There was a time in my life when I did not know whether I was saved or whether I was lost. I remember working for the Nigerian Commercial and Industrial Enterprises Limited in Warri, and carrying messages from one department to another. As I walked along the underground corridors of that great firm, I was not interested in the message I was carrying. I was asking myself just one question: “Am I saved or am I lost? If I am lost, Lord, let me know it in order that I may get saved, and if I am saved let me know it in order that I may rejoice in Thy salvation”.
You see, I had come into contact with a group of people who taught salvation by feeling and experience instead of by faith, night after night I would go forward in their tent, kneel in the straw, where they would gather around me and all pray together, pleading with God to save me. So alarmed was I that I was afraid to go home and go to bed. For fear I would fall asleep and wake up in perdition. My one cry day and night was, “Am I bound for Heaven or for Hell”? I was still only 26 years of age.
One night I decided to attend World Action Team for Christ, and as I sat on the east side of the gallery I bowed my head and prayed that the minister would that night preach on saving faith and thus solve my problem. At last the Reverend Minister stepped in to the pulpit and the service commenced. And that night he did preach on faith. I listened with both ears and watched with both eyes; but at the close of the service, with hundreds of others, I got up and went out into the darkness of the night, still not knowing whether I was saved or whether I was lost.
Why? Was it because the Minister had not preached the Gospel? Most assuredly not. He did preach the Gospel. Again and again he cried out. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” What then was the matter? Let me tell you. Never once in the course of his address did he stop to tell us what he meant by the word “believe,” and that was my trouble. I knew that I had to believe, but I had always believed. There never had been a time when I did not believe. From the days of my earliest childhood I believed as much as I believe today, and yet I did not know whether I was a Christian or not.
You see, there were no atheists in our community, no agnostics or skeptics. I had never heard of an infidel. Everybody believed. Some were drunkards, others swore and cursed; many were given to lying and stealing. They did not even profess to be Christians, but they believe. I did not know one who even questioned the people of the Word of God. Are there not millions in similar situations? I have found them everywhere I have gone. In ancient Russia, let alone Spain, Italy and many other countries of Europe, as well as in America and Nigeria, there are literally millions who believe and yet who are not saved. And if millions who believe in Christ are not Christians then what does it mean to believe?
Finally one day I came across that little booklet that was used so often by Queen May in her personal work, Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment, by Geo. Cutting, and as a result my doubts vanished. I was assured of my salvation, and from that day to this I have never had a doubt of any kind. There are three steps in saving faith. They are like the three rungs of a ladder. The first two will not save, but the third will. However, you cannot take the third until you have taken the first two. Hear – The first step I designate by the simple word “hear”. “How shall they believe except they hear?” Knowledge of God’s salvation is necessary before it is possible to believe. That is why we sent missionaries to China, to India and to Africa. The heathen must first hear before they can believe. But I am sure that I need not dwell on this step now. I am quite certain that everyone has again and again heard the message of God’s salvation. Therefore you have already taken the first step. You have heard.
Believe – I designate the second step by using the simple word “believe”. Now what is the meaning of “believe”? It simply means “Giving intellectual assent to a truth”. The Dictionary says, “to consent with the mind”. When therefore you have given “Intellectual assent to a truth” you have believed. You have taken the second step. But you are not saved. When the King James translators were translating the Bible some three hundred and fifty years ago, they came across a certain Hebrew word in the Old Testament Scriptures, and they began searching for its English equivalent. Finally they chose the word “trust”, and that is why you have the word “trust” occurring so frequently in the Old Testament Scriptures. It is found a hundred and fiftytwo times.
In due time they came to the New Testament, and presently they encountered the same word, but this time in the Greek, and again they searched for an English word with which to translate it. But for some unknown reason they decided to chose an entirely different word, for had they chosen the word “believe”, had they been consistent, had they used the Old Testament word for their translation, this message would not have been necessary. But they used, as I have stated, the word “believe”, and that frequently in the New Testament Scriptures, especially in the Gospel of John and the epistle of Paul. That had caused all the confusion and misunderstanding.
To be Contd.