Yes! Happy “New Birth” Day to Me! Today is August 12th.
The Lord saved me on this day!
It was Thursday night, August 12, 1965. I remember it was Thursday night because the next day would have been “Friday the 13th” with all the mythological “unluckiness” that may befall us on that day. But, since I don’t believe in “luck” at all, but rather in the good Providences of our Sovereign God, I don’t have any fear at all of random unlucky Karma.
But, as I say, it was a Thursday night, August 12, 1965. My Dad and I were ‘batching it’ during those few days. Mom and my other siblings were visiting with relatives out of state, so Dad and I were alone. We were having revival services that week in the church Dad was pastoring, Little Sewell Baptist Church, in Rainelle [Greenbrier County] West Virginia. O. P. Lilly was preaching that week, and that night all I remember about the message is that it was from 1 John, and he was preaching on The Evidences of the New Birth. As he preached, the Holy Spirit convicted me that I was lost without God, still dead in my trespasses and sins.
That was a shocking revelation to me – because I had prided myself in being the model ‘good boy.’ I was born into the Baptist pastor’s family. Dad and Mom taught us the Gospel. Dad was a faithful preacher of the Gospel. I had heard the truth of the Gospel literally all my life. And, I was the compliant child. I had always wanted to please my parents and do everything in such a way that they would be pleased with me. A couple of years before, I had made a public profession of faith, was baptized, and joined the church.
But, that night, the Lord convicted me that I was lost – and not just lost, but that I was guilty of what may be the most wicked sin of all, the sin of self-righteousness. For the first time in my religious life, I saw myself as a sinner before God and deserving of His wrath. After the service, I was so heavily burdened, that I immediately went to our car and sat in the darkness waiting for Dad to finish his conversations with the others after the service. I thought he would never be ready to finally go home.
But, he did. We made our way down the short crushed-rock driveway and over the little bridge over the creek, turned down the one-lane winding road to make our way home. I was silent until we had started down the Crag Road, and then I said: “Dad, Preacher Lilly said tonight that if we couldn’t recall ever confessing to God that we are sinners and trusting in Christ alone for righteousness, then we are probably not saved.” Dad just replied, “Well, Son, I guess that’s right.” To which I said, “I can’t say that I have done that.” Dad was kind of taken aback. “Son, do you think you are just doubting – or maybe you are just troubled over some sin?” “No, Dad – I am lost!”
More driving – more quiet exchanges – “Well, Son, you know that all you have to do is confess to God that you are lost without Christ, and trust in Jesus’ death on the Cross and resurrection from the dead to pay for your sins, and forgive you, and give you eternal life.” “Yes, Dad, I know all that! But, how do you do that?” I did know all that. I could have told anyone else what they needed to do to believe on Christ and be saved by faith in Christ alone. But, how to do that…I did not know! Because that believing in Christ is not a work of our human effort or ability. It is the gift of God. It comes only by the new birth that is given by the Holy Spirit. So, Dad finally said, “Son, I can’t tell you how to believe on Christ. You’ll just have to call on God to save you, and He promises to save every one who calls upon Him because of Jesus Christ has done for us on the Cross.”
So, I called out to God: “Oh, God, I am a sinner, and I want to be saved from my sins because Jesus Christ died on His Cross to bear my punishment on Himself! Please save me!”
And, God shone the light of faith and understanding into my young 14-year-old believing heart. By this time, we were still on that dark country road right in front of the gate that opened up to the long driveway that went back to the old Doc Tincher homeplace [pictured here].
I came alive! God revealed to me that Christ was indeed my Savior and that He, the Father, had given me the new birth by the Holy Spirit. I was born again…for the very first time of my religious life.
And, that is why I am praising God – who alone deserves all the credit and thanks for my salvation – and why I am wishing myself this Happy New-Birth Day!
I just want to share this with you!
“Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His Name together!” ~Psalm 34.3