I would like to tell you about the best thing that ever happened to me. Can you spare a few moments? I hope you will read on! It could change your life too! It all began on July 7, 1977. I was born to Hans and Dale Smith. I was baptized as an infant, and confirmed in the sixth grade. Growing up, I was a “good girl.” I did not smoke, do drugs, or anything like that. “I figured as long as I went to church and was a “good girl,” I would go to heaven one day.” I figured as long as I went to church and was a “good girl,” I would go to heaven one day. After all, that was what I was taught. I saw God as a man that sat up in the sky and did not think I could know Him any other way.
When I was in 7th grade, I met two girls that invited me to their church youth group. It is here where I first heard the gospel. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:1,4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel…how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” I had always known that Easter was a holiday celebrating Christ’s resurrection, but I never realized He was alive today. I did not realize I could know him personally.
I also learned that even though I was a good girl, I was a sinner in God’s eyes. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The Bible also says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Because I was a sinner, that meant that if I died today, I would go to hell. I had never heard these things, but I saw that it was written in the Bible. There was no other way to interpret these verses. This was the truth. After hearing these new truths, I wanted to do right and obey God. I wanted to know Him personally, so I began to implement His truths in my life. I read my Bible, kept attending the Bible Studies, and went to Youth Group. I was doing the works of the Bible.
One night at one of the Bible Studies, I remember being asked if I was saved. (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.) My response was, “I think I am, but I never actually asked Christ to be my Savior.” Someone then suggested, “Why don’t you pray right now and ask him?” I do not remember much about that time. I do not remember if I even said I was a sinner. I do remember I prayed and asked him to come into my life. That was in 7th grade.
From that time on, I lived the Christian life. I told others about Christ, went on mission trips, held Bible Studies, and attended church. I enjoyed obeying God’s word and I knew that His rules, His commandments, were for my best interest. “It seemed that I had everything under control. I surely had a right relationship with God, right?” It seemed that I had everything under control. I surely had a right relationship with God, right? Wrong! The Bible says in James 2:19, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” The Bible also says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” You see, friend, we do not get into a right relationship with God by our good works or by what we believe. Anyone can believe…anyone can attend Bible Studies…anyone can choose to obey God’s Word. We cannot earn favor with God. I had built my salvation on my good works and a belief in God, instead of true Bible salvation. True Bible salvation requires repentance and faith. Repentance is understanding that you are a sinner, and making a conscience choice to completely turn away from your sin at any cost. Faith is a complete trust in God and believing and knowing who God is, and how Jesus’ death on the cross makes us right with God.
I started attending a church a few blocks from my house. I was actively serving in the church and was a prime example of a Godly Christian among my peers. During my senior year in high school, I met Dean, who would later become my husband. He saw me as very “religious,” and he made it his mission to set me straight in my religion. He had many questions about God and I gave him answers from the Bible. Through his quest to set me straight, the Lord ended up setting him straight! Dean was saved on July 12, 1995. After high school, I went to a Christian College in Pennsylvania. While I was at college, I began to look for an independent Baptist church near by and found the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church through the Internet. After visiting one time, I loved it, but stopped going because it was an hour drive. Then during my junior year at college, Dean began to attend a college close by. Together, we decided to attend the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, despite the hour drive. Dean loved it too, and so we stayed.
I sat under good preaching for many months. At one point, I remember a lady asking me when I was saved. I never had been asked that before, and after sharing with her my story, I remember feeling like my story was not anything exciting. After all, I was not an alcoholic or drug addict. I was raised a “good girl.” “This is the first time God began to show me that something was not right in my heart.” This is the first time God began to show me that something was not right in my heart.
By this time, Dean and I were engaged and we decided to join the church before we were married. As I was writing down the story of my life, I began to experience doubts about my salvation. After sharing my doubts with a friend from the church, she told me, “Your testimony sounds a lot like mine and many others.” You see, my friend had a similar salvation experience, but soon after learned her experience was not true Bible salvation. After hearing her reply, I was so upset. I did not expect her to question me, but reassure me. At this point, I felt myself not knowing my own heart. I was grieved, and I had no peace. I spoke to Dean and tried to convince him I was truly saved. I reasoned that I felt saved and I was doing all the right things. That night, I even remember praying another prayer to get saved… just in case. My dear friend, do you see what I was doing? It is not enough to just pray a prayer. Salvation is more than just asking. There has to be a heart transformation, a true turning around, true repentance.
The next morning, when I arrived at church, I was so sure the prayer I had prayed the night before had set me straight and I was now saved. However as the day went on, the Lord showed me I was lost. At the beginning of the service, I spoke to a missionary wife who had recently been saved. Everything she said to me about herself was just like me. It was as if she was talking about me. I knew at that moment, I still had not settled the issue. I still had no peace. After the service that day, Dean and I went over to a friend’s house. One of the ladies at church had given me some verses to review. As I began to honestly search the Scriptures for an answer, I thought back to what had happened in 7th grade, when I claimed to have gotten saved. God began to show me several things.
“The first thing God showed me was that before I could be saved, I needed to know and admit that I was lost, a hopeless sinner on my way to hell.” The first thing God showed me was that before I could be saved, I needed to know and admit that I was lost, a hopeless sinner on my way to hell. This was something I had never done. Second, He showed me I did not have the understanding of God to get saved in 7th grade. I was told of my need to be saved but no one ever asked me if I truly understood how Jesus’ dying on the cross could save me and get me into heaven. The Bible says in John 4:44-45, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” We do not need to be Bible scholars before we get saved, but we must understand that salvation is only through Jesus Christ.
That Sunday night as I pondered all of these things, I realized, for the first time in my life, that I was lost. I knew I was a sinner, lost and going to hell. I realized it was not my prayers, works, or belief in God that could save me. It was only through repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ that I could be saved.
Once again, God confirmed my need for salvation that night at church. The preacher preached a message entitled, “Soul Surgery: Can a Church Member Be Lost?” This message was all about church members who were living the Christian life, doing Christian things, but who did not have genuine salvation. God showed me that this was me. I was fooling myself into thinking I was saved when I was not. I had a lot of head knowledge, but I had not been willing to admit I was lost in my heart.
That night, March 22, 1998, I knew that I was lost and needed to be saved. After going over some Bible verses with the pastor’s wife, I asked God to save me. I told Him that I was a sinner deserving hell, then repented of my sin, and gave up my will to Him.
After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I did not feel any sudden emotional zap. However, I did feel a peace in my heart. I knew that I was saved from my sin and an eternity in Hell. I also now had assurance based on the promises of God found in the Bible. The Bible says in 1 John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” God has given me peace in knowing that I have eternal life through Him, and that He takes care of me every day.
My friend, has anything like this ever happened to you? God has blessed my life in so many ways. He has given me a wonderful husband, and two beautiful children. He has given us peace through trials. He has never let us down! The most important thing is He has given me peace about who I am and why I am here. He has given me peace about knowing where I will spend eternity forever! Would you like to have this peace? Please do not wait! This is the most important decision you will ever make in your entire life. Do not take my word for this! Check it out yourself! It is the most important thing in the world!