Sunday, June 14, 2009
Avoid at all costs
At first, this video may seem harsh and even legalistic, but the truth is, nothing is more important than being sure you are saved and being sure that you will NOT spend eternity in that horrible, torturous, nightmarish Lake of Fire.
Many people think they are already saved because they go to church, or because they believe in God, or because they believe in Jesus, or because they are an average middle-class American citizen who has never gone to jail. However, even the devil believes in God. And the devil believes in Jesus. The devil knows that Jesus died and rose again. But, obviously, the devil is not saved.
Before I got saved in 1977, I thought I was already a Christian. All my life, I had gone to church every Sunday. I had always believed in God. I had always believed in Jesus. I had always believed that Jesus died on the cross and that He rose again. I grew up believing the Bible was true. Before I got saved in 1977, I even read the entire KJV Bible, from cover to cover. I believed in Heaven before I got saved. I believed in Hell before I got saved.
When that black Pentecostal classmate took me outside the class every day for about a week, during the 3-or-4 hour Commercial Art Class that I took my first semester at Miami-Dade Community College, I thought I was already a Christian. I thought I was already saved. But I saw in him something that I did not have. I saw a fearlessness and a boldness and a zeal that I did not have. And I wanted that. I went home and prayed, "God, I want what he has. Please give me that." And then, I found a Jack Chick comic tract in the parsonage library at the Lutheran church I had gone to all my life. And I read it. And it talked about how demons interact invisibly and undetected with people in this world. And it talked about how holy angels interact invisibly and undetected with and around people. And it talked about how there is an invisible spiritual battle going on around us. And, even though I had always believed in the Bible, in a 6-day Creation, and in all the foundational truths that a Christian must believe, this showed me that there were things going on behind the scenes, invisibly, that I was not aware of. And this made it far more real for me.
So, I found another Chick tract and read it. After about the third Chick tract, I finally prayed the prayer at the end, because I wanted to be saved from Hell. There was no bolt of lightning, but I knew I was saved. I wanted to find that black Pentecostal guy and tell him what happened. But I could not find him. Then I got involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, and I went to a person's house with several other people, through Campus Crusade, for a weekly Bible study on the basics for a believer. And we went over the Four Spiritual Laws. And we studied very basic stuff that a babe in Christ needs to learn. And I also went to a few different retreats and conferences through Campus Crusade for Christ, and at one of those conferences, Josh McDowell was speaking, and the leader of our home Bible study was sitting next to me, and Josh McDowell called out to him by name, and said, "Hey, how are you doing?" And the leader of our group said, "Hey, Josh, how's it going?" So the leader of our home Bible study knew Josh McDowell personally, and the leader of our group later went on to become a missionary to Africa, and I never heard from him since.
For years after that, I struggled with the idea of, "How can a person (like me) believe in the Bible, read the entire Bible and love it, believe in the Trinity, believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave, go to church every Sunday and love it more than going to school, believe that God created the entire universe and everything in it in 6 days...and not be saved?" I could not understand that. Then, several years ago, as a result of 3 1/2 years of the most intensive Bible study that I have ever encountered, through a year-long BSF (Bible Study Fellowship, Int'l) study on Romans, I was introduced to, and came to believe in, the idea of Election. And that finally explained it for me. I had been Elected and Chosen by God from before the beginning of time, and all the stuff that I had gone through before getting saved, and all the things I had already believed in before I got saved, were simply things that God was doing in my life to prepare me for the time when He would regenerate me and sanctify me and bring me under His Lordship. And I would find out that one of the things God did to insure that I would absolutely get saved was, when I was a baby, my dad said he didn't want to bring us up in a church, but he wanted us to grow up outside of any church, and to choose our own Religion when we were adults; he did not want us to be exposed to any Religion when we were little...but my mom said, "No! I want them brought up in church!" And my mom won out. So I went to church every single Sunday from the time I was born, and, unlike my 2 brothers and 1 sister who felt like they were being forced, I absolutely loved it. And that was just one of the ways that God initiated to prepare me for being saved.