THIS WEEKS MESSAGE
BECOME YOUR OWN god!
Presented to you by Pastor John S. Torell from his home church
Your responses and comments are always welcome.
18 January 1998
Praise God! Today I am going to bring you a message that is very special. It is a message that I have never taught before in my preaching. Scripture wise most of the scriptures are very familiar. The understanding of scriptures God has brought to my focused recently.
Our topic today is "DO NOT BECOME YOUR OWN god!"
He, who is trying to save himself has elevated himself to a god! The first thing that must be made clear is, that it is God who is saving men, not men saving themselves!
If we look at the religions of today you will find that they go from Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Hinduism and so forth. You will find every religion that is on earth is a system in which man, through some kind of laws, rituals or working order, is able to appease God and make an atonement for sins. Every religion recognizes that man is sinful except Satanism and some other fringe religions.
Christianity is not a religion. The definition of true Christianity is: A personal relationship between God and man, through Jesus Christ, who died for our sins at Calvary. That's what Christianity is all about. The Bible says no one is righteous. My explanation here is not of someone saying they are going to be a god and save themselves. I'm talking about everyday people, who recognize that they have come short of the glory of God and know that they have sinned. They are looking for some kind of working system, in which they can make some kind of atonement and have peace with God.
The Bible teaches us that there is no way that man can reach God through a religion system. We cannot climb from earth to heaven. It has to come from God Himself, reaching down to man.
Let us take a look at Judaism. Judaism is a religious system that is embraced by people that claim to be Jewish. They come from all kinds of races and different places from around the world. They may be black, white, Chinese, or Arab. There are Jews from every nation. They have one thing in common. They believe in Judaism as a religion. Is Judaism, as presented today, the same faith that God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The answer is, no! The faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was all ready corrupted at the time of Jesus. As early as 600 B. C. Judaism had developed into a religious system. Judaism is a religious system where a person takes a number of different steps and maintains certain traditions. Through these steps and traditions, followers are told they are right with God.
Turn to Romans, chapter 4 verse 1. "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
When did Abraham believe God? There is a very specific incident in Abraham's life that is found in Genesis, chapter 22 verse 1. "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am." In the Hebrew text it doesn't say he was tempted it says, that he was tested. Abraham was tested. The testing was done for Abraham's own sake. "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom the lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place in which God had told him." In this chapter we find out that Abraham had waited for almost 100 years to receive a son by Sarah his wife. Isaac had come, now God wanted Abraham to sacrifice Isaac back to him. It must have been a rough day. What was Abraham thinking when all this was laid on him to do? We can find his thoughts in verse No. 7. "And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son."
Both Abraham and Isaac had submitted themselves to God. Isaac might have said, "Dad I am not going to lay on this altar. You are not going to tie me up. You're not going to put that knife into my heart. Forget it! I'm not going to worship your God. If that is what he requires, for me to die here, no way." We find that Isaac did not struggle. Remember, Abraham was over 100 years old. Isaac at this time was probably a teenager. He physically could have overpowered his father Abraham and ran away. Isaac submitted to his father and Abraham submitted to God.
Verve 11. "And the Angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. and he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me."
I believe that this is the time of Abraham's salvation. I am just speculating because the Bible doesn't say that. This is my personal interpretation. I believe at this very point God saved Abraham. It was at this point, with a knife raised, Isaac on the altar, Abraham ready to plunge it down, that Abraham put full trust in God. That he would handle his son himself, and that God would provide a lamb.
Verse 13. "And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. And the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice." [That means every kindred on this earth will be blessed. Because you have obeyed my voice.]
As we study the old Testament you will find that they were looking for a Saviour, a lamb. God would have some kind of sacrifice that would redeem them. King David prophesied about it in some of the psalms. Many of the prophets spoke that God would provide salvation supernaturally. In the ceremonies in the tabernacle, the tent that Moses had built and later in the temple that Solomon had built in Jerusalem, there was a yearly sacrifice which was called Yon Kippur. At this sacrifice they had two lambs, actually they were two goats. One goat was killed and became the sacrificial goat. The high priest would take his hands and place them on the other goat and transfer all the sins of the people for that year to this goat (scapegoat). After this, the scapegoat was led by a man into the wilderness, where he was let go and chased off to disappear. This was done every year. This is how people were forgiven of their sins, repenting and by trusting that their sins were transferred to the scapegoat.
