I was raised in a Southern Baptist home. For most of my life, I was taught a hodgepodge of Extreme ("No sin, no matter how severe, can ever separate you from God") and Moderate ("If you do go back to your old life, it shows you were never really saved to begin with") OSAS [once saved always saved]. I gave my life to Jesus at camp when I was 10 or 11, and at the time, I meant it.
My parents divorced when I was a toddler. My mother re-married when I was 13 years old, and we moved to a new town out in the country. When we moved, we no longer attended church.
I didn't know anybody in my new town. Although I could be very outgoing at times, I felt very uncomfortable in my new school, and I made very few friends.
I had always fancied myself an aficionado of horror films. Ask me any question about any legend, monster or movie, and I could probably answer it. I frequently felt sorry for whatever creature happened to be "the monster" of the film, primarily because I felt so alone and outcast in my own life. This also crept into my spiritual life. I once read a science fiction novel called "The War Hound and the World's Pain," which was a story about how a now-penitent Lucifer employs a warrior to find the Holy Grail in an attempt to regain favor in God's eyes. So I guess you could say I even had "sympathy for the Devil," so to speak.
When I was 16, I purchased a book of "white" magic. I read through it, looking for "innocent" spells that I could cast. I remember being so infatuated with a boy once, that I drove out to a mangrove patch in the pouring rain to get a particular root that I needed for a love potion.
In the back of this book, there were some instructions on "black" magic. I had read another book on witchcraft that said that the first step to receiving power from Satan was to renounce Jesus Christ as your Savior. Even though my old church would have probably said "Once Saved, Always Saved," I still felt creepy and leery about it, so I kept clear of doing that.
Eventually, I gave up the witchcraft and didn't really believe in anything. Oh, I "believed" in Jesus, but you would never know it by my actions. I cussed like a sailor, watched X-rated movies. But even though I didn't act like a Christian, I was "SAVED" -- my church had taught me that. Eternal Security!
Years passed, and I met a man who would later become my husband. We had both been brought up to differing degrees within the Southern Baptist Church. We had sex before marriage. I got pregnant, and did not know what to do. I called my mother, who urged me to get an abortion. After all, who wants to be "fat" for your wedding? So I murdered my unborn child. But even though I didn't act like a Christian, I was "SAVED" -- my church had taught me that. Eternal Security!
My husband and I married. Within a few months, he became violent toward me. I left him for 6 months, moved back east, and started looking for a new husband. After all, if my mother could remarry after divorce and the church perform the service, why couldn't I? The new pastor of this church told me to go ahead and divorce my husband "because he had broken his vow to love me by beating me." My mother urged me to start dating a prominent single man in the church (who happened to be almost 10 years my senior). I hooked up with an old friend and I committed adultery with him. But even though I didn't act like a Christian, I was "SAVED" -- my church had taught me that. Eternal Security!
After months of counseling, my husband finally changed and I went back to him. We started looking for a church, but all we ever found were the spiritual equivalent "social clubs" where if you weren't in the "in" crowd, you weren't accepted. So we stopped going. After all, who needed hypocritical people when we had God and a Bible on our coffee table? We were "SAVED" -- our churches had taught us that. Eternal Security!
I located my natural father, and he moved out to California to be closer to me. He was a member of the Masons. When he died, I decided to honor his memory by becoming a member of Eastern Star. I went through the initiation ritual, which involved pretending to slit your throat, cut out your heart, and spill your intestines if you ever divulge the secrets of the Order. I thought that was creepy, but I did it anyway. I mean, who would actually KILL you for talking about weenie roasts at the State Fair? And besides, if it ever DID happen, if I WERE murdered, I knew I was going to Heaven, because I was "SAVED" -- my church had taught me that. Eternal Security!
We moved north after my husband got out of the service. We had a yard sale one weekend after we moved into our new house. Two women from a local Southern Baptist Church stopped by and invited us to come to their church. We accepted. We stayed there for years, and with a convicted and repentant heart (after hearing a Moderate OSAS sermon), I gave my life to Christ again and again, I meant it.
Eventually I renounced the Eastern Star. I wrote them a letter telling them that I was now a born-again Christian and could not be a member of a secret order. I threw away my father's Masonic Bible, and burned or smashed everything that had a Masonic affiliation or symbol. I remember burning my father's Masonic apron, which is made of kid leather. It made a horrible squealing sound and seemed to crawl into the corner of my fireplace as I said my renunciation in Jesus' Name.
