Thursday, February 12, 2009

Salvation Is Experiential, Not Theoretical!

I wasn’t raised in a Christian home as such, though my parents sent me to a Christian school. It was there that I heard all the bible stories, memorized scripture verses and learned that the answer to almost any question was ‘because Jesus died on the cross for my sins!’

During high school, I played in the worship band for our chapel services, attended some lunchtime prayer meetings, and knew enough scripture verses to bluff my way through. But I really had no idea! It made no sense! As the scripture says, the cross is foolishness to them that are perishing!

I would get up in the alter call and go forward to say the sinners prayer. I put my faith in the sincerity of my prayer, in the preacher, in going forward, in the tears I wept - nothing! I wanted a ‘get out of hell free’ card in my back pocket in case I might need it someday, but I wanted to live my own life. If I had to sum it up I was hoping Jesus might be my Savior (whatever that meant) but in no way would I let him be Lord. I had no idea what salvation was, or how to lay hold of it!

I got married at the age of twenty and treated my wife horribly. Attended church on and off – thought I was saved. Told everyone I was. Could quote scripture verses off the top of my head – so I must have been huh! Still didn’t have a clue really what it was all about. Had a whole swag of pet sins that I used to love. I had no idea how anything fitted together. God’s judgment, my sin, Jesus Christ, his death on the cross, repentance, faith... they were all pieces of random information, like a crazy jigsaw puzzle, that made no sense and I couldn’t for the life of me piece them together.

It has been said that salvation is revelation. You know, the light goes off. The penny drops. The pieces of the puzzle fall into place. What made no sense before, makes absolute sense after!

I began to see that I wasn’t the holy, self righteous, saved saint that I always thought that I was. God began to show me the sin that was trailing my life. I saw that my fruit was bad fruit – bitterness, anger, lust, impatience, malice, envy, materialism, covertness, selfishness, you name it. I began to see that a bad tree bears bad fruit! My fruit was bad, I finally began to understand! Still more time went by and I became more acutely aware of my failings, my shortcomings, my bad attitudes, the sins I had committed against my wife, against others and against God!

I began to get very afraid! I saw that I was hell deserving sinner, yet the words ‘Jesus died for my sins’ meant absolutely nothing to me. I did not understand what that meant. I did not understand what salvation was, or how to lay hold of it. The more I tried to understand, more frustrated I became. The more I tried to work to save myself, the more despondent I became. Have you ever been lost in the woods? I have! Before long your alarm turns into fear, and the fear turns into panic as you realize that you have no idea where you are, nor how to get out.

When I was lost in the woods as a young lad; alarm produced in me a response – I must get out I started so walking in a direction – any direction. When it became apparent I had no idea which direction I was going, the fear caused me to run and look at many directions. Realizing I was truly lost caused me to panic and after some time of blindly running to and fro; I had enough sense to call out for help. At the top of my lungs I began to scream until finally I heard the faint cry of my father through the thicket. As it turned out, I was within a half a kilometer from camp.

That’s how it was with my soul. I realized I was truly lost, up the proverbial creek without a paddle, and had absolutely no way of saving myself. I was truly afraid for my soul!

I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me! He came to me and rescued me. He gave me understanding. He opened my eyes to see the truth. The pieces of the puzzle began to fall effortlessly into place. The penny dropped. I saw Christ on the cross. I saw Him up there for me. I finally understood what ‘Jesus died on the cross for my sins’ actually meant!

If you’ve ever been lost in the woods, you’ll remember the relief you felt when you were found! It is no different with salvation; perhaps more so! When Christ saved me I had such a joy and peace that I had never known. My soul found that place of rest that Jesus promised when he said “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”.

I began to truly repent for the first time and many of the things that I had struggled with were taken from my back. The heavy burden lifted. The sentence of death commuted!

Salvation is not an exercise of intellectual gymnastics, nor is it a mere mental ascent to various creeds or doctrines. It is a meeting with the eternal God! It is not theoretical, but experiential. Salvation is tangible. It is real.

If it was never real to you, then perhaps you never really found it! And to find it, you have to first realize you are lost!


Heli gunner Tom said...

Even though I am twice your age and also write a Christian based Journal-- you will never know how much your Blog post helped me today!
Thank you! I hope that you will 'visit me' sometime soon.

Warm Regards,
Tom S
Disabled Vietnam Veteran: 68-70.
Wisconsin, USA.

Sam said...

Hi Tom. The Lord knows! Thank you for sharing that. I am often amazed at the Lord's providence! He knows what we need to hear, and when, and orders our steps accordingly. He does all things well!

Just recently the Lord taught my wife and I a powerful lesson in sacrificial love through someone half our age! Whether it is through donkeys or rocks, the Lord has no end in the ways He can teach us, rebuke us, grow us, strengthen us, break us... oftentimes He is pleased to use the weak, base things of this world to do it!

Anonymous said...

I'm half your age, and I can honestly say your blog amazed and inspired me today. Amazing testimony! I loved it.
feel free to visit!

In Christ,

Cheryl G.

Petra said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony. It serves as a reminder, but also as an encouragement as I still hope and pray for loved ones to receive their truth awakening. Thank God for His unfailing grace!