“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Almost or Altogether? (Rick Lanning)
2) A Broken Glass (Rufus Clifford)
Almost or Altogether?
The old saying, “Almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades” makes a very illustrative point. You get a point in horse shoes even if you don’t get a ringer simply by being “close” to the stake. The purpose in military combat is simply to get the hand grenade “almost” to the target, allowing the explosion to damage or destroy the surrounding area. This popular idiom emphasizes the exception, not the rule. The rule being, “almost is not good enough.”
“Almost” jumping over a ten foot hole lands you at the bottom with an injury or death. “Almost” winning the game leaves you as a loser. “Almost” passing the test means you failed. “Almost” starting the car in a Minnesota winter means you are stranded and paying big bucks for a tow truck and auto repairs. “Almost” being in Noah’s ark means you drowned in the flood. You can see that “almost” just doesn’t get it. Yes, there are exceptions to that rule, but not many. And the one example of that rule that is sadder than all others put together is the story of King Agrippa.
Paul had been arrested and had already given his defense to the Roman commander Claudius Lysias (Ac. 22-23), and to the Roman governor Felix, who sadly replied: “Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you’” (Ac 24:25). His convenient time likely never came, leaving him “almost” saved. Two years later Paul stands before the next governor Portius Festus, and when seeing he would not get a fair trial, used his right of Roman citizenship to say, “I appeal to Caesar!” Before sending him Festus needed some worthy reason and so had Paul appear before his court, having invited King Agrippa to hear the case. Paul’s power of reason and persuasion hit home to the king. Listen to this exchange in Acts 26:26-28:
“King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”
This Biblical record of the trial leaves us with the distinct impression that this governor and this king never obeyed the gospel. They were both oh-so-close, but as we have learned, almost doesn’t count. Just like you cannot be “almost pregnant” (either you are, or you aren’t), neither can you be “almost Christian.” Either you are born again, and thus have put on that “new man” in Christ, or you are still that “old man” who stands condemned (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10). You can’t be half old and half new. You are one or the other. Which is it?
Yes, “almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades,” for it sure doesn’t count in salvation, nor will it count for anything at Judgment. You will cry out, “Lord, Lord…” but He will only reply, “Depart from Me, I do not know you” (Matt. 7:23). Don’t be almost, but altogether, saved. Become a Christian today!
— Via Online Bulletins from the Northwest church of Christ, August 5, 2015
A Broken Glass
I was getting ready to go to service and I went into the bathroom one last time and then it happened! A blue drinking glass that I had set on the edge of my bathroom counter was hit by my coat as I turned to walk out of the room. Boom! Well at least that’s what it sounded like to me! I turned around and couldn’t believe how many pieces of glass were lying on my bathroom and bedroom floor. I guess they don’t make them like they use too, because when it hit the floor pieces shattered and went everywhere. I didn’t have time to clean it up then and when I got back from church I actually had forgotten about that shattered glass. That is until I started to walk into my bathroom. I got my trusty rainbow air purification system (or vacuum to non-rainbow owners) and tried to clean up all that glass.
You might be wondering what this little story has to do with spiritual matters? Well, as the days went by little pieces of glass began showing up in the strangest places. The first one showed up on one of my toes and stayed there for two days. The second one showed up Friday night in Carey’s foot, at which point she removed hers, and since she did such a good job I let her remove mine as well! I began to think about how that shattered glass was like life. Everything can be going along just right and then our lives can become shattered by some trial or contrary wind that blows in our life. We have the choice at that point to let our life remain shattered or we can do something about it.
I thought about how sin often times is the culprit that shatters many lives. Paul said in (Rom.3:23) “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I thought about how God fixes our shattered lives when we obey His holy word. (Heb.8:12) “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” I thought about how shattered lives can be cleaned up but often times there remains some consequence, some little thing that pops back up as a result of the trouble that caused the disaster. The psalmist said in (Ps.55:22) “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” I can’t put back the pieces of that glass where they once were but I can put back the pieces of my life with God’s help anytime. He can fix any broken life!
We sing the song “Bring Christ your broken life, so marred by sin, He will create anew make whole again” Has your life ever been shattered by some unforeseen event? If not, get ready for that’s part of living on this earth. When it does happen, I hope you will remember this little story about my broken glass. I hope you will clean up the mess and go on with your life!
God loves us and sent Christ into the world so a life shattered by sin or some misfortune could be made whole again! I thought that glass was helpful before I broke it. But looking back, I see now, I’ve gotten more help from it since it shattered!
— Via The Old Hickory Bulletin, December 24, 2017, Volume 37, #52
“The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermon)