Almost Persuaded but Entirely Lost

The story of Paul’s defense before King Agrippa II is found in Acts 26. Paul turned his apology into an opportunity to preach the gospel to a group of elites who were very skeptical. King Agrippa II uttered some of the most sorrowful words in scripture as he responded to Paul’s discourse.

King Agrippa II belonged to an exceedingly sinful family. The Herod family tree was infested with Satanic influence. King Agrippa II’s great grandfather was Herod the Great who killed a great number of babies in his failed attempt to kill baby Jesus. King Agrippa II’s father was Agrippa I who beheaded the apostle James and tried to kill Peter. Agrippa I stirred the wrath of God in Acts 12 because he allowed himself to be exalted as an equal with God. An angel struck him down, probably with a heart attack. He was infested with worms and he died suddenly. Adultery and incest rotted away at the family tree. Agrippa II’s uncle, Herod Antipas, divorced his wife to marry the former wife of his brother. This Uncle Herod was responsible for the beheading of John the Baptist. Now, Paul finds himself standing before the seventh and last of the Herod kings, King Herod Agrippa II.

Paul was accused of apostasy. The Jewish people accused him of opposing the law, the temple and even the great Caesar. Paul was guilty of none of these charges and demanded he be tried in Rome as a Roman citizen. King Agrippa and his sister Bernice were in Caesarea to visit Festus, the new governor. King Agrippa had no children of his own and he was in an incestuous relationship with his sister, Bernice, at this time. Festus asked King Agrippa II what charges he should send on to Rome against Paul. King Agrippa asked that Paul be brought to him.

Paul was said to be a small, bald man with thick eye brows and knobbly knees, stood humbly and full of grace before kings and governors. He began boldly to declare Christ.

Paul told Agrippa that he was a proud follower of this same Jesus who had been tortured, died and rose again. He pointed to his resurrection as proof that he was the Messiah. Paul was saying, “I am not an apostate Jew. I am a Christian. I am not against the law. The law is fulfilled in Christ.” He revealed his experience along the road to Damascus. “I was blinded but now I see more clearly than ever before.”

Paul then looked directly into the eyes of the king. King Agrippa, you are an expert on Jewish affairs, you know the law. You know the story of Jesus and you are aware of his death and resurrection. “Will you agree with me and testify to Festus that the things I say are true?”

Agrippa’s sad and disturbing reply has echoed down through the ages. Books have been written about it. Sermons have been preached about it. Songs have been sung about it. Almost persuaded. King Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost you persuade me to be a Christian.”

Rev. Brundage once said, “He who is almost persuaded is almost saved, and to be almost saved is to be entirely lost.” There is no record that Agrippa ever repented of his horrendous sin. We cannot be absolutely certain but we can be fairly certain that Agrippa is living an eternity in hell. Every moment of his eternal existence Agrippa remembers his words to Paul, “You nearly convinced me to be a Christian.”

Why did Agrippa not get saved? Why do people turn away from the multitude of opportunities they have to give their lives to Christ? Why do they refuse the marvelous gift provided by the sacrifice of Christ?

There is what I believe to be an urban legend that has been floating about since the 1990’s. A group of scientists were drilling through the earth in Siberia. They drilled nine miles deep and dropped a microphone deep into the hole to listen for plate movements or vibrations of the earth. What they heard instead was the horror of people screaming in a fiery hell. When I Youtubed this on my computer and listened to hell for the first time I asked myself…”If the microphone was close enough to hear the screams of hell why were the wires not melted?” It actually sounded more like the mall on Black Friday.

That is an urban legend and it likely has no truth in it. This is real truth. There is a horrible, unspeakable, indescribable utterance that comes from the deepest pit of hell and I think if God would let people hear it they might change their minds about being a Christian. That horrible wailing belongs to Agrippa and he cries out, “Paul, you almost persuaded me to be a Christian. Almost! Almost! Almost!” That scream is repeated millions of times by millions of souls and it is the worm that never dies in the depths of a real hell.