First Time I Heard The Gospel

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Good morning to all you beautiful souls out there!  I have been praying for you all and reading your blogs this morning!  Such amazing talent and gifts abound on WordPress!  It encourages me each day as I read your stories, poems, and outpourings of your hearts!  Most of us might be introverts and we prefer our quiet writer’s dens, but we are all impacting lives and changing the world!  The pen is mightier than the sword indeed!  God bless you all in the Precious Name of Jesus!

I just want to open up some more about my life and be real with everyone.  Yes, I am a preacher, but I am also just a man.  A 40 year old man with two awesome kids and a wonderful wife of 17 years.  I wasn’t always a Christian.  In fact, I have probably sinned way worse than you ever have in your life!  I loved to drink and party and that leads to all kinds of sin.  I am so thankful Jesus saved me!

This morning I was thinking back to when I was 18 years old before I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I did not want anything to do with God and I especially hated Christians.  They annoyed me and I thought they were a bunch of self righteous people who just needed a crutch in life.

I am 6’1″ tall and I used to weigh around 160 pounds.  I grew up tough playing basketball with the big guys, ice hockey with the bruisers, and I loved lifting weights.  I loved playing hockey on the frozen Fox River in St. Charles with my friends too!  That is one thing I miss about the Chicago area–really good outdoor ice all winter long!  I still prefer the mild winters here in Colorado where it can be 75 in January out of nowhere!  Yep, we get blizzards in April and May and summer days in the winter.  It’s all because of those Rocky Mountains!  I miss those days playing hockey though.  Hey Chi-Town homies, Go Blackhawks!!! P.S.–I grew up with Eddie Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, Tony Amonte, and Chris Chelios in the 90s at the old stadium!  Man that place would get loud and nobody could sing the national anthem like that singer!  Incredible!  Chicago is a cool city folks!

I remember thinking that laying down my life to Jesus was weak.  I remember wanting to hold onto my life and not let it go.  I wanted to be tough and not show any weakness.  I didn’t want to think that I needed God or anybody else.  I thought I could do it all on my own by my own strength and I wanted to do my own thing on my terms.  Even after living with a demon for four years through high school, I still didn’t repent!  Craziness!

It wasn’t until I went to college and heard the Gospel clearly preached to me for the first time that I understood what Jesus had done for me and why I needed Him.  I also understood that it was not weak, but it was the most courageous decision a person could make!

When I arrived on campus at the University of Northern Colorado fresh out of high school, I was one messed up dude.  My mind and soul were distorted from alcohol and partying and I had just spent the last four years of my life being tormented by a literal very real demon that lived in our house.  I did not know it, but I desperately needed Jesus and He was coming to rescue me!

This is how I heard the Gospel for the first time as a Freshman in college in 1996:

I met some great Christians who became my friends.  They invited me to the campus ministry called Campus Crusade for Christ and introduced me to Jim.  Shortly after that, Jim, who would later become my discipleship mentor and great friend for my entire 4 years in college, sat down with me and shared a little booklet called the “Four Spiritual Laws.”  Jim was the Director of Campus Crusade for Christ at that time.  A student leader named Brock was with Jim and so was my friend Willie as we were in his dorm room.  Jim started by asking me, “Bro, if you were to die tonight, how certain are you that you would go to Heaven?  Just give me a percent bro.”

I was shocked as I had never been asked that in my entire life!  I said something like 80 or 90% sure I would go based off the fact I believed I was a “good guy.”  He accepted my answer with grace and said, “would you like to be 100% sure bro?”  That just brings a big smile to my face right now.  I just love Jim bro!  He always called everyone bro, so we called him Jim bro!

I said, “Yes, I want to be 100% sure.”  He said, “Okay, bro, here is how to be 100% sure.”  Jim opened up the little booklet and proceeded to go through it with me explaining it step by step as I looked at the pictures and listened with fascination to every word he said.

Here is that booklet that Campus Crusade for Christ used to evangelize on campus in the mid 90s called “The Four Spiritual Laws”:

1. God loves you and created you to know Him personally.

God’s Love

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

God’s Plan

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

What prevents us from knowing God personally?


2. Man is sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know Him personally or experience His love.

Man is Sinful

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Man was created to have fellowship with God; but, because of his own stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way and fellowship with God was broken.  This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is an evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

Man is Separated

“For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) [Death is spiritual separation from God]

“(Those) who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus…will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord…” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

law2

This diagram illustrates that God is holy and man is sinful. A great gulf separates the two. The arrows illustrate that man is continually trying to reach God and establish the personal relationship with Him through his own efforts, such as a good life, philosophy, or religion – but he inevitably fails. The third principle explains the only way to bridge this gulf…


3.Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love.

