About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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That's My Story And I'm Sticking To It   


I was raised in the 1950/60's Evangelical Methodist tradition.  I do appreciate my heritage but due to some of the content and style of preaching back then I was riddled with guilty feelings.  I never knew if I was saved or unsaved, on my way to heaven or the Lake of Fire .  We were taught that salvation was by faith and not by works, but what about staying saved?  That seemed to me to be a matter of doing good works and not doing bad works.  Trips to an altar of prayer to get resaved, were thus, a never-ending routine for me.          


I was frightened of those eternal flames.  I didn't want to burn up in them if I was killed in a car accident on the way home from church, something I recall being warned about in many sermons.  I had little choice.  I needed to head to the altar to get saved every week or so, only to wake the next day feeling guilty and unsaved as ever.     


Feeling saved was fleeting.  Did Jesus sit at His desk with a pen in one hand and an eraser in the other hand?  Did He write my name in the Lamb's Book of Life one day, only to erase it the next day?  Would not that be a bit tedious?         


How could I ever rid myself of these guilty feelings?  How many trips to an altar would it take?  How many prayers of forgiveness would I need to pray?  To cover the odds of losing my salvation, every evening I'd pray a general prayer of forgiveness.  What in the name of heaven did I need to do, and therein lies the real issue.    


In the midst of the confusion, one Saturday evening in February, 1970, I knelt by my bed once again.  "Please Jesus, if I'm not forgiven, can you please forgive me."  To my astonished amazement I woke the next day still feeling saved.  Furthermore, I no longer wanted to live the Christian life to simply appease my guilty feelings.  From the depth of my heart I wanted to serve Jesus.   


So what happened to me that evening?  Did I have some kind of psychological metamorphosis that tricked my brain into believing I was finally saved?  I was buried way too deep in guilty feelings for that to have been the case.  Did I have an emotional breakdown that sent my saddened soul into a saved state?  Unlike my trips to the altar, there were no tear-filled emotions.  I have only one explanation.  I encountered a divine intervention of God's Spirit, and at the time I didn't even realize it.  If you have a better explanation, I'm listening. 


Since that three-second prayer I've given myself to Biblical study so it can be part of my life.  I've learned that guilt is not a feeling as I once thought.  In Biblical terms, guilt is the position in which one stands before the Universal Judge.  He either declares you guilty or innocent, and that, despite how you feel.     


I can honestly say that since my divine intervention I've been free of all feelings associated with guilt.  My name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life where there is no hint of guilt associated with my name.  I don't worry about my name being erased.  Jesus was declared guilty on my behalf so I could be declared innocent, and therein lies the solution to my so-called guilty feelings.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.                                 

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