GRACE TESTIMONY OF R. DAWSON BARLOW
Written by Rita E. Bauschard of Erie, PA
(and posted here with Mr. Barlow's kind permission).
Mr. Barlow (Bob) is a former Baptist pastor who suffered great personal loss when he came to the knowledge and obedience of 2 Timothy 2:15, learning to rightly divide the Word of Truth. As often happens when one has been deeply involved with the religious world, he was rejected, but chose to walk away from the lies told about him and get on with the work of the ministry. Seriously diabetic, dyslexic and sight handicapped, this servant plodded along learning on his own, reading and studying. Five or so years in a wheel chair were not wasted. The medical profession eventually found a way to get him out of that wheel chair and he began planning a missionary trip to central China where he and his wife, Margie, both taught the English language at Sichuan University and other local schools, sharing the gospel at every opportunity.
When a native Chinese teacher who understood and spoke English grew to trust Bob, she introduced him to a servant of the Lord in the underground church, whom he named “Paul.” As Bob grew from an Acts 2 to a Mid-Acts Dispensationalist, his excitement was transmitted to the underground preachers who hungered for more and more. Hundreds of ‘house pastors’ and thousands of saints have been set free from the Pentecostal gospel due to Bob’s ministry. He wants no glory – only to have the opportunity to share everything he has learned with those hungry souls.
The Communist government, suspecting Bob’s relationship with ‘Paul’ (who himself has spent time in jail for the gospel), had sent out its henchmen to keep an eye on Bob and thus to hopefully discover the whereabouts of Paul who had disappeared from their ‘radar screen.’ Bob has had his own throat slit and his eyes so badly beaten they required plastic surgery. He suffered broken ribs and many internal bruises. As if that weren’t enough, his wife succumbed to a heart attack while there. But Bob has not been discouraged from returning to this land of hungry souls to provide them with Bibles and more teaching on “The Revelation of the Mystery.” The Chinese students, saved and unsaved, planted a “Margie Tree” on the campus of the university in her honor. There are so many e-mails in my files relating the events of at least two of the trips to China that someone could write a book. But then, time would be taken from getting out the gospel!
In his first book, The Origin Of The RACES, Brother Barlow used the Chinese name, Sun Ming, against the advice of his American friends. They were able to convince him for the second book published that people would not understand or believe a Chinese person (Sun Ming) could authoritatively write about The Apostasy of the Christian Church. No ‘glory grabber’ he. He actually taught on television in Savannah before all this missionary work, never once giving out his name and that was his preference, but books can’t be published without a name.We have had great fun and blessings working together and learning to laugh together at our mistakes!
Written with permission of R. Dawson (Bob) Barlow (Sun Ming) --
Editor's Note: For information on how to order copies of Bob's three excellent books, "The Origin of the Races," "The Apostasy of the Christian Church," and "The Two Gospels," please email me at: [email protected]
RITA B: 1973 - 1985: TWELVE YEARS TO FREEDOM
I used to think that my Christian “birth” day was June 10th, 1973, the day I agreed to “Try Jesus,” although I am not so sure of that now. God reads our hearts and I know that, in my heart, I truly wanted to know God from a very young girl. The trouble was that my desire to know God was based on what I had been told by nuns and priests of the Roman Catholic Church and even more so did I want to live the life of a saint so that I would know for sure that God knew me.
Nevertheless, in June 1973 I had given up on believing that God knew me or even cared to know me, when circumstances brought me together with a man who had just himself decided to “follow Christ” at a Catholic Charismatic conference in another city. Having been impressed by the fact that he didn’t try to convince me to become a Methodist like he was, I agreed to give Jesus another chance to keep me from giving up on life and on God.
By October of that year, I learned about and became a part of the Catholic Charismatic Movement. One thing that did for me was lead me into the Word of God – the Bible, which everyone knows, no lay (non cleric) person could ever properly understand! Trouble was, I learned too much (?) and began to question my “spiritual roots” and six years later left the Roman Catholic Church with much sorrow – sorrow that was soon to turn to peace as I continued to study and learn that church was not where my Lord and Saviour would have me if I were to grow in my spiritual life. My heart was heavy for some time because I had family and friends still in bondage to the “church” that had been mine for 47 years. Because of some spiritual growth, I left the charismatic groups after ten years. That was hard. All those ‘friends’ deserted me.
I determined to try the United Methodist Church that was home to my best neighbor/friend and also not far from home. That lasted for three and a half years because I saw no true spiritual life there but lots of love and good works. At that time there were those who would ask with excitement, “Have you read the ‘church fathers’ yet?” Those who were reading the “church fathers” obtained no real value from the experience else they would have seen the influence in their Methodist lives of the religious system and denounced them as apostate.
There were numerous visits to other churches in my area before I left the United Methodist church after three and a half-years and turned to the Pentecostal, Assemblies of God. Coupled with my continued study of God’s Word, these religious experiences were actually an education for one who had been so long in just one religion with no actual study of the Bible. This was so because I could actually compare these ‘churches’ with God’s instructions and found a number of contrary traditions. Not, mind you, contrary to each other, but contrary to God’s Holy Word.
