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The Almost Christian | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
May 1, 2022 3:00 am

The Almost Christian | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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May 1, 2022 3:00 am

In this episode, Pastor Greg Laurie talks about what it means to be an “almost” Christian. Although some pray, attend church, and get baptized, it’s still possible they’re not truly Christian—there’s more to it. Learn more from a powerful exchange in the book of Acts between the apostle Paul and King Agrippa. 

Notes

“Almost” is a word that is often coupled with procrastination.

Herod the Great tried to kill Jesus. 

Herod Antipas was responsible for beheading John the Baptist.

The son of Herod Antipas slew James the apostle and imprisoned Simon Peter.

Herod Agrippa was moved by Paul’s powerful and persuasive message.

A person may pray and still not really be a Christian.

Polls show that 9 in 10 Americans pray.

A person may make visible changes in their life and still not be a Christian.

You can hear the gospel and believe it and still not be a Christian. 

You can keep the commandments of God from childhood and still not be a Christian. 

Paul showed us how to effectively communicate the gospel. 

When possible, find common ground and build a bridge to your listener. 

Paul used his personal testimony to build that bridge. 

Two big steps must be taken to become a real Christian, not an “almost Christian.”

You need to have your “eyes opened.”

You need to “turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.” 

There is a difference between repentance and remorse.

Remorse is being sorry you got caught.

Repentance is being sorry enough to stop what you're doing and change your behavior.

God gives us forgiveness of our sins. 

God gives us an inheritance.

Paul preached Christ crucified and risen.  

It is not enough to just be exposed to truth; we must act on it.

God wants each of us to share the gospel.

As we share His message, we should try to build bridges not burn them.

B.L.A.S.T.

B — build a bridge

L — lovingly enter their world

A — ask questions

S — share your testimony

T — tell them about Jesus 

Only God can open the spiritual eyes of the listener.

Scripture Referenced

Luke 13:32

2 Corinthians 13:5

Isaiah 59:1–2

John 4:39

2 Corinthians 4:3–4

Romans 13:12–14

2 Corinthians 7:10

1 John 1:9

Ephesians 2:7

1 Corinthians 2:1–2

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Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.

This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

Support the show: https://harvest.org/support

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Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners. I'm Greg Laurie, encouraging you.

If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. Ok. Let's grab our Bibles and turn to Acts chapter 26. The title of my message is The Almost Christian. The Almost Christian.

Almost. That's an interesting word. It's a word that basically means not quite nearly approaching.

It's sometimes a word that we use when we don't know what to do. Like when you go into a restaurant and you sit down and they say, can I take your order? You say, well I'm almost ready to order.

The problem is then the server disappears for one month. Right? Where do they go? Like I'm almost ready and maybe it's because you're at the cheesecake factory. And did you know the cheesecake factory has 21 pages of options? That's too many. Cheesecake factory.

Stop already. And there's 250 options. That's why I like In-N-Out Burger. It's like burger, burger with cheese, fries, malt. That's pretty much it. Or even Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, chicken nuggets, malt, chicken flavored malt.

I don't know if they have that but you know it's simple. So you say, almost. Right? Or maybe you're getting ready to go out to dinner because you're taking your wife to Chick-fil-A for dinner. Maybe you'll up your game someday.

I don't know. And you say to her, are you ready to go? And she says, almost.

Now you know what that means. One hour minimum. Almost ready. Or maybe you get a call from your boss. He says, the meeting is starting.

Where are you? You say, I'm almost there. Which really means I was asleep and you woke me up and I'm now going to try to get there as quickly as I can. But almost is a word that is usually coupled with procrastination. You know, I'm almost ready to decide but not quite. So you might say, I'm almost a Christian. Well, you may be further down the road than you were before toward coming to Jesus. But either you are a Christian or you are not a Christian. It's one or the other.

Almost Christian doesn't go together. That's what you call an oxymoron. An oxymoron like jumbo shrimp is an oxymoron. How can it be shrimp if it's jumbo? Freezer burn.