If you turn to Hebrews, chapters 9, 10 and 11 you'll find that Jesus Christ became the final sacrifice, the lamb of God. When Jesus was killed on the cross, God put all the sin of mankind upon him. Including all diseases and illnesses. His death was payment for our sins. This means that in the first covenant the people could not be saved by anything. They had the law to keep them in a relationship with God. Keeping the law in the old Testament times did not save them. It was the yearly sacrifice and their faith in the future Messiah and their repentance that gave them salvation. Looking back at the Messiah that died 2,000 years ago; we are saved by the same thing, repentance and faith that Jesus Christ paid for all our sins. Only God Himself could reconcile man to God. Salvation is God reconciling men to Himself. Here is the understanding of this statement. The moment you and I through a religious system try to save ourselves we are then become a god. That is a very, very heavy burden to carry.
The first thing that must be made clear is, that it is God who is saving men, not men saving themselves!
Turn to John, chapter 1 verse 1. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." [The darkness cannot see the light.] Verse 10. "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not." [Who were his own? The people of Israel. The twelve tribes. Natural Israel, rejected their Messiah. They did not receive Him as a nation. They had a system, Judaism, which was based upon circumcision, washing of hands, ordinances, tithing and sacrifices. They had left out the lamb of God, the Messiah. The Messiah is not in Judaism. They do not need him. They have a system. That is why you will find in the gospel of Matthew chapter 23, where Jesus rejected the Talmudic Cabalistic system of Judaism. Jesus called them children of hell.] Verse 12. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." [This is salvation. When we are saved, we are not saved by ourselves. It is the sovereign work of God.]
Turn to John, chapter 3 verse 1. "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mothers womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, you must be born again." [It is important to understand being born of water is the natural birth and being born of the Spirit is the second birth.]
Let us look back upon our own personal birth. I am a man, but many years ago I did not exist as far as being a person. God had not created me yet. There was a time when my father and my mother came together in the flesh, and a sperm from my father united with an egg from my mother. These two cells became one cell, conception. At that very moment in my mothers womb God put my soul into those cells and John Torell was created. I had now begun to exist. What part did I play in this? Absolutely none! I had no part in it whatsoever. The blueprint, the DNA, and everything else was there for me to develop. The cells began to divide themselves and grow taking nourishment from my mother's system. My physical body was built inside my mothers womb, the skeleton, muscles, brain, everything needed to make up a human body. What part did I play in this development? Absolutely none! I was passive. I had nothing to do with it. When it became time to be born and leave my mothers womb, I did not go to school and get a degree to learn how to get out of the womb. Everything was pre-programmed. I just came along for the ride. With this you may understand that our physical birth was a gift given to us by God through our mother and father. Once we have been born it is our responsibility to learn. This is how the spiritual birth is. How are we spiritually born? I will talk about this later in this message.
Turn to Romans, chapter 3 verse 10. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time is righteousness: that he might be just, and a justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law faith. Therefore we conclude that man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."
Salvation is the absolute sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. There's absolutely nothing that you and I can do to save ourselves. It is the gift of God.
Turn to Isaiah, chapter 53 verse 1. "Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did not esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our inequities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." Re-read these verses very slowly to yourself.
The prophet Isaiah some 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ stated that the Messiah hath born our griefs, He hath carried our sorrows. The people of Isaiah's time thought that he done something wrong. He was smitten of God and afflicted. It was not for his own sin but for yours and mine. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. We know that Jesus received 39 stripes. By His stripes you and I were healed physically. Jesus became the sacrificial lamb to make atonement for our sins.
Are you your own God?
Mohammed, who founded Islam 600 years after the birth of Christ, said, when the Angel of light came to him, "Jesus, was not the son of God. He was a prophet and as a prophet Jesus had failed."
What did Joseph Smith say? He said, "Jesus has failed. I, Joseph Smith, have been chosen of God to complete what Jesus Christ could not complete."
These men made themselves into gods. Every religious leader that offers some kind of atonement is making himself a god, where he states that he has a system. Follow my system, have faith in me. The system and myself will save you and give you an atonement.
The Apostle Peter said, "There is no other name under Heaven whereby men can be saved, Jesus Christ." Jesus said, "No man can come to the Father but by Me."
