Posted in My Messianic Musings

My Salvation Story, pt. 2

There we were on my friend’s motorcycle taking the 30 minute ride to the church we were invited to attend.

I’m glad my friend knows how to get there because I have no idea. Within me my emotions are all over the place, but yet I’m strangely calm about this. We finally arrive and have just entered … The Twilight Zone. Ever have one of those moments where time sort of stops and becomes all disjointed at the same time?

As we entered it felt like everybody’s attention was fixed on us. We must have looked like aliens that crash landed there. I noticed everyone was dressed so nicely — and we weren’t. We didn’t have any “Sunday go to meeting clothes” on.  But to be honest, I had specifically decided I would present myself as I really was in order to see if I would be accepted. But our appearance didn’t seem to phase these folks.

Everyone appeared to be genuinely happy we were there. This was much different than the church I went to growing up. It wasn’t all stiff, dead and formal. There was actually life flowing throughout the place. People were talking with each other, laughing and acting like they were glad to see each other.

We found a pew towards the back. There were about 200 people. We opened a hymn book along with the rest of the folks and tried to take it all in. The main pastor was gone that day and so the assistant pastor preached. He preached on Hell! I only knew about Hell as a bad word not really a real place like he talked about. It didn’t scare me but I knew, sensed, a reality that I had never sensed before that moment. Something awakened within me.

I don’t remember much of the sermon but it caught my attention. The whole experience had my attention. It came time in the service for the “every eye closed and every head bowed” portion. The pastor asked those that knew they were saved and going to Heaven to raise their hands. I took a peek and saw hands up all over the place with just about every head bowed. I’m sure the majority of the folks were praying really hard for these two just off the street hippie sorts to get saved.

The next time we went the regular pastor was back. I have no memory of what he preached but we had already made up our minds to go forward at the invitation and see what this was all about. When the time came we walked forward. You could hear and feel the people’s excitement. We were taken into separate inquiry rooms and presented with the Roman’s Road of Salvation Scripture verses.

Now my mind is such that I’m not going to let anybody persuade or convince me of anything against my will. I actually tried to not pay attention to the salvation pitch or the salvation prayer I was led in. For some reason I figured if this was really of God, and if there really was a God, He’d have to be bigger than my will at least.

We both prayed the “prayer” and were presented to the church as newly saved. Interesting. We weren’t so sure. After I got home I went to my bedroom and got down on my knees. I told “God” that I’d read the Bible everyday but still live my life my way and see which one would win out in the end. I went to the Christian book store, got a New Scofield Study Bible and started reading in the Gospel of John.

After awhile I had to acknowledge I wasn’t keeping the arrangement I had made with God. I was finding it hard to read the Bible when I came home stoned each night. And strangely, wonderfully, that bothered me.

I started to work harder on keeping up my end of the bargain. This went on for about six months. Somewhere along the way though my friend lost interest and started to go back more-and-more to his old life. I determined I was going to see this thing through.

One day after work I was riding my motorcycle home. I decided to do a wheelie and flipped the dumb thing over. I slid down the road on my rear-end as I watched the bike merrily bounce around getting all messed up. Thankfully I didn’t get all messed up. But it was another close call with another motorcycle. I now had to find a way to get it home.

I don’t remember how but I got my grandfather’s van, put it inside and drove home dreading a confrontation with my mom. Interestingly, all during this time, I had been keeping her up to date with my spiritual journey and had actually been giving her the Gospel the best I understood it.

When I got home … THERE SHE WAS waiting for me at the porch door. As I got ready to wheel it out she said “one of these days you’re going to kill yourself on that thing.” I gave the only response I could think of: “I don’t care because if I die I’ll go to Heaven.” To which she yelled back: “That’s a bunch of BULL!.”

Now honestly I can’t tell you why what happened next happened. But in that split second, all of a sudden, Heaven and Hell became very really to me. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to Heaven. Even my unsaved mom could see that. While that thought flashed through my mind something else happened that I can’t explain. Please understand I didn’t actually see or hear anything … but I did. In my mind’s eye I saw Jesus dying on the cross for me and I could hear God saying to my heart “if you don’t accept My Son now you never will.” It really was that real.

So hunched over my motorcycle in the back of my grandfather’s van I said to God, inaudibly, “God, I believe.” That was it. But right then-and-there it was just like someone had pulled the string hanging down from the light bulb and the light came on and the darkness left.

It … was … amazing! I knew that God Almighty had popped out of eternity into time to reach out and save me. I was born-again, and I knew it.

That was 43 years ago. And you know what? — I still know I’m saved. It’s still real. And “the word of God is [still to me] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

II Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [ie, a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Is this verse true in your life? Have you ever been made a new creation in Christ Jesus?

If not, call upon God, meet Him on your knees and pour out your heart to Him. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

Posted in My Messianic Musings

My Salvation Story, pt. 1

The most important thing that can happen to a person is their coming to salvation in Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah). I try to reflect now-and-then on my salvation experience. Reflecting like this helps to keep me grounded and reminds me where I’ve come from and where I am now. So, for those that might be interested, I’d like to share my salvation story.

Being born in 1954, I grew up in a typical middle class family. (My, how America has changed in the wrong direction!) I have an older and younger sister. My parents never, ever went to church. However, they did drop us off at the local Congregation church. Honestly, I don’t recall how frequently we went. I’d say it was less, rather than more.

