WHY NOT NOW?
He suffered and died that you should live.
WHY NOT NOW?
He suffered and died that you should live.
Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 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.” When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.” ‘Acts.2624-31NKJV
Paul’s encounter with king Agrippa was official. It was purely a secular appointment. Agrippa was doing his normal day job as a government official. And Paul’s case was one of those cases he treats in the course of his day job. So it was that day that Paul came, but notice the turn of events: The Apostle utilized the opportunity of the ordinary activity of the civil suit against him for witnessing for the Lord. The prisoner stole the show from the king, proving once again that it is not what happens to you that matters but your choice of what you do with it. You can decide to be battered or be bettered by the world system. As for me I have chosen to be on the side of Scriptures to rise above every corrupting situation no matter how sugar-coated they present. Couched in Paul’s presentation, was a calculated effort to present the gospel of Jesus Christ complete with a call for decision. All who were present including the King had opportunity to accept the gospel. The Apostle was not billed to speak in a church service or an evangelical crusade; he merely lived out his Christian calling by turning every facet of his life to the glory of God. For Apostle Paul, Christ and His gospel is the one thing that matters in life. So he turned an ordinary court setting for an opportunity to present the Good News. It will be well to note that he was in chains on account of this same Jesus that he now extols and proclaims. In this faithful encounter, King Agrippa almost gave his life to Christ. He was brought so close by grace but he chose to reject a lifetime offer. He came so close, but turned away; so near yet not in. As for being informed, he was, but he was not persuaded and moreover, evil companionship as excess baggage held him bound to earth. The gospel was convincingly delivered to him and he knew he had a decision to make for Christ, but something else got in the way. At his most opportune time he squandered the grace of God for his life. This king knew what he was supposed to do, he understood Apostle Paul, but his character got in the way. His reply betrayed his immoral worldview. Hear him;
Then Agrippa said to Paul, Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?‘Acts.2628. NIV
In other words, “Paul,” the king said, “do you think that I am such a pushover that you can so easily convince me to abandon my worldly lifestyle to become a follower of Christ like you are? Hei, give me a break man.”
The King was asking for more time to allow him continue in the gratification of his pleasurable reckless living. He was asking for more time not to think about the matter but it’s all a ploy from the pit of hell to put off indefinitely what he has ample information and opportunity to do then. And why you may ask? Character defines who you actually are and determines what you do with what information that comes your way daily. It is what rules the intellect. The fabrics of your morals control your intellect and not the other way round. It is what we choose to do and how we choose to live our lives that demonstrate to the next man what we truly believe; because we only truly know what we live by. You cannot be an expert in what you do not believe no matter what you claim. What do I mean? You cannot know a matter so thoroughly well, but choose not to allow it be the rule of your life. No sir! According to St. Augustine
Whosoever supposes that he can know truth while he is still living iniquitously is in error.
Till we aim at complete and unreserved obedience in all matters of our earthly life, we are not really Christians at all. (Paraphrasing John Henry Newman.)
Biblically speaking, true belief and obedience are like the two sides of a coin. Tinker with one side and you alter the original identity of the coin. That’s why the true Saint gets disturbed when there is something that he has come to accept as true but fails to live by. Apostle Paul was visibly shaken by his actions which do not tally with the doctrines he had ab initio come to accept. He found himself in a fix he could not fix by himself and screamed for help, recognizing and calling on the only One that had the capacity to fix him up. Rom. 714-25.
If you need some time like King Agrippa it will reflect on how you live because outlook determines outcome. In his book, The Fabrics of Faithfulness, Steven Garber said and I agree and quote:
Knowing and doing, hearing and obeying are integrally connected for people whose convictions are truly and deeply Christian.
He was echoing Apostle James’ incisive conclusion in Jas. 122.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. NIV
This in turn summarizes our Lord’s Jesus’ teaching in Mt.724-25 and other places in the gospel.
The Bible for instance says that: You should not pay back evil for evil, perceived or real, but instead pray for and not against those you believe hate you; you should turn the other chick for him that struck you should he want a second helping; you should pursue peace and, not fire for fire with all men and holiness and not profanity, without which no man can see the Lord… Sorry but you cannot attempt to upturn any of these and other commands of God and not pay dearly for it. Please do not parry the demands of the Gospel like the king, for God has zero-tolerance for excuses, their genuineness for you notwithstanding: It may be over for you before you turn over.