How do you get burned from a freezer? Oxymoron. Airline food. That's an oxymoron, right? Here's another one.

Government efficiency. That's oxymoron, right? So anyway, almost Christian.

That doesn't really work. As I said, you either are or are not a Christian. So we're going to look at a character in the Bible today known as Herod. Herod Agrippa. And the apostle Paul was speaking to him. And Herod said to Paul, you know, you almost caused me to be a Christian. Now, the Herod's are an interesting bunch because we read the word Herod so many times in the New Testament you get a little confused. There was a whole bunch of Harrods. They were a devilish dynasty.

And truly the sins of the parents were passed on to the children, specifically the sons. Starting with Herod the Great. He was a builder. There are still edifices in Israel today that were erected by King Herod. This is the Herod who was responsible for murdering the baby Jewish boys in Bethlehem because he wanted to stop the Messiah from coming.

Because the wise men from the east said, we have come to worship the King of the Jews. And Herod sort of fancied himself as the King of the Jews. Then there was Herod Antipas, his son. He was responsible for beheading John the Baptist. And so Jesus was told that Herod Antipas wanted to meet with him.

And in response our Lord said, Luke 13, 32, you go tell that fox that I am casting out demons and doing miracles of healing today and tomorrow and on the third day I will accomplish my purpose. He finally did appear before Herod Antipas. And it is interesting to note Jesus didn't have a single word to say to this wicked man.

Not a word. Jesus had a lot to say to Pontius Pilate. He never uttered a single word in the presence of Herod Antipas. Then there is the son of Herod Antipas who slew James the Apostle and then imprisoned Peter. And remember the Lord sprung Peter from that prison.

But ultimately he gave a speech and the people were chanting, it is the voice of a God and not of a man. And that Herod was struck down. That brings us to the Herod in our story here in Acts 26.

Herod Agrippa. Now we can say Paul appeared before Herod Agrippa. But in another way we could say Herod Agrippa appeared before Paul. Because the judgment he would render on the apostle would in fact be the judgment he would render toward himself. You could say the same thing about Pontius Pilate the Roman governor that Christ appeared before. Yes it was Jesus before Pilate but in another way it was Pilate before Jesus. And so he was really the one that was ultimately being judged. And so as Paul speaks Herod says to him in Acts 26 verse 28, Paul you almost persuade me to become a Christian. Another translation puts it this way. Are you trying to talk me into becoming a Christian?

Do you actually think you could do that in such a short period of time? And the answer was yes. Paul totally was going for that. And unfortunately that's not the way it turned out. You see Herod Agrippa was close.

But he was not close enough. I suggest to you there are a lot of almost Christians in America today. Far more than atheists. You know most Americans do believe in God. A recent survey revealed that 87% of Americans say they believe in God. Three quarters of us believe in miracles. 73% of Americans believe in heaven. 71% say that Jesus is the Son of God. 71% of Americans believe in angels.

And 7 out of 10 say Jesus Christ rose from the dead and the Bible is the Word of God. So I'm thinking where are these people? They're not out on the roads driving. I don't know who those people are. But where are all these people?

And this is where it gets interesting. Because a recent Barna poll revealed the following. Half of Americans who call themselves Christians don't believe Satan exists. And one third are confident Jesus sinned while on earth.

Houston we have a problem. So this means that there are people that think there are Christians that are not. Certainly Satan exists and Christ never sinned when he was on this earth because he was fully God and fully man. 25% of the so-called Christians out there dismiss the idea that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches. What? Listen, you can't pick and choose which parts of the Christian faith you agree or don't agree with. This is not faith a la carte.

This is a package deal. You don't vote on it. The majority does not rule unless you're speaking of God. God sets the rules.

We follow them. Period. It's your choice. You don't have to believe it or you can believe it. But if you choose to believe it, you believe it the way the Lord presents it to all of us. So Paul poses this challenge to those who claim to believe. 2 Corinthians 13, 5. Mark this reference down.

