(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
There has been a question that has divided the church for almost 2,000 years! “Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?”
- To express it another way: “Once one has accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior, can he or she sin to an extent that God says, ‘You are no longer saved!’”
- And a related question: “If one can lose his or her salvation, can that one be saved again?”
Bear with me as I share my testimony concerning how I came to be a Christian. I was raised in a godless family. My mother may have had some belief in God, but she didn’t go to church and she didn’t read the Bible. My father was certainly not a Christian! He was a womanizer, a financial manipulater, and I remember him teaching me to swear using a “repeat after me” method! Because of him illegally mortgaging our Connecticut dairy farm a second time, he left the family when he was about to be found out! He ran off with a woman with whom he was engaged before he met my mother – after 29 years of marriage! I was ten years old, the youngest of three brothers.
The spring after my father deserted the family, my mother had to sell the farm to cover his illegal debts. I loved that Sharon Mountian farm! My dream was to someday take over those 208 acres and be a dairy farmer! My dreams collapsed, and my life radically changed!
- I couldn’t handle the loss, so I stuffed my feelings down inside so I wouldn’t have to deal with them! To this day I can’t remember feeling much of anything after losing the farm!
- But I did feel a deep loss! I just couldn’t identify the cause of it! And I began medicating myself with alcohol at age twelve to deal with my unidentifiable loss. By the time I was fifteen I was a binge alcoholic who could drink most men ‘under the table’!
- I chose the wrong friends, got into trouble (as did my two older brothers) and was arrested twice!
- I bought into the opinion vocalized by some who knew us: “Those Norton boys will never amount to anything!” I had little confidence in myself, and I put on a big extrovert show while feeling quite introverted!
- I lost my driver’s license which resulted in me being more isolated from friends and activities.
In November of my eighteenth year I joined the Air Force. After basic training, I was stationed at Keesleer Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi for radar repair training. It was at Keesler that something wonderful happened…
My mother, though not involved with the church herself, did send us three boys to Sunday school at the Sharon Congregational Church. However, I really don’t remember learning a great deal about the Bible or the need to personally ask Jesus Christ to save me. Maybe I was just not ready to believe! …or listen!
But I did believe in God in my own way! But my ‘faith’ was not grounded in Scripture. I prayed, but not as God would have me to pray, I’m sure. I was fascinated by the old patriarchal family Bible we had, circa 1882, and I even tried to read some of it, but not understanding it, I soon gave up my effort. The Bible finally fell apart into three pieces, and my mother was going to throw it out. I asked if I could have it, and I and my newlywed wife had it professionally rebound. The restoration cost $25 dollars (this was a goodly sum in 1968), but the man who did the work told us it was a $50 job! “A wedding gift,” he said.
Back to something wonderful happened…
My Air Force friend Jerry shared with me how he had converted to the Roman Catholic faith, much to his family’s dismay. I asked “Why?” And, as Jerry shared, I thought, “Maybe I will become a Roman Catholic! I really don’t have a faith to call my own.” I began to study the Catholic teachings, and was serious about my decision to eventually convert. I regularly practiced what I learned, and although I never did officially become a Catholic, I think I was probably a more serious pursuant of Roman Catholicism than those brought up in that faith! I was a ‘non-Catholic’ Catholic for the next four years!
But something wonderful happened as I began my pursuit of Catholicism – I discovered Jesus!
I didn’t know much of what the Bible taught concerning accepting the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior, and at that early ‘faith time,’ I couldn’t explain in Christian terms what had happened to me. But I was sure of three things:
- Jesus was real!
- Jesus was alive!
- Jesus loved me!
…and I fell ‘head over heels’ love with Him!
That was my salvation experience! Later, as the discharge date from the Air Force approached, I met my future wife, Hope. We married eight weeks later, just six days after my discharge! Hope was raised Baptist, and she knew a great deal more than I did concerning Biblical faith! With her encouragement I enrolled in a Bible college, and two years later I found myself the pastor of First Baptist Church of Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania!
That was fifty-one years ago! I am now retired, and very active in Macedonia Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia. Part of my current ministry is sharing with you the Biblical knowledge I have learned during my fifty-five years of being a Christian. I share it through this “Gems for Living” website, with the hope and prayer that it will help you to grow in your Christian faith!
My testimony is just the prologue to a series of Gems concerning “Why Am I Sure of My Salvation…” I share because I want you to have, and rest your faith in, the same certainty based on the Word of God!