When Sunday morning came along I’d creep downstairs quietly and watch Davey & Goliath on TV. I’d keep it really low so as to not wake up my parents. I’d hope-against-hope that they wouldn’t wake up and, if they did, they wouldn’t feel like taking me to church. Besides, Davey & Goliath was much better than church anyway. I’m sure I mentioned that to my parents! I still love Davey & Goliath —- “Oh, Davey.”

— As a side note, I used to watch Ranger Andy everyday after school. He’d sing a song with his banjo that said something along these lines: “You’ll find it in the Bible so you’ll know it’s true.” Davey & Goliath along with Ranger Andy had a major impact on me.  It was these two programs, more than anything else, that awakened within me an awareness of God. —

As I remember it, I mostly went to Sunday School and was picked up after that. When my older sister could drive she took my younger sister and me to Sunday School and church. I don’t remember how frequently we went. All said, it wasn’t a lot.

During the years of going there to church, if you had asked me any basic Bible question I would not have been able to tell you much, if anything. I don’t remember the Bible being, what I call now, preached. The minister talked and gave messages but the content doesn’t register in my memory now. All I know is that I sensed an emptiness that wasn’t being met there.

I thought the problem might be with me, so I asked the minister what I could do to become more involved. My thought was that if I got involved “God” might become real to me. So, the minister suggested I assemble some of the young people my age to take up the offering every other week. I got a few of us together and, somewhat excitedly, hoped to develop a connection with God. But, after a few weeks some of the young people that helped didn’t show up and eventually it was me and one other person regularly taking the offerings.

After several weeks of this I realized nothing was changing in me. As a matter of fact, my sense of emptiness only deepened. So one day after placing the offering on the table at the front of the church, I walked down the long aisle to the back of the church and looked up toward the ceiling and said: “God, if this is it I don’t want anything to do with it.” I went home and told my parents I wasn’t going back. And I never did. I was 14.

It was at this point that my immersion into sin started to develop. Without going into detail, I spent the years between age 16 and 19 delving into drugs. It was the height of the hippie years. I did a lot of drugs from marijuana to heroin and pretty much everything in-between. Thankfully I had enough sense to do heroin only once. It was at that point, with the needle in my arm in the back seat of my ’62 T-Bird, I realized how far I had gone in the wrong direction. It was 1972. I was a senior in high school. Judy, would have hated me.

For reasons unknown to me, I started to hang out with a friend of one of my close friends. I knew him and he knew me, but we never hung out together. He bought marijuana by the pound and sold it in ounces. We became very good friends and started to spend more time together.

During this time, after graduation from high school, we were both working full-time at the same factory. I was in training to be a machine repair man and he worked a grinder on third shift. One night while he was working, a man named Omar Adams witnessed to him about Christ and his need for salvation. This went on for a few weeks. Omar invited my friend to church and in turn my friend asked me to go with him. This was so out of the blue. This was the last thing on my mind. — I said yes.

And so, one Sunday we got on his 1973 Triumph motorcycle and headed off to church …

Posted in My Messianic Musings

Doctrine of Salvation

I thought I’d give this a shot — to talk about Doctrine. It’s a bit heavy (and long), but I know you can handle it.

I’ve been listening to John Piper give audio biographical messages on some of the great preachers in the past. I just finished the one he did on George Whitefield. It was most interesting. One of the parts that caught my attention was that Whitefield’s preaching was filled with intense Doctrine. Mind you, he preached outdoors to thousands of people at a time.

As I listened to it I wondered how well he’d be received today. When you mention the word Doctrine it produces the same eye glazing effect that the mention of History does. But I have to believe if a preacher can preach the doctrines of the Bible with life  it  will produce life. That’s what happened with Whitefield. His preaching was laced with Doctrine and  thousands of people were genuinely born-again.

So, while working on our Doctrinal Statement for our website, I have (along with Luke) come up with a rough draft on the Doctrine of Salvation. I hope you’ll read it and that God will, if needed, bring about Salvation in your soul. If you are already saved, I trust it will reaffirm the wonderful miracle of deliverance that Yeshua has already worked in you.

Salvation

To be part of the kingdom of God, one must be born-again from their state of sin and separation from God. A person is saved by grace, through faith, and not by works.

Only God Himself redeems us from sin. He sent His Son Yeshua, who shed His sinless blood, in order to save us from death and Hell. When a person is born-again through the new birth, the old self is put to death with Yeshua.  That person has now  become a child of God.

All those who are in Messiah Yeshua are fellow-citizens in the commonwealth of Israel. We no longer live as strangers from the covenants of promise but as full citizens being of the seed of Abraham. There is, and always has been, only one people of God — Israel. The remnant of Israel is comprised of all those who trust in Yeshua and keep His commandments.

Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

Romans 5:12 — Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

II Corinthians 5:19 — To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Hebrews 9:11-14 — But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Ephesians 2:8-9 —For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

John 3:3-7 — Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

1 Peter 1:23 — Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Ephesians 2:11-22 — Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Romans 10:9-11 — That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

If you’re reading this and have never experienced deliverance and forgiveness of sins through Christ, I trust you’ll pour out your heart to Him and receive Him as your Saviour.

Colossians 1:9-14 — For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.