Hello, My name is Tolanda, and this is my story:
For the past 16 years, I had considered myself saved, born again, gone to church my whole life…the whole nine yards. But, throughout those years, I realized that I had continued to be entangled in my sins…For example, I even dibbled and dabbled into occult practices about 4 years ago…I had actually convinced myself that it was all from God! But yet, I was saved??? I also had trouble with keeping my flesh subdued in certain situations, particularly when I would become angry or upset. I practiced idolatry by putting other things before my relationship with God, and not living for God first…the list goes on. Sure, I was a “good person,” whose life on the outside reflected that I may have been a true Christian….I didn’t curse, get drunk, and pretty much lived a decent life…even primarily listened to Christian music, but yet something was STILL WRONG. On the outside, I “appeared” to live like a Christian, and I always loved God, and all things “good,” but I only had a “form of Godliness.” Little did I know, I was not really saved.
I had been on a quest for TRUTH since about 2006. I began to notice the problems with organized religion, and how it really got in the way of my relationship with God, and I left the organized church because I truly could not hear the Holy Spirit’s voice because religion and false doctrine preached in the churches kept getting in the way. Sure, I visited churches from time to time, but was never led by the Holy Spirit to a particular church. The Holy Spirit has been leading me to the truth the entire time. Now, just recently, still believing I was saved, I continued on, posting in facebook groups, sharing the truth I was learning, which was good, but because I believed I was saved at the time, I preached some error about salvation…error that included works…because that’s what I thought salvation was. This occurred recently when I had preached to someone about salvation in one of the groups. I was preaching in error…much of it was my pride of letting the guy know I was, “right.” Now, I have always had a lot of knowledge about Biblical things, and the Holy Spirit allowed me to discern a lot, but I still WAS NOT SAVED. Bible knowledge DOES NOT SAVE YOU! NOR DOES BEING A “GOOD PERSON” OR HAVING A GENUINE LOVE FOR JESUS, OR DOING CERTAIN WORKS TO ATTAIN SALVATION.
Not long after that post, I started questioning my salvation because the Holy Spirit began to deal with me mainly about how my life did not reflect the Fruits of the Spirit. Sure, I preached about it, but my OWN LIFE DIDN’T REFLECT IT!!! Lol! I then sought out Pam Sheppard’s help, because I felt like I really needed help with sorting things out about my salvation. I met Pam through a mutual facebook friend, and I read about her unique story of how she was led to Christ. I also found out that she is a Christian Counselor who has a love for helping people. I identified with her story because the Holy Spirit had already spoken to me about what she had been saying in her videos, blogs, etc., and because she always preached about the True Gospel of Jesus Christ. Contrary to what I had believed, and what MOST churches taught about salvation, I knew I could not have been saved based on even the fact that no change occurred in me, and because of the false doctrine that was preached to me. . I talked with Pam Sheppard on June 26, 2012. This is what happened:
The way I knew I was saved for sure was that when I heard the Gospel…it hit me like NEVER before. I talked with Pam by phone on June 26, 2012, and she asked me whether or not I believed I was saved. I replied, “Possibly.” You see, I knew the Holy Spirit had already been working on me about that, and I had recently started realizing that something was just NOT RIGHT…I started thinking about how I don’t think I truly repented and became a new creation back when I thought I had gotten saved back in 1996. Then, Pam preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to me, and I knew that there was no way that I was saved because I wasn’t certain based on the Gospel. I didn’t understand the depth of what had happened…I just had knowledge.
Throughout the day, the Holy Spirit began to convict me about who I was before him….he began to deal with me…I thought a lot my conversation with Pam…but it didn’t stop there…when I got on the computer that night, well early that morning…I pretty much stayed up all night…I watched Pam’s “False Conversions” video series on youtube…all of’ em! I began to truly understand what had happened with Jesus…and the DEPTH of what had happened. I realized that I had some “knowledge,” but don’t think I truly BELIEVED the Gospel! Right then, it was like faith just entered in me, and I believed the depth of it all. Details of the gospel resonated with me. He then led me to Galatians 5:19-23….and I saw my sin before me…I didn’t really see my sinful nature until that point.
