After my lunch break, where I told my friends that I did not believe Bible, I went to my machine to finish my day. I was standing at the end of my lathe when my boss, Ricky Price, approached and asked if I believed what I said at the lunch table. I told him that I did, to which he said, “You’re going to hell.”
He was not over the top about it, or angry or pushy. He had a matter of fact communication style, which I appreciated because he was clear and there was nothing to read “between the lines.” Interestingly, I did not audibly respond to him about his “evangelistic approach,” but I do remember thinking to myself,
No, I’m not going to hell, and I’m going to prove you wrong.
Disagreeing with Ricky did not imply that I had any authoritative information to defend my position. I was defenseless because I was ignorant about God’s Word. But what he said did motivate me to prove him wrong. Of course, there was a problem; I did not enjoy the Bible because it made no sense to me. I had a Sunday school Bible from my previous First Baptist Church experience, and I tried reading it. It was a futile attempt.
Can you say, “boring?”
Remembering that there was a Christian bookstore in my town, I went there to get some books about the Bible. I purchased, Satan Is Alive and Well On Planet Earth, The Rapture, Approaching Hoofbeats, and The Late Great Planet Earth. I did not buy these books because of their theological integrity. They all had cool covers, i.e., fire, satan, hell.
Sometimes being cool is better than being theological. – Rick Thomas
All these books dealt with Eschatology, though I would not recommend or agree with their theology today. I did not know about “end time theology” back then because I’d never heard of Eschatology. Later, I appreciated the Lord’s irony, as He led me to read books on heaven, hell, and end times, the very thing I was going to disprove.
In the back of all those books was a plan for salvation. They stated in their own way that I needed to believe in God, trust Christ, and follow Him…something like that. They were saying what Ricky said in his blunt style:
If you are not a Christian, you are going to hell.
There was more detail than that, but the bottomline about my eternal destiny was all that mattered to me at the time. I remember laying on my double-bed in my double-wide mobile home on Helms Pond Road asking God in imprecise language to save me.
I acknowledged my sinfulness. I wanted Christ to make me new. I believed what those authors were saying about God, life, death, and eternity. I believed that Ricky was right. That was the day–sometime in October of 1984–that God regenerated me.
Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” – Jesus (John 3:7)