I was stoned the first time I'd ever heard about Jesus. As I flipped through the television channels, I came across a man talking about this Jesus fellow who wanted to save me. "Save me?" I wondered. "What does that mean? Who would want to save me?"
If you knew me back them, you'd probably wonder that too. I grew up being physically and emotionally abused by my father. At thirteen, I left my home in Ontario and hitchhiked to Edmonton, 2500 miles away, where I lived in a cardboard box on top of a high rise building. To make money, I used to steal new books and records from department stores and sell them to resale shops -- at least I did that until I got caught. The police sent me back home to my mother, but by then, I became abusive and too hard for her to handle, so I left again.
At sixteen, I lied about my age and got a job as a bartender. A year later, I discovered my real calling, striptease dancing. I quickly moved my way up from dancing in small clubs in Canada to being part of Chippendale's in America. With them, I had it all: my pick of drugs, women, money. For over ten years, I was on top of the world, or so I thought. After that, the drugs and the wild lifestyle caused my world to topple.
Four years ago, I got a hold of a little Bible and started reading it, trying to find comfort from the drugs that were starting to make me sick. I'd go out and get stoned all day, then come home at night and search for a Bible verse. I'd never been to church, never knew anything about Jesus. I didn't know where to go or what to do. I felt sick and scared.
Around that time, I met Cheryl, my wife. Unlike me, she grew up in a loving home .... By the time we met, she was into the bar scene, drinking, smoking pot and making friends with all the male dancers.
On our first date, we stayed out until 3 a.m. as I usually did, and afterwards, Cheryl came back to my place for the night. In the morning, I remembered that an old friend had called the week before and invited me to church. I woke Cheryl up and asked, "Do you want to go to church?"
"Church?" she replied, and turned over to go back to sleep.
I started to go back to sleep too, but instead, found myself bolting out of bed, announcing, "Cheryl, we're _going_ to church."
I wish you could've seen us walk in that church. Months later, the pastor told us he thought maybe the circus was in town that weekend. We arrived late, smoked a joint in the parking lot, then tried to sneak in the back door. No such luck. As the door creaked open, 1200 pairs of eyes stared as we strutted in: Cheryl, in her tight, revealing dress and teased blond hair, and me, in my white Cavarichi suit, trademark permed curls down to my waist and white cowboy boots -- complete with spurs.
Although I didn't remember the message, Cheryl and I both remembered the love the people showed us. It wasn't like the phony love that we'd known in the bar world, this love was different. Many of them greeted us and invited us back. We felt they meant it too.
During the week, I kept up my regular life of stripping, doing drugs and partying, but on Sunday mornings, both Cheryl and I were in church. After a few weeks, we decided the very next Sunday we would give our lives to Jesus. We both wanted to make a clean start of our messed up lives and knew Christ was our only hope.
That Sunday morning the pastor spoke on John 3:3 and 3:16. It was as if he spoke directly to me when he said, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again."
As the choir sang "I've Got A Mansion Over The Hilltop," I knew the only way I'd ever see that mansion in heaven was to give my life to the One who gave His life for me. "He bore _(my)_ sin in His body on the tree." (1 Peter 2:24)
At that point, I realized there really was hope for someone like me. I didn't have to be good enough for God; I merely had to acknowledge my need for forgiveness and my utter dependence on Him for my salvation.
After the service, Cheryl and I sought out the pastor and asked him to pray with us. We confessed our sins to God and vowed to turn from the life we'd been living. I knew the first thing I had to do was quit dancing.
"Lord," I prayed, "I'll give two weeks notice, enough time for a good-bye tour, and then I'm all Yours." God, however, had other plans for me. That night, I went out to kick-start my motorcycle and hyperextended my leg, ending up in a full leg cast. No more dancing for me!
Once Cheryl and I began our new lives in Christ, we were like dry sponges, eager to soak up everything God had for us. We gave up the drugs, the alcohol, all our old friends, everything, and replaced them with Bible study and praying together. We even abstained from sex until after we had commited ourselves to each other in marriage and our marriage to God, a few months later.
I have to admit, being a Christian hasn't always been easy. Since I hadn't finished school, at first I couldn't find a good job. One night I even went back and danced, but once I got on stage, I hated every minute of it. I couldn't even accept tips -- I just wanted to get out and never look back.
After a series of odd jobs, Cheryl and I have ended up serving as youth pastors at our church. We're honest with the teens about our past. We tell them, "Christ came to save sinners." (1 Timothy 1:15) To me, that's good news because, if He came to save sinners, that means He came for _me_. He saved even me.
The true plan of salvation is repentance towards God and faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 20:21). We prove our repentance by our deeds (Acts 26:20). The Lord Jesus taught the road to life is "hard" and only a "few" will find it (Mt. 7:13,14, NKJV). Many get saved, but afterwards fall away (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 6:66; 1 Tim. 1:19; etc.). In other words, after initial salvation we must endure to the "end" to enter the kingdom of God and escape the lake of fire (Mt. 10:22; Heb. 3:14; Rev. 2:10,11). Eternal life comes to the repentant the moment such believe on Jesus for salvation (Jn. 3:16; 6:47; 1 Jn. 5:12,13), but there is another important aspect of eternal life that many are totally unware of in our day because of the false teaching of eternal security. According to true grace teaching, eternal life is also a HOPE (Titus 3:7), yet to be REAPED (Gal. 6:8,9) in the AGE TO COME (Mk. 10:30) for only the ones who PERSIST IN DOING GOOD (Rom. 2:7) and DO NOT GROW WEARY AND GIVE UP (Gal. 6:9).
If a saved person sows to please his sinful nature he'll die spiritually (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 6:8,9). The prodigal is a clear example of this (Lk. 15:24,32). The end result of sin is spiritual death, so DO NOT BE DECEIVED (James 1:14-16). For more information regarding the believer's security, see our what's new page. Our 801 page book, The Believer's Conditional Security, is the most exhaustive and comprehensive refutation to eternal security ever written. It will not be refuted!
Because of the teaching of once saved always saved, grace has been taught as a license for immorality for so long, and without challenge, that when Scripture is quoted, such as 1 Cor. 6:9,10 or Rev. 21:8, it is disregarded, and the giver of God's Word is falsely accused of teaching legalism, bondage, works, etc. This reflects how truly dark are the days in which we live! Take the ACID TEST.
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