After attending church from my infancy, God saved me one Sunday morning in a small Methodist church in a rural community located on Sand Mountain in Alabama, USA. But before I get into the story of how God saved me I’d like for you to read a passage of scripture that is among my favorites in the Bible. Please read it kind of slow because I’d really like for you grasp what the apostle Paul has written here by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As I share how God saved me you will hear some of these passages again. They speak not only of the way God saved me but how God gives new birth and saves everyone who comes to Christ in repentance for the forgiveness of sins and professes him as Savior and Lord.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV)
The story of how God saved me began before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Before I was ever born God foreknew me (Romans 8:29). He didn’t just merely know that I would someday exist and be saved, that isn’t what foreknew means. It means he chose to have a relationship with me, he chose to set his love on me, and he chose me to be holy and blameless before him before I ever existed (Ephesians 1:4). He knew that if he didn’t choose me that I would never choose him; I would never choose to be his son. Since I had not yet been born he didn’t ask me if I wanted to be his son (the potter doesn’t ask the clay what it wants to be; Romans 9:21), there was no choice to be made on my part, I wasn’t there.
Out of his great love God chose me to be his son according to his own purpose and the council of his own will (Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11). He chose me not because of a foreseen faith on my part. God didn’t look down through the tunnels of time and say, “I am going to choose that boy right there because one day I know he is going to choose me.” No, no! That would make God no more than a responder to my choice. That would mean that my choice was the decisive factor in my salvation. I would have been the author of my faith. He knew that I could not and would not believe if he didn’t give me faith (Romans 7:8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:8). The only reason I came to faith in Christ was because God chose me. In his love for me he predestined that I would be his son and he predestined that I would be conformed into the image of his Son (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:29).
So, from the foundation of the world this magnificent loving God devised a plan through which I would be called a son of God. In due time God wrapped his glory in human flesh, and came in the form of man. We know him as Jesus the Christ, the unique Son of God (John 1:14). God so loved Steve Pruitt that he sent his only Son so that when I believed in him I would have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus didn’t come to save me because he knew that one day I would seek him. He came seeking me because he knew I couldn’t seek him (Romans 3:11). He came to seek and save this soul (Luke 19:10). He died to bring me to God (1 Peter 3:18). He came so that I would have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). He came to bring me out of Satan’s deep darkness into God’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
Jesus lived a sinless life yet died a sinner’s death on a cross. And while hanging there he clothed himself with my sins. God made him who knew no sin to become sin and die in my place (2 Corinthians 5:21). And in suffering and dying in my place the wrath of God that was mine to bear because of my sin was absorbed by the precious Son of God; Jesus (Romans 5:9). And as he took in his last breath this infinite treasure from God said, “It is finished!” which mean “paid if full” (John 19:30). The debt for my sin was nailed to the cross having been fully paid by God’s precious Son (Colossians 2:14). Jesus not only took my sin, he imparted to me his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and I was declared not guilty; justified. I had sinned, but God counted a guilty sinner righteous because his obedient Son took the punishment that I deserved (Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8).
Jesus died on the cross and then lay in a borrowed grave for three days. And then rose again to life (Mark 16:6). Since I had died with him on the cross (Romans 6:8), I too was raised from the dead fully justified by his resurrection. He was delivered up for my trespasses and raised for my justification (Romans 4:25).
Everything we have talked about until now took place before I was even a gleam in my daddy’s eye; before I was conceived in my mother’s womb and birthed into this world. Yet, on February 26, 1959, at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee, little Stevey Wayde Pruitt was born to Wilburn Lewis Pruitt & Lynda Jane Coker Pruitt. He was born dead; dead in his trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), he was born by nature a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), born in total darkness, unable to understand anything of a spiritual nature (1 Corinthians 2:14). He was hostile toward God, an enemy even, (Romans 5:10), incapable of submitting to God’s laws (Romans 8:7), lost and without any hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12), all 7 pounds and 15 1/2 ounces of him.
I was a pretty good kid growing up. I did submit, for the most part, to my dad and mom mainly because when I didn’t they spanked my behind post haste. But, make no mistake, I was a lost soul. However, one October Sunday morning in 1975 at the age of 16 at the First United Methodist Church in Skirum, Alabama, as I sat on the front pew watching some of the youth at our church pray at the altar—God came calling. I went to the altar and told God that I wanted to make sure that I was a Christian and was going to heaven. I asked him to forgive me of my sins, and God in his mercy sent his Holy Spirit and breathed in me the breath of eternal life (Titus 3:5). He gave birth to my dead spirit. I wasn’t born by the will of my flesh (John 1:13; Romans 9:15-16). God gave spiritual birth to me by the Holy Spirit.
