Almost Ended Up in Hell

Working the midnight shift while my wife worked evenings and after I put my three children to bed I would watch TV. Clicking through the channels I came across Billy Graham preaching in a crusade. I was fascinated as I listened. Each night I would watch and listen and it became personal.

One night while driving to work I poured my soul out to God. Don’t remember the exact words but two things I clearly remember. I was a failure. A sinner of sinners. No way had I lived up to what God expected of me. Not knowing what to believe any more, I decided and said, from now on I was going to believe everything Jesus the Christ ever said. I trusted Him and Him only.

I had an immediate problem. I really did not know much of what He ever said. Never owning a Bible and certainly never reading one I was in a quandary. However I truly meant what I had said to God and had a deep desire to find out everything Jesus ever said.

Having been brought up Roman Catholic with 12 years of Catholic religious schooling I was as ignorant as one could be about Jesus. I had married a Methodist girl and remembered she had a Bible. Being a die hard Catholic who perfectly fit the mold of “once a Catholic, always a Catholic,” I decided to find her Bible. I remember when we were first married and I saw her Bible I was not pleased because it was not Catholic but a King James Bible.

After my wife went to work I hunted and found her Bible. Reading every chance I could get, I was amazed. So much different than the things I had been taught in school. But guess what? I believed what I was reading. When I decided to believe everything Jesus ever said, for me, it excluded everything else. Suddenly without realizing it, I was no longer a Catholic.

Now having a desire to attend church I was baffled as where to go. My younger sister who had been a nun left the Catholic church and though I had prior made fun of her and often criticized, I called her on the phone and told her I had an experience that caused me to want to attend a church somewhere. I had no idea where she went but she invited me to her church. What kind of church is it, I asked? A Baptist church she replied. Quickly I told her I was not going to become a Baptist. Just come Sunday and check it out she said.

Thinking about it, with no other church service in mind I asked my wife to go with me to church that Sunday.

My wife, 3 kids and I went to the Baptist church. I had become so in love with the Bible I was ready to strike out at any false teaching. Now here is what happened:

As I walked into the church I was completely shocked. Why? Everyone was carrying a Bible. I had never seen this before and as I had said earlier, I had never owned a Bible. I guess my wife and I were the only ones attending who were not carrying a Bible. I was hooked from the start.

More than that, the Preacher had no fancy robe on. After singing some congregational songs the Preacher stood in the Pulpit and Preached the Bible. Stunned does not adequately describe my reaction.

Walking out of church the Preacher was shaking folks hands and pulled me aside. Somehow I knew he was up to no good. Can I come visit you during the week he said? What was my smart alec reply?  Yes, but I’m not going to become a Baptist.

Thursday evening came and up walks the Preacher with a Deacon at his side. I was ready for them. The preacher ask me to tell how I came to Christ. I explained but again reminded him that my loyalty was now to Christ and I was not going to become a Baptist.

Though I had never studied the doctrine of baptism and was baptized as a baby, I had a deep desire to be baptized now that I had become a believer. I told the Preacher the only reason I agreed for him to visit me is I wanted to ask if he would baptize me.

That Sunday I was baptized along with my wife.

The night I came to Christ I knew very little. I had no idea I had got born again and was now headed on the road leading to Heaven. All these things I learned later as I studied my Bible and was taught in church.

As I began to grow as a Christian I had many shaky moments. I was 28 years of age and worked in the furnace department of a steel foundry. I remember as I was shoveling sand into the furnace I told God the I believed Him. And if I did not mean it enough the night I came to Christ I wanted Him to know that I mean it now.

Am I a Baptist now? Yes, ever since the first time I walked inside a Baptist church. My younger brother is my Pastor and the story of my brother is a miracle in itself and perhaps some day soon I will tell the story.

A few days ago I read a post that went something like this. What is one thing you will regret when this life is over? Quickly I answered. Not being nearly as good a Christian as I should have been.

Often at church we sing the song Amazing Grace by John Newton. One quote by Newton sticks forever in my mind. Nearing death Newton said: “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior.”

Oh my that is so true of this poor sinner. A sinner for sure but a forgiven sinner. Not because I am a good person. Not because I am not as bad as some. But only because I came to Christ. He get ALL the credit. I get none. He is the Saviour, the ONLY Saviour.

Now I beg you. If you have never yet come to Christ, do it now. Never will you regret doing so. He is a wonderful Saviour and I recommend Him Highly. More later as I recall…….

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