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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Speak to me of your salvation.

There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy ~ Henry Miller.

Do you remember the day you got saved?  The year?  The month?  Perhaps the very hour?

I don't have a clue.  For me it has been a long slow process, complicated by the church I grew up in which does not strongly teach  a salvation doctrine.  Oh, it's there.  It's not that deranged, but it is wrapped up in things like baptism & confirmation without a strong emphasis on repentance & the new man, never mind the poor old Holy Spirit.

When I began delving into these things for myself  I was hugely frustrated.  I read from the scriptures that it was possible to really know God, better even than Abraham, Jacob, Issac ~ or even Moses!  The problem was I didn't know a single church where the power of God was evident.  Oh, I knew individuals ~ though rarely well~ but church!  What a dreary wasteland of doctrine that proclaimed the power of God but denied its reality.  And it wasn't for want of looking.  I took my degree at USQ where there are more churches per square yard than just about anywhere else in Australia.

What is a girl to do?

Being me I went to the bookstore.  There was only one in town at the time & it was pretty much establishment stuff but eventually I came across one or two books that suggested the gifts of the spirit were not confined to preaching, teaching [men only, please] or helps.   I read about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I was confused.  I thought there was only one baptism for the remission of sins.  Actually I think it's an apalling choice of words but hey, what do I know?

And being me I did not go looking for someone who might know something about this.  I didn't even go looking for a church where the gifts were in evidence.  I probably wouldn't have recognized it if I'd fallen headfirst into one.  Nope.  I read & I read & I read.  When I thought I understood what they were talking about I began experimenting ~ & we do all remember I'm much better at the theory than the practicalities, don't we?

Somewhere along the way, more by the grace of God than good management on my part, I recieved the gift of tongues.  I flipped because there was no interpretation & I was worried that Satan was counterfeiting.  Honestly, I shouldn't be let loose on my own.  So I had a gift I almost never used.  To say nothing of the fact Dearest wasn't on board at all & we were both, by then, accutely aware, of the misuse of the charismatic gifts in multiple churches.

Much, much later, having found what I needed in the silence of Quaker worship & learnt much better how to hear from God a dear friend prayed for me & I was able to accept God's gift with graciousness for what it is ~ & if I start getting insecure the interpretation is there.

Just the same I have never been drawn to charismatic churches.  I am a quiet person.  I like snuggling in quietly with God, just Him & me, alone in the silence.   I can get along very nicely without all the bibbing & bobbing & shouted Halleluias, thank you very much.  I get lost & overwhelmed in large charismatic churches.

For me the issues of repentance, the new birth, the evidence of tongues were personel experiences that took place out of the limelight over a long period of time.    They are part of my journey towards knowing God ~ & truth be told, I am still more than a little leery of the exuberiant public spectacle evident in so many charismatic churches. 

 I can't put my finger on an exact date, or hour, when I was born again.  I know I have, at different times, gone through all the steps, though not necessarily in the right order [is there a right order?]  I know God's Spirit dwells within me.  I know I am walking towards that which I have always earnestly desired, intimacy with God; it is the journey, not the destination.  Thus there has never been any conflict between the charismatic & my Quaker expression of my faith.

And then, then!  Rhema wanted to know the when.  As if without an exact date it never happened.  Ummmm, I don't do numbers, people.  I tend to be more than a little vague about exact details.  So, because, like my cats, I am insatiably curious, who knows exactly when they were born again?  Saved, if you prefer that term.  My ear is open like a greedy shark...[Gosh that's an awful quote!  So awful it's unforgettable!]


HomeGrownKids said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HomeGrownKids said...

I wasn't raised as a believer. I got mixed up in some colourful and unsavoury activities, which don't need further details. ☺

When I was 16 and a half there was a large revival crusade in my town with Colin Urquart and Harry Westcott. I don't remember anything of it except during the altar call, I was vividly aware of my sin… and vividly aware of my need to be clean. I was touched by the Holy Spirit and had a very emotional experience.

I was still involved in my unsavoury lifestyle but it was getting very icky. Throughout a turn of events, I slowly realised these people were not my friends. Long story short: I left the group of 'friends' and went it alone. My mum encouraged me to go to the CRC Youth group. I didn't want religion but I did want friends so I went. I ended up getting involved at church. I became the church pianist and went along to the local prison to spread the gospel to the inmates as part of our church ministry.

