I was born and brought up in India. Though our family was not Hindu, I had many friends who were Hindus and one good friend who was a Muslim. I grew up in a church-going family, went to church regularly and was active in Sunday school and other church activities. I considered myself a good Christian and did not have any concerns about my spiritual condition. Though I went to church regularly, I did not have a clear understanding of the gospel.
After I graduated from college in India, I came to the United States, and went to Michigan to work on a post graduate degree in Engineering. After graduation, I started working in Naperville, IL, a suburb of Chicago. While living in Naperville, I started going to an Assembly of God church which some of my friends went to and heard the gospel for the first time. It was here that I found out that in God’s eyes I was a sinner, having broken the Ten Commandments and not having lived up to God’s perfect standard of righteousness.
The Bible tells us in Romans chapter 6, verse 23 that “the wages of sin is death.” This is not only the physical death that all of us “Though I went to church regularly, I did not have a clear understanding of the gospel.” will eventually suffer, but also a spiritual death and eternal separation from God, when we are condemned to hell for our sins. I also found out that being born in a Christian family, going to church regularly or even being baptized as an infant was not going to save me. Trying to be a good person or doing good works is not going to save a person on judgment day either, for Titus chapter 3, verse 5 tells us that we are not saved by works of righteousness which we have done. However, reading the rest of Romans chapter 6, verse 23 shows that the situation is not entirely hopeless, for it goes on to say, but “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.“
I had heard John chapter 3, verse 16 many times, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now it made sense to me. Now I understood that because of my sins I was condemned to hell and that there was nothing I could do to be forgiven of my sins and be granted eternal life and a home in heaven. “My sins had to be paid for.” My sins had to be paid for. Hebrews chapter 9, verse 22 tells us that “without shedding of blood is no remission of sins.“
The only way that my sins could be paid for, was for Jesus to die on the cross and pay for my sins. Second Corinthians chapter 15, verse 3 tells us that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” I realized that just because Christ died for all, not everyone would be saved. I needed to personally believe in Him and ask Him to be my Savior.
Now that I understood my lost condition and what Christ had done for me, it seemed logical for me to respond to an altar call at church. I knelt at the altar and prayed. I got up assuming I must be saved. I wanted to grow spiritually and continued attending church there regularly for two years.
When I moved to Pennsylvania I tried out many different churches–Wesleyan, United Church of Christ, Baptist, and a Brethren Assembly. I attended a Brethren Bible study for several months at the invitation of a co-worker and even went on a missions trip with them to Peru. Around that time I also visited a Promise Keeper’s meeting in Philadelphia. I noticed that many professing “believers” did not have a life that backed up their profession, and often were living in sin and hypocrisy. I was never challenged about my own profession and found that if I simply claimed to be saved, everyone accepted it.
In 2001, the Lord brought me to a very low point in my life. I was facing some crises in my personal life and professional life. On a weekend trip to Seattle, I had a lot of time to think and evaluate my condition. God broke me right then and there and I fell on my knees and cried out to God in full surrender. “I wanted Him to take full control of my life as Master and Lord.” I wanted Him to take full control of my life as Master and Lord.
From that point on my life began to change dramatically. I was even amazed myself at what God was doing in my life. I had a hunger for God’s Word and a desire to learn the Bible and fellowship with other believers. I wanted to be baptized in obedience to the Lord’s command for believers. I had a genuine burden for lost family members and friends to be saved. I found that obeying God’s commands, including tithing, was not “grievous” (First John chapter 5, verse 3).
I began to ask the Lord to lead me to a church that preached the Bible, would help me grow, upheld Biblical standards of separation from worldliness, and was concerned about bringing lost souls to Christ. The Lord led me to Lehigh Valley Baptist Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, which also happened to be right around the corner from where I was living at the time.
There the Lord began to show me through the preaching and my own personal Bible study that salvation was more than mentally agreeing to facts. A true conversion involves repentance of sin and faith in Christ, and results in a changed life. I began to examine my life and saw that the “fruit” or evidences of true salvation were not evident in my life for the seven years after my profession, but burst forth after I repented and put my faith in Christ while I was in Seattle. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17 God makes that clear. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I came to the conclusion that I had only made an empty profession while in Naperville, IL, but had been truly converted by God’s work in my life when I came to the end of myself in Seattle and surrendered to Him.
My challenge to you is to “examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith,” as Paul exhorted us to do in Second Corinthians chapter 13, verse 5. Do not be satisfied with a profession of salvation if it did not include repentance of sin or did not result in a changed life.