“Measure The Cost” -- Bob's Story

“Take one step toward me, and I’ll blow your brains out!” I shouted, staring over the sights of my pistol. His eyes widened. The guy I’d been trying to help moments before had violently grabbed me by my jacket, screaming threats at me. I’d struggled free and was running toward my apartment when he started catching up with me. In desperation, I drew my gun and spun around, aiming directly between his eyes. I gave him three choices: Step toward me and be shot, wait for the police, or leave. After a moment of deliberation, he backed off, and slowly walked away.

I breathed a sigh of relief, then turned my pistol sideways, staring at the trigger and wondering how close I’d come to killing him--a mere quarter-inch or so. Given the chance, would he have really killed me? The fragility of life struck me, and suddenly I realized that I was not sure about my own eternal destiny. That needed to change. It was late--maybe 11:30 or so, but I had to call the pastor of the church I had recently started attending.

“Pastor, I don’t know where I would have gone tonight if he had killed me,” I told him in a midnight call. Little did I know, my terrifying experience that night was God taking me the last step to salvation.

I’d been running from God for several years. As a teenager in church I’d struggled with depression and disappointment. Satan even used God’s word to deceive me about salvation. In Luke 8:48, Jesus told a woman, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” I often wondered if I had the “right kind” of faith, or “enough” faith. But how could I know? I always wondered if I was really saved.

I’d grown up in a strict church, proud of its separation from America’s 1960’s and ‘70’s culture. I’d even been vice-president of the church’s youth group. One Sunday morning I asked my Sunday school teacher whether Jesus could have sinned, seeing He was completely human. The teacher ate me alive, humiliating me in front of the class. A few weeks later his teenage daughter played the piano for the morning service wearing a skirt that came slightly above her knees. After the service I heard two older women, supposedly pillars of our church, standing in a hallway gossiping about the girl’s attire.

I went home from church that night wondering what to believe. I’d read in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” After what I’d seen and heard in my church, I wondered, was Christianity for real? And if Christianity wasn’t the truth, then what was the truth? Confused and angry, I stopped going to church and became an agnostic, believing in a God, but not in Christianity. That began my seven-year-long retreat from God.

I soon turned eighteen and graduated from high school. The Vietnam War was going on with no end in sight. That August, I was contacted by Selective Service and told I’d have to serve. My college plans evaporated, and my world turned upside down. I decided to join the U.S. Coast Guard. There, I felt I could do something good for people, saving lives instead of taking them. Four years were split between Hawaii, Florida and in Hawaii, I read Thomas Paine’s, “The Age of Reason”, and became a deist. As long as I didn’t have to think about God and eternity, I was fine.

But that night, as my sweaty hands gripped the pistol, thoughts of a life after this swept back over me. Did my sour experiences in church prove that Christianity wasn’t true? Did “The Age of Reason” prove the Bible was false? I realized my past had filled me with an anger that had blinded me to truth. Now, I knew I could not run from that truth any longer. If I did, it would cost my soul.

I walked into the pastor’s office the next morning. I already knew the Biblical “plan of salvation”. I’d heard it many times before, and had even shared it with others. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory (perfection) of God.” I didn’t need a voice from heaven telling me that I had sinned. I was painfully aware of that. I also knew the penalty for my sin--“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) -- separation of body and soul in the grave, and separation from God for eternity in a hell created for Satan and his rebellious angels. But I also knew there was hope. Romans 5:8 explains that God loved us so much that He gave His Son (Jesus) to pay the fine for our sins on a painful Roman cross with His perfect blood. And He wasn’t holding back His salvation from me until I had the “right kind" of faith, or “enough” faith. Romans 10:13 assured me that “whosoever (even me) shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

At last, I realized my salvation wasn’t based on keeping my child-hood church’s standards, or being a good person. And it wasn’t a matter of believing hard enough, but simply accepting God’s free gift. That morning I prayed to God, telling Him that I believed Jesus paid for my sins with His blood and rose again, and I asked Him to forgive me and be my Lord and Savior. And He did! How about you? Have you accepted Christ’s complete payment for your sins and His free gift of eternal life?

If not, then please read the Scriptures below. If you are convinced of their truth, then receive God’s pardon and eternal life, just as I did. You don’t have to wonder for years about your eternal destiny. 1 John 5:13 is God’s promise that you can “know that you have eternal life.”

Verses from Gods’ Word to Consider

  • Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
  • Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • Matthew 25:41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
  • Revelation 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
  • Romans 5:8But God commendeth [proved] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
  • 1 John 5:13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

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Faith Independent Baptist Church