By Dennis Huebshman
As a pastor, husband, father, grandfather and a number of other titles, my daily prayers consist of asking “blessings” for all of our loved ones. My greatest wish is that each and every one knows, and has accepted Jesus, as their Savior. As much as I would love to do this for them, the Bible is plain that it’s an “individual responsibility” to accept or reject the Savior. God will not force anyone to accept Salvation, and He will not allow me to force anyone either.
This may sound strange, but I even pray for any and all who may have sinned against me in any way throughout my lifetime. I ask the Holy Spirit to touch their hearts in an attempt to have them accept Jesus also. Just the insight the Bible gives about Hell-The Lake of Fire, is frightening enough that I would not wish it on an enemy. As it stands today, no one has caused me any “permanent damage”, and I believe that after everyone in Heaven sees Jesus, there won’t be any animosity of any kind toward anyone.
Without going through the several chapters of Acts where Paul is beaten, arrested and put on trial before the Sanhedrin, chapter 26 tells us of his defense before King Agrippa. Paul knows the King is familiar with customs and controversies of the Jewish people. Paul was able to present his case to someone that he didn’t have to explain every minute detail to. (Note, all emphasis is mine)
Paul covered his early life all the way through his conversion on the road to Damascus. His presentation is very compelling, and when he had given a full update, he asked the King (verse 27), “Do you believe the prophets, King Agrippa? I know that you believe”. Verse 28 continues, “Agrippa said to Paul, in such a short time, are you persuading me to become a Christian?” After this, it was evident that even though the King was impressed, he did not accept the Savior. Paul told him that he not only wanted the King to believe and accept, but everyone do so.
This brings to mind a church hymn, that I have heard and sung all my life. It was written by P.P. Bliss in 1871, and if the content is really looked at, it opens a whole new understanding. As with a lot of hymns, people sing them time and again without giving the “words” a whole lot of thought. The “tunes” are the inspiration, not the content. In the past, this was me.
In many of today’s modern church settings, the old hymns are not prevalent as before. Many larger churches are more into the “upbeat”, “heart stimulating” music with all the fancy stage performances meant to set an atmosphere for an emotional “high”. It’s meant to inspire people to rejoice, give praises out loud, and fill the collection plates. Only problem is, there’s necessities that are left out which actually harms the members. For instance, there is a thing called “sin”, and there’s only One Way to eternal life in Heaven. (John 14:6)
New age (faux) preachers are letting their members think there’s many ways to God, and what He called “abominable” is ancient history. Surely, He didn’t mean for those things to apply today!
Looking at the P.P. Bliss song, it was true in Paul’s day, and it’s true today. There’s an old saying, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”. When looking at the verses below, remember “Almost” is the same as “not quite”.
“Almost Persuaded (but not quite), Now to believe (if only you would).”
“Almost Persuaded, Christ to receive (someday, maybe)”.
“Seems now some soul to say, Go Spirit, Go thy Way (not now, too much on my plate)”
“Some more convenient day, on thee I’ll call (I’ll get back to you)”.
“Almost Persuaded, Come Come today; Almost Persuaded, turn not away. Jesus invites you here; Angels all lingering near.” (Luke 15:7 – there’s joy in Heaven when one sinner repents)
“Prayers rise from hearts so dear; O Wanderer Come!” (one can almost hear the pleading in Our Savior’s voice as He invites us to call out to Him. He’s waiting, watching, listening for our call and will turn no one away – Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13).
Now for the sad reality: “Almost Persuaded, harvest is passed.” (opportunity missed)
“Almost Persuaded, Doom comes at last” (a time of reckoning that a Believer will never have to face)
“Almost cannot avail;” (too late for pleadings)
“Almost is but to fail.” (no do-overs after leaving this earth)
“Sad, Sad that bitter wail; Almost But Lost!” (no appeal)
Jesus spoke many times about the “outer darkness”, and told of the suffering of the Rich man who was there (Luke 16:19-31). In the parable, Lazarus was at the side of Abraham, and was in total peace. Both were in their “after life” holding places, and neither could cross over to the other side.
Those who died prior to the Cross that were not in God’s will, have been placed in a state of suffering that started immediately with their last breath here. The final punishment is yet to come. All who have died from the Cross to today, and will die all through the Millennium that have and will reject Jesus are and will be in torment until the final judgment for unbelievers.
The Lake of Fire (Revelation 19 and 20) is currently unoccupied, and the first two inhabitants will be the antichrist and false prophet of the Tribulation. Satan will follow them 1000 years later, and then all that are in holding (hades, hell, sheol, outer darkness, etc.) will go there at the White Throne Judgment. Many will be there that were “Almost Persuaded”.
All who accepted God’s will prior to the Cross, and all Believers in Jesus from the Cross forward will not receive punishment judgments. Rewards will be given depending on how faithful each was in using their individual talents for the Father and Savior.
After the Millennium, and after the new heavens and earth are created, all believers will be with Jesus in the New Jerusalem. Never again will there be pain, suffering, death or sin of any kind. It will be our pleasure to serve and worship the Savior who made this paradise possible for us.
And, both places are forever! Heaven with Jesus; or Lake of Fire with complete darkness, misery and no hope.
Almost is not enough, and with God never will be. He asks that we accept the sacrifice His Son gave for us, and to ask Jesus to forgive us and be our Savior. It can’t be bought, earned, is not deserved, and will not be “put off until later”. Matter of fact, we’re not guaranteed another day. Now would be a perfect time to call out to Jesus.
Remember, “Almost, But Lost!”