When I was young, my parents raised me in a Christian home. The influence of the gospel lay upon my life from a young age. I lived in the Mission House owned by the Free Church. My Dad worked as a local preacher and tour guide and Mum was a caretaker of the Church building next door as well as a Nurse and home help. The Minister a Rev Macleod and his wife were so kind to us and that has stayed with me over the years. I wanted to give my life to Jesus after hearing so many testimonies and seeing that older believers I met at fellowships had something or rather someone beautiful. I also had a very deep conviction of my own sin and need for a saviour. So the Lord drew my heart to His and though young I invited Christ into my heart and life. Though I have faltered and failed many times along the way and the road hasn't always been easy God had begun a good work in me.
In my teens with a much fuller understanding of the things of God I recommitted my life to Jesus, or as one person put it I found assurance of salvation. As a teen I took Free Church communion for the first time, which is reserved for those who are believers and who the elders have examined as such and feel are ready. It was a blessing.
In my later teens was a major denominational split and a major family crisis. These things impacted me. However, despite it shaking me these things gave strength in the long run. I was inward looking until in a spiritual battle in my heart my eyes opened to the fact that others suffered still much more than I did.
When I went to University, I found that through my studying of Theology and Social Science that the troubles of human nature was not new, nor was the world's or my need for hope. In a rage one day I roared at God "Why do you allow such suffering in this world?" God seemed to have been saying "Why do you?" How could I ignore such a thing?
This idea of love was a spiritual awakening and the start of a profound stirring within my heart. I found my old path of blaming God for the world's woes was unsound. I discovered many woes are man made. Much further on in my story I could reflect in hindsight that God lives within the laws of cause and effect - laws he made, He lives by His own word and gives humans and angels free will. I could not blame God any longer.
Here are 5 other things I have discovered on my pilgrimage of faith:
1. Having for a time briefly looked at other faiths, by way of study, I concluded that though many faiths offer good ideas at times, Christianity in its truest form was the only faith I could find offering a much-needed saviour. Christian faith is not winning Brownie points with God, but is the person Jesus the Christ. It is less religion (man reaching God), more relationship (God reaching man in the person Jesus the Christ).
2. I could not save myself from sin or judgement, I needed and still need a redeemer. The heart of man's problem is the problem of man's heart. In this I was no exception. In the words of John Newton "I am a great sinner, but I have a great saviour."
3. Salvation is by Grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for the glory of God alone.
4. This gift of salvation, does not remove the need for right living, but changes the motive. We must do good because it is right and because we love God and others, not to gain salvation or position with God. God is love, and whoever does not love is not of God. Good works do not save us, but Jesus saves us so we may do them. The early disciples were known for love to one another and Jesus said his people will be known by their fruits.
5. It's important to be peacemakers, such are called the children of God. Christ came to reconcile man to God, and brothers to brothers. In a sense the phrase "not peace, but a sword", indicates division will come. In fact those who love the world, flesh and devil will hate Jesus' followers. But, those loyal to the saviour will "seek peace and pursue it" standing as lights in the darkness.
Some verses of note:
John 3:16 (KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
2 Corinthians 4:6 (KJV) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.