We have to established that salvation is of God and that Jesus Christ is the sacrificial lamb. He was sacrificed by God the Father, His only begotten Son. He died on Calvary. He rose on the third day. Through his death and resurrection, salvation is there for those who will repent.
We have established that salvation is of God. What are we to do with our salvation? We are to build upon this foundation.
Turn to First Corinthians, chapter 3 verse 11. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stumble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
The Bible is extremely clear here as Paul lays it out for us. There is no other foundation. I will try to illustrate it for you. Many times the Bible talks about Jesus being the groom and we are the bride. Salvation is like unto a marriage. The custom at the time Jesus walked on earth in Israel was, marriages were pre-arranged. The marriage was made by the parents when the bride to be and the groom to be were children. The parents went to the courthouse, which in the Bible is called the gate. It was a building that was built into the wall of the city. All of the officials of the city would be in this building. The parents of the groom would buy a girl. Payment was in cattle, camels, goats, or silver and gold, whatever commodity they had they would use for payment. There would be an agreement signed. The little boy and girl did not have a say in this agreement. Legally they were married. This is what the Bible is talking about when it says Mary was espoused to Joseph. They were engaged but they had not been together yet. They were still husband and wife when she was found to be with child. The law says in Israel that before the marriage is consummated by the husband and a woman got pregnant, she would be taken outside town and she would be stoned. That would be the end of that woman. Joseph did not want to publicly say anything because he did not want Mary to be stoned.
Let's say the children have grown up, the boy is a nice young man and the girl is a nice young lady. The date would be set for the wedding feast. This is where there is a breakdown of the wedding tradition in the United States, Europe and Israel. In the United States we have the legal ceremony followed by a reception. In Israel the legal marriage took place when the children were small. The wedding reception and consummation took place when the children were old enough to consummate marriage and start a family. Also the bride was not told the exact time of the day that she would meet the groom. She would know the date but not the time during the day. She would have 24-hours to get ready. A Jewish day is from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m.. That means that the bride and her bridesmaids had to be ready during the 24-hour period. The bride groom could come anytime during that time frame. This is why, when you read in the Bible about the ten virgins, they fell asleep. Why did they fall asleep? Because they were tired by midnight and just fell asleep.
The custom at the time of Christ was the Father of the groom would pay for the wedding feast. He would also furnish all the guests with a wedding garment. If you are going to go to the party you would not buy your own clothes. You would come to the door and the father would issue you a wedding robe, free. You could not pay for it. It was part of being a guest. Furthermore the people that were invited also had that 24-hour window. When the groom was ready he would start riding through the city. Going up and down the many streets. Trumpets would be blown. There would be singing and a lot of noise. Everyone would know that a wedding party was coming. Those that were invited would then join the groom to go to the house of the bride to pick her up. They should also join in the pro session after the bride was picked up. If the guests would miss the pro session they would also miss the wedding feast. When they came to the house of the groom where the father lived the servants of the father would issue the wedding garment. This is an explanation of the stories that Jesus told about the wedding feast.
The reason Jesus gave this teaching was, the bride paid for nothing. The only responsibility she had was to be ready. You and I are the bride of Christ. When did the marriage take place? Legally at Calvary. Over 1900 years ago. When is the wedding feast going to take place? In Heaven someday in the future. That will be when we will have the consummation of the marriage between Jesus and the bride, the church. Who is giving us our righteousness? Our righteousness is given through Jesus Christ by the Father. He is furnishing us with robes of righteousness. Not our righteousness but His righteousness. The bride in Israel could build upon her marriage. She knew as a child she was legally married. She could begin by collecting towels, blankets, china, and other things she'll need for a household. She could begin to build upon that foundation. The foundation of the marriage itself is by Christ. All she had to do was build upon it. That is exactly what you and I have to do with our salvation. Build upon the foundation that was laid by Jesus Christ, over 1900 years ago.
