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Hello, my name is Richard K. Ross, and I live in Dubuque, Iowa, in the United States of America.  After some careful thought, I deemed it necessary to share my personal testimony with you of what my life was like before I found Christ, how I learned that I needed a Savior, and how my life has changed because of that decision.  Immediately following my testimony you will find a short presentation of the Gospel as, so that you, too, can have the same assurance that I have.

Before Coming to Christ:

Growing up in a middle-class family, I was in and out of a number of churches as a teenager.  I can remember various revival meetings during this period where I walked the aisle to accept Christ.  Nothing changed, however.  My life was pretty normal for someone who grew up in the 60's and early 70's.  It was during this time that I experimented with alcohol and tobacco to the displeasure of my parents.  After high school, I joined the U. S. Marine Corps where my use of alcohol became a normal thing to do on a Friday and Saturday night on the military base.  I met some other men there who introduced me to marijuana, which I used almost as much as I drank.  It was during this time that I started wondering about why I was here and what my purpose in life was.  That led me to various organizations outside of established churches in an attempt to find the answer.  Those early church experiences were fresh in my mind, however, I can confess that for obvious reasons, just being in those assemblies did not change my life.

How I Came to Christ:

While in the Marines, I volunteered for a tour of duty in Oahu, Hawaii.  At my first duty station, things were much the same until I was later transferred to West Lock, just across from Pearl Harbor.  In my continued quest for a purpose to this life, I had been reading books about the occult and satanism.  This was about to change.  My roommate, CPL Tom Flores was a Christian, and after showing him the books that I was reading, we discussed the questions that were forever on my mind.  From our conversation, Tom explained to me that I was a sinner, and my sin had a death penalty attached to it.  Thus, once I died I would spend eternity forever separated from God in a real place called Hell.  He reassured me that there was nothing I could do that would ever pay the penalty that God required for my sins.  Tom said that Jesus paid my sin debt by willingly going to the cross, shed His blood for me, was crucified, rose again on the third day, and now resides in Heaven.  And to obtain that forgiveness I needed to confess, as well as forsake, those sins, and accept Jesus as the only payment God requires.  It was on that day, I humbled myself by going to my knees and asking God to forgive me for all my sins.  He reassured me through scripture that I was forgiven, and that I could be secure in the knowledge that I was saved.  Tom, who had come to Christ through The Navigator's, got me involved in their ministry, and just like Jesus' disciples, the two of us shared our faith on a weekly basis.  My faith grew stronger as I read His Word daily, prayed consistently, developed a daily quiet time, and memorized scripture.

Since I Became a Christian:

I wish I could tell you that my life since I left the Marines has been honorable.  As a human, I have stumbled and fallen, but, I know that I can confess my failings to the Father, get back up and be assured that He will continue to forgive those sins whenever they appear.  In His eyes I know what I really am.  Most of my life has changed for the better.  I no longer have the desire for alcohol, or drugs.  Each day I am aware of His presence and influence on my life.  His Holy Word is alive as I read it.  I do have a sense of joy, peace, and a greater understanding of His purpose for this life, as well as for the future.  Lastly, I truly believe that the church that I attend is where the Lord wants me.  While attempting to find a place to worship, there were doctrines that I knew were essential but were not being preached in any other congregation, therefore, once God changed circumstances in my life that allowed me to move my home and family, I believe He led me to Bible Baptist Church here in Dubuque, Iowa.

Salvation Message

Suppose you attended church every Sunday throughout your whole life, gave to those in need, and loved others without reservation.  Would that make you a good person, worthy of spending eternity in Heaven?  This type of life, humanly speaking, is indeed admirable, but, from God's point of view it still does not meet with His approval, nor measure up to His standards.  Why?  Because we have broken God's Law given to Moses back on Mount Sinai, and, by doing so, we have sinned against Him.  Don't believe you have?  Based upon your belief, let's use God's Word to see if you are innocent or guilty according to the Law. 

The Evidence

Let me ask you, have you ever told a lie?  If you answered "Yes", then what does that make you?  Wouldn't that would make you a liar?  You just admitted to breaking God's 9th Commandment (Thou shalt not lie).  Have you every used the name of God as a cuss word?  Yes?  Then, what does that make you?  A blasphemer.  A clear violation of His 3rd Commandment (Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain).  Ever committed adultery?  No?  What if I rephrased the question, and asked, have you ever looked at another with lust in your heart?  God says that if you look at another man or woman with lust in your heart, you have committed the sin of adultery.  If the response is "Yes", then, what are you?  An adulterer, who has broken God's 7th Commandment (Thou shalt not commit adultery).  Have you ever taken anything that didn't belong to you?  No?  Not even a pencil or paperclip from work?  Come now, you have already admitted you are a liar.  Yes?  Okay, then according to God you are a what?  A thief.  You admit to breaking the 8th Commandment (Thou shalt not steal).  We only looked at some of His commandments, but, based upon the evidence, wouldn't you have to agree that according to His Law, and by your own admission, God views you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart?  I think you would have to agree with God when He says that you are a sinner, as we all are.

