Posts Tagged ‘Acts of the Apostles’

(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Then Agrippa said unto Paul, “You almost persuaded me to be a Christian.” – Acts 26:28

– “A man hears what he wants to hear … and disregards the rest.” – Paul Simon

There was nothing more Paul could do.  King Agrippa had sat and listened patiently – perhaps even intently – as Paul told much of his life story.  From his days as Saul of Tarsus – imprisoning and persecuting Christians – to his life as an apostle preaching Christ after being struck down by God on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6).

It “almost” worked.  Paul “almost” persuaded the king to become a Christian – but he didn’t.  It was all very convincing – but not quite.  So, what did Paul do next?  Nothing.  He didn’t try to persuade, pressure, or push King Agrippa any further – even though he knew the king believed the prophets (Acts 26:27).

We will all believe exactly what we want to believe – and hear what we want to hear – no matter who we are.  We can’t persuade people any further than they want to be persuaded. Well, we can try – but we will probably be viewed as being pushy if we do.  When we become pushy – it can cross over into pressuring very quickly.

When we feel like we’re being pressured into something – it’s usually unpleasant.  Most of us have probably experienced some sort of high-pressured sales pitch in our lives.  Many of these spiels can frequently smack of desperation.  Somebody wants us to buy into something – but we’re not really sure what it is they are selling – or what we will truly get out of it if we do.

As believers, we can’t be like this.  We can’t go around pitching God’s gospel as some sort of commercially-made product we have to pressure people into buying and trying (2 Peter 2:3). Well, we can – but doesn’t that make us come across as those pushy Christians?  We can easily appear as being desperate to the lost – especially if we are just trying to get them to attend church – before they have been persuaded and convicted by God to come to the Cross (John 6:44, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).

If we do it this way – perhaps even trying to pound some people over the head with Scripture – are we not perilously close to proselytizing?  That’s attempting to induce someone to convert to a particular faith – Christianity not excluded – and/or recruit them into our religion.  If we do this, we are making that person twice the child of hell than ourselves (Matthew 23:15).

Persuasion to become a Christian must come from above – not below (John 6:44, John 6:65, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10).  The apostle Paul simply went around presenting the truth of the gospel as it was revealed to him from above.  He did this according to the persuasion and power of Christ working in his heart through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:19, Galatians 5:7-8).

Paul did not go around trying to get people saved – for he knew that he wasn’t yet himself (Philippians 3:12-20).  He knew salvation was a hope (Romans 8:24) – and that Satan would be a constant thorn in his side to give him the desire to stop following Christ (2 Corinthians 12:7, Philippians 1:23).  Paul simply kept pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling in God by Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

When we witness to the lost and unbelieving – we’ve done all that we’re supposed to do – we’ve sown a seed (Mark 4:14). This seed is the Word of God (Romans 8:11).  From that point on, we are to move on and not look back (Luke 9:62).  God will send someone else along to water that seed – but it is He alone who provides any increase – and who alone decides what any seed becomes (1 Corinthians 3:6, 1 Corinthians 15:37-38).

If any human heart is fully prepared to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost – to become a Christian (Romans 8:9) – it is by God’s persuasion and decision alone. There is no other Saviour but God (Isaiah 43:11).  Unless we hold the keys to hell and death (Revelation 1:18) – we must never believe someone has become a Christian by our own efforts.  Perhaps Paul had a much clearer understanding of this – than many of us seem to have today.

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(KJV Scripture)

– And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. – Luke 16:15

The abominable things we all have the capability and capacity to do and speak are not good in the eyes of God – He hates them (Deuteronomy 12:31, lead verse). They create disgust, loathing, and repugnance in Him – not of us, but of what we do and say. Christians are not immune from doing abominable things – and we should know better now (Acts 17:30). Some of them are: a proud look, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, hearts that devise wicked imaginations, feet that are swift to run to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies, and those who sow discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).

In the book of Jeremiah, God had brought evil upon Jerusalem. Because of the city’s wickedness – the Lord had been provoked to anger. They had burned incense and served other gods they did not know. God had sent His prophets to them, rising early and saying to the city, “Oh, do not this abominable thing I hate.” But they did not listen, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness – to stop burning incense to other gods (Jeremiah 44:2-5). We provoke our Father to jealousy when we serve strange gods – because that means our focus and attention is on them – and not Him (Deuteronomy 32:16).

Frowardness is also an abomination to the Lord. In mind or soul, it means perverse, wayward, and difficult to deal with (Proverbs 3:32, Proverbs 11:20). Even though we may join hand-in-hand – being proud in heart is also an abomination – and it will not be left unpunished (Proverbs 16:5). Our prayers can become abominations to God if we keep doing any of these things (Proverbs 28:9). It is far better to turn back to our Father now – and ask for His guidance and wisdom today in correcting any of our abominations. For the abominable are among the many (liars and unbelievers, for example) who shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone – which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– For God is not the author of confusion. – 1 Corinthians 14:33

“Are you always in confusion, surrounded by illusion?”  Those are lyrics from the 1977 song “Help is on the Way” by the Little River Band.  It’s a dangerous state to be in as a Christian, because whoever believes in Him shall not be confounded (1 Peter 2:6).  Confusion is both a lack of understanding and a lot of uncertainty.  It can easily lead to situations of panic – and a breakdown of order.  People who deliberately attempt to confuse others are intent on disturbing them in mind of purpose.  Satan is the king of creating confusion in Christians – it’s one of his many devices we should never be ignorant of (2 Corinthians 2:11).

We can create our own Christian confusion when we continue following – and pursuing vain, worldly idols and gods (Isaiah 45:16).  The riot at Ephesus in the book of Acts is a great illustration of confusion being caused by this very reason. Demetrius was a silversmith making a lucrative living creating silver shrines for the goddess Diana – who was worshipped by many people in Ephesus.  He wasn’t too crazy about the apostle Paul going around everywhere preaching there was only one God – and not any of those made by vain hands.  So, Demetrius rounded up his fellow craftsmen – their worldly wealth was at stake (Acts 19:24-26).

All these men then riled up the masses in the area – and many rushed in to fill up the nearby theater to figure out what should be done about Paul.  However, what happened inside resembled nothing more than herd and mob mentality.  Confusion reigned. Some cried one thing, some cried another – but the vast majority really didn’t have a clue as to why they were there. They just knew something important or exciting was happening when they saw everyone heading into the theater – and they apparently did not want to be left out (Acts 19:29-32).  Cooler heads eventually prevailed and the assembly was dismissed without incident (Acts 19:36-41).

The ingredients were there for something bad to happen – just as they can be today if we incline our hearts more towards the world – than to the Word (1 Kings 8:58, Jeremiah 7:24).  Is there a confused cry coming from modern Christianity because of this (Isaiah 9:5)?  Is there a lack of understanding and a lot of uncertainty?  Has Satan subtly succeeded in disturbing our mind of purpose?  To paraphrase a 1986 hit by Genesis called “Land of Confusion” – are there too many preachers, making too many promises, creating too many problems – and not enough love to go around?  If there is a confused Christianity today – is it being caused by our continued pursuit of worldly gods and vain goods? Is there a recipe in the Christian kitchen for something bad to happen?

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