Like Timothy in the Bible, the Lord blessed me with a godly grandmother and mother–who were a great inspiration to me. They began reading Bible stories to me at an early age. It wasn’t long before I became enamored by the amazing heroic feats of the Bible characters. This motivated me to desire that same kind of supernatural life for myself.
A NEW PERSON
When I was eleven, my Sunday school teacher, Dale Carter, shared the gospel with me. The Lord revealed to me that His death on the cross was applicable to my life. When I saw my need of Christ, I experienced a strong conviction of sin. As we knelt in the classroom, I gladly repented of my sin, and received Christ into my heart.
I cried tears of joy that day, as I sensed the peace and loving kindness of the Lord. Praise God, my new life in Christ had just begun!
During the next ten years, although I remained active in the church, there was a growing sense of dissatisfaction in my life. All of my Bible knowledge and church activity could not produce the peace and contentment that I thought was a part of living the Christian life. I found myself sinking into a pit of hopeless despair. The guilt over my own failures weighed heavily upon me. I became acutely aware that I was a defeated Christian.
A DEFEATED CHRISTIAN
My only ray of hope was in the sweet by and by. I attempted to console myself with these words, “Well, at least when I die, I know I’ll be with the Lord in heaven.”
This was a great blessing to be sure. However, it had very little effect on the ugly here and now. So much for future hope–what I needed was a present tense transformation.
Providentially, the Lord responds to the desperate cries of our hearts–even when they are as feeble and misguided as mine was. Thank You, Lord!
He graciously sent a godly helpmate into my life. While in college, I met and married my precious wife, Lue. She became the catalyst for my personal spiritual renewal. Afterward, we united with a small country church in East Texas. A careful and lengthy study of Scripture ensued. This was my desperate attempt to find meaningful answers to the critical issues of life.
I had yet to discover the life portrayed by the godly Bible characters that I had so loved as a boy. I also observed the quality of life recorded in the Bible in a real and vibrant way through a layman at our church named Clifford Sharp.
I was captivated by his simple-fervent faith, boldness, and potency in prayer and witnessing. He and his wife Inez exuded the love and joy of the Lord. This produced within me a deep hunger and thirst for true righteousness.
Although I was extremely sincere and dedicated, I discovered that I had the same misunderstanding that was true of the Galatians. Having begun in the Spirit, I had been attempting to be made perfect by the flesh. I was trying to make the Christian life work by zealous religious activities and biblical disciplines. I then realized that my human strengths and abilities–although engaged in good biblical activities–were just as inadequate for living the Christian life as they had been for beginning the Christian life.
A LIBERATED LIFE
It was then that Romans 1:17–“The just shall live by faith”–took on new meaning for me. I ceased from my own human efforts (fleshly works) and entered into His rest.
As I yielded myself to Him, the Lord graciously filled me with the Holy Spirit. I began to live in the same way that I had first received Him–by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
Finally, I understood. Christ had not come to give me life. He had come to be my life, and He is. Christ is now my very life!
Once I had totally committed my life to Christ to carry out His plans in me, I was able to know what those plans were. As a result, in the fall of 1971, the Lord revealed to me His purpose for my life. He had made me to be a minister. Through the assistance of a multitude of counselors, God confirmed His call into the Christian ministry. Then off I went in pursuit of my calling.
ONE WITH CHRIST
However, by 1975, I had run the gamut of Christian teaching. Ironically, some of what I had learned actually caused my Christian life to deteriorate. Once again, I felt myself losing ground. The simplicity in Christ, which I had found to be so liberating, was beginning to elude me.
Mercifully, God rescued me from yet another yoke of bondage. Through one Scripture—quoted by an evangelist— my eyes were opened. “As he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
Finally, I saw it! I am actually one with Christ. Everything He is, I have now become in union with Him.
Gone were the days of trying to become more like Christ. Now, I could relax and just allow Christ to be Himself in me. Oh, what joy to simply abide in the consciousness of His indwelling presence!
God made it clear that the nature of my ministry was to proclaim this liberating message of our union with Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. My desire is to help people partake of His life. I praise God for His all-sufficient grace which has enabled me to carry out this life calling!
Dr. Lewis Gregory co-founded SOURCE MINISTRIES in November of 1982. Source Ministries is a discipleship and leadership-training ministry. He is the author of The New You. Address: PO Box 391852, Snellville, GA 30039. Phone: 770-979-9804. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.sourceministries.net