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Calum Smith

I was brought up to attend church from a very early age and over the years I heard many a wonderful sermon that moved me, but the Gospel of God’s redeeming grace never became to me what James speaks about in his epistle, the ‘engrafted word.’ It never seemed to have any lasting effect upon my own soul.

As I was growing up there was one main interest in my life and that was football. It took up most of my time as a teenager, however between the ages of 19 and 21, I gradually began to believe that my interest in playing football competitively was coming between me, and the offer of the Gospel. Through time I gradually began to sense that the Lord was dealing with me. I had been giving football the place in my heart that the Lord should have had. This may be a problem for many people. A specific love for something that prevents them from closing in with Christ.

I found this all very difficult to accept at that time. I felt I was being separated from what I loved doing the most, and from my best friends. It is no easy thing to give up everything for Christ. It is contrary to our nature. The apostle Paul says, ‘he suffered the loss of all things for Christ.'

If anything or anyone is coming between us and Christ then we must get rid of it. That is what I had to do, difficult as it was for me.

I cannot say when exactly I was born again. Everything was so gradual and very difficult to detect. Along with football taking the place in my heart, the Lord should have had, I gradually began to become aware of my sin. I realised that I was a sinner, right down to the sin of my nature and that I was guilty before a holy God. This brought a great fear to me of the day of Judgement. The thought of having to stand before Christ to be judged at the last day plunged me into despair and anxiety. I began telling myself that if I am going to suffer in time, I’m going to make sure I do not suffer in eternity. I was in this condition for over six months, perhaps even a year. In my own experience however I believe that I was born again sometime before I was fully aware of it myself and before I made it known to anyone else. I have to differentiate between regeneration and conversion. Regeneration is that act whereby we are brought from death to life spiritually, to live spiritually. It is done in an instant whether we are aware of it or not. Conversion I believe means to be restored from a fall as Christ said to Peter, ‘ when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’

The fact that everything was so gradual was causing me a problem. It was not so much that I did not love the Lord, rather I questioned whether the Lord loved me. Our love to the Lord is subject to change depending on our circumstances whereas the Lord’s love for His people is changeless like Himself.

The apostle Paul says, ‘ nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’  This is what I wanted to be assured of. God’s love for me inspite off what I am in myself. A love from which I could never be separated.

The most comforting words in scripture for me are found in the prophesy of Isaiah Chapter 44, and particularly the first couple of verses. ‘Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel whom I have chosen: thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou Jesurun, whom I have chosen.’ This is a promise the Lord gave to me through prayer. These words were a perfect answer to my prayer, experiencing the word of God going hand in hand with my prayer. The one shedding light upon the other.

Through these words, I became assured of God’s electing love in Christ for me, and through these words I came to see all that Christ did and suffered for me. All my sins are dealt with, in and through Him. It was then that I became fully aware of my standing before God. Justified in His sight.

I want to commend Christ to you as an able and willing Saviour. No matter what you may have done in the past or what you may yet do. His blood of infinite efficacy is able to cleanse us from all sin.

Calum Smith

Stornoway