I had Never Seen the Connection Between Salvation and the Need to be Born Again
My name is Joe Hegedus, and this is my story.
As I was growing up, I never heard what I’d call the real truth about spiritual matters. We pretty much followed my father’s upbringing and attended services at a Lutheran Church. I knew there was a God – and I thought a lot about Heaven and Hell. As a teenager, I would say my prayers every night before I went to bed. I considered that I was growing up in a “religious” household. But, during my whole life, I had never really heard a credible answer to the question of how to attain a life after death. Even during my four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, I never heard about salvation or the term “born again.” I feared God, and I always had a sense that I would be punished when I sinned. I knew I needed to keep the Ten Commandments. But, I was never sure if that was enough to get me into Heaven. I did not know what I was searching for, but I did know I felt no real assurance about my afterlife. There always seemed to be something that was lacking for me in this area. For many years of my adulthood, I never found the answers I needed as my wife and I continued to attend the Lutheran Church.
My wife was instrumental in helping me complete my quest for the truth concerning spiritual things. One day, she read a newspaper editorial written by the assistant pastor of a Baptist Church. The pastor had written to protest the vulgar display of a nearly naked woman on a local roadside billboard. My wife was impressed that a member of the clergy would take “I did not know what I was searching for, but I did know I felt no real assurance about my afterlife.”such a bold stand on this issue. Her curiosity was piqued, and she attended the church to see what it was like. Liking what she was hearing at this church, she kept inviting me to attend. I finally relented. But, being raised in the Lutheran Church, I was very leery of what I might hear. I told my wife that if I heard anything I didn’t like, that we would “take the entire family – and out the door we would fly.” But, at the very first service I attended, during the entire message, the pastor kept referring to one Bible passage after another. My wife was turning to all these passages, and I was overwhelmed. This was totally new to me. I was hearing preaching right from the Word of God – and it all made sense. I was a captive audience throughout the whole message. At the end of the message, the pastor posed a question that challenged my heart. He said, “If you were to die tonight, do you know, without a doubt, where you would spend eternity?” Being completely honest with myself, in church and in the presence of God, I could not lie and say “yes” to that question.
Two weeks later, I began to do a Bible study with a caring member of the church. “I was trying to find answers to many questions which had haunted me.” I was trying to find answers to many questions which had haunted me. “What does ‘born again’ mean?” “Where do my ‘good works’ fit into what the Bible teaches about salvation?” “Where had my deceased relatives gone when they died?” These were important questions that I had not been able to answer during my previous efforts to find the “spiritual truth.” (Note: ‘salvation’, ‘saved’ and ‘born again’ are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.)
During the course of the Bible study, God’s Word helped me to clearly see myself as a sinner bound for hell. I saw in the Bible where God says that good works will not save anyone. Giving money to the church, helping the needy, and doing volunteer work, although done with the best of intentions, is not the way into Heaven. God has another plan. The Bible, in Isaiah, chapter 45, verse 22, says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” God was clearly showing me that the only way into Heaven was through Him.
In the Bible study, I found a reference to being “born again.” Before that time, I had not seen the connection between salvation and being “born again.” “Through the study, I learned that God’s plan is that we should all be born twice.” Through the study, I learned that God’s plan is that we should all be born twice. According to John, chapter 3, verses 1-7, every person needs to be born physically, and then, later, to be born again spiritually, by faith, and trust, in the person of Jesus Christ alone. At the end of my fourth Bible study, my teacher asked me if I would accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, and thereby be “born again.” For 35 years I had known the name of Christ, but I had never known Salvation was a gift – a gift from God. In Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 8, the Bible clearly states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.“
That night, for the first time in my life, I saw myself as God sees me: a vile, rotten sinner, deceitful, a liar, and a cheat. From my heart, I cried out to Him in prayer, “Lord Jesus, please forgive me. Lord Jesus, please save me.” From that day, July 23, 1990, my life has never been the same. Please understand that no one can work their way into Heaven. It truly is a gift from God. Salvation is given freely to all that call upon the name of the Lord. I urge you to do so today.