Turn to Philippians, chapter 2 verse 5. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humble himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Verse 13. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." [A number of times particularly in the Pentecostal circuit, you have heard people say, "Are you saved?" The response is, "I am working on it. I am working out my salvation. I hope so." If you are saving yourself, you do not need Jesus. You become your own God. The results is. We cannot save ourselves. There is a double standard in our Pentecostal churches. Preachers will get up and say, "Yes, I believe we are saved by grace not by works, which is a gift of God." But, unless you have been baptized in water, the United Pentecostal people say and you speak in tongues, you're not saved. If you're not here every time the church doors are open and participating in church functions you're not saved. What we have in Christianity is a mushy understanding where it is not written out, because they know it is not biblical. What they have is an unwritten tradition which is; Yes, you're saved by grace, but you're not really saved until you die. Then your salvation depends upon, if you have done all these different things. My question is this. When does a person receiving eternal life? These people would have to say at the time of death and you have kept all things in the religious system. You'll make it into Heaven. The Bible teaches this. You receive eternal life the moment you are born again. You cannot have it both ways. If you're not going to believe you are saved until the moment to die, do not call yourself a Christian. Simply say this. I am a candidate for Christianity. I am working on my righteousness, trying to earn my way into Heaven. Hopefully at the time of my death, I have enough points to be accepted into Heaven. YOU HAVE BECOME YOUR OWN GOD. You are saving yourself through performance. That is a tragedy! That's why the church is weak.]
Turn to Ephesians, chapter 2 verse 4. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you 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 has before ordained that we should walk them."
If you were to draw a time line on a piece of paper, it would consist of a line with a tab to the left, labeled birth. To the right a tab labeled death. The line represents your life. From your birth to the time you leave this earth. Somewhere on the line make a vertical line labeling it salvation. Salvation was the time that you ask God to forgive you of your sins. You repented of your ugly life. You surrender to God. You asked Jesus took come into your life, to take control, to be Lord, Saviour. You asked Jesus to cleanse you with His blood. You were born again! Above the line about six inches, in the middle write in the word, God. From the word God draw a line to your birth mark. From the word God draw a line to your death mark. Here's a biblical principal. When you ask God for forgiveness of your sins, God not only forgave you of your sins from birth to that day, but He forgave all sins even in the future. You where forgiven of past, present and future sins. God forgave it all at that very moment. If God does not do that, he cannot save you at that very moment. He can only then give you a hope of salvation if you follow a certain religious system. Underneath the line that you have drawn make a line from birth to salvation. Right on that line, all these are whipped out, no responsibility. This means, when I asked Christ to come into my life to be my Lord Saviour, I did not have to go back and relive every day my life and pray specifically for every sin that I had committed. We commit sin everyday of our life. The sins were totally blanked out. Praise God I'm not responsible for them. Now draw another line from salvation to the death mark. Write, I will be held accountable for all things I do from salvation until my moment of death. The sins that we commit will destroy the fellowship with God if we do not on a daily basis, ask God for forgiveness and repent the fellowship is broken.
I will try to paint you a verbal picture. Visualize this. Let's say that you have normal parents that are married. How many times did you see your parents argue? If you're going to be honest you will have to say that you have seen your parents argue. When they argued, what were the results in the home? It was a terrible atmosphere to begin with. The fellowship between your Mom and Dad was broken. That did not mean that every time there was an argument or fight that there was a divorce. They did not run down to a judge or minister and say, "We have had a fight or argument. Would you please remarry us." He would say, "Don't be foolish. You are still married." The argument does not break the marriage. It destroys the fellowship with God.
If you are from a Pentecostal background and you have been saved, lost, saved, lost, saved, you need to sit down and study the scriptures that I have given. Study them and you will come to the conclusion that what is being taught here is the truth. This is Bible truth. Why is this important? If I were saved by grace, but it depends upon how I live my life, I'm not really saved by grace. I was given a chance to be saved then but my salvation depends upon my performance. Performance is works. The Bible says we're not saved by works. We're saved by grace.
Turn to the gospel John, chapter 6 verse 44. "No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Verse 65. "And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."
