need to know you are not just making a decision of personal preference with no long term consequences, you are making decisions with eternal consequence
Almost is never enough … being in Church, knowing the truth is NOT enough, it must be fully embraced
Tomorrow may be too late
Paul told Agrippa, short time or long time, easy or hard, almost or completely, I pray that you ALL will be like me
3. Today is the Day
"Persuade me to be"
Being a Christian is NOT something that just happens
It is not something you are born with
It is not something you inherit
It is something that you can BECOME
A decision must be made
Obedience to God doesn't happen by accident
Rev 22:17 - The Spirit and the bride say "come" and let him who hears say "Come" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life
The Spirit of God calls, the Church of Christ calls, if you are thirsty, if you are dry and empty, COME, make the decision
2 Cor 6:2 … I tell you know is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation
Today is the day:
To Turn from Darkness
To See the Light
To be Free from the Power of Satan
To Turn to God
Today is the Day
Tomorrow may be too late
4. Now is the Time
I've haven't met too many people that plan to spend eternity separated from God
Most people, that understand the scriptures, intend to give their heart to Christ, but not today, perhaps tomorrow.
They will come when they are ready
They will come when they get their lives in order
They will come when it fits their life goals
They will come when it is convenient
Remember what Felix said "that's enough for now! … When I find it convenient, I will send for you"
Nothing is more convenient than Now
It has been said that
Wisdom is knowing what to do next, Skill is knowing how to do it, and Virtue is DOING it.
Don't turn down the invitation of Christ for a better time, a better place
Festus said "you are out of your mind … your great learning is driving you insane"
But Paul responded I am NOT insane, … what I am saying is TRUE and REASONABLE"
If Jesus Christ IS who he says he is, then it is reasonable that he can demand from us our lives in obedience and surrender to him.
We are sinners separated from God with no way to be right with God, except for a substitute.
Jesus Christ became that substitute and it is MORE than reasonable for our Creator to demand anything from us
Tomorrow may be too late
You do not know what tomorrow holds
Pr. 27:1 do not boast abouit tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth
Tomorrow may not come
Almost will not get me there
Today is that day, but I don't know what later holds
Now is the TIME
Now IS the time
NOW is the Time
Now is the Time because you can BANK on what Christ has promised
2 Tim 1:12 - … I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day
Now is the Time because you can TRUST what Christ has promised you
Hebrews 7:25 - Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him …
John 10:28-30 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand 29 my Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand 30 I and the Father are one
The Time …
To Respond to God's Invitation
To Get Up
To Stand on your Feet
To Receive forgiveness of sins
To Receive a place among the sanctified
Jesus was in a home packed with people, a man who couldn't walk was brought by his 4 friends … They Lowered him through the roof to Jesus' feet and Jesus told him his sins were forgiven and his faith had healed him.
Then he told him to get up take his mat and go home!
And you know what … the crippled man said "you know, I think I will get up tomorrow" "I kinda like it down here on the ground" "I like my mat"
Mark 2:12 says
He Got UP! - "he got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying 'we've never seen anything like this!'"
It's an amazing thing when you respond to the invitation of Christ
I dare you
Seeker, I dare you to respond to what your heart has been telling you is the right thing. Give your heart to Christ
Christian hearing God's invitation to join him on Mission in the world … I dare you to respond in obedience today
Tomorrow may be too late
Almost is NEVER Enough
Today is the Day
Now is the Time
A Story is told that Satan had three demons in training.
He asked … How can we deceive this generation and bring more people into Eternal Damnation
Demon #1 thought about it and said, "I'll tell them that the Bible is just full of fables it is all a lie and shouldn't be listened to or trusted."
Satan said, that will work for awhile, but there is something inside each man, woman, boy and girl that rings true when the Word of God is read. As soon as you stop, they will turn to it. As soon as times are tough they will look for answers in God's Word.
Demon #2 said "I know, I'll convince them that there is no God, no Heaven, No Hell, and Jesus was just a good man."
Satan said "you can try that and you will convince some, but there is a space in every heart that longs for God and knows that he is calling them and longs for their home in Heaven
Demon #3 then said "I think I have it, I will tell them, There is a God, There is a Heaven, the Bible is God's Word, and Jesus is the Savior, but There is NO Hurry, No Rush, No Need to Receive him Today, there's plenty of Time"
Satan said "that's it, there's plenty of time, there's no hurry, tomorrow, tomorrow."
How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard me. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will