Ivory Soap used to have a very famous slogan, “99 and 44/100% Pure.” That’s pretty darn pure! And for soap, that’s good enough. But for God, "almost" isn’t the standard. God wants all of our being, not most of it. That doesn’t mean that he expects us to be 100% perfect, but he is looking for 100% trust in Him. 99 and 44/100% of God plus anything else equals something less than God, and God doesn’t do impure. Let’s look at how our Belief, coupled with our Behavior defines 100% of our Being.
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
Things to think about:
· In this passage of Acts, Paul has been arrested for teaching the gospel (especially the resurrection). Just like with Jesus, this incensed the Jewish leaders and they had Paul arrested. Paul has been brought before the governor and then before the regional ruler, King Agrippa. There, Paul gives his testimony.
· Agrippa replies to Paul’s well-articulated testimony that he is almost persuaded.
o Do you know someone who almost believes?
§ Jesus is a good teacher, a good man, one of the best in all history but…
§ There’s a lot I do believe about the Bible but I just can’t get over…
§ Christianity would make a lot more sense to me if…
o Why is almost not enough?
· Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 that you cannot serve two masters. You can’t be mostly for God but also have a love for money. You will end up loving the one and hating the other.
o Why doesn’t a composite philosophy or faith work?
· Jesus is really clear on this point in John 14:6 - “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
· Not only does God want us to fully trust in in Jesus, He also wants us to fully obey Him.
· The classic example of partial obedience is found in 1 Samuel 15 with King Saul's response to God's direction.
o The direction – “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
o The action – “But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.”
o The rationalization - “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
· Why is Saul’s “almost” obedience not good enough?
o When do we “but in” on God’s directions to do things our way and not His?
o How can we recognize these situations and not deceive ourselves?
· When our Behavior aligns with our Belief then our Being is His
o James 1:22-25, “ Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
o Mark 12:29 - Jesus gives the greatest commandment – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
§ This is ALL we have to give and thanks be to God that is just enough!
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