This is the testimony of a young man from a Christian home recently baptised and received into church membership in London.
Having grown up in a Christian family, I have always been taken to church and to children’s clubs. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I didn’t believe the stories were true . . . I accepted what I was told. As I grew up I also knew I was a sinner, and I also believed that Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died and rose again to save sinners, but I never applied this to my own life.
I remember thinking when my older brother was baptised that I should be next as I was the next child but again I didn’t think it through fully. There were times in my teens that I heard sermons which really spoke to me but I quickly forgot what was said and carried on with my life. It must have been when I was about 16 or 17 that I first started realising how much of a sinner I was. I often felt guilty when I did things wrong but kept doing them. I prayed a number of times that I would be saved but nothing seemed to happen. I didn’t know if I had been saved or not.
I remember soon after I had started in university I heard a sermon at the church where I’ve been going, by a visiting preacher. I can’t remember anything he said now but I do remember going back to my Halls and thinking that I had to sit down and pray that night that I would be saved. Unfortunately, as I was walking back into the halls building I met some friends who were just leaving and they invited me to go with them to the cinema and I gave in, forgot everything I had heard, and went with them. I believe that God was really talking to me that night and I feel that if I had just gone back to my room straight away I would have known for sure I was saved.
When I was in my second year at university, my fiance was baptised. Soon after that her minister e-mailed me asking where I stood before God. I replied to his e-mail that I knew I was a sinner and knew that Jesus was the only way to be saved but still didn’t know for sure if I had been saved myself. He kept e-mailing me over the following few months answering my questions and trying to help me. It was when I got engaged last August that the minister e-mailed me again asking me once more where I stood before the Lord. I replied on that Friday night that I still didn’t know; I had prayed but nothing seemed to happen and I couldn’t stop myself from sinning. On that Sunday at the end of August, I was back home and the minister here was preaching from the parable of the prodigal son. I don’t think it was even related to what he was saying but I suddenly realised that when the younger son who had been away returned to his father, he was still filthy from the pigs he’d been feeding, but his father embraced him before he gave him clean robes. I saw myself as the prodigal son and the dirt on the clothes was my sins but God embraced me even in my sin. He didn’t expect me to stop sinning before I came to him. I had been caught up in thinking that I had to stop sinning before I could be saved, but I came to realise that I just had to trust in Jesus and know that he came to earth to save sinners like me and didn’t expect them to be perfect. I prayed after that sermon that I would be truly saved and put my trust fully in Jesus. I still sin and I still feel guilty when I sin but I am starting to get more self control and to rely on God to help me to turn away from temptation and look to Jesus. I remember my minister saying soon after that in another sermon that you don’t have to stop sinning to gain faith but by having a faith in Jesus he can help you stop sinning.
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Today more than ever attention focusses on young people. Newspaper headlines of their activities feature everything from revolution to drugs, student sit-ins to the generation gap, hooliganism to hijacking. Not that the news media are unfair or disproportionate: in a year or two the average age in America will be twenty-four. Most of these young […]
On Doctrine and Practice July 16, 2019
A charge that is made repeatedly against historic Christianity is that its stress on doctrine makes it authoritarian, theoretical, and cold. The Christian religion is a practical affair; putting the faith in terms of truth to be believed alienates or repels many who would otherwise be sympathetic. As John Robinson puts it, ‘the effect of […]