Become A Christian
Obeying The Gospel
Baptized Into Christ
Holy Spirit Baptism
What About The Thief
The Great Commission
Works of God
The Baptist Church
A Baptist Sermon
Calvinism vs. the Bible
My Testimony - How I Learned The Truth
Until age 42, I was spoon feed by preachers and religious individuals in reference to how to become a Christian and live a Christian life. When I was young I went to church with my parents, but it had no meaning to me. I went to church because my mama told me I had to go. When I became a teenager I pretty much stopped going to church. Throughout my high school years and early twenties, I did about everything bad you could imagine, short of going to jail... I consider myself extremely fortunate. Although I generally meant well, I certainly did not do well. I married my lovely wife Angie at age 22. Unfortunately we seldom attended church. In our late twenties, we started working and hanging out with some religious friends. We wanted to know more about God, the Bible, and church... and how to live a Christian life. We started attending a Presbyterian Church where her boss and a co-worker/friend of mine attended. Angie always left things up to me, so I was the one that would study and learn what we needed to know and she would pretty much follow my lead. I had no problem with this and started reading the Bible, but if the truth is to be known, I really never studied the Bible that close. When I did read the Bible, I basically skimmed through it, occasionally studying some passages. The Bible always seemed to be confusing for me to understand for the most part. I basically just listened to what others told me and trusted them, which I learned much later in life to be a huge mistake and tantamount to playing Russian roulette with my soul.
After attending church for a while, Angie and I eventually did what we were taught by men, and prayed a prayer (the sinner's prayer as most people call it) to accept Christ into our life as our Lord and Savior. We felt like we were saved, and was taught that there was no way for us to lose our salvation... that was that and we were supposedly saved, just like that. We became members of the Presbyterian Church we were attending and both of us had a little water sprinkled on our heads. I was given a handbook and told that I needed to study, understand, and believe the Presbyterian doctrine. I studied them to an extent, as best I could, and accepted what the Presbyterians taught. For several years afterwards, we continued to simply trust what we were being preached and taught. We never thought it was necessary to verify anything we were being taught. After all, the people that were teaching us seemed to be very sincere and they are well respected, why question their wisdom and knowledge of the Bible?
For several years we continued to attend the Presbyterian Church. In my late thirties we moved and began to attend church less and less, and before age forty we had all but stopped going to church. I lost one of my best friends in an auto accident and blamed it on God. I was not in the mood for religion. After a couple of years of missing church, several friends started encouraging us that we needed to be in church somewhere... it didn't seem to matter where, just go to church. We felt like they were probably right, so we started attending a local Baptist Church, and then later moved to another Baptist Church. Although the Baptist churches appeared to be a little different from what we had been accustomed to (Baptist vs. Presbyterian), it did not seem to be that dramatic. Of course we did not fully understand the Baptist doctrine, nor did we ever fully understood the Presbyterian doctrine. Today I realize there is a significant difference between the two, both being unScriptural, but that is a topic for another study.
After several months of attending the Baptist Church, I did begin to question some of the preaching and teaching. This was not because I was learning a difference between Baptist and Presbyterian, but rather because I was more interested in starting to learn more of the truth. We were training for a sharing program and I wanted to make sure I was sharing the truth with others. I had decided it was time to get serious about being a Christian and living for God. At that time the main focus was the sinner's prayer. While I was not that familiar with the term "sinner's prayer" being used so frequently as I was hearing it now, I had a good idea what it was because Angie and I had prayed a similar prayer years earlier, and I know I had heard it mentioned by a few others in past years. I started asking questions about the sinner's prayer, but I was not getting what I thought to be straight answers. I felt like certain people should be able to show me passages for what they were preaching and teaching. For several weeks I tried to find Scriptural support for the sinner's prayer and I simply could not find it. Sure, I had various preachers give me a few passages, but in order to get those passages to support praying for salvation, I would have to twist them around and/or take them out of context. I was getting frustrated because it was becoming apparent that this sinner's prayer was not (and it still is not) Scriptural, yet it was being preached by many preachers. I kept trying to figure it out and kept searching for answers. I prayed to God for Him to help me understand what I was supposed to understand... whatever that would be.
During this time, a friend of ours, Rhonda, who I also work with, knew I was asking a lot of questions and advised me her son-in-law, Jason, was attending preaching school. She said that Jason was going to be visiting within the next few days and would be more than happy to sit down with me anytime and answer my questions. Jason is not a member of any denomination so I was hesitant at first. I had read a few e-mails he had sent to Rhonda and I was not in total agreement with his thinking, but I decided I would at least hear him out. I have always been a fairly open-minded person anyway. I tried to prepare for our meeting but I really did not know what to expect or even what to prepare for. I gathered up a little material though, and prepared as best I knew how for his visit.
