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 (Manna 50: Our Church)
Jesus Keeps His Own to the End
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Jesus Keeps His Own to the End

Robert Cass – Edmonton, Canada

The First Time

My journey to Christ began when I was ten years old. A friend had invited my mom, sister and me to her church. The speaker preached a simple message: “Accept Jesus into your heart and you will go to heaven; otherwise you will go to hell.” And we did as we were told—accepting quite readily and saying a simple prayer.

I was a bit of a delinquent prior to this experience, but for the next several years I tried to understand God and to pray to Him, and I tried to be a good person. I can’t say that I deeply felt the love of God at that time. My understanding was that it was my duty to be good and God is somewhere being God.

Then the rug was pulled out from under us. I was seventeen when my father and I both contracted a subtle but complex sinus infection. It was so insidious that neither of us was aware that our blood sugar levels had slowly crept to near-death ranges over time. I became very depressed and my grades dropped. I left my good friends and was soon doing drugs in the arcade across the street from the church.

The infection plagued me for a few years and my life continued to plummet. I had lost whatever I had known of God. I was separated from my family and was now unwed with a child of my own. Finally, the cure came, and while I still maintained permanent damage from the infection, my blood sugar level normalized and I was once again given a clean bill of health.

Within a short time, an old youth pastor invited me back to his church. I went and amazingly, I repented in great sorrow for my departure from the faith.

I began to pursue God with great fervor. I had been given a second chance and was truly grateful. I spent hours each day reading the Bible, and the spirit of God brought Jesus’ words to life in my heart.

My soul and spirit always seemed to focus on Jesus’ exhortations on giving. Moreover, my best friend, who supported a few dozen children in foreign countries, would preach to me continually on the topic. So I decided that giving to the poor would be my way to repay the Lord, and I desired to share my possessions with the poor.

By My Own Means

I had never heard of spiritual gifts before, but one day I ended up at a Christian camp where everyone was speaking in tongues. I didn’t know what was going on, but I remembered the preacher saying how he had all nine spiritual gifts.

I was coaxed to the front with several others. Immediately, he came over to me and put his hand on my stomach and prayed for me. “What is he doing?” I thought. At the time, my stomach had protruded noticeably due to the side effects of my illness. But more significantly, many came around and prayed for me. I felt this tremendous power come over me.

I was filled with an incredible love that is hard to describe other than to say that I was immersed in the love of God. For three days I walked around saying “God bless you” to everyone. I had never experienced the love of God in that way before, and I wanted to share it with everybody. All I thought about was how much God loves me. My stomach was completely healed within a few days—almost as a bonus to all of this.

I knew quickly that God was real and worked miracles, of which I saw many, and I began to believe that my purpose as a Christian was to believe Jesus’ words with faith, and to see His miracles take place.

Then my faith encountered a challenge. My sinus cavities had suffered permanent damage, and I would experience terrible cracking sensations. I was in love and I wanted to marry, but I also did not want to marry in poor health. So I began praying to God and reciting the Scriptures over and over. I fasted for several months—two or three days a week. The next year I did the same and the year after. But nothing happened.

My relationship with God became tiresome, even though I continued to worship. I raised my hands in the church while no one else did, but at the same time I questioned my spiritual well-being.

My prayers grew more frantic because I felt God did not hear me. And finally, in the midst of great pain one night, I decided to give up and never ask God about anything again.

Through His Spirit

Then I met this girl at work whom I knew attended a church called the True Jesus Church. At first, I had thought it was a cool church name. She would never come to the Bible studies I so gallantly and dutifully hosted in our office for a God I didn’t seem to know. But there was something different about her. She had this joy, peace, and confidence about her that I didn’t have. She seemed to have an assurance in faith that came naturally.

So I told her I wanted to go to her church. My first visit to the True Jesus Church was during a special service.

I really liked the church, and everyone prayed in tongues. I had enjoyed praying in tongues with my previous church, but my tongue was different.

Before I came to this church, I thought I knew something about God. Yes, give to the poor, I thought, and speak in tongues. And at that time, it so happened I managed to give most of what I owned to the poor. Yet I felt nothing. What else is there? I received no joy at all. What was going on? This was supposed to be the climax of my Christian experience.

            And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (1 Cor 13:3)

Then things began to change. Within the same week, there was a spiritual convocation at the True Jesus Church. During prayer, I wondered when they were going to stop because my mouth was getting sore. Then I was coaxed up to the front again for more praying in tongues! I went up to be a good sport, but I was tired of “praying in tongues.”

At the front of the chapel I said a silent prayer in my heart, “Please help me, Holy Spirit.” No sooner had I said it that a pulse went through my body. My tongue started rolling as fast as a fan, and my body was shaking and vibrating. The tongues I was praying were completely different than before and not out of my own doing.

I went back home to pray on my own. What was going on? I thought. Didn’t I have the Holy Spirit before? I could not stop praying in the Spirit. The joy and comfort that came in prayer was so uplifting. Pretty soon, I was weeping in my prayers and singing spiritual songs. I felt God’s love very deeply.

God’s Assurance

I felt a deep connection with God in finding His church, and I felt very contrite about the time I had sworn never to ask God to help me ever again. These careless words that I had said in the past troubled my conscience.

But one day, while I was distressed over this matter, I heard God’s voice saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I broke down in tears for a while. My Savior loved me still. Of course, it made sense. Why, after all, had He now given me His Spirit?

            For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  (Rom 8:15)

Suddenly, I began to realize what being a Christian is about. It is not about my giving to the poor, or evangelizing or raising my hands in worship. It was all about God. It was about me just belonging to Him. I have to belong to Him as a child belongs to his father and to abide in Him. If He wants to do anything good in my life, I will let Him do it and let Him receive all the glory.

Thank God, I was baptized in the True Jesus Church a year later. Though baptism may be the most beautiful experience of my life—the testimony of Him washing away my sins—I also feel great assurance in His voice: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I truly know now that Jesus keeps His own to the very end no matter where they are, or what church they began in, or how they have messed up trying to seek Him.

            And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. (Jn 10:28-29)

And Paul also said:

            For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

I can now say that the complete gospel is necessary for salvation. When I had walked across the street from the first church I attended and, as a teenager, started doing drugs, no one even tried to stop me. There was no power of God to help me overcome. And likewise, when my faith strayed away from the truth, no one could rescue me. I was just following the preaching.

I give tremendous thanks to God for preserving the True Jesus Church in the true faith, so that the members can continue learning His words and remain faithful to live in the Spirit. This church has not gone off on spiritual tangents, or tried to please God by her own means. He has kept her in His truth by His Spirit and His love.

I pray that we are able to continue to abide in Him until the end. Amen.

 

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Publisher: True Jesus Church
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