It's a really good verse. Chuck up on yourselves. Are you really Christians or are you just pretending to be Christians when you actually aren't at all? Pretend Christians. Almost Christians.

People acting as though they are Christians when they really are not. Going back to the Jesus Revolution film, I was getting my credentials to go on the set and they said, What's your name? I said, Greg Laurie. How do you spell your last name?

I've been asked that question one million times. It's L-A-U-R-I-E. Okay. L-U-R. No. L-A-U-R-I-E. L-Z. No.

There's no Z. L-A-U-R-I. Okay. Oh, you've already checked in. I said, No.

I'm checking in now. No. Greg Laurie has checked in.

No. That's the actor that's playing me. Joel Courtney. And I was talking to Joel the other day. I said, You're a much better looking Greg Laurie than I was.

Okay. So, congratulations on that. So, there he is. But, you know, this is the thing.

We pretend to be something maybe we are not. It reminds me of a story of a guy who needed some work. And he heard that they were hiring down at the local zoo. So, he goes down and says, I'd like to get a job here. They said, Sorry, sir.

Every position is filled. Then the guy he was talking to said, Now, I don't want you to be offended by this, but I see you're a big burly kind of dude. Our gorilla died last week. And we've ordered a new gorilla.

He's on his way. But would you be willing, this is kind of crazy, would you be willing to wear a gorilla suit? We would have it custom made for you and pretend to be the gorilla until the real gorilla arrives. The guy said, Well, how much will you pay? They told him.

He said, I'm in. So, he puts the gorilla suit on. He feels very self-conscious when he goes into the gorilla enclosure. He thinks, No one's going to believe I'm a gorilla, but a crowd forms and the kids are all excited. He beat his chest a couple times.

By day two, he's swinging back and forth, having a great time. And he got a little too excited and swung a little too far and landed right in the middle of the lion's cage or den. And immediately the lion starts approaching him. The gorilla suit is terrified. If he cries out for help, he knows he'll reveal he was a fraud. But if he stays silent, he's lunged for Simba, right? Finally, he just cries out, Help!

And the lion says, Shut up or you'll get us both fired. Wasn't the only one. How many of you have heard that joke? Raise your hand. Not many. How many of you have never heard it before? Yes.

That's a joke from my distant past. Check up on yourselves. Are you really Christians? Or are you just pretending to be Christians when you really aren't at all? How can someone tell if I'm a true follower of Jesus? Jesus said, By their fruit you shall know them.

Let me say something that may surprise you. You can pray. Keep the Ten Commandments to the best of your ability. Attend church on a regular basis. Be baptized and not necessarily be a Christian. Having said that, if you are a Christian, you should do all those things. But those things don't make you a Christian. But if you are a Christian, you should do those things. The outward can be without the inward, but the inward is never without the outward.

Does that make sense? So the outward, doing these things, can be without the inward. I'm not a true believer, but I've done these things.

But the inward, if I am a true believer, will never be without the outward. That will be the evidence I'm a believer. So as an example, you can pray and not necessarily be a Christian. Polls show that 9 out of every 10 Americans pray.

76 percent of us believe there is a Heavenly Father who can be reached by our prayers. But believing God answers prayer doesn't necessarily mean you're a Christian. Before I was a Christian, when I was in trouble, I called out to God.

Did you? And I called out to Jesus even. I had no relationship with Jesus, but I believed there was some God out there and I cried to Him.

And most people will do that. And that's not a bad thing because the Lord hears our prayers even if we don't know Him yet. You think of Jonah who was on that boat and the storm came and it says, All the sailors cried out to their various gods. But here's the question. When the storm passes, then what?

Did we just go back to the way it was? So you can pray and not really have a relationship with God. Isaiah 59 says, Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save. Surely the ear of the Lord is not closed, so He won't hear. But your sins have hidden this space from you, so we will not hear. Sometimes we say our prayers, but we don't pray. We even teach children, Say your prayers. Remember to say your prayers before you go to sleep. Say this prayer, Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Is this really a good prayer?

