Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blessed re-birthday

Thirty-six years ago today marked the moment when the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart came to fruition in my conversion. On that day, I called on Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior; and He's kept me lo these many years.

I relate the story at more length here. In 1973, the eleventh of February was on a Sunday. It had been raining, and clouds scudded across the sky. I attended Van Nuys Baptist with the Christian friend who had been witnessing to me. The Holy Spirit had performed a good deal of battering and demo work to bring me to the point where I would listen to a friend's witness without reflexively arguing and dismissing, and would go listen to a Gospel sermon.

And did I hear? I'd say I had no choice! I wish I could remember the content better, but in that large congregation, it was as if Pastor Harold Fickett knew me and had read my journals. It was as if he were talking only to me. The Word of God bore in on my heart and virtually nailed me to my pew. Offered the opportunity to talk with someone about how to know Christ, I leapt for it.

Everything changed for me that day, because everything changed in me. I shall never forget it. I saw Christ as the One I needed to atone for my sins and repair the irreparable breach between God and me (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). I saw Him as the One I needed to be my Lord and my life. I saw His Word to be the light and guide I needed to steer me from my idiotic delusions and set my feet on a rock. I had an immediate sense of relief, a sense of "Ahh, that's it; I'm home."

In fact, as I often say, one of the first huge changes was that someone came by my house and stole that boring, dead, stale, irrelevant old Bible-thing, and put in its place a book that was electric, compelling, powerful, and addressed to me. I devoured it, on my knees, grateful and hungry.

Conviction of sin was so keen and real and devastating, that I felt sure I'd fall away within days, if I could even hang on that long. I never thought I could last. I read the Parable of the Soils, and saw myself in all the bad soils. Only. Every warning filled me with dread. I clung hard and pled earnestly and learned to look to Jesus only.

I knew people would fail me, and I wasn't wrong. I knew I would fail, and I 'way wasn't wrong. But I knew Jesus would remain Jesus — and, thank God, I wasn't wrong about that, either.

And after all, Jesus is why I became a Christian. It was all about Jesus, and my need for Him. It was because He was true, His Word was true, all of it. I accepted the OT, and it was because of Him; same with the NT. He saw the Bible as God's Word, I saw Him as Lord, and so I saw the Bible as He saw it. No one from Fuller or a hundred other seminaries was there to lay out sophisticated ways to be smarter than Jesus (I speak as a fool) about the Bible.

And here it is, thirty-six years later. Thirty-six years of feeling no confidence in myself, but looking to Jesus alone to keep me. He has, and I praise Him. It's not always been with soaring joy and assurance — but thank God that it isn't feelings of assurance that save. It's Jesus who saves.

I look back with regrets beyond counting, and mercies beyond number. But one thing I never regret: that God chose me in eternity past (Ephesians 1:3f.), and sovereignly moved in my life to give me new birth and faith in Christ; and that He has kept His word faithfully — and thus, to His mercy alone and His praise alone and His glory alone, has kept me.

To Him all the praise and glory!
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)


JackW said...

Happy re-birthday Dan!

Mine happens to fall on the same day as my other birthday.

Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras said...

Happy day my friend!

Daniel said...

I was just going to read the meta, but my word verification word was:


I thought that significant.

SolaMommy said...

Happy Re-birthday!!! :-D

Michelle said...

I relate to that sense of relief and of coming "home" when He gave me spiritual life and everything changed in me and for me.

I remember hearing the gospel and knowing without a shadow of a doubt, with every fibre of my being, that it was true. The knowledge and weight of my sin was more than I could bear. No-one had to convince or persuade me with tricks or theatrics to "invite Jesus into my heart".

Indeed the gospel is the power of God unto salvation!

Bill Honsberger said...

Happy Birthday Dan! I got you by a month (Jan 10 1973) I had moved from Tarzana to Dallas for my senior year and got saved there. But I did visit Van Nuys Baptist when I came back to visit my mom's family.
Praise the Lord that He can amazingly save socal kids!
Bill Honsberger

Stefan said...

Happy re-birthday, Dan.

Your testimonial has a special place in my heart, because Part 3 of it on Team Pyro was the very first thing I read, the day I discovered that blog. And that I did on Febuary 20, 2007, less than four weeks after I, too, was reborn in Christ.

For me—an atheist Jew—it was a sermon on Romans 11:16-24 that brought me to repentance, but specifically it was a quote during that sermon from Ezekiel 37. When I heard verses 5 to 6, I felt as if God were speaking directly to me.

Amazing what the Holy Spirit can do through the faithful preaching of Jesus Christ through the Word of the Lord God, Yahweh, our Father!

Stefan said...

By the way,

"He saw the Bible as God's Word, I saw Him as Lord, and so I saw the Bible as He saw it."

Is brilliant!

Barbara said...

Happy Re-Birthday! It is mine, as well: One year ago today, I fell at the feet of God in utter resignation, prepared for anything and fully expecting destruction, yet still trusting in His wisdom to know and do what was best even if that included my destruction; not realizing that what He was going to do would represent the greatness of his miraculous works and His glory, grace, and mercy. It was a beginning of the birth, and what a glorious gift He gives us - His own Son!

Amazing love. Amazing Grace. Happy Birthday, brother.

Connie said...

Rejoicing with you!!!!

Tim said...

My nearly-11yo son will be celebrating his FIRST reBirthday on Friday, in a total repudiation of the notion that only Bad Things happen on the 13th. :-)

Julie said...

Happy re-birthday.

Joy, joy, joy!

Rachael Starke said...

Happy ReBirthday indeed, brother.

"He saw the Bible as God's Word, I saw Him as Lord, and so I saw the Bible as He saw it. No one from Fuller or a hundred other seminaries was there to lay out sophisticated ways to be smarter than Jesus (I speak as a fool) about the Bible.

Wow. That'll preach, or publish, or something. Seriously great thought...

Susan said...

After a terrible struggle with sin yesterday, I once again experienced the power and peace that only Christ can give. There's absolutely no mistaking it.

Praise God for giving us all (limitedly) re-birthdays! (You have a good one and many happy returns, Dan.)

Anonymous said...

Happy Re-b-day!!!

Rita Martinez said...

Happy re-birthday Mr. Phillips!!

"I devoured it, on my knees, grateful and hungry."
"Conviction of sin was so keen and real and devastating,"

I remember the first few weeks after having been saved and reading in my Reina Valera that a neighbor had given to me after I told her I was saved, I found out that everything that the Bible said was an abomination to the Lord I had done and I just remember thinking horrified "and Christ still chose to die on that cross to save me!??" Amazing Grace indeed...

Sam said...

Happy New Birthday, Mr. Phillips!

As a boy raised by Christians in the church, I could never point to the exact moment of my regeneration and salvation. This often leads to a shaking of my own assurance. Thankfully, my salvation doesn't depend upon the strength of my faith but on the object of that faith: the One True Rock, Christ Jesus!

DJP said...

I'm glad someone said that, Sam. Maybe most Christians can't "name the day and the hour" as I can. In itself it hasn't been a cause of assurance, since I've many times been troubled by the thought that I didn't do it right, didn't really repent, didn't really trust.

To which I took to responding, "Yeah, well - I trust Christ now!"

Mesa Mike said...

Yep! Happy palingenesis day, Dan!

~Mark said...

A very blessed happy birthday to you Dan! I think we've all benefited by your birth. :)

tck said...

This was a beneficial read. Thank you Dan, congratulations, and thanks be to God.