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04-15-07 - An Almost Christian - Mark 12.34 - NSB

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Mark 12:34

Moody Gospel Commentary on Mark by Barbieri – NTSK – TBKC – Believer’s Bible commentary – JFB – The New Bible Commentary – The BE Series – The Bible Reader’s Companion (Nothing) – KJV Bible Commentary – MacArthur Study Bible – Matthew Henry – The Nelson Study Bible NKJV (Nothing) – Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary – NAC, Mark – The Outline Bible (Nothing) – The Teacher’s Commentary (Nothing) – McGee – Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary (Nothing) – Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines (Nothing) – With the Word Bible Commentary (Nothing) – Word Pictures In The NT – Word Studies in the NT – Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New testament – The Life of Christ, The Pharisees, Jesus, and The Law, Mark 12:28-34 – Liberty Bible Commentary (Nothing) – Phillips Commentary on Mark – Wycliffe Bible Commentary -

 

What a privilege to be able to speak to you this morning.

I would like for this section to turn to -
Acts 26:28 (KJV) 28Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 

And for this section to turn to -

Mark 10:17 (KJV) 17And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 

And for the third section, please turn to our text for today –

Mark 12:34 (KJV) 34And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.

Let’s all stand out of respect for the reading of God’s Word.

Let’s pray

This morning, I want to preach to you on this subject:

What does it mean to be almost a Christian?

I.  What is a Christian?

Now this is important.  We say we are a Christian nation and we are gathered here this morning among Christian people, and most people here would say they are Christian but if you will indulge me, I would just like to be sure that we are all starting from the same point.

So, let me show you from the Scriptures, four things that a Christian is…

            A.  One who has received Christ.

John 1:12 (KJV) 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 

Now, not received just anything but received Christ Jesus.

Acts 4:12 (KJV) 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 

            B.  One who belongs to Christ

John 10:27 (KJV) 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 

John 6:39 (KJV) 39And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 

            C.  One who is like Christ

1 John 3:2 (KJV) 2……we shall be like him…

Romans 8:29 (KJV) 29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 

            D.  One who serves Christ

Colossians 3:24 (KJV) 24Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. 

So, I probably did not tell you anything there that you did not already know as far as, “What is a Christian?”

But I also want to tell you 4 or 5 things

II.  That you might be and not be a Christian

            A.  Living in a Christian country

Madeline Murray O’Haire who was one of the leaders of the American Athiest Movement lived in America and whether it is true or not, we call America a Christian nation.

Just because you live in a Christian nation does not make you a Christian.

And the point is that where you come from is not going to make you a Christian.

            B.  Brought up in a Christian family

On Sunday nights we are studying the book of James, written by the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

            No one grows up with more exposure to Christianity than James did.

Hey!  James did not grow up in a Christian home…

            James grew up with THE CHRIST!

            C.  Educated in a Christian fashion

There are lots of people who are in “Christian” schools who are not Christians.

People graduate from Christian colleges and seminaries all of the time who are not Christians.

The greatest Christian education opportunity ever offered was a three year on site scholarship with a Christian rabbi from Nazareth named Jesus.

There has never been a greater Christian education, yet one of the students who was spending one-on-one time with The very Son of God was a man named Judas.

So, you can be educated in a Christian fashion and still not be a Christian.

            D.  Connected with a Christian church

I believe this is a real problem today where people have confused church membership with being a Christian.

It was a problem in NT times for sure…

Jude 1:4 (KJV) 4For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 

This group assembled here today offers you no protection from God’s righteous judgment.

LISTEN…

Inside of the book of Revelation there is a note written to a church in Pergamos:

Revelation 2:14 -  “But I have a few things against you : you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam…”

And then you might even be…

            E.  Buried in a Christian manner

But …

The way we remember you when you die is not an accurate indicator of whether you are a Christian or not.

I mean…

You can plan your funeral to take place at the best church in the city – and we can read over your grave the very Words of God – But that does not reveal your relationship with Jesus.

So, you know what it is to be a Christian

And you have seen here a few things you can be and still not be a Christian

But what I really wanted to talk to you about this morning was:

What it is to be an almost Christian

How many people do you know who can tell you a story about things that ALMOST happened?

Now, keep in mind that

To say something almost happened is just another way of saying that it did NOT happen.

They Almost made the team – Means that they did not make the team

What about these?

We almost avoided the accident

Our marriage almost worked

He almost pulled through

But…

It is when we begin to talk about being a Christian that the word, almost becomes one of the saddest words in our language.

So, let’s look at…

III.  What it is to be an almost Christian.

As long as there have been Christians, there have been those who are close to being Christians but are not.