So, another three years and I quit the AOG, deciding that I would wait upon the Lord, continuing in my study and assuring the Lord that I knew I could trust no man to teach me and that God was just going to have to be the one to make things clear to me.
Well, God does use mankind to teach but only as a vehicle led by the Holy Spirit and obeying 2 Timothy 2:15.
In 1983, I began a new job where I met the cousin of my employer who rather often came into our office to use the copy machine. This was an elderly lady who I think was in her eighties then. She would find various ways to plant in front of me the instructions to “follow me (Paul) as I follow Christ.” One way was to ask me to “fix” a line of type in a bible study she was preparing to teach or in a tract she was putting together. With fingers all bent out of shape from arthritis, she was still using an old-fashioned typewriter while I was using an electric one or even a new-fangled computer. If she wanted to correct more than a letter or two, it was very difficult for her, but she had lots of patience and would do it. But if I happened to see her paper, I would offer to type it over for her so it wouldn’t be so filled with erasures. Those papers were full of God’s Word, rightly divided. In the beginning of these visits, I pitied the poor lady because she obviously did not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without that baptism one could not understand the Bible, I reasoned.
Well, I was right about that but I just didn’t know the truth about HOW one gets that baptism of the Holy Spirit. I had been taught wrong again! By now I had been sprinkled with water as an infant, immersed in water as a Pentecostal and neither of them had the effect they were claimed to have. NOW I was learning through God’s words to me that there is but one baptism in this age I live in and it is not done by a man sprinkling water over my infant head or by dunking me into a pond, but is done BY the Holy Spirit at the very moment I choose to believe the gospel of the grace of God (the gospel of salvation for today -1 Cor. 15:3-4). That baptism placed me into the “Body of Christ, which is his church.” (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:13)
I’m not sure of the exact date when it happened that the light went on – in my brain . This dear saint must have been praying for me that:
The eyes of your [my] understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, … Eph. 1:18
But I do remember that after about a year of reading the studies as I re-typed them and compared them with my Bible, I began using the Bible on my home computer where I could more easily search and list things Echo was trying to teach me. This way I could more plainly see, for example, that all the mention of the ‘kingdom of heaven’ was to be found only in the four gospels and not in Paul’s epistles. I could see clearer that the reason for that was that God had temporarily set Israel aside because of her unbelief (which God knew was going to happen) and that he began a new program for this age that I lived in, which he had been keeping secret until he revealed it to Paul. I know I live in this age of grace because there has been no change since Paul’s day.
I do remember well, sitting on my couch with my Bible when the light came and I believed it. I remember when I finally understood what it meant to ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ and what that meant to my spiritual life. I remember well the joy of being able to understand my Bible now because choosing to believe what God said and rightly dividing what God said was the key to making it clear. It was what I had been searching for; it was God’s way, not man’s way. I couldn’t wait until the next morning, Sunday morning, when I would be driving Echo to a church to hear a young preacher who had returned to town. I knew she would want to go for breakfast afterward and that is when I let her know that I finally saw the truth of the gospel of the grace of God and that I saw it by understanding “right division.” (2 Tim 2:15) It had been twelve years since I first decided to “try Jesus!” Give it out saints! There are people waiting to hear the truth.
RITA B., PENNSYLVANIA
9/23/10: Rita just began a personal blog where I hope she shares a lot more of her life story before and after becoming a member of the body of Christ by God's grace! Here's the link.
Robert Finney's Grace Testimony
I don't know if I was 15 or 16 for sure 'cause I don't remember now if I was a Freshman or a Sophomore when I got saved. I do remember some surprise that my folks were letting me go 'cause it was snowing pretty good, it was at night and a school night at that and we were goin' to Bannock, which is at least 15 miles from Ferry. I wasn't shocked to death or anything, just mildly surprised; I reckon it had something to do with the idea that an adult was driving and it was a “Bible study”. I s'pose if they'd known what kind of Bible study it was they'd of either forbidden me to go or joined in and quite honestly I have no idea which. It wasn't grace preaching per se, but it was close: This was the Jesus Movement, and although I didn't know it, it (as a movement) was all over the place when it came to basic belief, doctrine, practice and twenty other things that'd be important to some and not to others. I'd gone the week before (these meetings were in the house of Barricklow and Erma Lodge on Wednesday night) and been amazed at the singin' and hand clappin' and the just all around good time-ed-ness goin' on. There must've been every bit of seventy people, if not more, crowded into that little living room and sittin' two or three abreast up the stairs and peerin' 'round the corner of the doorway leadin' into the kitchen (if they could've hung from the ceiling light they would've) with their winter coats just piled all over the place in three foot drifts in the corners to match the snow outside. It was hot, it was noisy and it was fun. I didn't get all the Jesus stuff they were talkin' about but the music was quick and fun and most of all it was so far removed from the Lutheran church that I'd been dragged to for years that I didn't make any association whatever 'tween that and whatever was goin' on here. It was nothin' I'd ever seen or even heard of before and I was enthralled. They were all havin' a good time and that was all right with me.
