I grew up in a christian home with a single parent. I was taught at an early age that I needed to be saved to go to Heaven. Romans 3:23 says "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". I said the prayer I was led to say and got "saved" when I was seven. I cried, my mom cried, the lady praying with me cried so it must have really happened right? I was baptized a short time later and was a good little soldier memorizing verses, wearing my dresses to church, handing out tracts and trying to get all my little friends saved. It was difficult though because when it came time to explain salvation to them, my 7 year old mind couldn't really explain because I didn't fully understand myself.
Through the years I was sure I was saved, after all Id said the magic words, we all cried, emotion was high and the church assured me I was good to go for life no matter what sins I committed. Even at as a child this sounded fishy to me.
As I went through my life living just as I pleased, I would get re-saved from time to time because something was missing. I didn't know what. The bible says in John 3:16
'For God so loved the world that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." Well I did believe. I really did. I believed everything Id been taught so I just went on hoping I was saved and trying to ignore the fact that something was missing. I would say I was sorry for my sins every time I got re-saved from backsliding but in my heart I knew I was sorry because I was supposed to be. I wanted to be, but I wasn't really sorry. I knew I was born a sinner therefore not my fault. I didn't ask for this and Adam and Eve were to blame. I knew Jesus died for me but again my heart would say "I didn't ask him to". "Why put all this on me?"
After 37 years of living a self-absorbed sin-filled life I was watching some VHS tapes of a pastor preaching that were given to me and I really liked them. One night while watching I heard him say something that made me sit straight up in my seat. It was my line, the one I said in my head. He said "You may say "Well I wasn't in the garden". "I'm not Adam or Eve". "I would have listened to God and not eaten that apple". Then he explained that we all are in the proverbial garden and God is giving us many choices to obey or disobey and when we choose to disobey we are Adam or Eve and it is our fault and he knew we couldn't be perfect and so He sent His Son to die for us and now I knew what had been missing all along. Repentance. I didn't have it. Suddenly my eyes were opened and I saw my sin for what it really was and for the first time in my life I was so repentant I could hardly look at myself. I was to blame. I repented for every sin I could remember and then some more that came to mind later. I just couldn't stop I was so sorry. I thanked God for his forgiveness and Salvation and most of all thanked Him for showing me the truth before I died and went to Hell. For the word says in 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
I had believed in God and Jesus and knew I needed to be saved but it wasn't enough. I needed to feel true repentance and turn away from my sin and not just believe in God but turn my life over to Him and live for Him the rest of my days. It has been almost 20 years since that day and I still thank God all the time for that 1 tape that did what a lifetime of sermons couldn't do. Open my eyes to the truth.