The Defense

After you die, you must appear before your Creator, charged with sinning against a Holy, Righteous God.  What will you say?  Will you respond with, I went to church, I gave to the poor, I volunteered at the homeless shelter, I made myself available by helping others, and loved others more than myself?  Am I correct in assuming that your defense would be that because you performed a few good works that makes you a good person?  In Romans 3:10, God says, "There is none righteous, no, not one."  Again, we read, in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."  Paul writes in Galatians 2:16, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law...for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."  There is no defense for breaking God's Law, nor are we justified by human works.

The Verdict

Based upon the evidence and your own defense you have been found guilty.  Furthermore, evidence from 1 John 3:4, says, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."  By breaking just one of His Commandments that makes you guilty of breaking them all.  James 2:10 says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."  It is clear from God's Word that you are guilty, therefore, what will be your punishment?

The Judgment Pronounced

The Judge pronounces your sentence...death!  That death is two-fold.  Not only will you die physically, but, you will die spiritually, and eternally.  Forever separated from God in a place reserved for Satan and his angels.  Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death..."  Wages, as you know, are earned.  Again, in Hebrews 9:27, Paul says, "...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."  That sin results in a separation, a break in the fellowship between God and Man.  Despite what you have read so far, there is still hope.  The good news is that one man went before the Throne of God, interceded on your behalf, and agreed to take your place.  John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  He willingly and unselfishly gave His life for yours.  But, why?  Why was it necessary that someone die?

God's Lamb Took Your Place

 God's Law required a lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of the people.  Hebrews 9:22 states, "...without shedding of blood is no remission."  Without a blood sacrifice there could be no forgiveness for man's sin and man would die in his sin.  Jesus, God's Son, was the Lamb that took away the sins of the world.  His death restored the broken fellowship that existed between God and Man because of sin.  "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." says Romans 5:8.  Christ paid your sin debt with His life.  He was born of a virgin, was tempted as we are, and yet lived without sin.  He was betrayed for the price of a slave, arrested as any common criminal, wrongly convicted, and sentenced to die by crucifixion.  Forced to carry His cross, He was crucified, where He died a painful, humiliating death.  When the sins of the world were placed upon Him, He must have felt the separation from God, His Father, caused by His taking on our transgressions.  After His death, He was buried in a well-guarded, sealed tomb.  Three days passed by, when He arose again, and appeared to at least 500 others, along with His Disciples.  Eventually, Jesus ascended into Heaven and right now He sits at the right hand of God.

What Must I Do?

First, you must agree with God that you are, in fact, a sinner, and repent.  Luke writes in Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."  Repentance is changing your mind toward self, toward sin, toward God, and toward Christ.  Solomon wisely wrote in Proverbs 28:13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whosoever confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."  Luke 13:3 reads, "...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."  You want mercy, then confess your sins to God and ask for His forgiveness.  Firmly realize that someday you will stand before God, The Holy Judge, to answer for your sins, and your sin has its consequences, a penalty for all eternity.  According to Romans 6:23 it says, "For the wages of sin is death..."  That death is the eternal separation from God in a very real place called Hell.  Hell was designed for Satan, and his followers, not for God's beloved creation.  God does not want you to spend eternity without Him, nor do I.  Accept Christ's substitutionary death as the only sacrifice required to cleanse you of all your sins.  God loved you enough that He sent His Son to die for you.  It is about what He did, not what you can do.  In Titus 3:5 we read, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us..."  The Bible says in Romans 10:9, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."  Please accept the free gift of God by confessing your sins, asking for His forgiveness, and His help in cleansing you of all the sins you have ever committed. 

Salvation Prayer

I trust that through the material presented above, witnessed by the power of God's Word, coupled with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, you have seen the seriousness of your sin, and the danger of dying without Christ.  You can have that peace in knowing where you will spend eternity by praying to The Father in a pattern such as this:

Heavenly Father, I agree with You that I am a sinner, worthy of death, and Hell.  I believe that
Your only begotten Son, Jesus, born of a virgin, shed His blood on the cross, died for my sins,
and rose again on the third day.  Have mercy on me, O Lord.  Cleanse and forgive me of my
sins against You, as I forgive those who has wronged me.  From this day forward, I trust in You
to guide me in my daily life with the help of Your Holy Spirit.  Transform my life so that I may
bring honor and glory to You alone, and not to myself.  By the power of the indwelling Spirit,
I now have the ability to overcome all sin which before so easily ensnared me.  Save me now,
and make me a child of God.  Thank you, Jesus, for coming into my life and hearing my prayer.
I ask this in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Or, you could use Psalm 51 if you need help finding the right words.

What Now?

First, don't trust in your feelings to determine whether or not God has saved you.  It is with faith that we trust in His promise to redeem us by the shed blood of Jesus.  John 5:24 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."  God has promised to change you.  Next, I encourage you to read The Bible every day and start with the Book of John.  Find a church where you can worship with like-minded believers and grow in your knowledge of God.  We hope that you would consider visiting us at Bible Baptist Church.  Tell others what Christ has done for you and what He wants to do for them.  Pray to God each day.  I like using A - C - T - S.  That stands for Adoration (praise), Confession (sins), Thanksgiving (gratefulness), and Supplication (asking for others, then yourself). 

Please, email us as a way of letting us know whether or not you have trusted Christ as your personal savior, so that we may rejoice and/or continue to pray for you.

In God's Own Words (verses cited above)