But the video, “False Conversion Part 2_the Resurrection,” that’s the one that hit home with me….namely, during the end where Pam describes his resurrection, using an example of a dead person coming back alive at their own funeral; becoming alive again in their same body, but then she goes on to say, THIS IS RESURRECTION. Then she powerfully says, “I believe a DEAD man lives, his name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and he is GOD!!!!!” that, right there, JESUS CHRIST IS GOD HIMSELF IN THE FLESH…..resonated with me WOOO HOOO!!!!…I kept listening to that over and over again a few times…and I sat up and said, “Oh my goodness!” It never even occurred to me that I don’t think I really believed that JESUS CHRIST WAS GOD IN THE FLESH….just that part really helped me. Also the fact that he CAME BACK TO LIFE IN HIS VERY SAME BODY, and got up, in the FLESH!!! I kind of knew that, but not to the depth I that come to know it this time, and I’m not sure if I really truly believed that either, before. And, every time I heard Pam say that one sentence, my entire body would get a big huge chill…Not long after that, I couldn’t sleep, and something said, “Hosanna.” So, I immediately just took the computer in the bathroom, and listened to a you tube song that I know, called “Hosanna,” by Hillsong United.
That song really spoke to me. Right then and there I cried a lot, just blown away by the fact that he would even do all of that…for ME, and for that reason alone compels me to want to live for him. I’m just so grateful that GOD…would come in the form of flesh, live in the flesh, go through that horrible death, bearing all of MY sins that I didn’t even realize were there….I didn’t realize how much of a sinner I really am.. God could not fellowship with me because of who I was…because of my wickedness. It separated me from him. The life I had lived was NOT a death to my flesh, and he did all of that just so I can have a chance at salvation. That’s LOVE! I don’t know anybody on this earth who died, then came back to life in the VERY SAME BODY! That’s MIND BLOWING! At that point, I knew that there was no way I could ever live like that again…I cried a little more after the song went off…
I watched the video yet again, and in my entire body, from head to toe I got a big, for lack of a better word, “chill” over my ENTIRE BODY…. all over from HEAD TO TOE….it was like having the chills to the maximum extent, if that makes sense. And then I said, “Well I just heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ , ” and smiled. I sat there for a minute. Then, on the computer screen (on the you tube screen where I watched the music video) there were suggested videos of the cross on the right…so I clicked one of the videos, and just watched the crucifixion and cross. I think I watched 2 more music videos…and was reminded, yet again how Jesus overcame sin and death for me. All of those sins that have been just so EASY for me to commit ALL THE TIME….he bore them. There had to be a blood sacrifice for our sin because God cannot accept sin….he did the ULTIMATE thing. He was the ULTIMATE sacrifice…it should have been my blood, but he took my place. The day before, Pam had preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to me…like I’ve never heard it before…and that changed me. I now know that I am a NEW CREATION…it’s a big difference. The Holy Spirit power within me keeps me from indulging in sin…and it convicts me at all times to keep me from sinning. It’s hard to explain…but the power of the Gospel does something to you…once you really hear it and come to believe and have faith in what happened.
I no longer wonder about my salvation. My eyes have been opened to the TRUTH. I will NEVER FORGET the power of God I experienced right in that moment on June 27, 2012 @ 4:42 a.m. I was joyful after sobbing over the fact that God did all of that just for ME…I just can’t live a life of sin anymore. I KNOW the Gospel of Jesus Christ now! Nobody can take that away from me! Everything happened real fast! lol When everything happened, I was like, “Huh?” I knew the Holy Spirit was in me when it happened…I recognized its presence. This is the part that is wild: THE HOLY SPIRIT ENTERED INTO ME, AND I FELT ITS PRESENCE IMMEDIATELY. I KNEW IT WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT. You can’t believe the Gospel if you don’t understand it. You can’t understand it without it being properly preached to you. And without the understanding, you cannot be saved/ born again. But, religion, religious pride, and false doctrine blocks us from hearing the TRUE GOSPEL…happened to me for years.