About the second or third time goin' I was asked by Erma if I wanted to meet Jesus. I said “Sure!” After all, who wouldn't? She sat me down in a folding chair in the middle of the living room where there was a space cleared just for this and told me to repeat after her and it went something along the lines of “Oh Lord, I know I'm a sinner and I repent...” and likewise. It's usually the same formula dependent on what you were taught; repent and be baptized, ask Jesus into your heart, make Him Lord of your life, promise to follow Him or whatever, it all comes down to some ritualized prayer asking God to save you. I never got a lick of that. I was just sayin' the words 'cause I wanted to get through it to the other side where I could meet Jesus. I had no conviction of sin or being lost or any such thing, I just wanted to meet Jesus. Sweet. I got saved that night and went along just fine for some time (six months or so) 'til I ran into the law and an exorcism to “cast the demons out” that caused me to sin. I was fine up 'til then.
See, during this time there was all sorts of stuff going on with the Jesus Freaks. Church folk didn't know what to do with 'em, they weren't sure what to do (if anything) with church folk, there were all sorts of demonic counterfeits around that no one knew anything about 'cause we really didn't know much of anything 'cept Jesus died for us and that He really was God. Other than that, it was all jumbled together forty different ways from Sunday. There was a girl named Roe that I met through someone or at some church or prayer meeting (Hard to say which 'cause they were all over the place. If you had enough money to scrape together an apartment you had a place for a Bible study or prayer meeting that was usually independent of any church or umbrella group.) that was in business with her Mom placing and stocking Christian book racks in grocery stores and suchlike. Roe was not my girlfriend or anything but she was nice and she ran in Christian circles that fringed ours; friends of hers would be friends of ours type thing. Anyway, after a while Roe was part of “our” crowd and goin' to the Assemblies of God church that the rest of us were attending at that time. We were going to Assemblies of God 'cause we couldn't stand to go anywhere else. I was confirmed into the Lutheran church at 13 or so and might as well have joined the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks or the Moose lodge as far as any religious instruction went. We knew that the mainstream churches (leastwise in our area) were dry as dust and at least at places like the Assemblies of God there was lively music and hand clappin' and such like. There was at least the semblance of life that we knew ought to be evident among people that had met Jesus Christ. We didn't know beans from doctrine, no one was teaching us anything other than “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” and Lindsay's Late Great Planet Earth (which had come out two years prior to when I got saved and was still at the time a novelty making its way through the born again community) and we didn't know enough to care.
Anyway. Roe convinces me and Denny S. that we needed to go see this guy miles away up in Massilon Ohio named Gus. How she got hooked up with him none of us knew but it wasn't unusual for Roe to know the movers and shakers; after all, she got around with her Mom servicing their book racks and met all sorts of folks. We didn't know enough to be wary; everybody loved everybody in the born again community and had nothing but their best interests at heart. That part is probably true but it doesn't matter. If your desire is to get to England and to the best of my knowledge I tell you to jump in the Atlantic ocean somewhere along the coast of Maine and swim east I wouldn't be lying to you. You'd drown long 'fore you got to England but it wouldn't be 'cause I lied to you about where England was in relation to Maine nor would it be 'cause I lied to you about the method you'd have to employ to get there; you sure couldn't walk!
Gus takes Denny and I aside (separately) and goes over a host of sins that, as teen aged boys, he's got a pretty fair idea that we're guilty of. You see, it didn't matter that we'd been forgiven, we were operating on the if/then principle. I was once told (by Rosanelle, if I remember aright) that someone she knew was reading the book of James once a day for a month and it was having a tremendous impact on his life. I made it about a week or so but got tired of it and quit. 'Sides, I never saw tremendous benefit in that first week and was just fed up with James; I could get the same message and attitude in any street corner church as far as I was concerned. So Gus gets me aside and, after a brief interview, goes to casting out the demons that are in me. It's obvious there are, else wise why would I sin (or something like; I'm not sure how he knew they were there), so the best thing to do is get 'em out. I don't know how long after that Denny lasted; wasn't long. He may be in for life as far as I know; last time I saw 'im he was a two-time loser that was going away for good on his third felony conviction but hadn't crossed that line yet. Yet. I went back to my little Bible study/prayer meeting/sing along group where I first met the Lord and accused one of the ladies there of being a false prophet. They knew something was wrong 'cause I remember Thelma mentioning years later that I was “white and shaking and they could just 'feel' something come in the room with me” when I came in. That one event (getting' the demons cast out of us) destroyed Denny and me for years. I don't know that Denny will ever recover before he either goes home or is raptured. I doubt it, but I don't know that for certain. My doubt in that area's a lot bigger than my hope, though.