Today, many people like Agrippa put off accepting Christ till such and such a time? Like this King, a lot of people know well enough to become Christians but will not because there are aspects of their lives they do not want to submit to the control of the Lord. The king was shocked as so close he was to making the switch, hence he screamed, “Hei Paul, do you know you almost made me change my mind?” How tragic! There are also some in the church today who incidentally claim to be believers who have enough information to live holy lives but again certain things keep them from taking that bold and decisive step that is crucial in life.
A student was once asked how soon he was expecting the return of the Lord. His answer reflected the general belief of the Bible study class in session. He replied; “Pastor, I have already spent five years and it remains just one year to complete my medical study, why not He waits a little bit more, so that I will complete my study and enjoy the fruits of my labor before coming to end it all. Why must He come now at the tail end of my studies, why study medicine and not practice it even for one year? I have to get married you know, have children and enjoy this life a little bit before He comes to take us away.” It was a Christian Bible study class and even though this fellow was not a new convert, yet he was not ready for the Lord just then. And if you are not ready for Him now, like the King, there must be some aspects of His commands that you are not fleshing out. Remember that whatever you accept is an eloquent testimony of what you have rejected. The state of your readiness for the second coming of the Lord has a controlling effect on your lifestyle. He who accepts and believes His soon return will so structure his life accordingly. Getting the right knowledge is but the first step and it must be accompanied by constructive meditation and appropriate application before the desired result will come. To claim to be a Christian without a corresponding passionate desire to be like Christ is like being a fox in sheep clothing. A clever oxymoron. To claim to be a Christian and not have a burning desire to be transformed to the image of Christ is living in self-delusion. When you shy away from allowing the Holy Spirit remake you in to the image of Christ who is the exact replica of God, you still are on the other side of the fence no matter the quantum of biblical information that you have or may have passed on to others. Jesus had such group in mind in Mat. 721ff.
In his greatest hour of opportunity, the king blocked his ears and waved off the gracious call to change his life by the Transcendental Interferer, according to C.S. Lewis. He knew that he must make a choice at that moment, and he did make one anyway; he turned down the offer of eternal life.
And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. 1Jn.520-21 NLT.
And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. Conclusion I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 11Jn.511-13 NLT.
The Bible comfortably teaches that God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom of choice are perfectly compatible. We all have a decision to make on how we live our lives here but after we have made that decision, we cannot determine the consequences of that decision. Only God can.
Despite Eve’s lame excuse, taking Just One Bite Once of the fruit of the forbidden tree was a deliberate choice she conscientiously made. The serpent never gave her the fruit, it only made suggestions which she considered and like King Agrippa and some of us some of the time, chose to reject the counsel and love of God because she believed the serpent that sticking with God will deny her certain benefits she was convinced she needed. She allowed her egocentric human desires to override what she knew God said. And got what she so badly wanted and what she so badly needed eluded her with dare consequences. The rest is history.
“The turning away from the truth at the behest of our disordered passions does not mean that the mind will stop functioning,” E.M. Jones wrote, “it only means that the mind will not perceive truth,” he concluded. “Not only will the mind not perceive the truth, it will succumb to the falsehood masquerading as truth,” S.K Moroney added in his classical work: How sin affects scholarship. Rejecting God is a choice we make while fully awake. You do not commit sin while dreaming. And it does not obliterate your intellectual capacity; it only confirms and consolidates your fallen state which can be obscured to the uninitiated by mere intellectual articulateness. Jesus once told His followers:
The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat [of authority]. So observe and practice all they tell you; but do not do what they do, for they preach, but do not practice. Mat. 232-3 .AMP.
Someone may have the correct knowledge but due to some character deficiencies choose to live contrary to what he professes. But why this defect one may ask?
This is so because: “…man’s mind is supple”, according to Fr. R. Seraphim, “and it can be made to believe anything to which he wills to incline.” It’s so pathetic but ihe onye cho-kofu, the Igbo adage says. You will eventually get what you set your mind upon. James W. Sire in his book, Habits of the mind, puts it so succinctly about the responsibility of Knowledge, and I quote:
We know certain mushrooms are poisonous. So we don’t eat them. We know gunpowder explodes. So we confine it and direct its power to propel a missile to a target we choose. If we don’t live by what we know about gunpowder, then we are likely not to be around. This principle works in spiritual matters too.