People who are committed to church

Or to loving other people

Or committed to any number of other good things…

But they are not committed to Jesus Christ.

 

The first thing in being an “Almost Christian”

            A.  Is to see your need and not confess it

There was some dialogue that had taken place here in Mark 12:34 between Jesus and one of the Pharisees and the response that Jesus gave the man touched him at his core.  As a result, Jesus had been able to make this statement to the man, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” – He was, “almost.”

You could tell that he was attracted to the truth that came from this one that God had sent from heaven.

This man understood the OT teachings that Jesus had presented to him

He knew that loving God was important and foundational

And the response that Jesus gave to this man reached out to him.

The Scribe saw Jesus as a teacher just as many of you do – So that was in his favor

He showed good insight – that was in his favor

He answered wisely – intelligently – he understood a great deal – That was in his favor

He understood that love toward God and love toward one’s neighbor was more important than ritual in worship – That was in his favor.

He recognized that God is concerned with what goes on inside of a man more than the externals of religion – That was in his favor.

Yet by stating that the scribe was “not far” from the kingdom He emphasized that he was not in the kingdom.

So, he was close – HE WAS ALMOST.

BUT…

He had not come to the point of seeing His need to confess Jesus as the Promised Messiah, the Savior of the world.

Then the 2nd thing we want to look at to be an “ALMOST CHRISTIAN.”

Is…

            B.  To wish to be saved and to remain undecided

This man in our passage today did the right thing.

            He was on the right track in his search for God

            He made an enquiry.

                        And something that he heard drew him closer.

He knew something was lacking and yet he remained undecided.

Can I tell you something?

If you are ready to make a sincere enquiry regarding what you must do to be saved, we are ready to take God’s Holy Word and give you a direct answer.

A police officer made a serious enquiry one night at midnight singing service in a place called Philippi.

The two counselors who met him at the altar were named, Paul and Silas.

He said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And they told him.  And that man and his entire family moved from almost saved to absolutely saved.

            And I will tell you more about him later…

Then the 3rd thing regarding being an, “ALMOST CHRISTIAN.”

            C.  Is to be at the door but still outside.

The position of those not far from the kingdom is that they are not IN the kingdom.

They are still outside – And I guess it really doesn’t matter how close you are to the kingdom if you are still outside.

                        Have you ever given any though to the first day that it rained?

                        It had never rained before.

But you know what?  There was a preacher who had been preaching that it was going to rain.

The rains came and that old ark began to rise up off of its supports that were now many years old.

And the door was closed by God Himself.

Man did not choose the time when there would be no more opportunity – God did.

And the wood was creaking and the animals could be heard.

And the people outside of the ark were so near safety as they pounded on the sides of the ark but they could not get in.  And they were ALMOST saved.

But, to be almost saved is to be totally lost.

See…

Closeness to the kingdom of God is not measured by time or distance but rather by spiritual condition.

John 3:3 (KJV) 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 

CONCLUSION

You may be here this morning and be absolutely saved or maybe you are just ALMOST saved.

Jesus told us what we must do to change our almost into absolutely.

When Jesus had begun His ministry in the beginning of Mark, He had said:

Mark 1:15 (KJV) 15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 

In several ways this religious scribe that we looked at this morning was just like someone who was in the kingdom of God.

You could have a lot in common with this man that Jesus was talking to.

You believe that there is a God. – That is good

You are not trying to deceive anyone – you are not being a hypocrite.

You know that there has to be something more than just going to church that gets you into the kingdom of God. – Good

You are receptive to Jesus as a person – Great!

You are receptive to the teachings of Jesus – Outstanding!

You are not far from the kingdom of God

I encourage you to go the rest of the way and invite Jesus into you heart this morning.

I never did finish telling you about that jailor at the midnight singing service, did I?

Acts 16:30 - 31 (KJV) 30And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 

 

We really do not know if this man ever moved from almost to absolutely.

He could have…

Maybe he was in the crowd when Peter preached at Pentecost

            We just do not know.

We do know that thousands and millions have almost made it into heaven.

Almost is good enough in horseshoes and hand grenades as they say.

But as far as the kingdom of God goes, almost saved is totally lost.

In just a minute we are going to sing and if you are almost save then you are totally lost.

When the singing starts…

If you will step out from where you are and walk down to the front of the church we will take the Bible and show you what you must do to move from being an almost Christian to being absolutely a Christian.

