Sermon Sunday – George Whitefield – The Almost Christian

October 9, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Sermon Sunday | Leave a comment
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The Almost Christian


by


George Whitefield


(1714-1770)

Acts 26:28 – “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

The chapter, out of which the text is taken, contains an admirable account which the great St. Paul gave of his wonderful conversion from Judaism to Christianity, when he was called to make his defense before Festus a Gentile governor, and king Agrippa. Our blessed Lord had long since foretold, that when the Son of man should be lifted up, “his disciples should be brought before kings and rulers, for his name’s sake, for a testimony unto them.” And very good was the design of infinite wisdom in thus ordaining it; for Christianity being, from the beginning, a doctrine of the Cross, the princes and rulers of the earth thought themselves too high to be instructed by such mean teachers, or too happy to be disturbed b such unwelcome truths; and therefore would have always continued strangers to Jesus Christ, and him crucified, had not the apostles, by being arraigned before them, gained opportunities of preaching to them “Jesus and the resurrection.” St. Paul knew full well that this was the main reason, why his blessed Master permitted his enemies at this time to arraign him at a public bar; and therefore, in compliance with the divine will, thinks it not sufficient, barely to make his defense, but endeavors at the same time to convert his judges. And this he did with such demonstration of the spirit, and of power, that Festus, unwilling to be convinced by the strongest evidence, cries out with a loud voice, “Paul, much earning doth make thee mad.” To which the brave apostle (like a true follower of the holy Jesus) meekly replies, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.” But in all probability, seeing king Agrippa more affected with his discourse, and observing in him an inclination to know the truth, he applies himself more particularly to him. “The king knoweth of these things; before whom also I speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him.” And then, that if possible he might complete his wished-for conversion, he with an inimitable strain of oratory, addresses himself still more closely, “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest them.” At which the passions of the king began to work so strongly, that he was obliged in open court, to own himself affected by the prisoner’s preaching, and ingenuously to cry out, “Paul, almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Continue Reading Sermon Sunday – George Whitefield – The Almost Christian…

Ecumenism

October 6, 2010 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | 5 Comments
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Everyone has a cause or number of causes that they are passionate about. We seek out others of like mind to band together and make our voices heard. Depending on the cause, we may or may not agree with everything said and we weigh the causes based on this. Recently, Glenn Beck held a rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that drew 300,000 – 400,000 people. The rally was labeled as a religious one and not a political one. Among those gathered were Muslims, Mormons, Evangelicals, Catholics, and other faiths. Throughout the day, the group was encouraged to turn to God and to rule themselves. This brings me to a question that I think that the church needs to consider very carefully. Continue Reading Ecumenism…

Why do you believe?

June 10, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Christianity | 16 Comments
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Notice I didn’t ask what do you believe. I asked why do you believe. I feel this is an important question. It’s something that I’ve been tossing around lately and I think I’ve found answers for a number of people. If asked, many Americans (I think the last number was 94%) say that they believe in God. It’s the Sunday school answer. It’s what many of us were taught to say. But, why do you believe in God? This isn’t to try and get you to doubt God’s existence. It’s to get you thinking about why you believe what you do and what you’re really putting your faith in.

 

For instance, if you are a follower of the Hindu belief system, why do you believe what you do? Why do you believe that there are millions of “gods”? Is the evidence for those “gods” that strong? Why do you consider cows as sacred? What is the basis for your faith in the Hindu belief system?

 

If you’re an atheist, why do you believe what you do? Why do you deny the existence of God? Has science proven without a doubt that God doesn’t exist? Can you really be sure that He doesn’t? Surely anyone with even the slightest common sense would understand that none of us could know everything right? Is it possible in the information that you haven’t yet looked at that there is plenty of evidence of God?

 

If you’re a Muslim, why do you believe in Islam? What is it about Islam that makes it the true belief system? Is it the Quran? Was the Quran really given to Mohammed by Gabriel? Has it remained unchanged all these years? Do you believe because of the promise of paradise and virgins awaiting you? How do you know that you’ll make it to paradise? Is there any assurance?

 

If you follow the Jewish belief system, why? What is it about Judaism that makes appealing? Is it tradition? Is it the promises of God? What is it?

 

As I said above, I don’t ask these questions for any reason other than to get you thinking. I’ve asked the same questions of myself in regards to the religions above as well as Christianity.

 

Looking at belief systems, it seems that many people believe in them because their system of choice suits them. If someone decides to be a Zen Buddhist, is it because of what the system teaches or is it because of the degree to which it suits the practitioner? Does someone become a Buddhist because they truly believe the teachings or because they are more comfortable with the religion and its tenets? This goes for any religion.

 

I can’t help but wonder whether or not many of the people who profess a belief honestly believe in what they profess. If not, then why believe it?

 

Of course, this led me to wonder about the body of Christ too. If you’re a Christian, why do you believe? What is it about Christianity that causes you to believe it over other systems? Not only that, what about the different things being taught?

