But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6)

In the last post, I told the story of my father’s conversion experience.  Well here is mine.  I told about my childhood being brought up in the Baptist Church.  My grandfather Hill (my mother’s father) had a great impact on my life.  He was a man who truly walked with Jesus all his life.  He grew up in a little Baptist church in Gillsville, Georgia where he was converted as a child.  When my dad and mother married, my mom was a strong Christian and an active member of the Baptist church.  My father grew up Episcopalian  and was a Christian in name only.  When he was converted he joined the Baptist church where he served until he died when I was 20 years old.

I’m sure after reading about my strong Baptist background one may say, “Well, why did you become a Presbyterian?”  The answer is that I married a strong believer who was a devout Presbyterian.  You see, when I married Anne, I was like my father.  I was religious, moral, and, yes, “a good man” in the eyes of my friends and family.  The problem was that I trusted in my religion, morality, and my self- righteousness which I thought would buy me a place in heaven.

But God put me in a marriage where I had the godly witness of a highly committed believer.  I was that man who gave the right answers, when, in fact, I was not truly converted at all.  Through the faithful witness of a godly wife, the gospel was lived out before me.

God prepared my heart and my head to hear and believe the gospel.  I attribute three human influences to my conversion. — the Christian home in which I grew up, the witness of a godly wife, and a loving, caring insurance agent who loved a young man enough to share the gospel with me in clear and certain terms.  Bob Cunningham called on me to sell me some life insurance when I was in business in Macon, Georgia.  My father died when I was 20 and while in college at Mercer University in Macon, I bought an interest in a retail furniture and carpeting store.  It was at that time that Bob called on me.  After talking to me about life insurance, he asked me if I had a few more minutes to talk about another kind of insurance that was far more important.  Of course, I was willing to listen to me.  He asked me two questions that changed my life.  First, he asked, if I were to die today did I know I would go to heaven.  My answer was that I hoped I would.  I sure did not like the alternative!  Second, he asked, if I were to die today and stood before God and God said to me, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” what would I say.  I remember giving my answer.  “I try to be a good person.  I love my wife and am faithful to her.  I don’t cheat people and I try to be honest.  And beside this, I tithe and am a deacon in my church.”  Bob smiled at me and said, ‘Those are good things, but that won’t get you to heaven.  Only a saving relationship with Jesus Christ can do that.”  He went on to tell me about sin and my need for Christ and shared what Christ had done for me in dying and being resurrected in my behalf.  For the first time I came to understand that Jesus died for me!  I wasn’t converted immediately; but a light came on and over the next days, I began to believe what Bob had told me and came to repentance and true faith in Jesus.  My life changed.

While these three human agencies were used, my salvation was ultimately because of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit effectually called me to salvation, regenerated me (caused me to be born again), and I responded in repentance and faith.  Read Ephesians 2:4-6 again.  Not only has God made us alive; but He has also raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly places.

What about you?  If you died today, do you know you would go to heaven?  If you did die and stand before God and He asked you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?”  What would you say?

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