Have you ever heard the old saying, “Close only counts in horseshoes”? Or “Close but no cigar”? Fact is, if you have almost obeyed all of the gospel of Christ you will be lost! Perhaps the saddest words ever sung are, “Sad, sad, that bitter wail, `Almost but lost!” The Bible is full of such characters, those who almost gained the prize, but still lost. Consider these few examples:
The angels came down into the wicked city of Sodom to rescue Lot and his family from the impending doom God was about to rain upon the city. They even had to take them by the hand and bring them out of the city as they hesitated (Gen. 19:16). Once safely out of the city, they were instructed to hurry and flee for their lives, and not to look back, which they did. They were nearly assured of safety, almost free of the impending doom, “But his wife, from behind him, looked back; and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen. 19:26). Almost safe, only to perish with the wicked Sodomites because she did not obey God completely. Yes, God is that strict!
Moses led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt and tolerated much abuse at their hand, as he sought to lead them to the promised land. He got all the way up to the edge of the land he had worked so hard to lead the people into, but was never permitted to actually enter the land himself. Moses relates how he pleaded with the Lord, “Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon. But, the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and the Lord said to me, `Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter.’ ” (Deut. 3:25-26). So close, he even got to go up into the mountain to see the land itself (Deut. 34:4), but he was not permitted to enter because he had failed to do what God had instructed him (Num. 20:7-12). Yes, God is that strict!
The Rich Young Man
Mark 10:17-22 records the story of a young man who “ran” up to Christ-so eager and interested in salvation he could not wait. When Jesus questioned him, Mark says, “He felt a love for him” (Mark 10:21). Here he was so close to the salvation he had sought, a man Jesus could even love for his zeal and love of what was right. Jesus pointed out, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But, the Bible says, “At these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.” So close! He had worked for so long, now it was right on the tips of his fingers, and he let it slip right through his hands. Yes, God is that strict!
Herod Agrippa II
In reasoning before Agrippa, Paul appealed to the prophets and sought to reach the king. He drove his argument home:”King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.” Agrippa, feeling the effects of Paul’s logic, replied, “In a short time (almost), you will persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:27-28). These words of Agrippa truly represent the condition of many living today. They are almost persuaded to obey the gospel and become children of God. They are so close to having the prize right there in their hands, and that is as far as they ever seem to go. Yes, God is that strict!
Conclusion: Almost has never been enough to please God. He told those of the Old Testament, “You shall thus observe ALL MY STATUES, and all My ordinances, and do them: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:37). And James says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in ONE POINT, he has become guilty of all” (Jam. 2:10). Do not let “almost” stand between you and salvation! :`Almost’ cannot avail; `Almost’ is but to fail! Sad, sad, that bitter wail-`Almost, but lost!’ ” If that is your condition you need to make an immediate change and complete what God has commanded for you to do in order to be saved. God is not a respecter of person (Acts 10:34 f; Col 3:25). What he commanded for the whole world to do, he commanded also for you and I to do. Jesus commanded his apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel unto all the world. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mk 16:15,16). How much more plain must Jesus Christ be in order to make it clear that he wants everyone to believe in their heart and confess with their mouth that he is the Christ (Rom 10:8-10), and that you must repent of your sins (Acts 2:38) being buried with him by baptism (Rom 6:3,4), washing away your sins (Acts 22:16). Remember, close doesn’t count with God. He wants all of you to obey all of him in order to receive all of heaven. Luke warm people who straddle the fence will be spit out and cast into the lake of fire (Rev 3:17,18). Yes, God is that strict!