My mother was very faithful in attending church and we went just about every time the doors were opened. I have gone to the same church all of my life learning God's Word and biblical truths have been deeply rooted for as long as I remember. I also had other family members who influenced me tremendously by their godly example. At the age of six, I realized the best that I could that I had sin in my life and was in need of forgiveness. I remember talking with our pastor, Bro. Roy Graves, and I was baptized soon after.
I was so young when I made that decision and many of the details of the experience are fuzzy to me now. I continued to be active and involved in children's and youth ministries. I attended many youth conferences and events, church camps, and mostly every church service. I remember a very consistent nagging and restless feeling during almost every invitation. I am not sure if this was satan trying to get me to doubt my salvation or the Holy Spirit nudging me that when I was so young at the age of six, that it wasn't real.
After years of suppressing that nagging and restless feeling, I finally came to the point where I couldn't live in constant fear about questioning my salvation constantly. After my freshman year in college, I wanted peace and forgiveness over some poor decisions on my part, I finally surrendered to the Lord and went in front of the church for whatever you want to call it...rededication or perhaps my real salvation experience. What I know for sure is that from that point on, I haven't doubted my salvation and I no longer have a fear of where I will be going when I die.
In my mid-twenties, I began to have another issue that kept creeping in. I felt that the Lord was calling me to get baptized again because perhaps when I was six, I didn't fully understand what I was doing. I really didn't want to do this and pushed this away for at least a year. Once again, I got tired of the lack of peace over the issue and realized that it was a pride issue for me, and I was being disobedient. I finally surrendered to what is really very trivial and went and talked to my pastor about it and was baptized again on what I truly feel was the right side of my salvation. There was a peace that came over me that I cannot explain. I knew for sure that I had done as the Lord asked of me. I am sad to say that I knew for so long and was reluctant to just simply obey immediately.
I am so thankful for a Savior who came to make a way for all humanity to enter into heaven. I have been forgiven and I no longer have questions over whether or not I am saved. I do have ups and downs in my spiritual walk--times where I am closer to Him and more eager to know Him than others. I mess up continuously, but I am truly thankful for conviction from the Holy Spirit. That is one way that I know I am saved because when I sin, I sense conviction. Although that means asking for forgiveness from God and swallowing my pride by confessing or asking for forgiveness from others, it is a reminder that He is dwelling in me to mold me to be more like Him.
I long to be more like Him and the most life changing thing for me in my adult life has been studying His Word. I have heard that all my life...to pray and to read the bible daily, but for the longest time, I didn't know where to begin. If I wasn't in a bible study that guided me, it just wouldn't happen. Almost two years ago, I began a journey to get deeper into His Word for myself, and not just read what others had learned from their own study. It has been life changing, challenging, convicting, and has helped me to grow more than anything else. His Word is where we learn His ways and His character. It is also more exciting than any adventure story you could ever read.
I personally have a long way to go, but as long as I am alive, I want to be transformed into His image. My testimony isn't a huge transformation like I was once an alcoholic and found Jesus when I was in a pit, but I am thankful for that. I am glad that I was raised in church and that this is my testimony. I have been spared of much. Before Christ, I was dead in my sin and separated from Him, and now because of what He did, not me, I will live with Him forever.
I know that people can have different doctrines and have slight variations on beliefs. Beth Moore described in a bible study that there are two different types of issues: spine issues and rib issues. Spine issues are basic truths that cannot be wavered, but rib issues are things that are just differences of opinions and different interpretations that don't change a person's salvation. For example, a spine issue would be that Jesus is the only way for a person to enter into heaven and a rib issue would be something like when Christ will return. One is crucial for salvation, the other is a matter of interpretation.
Here is an outline from FAITH evangelism that explains what a person must to for salvation:
ForgivenessWhy do I need forgiveness?
- Rom 3:23 - "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
- Eph 1:7 - "In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace"
AvailableGod's forgiveness is available to everyone.
- John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Although the forgiveness is available to all it isn't automatic. A lot of times we try to get to heaven on our own terms by being good enough or by following our own ideas but it is impossible for us to get to heaven on our own.
ImpossibleIt's impossible for us to save ourselves.
- Eph 2:8-9 - "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast."
So how can a sinful person like me accept this gift and enter heaven? We've got to turn to him.
TurnTurn away from my own path and desires and turn to Christ.
- John 14:6 - "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
- Rom 10:9 - "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
If a person is willing to repent, to confess, and to believe then God gives the gift of heaven and eternal life.
HeavenGod gives us the promise of an eternity in Heaven but also an amazing life here on earth.
- John 14:3 - "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
- John 10:10 - "...I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
This is the most important decision that any person can make. It's a matter of eternity. If you are one who also has an uneasy feeling or doubts about your salvation, why not just surrender. There is no reason to hang on to what we think we have control over and end up regretting that decision for eternity.