My Testimony Wasn’t
How a Membership Interview Changed My Life
By Kevin Gafford
I’ve spent a lifetime trying to stay focused on, and close to, God. I’ve been at church every time the doors were open, taught classes, worked with youth, led worship, served on the committees, etc. I’ve been living in fear for that same lifetime, that I wasn’t doing a good enough job to “make the cut.” Finally, the Lord guided me to Grace Bible Church, where with the gentle encouragement of Pastor Bob Rowley and Elder Tony Ramos, I discovered the beautiful simplicity of the gospel. These two men realized that I didn’t understand what I had been reading, even though the message was clear and simple. I had been trained to believe that what the Scripture says wasn’t what it really meant.
Bob and Tony took the time to introduce me to the simple message of the gospel. The New Testament gospel of faith alone, in Christ alone—not man’s gospel of faith plus a long list of rules and regulations. The gospel of grace that causes one to live the Christian life out of gratitude, not duty. The clear and simple gospel that gives the peace that passes understanding and promotes joyful living.
It suddenly dawned on me that what I’d always considered to be pretty good news was, in reality, great news! Next, it occurred to me that all the activities that had previously been my “Christian duty” were now feeling a lot more like Christian privileges! I want to serve my Lord! I want to be His disciple! I want to do His work! Not because I have to, but because it’s the very least I can do in response for all He has done for me. For the first time in my life I feel His love...and it causes me to love Him, because He first loved me! Gratitude is, indeed, a powerful motivator!
The first thing I felt I should do to begin my new life in the “real” gospel was be baptized to show my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and only hope. The very next thing I felt I had to do (since my wife is already saved) is ensure that my boys were. It took a considerable amount of humility to be re-baptized in the presence of my peers at the age of 43. But I knew it would take a great deal more to explain to my three grown sons that I had been instrumental in teaching them a wrong way of trying to get right with God. All three of my sons had been baptized into the belief that salvation is a fickle, slippery, easily lost condition, which only the most perfect of Christians, could hope to attain.
I happened to pick Easter weekend to take my three sons camping and reveal to them the true and simple gospel of our Lord. The gospel of “faith alone, in Christ alone” not faith, plus baptism, plus repentance, plus works, plus, plus, plus. Not a faith that creates a lifetime of living in the fear of hell and eternal damnation, but the faith that says although we can’t save ourselves, Christ can, and it’s permanent! I wanted my sons to have the peace that is now mine in Christ...forever. I’m very grateful and happy to be able to say that with the help of God and the prayers of many, I was successful in introducing all three of my sons to grace and leading them to faith in Christ!
It was by chance, but appropriate, that my sons came to faith on Easter weekend when the Christian world stops to commemorate the resurrection of our Savior. I have since had the opportunity to re-baptize each of my three sons. This, as an obedient show of their faith in Christ, and this time not counting on the water to save them, but on the promise of Christ, alone. At Grace Bible Church, we have a vase with a red rose for each soul brought to Christ in the current year. In 2000 that vase contained over 30 roses—four of those roses belonged to my three sons and myself.
In teaching me, Bob and Tony employed the use of Bob Wilkin’s booklet You Can Be Sure and book, Confident in Christ. I really believe that the Holy Spirit, through Tony and Bob, used these materials to open my eyes to the message of the New Testament and give me the courage to reject the tradition of my previous training.
I’ve done a lot of misguided teaching, encouraging, and counseling of family, friends and fellow Christians along the way. I hope the Lord allows me enough time to make it back around to each and every one of them to share the real miracle of the gospel...that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and all He asks us to do, is believe that He guarantees us eternal life.
Prior to my correct understanding of the good news of the gospel, I had never shared my faith with anyone, now, I can’t stop telling people what Christ has done for me! Thank you to Bob and Tony for opening my eyes to the possibility that I had missed the message. Thank you to Bob Wilkin and the Grace Evangelical Society for providing me with the materials to teach my sons. Thank you to all who prayed for the success of my weekend with my boys, and thank you to my Lord for love unequaled!