Monday, April 1, 2013

Taking the next steps

After accepting Jesus as my saviour and being born-again that night on the 1st April 1981 I can remember having the desire to have a bath. Later that evening after having spent some precious time with a dear Christian pastor, Vic Pearce, I headed straight for the bathroom in res and ran a bath. The thoughts going through my mind were "need to wash the sin away". Little did I know that this was the Holy Spirit impressing on me that I needed to be water baptised.

I had grown up in a Catholic home and been through all the rituals of christening as a baby, altar boy, confirmation as a teenager, attended catechism, sang in the choir in church etc. However, none of these rituals had brought about the transformation that I had now experienced. 

My parents thought I had gone mad and kept inviting the priest over to speak to me. One evening my mother organised for a whole group of young seminarians to come and speak to me together with a few priests. We had long debates, by this time I had been attending Bible studies at the YMCA at UCT and had learned a few things about the bible. I had been introduced to Josh McDowel and his book, Evidence Demands a Verdict. I remember having intense discussions with one of the seminary students about the fact that Bible was the only standard for biblical truth and not church tradition as taught in the Catholic church. This seminary student became quite aggressive and was very rattled, but he was also desperate for truth and he asked me if he could borrow Josh McDowel's book which I gladly lent him. I never saw that book again or the seminarian but I trust that he found what he was looking for.

I became convinced that infant baptism was meaningless and unbiblical and that I needed to be baptised by full immersion as the Bible instructs. I had heard of Hatfield Baptist Church in Pretoria and went and found them and signed up to be baptised. 

I can remember how I had a new found hunger to read the bible. I had never owned my own bible, but now I had one and was devouring it daily. There were lots of things I did not understand and I was crying out to God to help me understand it better. It seemed that there was something missing but I could not place my finger on it. After being water baptised at Hatfield they took us to a room and explained about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I had never been taught that this was something I could and needed to receive. I was game for anything that would help and bring me closer to God, so I stood in line for prayer. I did not feel any different afterwards and wondered why. They had said that you can speak in tongues after being baptised in the Spirit, but this did not happen to me. That whole week I cried out to God to baptise me and let me speak in tongues. The following Sunday I went through to Rhema in Jhb and after the service they called people up to be baptised in the Spirit. I ran forward and an elderly lady came to pray for me. She must have been a real prayer warrior, she gave me some instruction and then prayed and it happened, I began speaking in tongues. I was excited and spent hours over the next few days praying in tongues. Now when I opened the Bible, it was like the words on the page were leaping off and I could instantly understand what was written. It was such an amazing experience to be able to read the Bible and make sense of it all. I could not put it down and read it through from cover to cover. For the next month whilst I was at home on my university vacation, I spent the entire month studying the Bible for up to 8hrs a day. I knew now what it meant to be a "new creation" and have the Holy Spirit in you. I began to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit and I felt such an incredible joy, peace and love pulsing through me. I had no desire to do the things I used to do that were not pleasing to God. I longed to please Him and be in His presence.

Its 32 years later and I still feel the same. Yes, I have been through some ups and downs, I have fallen here and there, but God's grace is sufficient - if we confess our sins He is righteous and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John1:9). An important lesson I have learned - God does not forgive excuses, we must not make excuses when we sin. We need to acknowledge when we do, do not excuse it because everyone around you is doing it, acknowledge your sin, repent, ask for forgiveness and move on. Dont live with guilt, once you have confessed your sins, you are forgiven and cleansed. 

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