I never again had the same apprehension of my relationship with God and would for years at a time just 'go away'. I didn't want anything to do with God 'cause I couldn't live the Christian life and would you just go away and quit bothering me? My Christian life was a ruin and because of that I'd just go drinking and stuff. Most my friends are dead junkies now either through overdose (and in several cases hot-shots; deliberate overdoses provided by a dealer to kill someone that was into 'em for too much as an object lesson) or disease from sharing unsanitary (that's a joke) drug kits. I reckon there are people in hell at this moment that are there 'cause I never told 'em about getting saved. Truth to tell, though, I didn't have anything to offer 'em that way. I knew the Bible was true and that Jesus Christ really is alive and really was dead but I couldn't tell 'em how to quit sinning or even why they should and 'sides, I was right in there with 'em. Why bother? So that wouldn't work and I'd “come back” to God. Quit drinkin' and go to church and read the Bible and such like and that'd last for a while and peter out or I'd do something that I really was disappointed with myself for doing and just throw in the towel again. I don't have any enemies (at least from this side) but if I did and had a worst one I wouldn't wish my life on 'em out of any sort of animosity I can possibly imagine.
It sounds as all this was going on in a little group in a small geographic area, but it wasn't. I'm not only talking about the “Jesus Movement” here, I'm talking about this stuff I was going through, too. I spent quite some time at the Hallelujah House in Tampa (a Christian commune) before I found out they were an Elijah ministry. We were being raised up by God to function in the power of the prophet Elijah and when the nuclear warheads went off, we were going to be
able to rebuke 'em and make 'em go away (or something). I worked as a counselor with Teen Challenge (David Wilkerson's group) out in Buffalo Creek Colorado and would get up at 0430 to pray for those kids (I was 23) and for me that God'd do whatever it was I was prayin' for. I was living with a pastor and his wife down in Beaumont Texas when I found out that Jim had been kicked out of the Hallelujah House for doin' acid (LSD). The pastor's wife was (is) Bob Buess' daughter (of Sweeter Than Honey Ministries; one of the 'word of faith' ministries that seem to spring up from that Texas/Oklahoma soil with regularity: Kenneth Hagin, Charles Capps, Kenneth Copeland, etc.) and I got the news about Jim from a visiting evangelist that was passin' through on his way to pitch his tent somewhere and preach a revival. All these folks were 'in' and they knew each other and I was in there with 'em, albeit on the fringes 'cause I was just a drifter. There were all sorts of things going on that you don't hear about today; the Children of God (founded by David Berg and now known as The Family International), The Vineyard (founded by John Wimber and you might sing some of their songs in your church; a lot do and don't know it), the Believer's Church (origin unknown but they're autonomous in authority yet linked by practice and doctrine and they meet in believer's houses, as did the early church; I once was told (when I was going to one in Columbus, Ohio) that as they were praying for me they could see Jesus standing behind me reaching into my heart and pulling out a lot of black stuff; I was going to be OK after that) and all sorts of other groups; some you may have heard of and others (like the Hallelujah House in Tampa) you probably haven't. Doesn't matter, they were all live and kickin'. But nothing in all that ever enabled me to 'live the Christian life' like I knew it should be. I ran 97th percentile in the nation on my SATs in English Usage and Vocabulary Skills and could read and comprehend what I'd read as well as anybody and I could read Hebrews where it says “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries”(Heb 10). and I could read “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal 5) and I could also see that I didn't have one and was certain of the other. I pleaded with God many a time to just leave me alone; “Can't you see I'm not worthy? That I'm never going to be worthy?” and then I'd be runnin' back to Him trying to get right and 'live the Christian life' 'cause I knew that's what I wanted. I never got there, although I'd do everything I knew to do: Read the Bible, go to church, pray, work, witness or whatever. At the end of the day (or several months) there I'd be again, just as I was when I started my last round of 'serving the Lord', unable to do, wanting to do, certain I was doomed to carry on this way all my life 'cause I'd long ago crossed some sort of line that meant I could never 'come back', and that was the one thing I wanted to do. I couldn't get away from the fact that I wanted Him. I didn't care about the trappings or rewards (I wanted 'em so I could give 'em to Him but I didn't care about 'em for myself) or anything; I wanted Him. More than anything else, I wanted Him. Yet every time I went to 'living the Christian life' I ended up worse off than I was before. Every time I failed Him was the last time I was goin' to try and every time I started over was the the last time I was going to need to; this time it'd stick.
I'll say it again: I wouldn't wish that sort of life on anybody. It sounds short and quick on paper, but it wasn't. It was sometimes years of denying God 'cause I couldn't stand the thought of failing again to do those things that'd please Him and, at the same time, all that time was spent with the knowledge that He was really real and Jesus Christ was risen from the dead and there wasn't any point in foolin' myself, I was some sort of Christian loser and it was due to the fact that I couldn't do those things I was s'posed to do. Why try again? I would anyway 'cause I couldn't stand not to.
