What? My jaw dropped as I demanded that they explain what then would happen to all of the people out there who had faith based in other religions. The Buddhists? The Hindus? The Jewish people? Muslims? Why didn't the Bible say that there was no condemnation for all the other people of faith who basically believed in God? All of the EE Trained people in the room had fun opening up the scriptures to me and pointing me to the Truth of Jesus Christ. Soon, it became obvious to me that the "unnamed god" who had brought me out of the pit into AA and who had brought me to Bible study was in fact Jesus Himself. I prayed to accept Christ at the end of 1995 and continued to go to Bible Study.
Over time, my mind was being renewed and the Truth of scripture started falling into place in innumerable ways. The people in this Bible Study and what we learned in God’s Word had the most significant impact on my early years walking with Christ. In particular, I remember one evenning a couple of months after I had started attending Bible study, when we were studying John Chapter 3. Just as I was feeling rather confident with my faith and verses 16 - 18, God dropped the bombshell:
John 3:19: "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."
This was a huge turning point for me, as I was instantly convicted of a life sin that I still harbored secretly. At that moment, I thought that every single Christian on the planet was glaring at me, as God Himself had somehow told them what was in my heart and then shined a halogen spotlight on me. The Holy Spirit has never been so convicting AND convincing!. Before that, I managed to justify myself quite well, but at that moment, I had nothing. Just a deep sorrow and a spirit of repentence before God and His people. So, I confessed, repented, and believed God's Word. Today, I still go back to this every day that I walk with God - Confess, Repent, and Believe God's Word.
Next to my conversion - placing my trust in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation- the most impactful scripture for me has been Romans 12:1-2 (that's where the subtitle on my blog comes from.)
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
In addtion to spending several years attending this Bible Study, the next most significant experience in terms of my faith was learning about reformed theology on the internet. Finding that it seemed to be the closest to what I believed the scriptures teach, I visited a friend’s church that was in the PCA. Before that I had attended a non-denominational, lightly charismatic church and an Arminanian church, where I was well fed and well loved. The thing that brought me to change churches and join the PCA was when the nice Arminian church I attended started teaching EE (Evangelism Explosion). The course content was in direct conflict with the Pastor's view of the order of salvation and the concepts of total depravity and irresistable grace. This was a really big concern for me, given my background and how I came to Christ. Learning about the reformed faith, mostly over the internet, has had a tremendous impact on my decision to belong to the PCA. I am a very firm believer that controvery aside, our denomination's combination of strengths in theology and praxis provide a superb potential for continuing to fulfill the great commission.
Cont'd (stay tuned for Part 3)