“As I grew up, we continued in church, but I lived my life the way I wanted to, pleasing myself.” As I grew up, we continued in church, but I lived my life the way I wanted to, pleasing myself. Often, a message in church, Bible camp or my Christian school would bring conviction in my heart because of the sinful way I was living. It would cause me to wonder if I was really saved. When this happened, I would just pray another “salvation prayer” and go on with my life, doing the things I wanted to do.
But over the years, God kept working in my heart, and convicting me of my sin. When I was 30 years old, there was a period of about a year when I seriously began to listen to the preaching, and began to search out the matter of salvation. I realized that salvation is not just “praying a prayer” and I was wrong to think I could be saved by just praying a rote prayer. Salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit of God in a person’s heart. Also, before a person can be saved, they must recognize their personal responsibility for their sin, and their guilt before a holy God. As God began to work in my heart and life, I realized for the first time in my life that it was my sin that put Christ on the cross.
My husband was very helpful to me during this time as I was searching and struggling. As I talked with him, he always answered my questions from the Word of God. He didn’t try to put me off by saying, “Oh, yes, you are already saved,” or condemn me by saying, “You couldn’t possibly be saved.” I praise the Lord for my husband’s help and support during this time.
There were several verses in the Bible that God used in my life to convict me of my lost condition and my need of Christ. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This was no problem, for I had known for many years that I was a sinner. But in Romans 6:1-2 it says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” When I put the teachings of these verses together with many other verses in the Word of God, it helped me to see that I was not saved. “I knew that I was continuing in sin, even though I claimed to be saved.” I knew that I was continuing in sin, even though I claimed to be saved. I lived my life only thinking of myself and what I wanted.
Another verse God used was Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I realized that salvation is a free gift from God. I could not do anything to earn God’s salvation. Another verse was Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” God showed me that I needed to confess my sin to God, and turnfrom my sin in repentance. That was something I had never done.
God also showed me that salvation brings a change in a person’s life. First John 2:4-5 says, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” As I read these and other verses, I realized that I had lived all my life calling myself a Christian, but there had never been a change in my life. I was still in control of my life, and doing what I wanted to do. If a person is truly saved, their life will change. They won’t continue on in their sin, and they will want to serve the Lord with their life. These things were not true in my life. “Suddenly I came to the realization that I had been trying all my life to live the Christian life on my own, but Christ was not in my life, living through me.” Suddenly I came to the realization that I had been trying all my life to live the Christian life on my own, but Christ was not in my life, living through me. Therefore I was not saved, and I had no victory over sin.
One Sunday morning, July 3, 1994, I woke up earlier than usual and spent some time reading my Bible, which was not usual for me. That morning, as I read my Bible, I came to the point that I knew I needed to make a decision. I could choose to continue on, living a lie, saying I was a Christian and knowing I was not. Or I could choose to ask Christ to save me and change my life. I chose to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to save me. I prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ, repenting of my sin, and asked Him to forgive me of my sin and the wicked life I had been living. I asked Him to save me, to take control of my life, and to change my life.
At first, I thought that I would just go on as if nothing had happened. I wanted to try and save myself the embarrassment of telling others that I had been living a lie. But that didn’t last long. A few hours after I was saved, we went to church, as we usually did. At the end of the service, an invitation was given. I knew that God wanted me to tell others what He had done for me. I told my husband there at my seat what God had done in my life, and then went forward to share the good news with the church.
Since the time of my salvation, many noticeable changes have occurred in my life. I want to go to church, and stop looking for excuses to occasionally stay home. Instead of always doing what I want to do, I now desire to choose to do right, even when no one is watching me. I have found out that my bad temper can be controlled, with God’s help. This is something I had never been able to do on my own. I am very thankful for the fellowship of other believers at our church who have encouraged me to make right choices. Most of all, I am thankful that when Christ saved me, He didn’t just leave me on my own, but He changed my life, and He continues to be with me each day that I live.