One of the inmates was released from jail and as he had nowhere to stay the church helped him out with accommodation. So he came along to church. Another long story short: we became involved. So here I was playing piano during worship and carrying on a not-so-secret relationship with my bf. We lived together for nearly 12 months before he broke down and confessed that he couldn't go along with the facade anymore. He wasn't a Christian and he couldn't lie anymore- he was just using me and the church to try and get a better life. he left me and went back to drugs and his former lifestyle.

During all this time, I experienced the emotional pendulum life that is works based. I was slain in the Spirit more times that I can remember, I spoke in tongues incessantly, I sang, I played piano, I studied key scriptures, I responded to more altar calls than I have fingers… you name it, I've done it. I recommitted my life to God constantly, because I was always screwing up so much. In reality I simply had little grasp on the nature of sin, of man nor of God… let alone Christ and His finished work on the Cross.

I threw myself into church- vowing that I didn't want anything to do with guys for quite some time. I wanted to travel, grow as a believer and learn more about God.
Within 7 months I had met the man who would become my husband.

When was I saved/born again/whatever-you-want-to-call-it? I do not know.

And this is where my thoughts differ from many other people: if we make a decision to follow God then we pinpoint that day/that event as the day of our salvation. But is it really? That might be the day you responded to His call… but at what point does salvation occur?

If our salvation has more to do with God (and we know it does) and the Word tells us that it is HE who draws us and calls us then salvation is all in His hands.

My thoughts:
Why do we have to reduce God and His calling to the time of our personal decision?

Did all the disciples have personal/sudden conversion moments?
HOw about the huge number of people in the Scriptures, like Mary, Simeon, Anna, etc?

Where does John the Baptist fit into the picture of personal decision making +salvation? (Luke 1:15)

There are my thoughts... for now. Footy's on! Go Crows!!

Ganeida said...

Wow, amazing testimony, Susan!

Yes, I agree. I'm not sure any of us can know the when ~ only that it is so.

Are the crows playing Arsenal? ;P

HomeGrownKids said...

They're playing Hawthorn - AFL.

And in fact, if one can recall the exact day of their salvation, which is most likely the day they remember responding to God, then does recognising this point in time take away from God- who has been working in our lives (calling and drawing) before we realise and respond.

Ganeida said...

The thing is, we are sealed unto the Day of Redemption ~ & as God does the sealing only He really knows when that takes place. I have never thought knowing mattered ~ only that it is so. BUt given nearly everything in my religious experience is usually outside the norm it is a huge relief to find I'm not the only one! lol

Butterfly said...

I always love reading people's testimonies. Thanks for sharing yours, Ganeida and Susan.

My story happened in stages, as is probably the case for many, and we only have a glimpse of all that the Lord has done for us. I remember some particular things the Lord did before I considered myself saved, stepping stones on the track, and moments which were significant for me in coming to relationship with the Lord and doing what I believed He required ... though when I meet Him I guess the particulars of His view of my salvation will be clearer :)

I wrote my testimony on my blog a while ago ... it might be too long to copy here fully, but here's a link if you'd like to read it. Sorry I don't know how to hyperlink it here.

Basically, I started believing in the Lord and wanting to serve Him within 2 weeks after I first went to church, when I was 17. It was Anglican, and I only went at first because a friend said it would be a good place to meet people. I prayed and did some confirmation classes they were running, and went on as sincerely as I knew how to. I did make friends, both helpful and mischievous friends, and stayed there and visited other churches for the next 8 years.

I would say "religion" is very confusing, but the Bible tells us what we need to know. For the first several years, I guess I was trusting in religion (study notes, theological studies, teachers in many denominations, youth conventions) and I believed what they all said about salvation, although I felt it was too simple (just believe?). I wanted to obey the Lord and always felt guilty about my sins, which I knew were many, but obedience didn't seem to be high on the agenda at the churches I attended, and immorality was accepted if not celebrated. I wondered, if I was saved, why was my life not so different to friends who didn't believe? I won't share more about those confused and painful years ... some of it my husband doesn't know or wish to know (we just call it Egypt). I do know that the Lord protected me from my foolishness, which could have had much greater consequences. To me those years are summed up as striving for perfection, failing, regret for people I hurt or showed a bad example to, guilt, hoping for answers and desiring to be closer to the Lord. I ended up divorced, scared, depressed, anxious, sick, helpless and lonely, only happy at work. He answered my cry for help.