Who came up with this prayer? You're basically saying to your child, OK honey, you may die in your sleep tonight, but if you do, just pray that God takes your soul. So sleep tight. And don't let the bedbugs bite.

Poor kid. What are you doing? You can say prayers and not pray. And you can say you're a Christian and not really know Him. Listen, if your sin has not been confessed to God, your prayers are not going any higher than the ceiling if that. Psalm 66 18 says, If I regard or hold on to iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.

Let me say something that might seem a little heavy, but it's true. If you're living in overt sin with no desire to repent, don't tell me you're a Christian. I said overt sin. I didn't say you struggle with sin.

Everybody does. Overt means I've made a commitment to live in this sinful lifestyle. I'm not going to stop living in this sinful lifestyle. I have no desire to change whatsoever, but I'm a Christian. Are you? Check up on yourself. Are you really a Christian? Or are you just pretending to be when you actually aren't at all? Hey man, don't judge my journey.

Are you done? I will judge your journey. Understand what I'm saying. Jesus said, Judge not lest you be judged. By the way, that's a non-believer's favorite verse. Every non-believer knows that verse.

They know one other. Let him that is without sin cast the first stone. Very good. You know two verses from the Bible completely out of context. When we say judge not lest you be judged, that's obviously true, but what does it mean to judge? Does it mean to evaluate?

No. Because the Bible says judgment begins at the house of God. Judge means to condemn.

I won't condemn you. But don't tell me you're a Christian and contradicted by the way that you live. A person can make visible changes in their life and still not be a Christian. Remember in Acts 8 we looked at the life of Simon the sorcerer. This is a guy who was an occultist and was deceiving and misleading people, so the apostles showed up, started doing legit real miracles, and he was losing business quickly. So I think what he did was he staged a conversion. He pretended to be a believer, but he wasn't a believer at all because Peter later rebuked him and said, Your heart is not right with God. And sometimes people say, Oh, I'm a Christian now because they want to get something. Sometimes people will fake a conversion.

Let me illustrate it another way. God comes up to you, Hey, you want to go out with me? You say, Well, I only go out with Christians, and I hope your voice doesn't sound like that to me. I would only go out with a Christian. Are you a Christian? Yeah.

Hallelujah. Even the way you said it's weird. I'm a Christian. People will say things to get things, right? So you can look like you are a believer but not really be a believer at all. And the Bible is just filled with story after story to illustrate this. Now let's come back to the story before us. Paul and Herod Agrippa. We see the difference between an almost Christian and a real Christian. Now when we last looked at Paul, he was in prison for preaching the gospel. A contract was put out on him, and a young boy discovered it, and that young boy happened to be his nephew. He said, Uncle Paul, there's a bunch of guys who have taken a vow, 40 men who have vowed to not eat until they kill you.

You do not want 40 hangry men looking for you because when guys haven't eaten, they're in definite trouble. So Paul said, Wow. And so they alerted the authorities, and so they actually took Paul out of prison. He left under the cover of night with 370 Roman soldiers guarding him to Caesarea. Upon arriving there in Caesarea, he was put under the charge of the Roman governor, Felix.

No relation to the cat. And so now here is Paul in prison, and this silver-tongued orator named Tertullius was put in charge of prosecuting Paul in the Roman court. And so Tertullius went after Paul, but Paul was a very good communicator. He defended himself well and also got the gospel in there as well. So Felix, who is the Roman governor, is an ungodly man. He sinned greatly in his life, but he was moved by the preaching of Paul, actually. And when it visited him privately, in Acts 24, 25, it says, Paul reasoned with Felix about righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come.

Felix was terrified and said, Go away for now. Sometimes you talk to some people about the Lord, what the Bible says, and they're open, but they don't want to commit. Classic procrastination. Felix said, When it's more convenient, I'll talk to you again. Like, Amen, this is getting under my skin.

