My mother raised her four daughters in a liberal ‘Christian’ Church, which is similar to the Disciples of Christ. Dad never attended because church folks had made fun of him as poorly dressed when he was young. We got rewards for good attendance such as lapel pins and were taught to memorize the names of the books of the Bible. We attended Christian church camp for a week every Summer where we had the opportunity to be baptized in the swimming pool. Eventually around the age of 10-12 we were baptized, as it was a commonly expected practice. I remember being solemn afterwards, thinking I should feel different, and somehow closer to God. But I only felt wet and the religious feelings soon dissipated.
After baptism we were called to the front of the church to now be recognized as members and to receive our own King James Bible, which was very hard to read and understand and so it was basically ignored. Sometimes the pastor would baptize a person in the front of the Christian church in the baptistry. After baptism we were allowed to partake in communion every Sunday, which was an important ritual in this church.
We believed that once you were baptized you were forgiven and good to go. We thought since salvation was a free gift that everyone automatically received it, just as if your parents would give you a gift at Christmas. It was then yours forever. This is a form of the heresy of eternal security though we didn’t hear it in those words. Repentance, holy living and serving God were never emphasized in this liberal 'Christian' church. The big thing was being baptized and having something nice to wear for Easter.
My older sister had a boyfriend in this church, but when they had a fight and he came barging into our house causing a ruckus, my sister broke up with him. My mother never took us back to church.
One of my sisters got pregnant out of wedlock and married at the age of 14. Later she turned to chronic adultery and became a persistent liar but still felt she was okay with God, since she was baptized as a young girl.
We were all basically taught a social gospel -- mental assent to the historical facts about the person of Jesus. We never prayed alone or as a family. When the minister came to the door, no one answered.
I fell into a life of gross sin and rebellion. Though I got sick with great pain in my abdomen, I kept drinking alcohol because it numbed the pain for awhile. I blamed everyone, even God, for my problems. I hated life and thought there was no truth, no love and no hope. At a desperately low point, I began to clutch my old KJ Bible to my chest, not even knowing how to pray. (It’s a miracle that neglected Bible was not lost in my move across the country and back.) Finally I fell on my face before God and cried profusely, telling him what a sinner I was and that it was my fault. I came up off that floor a different person, and the heavy load was lifted. Things were drastically changed! I prayed, “Lord, I don’t even know the 10 commandments!” When I unzipped my Bible, amazingly it fell open to the 10 commandments! It seemed like Jesus was right there in the dank dark basement with me and I had to keep opening my eyes while praying to see if it was him. Something would startle me during the night and I’d wake up saying, “Lord is that you?” When I walked outside during the night looking up at the vast expanse of stars, it was as if I had a direct lifeline to God -- this holy God who had seemed far away when I was young. I had thought he was too busy to be concerned about my small problems.
The gracious Lord Jesus set me free from all my sin addictions, including cigarettes, and even healed my physical body! He gave me the truth, love, joy, peace and hope that I had always longed for. He gave me a reason to live, though I prayed, “Lord why do I have to stay here? Why can’t I come to be with you?” But God knew better and had other things in mind.
I was amazed to learn of a whole other world of religious people that existed without my knowledge. During those dark years, no one had ever witnessed to me or given me a gospel tract. I did not know one Christian on the planet and went back to the dead, dry ‘Christian’ church where I was raised. It hadn’t changed a bit. When I asked about joining, the prominent elder said, “You were baptized. You’re already a member.”
Pressure from my boozing co-workers and no Christian fellowship or teaching helped me, unfortunately, to soon fall away, though I didn’t completely stop seeking truth. Not knowing where to get help, I began to ask for pamphlets from Herbert Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God since I had many questions and it seemed they had a booklet for every subject. Their appealing message of a second chance after death took me further off guard and helped me relax back into sin even more. Later I learned that this group is a cult so I wrote them a letter telling them the truth, but never heard back.
I had written my family members several letters about the Lord Jesus, and went to talk to my mother about the wonderful things that had happened to me, thinking they would be happy. But her comment was, “If it’s about religion, I don’t want to hear it!” My older sister’s third ‘husband’ told me I was self-righteous and also told her, “You believe in Jesus. You’re all right.” The Bible says, if you claim to know Jesus but don’t obey him you’re a liar and the truth is not in you (1 Jn 2:4). I wrote her a greeting for one of her birthdays and included Luke 18:13 and 14 which state, “The one who prayed, ‘God have mercy on me a sinner’ went home justified.” She wrote back never to contact her again with my religious gibberish. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. This was not good fruit from one who was supposed to believe in Jesus. Several decades later when I almost died, she was the only sister who didn’t even contact me.
Another sister told me it’s okay to believe in God, but don’t go overboard. She wanted the old me back, when I was a sinner. When she got married the first time, she didn’t want God mentioned in the ceremony. Her marriage lasted six months. She later became very antagonistic towards me and tried to keep me from sharing the gospel anymore with my ailing parents. By doing that, she heaps up her sins to the limit according to 1 Thess 2:16.
When the company I worked for went out of business, I lost my job and therefore my nice apartment. No one in my family offered to let me stay with them except one sister who let me stay for one month. (May it not be held against them.) They did nothing, not even give a dollar, for the least of Jesus’ family (Mt 25:41-46). Thankfully a widow woman let me stay at her house for several months until I got my car paid off and then could afford an apartment in a poor part of town with my unemployment checks. It was a very hard time, but I never went hungry. I finally found a job for half of what I had been making. In faith, I began tithing and somehow the bills always got paid.
After I got saved, I put Bible verses on the bottom of the score sheets that were passed out to all the women in our bowling league. One of the women there kept after me to come to a Bible study she was attending. I ran into this woman everywhere and she kept asking me to come, so finally I did. The first thing the pastor said was, “Praise the Lord!” This person was different! He had spiritually vibrant life in him and his enthusiasm was contagious. Finally, I got grounded in the truth of God’s word under his no compromise ministry. I sought God earnestly, turned from sin again and received true Christian baptism. It has been a great blessing to serve Jesus now for decades and a better life cannot be had, despite the persecutions and severe tests which have come. Eventually I sent a refutation of baptismal regeneration to the liberal ‘Christian’ church members where I was raised to prove to them that baptism saves no one. None responded.
My advice for all is to turn from sin, stop doing your own wicked thing and begin to serve God. Prove your repentance by your deeds. Obey the Holy Bible because your eternal destiny hinges on what you do with that message. Follow Jesus until death and heaven will be your eternal home. Know that you have a very real spiritual enemy who wants you damned to hell and will never give up trying to tempt you away from God. He has 10,000 methods to mislead you into deception or sin and they have to be resisted. We must endure to the end for salvation (Mt 10:22, Heb 3:14). God bless you.
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