************************************************************************

He was wise like Saul of Tarsus, but unlike Saul of Tarsus, he had not yet some to the point of saying,

Romans 7:14 (KJV) 14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 

Romans 7:24 (KJV) 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 

Romans 7:25 (KJV) 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Now, the only way to get into the kingdom of God is to accept Jesus as your Savior.

            This man was close to accepting Jesus as his Savior – Almost.

When we love God with all of our heart then all of the other commandments will fall in line.

He commends Christ’s decision of this question; Well, Master, thou hast said the truth. Christ’s assertions needed not the scribe’s attestations; but this scribe, being a man in authority, thought it would put some reputation upon what Christ said, to have it commended by him; [1]

There is a ring of conviction in his words

He wasn’t far from the kingdom – He could go to the temple and check the records and find out that this rabbi was a descendant of David

            A requirement for the promised Messiah.

But his intellect in being able to determine the humanity of Jesus would not be enough.

What he needed to see was the deity of Jesus.

The man showed intelligence as he accepted the Lord’s judgment on what He had said.

He understood well – As far as he went.

He was seeing clearly – without the normal bias and prejudice of his companions

Yet, if he did not, but took, up here, and went no further, we are not to think it strange; for there are many who are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.[2]

“Not far” is emphatic in Greek

He understood correctly parts of the Scripture but he needed to understand the OT prophecies concerning the Messiah

            In particular that He would be divine and human.

Jesus had claimed to be divine and what they needed to understand was what the Bible said about that.

Here was a Pharisee who understood what Jesus was saying and he was almost led to believe what this rabbi from Galilee was saying.

He had the morals and he had the religious education

            Would he go to heaven?  It seems the answer is, almost.

“After that” – The religious leaders had come very near losing one of their own.

            There would understandably be no more questions ask that day.

For the rich young ruler, it seems that riches stood in his way.

For the Scribe in Mark 12:34 it seems that he was hindered by ?????

For Agrippa?

Many are not far from the kingdom –

As regards their knowledge – Young ruler

As regards their morals – Pharisees

As regards their intentions – Foolish Virgins

 

 

 

 

Almost A Christian

 

Acts 26:28 (KJV) 28Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 

Verse 28

Almost –

In verse 29 Paul tells Agrippa that he wishes that everyone could be as free as he was (less the chains)

Not only do I wish that I was free from these iron chains but I wish that you and everyone else were free from the spiritual chains that you bear in ignorance.

            Acts 24:25 – Felix had reasoned about what Paul had told him.

                        After he heard Paul speak about faith in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 55:6 – Seek the Lord while He may be found.  Call upon Him while He is near.

Ezekiel 33:31 – “…they hear your words but they do not do them…”

In the 6th chapter of Matthew Jesus said you cannot love two masters.  You will love one and hate the other.

Matthew 13:20 - 21 (KJV) 20But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;  21Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 

Herod was greatly perplexed (but he used to enjoy listening to him) when he heard the Gospel message from John (Mk. 6:20)

In the 10th chapter of Mark, a man came to Jesus and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life.  When Jesus told him, he went away sad because he was focused on his possessions.

The Bible says that Felix sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. Acts 24:24

And this is what we find out from earlier in the book of Acts that Paul was trying to do.  He was trying to persuade Greeks and Jews.

In Acts 11 at Antioch, disciples were already being called Christians.

When Paul was speaking in the Areopagus concerning the resurrection of the dead, some mocked him but others said we will hear you again on this.

Paul was testifying before King Agrippa and Felix was there.  Felix interrupted Paul and told him that he was out of his mind.  But Paul continued speaking to Agrippa – none of the things that Paul was talking about Could have escaped King Agrippa’s attention.

            He was aware of the death and burial of Christ and of the Christian church.

            He was schooled in Judaism and Christianity was no secret.

Agrippa’s statement here in Acts 26:28 was probably a joking rebuttal of Paul.

We do not know for certain if Agrippa had actually been brought to the threshold of the kingdom but we can say that he felt the force of what Paul was saying.

Morgan writes:

He would die to save Agrippa, but he would not put his chains upon Agrippa. That is Christianity. Magnify it, multiply it, apply it. The sincerity that persecutes is not Christian. The sincerity that dies to deliver, but will not impose a chain, is Christianity.

[3]

“Almost” or in a little time.

           

Agrippa, you know the story of Jesus and you know what the prophets have said – Put them together and you get Jesus of Nazareth.

Agrippa I do not desire that you have the chains that bind flesh but I do desire that you might know the Savior who sets my soul at liberty.


----

[1]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991), Mk 12:28.

[2]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996, c1991), Mk 12:28.

[3]William MacDonald and Arthur Farstad, Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995), Ac 26:29.

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