I don't really like what you're saying. But Paul was just telling him the truth. Sometimes you'll invite someone to church and they'll say, I'd like to come, but oh, you know, the kids have soccer on Sundays. Or, I work hard all week and I'm off on Sundays, but I'd like to come. Maybe one day when it's more convenient, I'll come. But the reality is they have no intention of coming at all.

So two long years pass. Felix would not release Paul because he wanted a bribe. Paul had no bribe to give to him. Now Felix's term has come to an end, and a new governor enters the story. His name is Festus. And I think Felix was pretty happy to hand off this hot potato Paul over to Festus. So Festus inherits the problem of Paul after he took over the governorship from Felix. Now, Herod Agrippa's coming to town.

Now these are governors. Herod Agrippa's a big deal. He's King Herod. So it's a foreign, it's a dignitary visiting. And Agrippa comes with his sister Bernice, and they arrive in all the circumstance possible.

He would be arrayed in a scarlet robe of royalty, and they would have Roman soldiers in their dress uniforms and other dignitaries, and they would take the royal seats. So this is all happening. Paul's just standing there going, cool. I'm gonna preach the gospel to him now, too.

Paul wasn't intimidated by anyone. He had been a man in great authority himself once. Now he's been changed by Christ.

He says, oh, look at these two big fish that just swam into my net. And I'm gonna give him the gospel. So we pick the story up now in Acts 26, verse one. Agrippa says to Paul, you may now speak in your defense.

Paul, with the gesture of his hand, started his defense. I am most fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense against these accusations made by Jewish leaders. I know you're an expert on Jewish customs and controversies.

Please listen to me carefully and patiently. Now Paul goes on to give his testimony. You have a testimony, and I have a testimony. Granted, some testimonies are more dramatic than others. And you might feel if yours isn't that incredible, if you weren't delivered from a life of crime, or addiction, or some other thing, that your testimony is not that legit, but actually it is.

Because everyone's testimony could be boiled down to this. Once you were blind, but now you see, right? You may have been living morally or immorally.

You may have been living legally or illegally. You may have been living whatever way you were, but you were without Christ. And it's a powerful tool to use. And Paul had one whopper of a testimony. Let's see what he said, Acts 26, verse nine.

Paul speaking before Agrippa. I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many of the believers in Jerusalem to be sent to prison. I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them whipped in the synagogue to try to get them to curse Christ.

Wow. He didn't just imprison them. He whipped them and wanted them to curse Jesus.

Paul continues, I was so violently opposed to them, I hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands. One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, your majesty, he's respectful, speaking to a dignitary. About noon, your majesty, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It's hard for you to fight against my will.

Who are you, sir, I asked. And the Lord replied, I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Great way to start a message. And this brings a point up when you think about sharing your faith. When possible, find common ground and build a bridge to your listener. Let me say that again.

When possible, find common ground and build a bridge to your listener. Look at how Paul begins, verse two. I'm fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one here in my defense. By the way, this was not flattery on Paul's part. It was the truth.

It is worth noting that Agrippa, like Felix, was an immoral man. There were reports he was having an incestuous relationship with his sister, Bernice. Paul could have called him out on that.

Hey, dude, this is weird what's going on with you and your sister. That would have ended his talk. He could have attacked him for his lifestyle.

And here's the thing. I don't care what lifestyle a person is engaged in. I don't care what particular sin that they are living in. The first thing I want to do is tell them about Jesus, right? And sometimes we start with the sin and we start coming down on them for the sin.

What I think the best thing to do is first build a bridge. The woman at the well was immoral. She had been married and divorced five times. She was living with the guy when she met Jesus. Jesus didn't call her out, hey, you, adulterous. Let me talk to you. Come over here. He said, referring to her water pot, if you drink of this water, you'll thirst again, but if you drink of the water I give, you'll never thirst again.

