Once I opened up Spurgeon's book on prayer, and read a short ways in, I came upon this:
"I would ask anyone here who has found Christ to bear witness that God heard his prayer. I do not believe that among the damned in Hell there is one who dares say, 'I sought the Lord and He rejected me.' There shall not be found, at the last day of account, one single soul that can say, 'I knocked at Mercy's door, but God refused to open it.' There shall not stand before the Great White Throne a single soul that can plead, "O Christ, I would have been saved by You, You would not save me! I gave myself up into Your hands, but You did reject me. I penitently asked for mercy of You, but I had it not.' Everyone that asks receives. It has been so until this day-- it will be so till Christ Himself shall come. If you doubt it try it and if you have tried it try it again."
I knew God was speaking to me when I read this. Those were my exact thoughts. Thoughts I hadn't expressed to anyone but answers to those thoughts I was desperately searching for. And then again:
"Do you feel yourself as if you were shut out from God altogether? --that matter not, either-- 'knock, and it shall be opened unto you, for everyone that asks receives.' "
My constant feelings of this wall between me and God were acknowledged and told to ignore and press forward. Who could know this was an issue for me but God? Spurgeon continued, posing that some of us might be saying this:
" 'I have been crying to God a long while for salvation. I have asked, I have sought and I have knocked, but it has not come yet.' "
My long agony and constant begging was acknowledged. It was as if he was speaking to me directly. As I realized this was all applying to me, I wanted to know what the answer to my issues were though. Why had I never been saved all those days I had asked?
"Now you have been asking God to save you--do you expect Him to save you without your believing . . . ? "
It was here I realized that I believed in the resurrection of Jesus and that he and God were one. I believed it, but I didn't believe I would be saved- God wouldn't save me. I just knew it. That was my issue. Spurgeon continued:
"But how am I to know that I am saved?" asked one. God says, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." Have you believed? . . .If so, you are saved. How do I know that? On the best evidence in all the world --God says you are-- do you need an evidence but that? 'I want to feel this.' Feel! Are your feelings better than God's witness? . . . I have no evidence this day that I dare trust in concerning my salvation but this -- that I rest on Christ alone with all my heart, soul, and strength.
Every time I had prayed, I had waited on a feeling, hoping I would feel saved. But I began to realize that feelings account for nothing. You can feel good about sin, but that doesn't make it okay. Feelings change so often. As I continued on, he said:
'I have asked for faith,' says one. Well, what do you mean by that? To believe in Jesus Christ is the gift of God, but it must be your own act as well. . . . You must believe for yourself or be lost! Trust in Him and you are saved, and your prayer is answered!
And I realized that's what had hindered me all this time. My disbelief. And my reliance upon feeling some magical way once I finished praying- hoping to have warm fuzzies inside. That's not what has to happen though in order to be saved.
So that very day when I finished reading the chapter, I prayed for the last time for salvation. I was tired of my habitual sins. I desperately wanted a new heart. And I finally believed God's Word about salvation. And no, I didn't experience magical feelings, but I knew in my heart this time that salvation had come to me. I knew God had heard, and I noticed a difference in my viewpoint of life automatically. The fears I had about death were gone. I wasn't the least bit concerned about catching the virus from this pandemic. I wasn't worried about flying anymore. In fact, that's one of the first things I thought of- finally flying because I no longer was afraid to die in a plane crash. If I died, I died. No loss. I had finally been assured of my salvation- for twenty years I had doubted, and it was gone! All of a sudden. No more doubts. No more fears.
I held back sharing my testimony for awhile because I wanted to see evidence of my salvation and behold fruit as confirmation because feelings don't define truth. God has revealed so many things to me and even now has required me to give up things I never would have imagined. I am thankful for my salvation and have no regrets. I am thankful for Spurgeon and Pink's life who helped lead me to salvation, but most of all my parents who knew I was lost and prayed constantly for me. I don't doubt that it was perhaps hours every week for quite some time. I'm thankful for their persistent prayers. I am thankful that God drew me to Him by using these four individuals to bring me to Christ. I cannot imagine living my life deceived and saying ending up in hell, being one of those saying, "Lord but didn't we do all these things in your name?" and His response with, "I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of iniquity." What an awful end that would have been. Perhaps you are like I was- deceived. Consider your salvation carefully. Consider your fruits. Are they real? I wish all who are deceived would come to know the truth. There's salvation for you too.
