The confusion of our time over the meaning, requirements, and rewards of being a Christian can only be overcome by a return to the New Testament pattern. Christianity as intended by God is not a matter of satisfying ourselves, or merely being religious, but rather of satisfying God’s will through Jesus Christ. To be a Christian means to become like Christ in our surrender to the will of God. Let’s look at the example of a man in the Bible, Agrippa, by name, who was almost persuaded to be a Christian. His story is found in Acts Chapter 26. Paul the apostle had been arrested in Jerusalem and taken to Caesarea for trial. A new Roman governor, Festus, came into office, and invited the Jewish king, Agrippa, to help in Paul’s trial. Agrippa had heard a great deal about Paul and Christianity, and was glad to listen to what Paul had to say.
It seems strange to us that Paul did not try to defend himself, or beg to be set free, but rather talked about Jesus. There had been a time when Paul was young when he did not believe in Jesus, and had tried to put in prison and kill those who did. He told Agrippa how he had been convinced that he was wrong by a heavenly vision, which made him know that Jesus was really alive. Because he was alive, Christianity had to be true, and Paul had accepted it gladly. He had spent his life teaching people that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and must be believed in and served if we are to be blessed by God.
King Agrippa was convinced by what Paul said that he ought to be a Christian. He knew the promises made in the Old Testament that a Saviour would come, and could see that Jesus was that Saviour. This conviction led him to say, “Almost thou persuaded me to be a Christian.” It is sad to find, however, that Agrippa did nothing about his faith in Jesus. Although many people think that you are a Christian as soon as you believe in Jesus, this is not the teaching of the New Testament. The record in Acts Chapter 22, verse 16, tells us that after Paul had been convinced by the vision that Jesus was alive and must be the Son of God, he was given this command: “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord”.
To be a Christian requires us to do anything God says, just as Jesus did while he was on the earth. Paul says it this way in Phillipians Chapter 2, verses 5-8: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: v6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: v7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: v8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
We must not make the mistake Agrippa made in being almost persuaded to be a Christian; let your faith in Jesus as the Christ cause you to obey the will of the Father, as He always did.