Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian? Acts 26:28
Since the beginning of Christianity there have been people who are almost persuaded to become Christians. But we don’t gain any advantage in life by being almost a follower of Jesus. We are called to be an altogether Christian.
Attributes of an Almost Christian
- They live with virtue towards others.
The almost Christian realizes, like many secular philosophers, that we all have a duty to act virtuous towards each other. The almost Christian tries to do right, both in avoiding harmful actions (violence, deception, etc) and by trying to do good (helping others). They try to be truthful and just in all that they do and seek to build those virtues in society. The almost Christian seeks to find ways to improve the world around them and gives generously out of their abundance. They gladly give what they can spare to help others in need.
- They show reverence to God.
The almost Christian is one that sees great benefit from being a part of a church. They see the church as a great place to raise their children to learn values that will benefit them and the world. The almost Christian tries to be regular in attendance at worship and holds great value in studying the Bible. They understand that the teachings of Jesus are a great basis for life and try to learn how to live a life that pleases God.
- They show personal piety and virtue.
Beyond just their outward actions, the almost Christian also tries to live rightly in their personal life. They avoid gluttony and drunkenness and sexual impurity. They try to live peaceably with everyone and try to seek and obey God’s will as much as possible.
- They show a passion for sharing religion.
Having seen the positive effects of a life lived in the framework of God’s will, they seek to share that life with others. They tell others how blessed their lives are from living by God’s commandments. They encourage people to study scripture and to do good to others. They encourage people who are struggling to live a life of faith to continue on and to try harder to live for God.
- They live their beliefs sincerely.
The almost Christian believes fully in the benefits of a life lived by God’s commands. They seek it genuinely and not as a means of escaping the consequences of sin. They truly want to do things that honor God and bring about God’s will in the world.
The Almost Christian in many ways is a good, genuine person who wants to do right by God. And by virtue’s sake, they are living rightly. But they lack 4 things that keep them from being an altogether Christian.
Attributes of an Altogether Christian
- They genuinely love others.
The altogether Christian lives with genuine love towards everyone – friend, stranger, and enemy alike. Their actions towards others are not motivated by fulfilling a sense of obligation or virtue, but by a deeply help passion to show love. Out of love, the altogether Christian gives generously from what they have, not just out of their excess. The altogether Christian seeks for others to experience God through them.
- They genuinely love God.
The altogether Christian doesn’t see the church or worship as a duty, but as an opportunity to experience God. Church is not just a place to discover virtue but also a place to show love to God in worship.
- They rely completely on Jesus for their salvation.
The almost Christian understands that no amount of personal piety or good works will bring them salvation. They know that salvation is only received by grace through faith in Jesus. The altogether Christian holds firmly to the assurance of salvation. They know and trust they are saved. And they seek to turn their lives completely over to Jesus. The altogether Christian doesn’t seek to do good deeds through their own will, but relinquishes their will to God’s will, allowing the Holy Spirit to have full control.
- They seek to share their relationship with Jesus.
The altogether Christian doesn’t seek to tell others of the virtues of actions, but of the freedom from sin that comes with a life of faith. They seek to share the grace of Christ that brought them salvation. They understand that it is not virtue that will save others and the world, but the grace of Christ alone that brings salvation.
What about you? Are you an almost Christian or an absolute Christian? Are you living a virtuous life by your own power or are you turning your life over to Jesus? What a shame it would be to live a good life as an almost Christian and come to find that you fall short of the perfection of Christ that is the standard of eternity. It is not our works or how well we follow God’s commands that saves us – salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. That is the key difference between being an almost Christian and an altogether follower of Jesus Christ.
This is the 2nd in a series of posts based on the Standard Sermons of John Wesley. These 53 sermons are required reading for every Methodist preacher and form the basis of Methodist theology.