 

If you believe in the “prosperity gospel”, what is it that gives credence to that? Many will answer that question with a number of scriptures about wealth and health, but is that the whole counsel of God? If prosperity is the main focus of the gospel, what happens when you come upon hard times? What happens when you’re unemployed for months? Is that just another attack from the devil or is there something more to it?

 

If you believe in the “God-is-love gospel”, what do you do with the verses (Old and New Testament) that talk about God being righteous, holy, and judging sin? Do you ignore those verses or explain them away as a misunderstanding or incorrect translation? How do you reconcile the judgment to come with your view that “God is love”?

 

If you believe that you can be a practicing homosexual and a Christian at the same time, what part of scripture do you use for evidence? Why do you believe that? What about the passages that call it a sin and say that homosexuals won’t enter the kingdom of heaven?

 

If you believe that Christ died on the cross but that we must still work our way into heaven, why? Why do you believe that? What is it about Christ’s death on the cross that was incomplete? If Christ’s death was complete and we’re saved through it, then why do we need to do “works”?

 

What about the other “gospels” that I’ve heard preached (Kingdom theology, Replacement theology)? Why does someone believe those? What happens when these different “gospels” don’t line up with scripture? Do you stop believing that in favor of something else? Do you try to reconcile it? Or, do you ignore it?

 

Like other religions, it seems that many people profess Christianity for much the same reasons. Some of them profess Christianity because they were brought up in church. Some of them profess a certain flavor of Christianity because it suits them. How many Christians actually follow Christ because they believe what He said? Many people would probably say that this is the case for them, but is it? If it’s true for someone, shouldn’t it show? Now, I understand that people grow in holiness. I understand that they don’t become sanctified overnight, but shouldn’t they be moving in that direction? Should we have pastors that watch pornography? Should we have churchwomen spreading gossip? Should our kids act like heathens if we really believe what the Bible says? Should our focus be on growing the church when God said that the growing is His job?

 

I guess that I’ve gotten to the point that I just don’t understand the point of being a follower of something unless you really believe it. If you don’t believe in parts of Christianity, what do you do with them? If you believe in a certain flavor of the gospel, then what do you do with the rest of scripture? Is Christianity supposed to be a buffet? Are we supposed to pick and choose what we like and throw out the rest?

 

As I study the scriptures, I just can’t help but see that God made it clear exactly what He wanted done. There were times where He expected His people to trust Him, but for the most part, He gave them the instructions. God’s given us the same instructions and expectations. Are we doing what we’re supposed to? When you read about the lives of the “heroes of faith”, you’ll see a certain phrase spoken of many of them. They are noted for doing “all the Lord commanded them” (Gen 6:22, Gen 21:4, Lev 8:4, Lev 8:36, Jos. 10:40, 2Sa 5:25). Shouldn’t those of us who know Christ be the same? If we’re not, then are we really following Christ?

 

I can’t help but wonder how many Christians “just believe” and really don’t know why they believe what they do or lack the conviction they should have to truly follow Christ. For what number of Christians has it become just “the thing to do”? How many just do it because it’s all they’ve known?

 

For me, it’s become more and more a desire to truly understand what God wants from me and to make every effort to do “just as He commands”. It’s not easy and there are a number of times where I’ve messed up, but I want to do it. I don’t believe in the Hindu system and it’s millions of “gods” and “mystical” thinking processes. I don’t deny that God exists like atheists do. I read the scriptures and see them confirmed on a daily basis. I see prophecies that were given hundreds of years before they came true. I’ve seen instance after instance of God keeping His promise. I look at creation and see ample evidence for God. I don’t ascribe to Islam like Muslims do. I am not a follower of Judaism, although I have a high respect for Jews. I understand that they are still God’s people.

 

I don’t believe that prosperity is supposed to be the focus of the Christian. I don’t believe that once you “accept” Christ, you’re life just becomes a cornucopia of blessing and favor. I don’t believe that God is only love. I do believe that He is love; the scriptures say so. I also believe that He is holy, righteous, just, and deserves to be revered. I do believe that He will judge the world in righteousness and mete out the punishment for sin. I believe that homosexuality is a sin. I don’t believe that you can be a practicing homosexual and a Christian at the same time. I don’t believe that there is anything that any one of us could do to work our way to heaven or to compliment what Jesus did on Calvary. I don’t believe that the kingdom of God is here and I don’t believe that the church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. I don’t believe in these things because the scriptures say otherwise. I am becoming more and more cautious when accepting anything someone finds in scripture. I am trying to be a Berean. I want the whole counsel of God on the subject first. I want to be like Paul and be able to say that “I know in whom I have believed”. I want to share the gospel truth the way God meant it.

 

You may disagree with me and that’s ok. I believe that there are areas where we can disagree and still be friends, but I don’t know that there are near as many as some people try to say. In the end, it comes down to whether or not you’re going to take God’s Word the way that He wrote it. Will you? 

 

 


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