Let us look at the parable of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22. This classic parable reveals a young man coming to Jesus in a hurry. He comes running to Jesus as a serious and sincere seeker, kneeling reverently at the Savior’s feet. It seems as though he is close to being saved, asking Jesus, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17) But when Jesus commands him, “Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me,” this young man goes away sorrowful at the thought of losing his great many possessions. (Mark 10:21-22) At the last minute, he does not believe and turns his back on Jesus.
As far as the Scriptures reveal, he never comes back to Jesus, and is lost, perhaps forever. Similar to what we see with Agrippa, who says to Paul, “Almost you persuade me to be a Christian,” this man is almost persuaded, yet does not submit and ultimately does not believe. (See Acts 26:28) Phillip Bliss, who wrote the hymn Almost Persuaded based on this interaction between Paul and Agrippa, writes:
“Almost persuaded now to believe, almost persuaded Christ to receive,
seems now too soon to say, oh Spirit, go thy way,
and some convenient day on thee I’ll call.
Almost persuaded harvest past,
almost persuaded, doom comes at last.
Almost cannot avail, almost is but to fail.
Sad, sad, the bitter wail, almost, but lost.”
Beloved, we need to be more than sincere to be saved, and do more than confess and repent our sins, as this young man does. We need to believe and receive Christ as our personal Savior. The Lord Jesus is always interested in saving sinners. In fact, He came down from heaven to do this. Jesus Himself says, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Mark 2:17) The Pharisees also say, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:2) The Pharisees, by contrast, never receive sinners. But, as Paul teaches, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!” (1 Timothy 1:15) There is rejoicing in heaven when one lost sheep is found. (See Luke 15:7) Whatever else our friends in heaven know, or may not know, in respect to what is happening on earth, they always know when the Good Shepherd finds a lost sheep. He gathers the redeemed around Him and says, “Rejoice in me for I have found my sheep that was lost.”