I am a sinner. (I am a sinner).
Forgive me of my sins. (Forgive me of my sins).
I believe Jesus is the Son of God. (I believe Jesus is the Son of God).
Please come into my heart. (Please come into my heart).
Welcome to the Kingdom! You’re in!
That was it? Age 6. I was in?
No. I was fooled. For years I was fooled. I tried to read my bible; I failed. I tried to pray at night; I fell asleep. I tried to honor my parents; I turned my back on them.
I was evil. Broken. And still SEPARATED from my Father.
I have come to understand that word (separated) a little more now. It’s not something I climbed over when I prayed THE prayer. It’s not something I rinsed off my skin when I got baptized two years later. And it’s definitely not something I walked off when I mindlessly walked down the church aisle. The separation was complete, and there was nothing I could do about it- no matter how hard I tried.
And I did try. For 13 years I tried. Until eventually I realized it was all a lie. My entire life had been a lie. I never loved God; I loved myself. I never wanted to praise His name for all eternity; I didn’t want to go to hell. I didn’t want to make Him known; I wanted Him to make me happy.
So I left the only god I’d ever known.
And I entered into the arms of Jesus. He was the one who helped me understand the depth of what separated me from Him. I was not just an innocent girl who kept struggling with sin; I was a sinner who couldn’t do or think anything but sin. It was my sense of being. My every desire. My will. (Rom. 3:10-18)
But God changed my will. He saw me heading toward destruction and said, “You’re mine.” It wasn’t until this point that I truly saw God for the first time. After experiencing His grace, I longed to please Him. To have thought I could overcome that separation on my own is absurd. I cannot seek to change my own will whenever my will only seeks evil. I didn’t want what was good. And I didn’t want Him. Fortunately, He wanted me.
He did not want me for my amazing personality (shocking, right?). He wanted me despite who I really am so that I would make much of who He truly is. Christianity is not about how the God of the universe can serve man; it’s about giving up everything you once knew to serve a King who sustains all you could ever desire.
I say these things to explain my decision to be baptized again. Salvation, prayer, baptism- all of these are spiritual matters. They only stand true when done through the Godhead, Himself. No thought, action or word can be brought to life without the initiative being from God (John 6:63). There was no salvation until God transformed my will. There was no true prayer until the Holy Spirit spoke life into my words. And it was not baptism until I was given a heart of repentance and was shown the significance and beauty of being risen with Christ (Acts 19:4).
So why are so many, like myself, misled? “Just believe and you’re in!” But what is true belief? Who brings true belief? The problem was not that I wasn’t trying hard enough. The problem was that any type of belief I could muster up on my own is a disgrace to the Savior and Creator of the world. No matter how hard I tried, I was separated from Him. True Christianity is unlike any other religion; God comes down. He comes down because we are unable to reach for Him. Any attempt can only be for selfish gain. That is easy to accept when considering God’s work in the past… but today, with me, those decisions are mine. However, God’s Word says otherwise (John 1:13).
Any man can say, “I believe in God.” Even the demons believe in God (James 2:19). But only God, Himself, can bring a soul to life. Anything less is simply fooled people following a religion formed by men. This is the god I served for 13 years. The god who only shows love and didn’t care that I wasn’t following him. The god who stepped outside of the Bible and simply desired the sinner’s prayer (stated above) to be repeated in order to reach heaven. The god who could be persuaded by men so that the king of the universe might do what we want.
But that is not the God of the Bible.
Although the God of the Bible is loving beyond my understanding (look at the cross), He is also perfectly severe and holy (look at the cross). He is not OK with His name being mocked while “Christians” live how they want and only seek God when they need something. We are called to take up our cross- to die (Luke 9:23). Oh, and the sinner’s prayer- there is no such prayer in the Bible. God is not simply capable of accepting a wish when “good” people ask for mercy; He is ferociously invading the lives of sinners who hate Him and smiling as they fall on their knees.
So I say all of this to tell of the grace my God has shown me; not to share the decision that I have made to follow Him. HE saved me when I didn’t want or even know I needed saving. HE changed my heart to find joy in His name rather than in this world. And HE rose with me out of the waters that represent my new will that now shadows His. To Him be all the glory.