During those years of doctrinal “confusion” I based my salvation on something I had done. I based my assurance on things I did. When I witnessed to others during that time the emphasis was on bringing people to make a decision followed by them reciting a sinner’s prayer. As well meaning as all of that was, I see it now as the fruit of utter spiritual immaturity.
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Romans 3:21-28 (NASB)
As I reflect back on my personal testimony of my pilgrimage and how God drew me to Himself regardless of my unworthiness and then patiently matured me over the years I marvel at His gift of grace. However, that does not negate the fact that I, like everyone else, had a lot of growing up to do, and still do I am sure. For many years, even as a Bible teacher and Deacon, I confess to you all that my understanding of salvation and the doctrines that have been developed, which explain it, was very fuzzy compared to my understanding now. During those years of doctrinal “confusion” I based my salvation on something I had done. I based my assurance on things I did. When I witnessed to others during that time the emphasis was on bringing people to make a decision followed by them reciting a sinner’s prayer. As well meaning as all of that was, I see it now as the fruit of utter spiritual immaturity.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)
In the late 1980’s I enrolled in a class at our church called Evangelism Explosion. My trainer was very good. We had to memorize a lot of scripture. The one above from Ephesians 2 was one of the first ones we memorized. Of course, we didn’t include v10 because that wasn’t part of our presentation. I actually did quite well and became a trainer myself the next year. However, I admit to you right now that v9 confused me some. I finally came to understand that v9 was speaking of doing the works of the Law. Therefore, the act of deciding and choosing were not those works Paul was speaking of. If so, and I did think about this, then I could boast. I made the right decision after all. I had friends, relatives and other people I knew who wanted nothing to do with Christianity. They obviously had made the wrong decision. I was secure in my salvation though because I had decided correctly. This carried over into my walk. Even though I never admitted it to anyone, there was a tinge of self-righteousness in my walk. In it I saw me earning God’s favor by doing good works. I even felt dread when I missed church for any reason like God was going to strike me dead because of my unfaithfulness.