I reckon that, over the course of all those almost 40 years riding that see-saw of agony (or whatever you want to call it) that I must've heard the message of God's grace 'bout half a million times; it was just always mixed in with the law of thou shalt and thou shalt not somehow. I can't tell you for certain when I first heard the message of the grace of God alone, but I can tell you who I heard it from: Bob George. To this day I can't understand how Bob George ever got the message of grace out of the NIV, and I don't listen to him anymore (mostly 'cause I can't pick him up on the radio at the same time I used to), but that's where I first heard the expression about how “God took us out of the equation.” I didn't really get the grace message at that time but I was intrigued by it and then I ran across a guy on the radio by the name of Richard Jordan. I had just recently learned about what Paul was talking about when he said “rightly dividing the word of truth” but I didn't really get it 'til I heard Richard Jordan explaining it in fifteen minute radio broadcasts that I tried to align my schedule to catch each day. Now I'd probably read that passage in Timothy a zillion times (remember, I'd had years of Bible reading and study and Christian this and that) and for all the good it did me it might as well have been written in Klingon. No one ever taught me ('cause they didn't know) nor was there ever any mention of “rightly dividing the word.” What's that mean? Who knows? Boy, you talk about an eye-opener! All the sudden, Hebrews doesn't apply to me. James doesn't apply to me. Peter wasn't talking to me. A whole new world of Bible understanding opened up.
OK, just a little bit more. It doesn't do any good to know, what was needed all that time was to believe. But what was I to believe? Once I learned that I could pare away the performance stuff I could believe on the cross of Christ exclusively, and that was what I needed all that time. I spend a lot of time at the cross. You can make whatever you want of that statement, but it's true. I hang out at the cross. That's where I finally found freedom from the law of sin and death, freedom from the thou shalt and thou shalt not, freedom from my fear that God must despise me and, most importantly, freedom from me, from my effort. You asked about when I heard the message of grace. I don't know that I heard it as much as it was demonstrated to me at the cross. I go there thirty times an hour or thirty times a minute, it doesn't matter, but every time something comes up about how I don't measure up to that image of Super Christian I not only was taught but planted inside me by me I go to the cross. I can hear right now all that stuff from the past saying “Yeah, but now you need to go on to that resurrected life” or “Now you need to live that ascended life where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father.” I can hear years worth of teaching along those lines, not only from others but self imposed; now you need to. No, I don't. I've got so much 'now I need to' or 'now you need to' stored up that if I live in this flesh for another three hundred years I couldn't use it all up. I don't need to anything. I go to the cross. It's there that all the grace for all I'll ever need was poured out. I've got no illusions about my ability to do anything, whether it be to persevere or whether it be in my faith or whatever. I have no faith in my faith. I go to the cross. I don't trust my ability to trust Him. I go to the
cross. It's there I find all the grace I need to say “You did this for me and I'm going to take you up on it.” I don't have to fear God, I go to the cross. He's there waiting for me.
It took a long time for me to get there; I'm glad I did. I'm gladder He allowed me to.
I can't tell you about grace any more than that cross.
-- Robert Finney, West Virginia
Rodney pastors the Grace Bible Church of Connecticut and has a web site loaded with plain-spoken grace teaching. He also has a YouTube account - gracebcct - where he has posted many of his dispensational grace messages, including Rodney's personal testimony.
I was born in a Church of Christ family here in Manila. As i grew up, I got into the worldly things of rock music and various vices. I even despaired of this life and contemplated suicide; but my mom took me to the first Jimmy Swaggart Crusade here in Manila, and I accepted Jesus in that meeting on March 24. 1981. I began serving the Lord and he called me to the ministry in 1986 and I'm now serving my second pastorate. I believe that only the precious grace of God can save me, and his tender mercies kept me from falling into sin and destruction. The word of God is the only foundation we can rely on, and the Holy Spirit is the only strength we can ever have. All who believe in Jesus as their only Lord and Savior are my brothers and sisters regardless of differences in minor points. I just survived a terrible attack in my chest. Without him, I would be gone in this world. God is good all the time.
