How and When Did You “Get Saved?”
How/when did you “get saved?” Or when did God sovereignly grant you the faith to repent and believe?
I don’t know. I certainly had any number of conversion experiences in my life, the latest of which took place when I was in high school. The first I remember was while saying prayers before bed with my mother when I was still in grade school. Another was a typical experience at church camp. The last I was alone, listening to Bob Dylan’s record “Saved” when I asked God to cover my sins in the blood of the Lamb. I have been tempted over the years, however, when asked to give my testimony, to say something like this, “I was baptized as a child, and have been improving on that baptism, more or less, ever since.” I do not, of course, believe that God necessarily gave me the gift of saving faith at the time of my baptism. The Westminster Confession affirms wisely that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment of time wherein it is administered (chapter 28, section six) and I concur with it. I don’t believe in baptismal regeneration.
I am dubious about naming a time and a place despite these conversion experiences for a number of reasons. First, I never remember a time when I did not at least believe that God exists, that Jesus is His Son, and the Bible is His Word. My parents, as they vowed to do at my baptism, taught me the Christian faith from birth. They prayed with and for me. That, of course, doesn’t make a person saved. The devil, after all, believes all these things. Second, there were so many conversion experiences, how would I know which, if any, were the real deal? Third, I cannot judge which experience was real either on the basis of my sanctification. That is, I have sinned grievously even after my last conversion experience. I cannot point to that day and suggest, “Well, the Holy Spirit must have indwelt me then because from that point forward my sins were nice, respectable ones.”
It is possible that God gave me new life within the womb, and over time I came into a deeper understanding of the faith He gave me. It is possible God gave me life during one of those conversion experiences. It is even possible that He gave me new life more recently than that. The issue isn’t, of course, when I believe, but that I believe. The drama of a “good testimony,” wherein we paint lurid pictures of our lives before Christ, and tranquil pictures of our lives after Christ is, in my judgment, fundamentally off. I never was a drug addict, and I never lived on the street. I never joined a witch’s coven, and I never played in a heavy metal band. I was, however, at some point in my existence, a rebel against the true and living God, who would have killed Him if I could. After my conversion, however, no one would use my life as a defense of the Wesleyan doctrine of perfectionism. But, because by His grace I have been born again, I repent of my sins, and He forgives. Because I have been born again, though I disobey, I disobey as His son. Because I have been born again, even though I disobey, I am indeed growing in grace, becoming more like Jesus every day.
God blessed me with parents who not only love me, but love Him. I grew up under the ministry of faithful men profoundly committed to preaching the Word of God. I remained, even in the midst of my foulest sins, a son of my mother the church. When I got saved I cannot answer. How I got saved is simple- by the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, giving me a heart of flesh so that I might cling to His cross, crying out, “Lord, be merciful to me- a sinner.”