One morning, we had a discussion in Sunday School about salvation. I said that I didn't believe we could LOSE our salvation, but that we could GIVE IT BACK by choosing to renounce Christ -- remember, unlike most people in my class, I had been a witch, and I knew! After a chorus of raucous "NOOOOOO!'s, my "error" was "explained" to me -- but the person "correcting" me did not cite scripture, but "a knowledgeable THEOLOGIAN!"
I went to the pastor assigned to my age division and asked him to explain things to me. But instead of giving me scripture, he gave me Charles Stanley's "Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?" to read. He told me that it explained the doctrine far better than he could, and if it helped me to answer my questions about OSAS I could keep it, but if it didn't, I was to return it.
I took the book home and began to read. I would be a liar if I said I wasn't EXTREMELY tempted to throw it in the fireplace when Stanley wrote that "outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth" is NOT hell, but a place in the kingdom of God! (So according to his "gospel," there is a place in the kingdom of God that evokes the same emotional response from believers as "the fiery furnace" does from unbelievers.) Really!
I got on my computer and typed in "Once Saved Always Saved." I decided that if I was going to make a decision, I would have to look at both sides of the argument. Solomon said in Proverbs 18:13 that "he who answers a matter without reading it brings shame and folly," and I did not want to be a shameful fool.
I looked at the OSAS sites. All of them took the same few verses and "read into" them whatever they wanted, and some of them didn't even match up to the others! I could not find the context that they were teaching in my Bible at all. So I looked for a non-OSAS site.
Evangelical Outreach, huh? Well, let's see ...
EO took HUGE passages of scripture and simply posted them. I was both ashamed and impressed -- impressed that there were HUNDREDS of verses teaching conditional security that God put right there in the Bible for me to read, and ashamed that I had not bothered to look for them myself. I began to pour over the website, hungering and thirsting desperately for the Word of God. I began underlining all the conditional security passages in my Bible with a pencil. The pages of my Bible turned gray from all the graphite.
I spoke to my Sunday School teacher. She said that it sounded like I was beginning to believe in a "works" salvation. I spoke to my pastor. He said -- and I laugh when I type this -- that "it sounds like you're angry." I said, "You're right I'm angry! It looks like I've been taught a lie my whole life!" He basically told me to pray some more.
I did pray. I prayed that God would forgive me for the sinful atrocities I committed while believing a false gospel, that He would strengthen me to "contend for the faith" according to Jude 3-4, and that my friends and family that were trapped in this false doctrine would eventually have their eyes opened to the TRUTH.
I went home and typed a 4-page, single-spaced letter to my pastor explaining why I was returning his book to him, why I no longer believed in OSAS, and why I could not "in good conscience" continue to be a member of a church that I knew was teaching a false gospel.
Before I had a chance to give it to him (and I did give it to him eventually), I met with a group of ladies that I used to teach in a discipleship class. I told them that I no longer believed in OSAS. They also tried "explaining" my "error" to me. I remember opening my Bible and quoting about 8 to 10 whole passages of scripture during the 2 hour conversation, whereas they only used 2 verses and a LOT of rhetoric. (That's one problem I consistently see from OSAS proponents. They take the small snippets their pastors give them from the pulpit and make entire doctrines out of them.) One of the women a former Mormon even went so far as to call me a "closet Mormon"!
Finally, when I saw I was getting nowhere with them, I decided to use the "acid test" that is posted on the EO website. I asked them, "Are you telling me that if I, as a married Christian woman, go out and sleep with the first man I see, that while I am in bed with him -- in the very ACT of adultery -- that God is not going to look at that sin, that He will only see the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ?" They all got sweet, condescending smiles on their faces and replied, "Well, YES!" My jaw dropped open and I cried, "WHAT?!"
I never went back there again. That was almost a year ago, shortly after Father's Day, 2000.
The people at EO were used by God to turn me back to Him. They showed me what God's Word says, WHERE it says it, and what His will is for my life. They helped me to find a sound, WHOLE Bible-teaching church (key word: WHOLE), and have given me love, support, and have discipled me according to the Word of God, and not according to doctrines of men. If it were not for their tangible faith by creating the EO website and publicly posting what the Word of God says (without editorializing it), I might still be believing "Once Saved, Always Saved," and I might be even more vile and wicked than I had been before.
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