SUSI GREST(Excerpted from a letter from Susi to Bob Barlow -- Thank you, Bob!) You asked me about my background (religious) and how I came into the message we hold so dear to our hearts. I'll try to explain it. It'sa bit difficult for me because of my English as I didn't learn Englishat school. Well, the dictionary will help me :-)!My father was brought up in a Catholic home. My mother was Protestant. As my parents' marriage progressed, my father becameProtestant. That's great; so I was brought up in a Protestant home,and we sometimes went to a Protestant church. But, I never saw a Bibleat home, and we didn't pray and didn't talk about Jesus except atChristmas :-(.I got married in 1970. My husband is Protestant, too. We didn't goto a church. In 1972, our daughter Alexandra was born; and in 1974,our daughter Susan was born.In 1985, a lady took me and my daughters to a Free Evangelical Church.My husband didn't come with us. In that church, we learned thesinner's prayer and invited the Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts, etc., etc. 1 John 1:9 was always preached :-(. This verse almostkilled me!!!My daughter, Susan, as she was 19 years old, went to Washington State,U.S.A., got married there, and had fellowship with grace believers andgot saved :-)! So, she wrote and sent me pages and pages about thewonderful gospel of Christ. Finally, I have come to understand aboutPaul's ministry to the Gentiles and Christ's to the Jews. It's takenaway so much confusion and given me not only the true gospel but libertyand peace and grace to know I am in Christ by grace and faith in Hisfinished work on the cross for me. Praise the Lord.My husband is retired now - 62 years old - so he is here, there, andeverywhere; and I have not so much time anymore for my studies -- HOW I MISS IT!! I don't know if he is saved; I've told him aboutthe gospel of Christ. I know that he is jealous of my Lord.I love my Lord and the studies so much. Please pray for me to keepon. Thanks.Think of you a lot and hope you are doing well. It's so wonderfulto have your friendship and fellowship in Christ. You are such anencouragement for me!!! I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers andalso your friends in China.Love in Christ,SusiPhilippians 1:6: "Being confident of this very thing, that he whichhath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day ofJesus Christ: :0) :0)
Janaz GR, Switzerland
I was born and raised in a "Christian home." We attended a Baptist church; and in the sixth grade, I went to their summer camp. At the Thursday night camp fire devotion, emotions were running hotter than the fire. Having trouble keeping my S'more together, I decided to actually listen to the message. What was that message? I have no recollection of it; but some folks were "going forward" (as much as you can go forward when circled around a fire). So I went forward. I had convinced myself that I had made a profession of faith. The next Sunday, my Sunday school teacher told me it wasn't real unless I made it public through water baptism. At that time, I was terrified of doing anything in front of anybody, so I never got baptized there. In 1997, we moved to another Baptist church because of the youth program they had. That same year, I heard an evangelist bring another emotionally-charged message about trusting Christ and not going to hell. What was I trusting exactly? That Christ was the only way to heaven. The preacher said, "Now with every head bowed and every eye closed, if you are not one hundred percent sure that if you die tonight that heaven would be your home, then come forward right now. Come on! Come on" So, I went forward "Now pray after me: "Dear Jesus, I know I'm a sinner. I know my sin requires death. I know you died on the cross to pay for those sins. I ask you to save me now. In Jesus' name, Amen'" You want to know how much of the gospel I understood? None of it! -- because the gospel wasn't being presented -- a clever counterfeit was! You see, understanding the historical fact of the event of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is not the same as understanding the fact of what those transactions accomplished for us. For thirteen years, I thought I was a believer.
As anybody would, I struggled. I was preached at constantly to improve my performance for Christ. I would hear, "When was the last time you spent three hours in prayer?" "When was the last time you won a soul to Christ?" Etc., etc. So, I'd go forward (or be less spiritual and stay in my pew) and pray and think I got things "right with God;" only to come back next service and hear the same things all over and once again feel guilty that I wasn't right with God. Church quickly lost its savor. I had a hunger for God's word, however, that kept me studying despite what was on the menu at church. There was a Sunday school teacher who began to explore why Jesus, Peter, and James were saying one thing but Paul was saying another. I was immediately hooked! There were certain areas of Scripture that finally started to make sense. It has been about a year now, but I found some right-division folks online and began studying.
I'm now a believer, and I can actually tell you why! Christ became sin for me at Calvary; and by paying for that sin, he reconciled us to God, who was satisfied with the payment Christ paid. Christ took the issue of sin off of the table of God's justice forever. Christ became sin and was buried to forever put those sins out of the sight of God; and, as Romans 4:25 says, he rose again for our justification. On the basis of understanding and believing what Christ accomplished for me, I've been baptized into the body of Christ, declared to be in the very righteousness of God, and have been eternally sealed by the Holy Ghost. Paul never commanded walking an aisle or saying a special prayer -- he entreated us to simply believe his gospel. It is amazing how liberating God's grace truly is. If someone asks me about salvation, I have an answer now that isn't: "I asked Jesus into my heart" (What does that even mean anyway?); "I became born again;" or, "I trusted Christ" (trusted him to do what?). All of those answers are driven by the word, "I." God will not meet me on the ground of my performance. He can only meet us on the ground of the performance of his Son at Calvary.
This sounds like an all-happy story. Not so. Paul told Timothy that all those in Asia had turned away from him but for Timothy to hold fast to the form of sound words he heard Paul speak. It has come at a cost; and I'm convinced that cost will only become greater. My wife's family (who are Baptist) have expressed disappointment because I choose not to have our children subject to Baptist teaching anymore. They accuse me of being a heathen, or that I'm off in left field somewhere. This has taken a toll on my wife, as well. Thankfully, my own mom and dad were under the teaching of that Sunday school teacher who began to explore right division. They are not fully on board yet, but they understand it and are willing to talk about it. An associate pastor at the Baptist church I was attending has written me off as a heretic and uses the material of everyone else to "prove me wrong." (Note: he never uses his own material to do so.) However, Paul is still our pattern. I've learned that I can rest comfortably in the truth of Pauline doctrine, despite the struggle others have with me. Thanks be to God for his sufficient grace!
Editor's Note: I highly recommend Scott's post containing a letter he wrote to his former Baptist pastor.
"I knew I was a smart aleck...I thought I knew a lot about the Bible...I was trusting in my knowledge of these words rather than the man Christ Jesus."
