"…Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian…" (Acts 26.28)
INTRO.: A song which warns us of the dangers of following in the footsteps of King Agrippa is "Almost Persuaded" (#348 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #647 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune composed both by Philip Paul Bliss (1838-1876). Produced in the early 1870’s when Bliss stopped over in a small Eastern town and, while waiting for his connecting train to Chicago, IL, slipped into a nearby church building where he heard a minister named Mr. Brundage preach a lesson on King Agrippa, it was first published in his 1871 collection The Charm, compiled for John Church and Co. of Cincinnati, OH.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch; and the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1978/1983 Church Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Hymns for Worship and Sacred Selections.
This is one of Bliss’s best known, popular, and effective invitation hymns.
I. The 1st stanza tells us that the Spirit wants us to be persuaded to believe
"’Almost persuaded’ now to believe;
‘Almost persuaded’ Christ to receive.
Seems now some soul to say, ‘Go, Spirit, go Thy way;
Some more convenient day On Thee I’ll call."
A. We must believe in God: Heb. 11.6
B. We must also believe in Christ: Jn. 8.24, AScts 16.30-31, Rom. 10.9-10
C. But how do we come to believe? Jn. 20.30-31, Rom. 10.17–not by some direct operation of the Holy Spirit on our hearts, but through the written word, which is the sword of the Spirit: Eph. 6.17
II. The 2nd stanza tells us that Jesus invites us to be persuaded to come to Him
"’Almost persuaded,’ come, come today;
‘Almost persuaded,’ turn not away;
Jesus invites you here, Angels are lingering near,
Prayers rise from hearts so dear, O wanderer, come."
A. Jesus wants us to come to Him for salvation: Matt. 11.28-30
B. But how do we come to Jesus? Jn. 6.44-45–we must be drawn by God through being taught, hearing, and learning His word
C. So this indicates that coming to Jesus is more than just a mental acknowledgement of Him as Savior; it means that we must obey Him: Heb. 5.8-9
III. The 3rd stanza tells us that God calls us to be persuaded to be saved
"’Almost persuaded,’ harvest is past!
‘Almost persuaded,’ doom comes at last!
"’Almost’ cannot avail; ‘Almost’ is but to fail;
Sad, sad that bitter wail–‘Almost–but lost!’"
A. God desires that all people be saved: 1 Tim. 2.3-4–as a result, He’s made all the provisions necessary for everyone to have salvation through Christ, and has revealed those provisions in the word of truth
B. Two basic things are necessary on our part to be saved; the first is belief, as discussed in stanza 1: Jn. 3.16
C. The other is coming to Christ in obedience to His will, as seen in stanza 2: Mk. 16.15-16
CONCL.: In order to have all the benefit of God’s spiritual blessings in Christ, one must be a Christian. Unfortunately, when it comes to being a Christian, too many people who would like to receive these blessings are not willing to do what God says they must do to receive them. Thus, to those who are not yet Christians, we would encourage them not to be like Agrippa and just be "Almost Persuaded."