Thursday, November 1, 2007

My Salvation Testimony

I love to hear stories of how people are born again. It's a story that I never, ever grow tired of sharing my account. It is rather lengthy, but nonetheless, it's my testimony.

He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. --Psalm 40:2

Sunday, September 21, 1997
After the sermon on this Sunday morning, I stopped fighting God's beckoning and accepted Him as my personal Lord and Saviour. I was gloriously saved. I remember when the burden of sin I was carrying was lifted from my shoulders. What was truly amazing about it what that I didn't even know that I was carrying it. I guess if you had two 20 pound ankle weights bound to your ankles from the day you were born, you would be used to toting them, right? I remember how the whole world seemed different. At the time, I was a college student. I was 18. The next day I remember walking through one of the grassy areas, going from class to class. I remember taking a deep breath and actually appreciating how wonderful everything was. The air was sweet. The grass and trees were beautiful. The birds sang in such harmony. The sun made seemed to shine right down on me. Everything just seemed so ... different.

I had so much more that lead me up to that Sunday morning. I was not raised in a Christian home. I love my parents. I think they did the best they knew to do, to raise me right. I also believe that if they had known as young parents that God was “important,” for lack of a better word, they would have had us kids in church. They taught me that there were consequences for certain actions. They taught me to make good decisions. But, I grew up knowing nothing, absolutely nothing about God. I knew there was a God of some sort. Jesus was born of Mary and Joseph. I knew Adam and Eve were the first people. That sums up anything I knew about God.

I never hated church or God or anything. I had several friends who went to church. I was invited to go to church summer camp a few times, but I would never have gone off with a load of people I didn't know that well. When I was 16, a friend of mine, Julia, invited me to go to a Southern Baptist Church for a Wednesday night youth night. It was the first time I had ever heard Gospel preaching. I didn't understand everything. But I knew that I needed to get something right. Looking back, I see that God the Holy Spirit was drawing me. I was upset and crying, but wouldn't go to the altar to speak to the youth pastor. I was scared...frightened, really. Why was I suddenly feeling something wasn't right? My friend who invited me told me that I could talk to her mom if I felt better about talking to someone I knew. But my mind was made up. If I just ignored the problem, it would go away. Julia invited me to go to church with her again, but there was noooo way I was going back there. I didn't know this until a few years after I got saved, but Julia and her mom (her dad was stationed overseas at the time) prayed for me every night. I've never had the chance to thank Julia. She was, as far as I know, the only person who was burdened enough for me to pray for me.

I guess when I was about 17, I started dating a boy from a Catholic family. I went to church with him. I was still very scared of church. I started crying when we pulled up in the parking lot for the first time. I couldn't even go inside. I told him about going to the Baptist church and how scary it was for me. He promised me that Catholic church wasn't scary like a Baptist church. I never actually made it in the church service that day, but the next week I did. He was right. It wasn't scary. I didn't feel the conviction there. I could just sit and listen. I always left church just the same as I came in and lived the same from week to week. Later, I learned that the "scary" I was feeling was the Holy Spirit. God wanted me to know that I was lost and that I needed Him to make me whole.

After attending the Catholic church for over a year, I stopped going. I wasn't seeing the Catholic boy anymore. I was out of high school and felt it was time to grow up and stop playing “the good little girl.” Seeds of rebellion were taking deeper roots. I came dangerously close to getting involved in diverse wickedness. I stared seeing a guy that I worked with. He invited me to go to church. I told him that I was a Catholic (though I was never baptized or attended catechism), but I would still go to church with him. My mind was no where near God, but I'm so glad that I was on His. I was just going because my boyfriend asked me to go with him; I certainly was not looking for God. The church was again Baptist, but now I wasn't scared. After all, I was "spiritual" in my little religion I had made for myself. What was to fear? At that church, I heard the glorious Gospel preached clearly and concisely from God's Word. The same feeling I had before came again. Soon, it got to where I felt conviction whether I was at church or not. It gnawed at me day and night. During the invitation that September morning, I remember thinking that I was just so tired of fighting God. Why not just come to Him? So I did! I remember as I took the first step toward the preacher, that my feet felt like lead weights. But God just gave more grace. After that first step it almost felt like God just picked me up and walked the rest of the way for me. I told the preacher that I needed to be saved. I talked with his wife. She took the Bible and showed me that I was lost and bound for hell. But she didn't leave me at that. She told me that Jesus had already taken my punishment (whew!) and that all I had to do was accept His finished work. I bowed my head in prayer and asked Jesus to save me. I had prayed before that day many times. This day it was different. It felt like I was actually talking to God and He was hearing me. I didn't know what exactly to pray or what to say, but thank God He looks at the hearts.