What's that? That's called building a bridge. Now, ultimately, he called her out for what she was doing.

When she was a bit resistant. But the point is, he started by building this bridge of communication to reach her. And the best way to do that is with your personal testimony.

And that's what Paul did. In fact, it was that powerful testimony of the woman at the well that caused others to believe. After she believed in Jesus, we read in John 4.39, many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him because of the word of the woman who testified, come see the one who told me all that I ever did.

The power of a changed life. Okay, so, at the beginning of this message, I brought up the idea of almost Christians or pretend Christians. How do you know if you're a real Christian? How can you go from being an almost Christian to a genuine Christian? Paul gives the answer and what he says now to Herod Agrippa. He's telling this leader what the gospel is and he says in verse 18, to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light from the power of Satan to God and they'll receive the forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God's people where it's set apart by faith in me. Two big steps must be taken to become a real Christian.

Here's step number one if you're taking notes. You need to have your eyes opened. You need to have your eyes opened. Now, I don't mean literally. Some of you may have had your eyes closed up to this point.

You just woke up, welcome back. But I'm talking about having your spiritual eyes opened. In 2 Corinthians 4, we read, if the good news we preach is veiled from anyone, it's a sign they're perishing. Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the eyes of those who don't believe so they don't see the light of the good news and they don't understand the message about Jesus. Paul prayed in Ephesians 1.18 for non-believers that their eyes would be opened. So when you're sharing your faith, the first thing you should do is pray, Lord, open their eyes. There's nothing you can say or I can say that will make a person believe. I've had people come up to me, great, what's the one thing you can say to a non-believer that will cause them to accept Christ?

Like, I know that. Yeah, this is the ultimate evangelist hack, try it. There's no such thing, it's just, I do the same thing you do. I just tell my story, I tell them about Jesus and I pray that the Lord will open their eyes. And you can talk to one person and it's like you're talking to a brick wall, right? Then you talk to another person, bam, they get it and they're responsive to it. So pray that the Lord would open a person's eyes. I remember when my eyes were open, I was 17 years old, I was listening to Lonnie Frisbee, who will be portrayed in this film, as we mentioned, and he made one statement, Jesus said, you're for me or against me, he said. And all of a sudden, I got it. I don't know why I suddenly got it at that moment, I don't know why it was that statement in particular, but it was like, bam, the lights went on. And I was looking cynically and critically at all the Christians prior to that and all of a sudden I thought, this is all true.

This is real. Jesus can be known, my eyes were open, but listen to this, you can have your eyes open and still not be a Christian because you've met people who would say, I agree that Jesus is the son of God, I believe he lived a sinless life, I believe he died on the cross for my sin, I believe he rose again from the dead, I believe he's coming back again, I believe the Bible is the word of God, but that's it, I believe it, I'm not gonna act on it. So you can have your eyes open. Listen, only God can open a person's eyes. I can't, you can't. But here's my part, God opened your eyes, now here's what I need to do, you turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Only you can do that, no, well God can do anything, no, but he doesn't violate your free will.

This is your part, the next move is yours. He opened your eyes, you know it's true, are you willing now to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God? Romans 13 says the night is almost gone, the day of salvation will soon be here, so don't live in darkness, get rid of your evil deeds.

Shed them like dirty clothes, clothe yourselves with the armor of right living as those who live in the light. This is what it means to repent. See, sometimes people say they believe in Jesus, but they've never repented of their sin. What does it mean to repent?

It means you change your direction, it's a military term, that means an about face. You turn from your sin. Remember the woman who was caught in the act of adultery?

Jesus forgave her and he said, go and sin no more. Minds you have a guy who was hired to paint a church and so he did the job and figured out how much he'd have in supplies and labor and thought, man, you know, if I thin the paint out, I would make more money. So he poured a bunch of paint thinner into the paint. He's almost done with this job of painting this church. He's at the steeple putting the finishing touches on, thinking about all the money he's gonna make. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck him and there was a voice from heaven that said, repaint and thin no more. These are the jokes, people.

