ALMOST PERSUADED, BUT STILL LOST
From the lowest servant to the most powerful ruler, every lost person needs the salvation which God provides through Jesus. Because it is our Lord’s will for each person to hear and accept the gospel message, He charged His followers to declare it throughout the whole world (Mark 16:15,16).
One monarch who came face to face with the truth of God’s gospel was a man known in history as Herod Agrippa II. In the Scriptures, he is simply identified as “Agrippa.” He came on the scene of the biblical record when he visited Caesarea, where the apostle Paul had been held captive for two years. Agrippa gave Paul a chance to speak, and what an earful he received! Let us listen in on the final portion of the recorded exchange between the Lord’s aging servant and the man who was the last in the long line of Herods. The passage is Acts 26:24-29:
(24) Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad! (25) But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. (26) For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. (27) King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe. (28) Then Agrippa said to Paul, You almost persuade me to become a Christian. (29) And Paul said, I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.
So, there you have it. Following that exchange, the king stood up, declaring that Paul had done nothing worthy of death, and arrangements were made to send Paul to Rome to make his appeal before the emperor (26:30-27:1).
But what about Agrippa’s spiritual status? Sadly, there is no indication that he ever submitted to the gospel. He was lost before he met Paul, he was lost when he sat and listened to Paul’s message, and he remained lost outside of the Christ after they parted ways. There are some positive things that one might observe about Agrippa’s case, yet he was still lost.
According to Paul, Agrippa was an “expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews” (26:3), but he was still lost. Having special knowledge or expertise in some area of life does not reconcile one to the God of heaven. Only Jesus’ blood can accomplish that (Romans 5:9,10).
Agrippa was blessed, but he was still lost. He was able to meet and listen to one of the finest Christians that the world has ever known. Such a blessing, however, did not bring him eternal benefit. Why? Because he was like the wayside soil of which Jesus spoke in His Parable of the Sower.
Agrippa heard the truth, but he was still lost. Paul said that what he spoke to Agrippa were “words of truth” (26:25). Multitudes never have the chance to hear the truth like Agrippa did. It is great when one has such an opportunity, but simply hearing the truth is insufficient. Hearing is essential in order to produce faith (Romans 10:17), but if one desires to be in the right relationship with God, he must be more than a hearer of the word – he must obey it (Matthew 7:21). We have known people who heard the truth taught week after week, year after year, but never accepted it. What a tragedy.
Agrippa believed, but he was still lost. Some have the notion that just as long as you believe in something, it does not matter what, then you will be saved. Not so. Paul said to Agrippa, “I know that you do believe” (26:27). He was a lost believer.
Agrippa believed the prophets, but he was still lost (26:27). Paul had just told Agrippa that he was preaching what “the prophets and Moses said would come – that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (26:22,23). Yes, Agrippa believed the prophecies concerning the coming Christ! He failed, though, to submit to Him. The king remained lost.
Agrippa understood Paul’s intentions, but he was still lost. He knew that Paul’s desire in teaching him was to cause him to become a Christian (26:28).
And, Agrippa claimed that he was almost persuaded; but, he was still lost (26:28). A person might be “so close,” but close is still lost. One might be in the process of considering the decision to obey the gospel, but one who is simply considering is still lost. Redemption is in Jesus (Ephesians 1:7). That truth is unchangeable, regardless of whom the hearers are. Herod Agrippa II was almost persuaded, but completely lost. My friend, what about you?
— Roger D. Campbell