Jesus said, not only can we not save ourselves, but we cannot even make a decision to come to God, to be saved. This can be very disturbing. This is what it is saying. Unless the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and draws us, we are not going to seek God. This is a truth that we have to understand. That is why Jesus said, broad is the road that leads to destruction. Narrow is the road that leads to salvation. Unless the Holy Spirit speaks to a person and draws him, convicts him of their sins and gives him the opportunity to be saved. That person cannot be saved. I can go back into my own life and say that I did not initiate my salvation. As a matter of fact, I did not have a desire. My personal desire was that I did not care about God. All I wanted to do was to acquire a good job, have a master's degree in engineering and make as much money is possible. I want to have nice property and things in life. That was my goal. These were my gods. Salvation was the furthest thing from my mind. One day the Holy Spirit began to convict me and I began to have fear about death. This came about because I had been reading about flying saucers. This was around the 1960s. I had read about abduction's. I realize that maybe there is a force in the universe that might take me from this earth and I cannot do the things that I planned. I realized I did not have any defense. I was defenseless. A great fear begin to build up in me. Suddenly in my mind came the wooing from God where he said, "I can save you. You do not have to be afraid." One Sunday night, I had been drinking all weekend and I had been watched a lot of television. I was tired of drinking and I was tired of television. I was bored, for fear and I could see no way out. So I decided to listen to the radio. As I was going through the different radio stations a voice was speaking of God. I froze. Normally I would have said that was just another religious program and passed it by. I sat and listened to the last quarter of this program. I listened spell bound by the words being spoken. The words caught me and I listened. The words being spoken were something that I needed. I liked it. The announcer came on and said, "Be sure and listen next week at the same time." I said to myself, "I certainly will." During the next week I looked forward to listening to that 10 o'clock program. The man that was preaching was Billy Graham. Then he was preaching the true gospel message. It was called the hour of decision. I thought his program would be an hour long. I listened to the program and was inspired. This time I had my Bible out. I listened to him for six months. After a few weeks my wife said, "What are you doing Sunday nights?" I said, "I'm listening to this evangelist." She said, "I want to listen too." We would discuss the message afterward. It took the Holy Spirit six months to bring us to the place where I realized I needed salvation. Billy Graham was teaching at that time that salvation is a onetime experience. It is an instant new birth. You can have it now. In 1965, in the month of May it was advertised that Billy Graham was going to broadcast one of his messages on television. We said, "We have to watch this program." It was going to be on for three nights. We set aside this time so that we could watch this programming. This is where sovereignty comes in. The television crusade that had been broadcast in May of 1965 was recorded, in Hawaii, in 1964. The Holy Ghost knew that an immigrant couple from Sweden had been prepared by the Holy Spirit with six months of radio preaching. At the end of the first television broadcast as Billy Graham would look into the camera and say, "You, who might be sitting in your home or wherever you are. You can be saved right there were you are. You can give your heart to Christ. Right now in your home, if you pray this prayer. Then he laid out the salvation prayer. The Holy Ghost had been doing a work in me. I was ready. I was embarrassed. I did not want to say anything to my wife. She did not say anything to me either. We just looked into the television. Silently we said the sinners prayer to ourselves. You may say where in the Bible is the sinners prayer? It is in different places and has to be put together. As I was led in the sinners prayer I prayed earnestly. I said, "Oh, God, I repent of my sins. I made a mess of my life. I am very sorry for the way I have lived. I ask You right now to forgive me. Jesus, right now I open my heart. Come into my heart, my life and be my Lord, Saviour. I want You to save me right now." I prayed that prayer quietly in my heart. Billy Graham said, "If you have prayed that prayer on the word of God, you are now saved." I set there. Notice this, we were in our home. There was no one to give us instruction or follow-up with our decision. Here's what happened. Supernaturally, I and my wife were born again at that very moment. There were chemical changes in my body. There were spiritual changes in my soul. Definitely my dead spirit was born again. It became alive. I did not have to change myself. It was God changing me. I had new thinking and a new attitude. I was changed from inside out at that moment. My life took a different direction, not because I said that I am going to clean myself up. God cleaned me up. Suddenly sinful desires melted away and I received the mind of Christ. This is salvation. I'm sure you may have a story just like I have. Some of you may say I have always been in church, I do not remember when I got saved. There was appoint in your life when you made the decision to trust God.
Once a person is called by God, that person must respond to that free gift of God, through repentance and making Jesus Lord of his life.
Turn to the book of Acts, chapter 3 verse 19. "Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of Lord."
Here's what happened in my life. The Holy Spirit began to draw me. He began to prepare my heart. He then opened my heart to understand, that is (my mind and soul). The only thing I did on my own was to say, "Yes!" The only response that you and I can give to God's grace is to say, "Yes, I receive!" Repent and receive, that is all we can do to be saved.
Turn to Romans, chapter 10 verse 9. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart God hast raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saitheth, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
This is good news, really good news.
May God richly bless you is my prayer