Watch Brother Scott Mitchell as he shares what salvation means today from God's word preserved in the King James Version of the Holy Bible, and his account of his journey to understanding how that salvation must be appropriated in a very personal way by each believer:
Brother Scott conducts not only enjoyable interactive Bible studies every Sunday evening but invites you to join with his church family at Grace Family Bible Church in Seguin, TX, for their Sunday morning assembly by logging on to: http://web.me.com/gracefamilybible/gracefamilybible/Welcome.html
SHELLY ATTILIIS-WALLSI was raised Catholic until the fourth grade and learned who Jesus was and what he did (the cross) and then I got saved at age 39 and ended up in aBaptist church in Montana. They loved me and I learned a lot fromthem. I was water-baptized, not realizing it wasn't necessary, toprofess my faith in front of other Christians and so I was innocent.Then I got married and when we got back here to Georgia we found another Baptist church. Well, I started reading Mark and the Book of Acts and didn't understand the contradictions with baptism. I wasvery, very troubled by them, and I prayed and prayed.All of a sudden, a man named Les Feldick was on TV and I understoodwhy there was confusion but still attended my church, which was legalistic and thought I should wear a skirt to clean the church sowe left and went to another Baptist church where my husband becametroubled with the contradictions of 1 John 1:9 because the Baptistchurch he got saved in at age thirteen was more along the lines of grace teaching. Then, he started watching Les Feldick and all waswell other than getting increasingly troubled with the doctrines ofour church. We loved the church and the people but finally after acouple of years we were too offended in our spirit to stay and thepastor was taking the church in a whole new direction behind the backsof the congregation so we left. Well, we were naive enough to believe the next Baptist preacher that they were grace believers. We toldthem our concerns with 1 John 1:9 and all the false doctrines thelast pastor was teaching. He basically lied to us and tailored allthe sermons to wonderful grace gospel messages UNTIL we joined thechurch; the next week the message was 1 John 1:9! (Very, very longstory and that church was every bit as stupid as the last two – justa little bit more deceitful.)Had a "Faith Promise" missions giving conference and had this littlebooklet called, "Grace Giving." My husband read the book and we bothagreed it was bogus. He was very troubled. Having no male spiritual influence, he called Les Feldick for advice, who confirmed the "Faith Promise" concept was bogus and unscriptural. That was ourlast church; we left three years ago.I began to find flaws in Les Feldick's teaching as I was reading myBible; and then, lo and behold, I found E. C. Moore on TV! Actually,I had been watching E. C. and Les while we were attending the lasttwo Baptist churches; but my husband wasn't ready to leave because he wanted to make sure it was really wrong and we weren't being toopicky. I agreed more with E. C. than I did with Les Feldick as I wasseeing things Les overlooked. I understand the difference betweenActs 2, Acts 9, Acts 19, Acts 28 – and all the variations in between.What usually happens for me is that I get comvicted about somethingfirst, then read something that confirms what I am leaning towards.It's called "learning," and because I don't fully agree with any professed group, it helps my spirit to take the blinders off as I'm reading and studying the word.I'm not worried about the Judgment Seat of Christ because God loves meand I will – and already have – received a full reward; so again, Idon't live in constant fear of getting something wrong. I have God'sSpirit in me in accordance with 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Ephesians 1:6-7,13, so I trust him completely. He will be the one to lead and guide me in all truth.I trust no one will be offended (though they may not agree) that NO ONE has it all right. So, I remove myself from anyone or anything that offends my spirit. Maybe because I think I can guess how a lot of people think.I try to learn, but at the same time I am very careful. I have a long way to go but these last eleven years as a Christian have been the best years of my life!!!Shelly Attiliis-WallsGeorgia
GRACE TESTIMONY OF THIERRY JOSEPH
I would briefly like to share my testimony of how I got saved and became a grace believer after 14 years of Pentecostal bondage. I was raised Roman Catholic, then accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 18 years old, in a Pentecostal denomination. During my years under the Pentecostal movement, I never doubted that Christ died for my sins, was buried and rose again. However, I was taught that he died only for my past sins; my former pastor and his wife would always mix the Kingdom Gospel with the Grace Gospel. I was led to believe that I could lose my salvation, and that I needed to be a faithful Christian by confessing my sins, tithing, and always making sure not to miss a church service.
Other false doctrines practiced in my former congregation were speaking in tongues, visions, looking for signs, and healing the sick with anointed oil. The more I began to read my Bible (but not rightly dividing the word of course) the more confused I became. I started to question the doctrines and practices that were going on in my former congregation; and low and behold, the one famous answer I would constantly get from my former pastor was, "Do not read the bible literally; it is a spiritual book, and you must spiritualize what is written."
Fortunately in the summer of '08, a friend and fellow brother in Christ who is a Grace Believer recommended a book, titled, "Things That Differ," by Cornelius R. Stam -- a book on the fundamentals of dispensationalism and rightly dividing the word of truth. That book completely changed the way I look at the Bible.
