I didn’t think a whole lot about becoming a Christian when I was younger. I figured that I didn’t understand it very well then, and could postpone thinking about it until later in life. My parents talked to me all the time about God. I remember numerous times that my dad would tuck me in at night, painting vivid pictures of hell and what it is like to be cut of from God, in my mind.
A few years ago I began to really see my sin. I struggled to get free of it on my own efforts but couldn’t seem to quit. I got into the habit of cheating on some of my schoolwork and would lie about it to avoid being caught. Sometimes I would try to get by with only doing half lessons in math when I should have been doing the whole. I got caught on several occasions, and cried over it, resolving to never do it again. But that would only last a little while, and I was back again as much a slave to sin as before.
I tried often to stop my sin, but it was true slavery. It was like John Bunyan’s Slough of Despond; the more I struggled to get free, the deeper I sank.
Around this time, my brother Bryan professed faith in Christ, and soon after, Benjamin, my other brother, did the same. I began to see the urgency to come to Christ. Contrary to what I had been taught, I had the idea that I needed to get better before I could come to Christ―that God wouldn’t want me unless I was better. And getting better on my own wasn’t working.
The words in the hymn Come Ye Sinners fit very well:
Come ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall
If you tarry ‘til your better, you will never come at all
I remember singing that line in church once, and those words made me think.
I asked my dad many times how to become a Christian. He always told me to believe, and I always thought, “Believe? How?” I wanted to believe, and I asked God to save me all the time. But it never made me feel any different. My dad always said that I should believe to the best of my ability. I thought about it a lot after that and attempted to do what dad told me. So I believed as much as I could believe.
I prayed perpetually for God to cause me to have true belief. After a while I began to see significantly less sin in my life, but I was scared to take that as a sign of belief because I had heard so many stories of false assurance and didn’t want that to happen to me. Because of this, it took me a long time to gain full assurance.
During that period I began to get into the Bible a lot more. As I looked more at my life, I realized that what I saw I could not have brought about. I saw that sin no longer had the power over me that it used to. I also saw a desire to serve Christ with my life. Of course, I still have to continue to kill the sin in my life. And I am enabled to do so by the Holy Spirit who was given to me.
“For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:5-6
Here is how this all works: We are all sinners. God cannot just pardon us and let some of us into heaven. If a judge were to let someone off the hook for committing a murder he wouldn’t be a very just judge, would he? In the same way, God, in order to remain a just judge, must punish sin. Since we are all sinners He must punish every one of us.
How then does God pardon some people? The answer to that is, “through Christ.” God poured out His wrath on Christ in our place. Christ took our punishment on the cross. We are also given Christ’s righteousness. Christ lived a sinless life, and that righteousness is given to us. So God no longer takes into account our sin, but instead looks on Christ and His righteousness. We are accepted in Christ.
How do we receive this gift of pardon and righteousness?
In Acts 16:31 the jailor asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul’s answer applies to us all: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved . . .”
Here are some concepts and practices that helped me:
1. Read the Bible. This is the way God reveals Himself to you.
2. Believe as much as you can. Mark 9: 23-24
3. Stop trying to save yourself because that is impossible. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of work, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
4. Trust Christ like you trust a chair to hold you up.
I would like to say “thank you” to my family for praying for me and bringing me up in a home were Christ is central. And thank you Christ Fellowship for being a wonderful example. And above all I give thanks to God. “For He rescued [me] from the domain of darkness, and transferred [me] to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14
Copyright 2007 Laura