God made me alive, he literally caused me to be born again (1 Peter 1:3), he gave me a new nature, made me a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). You know, I didn’t make a “decision” for Christ, nor did I “invite” Jesus into my life nor did I “give my heart” to Christ. Because of the deadness and darkness of my heart due to sin I was neither capable of making a decision for Christ nor was I willing to “give him my heart” nor “invite” him to come into life. No, God made the decision to save me and invited me into his life. With great love God overcame my resistance to his grace and gave me a new heart making me willing to believe on him and receive him. God cut covenant with me in the blood of his Son (Luke 22:20). He put his Spirit in me, put his laws into my heart and wrote them on my mind (Hebrews 10:16). That is what happened while I was on my knees at the altar that Sunday morning. God said, “See” and I saw. He said, “Rise” and I came to life.
Now that God had given me a new life, I was no longer dead but alive, I received Christ as my Savior and Lord and having believed on him for the forgiveness of my sins, my sins were forgiven—washed clean by the blood Jesus that was shed before I was born. Instead of being a child of wrath—God’s wrath had been removed (Romans 5:9). God shed his marvelous light into my darkness and for the first time in my life I could see. The wall of hostility that separated me from God came crashing down having been nailed to the cross of Christ (Ephesians 2:14) and was replaced with the loving, welcoming arms of the Father, who brought this lost sheep into his fold. Now please don’t think for one minute that I became a sheep at the moment I believed in Jesus. Just the opposite is true. The Good Shepherd came to lay down his life for the sheep (John 10:11). I believed in Jesus because he chose me to be his sheep before the foundation of the world. God took me, a hostile enemy, and made me his friend, and instead of being lost and without hope in the world, God gave me purpose and now I have an abundant life here and a living hope of an inheritance that awaits me in heaven (John 10:10; 1 Peter 1:4).
Everything that God set in motion before the foundation of the world, everything that God accomplished in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ he made effectual in the life of Stevey Wayde Pruitt that Sunday morning. God did not chose me before the foundation of the world then put his Son through a grueling death merely to “make it possible” for me to have a relationship with him—God sent Jesus to sacrifice his life to absolutely secure my eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12) and to absolutely secure the relationship that he began with me before the world was. Jesus came to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21), not to merely make it possible for them to be saved. And though I did absolutely nothing to deserve it, because of his love, mercy and grace he predestined me to be one of those people (Titus 3:5).
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 (ESV)
I have the hope of being glorified because no one will ever be able to snatch me from my Father’s hand (John 10:28-29). And since I am not stronger than the Almighty God I won’t be able to jump out of his hand either. I know that God is sanctifying me and will keep me so that I will be blameless at the coming of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:5). The one that called me is faithful and will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Trust me, if I could lose my salvation I would. Yet, I have full assurance that if I wake up in the morning I will still be a Christian. Why? Jesus has for all time perfected those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). He reconciled me to God by his death in order to present me holy and blameless and without reproach before him (Colossians 1:22). Surely he will complete what he purposed. When he appears I will be like him (1 John 3:2). This old mortal body will take on immortality and death will be swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:53-54). God is not only keeping me secure in him, he is keeping a place for me with him prepared by his Son (John 14:2-3).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV)
If I may change the words of an old hymn: This is HIS story, this is HIS song, all praise to my Savior, all the day long.
John Piper once said, “If you profess to be a Christian and all you have is a “decision” for Christ, but you do not have affections for Christ, then you don’t have Christ. There is no such thing as a Christian who says, ‘I have been saved by Jesus, but he is not my treasure.'” Jesus Christ is to be valued above all things in the universe and if we do not esteem him as such it would behoove us right now to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).
If you do not profess to know Jesus as Savior and Lord please hear this: If you do not receive Jesus and come to him for the forgiveness of your sins, you will die in your sins and come under the condemnation of the wrath of Almighty God. You will be judged unworthy of eternal life and instead receive the eternal punishment of hell away from the presence of God (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36 (ESV)
The good news is that there is a remedy. If you hear his voice do not harden your hearts.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through him (John 14:6). There is no other name under heaven or on earth by which a person can be saved (Acts 4:12). If you will come to Jesus in repentance for the forgiveness of your sins, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13). Whoever comes to Jesus he will never cast out (John 6:37). Come all of you who are weary and heavy-laden and he will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
Let’s pray. Father, I ask that if there are any lost sheep reading this that you would bring them into your fold. I ask that your Holy Spirit would breathe life into dead souls, that you would call your own out of darkness into your marvelous light, that they might show forth the praises of your glorious grace. In Jesus’ name, A-men.