Sin is a decision we intentionally choose to make and the consequences like the fatality of poisonous mushrooms are automatic. The toxin starts to work as soon as it hits the victim’s intestinal walls. Ignorance, willful or otherwise does not impair its reactions once it starts.
How many times have you been presented with the pure gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and you deflect it, deciding rather to remain where you think you have the freedom to live as you wish. How many times have you been convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the action you are poised to take is in conflict with the will of God on an issue, yet like Agrippa you scream: Paul you almost got me en route to heaven…you almost got me out of my sinful lifestyle…you almost delivered me from evil relationship…you almost gave me light…you almost got me out of the Broadway to your restricting narrow way … How many times have you been lured into swallowing the bait of offense and ended up in a china plate hopelessly helpless? Haba! When do you think is the right time to make that most important decision in life: To choose Christ: To choose to be passionate about allowing God remodel you back to His image. When will you finally choose to obey Apostle Paul’s injunction in Phil.48 to dwell only on the realm of purity of thought?
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. Phil.48NKJV
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. ‘2Cor.61-2 NKJV
What did Apostle Paul say that set King Agrippa’s heart on fire? Acts.2621-23,30 NKJV.
For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come — that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”… When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them;
There we go: The governor and Bernice and those who sat with them! Bernice sitting by Agrippa’s side was a woman with whom he was having an immoral affair. Accepting Jesus will be tantamount to ending that unwholesome relationship. He knew he could not try the impossible: Truly accepting Christ and still remaining in his sins. One has to go; Christ or your past worldly lifestyle with its bag and baggage. But Bernice was too costly a price for him to pay for Christ. I wonder what your own price is; 1 wonder what is holding you from making that vital decision of exchanging your past gimcrack life leading to eternal death with the Life that is in Christ. Whatever Bernice and maybe the people that are keeping you from enjoying the Christian lifestyle are indeed keeping you for an avoidable but horrible time with Satan in the pit of hell. Yes! You either repent or perish as the Bible says in Lk.133 Why would anyone want to choose to remain in his sin like King Agrippa? He ran away from Paul because the pressure was becoming very unbecoming. Is that why you are running from the true gospel too; preferring where you will be tantalized with what you like to hear and be free to live as you like. Is that why you are comfortable where you think Christ will not interfere with your private life without knowing that outside the guidance of the Holy Spirit using the Word of God you will end up in the gaping jaws of Satan Jn.1010 refers.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life [in the eternal kingdom of God]? For what can a man give as an exchange (a compensation, a ransom, in return) for his [blessed] life [in the eternal kingdom of God]? For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words in this adulterous (unfaithful) and [preeminently] sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory (splendor and majesty) of His Father with the holy angels. Mk.836-38 AMP
You do not believe Him, do you? Nothing is worthy of keeping anyone from becoming BORN AGAIN and living like a believer. Would you like to live like Agrippa who loved the world, the pomp and pageantry, the fleeting pleasures of life, the fame, the riches, the sin, the power and the comfort of the world and of course the sure hell fire that must follow? Am I trying to scare you out of hell into heaven? Oh no! The Bible said that there are those who would end up there. But your name was not mentioned. Anyone who finds himself there should know that it is a personal and volitional decision. Why would one choose a godless lifestyle while God is near and beckoning him to turn to Him and live? He said to Israel in Ezek. 1830-32:
“Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!
(Heb.1039, 2Pet.37). The fact that you have read so far is enough reason to prove to you that the grace of God is available to save you today. King Agrippa just like you now had all the chance in the world to say yes to life and no to sin but he could not and so forsook Christ so as to have the world. What a dastardly choice!
Evangelist Billy Graham of blessed memory was reported to have said that even if at the end of his life he realized that there was no heaven or hell that he would still choose to live as a Christian if given the choice.
In Jn.33 Jesus declared emphatically:
“..I tell you the truth; no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is BORN AGAIN. NIV
So what does it mean to be Born Again and how can it be done?
To be BORN AGAIN in the simplest term is to give your life back to God so that you begin a lifestyle that is aimed exclusively to give God pleasure for that is His ultimate purpose for creating man.
“The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Rom.108-11 NLT.
GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THAT HOLE, AND FAST.
Why hide your head in the sand with your whole body exposed to the whims and caprices of Satan , unprotected? Yes, why not commit your life to Christ, NOW? After all that’s the consummation of life.
The choice is yours, stop hiding your head in the sand and feigning ignorance, it leads to fatality: ask Judas, the man who sold his life for peanuts.
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