TBC ... sorry long answer!

Butterfly said...

Clarity about my salvation came for me when I was 25 (12 years ago), when Mum started going to a new church, and I attended a small house meeting. I thought I was the studious, religious one, going to rescue Mum from a cult! But I heard testimonies of God's power and how he'd changed people's lives, what He did years ago and recently; there was a talk, referring to lots of scriptures which everyone looked up in their Bibles; the gifts were explained then operated in an orderly fashion - 2-3 tongues and interpretations, 2-3 prophecies (I'd never heard either in any other church); then a quiet prayer time.

Over supper a lady showed me in the Bible several verses about baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit, and I wondered why I'd never read or heard them before. I said I had thought I had the Holy Spirit already, but wanted to obey the Lord, and do as His word said, and so in Mum's loungeroom I sat on the floor (cross-legged no doubt) with a few people, and we quietly prayed. I said hallelujah twice then spoke in a new, fluent language, and was embarrassed about my huge smile. I just knew it was right and I felt like I'd come home, and was so thankful. I was baptised at church by full immersion that Sunday. When I went home to my distant town, I went to the nearest church of the same denomination, and fellowshipped there. It was a 45 minute drive each way, and I went to everything I could (3-4 times most weeks) and loved the drive when I could pray and listen to talk tapes or worship music. I was healed of crippling depression soon after, and within a year the Lord provided a new job, home and friends.

I had a fresh start. A bit like Susan I prayed that if the Lord wanted me to marry again, He'd have to hit me over the head with it because I wouldn't be looking! I didn't want to make any more mistakes by trusting my own judgement. I was content to trust the Lord and got on with things ... then met my husband at church in my new town, and knew straight away he was the one. Even though we were both struck so shy we could hardly speak at first ... to me that was the Lord's confirmation that this was His will, not mine alone). He's so faithful, humble, loving, kind ... I'm gushing.

I know that since I was Spirit filled, spoke in tongues and was baptised, my life has been different. The Lord was guiding me before that, but whether I was saved then, I guess I don't know. Now I know I have done what the Lord asked of me, and with the power of the Holy Spirit I can do abundantly more than I could in my own strength. I no longer doubt my salvation or rely on my feelings, but I trust the Lord and I know He's brought me to a place where I can learn more about Him and His will. I'm relieved.

Our Fellowship (The Revival Fellowship) has the same salvation message no matter where we visit in the country or world, and is like a huge family. Meeting s are always run in the same orderly manner, visitors welcomed and the Bible is open so the Lord can speak. We don't claim to be perfect or the only church following the Bible, but sadly realise many churches have a wishy washy salvation message and questionable standards. There are many sincere believers still yearning to be closer to the Lord, and I pray that they will find the answers they seek.

I could say a lot more about what the Lord has done for me, but I feel like I've gate-crashed, having read but not commented much or at all before, then saying all this at once! Hope this is ok.

Ganeida said...

Wow, Butterfly! That's amazing. I love hearing about how people grow into knowing the Lord. I think many of us stop/start/go round in circles a few times because so much of the teaching is a poor watered down version of the truth. It breaks my heart to see so many sincere Christians living 1/2 lives in Christ because of it.

The HoJo's said...

Surely as we grow older our experience becomes real in different ways, the more we realise we are growing? If we grow all the time then our belief grows with us. How do you put a date on that?


joyfulmum said...

I can't pinpoint a day or time. Grew up as a catholic, trying to "earn" my way to heaven by being miss goody goody (is that an Indian term lol) anyway, ykwim:) to cut a long story short, At 13 i started attending an aog church with some of my siblings because my mum got saved there a little while before. I started attending Sunday school and reading and studying the bible. Alas I realized I had it all wrong and salvation is about what Jesus did for me and not what I could do. Shortly after, I was baptized in water and started speaking in tongues. I know the dates for these but cannot tell you an exact date for the former. For me it was a gradual realization of what Jesus had done for me. I've never looked back and been in Pentecostal churches ever since. I am sure rhema would understand your story if you explained that???