I was recently saved a few weeks ago after being deceived for many years about my profession of faith at ten. Although my parents didn't become believers until I was nine or even start attending church until then, the majority of my life I was in church and did what I was told to. And I do want to say that I believe it is extremely difficult for children who come from a Christian background to actually come to Christ- more difficult than for those in the world.
I say this because we can spit out Bible verses and knowledge about why we believe in what we do, but we can't understand the extent of our sin. I make a blanket statement because it's something I noticed for the majority of second generation "Christians" who are most likely deceived into believing they have a real faith, like I was, but don't. Because these second generation kids grew up doing things the "right" way, they have no way to fully understand how offensive their sin is- they can know it in their mind but not feel it in their heart. There's typically no guilt because we tend to think that we're not as a bad as the alcoholic, drug user, or sexually immoral. We've never ventured out to do those taboo sins, so the guilt we feel over "lesser" sins is typically non-existent.
Jesus wrote two parables about us. The prodigal son parable mirrors our parents who were deeply engrossed in sin but repented. The brother who had always been with the father and was upset at the celebration over his brother is us who have grown up in a Christian home and have no understanding of our sin. We've never had a celebration because we aren't saved. We consider ourselves righteous and in need of nothing because we have always done what God would expect from us.This concept is also mirrored in Luke 7, with the parable of the two debtors. The first was deep in debt to the moneylender, equivalent to a deeply excessive sinful lifestyle, while the other was in debt but not as much. The one who was forgiven of his excessively sinful lifestyle felt extreme gratitude while the other did not because he could not comprehend that his sin was just as bad. Jesus spoke this to the righteous Pharisee who had the same attitude. It takes a deep unveiling to remove that blinder from our eyes to see the truth.
This was my very problem. I didn't understand my sin with my heart- I felt like I hadn't really done much wrong- I just knew in my heart that it was wrong to commit sin and that God disapproved of it. Beyond that was a mystery to me.
About a year ago I had considered leaving the faith and the ramifications of that. But at that point in time, strangely, I assumed that line of thinking was due to my lack of Bible reading and praying, which was non-existent at that time. Three months later, I came to the conclusion that I was actually lost because I had no guilt over sin or conviction over it. My profession of faith as a ten year old had no idea of the gravity of sin, and I knew that one could not come to Christ without acknowledging that. It was at that point in time that I made a decision I would never abandon the faith, and I would pursue salvation until I received it.
My main concern was that I had no grief over my sin. I didn't understand it. If I wanted to be saved at that moment, I couldn't be because I was lacking that one thing. Why would God decline that ability from me when I wanted it? So I prayed everyday for salvation and for remorse. I felt nothing for a long time. And then the night terrors began. I'd wake up in the middle of the night upset over the weight of my sin and how I couldn't get out of that cycle. It felt like a literal burden. Every day I'd attempt to do better, and everyday I would fail. So every night I'd be upset about my sin. I still didn't feel like I understood sin though as I wasn't in tears over my sin, which isn't a necessity, but once again, I had deluded myself into thinking I needed to feel something more.
As I prayed for my salvation on a regular basis, I sought out books on salvation to help me understand what I was doing wrong because I'd pray and not feel saved, as if it didn't work. And nothing was working, and I was scared. I felt a barrier between God and I that I could not pass through no matter how hard I tried. I started to become like those people famous reformers and pastors talked about in the congregation that believed God didn't want to save them and would not. They were not the chosen. And I firmly began to believe that. I was in earnest- desperate to find God.
So I went to the Christian giants of our faith because they knew something about salvation and spoke words about it that I knew were truth. They didn't sugar coat how to be saved. They said it like it was. And I knew they could guide me when nobody else could. I read a book on salvation, actually two, by A.W. Pink, which confirmed I was not saved because I hadn't experienced guilt over my sin- which is something the majority of preachers today will not tell you. It's misleading many into hell. You cannot simply believe in Jesus or be saved in a moment whenever you feel like it. That's not how it works. You come to God begging and pleading- just as the Bible says that people take the Kingdom of God by force and that it comes with great wrestling.
Despite this acknowledgement, it still didn't usher forth my salvation, or so I thought. And this concerned me even more. I didn't think I would ever be saved, but I kept trying. One day I happened upon a collection of Spurgeon's books. I had loved his quotes and felt like perhaps I should see what he had to say about salvation. Instead of finding a book on that though, I stumbled upon his book on prayer and thought, well it doesn't say salvation, but I'll read it anyway. It ended up initially being about salvation. And every thought I had had for the past few weeks mulling around in my mind was answered. It was like God was speaking to me through that book . . . .