By Editorial Staff
Published March 31, 2008
“The Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28).
And there are many who go thus far; ever since the Christian religion was in the world, there have been many in every age and nation, who were “almost persuaded to be Christians.” But seeing it avails nothing before God, to go only thus far, it highly imports us to consider,
First, What is implied in being almost;
Secondly, What in being altogether a Christian.
What is implied in being almost a Christian?
Now, in the being almost a Christian is implied, first Heathen Honesty. No one, I suppose, will make any question of this; especially, since by heathen honesty here, I mean, not that which is recommended in the writings of their philosophers only, but such as the common heathens expected of one another, and many of them actually practiced.
By the rules of this they were taught, that they ought not to be unjust: Not to take away their neighbor’s goods, either by robbery or theft: Not to oppress the poor, neither to use extortion toward any: Not to cheat or overreach either the poor or rich, in whatsoever commerce they had with them: To defraud no man of his right; and if it were possible, to owe no man anything.
Again, the common heathen allowed, that some regard was to be paid to truth as well as to justice. Yet, again, there was a sort of love and assistance, which they expected one from another.
A second thing implied in being almost a Christian, is having a Form of Godliness, of that godliness which is prescribed in the gospel of Christ; the having the outside of a real Christian. Accordingly, the almost Christian does nothing which the gospel forbids. He takes not the name of the Lord in vain. He blesses and curses not ; he swears not at all, but his communication is yea, yea; nay, nay. He not only avoids all actual adultery, fornication, and uncleanliness, but every word or look, that either directly or indirectly tends thereto.
And in doing good, he does not confine himself to cheap and easy offices of kindness, but labours and suffers for the profit of many, that by all means he may help some. He hath the form of godliness, uses the means of grace; yea, all of them, and at all opportunities. He constantly frequents the house of God; and behaves with seriousness and attention.
To this, if we add, the constant use of Family Prayer, by those who are masters of families, and the setting times apart for private addresses to God, with a daily seriousness of behavior: he who uniformly practices this outward religion, has the form of godliness.
There needs but one thing more in order to his being an almost a Christian, and that is, Sincerity. By Sincerity, I mean a real, inward principle of religion, from whence these outward actions flow. And, indeed, if we have not this, we have not heathen honesty; no, not so much of it as will answer the demand of a heathen Epicurean poet. Even this poor wretch, in his sober intervals, is able to testify: Good men avoid sin from the love of virtue: Wicked men avoid sin from a fear of punishment.
So, that, if a man only abstain from doing evil in order to avoid punishment, to avoid the loss of his friends, or his gain, his reputation, should not also abstain from doing evil, but also do ever so much good; yea, and use all the means of grace; yet we could not with any propriety say, “This man is even almost a Christian.” If he have no better principle in his heart, he is also a hypocrite altogether. Sincerity, therefore, is necessarily implied in the being almost a Christian.
But here it will probably be inquired, Is it possible, that any man living should go as far as this, and, nevertheless, be only almost a Christian? What more can be implied, in the being a Christian altogether? I answer first, That it is possible to go thus far, and yet be almost a Christian, I learn not only from the Oracles of God, but also from the sure testimony of experience.
I did for many years, as many of this place can testify; using diligence to eschew all evil, and to have a conscience void of offence; redeeming the time; buying up every opportunity of doing all good to all men; constantly and carefully using all the public and private means of grace; endeavoring, after a steady seriousness of behavior, at all times, and in all places: and God is my record, before whom I stand, doing all this in sincerity; having a real design to serve God; a hearty desire to do His will in all things; to please Him who had called me to “fight the good fight,” and to “lay hold on eternal life.” Yet my own conscience bears me witness, in the Holy Ghost, that all this time I was but almost a Christian.
What more than this is implied in the being altogether a Christian?
First, the love of God. For thus said the Lord in His word, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” Such a love of God is this, as engrosses the whole heart, as takes up all the affections, as fills the entire capacity of the soul, and employs the utmost extent of all its faculties. He that thus loves the Lord his God, His spirit continually “rejoice in God his Saviour.”
The second thing implied in being altogether a Christian, is, The love of our neighbor. For thus said our Lord in the following words, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. “ If any man ask who is my neighbor; we reply, every man in the world; every child of His Who is the Father of the spirits of all flesh. Nor may we in any wise except our enemies, or the enemies of God and their own souls, but every Christian loves these also as himself, yea, “as Christ loves us.”
There is yet one thing more that may be separately considered, though it cannot be actually separate from the preceding, which is implies in the being altogether a Christian, and that is the ground of all, even faith.
Now, whatsoever has this faith, which purifies the heart, (by the power of God Who dwells therein,) from pride, anger, desire, from all unrighteousness, from all filthiness of flesh or spirit; which fills it with love stronger than death, both to God and to all mankind; love that does the works of God, glorying to spend and to be spent for all men, and that endures with joy, not only the reproach of Christ, the being mocked, despised, and hated of all men, but whatsoever the wisdom of God permits the malice of men or devils to inflict: whosoever has this faith thus working by love, is not almost only, but altogether a Christian.
Do good designs and good desires make you a Christian? By no means, unless they are brought to good effect. “The road to Hell is paved (said one) with good intentions.” The great question of all, then, still remains: Is the love of God shed abroad in your heart? Can you cry out: “My God and my all!” Do you desire nothing but Him? Are you happy in God? Is He your glory?, your delight, your crown of rejoicing?
And is this commandment written in your heart: That he who loves God love his brother also? Do you then love your brother as yourself? Do you love every man, even your enemies, even the enemies of God, as your own soul? As Christ loved you? Do you believe that Christ loved you, and gave Himself for you? Have you indeed redemption through His blood, even the remission of thy sins? And does His Spirit bear witness with your spirit, that you are a child of God?
May we thus all experience what it is, to be not only almost, but altogether Christians! Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus: knowing we have peace with God through Jesus Christ: rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, and having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given to us!
Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Revival and Spiritual Awakening
Your comments are welcome!
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Download the Free Study Guide!
God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)