Rob's Personal Testimony
I became a Christian in 1997, at the age of 37. I thought I was a Christian for 32 years prior, but in truth I believe I was a false convert. I responded to the very first invitation that I ever heard to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour at Vacation Bible School during the summer of 1965. I was 5 years old. I remember running from the back of the church to meet with someone (apparently I was already a “back-pew sitter”!). I went to a room with a very kindly lady and I vaguely recall her going through some Scriptures. She lead me in a sinner's prayer and probably then assured me that if I ‘really meant’ what I prayed, that I could be assured that was saved for eternity. For the next 32 years, if anyone asked me if I was a Christian, I would state positively that I was. I willingly attended church as a child and as an early teenager, also attending somewhat regularly through college. Supposedly, I went to good churches that (supposedly) preached the Gospel. I remember where they regularly gave preachers giving ‘invitations’ to come forward if you wanted to receive Christ as Saviour. In spite of that, I never thought I needed to respond again to these many invitations I heard to receive Christ, because I thought I was already saved. I thought I had eternal life, and I knew you couldn't lose something which is eternal.
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Tragically, no one ever told me to reflect my life in light of God's holiness during those years. During the few times that I did doubt my salvation, friends and family would assure me that I was saved. No one seemed to base this upon “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31) or other Biblical indicators of salvation, but upon the fact that I 'prayed a prayer' when I was 5 years old.
At various times during the intervening 32 years, I was a youth pastor, church choir director and piano accompanist, congregational song leader, and a church nursery worker, among other things. But as a whole, there were really no Biblical evidences of salvation. I didn't really have a hunger for the Bible, prayer, and a yearning for separation from the things of the world. My heart did not naturally overflow with love for my Saviour. Instead, I loved myself, the things I had and the things I did.
I always thought of myself, and was thought of by most others, was thought of by my family and friends as basically a “good” person. I considered myself a “good” person too. I thought I was fairly 'innocent' toward the ‘evils of the world’ too, at least when I compared myself to others. I was considered a very ‘positive’ person; about situations, about other people, and about myself. When I did have an occasional twinge of guilt about some wrong doing or offence against others, it was brief and shallow. I never realized that my sin was an offence against the holiness of God. 2 Corinthians 7: 10 declares: "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." I don't EVER recall having godly sorrow, nor having ever truly repented. James 2:10 says: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” I never considered or believed that I had offended God by breaking His law.
About 12 years after getting married, my wife Karen and I began attending a solid Baptist church in 1997. By God's grace, someone gave me a copy of an audio tape of a sermon entitled “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” and asked me to tell him what I thought of it. to get my opinion. After I heard the tape I realized, for the first time in my entire life, that I was NOT 'basically a “good” person'. I responded to God's command to examine yourself, whether I was in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). 'Reprobate!' seemed to be was the reply. I finally saw that I was wicked and undone in the eyes of a thrice-holy God. I cried on and off for days and cried out to God: "I'm not a good person! I'm not a good person! I'm a liar and a thief and a murderer and an adulterer--I've broken every single one of Your commandments my whole life--no WONDER I deserve to go to hell!" My whole view of myself had changed. I was not a “good” person; I was actually very wicked and deceived when I finally compared myself to God’s glory (Romans 3:23; 2 Corinthians 3: 7, 9). I was devastated and near suicide, thinking that nothing could undo all the evil I had wrought for many years. God opened my eyes to my great need (Acts 26:18). The Lord broke me when I saw myself in light of His holy Law. My heart cry became: “Dear God in heaven, if it’s really true that Jesus died on the cross for my sin, and if it’s really true that His blood will cleanse away paid for my sin; dear God, I must place my absolute trust in You; otherwise I have no hope.” I finally knew why I deserved to go to hell and knew that He was my only hope. , if He in fact, would and could save me. I knew He could save me, but I realized from my own words (“If it’s really true…”) that I had been trusting in the sincerity of my prayer and had never really believed on Him whole-heartedly. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). I knew I needed the righteousness that only God possessed. Well, Praise to Jesus, He did save me--to the uttermost. In the spring of 1997 I was born again of God’s eternal life within me. In the days to come, it was like scales had fallen off my spiritual eyes and I knew I was born again. I also came to realize how truly quick and powerful God's word is, when it is used 'lawfully' (1 Timothy 1:8-11). Ever since the spring of 1997 I have never hoped or wondered if I was saved. Growing up, I was always told that “doubting your salvation is normal for the Christian”, and frequent doubt was certainly the case for me. But doubt is not normal for a real Christian because “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).
I also came to realize how truly quick and powerful God's word is, and specifically the importance of the Ten Commandments when they are used 'lawfully' (1 Timothy 1:8-11). The famous 19th century English preacher Charles Spurgeon said: ""When once God the Holy Ghost applies the Law to the conscience, secret sins are dragged to light, little sins are magnified to their true size, and things apparently harmless become exceed¬ingly sinful. Before that dread searcher of the hearts and trier of the reins makes His entrance into the soul, it appears righteous, just, lovely, and holy; but when He reveals the hidden evils, the scene is changed. Offenses which were once styled peccadil¬loes, trifles, freaks of youth, follies, indulgences, little slips, etc., then appear in their true color, as breaches of the Law of God, deserving condign punishment."
After I truly was saved, I remember commenting regularly to my wife Karen: "Wow! This really is like being born again!" 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Not only had the Lord quickened my dead spirit, but the many evidences of ‘new life’ began to become manifest in me themselves. I began to have a disdain for the things of the world that I used to enjoy. Even seemingly 'insignificant' sins, became terribly troubling to me. I was even being chastised in my thought life. God gave me a longing for prayer and a hunger for His Word. Almost immediately, The Lord also started preparing us for ministry. ; though we didn't know what ministry it would be at first. We started witnessing door-to-door through with folks in our church. Many, many times the Lord would wake me up in the middle of the night with things He apparently wanted me to see from His Word. I We also began setting Scripture passages to music and creating outlines for sermons. At the time, I didn't know what it was all for. , but I couldn't stop what was happening— As Jeremiah said: "his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay" (Jeremiah 20:9).
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