“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12).
This verse can apply to many conditions, however it applies most significantly to the way in which of salvation. We are able to suppose we’re residing Christian life—all whereas barreling towards demise.
I discovered this by onerous expertise.
Due to my pricey Baptist mom, I grew up going to church often. By the age of 13, I knew that hell is a horrible actuality, and I didn’t wish to go there after I died. I additionally knew that Jesus died for my sins and that by accepting him I’d go to heaven. After speaking with the pastor, I made a occupation of religion one Sunday morning and was baptized that night. I used to be now certain I might go to heaven after I died.
However nothing might have been farther from the reality. Really I had handed by the huge gate onto the straightforward highway that results in destruction, which Jesus warns about within the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:13). It was certainly “the way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
Ultimately I got here to see that I used to be motivated by concern. Accepting Jesus had been a matter of mental assent, not repentance and religion. Sadly it took 10 years to find that—years crammed with a lot sin and struggling.
Very Unsuitable Means
The best way that appears proper to a person can take numerous kinds, a lot of them respectable. For me, it took the type of combating for God and nation. At first blush, that sounds admirable—like noble navy service. However I used to be within the midst of the civil-rights period of the 1960s, and in my case “fighting for God and country” meant embracing far-right extremism, with its hatred of blacks, Jews, communists, socialists, and liberals. I adopted the views of the Christian Id motion, a virulently racist, anti-Semitic cult. (This and different racist, anti-Semitic teams are alive and effectively at this time, and gaining adherents in these troubled occasions.) One outdated saint correctly noticed that “the Devil is a master fisherman. He baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish.” He had used the suitable bait to catch me.
The highway I used to be touring led to growing hatred for the “enemies” of America and the white race. They needed to be stopped in any respect prices—the tip justified the means. One evening an confederate and I tried to bomb the house of a Jewish businessman in Meridian, Mississippi, however the home was staked out by a police SWAT staff. My confederate was killed, and I used to be shot 4 occasions at shut vary with shotgun hearth. Once I obtained to the hospital, the medical doctors mentioned it could be a miracle if I lived 45 minutes.
However God had mercy on me and miraculously spared my life. If ever there was a time to repent of my sins and switch to Christ, it was then. However I used to be lifeless in trespasses and didn’t suppose what I used to be doing was mistaken. In spite of everything, I used to be combating for God and nation.
I used to be sentenced to 30 years within the Mississippi State Penitentiary, mentioned to be one of many worst prisons in America on the time. I went there with one factor in thoughts: to flee and return to my actions. It took six months to work out a plan and recruit two different inmates, however we pulled off a profitable escape. Two days later, nonetheless, the FBI discovered us in a wooded space, and one of many inmates was killed within the ensuing gunfire. Had he not relieved me from standing watch 30 minutes sooner than deliberate, I might have been the one killed.
I used to be taken again to jail—this time to a solitary cell within the maximum-security unit. It was the bottom level in my life, since any hope of escape was gone. Rationally talking, this might’ve been one other propitious time to repent and switch to Christ. However I nonetheless noticed myself as a patriot combating for God and nation. When somebody is blind and lifeless in sin, rational issues alone can’t deliver them to life.
It takes one thing extra. One thing supernatural.
To maintain from going loopy, I occupied my time with studying. High precedence was catching up on all of the racist and anti-Semitic books I hadn’t devoured earlier than. I then learn a ebook on neo-fascist political principle and cultural evaluation, which uncovered me to a way more subtle mental strategy to the problems of race and tradition. Many Western philosophers had been referred to, they usually had been intriguing to me. I had by no means seen something like this earlier than, and it woke up in me an curiosity in philosophy. I learn Hegel’s Philosophy of Historical past after which Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West, each of which had been difficult for somebody with no philosophy background. Plato and Aristotle had been talked about, and round that point I noticed a mail-in commercial for the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius. I had been interested by Western Civilization in highschool and in my first semester in school, so this appeared like place to start out a correct examine.
I had no concept that such a examine would take me away from my racist, anti-Semitic, far-right ideology. Looking back, I see it because the Holy Spirit’s pre-evangelistic ambush. It liberated my thoughts and gave me a need to hunt fact, wherever which may take me and likewise to look at my life, as Socrates urged. Since philosophy didn’t possess the reality I used to be searching for, I used to be drawn (I now understand, by the Spirit) to learn the Gospels, the place I used to be encountered by Reality Himself (John 14.6).
Unbeknownst to me, a gaggle of ladies had examine me within the newspaper—and had been praying weekly for 2 years that God would save and use me for his glory. The chief of this prayer group was the spouse of the FBI agent who orchestrated my seize in Meridian. Not lengthy after I began studying the Gospels, my eyes started to be opened—“a divine and supernatural light imparted to the soul,” as Jonathan Edwards mentioned. My many sins started flooding to thoughts—and with them conviction, repentance, and tears of confession. One evening, I knelt on the ground of my cell and prayed a easy prayer to Jesus, asking for forgiveness and providing my life to him if he needed it. It felt like a thousand kilos had been lifted from my shoulders. One thing modified inside me, and I haven’t been the identical since. I had left the highway of straightforward faith that was main me to destruction and stepped onto the slim path that results in everlasting life (Matt. 7:14).
I awoke the following day to search out that I used to be now spiritually alive, and God was actual to me! I had a right away urge for food to learn the Bible, pray, and stay for God. The extra I learn the Bible, the extra I grew. God gave me love for individuals I as soon as hated and has helped me to vary in lots of different methods. Miraculously, I used to be launched from jail in 1976, after serving eight years. And from 1978 to the current, I’ve been lively in ministry.
As I look again over the 50-plus years since that evening in 1968 after I was given 45 minutes to stay, all I can do is marvel on the goodness and love of God, who despatched his Son to rescue me from the way in which of sin and demise. He has been a gracious Father to me through the years as I’ve sought, nonetheless imperfectly, to stroll the slim highway to everlasting life. He has been type and affected person, convicting me of sin the place wanted, forgiving me as I repent, strengthening me for recent obedience, showering me with blessings, and steadily fulfilling his functions by my life. It hasn’t all the time been straightforward, in fact, for Jesus mentioned it wouldn’t be. However God has been trustworthy and carried me by the trials and tribulations of life—some very painful—utilizing them for my good.
Sadly, many don’t know this grace. They nonetheless stroll in darkness, even within the church. The highway they’re on appears proper, however it results in demise. As C. S. Lewis noticed, “If you have not chosen the kingdom of God, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.” We’re referred to as to deliver such individuals the sunshine of Christ. The identical grace that’s been so considerable in my life is accessible, at this time, to anybody who actually needs it. Merely embrace the gospel and switch to Christ in repentant religion.