Jason and I met together and talked. I voiced my concerns with some of what he had mentioned in his e-mails, and he listened. We talked a little more about our lives, and then I asked him to share with me what his thoughts were, or something to that effect. Jason had a Bible software program (www.e-sword.net) on a laptop computer, an Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, a Greek Lexicon, Thayer's and Strong's Greek dictionaries (all of this on his laptop), and a regular hand held King James Version Bible. He begin showing me some passages in his Bible and giving me definitions to some of the Greek words from the Manuscript references. I kept interrupting him trying to refute what he was saying, but I could not give any Scriptural support. I was simply telling him things I had been taught over the years, but I could not point him to any passages that truly supported what I was claiming. It all boils down to the fact that I did not know as much as I thought I did. He kept showing me passages that I could have sworn were not in the Bible. All I can say is I must have been reading right over them for all these years, and I certainly do not remember any preacher preaching or teaching what I was reading. I could not bring myself to believe what all these passages were saying. It was not making much sense and it certainly was not what the majority of the people I had ever been associated with were teaching. However, I finally put my stubbornness and hardheadedness aside and begin to put a few of these passages together, and I realized they were not that complicated to understand after all. All I needed to do was read them. I then started asking questions and he would point to passages. There was very little commentary, for the most part it was the Word of God being read.
I quickly realized that I had never truly studied the Scriptures as I should have. I was certainly questioning much of what I have been taught for many years. I even doubted my salvation. However, I was excited that I was beginning to better understand the Scriptures for once in my life. I believe I was hearing the Word of God the way it was intended to be heard, literally and truthfully. I was so intrigued that I wanted to hear it again. I wanted to study these passages more and more. I believe the most important thing I learned though, was that if I really wanted to go to heaven, I better start really studying the Word of God... otherwise, I was going straight to hell. Reality was sinking in to say the least.
This meeting with Jason, along with other certain events, caused me to realize that it was time for me to get down to some serious Scripture study. I needed to understand on my own what it was that God required of me to be saved (without any doubt) and what it was that I needed to do to please Him. I started looking closer at the Scriptures and was seeing more and more passages that I had not given any attention to in the past. When I combined them with passages I knew... I began to understand more. I was learning that it is true that we must study ALL of the Word of God.
I was reading some of the passages that Jason had pointed out to me to a preacher one time and he tried to tell me they did not mean what I was actually reading. He asked me if I was going to believe in a one year preaching school student over a preacher that had already finished school and had several years preaching experience. I told that preacher that I was simply reading the Bible and only wanted to know the truth. He kept insisting that I was taking sides with Jason. I believe this preacher felt this way because he could not explain away these passages, nor could he point out Scripture that would refute what I was reading. He could not even give me Scripture for what he believes. Instead, he chose to try and humiliate and intimidate me. You see, the point is this... I do not want to believe in Jason, I do not want to believe in that preacher, I do not even want to believe in a preacher that has 10 years of schooling and 40 years of preaching. I WANT TO BELIEVE IN GOD AND HIS WORD! If we simply believe in what a preacher or an individual is telling us, then we are headed down the wrong path. We are not commanded to believe in men, preachers, or anyone other than God. It is not about people believing in what I tell them or what their preacher tells them... my goal is to get people to read the Bible and believe in the truth. My prayer and goal is to get people to consider ALL of the Scriptures, not just part of them.
I decided to download the free Bible software program (www.e-sword.net) with the Thayer's and Strong's Greek dictionaries. This program includes several translations (ASV, ISV, ESV, NASB, KJV, KJV+, NASB+, and a host of others if you want them). The NASB package will cost you $20 if you decide you really need it. This program has many other study materials as well. I purchased an Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Textus Receptus/KJV) so that I could read how the original writers worded the New Testament. It is amazing how men have rearranged some of those words to fit their own doctrine and develop a new meaning. Of course I have my regular hand held Bibles as well.
I started studying with a different intent than ever before. By no means have I become a scholar or theologian, but I certainly do not believe we have to be one in order to understand God's way, the truth. I have definitely learned what it takes to be saved. After learning exactly what God commands of us to be saved, I followed those instructions. I am now saved, not because I prayed a prayer, not because I "feel" llke I am saved, but because I obeyed the gospel and followed the instructions God's Word gives us on what we must do to be saved. Am I now a perfect man without sin... hardly so. I must persevere to the end. With God's help through His Word, I can do it if I choose to. I am still learning more each day and I am on a mission to learn as much as I can possibly learn... a mission that I hope will not end until I go to be with the Lord.
Please join me along this study to learn more about the truth and what exactly a person must do to be saved.
God bless you!
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