He Died in Our Place

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

He Rose From the Dead

“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).

He is the Only Way to God

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

law3

This diagram illustrates that God has bridged the gulf that separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

It is not enough just to know these truths…


4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience His love.

We Must Receive Christ

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

We Receive Christ Through Faith

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth! (Read John 3:1-8)

We Receive Christ by Personal Invitation

[Jesus speaking] “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self, which is repentance, and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive us of our sins and to make us what He wants us to be.  Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough.  Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience.  We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of our will.

These two circles represent two kinds of lives:

] self directed lifechrist directed life

Which circle best represents your life?

Which circle would you like to have represent your life?

The following explains how you can receive Christ:

You Can Receive Christ Right Now by Faith Through Prayer

(Prayer is talking with God)

God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart.  The following is a suggested prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally.  Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins.  I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord.  Thank You for forgiving me of my sins and giving me eternal life.  Take control of the throne of my life.  Make me the kind of person You want me to be.  Amen.”

 

When Jim showed me the little pictures of the life where SELF is on the throne, Christ is outside the life, and the pieces of life are all over the place in discord and frustration, that is exactly how I felt when I was 18 without the Lord and without hope.  It hit me big time!  It also hit me big that we cannot work our way into Heaven through good works, philosophy, or religion.  At that time I thought people went to Heaven by being a “good person.”  Praise God we don’t have to work our way to Heaven!  The free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ is so much better!  Man’s efforts to reach God will always fail.  The only way to God is through Jesus Christ.

Jim asked me, “which circle best represents your life bro?”  I pointed quietly to the picture where SELF is on the throne.  Then Jim said, “which circle would you like to have represent your life bro?”  I pointed to the picture where Jesus is on the throne, self is yielding to Christ, and the pieces of life are in harmony with God’s plan.

After that, Jim said, “good bro, you can receive Jesus through faith right now.  Would you like to do that bro?”

I freaked out inside when I was faced with that decision!  I was amazed that God came down to pay the penalty for our sins Himself and I had never heard it like that before.  I understood now that I was separated from God and I knew deep down that I had sinned against the Lord.  I had even mocked Him and His followers.  I also realized that the Bible had the answers to the demon we lived with in St. Charles, but I did not know what to say!  I desperately wanted the salvation and peace that Jesus offered me, but the decision was huge!  I needed time to think, so I did not accept Jesus at that moment with Jim.  However, just a few weeks later in October of 1996 I gave my life to Jesus Christ while standing alone in the parking lot of a church!  I prayed that salvation prayer above and I was filled with the Holy Spirit and great joy like I had never known in my life!

I celebrated with all my Christian friends from Campus Crusade that Friday night and we all praised God and celebrated my salvation in Christ!  It was awesome and it is a beautiful memory I will never forget.  That is how my walk with Jesus started.  I heard the Gospel explained to me clearly out of a little Gospel tract booklet, and I have been preaching the Gospel ever since!

I hope sharing this has helped you like it helped me!  That is how I shared the Gospel on campus for 4 years from 1996 to 2000.  I know it is hard to hear about Jesus and sin and salvation.  Believe me, I know!  I used to get so angry anytime a Christian would share Christ with me.  You know what though?  That is the most loving thing a person could do for you.  To have courage and invite you to Heaven is not an easy thing to do in this wicked world.  Thank God for the Holy Spirit helping us!

If you have any questions about faith in Jesus or you prayed that prayer to receive Jesus, please let me know!  If you need prayer or just need to talk, please let me know that too!  Jesus saved me, so I could in turn help others come to Him with the gifts He gave me.

Don’t hang on to a life of hopelessness.  It is not weak to admit that you need God and His love.  We were created to be loved by God and we all have a God shaped hole in us that only He can fill.  We all know this and feel this deeply within us because He has set eternity in the hearts of men.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

You know deep inside that you are eternal and that your soul will live on after you die.  Make sure you live forever in Heaven!  Don’t lose your soul over some broken life here on earth!  Let God take over the throne of your life and bring you peace!  I gave my broken life to God almost 22 years ago and He made me brand new!  He will do the same for you!

So, which circle represents your life now?  Which circle would you like to represent your life?  I hope and pray it is the one where Jesus is on the throne and you are at peace in His love and forgiveness!

Grace and peace to you all!

Romans 10 v 9

 

Author: Author Ryan Callahan

Hello, and welcome to my site! I am an Independent Christian Author (One Man's Very Strange Supernatural Life) and Freelance Writer, and most importantly I am an every day Minister to whomever God sends my way. My main goal with this blog is to help people come to know the Lord Jesus and help them understand the Bible and apply it in their every day lives. This site is about hope, new beginnings, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love! I'm glad you are here, enjoy!

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