I was raised, as I believe I have stated before, on a strange mixture of evangelical Lutheranism and Arminian revivalism.The Lutheranism was of the best kind, but the revivalism, while certainly nowhere near the worst, was confusing enough. In Sunday School and Confirmation, we learned sola fide, and at evangelistic meetingsé─ţwhich were certainly not called é─˙revival meetings,é─¨ we were plied with the fiction of gospel songs like the one that follows:
by Phillip P. Bliss
é─˙Almost persuadedé─¨ now to believe;
é─˙Almost persuadedé─¨ Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
é─˙Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee Ié─˘ll call.é─¨
é─˙Almost persuaded,é─¨ come, come today;
é─˙Almost persuaded,é─¨ turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!
é─˙Almost persuaded,é─¨ harvest is past!
é─˙Almost persuaded,é─¨ doom comes at last!
é─˙Almosté─¨ cannot avail;
é─˙Almosté─¨ is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wailé─ţ
é─˙Almost,é─¨ but lost!
Have you ever read anything so calculated to manipulate? Couple those pathetic lyrics with the mournful melody, which, if you can stand it, you can listen to at cyberhymnal.org, and you are guaranteed to get some poor, emotionally assaulted sinner to walké─ţor crawlé─ţdown the aisle to é─˙make a decision for Christ.é─¨
é─˙He who is alČ?most perČ?suadČ?ed is alČ?most saved, and to be alČ?most saved is to be enČ?tireČ?ly lost,é─¨ were the words with which the Rev. Mr. BrunČ?dage endČ?ed one of his serČ?mons. P. P. Bliss, who was in the auČ?diČ?ence, was much imČ?pressed with the thought, and imČ?meČ?diČ?ateČ?ly set about the comČ?poČ?siČ?tion of what proved to be one of his most popČ?uČ?lar songs.
One of the most imČ?pressČ?ive ocČ?caČ?sions on which this hymn was sung was in the AgČ?riČ?culČ?turČ?al Hall in LonČ?don, in 1874, when Mr. GladČ?stone was preČ?sent. At the close of his serČ?mon Mr. Moody asked the conČ?greČ?gaČ?tionČ? to bow their heads, while I sang é─˙AlČ?most PerČ?suadČ?ed.é─¨ The stillČ?ness of death preČ?vailed throughČ?out the auČ?diČ?ence of over fifČ?teen thouČ?sand, as souls were makČ?ing their deČ?ciČ?sions for Christ.
Sankey, Ira DaČ?vid. My Life and the StoČ?ry of the GosČ?pel Hymns (HarČ?per & BroČ?thers, 1906) 112.
Did I really use the word é─˙fictioné─¨ to describe Almost Persuaded? Yes, as the scenario described in Blissé─˛s gospel songé─ţfrom which the Gospel is mysteriously absenté─ţhas never occured. Certainly, sinners sit and listen to preachers call them to repentance and faith in Christ and walk away untouched. I almost dare say that happens every time the Gospel is preached. But the call of the preacher, which has no guarantee of any specific result, is not the supernatural call of God. Scripture assures us that this call always results in saving faith in the hearer.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)
With that verse, I could almost end this series. Really, what more needs to be said? But, though I do aim for brevity, I have more to say.