What do you want from me? But no, seriously, we need to repent and sin no more. Peter said on the day of Pentecost, repent and times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord. Sometimes we're remorseful but we're not repentant. If you robbed a bank and got away with it for a while and then you were arrested, you're remorseful.

Why? Because you got caught. If you're driving down the freeway and you break this speed limit and you're pulled over by the CHP, you're sorry, you're remorseful and he writes you the ticket or she writes you the ticket and as soon as they take the next off ramp, you go back to speeding again. See, that's not repentance, that's remorse. Repentance means you're sorry enough to stop and change your behavior.

2 Corinthians 7, 10 says, godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation. So okay, God opens your eyes, that's God's part. You turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

That's what you do. Now here's what the Lord does for you in return. He gives you the forgiveness of sins and an inheritance. Verse 18, the forgiveness of sins.

I mean think about how amazing this is. God forgives you of all of your sins. Verse John 1, 9 says that we will confess our sin. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But God does not just forgive us of our sin, he forgets our sin.

He reminds us there are sins and iniquities while I remember no more, Hebrews 8, 12. If that wasn't enough, and that would be enough, hey, I forgive you your sins, he gives us an inheritance, which means he brings us into the family. Says now you're my son. Now you're my daughter. And you have access to me all the time. No matter when you wanna come, you can come. If I'm busy or doing whatever I do on any given day, if I get a text or a phone call from one of my grandchildren, I stop what I'm doing and we enter into the conversation.

By the way, sometimes that's weird emojis going back and forth. We don't even use words. But they wanna talk, I'm gonna talk to them.

They have access to me anytime they want. And in the same way, we have access to God because the Bible says you have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear, but one of adoption whereby you cry Abba, Father, which is sort of the Hebrew version of Daddy. Years ago, we were doing a crusade somewhere. I don't remember. And I left my Bible in my hotel room. Bad preacher. And so I said to my son, Christopher, my oldest son, Christopher, would you get my Bible?

I need it for tonight. And so he went to the hotel room. He retrieved my Bible. Came up to the place where I was staying and there was some usher kind of watching the door and Christopher said, I need to give this Bible to my dad. The guy says, where's your credentials? Christopher says, I don't have any. I said, but I'm his son.

Well, you prove it. So Christopher pulls out his driver's license. Christopher David Laurie, L-A-U-R-I-E. Okay, and look at the Bible.

Greg Laurie, his name is on the Bible. The guy says, I can't let you in. And then I heard about it.

And then he came in immediately. So here's the takeaway truth from it. The usher said no, but the father said come, right? By the way, I had that usher killed. Now let me explain. No, it's not true. I did slap him though, I did.

No, I didn't. Slapping is bad. We all know slapping is bad.

Let's just say the usher was a little overzealous in doing his job. So we come to God. Satan says, you're not cleared.

You don't have the credentials. Excuse me, that's my father. Get out of the way because of what Jesus Christ did for you.

You always have access to him. That's the inheritance that God has for you. It's gonna take all eternity for us to grasp all that God has done for us. Ephesians 2, seven says, God points us to the future ages where he'll reveal the incredible wealth of his grace and kingdom he has shown for us and done for us.

So it's gonna take all eternity to discover all the Lord has done for each of us. Well, Festus is getting irritated. But Agrippa, in contrast, seems convinced. Verse 24, suddenly Festus shouted, Paul, you're crazy.

Much study has made you mad. And then Paul replies, I'm not insane, most excellent Festus. I'm speaking the sober truth and King Agrippa knows all these things.

I speak frankly. I'm sure these events are familiar to him for they were not done in a corner. Then Paul sets his sights on Agrippa and with holy boldness says in verse 27, King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.

I think a hush fell over the room. No one talks to Herod, Agrippa. That way, Paul does. And then he continues on. You believe these things.

