Growing up, my home was a ‘good home’ by worldly standards: there was never over-abundance, but at least everyone’s needs were met. My parents occasionally attended church, whenever there was a revival or a ‘sing.’ I was never confronted with the reality of sin, and the Gospel message never bore fruit in my heart; although a very precious seed had been planted.
I dropped-out of high school at the age of seventeen; and soon began to party nightly. Within six months of my twentieth birthday, I was arrested for a very serious charge. As I confronted the problem of sin, I cried out to God to save me. At once, I felt the sin lifted and felt the conviction to confess to the investigators as a token of my heart-felt repentance.
Early influences had formed in my mind the concept of salvation as a state from which one was capable of falling. This was due in part to the lack of sound Bible teaching. So, I had the concept of salvation as a state which I was expected to maintain. But, I found it impossible to be completely honest regarding my crime – having lied to the investigators, I believed I had sinned away my salvation and was once again lost and doomed for hell.
Thinking I had lost my salvation, I began to study various world religions. I then sought salvation in Islam, which claims to worship the same God I believed in; and I became a practicing Muslim. Through an administrative transfer, I found myself in a correctional facility with a Bible Education Program. I enrolled in it, thinking I would learn weak points in the Bible and so validate the Qur’an.
What actually occurred, through the Sovereign Plan of God, was that I learned I could never lose a salvation that was a free gift from God. I discovered that salvation is based on a covenant of redemption; I saw that Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of faith. This knowledge posed a significant problem for me: if I had not sinned away my salvation; then I was still, in fact, saved. If I was bought and sealed by Jesus Christ; my denial of Christ by practicing Islam was of the utmost blasphemy.
Of course, ‘once saved always saved’ challenged everything I had been taught. Accepting the doctrine meant being at theological odds with my family, whose frequenting of a ‘Free-will Baptist’ church had branded this doctrine as a lie from Hell.
Which way was I to turn? I felt drawn to flip through my Bible. My eyes landed on a verse that struck to the core of my being:
Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge. – Proverbs 19:27
In Islam, I had been listening to words that claimed to impart knowledge, but that actually caused me to stray further from Christ.
But, of more importance to me was the realization that God was calling me His son. The revelation of this relationship made the difference for me – and this prodigal son returned to the Household of God. I turned from the empty ritualism of Islam to a life of victorious Christian living!
To read all of Christopher’s devotions @ HOHPM, please click here.