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)