So what did I do to get saved, you may wonder. Well, that's just the thing. I didn't do anything. Salvation isn't something you do. You can't do it. It's something that Jesus already did. God showed me that I was a sinner. Romans 3:10 states, ...there is none righteous, no not one. No matter what you can do it's not good enough. In order for you to be good enough for heaven, you have to be as good as Jesus. C'mon, no one is near that good! Romans 3:23 tells us that ...all have sinned and come sort of the glory of God. Nearly everyone agrees that they're not as good as God, but that's still not enough. Jesus knew that nearly everyone in the world would hate Him, but He still went to the cross. Why? Romans 5:8 tells us why: God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Jesus knew that He would be rejected, but even still He showed us His love by dying for us...making us a way to go to heaven. So we know we're not as good as God, and we know God died to make a way for us. But the question is still out there: How do you know you're going to heaven? Look at this: Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. I spent my whole life sinning. I was born in sin. I'm not a sinner because I sin. I'm a sinner because I am flesh and blood. If I barked, I wouldn't be a dog. The dog barks because he is a dog. That's what they do. People sin, not because they purposely try to. They were born that way. God says that someone must pay for those sins. Someone who can pay for them. What do you mean? Say my best friend was going to go to jail for a debt of $10,000. She could say she was going to pay, but she didn't have the money...didn't meet the requirement. I could offer to pay, but I don't have the money either...I fall short too. Someone who can meet the requirements must pay. God required a sinless, perfect sacrifice for sin. That was only 1 man - Jesus. He's the only One who can pay the wages (payment) of sin. If you don't accept the offer of the One who can pay, then you will be required to pay yourself. That would mean eternal hell. The second part says, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ gave Himself as a gift, because He loves us and doesn't want hell for us. Acts 16:31 reads, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved... So, if you accept the fact that you're a sinner, that your sins separate you from God and heaven, that Christ died in your stead to make the payment for your sin-debt, and then simply believe Him, the Bible says he is saved. Now, take a look at Romans 10:13 - For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Once you accept that God did so many wonderful things for you, call upon Him. That word "call" simply means to appeal to. And don't worry, God won't grade you on your prayer! "God, I believe you. Please save me." is plenty sufficient. Those years ago, I accepted these simple facts and trusted Christ's sacrifice. I promise you, that He is real. When someone as awesome as God gets inside of you, you know!

That day, he changed me. I'm not the same that I was. After God did so much for me, all I wanted to do was please him. I didn't know of Romans 12:1-2 yet, but it only fitting that since God had done so much for me, the least I could do was try to please Him. By God's grace, taught me so much. By His grace, He'll keep teaching me and conforming me to His image. I'll never be as faithful to Him as he is to me, but He always has been and always will be faithful. I still fail. I'm still a sinner, but I'll always be God's child.

2 edifying expressions:

Anonymous said...

"It wasn't scary. I didn't feel the conviction there. I could just sit and listen. I always left church just the same as I came in and lived the same from week to week."

It never ceases to amaze me how Baptists can denigrate the Catholic religion. Even in your "Salvation Testimony" blog you find a way to do it. This is a pathetic portion of an otherwise touching story.

Just remember that Catholics rightly consider themselves the "intelligent" religion, as most less intelligent people are easily mesmerized by Baptist, Fundamentalist and Holy Spirit centered denominations.

Elizabeth said...

I meant no disrespect, nor do see any disrespect in that which I wrote. It is simply an account of what happened to me.

As for Holy Spirit centered worship being intellectually inferior, I can only respond with God's Holy Word:

Acts 4:13:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Romans 1:21-22: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 21: For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

These are just a few Scriptures that quickly came to mind. If, to follow God's Word and the example set before me therein, I am considered unintelligent then so be it, for even the Apostles had a testimony of being ignorant and of following the Holy Spirit.