Here’s how I became a Christian.
A Rock and a Hard Place
There are many times when I recall hearing a story about a person who was saved because they fell in between a rock and a hard place. They had come to the end of their rope. They also came to the end of themselves, but there was God, waiting for them all the time. God cannot save someone until they first humble themselves because He is opposed to the proud but gives grace only to the humble (James 4:6). This may be why of those who are called, “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth” (1st Cor 1:26). That’s because “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1st Cor 1:27). God will save some of the rich or powerful, but most will refuse to bend the knee to Christ, and thus will be lost because of their pride. In many cases, God must allow His velvet vice to apply His pressure on us, and when we have the Rock (God) and the problems (the hammer), God can finally soften our hearts until we are receptive to repentance and faith in Christ. That’s what happened to me.
How to be Saved
A person cannot really save themselves because it is only “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9), Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again (John 3:3-7), but the Greek indicates it’s “born from above,” meaning that God is the initiator of our faith. We couldn’t cause our new birth any more that we could have caused our physical birth. That was not our choice (Eph 1). It was God’s, so when a person is feeling remorse and regret for their sins, and the consequences of those sins, they are brought to repentance by God and then they put their trust in Christ, but it is God who brings us to repentance (2nd Tim 2:25). We can only repent because God’s Spirit causes us to. When we finally see we have the wrath of God on us by our unbelief in Christ (John 3:36b), the Spirit convicts us of our sins, causes us to repent, and then we confess those sins to God for a cleansing (1st John 1:9), so a person is saved when they repent and trust in Christ.
How I Was Saved
There I was again as a young man in trouble with the law. After my 4th or 5th time in front of the judge, he said, “I’ve had enough.” He was sending me to prison (Hutchinson, KS. mid-1970’s). That’s when I had finally come to the end of myself. I had nothing left because all my property, including my vehicle, was confiscated. So there I was in a cell; I was broke, in prison, no hope, no future, not certain when I’d get out, and then I saw it. The trustee came by with some books…and I saw a Bible. I thought, “Why not? What else do I have to do but wait?” so I opened the Bible and it fell to Luke 18 and the Parable of the Persistent Widow. Wow. I was like that widow. I had nothing! I was in trouble and I needed help, so I decided to cry out to God for help….and not give up, be persistent. I also had the fear of God put in me for the very first time when I read, “And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily” (Luke 18:7-8). I thought, I was once under God’s judgment, but for some reason, the sentence, “Will he delay long over them” gave me peace…and hope. I fell on the jail cell floor and cried silently to God. I had nothing but God, but I found out that if God’s all I have, God’s all I need. I trusted in Christ on my face and, ironically, I was set free in prison.
Your testimony will be different from mine, and from others, but God can and has used other people’s personal testimony on how they were saved as a means to witness to others. When I tell people my story, they say, “Wow, you were in prison? I would have never guessed that.” But I tell them that I was in prison out in the world and free, because I was being held captive by the enemy and didn’t know it. Paul writes, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2nd Cor 4:4). The gospel was veiled to me too until God broke my pride (2nd Cor 4:3). If you can write out a brief testimony about how you came to saving faith, you can more easily know how to share it with those who are still being held captive. Your testimony might point them to Christ, so in this way God may use your personal testimony as a means to save some.
As you have read, I didn’t become a Christian. Jesus Christ saved me after the Father called me, and the Spirit convicted me. Salvation is fully a work of God. The only things I bring are hands full of sin and shame. If you have a loved one who is not saved or is hostile to the gospel, don’t give up. Be persistent. Cry out night and day. Never quit, but never push Christ on people. Just be salt and light and make it so that others want some of that same salty seasoning and life-giving light.