“My mouth shall tell of Thy righteousness, And of Thy salvation all day long.” (Psa 71.15 NAS).
I grew up faithfully attending a liberal, denominational church–Sunday school, church and Wednesday nights. We were taught to be: honest, truthful, obedient, prayerful and more. It apparently was assumed that church members were all saved. I do not recall thinking through if I was saved or lost. I have no memories of being urged to trust Jesus’ death on the Cross to fully pay the penalty of my sin. There were no altar calls specifically to get saved. I do not recall church members telling their salvation stories. I had just comfortable religion. I did not even think in terms of who was saved or lost. Like Nicodemus in John 3, I was very religious but was not born again which the Son of God told that religious leader was mandatory to reach heaven. (Jn 3.3,5). Would Jesus lie about that?
It is bad enough to be lost. It is worse to be lost and falsely assume one is saved as I did! I was a Sunday Christian but not a heart Christian. Going in and out of a hen house does not make one a chicken. And going in and out of a church house does not make one a believer. I was 90 percent religious but 100 percent lost. I dropped out of the church like many young people do. I went through my twenties out of the church and angry at God.
One day at age 31 I was lying across my bed casually flipping through a Guidepost Magazine I was given after my father died. Perhaps it was Roman 5.8 that God used to finally diagnose my spiritual condition. But what the verse said to me was: God showed His own love towards me, a wretched, church dropout, hell-deserving sinner. Christ died for Fred! For the first time in my life I realized that I was lost, really lost, still outside God’s family. What a revelation! I never will forget it. Though still lost, I at least knew that one could confess his sins and trust Jesus’ payment for all one’s sin.
Within two weeks sitting on a living room sofa, late one Saturday night, December 21st, I said something like: “Jesus, I am unhappy the way I am living. Please forgive me. I believe that You died to forgive all my sins. Take control of my life right now.” That changed my life! I was not redeemed by my doing but Jesus dying; not natural man’s activities but supernatural indwelling of the Holy Spirit; not inch by inch but all on one day (2 Cor 1.22; Act 2.47; Lu 19.9; Rom 8.1).
Salvation is a person, Jesus Christ. Jesus IS salvation. It was not church membership, my religious activities, church ceremonies or the Ten Commandments that saved me. (Rom 6.23; 1 Ptr 1.18-19; Eph 1.7; 2.8-9; Rom 3.24). Praises be to His Name!
“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” (1 Ptr 3.15 NAS).