I know you do. See, it was sort of a little trap. Paul was setting for Agrippa in a way. If Agrippa said no, I don't believe these things and that would cause the very people he was to interface with on the part of Rome to turn against him. However, if he said he did believe the prophets, he's sort of falling into Paul's trap.

So Agrippa tries to put Paul in his place. Verse 28, oh, you almost persuade me to become a Christian? Or as I said earlier, another way to translate it, do you think you can make me become a Christian so quickly?

Yeah. You know how long conversion takes? How about this long? It could even happen quicker than that.

Just a flash in a moment. You could be converted. It doesn't take years, though it can take years. It took years for my mother to put her faith in Christ. Over 30 years of praying for her. It took hours for my father, who adopted me, to become a Christian.

Just a little bit of time talking with him. He put his faith in Christ. I'm talking to somebody right now that maybe has been praying for someone for years to come to Jesus.

It might be your husband, your wife, your parents, your kids, someone else that you know. Don't give up on them. Paul responds in verse 29, whether quickly or not I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am except for these chains. Agrippa, the governor, Bernice, all the others, get up and leave.

Agrippa. So close, but so far. The almost Christian. In closing, here are some takeaway truths. Number one, it is not enough to be exposed to the truth.

I need to act on it. Otherwise, you can get a hardened heart. The problem is when you hear the gospel and you don't respond in the affirmative, your heart can get harder. So it's not enough to just believe it and have your eyes open.

You need to act on it. Number two, God wants us as Christians to share the gospel because he's called us to. Wherever you are, God may have you there for a reason. So instead of trying to get out of the place you're in, why don't you bloom where you're planted? Why don't you take hold of opportunities that are around you? Paul didn't want to be in a stinking Roman prison for two years, but when he saw Herod Agrippa walk in, he probably thought, all right, Lord, I see what's going on now. I see you had a purpose in all of this, and he seized the moment.

He didn't back away. Seize the moment where you are. And as we share the message, we should try to build bridges, not burn them. Build bridges, not burn them. Engage your listener. Use your personal story, but ultimately take them to what Jesus did for them on the cross. And four, and lastly, we must realize that only God can open the spiritual eyes of a listener. I can't do it, you can't do it, but we can pray.

And share the truth with them. Maybe I'm speaking to somebody right now who just had their eyes open. You came in here a cynic.

Your arms have been crossed for the whole service, and some of you just uncrossed your arms really quick. It's cold. I was trying to stay warm. Okay. Yeah, I don't believe a word of this, but I came because someone bribed me with lunch, okay? So we're almost done, so let's wrap it up, preacher boy. Okay. But all of a sudden, something happened.

It may have been something said, some other thing. You just thought, this is all true, awesome. You're on your way.

Now you have to act on it. It's true, but are you gonna turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God? Are you willing to say, I turn my back on my sin and I wanna follow Jesus? Only you can do that, but you can do that. And not only can you do that, you can do that right here right now because we're gonna close with a prayer, and I'm going to extend an invitation for anybody here or watching to give their life over to Jesus Christ and be forgiven of their sins.

Think how amazing that is. And have the assurance that when you die, you will go to heaven. What is more important than that, I ask you.

Answer, nothing. It's the most important thing of all. So if you need Jesus in your life, if you want your sin forgiven, if you want that second chance in life, here's your moment to make your decision. Let's all pray. Father, I pray for everyone here, wherever they are, if they don't know you, I pray that your Holy Spirit will convict and convince them of their sin and of their need for Jesus and help them to come to you and believe, we pray. How many of you would say, I need Jesus in my life? I need my sin forgiven.

I want to know that when I die, I will go to heaven. Listen, if you want Jesus to come into your life, if you want him to forgive you of your sin, I pray these words, Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for me and rose again from the dead. I now turn from darkness to light. I turn from the power of Satan to the power of God, and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-24 11:30:57 / 2023-04-24 11:48:13 / 17

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