From Bible College to Bible Knowledge
I'd like to share how the Lord saved me, and to begin, I'll give you a bit of history leading up to my salvation…
I grew up going to church every Sunday with my family, went to a Christian girls club every Wednesday for a number of years, went to a private Christian school for most of my education, participated in various summer holiday Bible clubs, went on a short-term missions trip to Mexico, listened to ‘Christian rock' and ‘punk' music, was a camper and staff at a Christian camp for a number of summers, spent a year studying at a Bible college, travelled the South Pacific Islands and visited numerous churches along the way, came back and did a second year at a different Bible college. And yet, I was not saved according to the Bible!
By this point you may be asking yourself, how in the world did such a person avoid salvation being in such a saturated ‘Christian' environment? My answer – all too easily. I had, on numerous occasions, as Evangelical churches teach, ‘asked Jesus into my heart', but since that time have not found a single Scripture commanding or exhorting anyone to do that. Now I have no intention of pointing fingers and blaming others: this is a testimony of how the Lord saved me. And yes, despite the churchy background, I was in real need of salvation.
And yet, I was not saved according to the Bible!
Though I may have been well churched, my life was one of hypocrisy. To look at me you would've seen a grungy, hippy-type youth. You would've found me in the nightclub on Saturday night and daydreaming during the church service on Sunday morning. My life had many such contradictions in it.
About the age of 19, I started reading the Bible for myself – regularly and personally. I started asking questions. My biggest question / concern was regarding the Holy Spirit. First of all, why hadn't I been taught anything about Him as of yet? And secondly, who is He? As I searched for the answer to the first question I discovered it was because the pastor at my church, Christian friends, Christian leaders of various other churches (in North America, Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji Isles) etc, also knew very little of who the Holy Spirit is. In answer to the second question, it didn't take me long to realize that He is one with the Father and Son. But, this brought many other questions like, what part does He play in a true Christian's life today? How do I know when I have received Him? What do all the different terms mean? Why does every person seem to have their own individual belief / opinion about the Holy Spirit? What does He have to do with speaking in tongues? The more churches I visited, the more people I spoke to, the more theological books I read, the more confused I got and the more questions I had.
I was familiar with having long discussions and debates about various spiritual themes.
As time went by my sister, who lived quite a distance away, met some Christians who preached the Word of God to her very clearly. As a result of this she was saved and received the gift of the Holy Ghost very powerfully (ACTS 2:38). I was very happy for her and interested in what she told me over the phone about her experience. Though it fascinated me, I was still searching for the answers myself and away I went to a Bible College for a year.
I spent many hours in theological debate with others students, asked questions of my professors, read theological and philosophical books regarding the Holy Spirit etc. At the end of one year I somehow thought I had gained some answers to my questions. Also by that time, I had decided that what my sister was telling me was too ‘black and white'. It couldn't possibly be so straightforward. I was on my way to visit her and meet the people in the church that she had become a part of, and I had determined to set her straight / show her the way / and enlighten both her and the group of Christians she was meeting with.
On the way to visit her I went on a road trip with some fellow Bible college students and at the end of our trip they were to drop me off at her place so I could stay the weekend with her and then fly back to my home the next week. Well, we were a few hours away and I was a bit excited and nervous to meet these new people – especially because I planned to ‘set them straight' and tell them what I'd learned about the Holy Spirit, as they seemed to have it all wrong. Then, all of a sudden, I knew that I was wrong. I knew that the exact opposite to what I had planned would happen and that it was me who needed to be enlightened. The Lord, even the same Holy Spirit who I'd been seeking, showed me very clearly before arriving, that the people I was about to meet would show me the truth I'd been seeking. Though I'd been searching long and hard for the Holy Spirit, this was not the answer I wanted and by the time I arrived at their place I was determinedly in a bad mood, not looking forward to being proven wrong.
It immediately quickened my faith in the Word of God
Well, that is exactly what happened. I was familiar with having long discussions and debates about various spiritual themes. With friends and professors these always involved a lot of opinion (and a few Scriptures to support the idea). The people in this Assembly were completely and refreshingly different. They showed me Scripture after Scripture and offered me virtually none of their own opinions. This is because they took the Bible as authoritative. If the Bible said it, they did it! And God blessed them with His promises! They pointed me to the Word of God and didn't even need to ask if I was following the instructions and examples therein, I knew myself that I was not. This way of reading the Bible was in direct contrast to everything I had previously experienced in many Christian churches and organizations. It immediately quickened my faith in the Word of God – that it was indeed still alive –
“quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (HEBREWS 4:12), and worthy to be studied and followed.
And what does the Bible say about salvation? JOHN 3:3-5
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit
”. We must be born again, or WE WILL NOT SEE THE KINGDOM OF GOD! But how? Born again of water and the spirit…1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-2 shows the pattern was laid out already in the Old Testament,
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea”.
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”.
It was shortly after that, as the Word of God convicted me, I repented of my religiosity and sin. I was baptized under water for the remission of those old sins, and then, as promised (ACTS 2:39), I received the gift of the Holy Ghost in the same manner as the disciples (ACTS 2:4,33), Cornelius (ACTS 10:44-48) and the disciples at Ephesus that Paul preached to (ACTS 19:6). What an amazing confirmation of God's Word! All praise to Him.