I was sitting in the congregation of our church when the guest speaker, the son of an International missionary Organization Director spoke about the famous statement of Joshua, “Choose you this day, who shall you serve? But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He pointed out that people need to make a personal decision to follow Christ. They had to choose.
It was an eye opening experience for me, because he stressed that there are lots of Christians in churches today, even those who are active in their respective ministries, doing all those church work, that are really not saved at all.
Now what does “saved” mean? The Bible emphasizes more on the term: “Believers”. Believers of what? In God? That He exists and that He rules over all and He is great, and majestic and worthy of all praise? That He has a Son who died on the cross for the sins of man and rose up from the grave to conquer death? Sure, the Bible even tells us that even Demons believe in God and Jesus, and they shudder, but they are definitely not “believers”. If we apply that term “believers” to ourselves, and examine our lives, do we even come close to how the demons believe? I guess not.
If I even dig deeper, I could safely assume that we, as present day “believers”, have it easy on the Gospel. And, ironically, having it easy makes it a lot more difficult to be “believers”. First of all, we live in a time so distant from the time of the life of Jesus. We are asked to believe on somebody who lived and died (and lives forever more) more than 2000 years ago. Second to believe that there is a God who can neither be seen or heard, who does out-of-this-world miraculous wonders (triple redundant) which are not seen this day, with little or no scientific or historical evidence, except by the testimonies of those who lived in that distant time. (But amazingly, Archeology and history now can testify to the Biblical accounts, they just don’t mass publish them) Third, is to even have the need of a Savior is somewhat useless to this “convenient” generation. We can have what we want, do what we want, and even believe what we want without some emperor telling us what or who to believe as God. And we don’t face death if we believe otherwise. Easy? Yes, but more difficult because the need becomes cloudy, and the truth is somewhat pushed aside in significance.
Now going back to the sermon I heard, the speaker simply pointed out that he himself grew up in church, as a son of a well known preacher of God’s Word, grew up and studied in the Christian ways and virtues, doctrines and service, only begun a REAL relationship with God just a little over twelve years ago, at the age of 24 or 25, after more than a decade of serving God in church as a Sunday School teacher, as a choir member, etc. Impossible? Nope, you can be in church, but not really IN the Body of Christ.
He said that he cannot remember a time where he PERSONALLY felt the need for God in his life, and that He asked himself the question, “Am I really a believer? If so, why is my life lived otherwise? If not, Lord, please show me how.” Without anyone to guide him, he went to the Scriptures, and searched for God. He searched for God. He didn’t find God, because God found him. He was lost and blind, hopeless to find God, but it was God’s will and prerogative that he should be found. The Scriptures became true in his life where it says “Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you.”
At this point, I would like to share, my own personal testimony. I grew up as a Catholic, went to a Catholic school for boys, and also in a home where strong Catholicism was taught. What I loved about that was we were disciplined to do all the rituals a faithful Catholic should do. And somehow cathedrals amazes me, gives me this “God I know You’re here” feel. My parents went to a Methodist church then to a Baptist church simply because of geographical reasons, and because services were shorter and less boring. Eventually, they met Jesus in one of the services of the Baptist church they were attending.
Naturally, we had to join them in church and I started to learn Bible lessons which weren’t emphasized when I was in mass. I was taught how to pray directly to God through His one and only Son Jesus. I was told that being good wasn’t enough for a little boy to go to heaven and that I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I learned them all in my head, but it really meant nothing to me. I was even taught to remember my spiritual birthday… so I can be sure I was saved. (It was a good idea, but now I realized its not the date that makes for a good evidence of salvation, its your life.)
My mom approached me in a cold rainy morning and asked me if I wanted to go to Heaven when I die. I told her “Yes”, and we prayed to receive Jesus in my heart. I believe that I got saved at that time. I clearly remember learning why I needed to be saved, and why Jesus came, what He did for me, and that He promised me eternal life.
But it was only about 10 years after that day that I truly started living for God. And I began to stand up as Christian. I surrendered my life to God, not as a pastor or a priest or a church worker, no, not that. I surrendered my life to him as a man… as a son. I wanted to live my life according to what my Dad wants. And I told God I would live for His pleasure, not mine, as an engineer, or as a musician, as anybody I would be. As long as I lived for Him, I knew I would be fine, and that I’m really living. I asked myself if I’m really a believer… if I’m really a Christian. And I sought for answers personally in His Word. I found them, and God assured me I was His, even before I sought Him this way.
From that moment on I knew I had a purpose. I knew that if I died any moment, I knew I would face a God who would be proud to welcome home a son. I am assured of heaven yes, even as kid, and even before I gave my life to Him, I knew I will go there, but what makes a surrendered life great is the peace that when you leave this life, you will not regret anything. The only possible regret is that you wish you could’ve reached more, served more or did more for Him. But right now I am proud to say (not in my own strength or capabilities) that if God took me, I know I have run a good race, fought a good fight (not as exciting as Pacquiao’s though), and I am sure I kept the faith the old martyrs have died for, the faith Jesus has passed on to generations of true believers.
My challenge to you is this: even if you grew up in church, and did all the necessary steps to become a believer, examine your life, and ask God, “God, am I really your son/daughter? If so, show me and assure me through Your Word, and if not, show me how.” I tell you, it would make a whole lot of difference.