After reading that book, I realized that I was an unsaved church member and did not believe on the finished work of Christ at Calvary's cross for my sins. I made a conscious decision to remove myself from my former Pentecostal congregation and begin reading more books on right division and to listen to Grace teachers on the Internet. After understanding that salvation is believing that Christ died for all my sins (past, present, future) according to the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and then putting my trust and faith in Christ alone, I was truly saved, baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13), and sealed until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14). Looking back at all the confusion and false doctrines that go on in the Pentecostal denominational movement, I have mixed emotions of sadness and anger -- sadness because many of my family members are still in bondage under the Pentecostal denominational movement and are still being brainwashed with false works-based doctrines.
In closing, my advice to anyone who is currently a member of any denomination is: study your Bible rightly divided and always compare scripture with scripture. Do not allow a fallible man to interpret what the Bible says but be like the Bereans in the book of Acts and search the Scriptures to see if what they teach lines up with the word of God, rightly divided, of course.
"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11).
"...let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written..." (Romans 3:4).
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" (Titus 3:5).
Grace and Peace,
Thierry Joseph, Connecticut
I was raised the daughter of a Pentecostal church pastor. Every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday night, we were in church raising monetary offerings, singing in the choir and listening to the preacher scream Bible lessons at us. The overall theme was “holiness.” From what I could gather, being “holy” meant being “Christ-like.” Being “Christ-like” meant an endless list of things you're not supposed to do accompanied by another list of requirements that you are supposed to do. It was confusing. But, it was all I had ever known. Who was I to question authority?
Nearly every man in my family is a minister, and the women are “missionaries.” So, of course, it is expected for all of us to fall in line and “get saved.”
I spent most of my life trying to figure out what that really meant. I had been “saved” several times, using several different methods, only to backslide back into a life of sin. I couldn't live up to what was expected of me.
In my home church, we were to repent, ask Jesus into our heart, be water-baptized, and then “tarry for the Holy Ghost.” I was 12 when I tarried for the Holy Ghost, and I was terrified. During a revival (a week long nightly church service), each night my friends and I were placed in a chair or on our knees in the front of the church. The musicians would play, and the church would sing. We were instructed to call the name, “Jesus,” over and over again until the Holy Spirit entered our bodies. I didn't understand it (I still don't), but I did it anyway. I wanted so badly for Jesus to come into my heart.
All around me, I could hear my friends jumping up and screaming, “Thank you, God, for saving me!”
I called Jesus' name louder and harder until I started to foam at the mouth. I thought that was a sign that the Holy Spirit was trying to get in, so I screamed more. Nothing happened.
The service ended, and the Holy Spirit had not come to me; but it had come to my friends. I was heart broken. I prayed to God and asked Him to please take away anything that's keeping me from Him. I begged for forgiveness for everything from thinking bad words when my mom made me mad to lying about homework. I got as “clean” as I could and tried again the next night.
And again, all around me, other kids were getting the Holy Spirit; and I wasn't. I didn't want my church and my family to think that I was not saved, so, after I foamed at the mouth once again, I jumped up and screamed “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!” I waved my hands in the air and praised God for the Holy Spirit.
It was a lie.
My plan was to repent and find what was keeping me from God and get rid of it so that the Holy Spirit would really come into me – but that never happened either.
As I grew older, I stopped faking it. I started to question inconsistencies that I found in my church. I was ostracized for it, of course. But I felt in my heart that I was right. I grew up and moved out on my own and joined other congregations. I was in search of a true relationship with the Lord; and from that search, I had been saved by reading a prayer from a plaque, asking Jesus into my heart, and even reading a poem. All of it was moot.
I had been in churches where we were criticized for not giving enough money, not doing fund raisers, not coming to church, not wearing long dresses, etc. Sometimes, I would sit in the back of the church with my kids and just cry. I refused to believe that this was what God intended for us.
Church was not a church. I called it the “poor man's country club.” I refused to be a part of it anymore. So, I stopped going and started studying on my own.
I'll never forget the day that I met my soon-to-be best friend who introduced me to AM1490 Radio and rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
I already knew this verse by heart, but, I didn't completely understand it. Now I understand that rightly dividing the word of truth means to separate the law scriptures from the grace scriptures. Now I understand that God deals with his people differently in different dispensations. We live in the dispensation of grace, which means all of that hard work that I was doing in those churches would have never secured my salvation. Salvation is the gift of God! You don't earn a gift! It is given with grace!
I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose after three days for all of my sins! I believe that with all of my being and no one can take it away! Not even me!
Now I teach my children better than I was taught. I am trying to share this wonderful gift of love with as many people as possible. Who can comprehend the sacrifice that was made for us? I don't believe that anyone who is saved and truly appreciates this great sacrifice could ever keep it a secret.
This website is priceless and Debbie; you are a gem! Thank you for being my friend!
Thank God for his grace and mercy!
Rossville, GA, U.S.A.
3/5/11 NOTE: Learn more about Tina Bryant (under the writer's pseudonym of Jessica T. Rogers) at these links to an exclusive interview with Tina on Written Voices Blog:
Read Tina's grace articles on her blog: Living the Grace Way of Life
Saved By Grace - Kept By Grace!