My Story (Part 4)
January 1, 2017
Welcome to part four of Emanuel Schrock’s true life story.
4. The Answer
Perhaps you are in the same condition that I was. Perhaps you, too, would like to be born again and have tried to persuade God to save you, but He seems to remain distant. Perhaps your conscience is pressing down on you with guilt. Maybe you are stuck like I was, and you feel that you have tried very hard to please God, but He doesn’t seem to care. You have tried your institution’s prescribed way of reaching God, but somehow you fell through the cracks, and the formula didn’t work for you as it seems to have worked for others. Maybe you are terrified at the thought of meeting God, as I was. And maybe, just maybe, you hate the sin that you are living in, like I did, but you keep going back to it. Maybe you, too, fall asleep on a tear-soaked pillow, praying that you will not die, because it is the only prayer you dare pray.
I know all about that. Fear and misery were my companions for months and years. The devil made me the object of his amusement, dangling my soul in that miserable space between damnation and salvation, where I had the knowledge of salvation, but not the faith to receive it. You and I both know the hellish torment of that space.
As a former companion of your misery, I have a few things to say to you. First, understand that there is nothing wrong with you. You are feeling exactly the way you should. You and I are sinners, and the guilt, the torment and misery, and the separation from the God we long to know, should only be expected. Hell from beneath is calling our name, because we belong to it. It owns us, because of our sins and our filth. If home is where the heart is, then the only home we dare hope to find for our sinful hearts is hell.
Perhaps you have told yourself to shake off this misery and get a grip on life. No, my friend. Because of your sin, you and misery belong to each other. You and I became the products of the sum total of all our choices in life, choices that we squandered and forfeited for moments of pleasure and enjoyment, at the high cost of disobedience to God. If God is indeed a God of justice as He claims and as our consciences have been telling us all of our lives, then there can be only one end for people like you and me. We dare not even implore the goodness of God, because His very goodness condemns our filth.
Ephesians 2:12 gives us a perfect description of our serious condition: That at that time ye were without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world. The darkest and most hopeless condition to be in is to be without God. Without God, there is no hope, and sin, my friend, has cast you and me into that hopeless chasm of godlessness.
There is hope, though, because God is still God. I will talk to you for a minute about hope, but do not dare ask what you must do to find it or to receive it. For now, you must stay motionless in your bed of despair. Your efforts to rise will only cause you to lose sight of the hope that you may yet find.
There was once a sinner like you and me on a cross beside the Lord Jesus. Sin had caught up with him, and he was dying. He understood that the nails that held his hands and feet to the cross were the sharp, bitter claws of justice. He knew he belonged on that cross, that this was the end he deserved.
But there was a Man on the middle cross who did not belong there. The sins that held the Man Jesus on the cross were not His own. In his dying moments, the sinner understood an eternal truth that is still ringing down through the ages and now reaches you in your despair: the just was dying for the unjust. The sins of billions of lifetimes of sinners were being paid for as the perfect Son of God bled away His life on a cruel and bloody Roman cross. With one shuddering sigh, He yielded His spirit to the hungry claws of death—the same claws that have been reaching for you and me. In that instant, the awful deed was done. Sin’s sacrifice was made. Guilt and condemnation could not stand in the face of innocence crucified. Justice could find no fault with the death of this good Man, and it was forced to agree to the terms of forgiveness that grace now offers to you, the sinner, for the contract was signed in blood. On that mountain outside of Jerusalem, beneath the cross of Jesus, a holy and eternal agreement took place: sin, death, and hell had met their match, and they could no longer hold claim to that miserable sinner lying in his bed of despair.
Do you see it now, my friend? Will you now rise and shake off the weight of sins that are no longer yours to bear? Will you take a look at that bloody cross, and will you sign your own name in agreement that, yes, it is indeed true, that justice has indeed been served, and you are free?
Can you, dare you, look at the Lord Jesus hanging on the cross, and say, “No, I dare not believe that it is enough”? Do you understand that this is your final hope, that apart from it, there is no other? If you will not have this righteous Man as your sin-bearer, then you are forever left to your own devices and you dare not expect any help from God, because God has invested all His help in the Lord Jesus and has offered Him to you. All that God wants for you, and what you have been looking for to make you perfect, is found in Jesus. You may take Him or leave Him; you will not make God richer or poorer by your decision. The choice is yours.
Don’t take my word for it. Consider these words from the Bible, from the book of Romans:
Romans 3:24 Being justified (made right) freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (substitute in my place) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Do you see that God can remain just and make you just at the same time? Do you understand that God is able to exercise the full force of His righteousness and find you innocent? Do you know that you can now look the law square in the face and say to it, “Justice has been served, and you can find no fault in me”? Do you, my friend, believe that the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has been given to you, for you to take shelter in from the piercing eyes of the law? If you believe these things, the devil has lost you, and you have passed from death to life.
John 5:24: 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.
But there is more:
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Is there anyone greater than God? If God has forever proven that He is for you by not sparing His own Son, who or what has the power to condemn you? Your sins can’t; they have been buried in the death of Christ. The law can’t; it has been cleared by the righteous blood of Christ. Your conscience cannot, because the sins that made it miserable are not to be found anymore. Even God Himself cannot condemn you, because He cannot condemn His Son.
There is still more:
Hebrews 6:17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.
Do you know why God can offer salvation to you that is certain and guaranteed to work? It is because God Himself has sworn with an oath that He is satisfied with that which Christ has done on your behalf. Christ entered into the place where sinful man was not allowed to enter—the Holy place behind the veil, into the very presence of God, where He reconciled you to God with His righteous blood. He now offers this hope as an anchor for your soul, a sure and steadfast stronghold of promise that will keep your soul safely secured to Christ; you must only lay hold of it and make it your refuge.
Consider this prophecy of the Lord Jesus:
Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Do you see it now? Do you see that surely He has borne your sins; that literally, He made your sins His very own, and He bore the shame, the guilt, and the punishment of them on a lonely cross? Do you understand that when the Bible says Christ was stricken of God, it means that God struck Him down, because in that moment, Christ became what you are: a sinner condemned to die? Do you see that the body of Jesus was wounded and bruised to a bloody mess, so that the sins you committed in your body could be forgiven to the uttermost?
You see, the whole purpose from the very beginning—the baby in the manger who was God in human flesh; the Man, who was perfect in everything that He did; the Man who was the first not to obey sin and temptation, but to always obey His Father every minute of every day of every year of His life on earth—he whole purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ coming to earth in a body of flesh—was so for that one moment in time He could bear the enormous debt of sin you owed. He paid it all; therefore, there is nothing left for you to pay. You are made free, forgiven, justified, righteous, and fully accepted by God on the basis of that glorious and bloody sacrifice. Trust it now, and you are born again. Believe that it is true, and you have escaped judgment.
Are you still not convinced? Well, the Bible is not finished with you yet.
Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Think about it. When you were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly. Are you not ungodly? Is it not for you, then, that Christ died? And when did He die? Did He wait until you had shown evidence that you would love Him for it? No! He died while you were still without the strength to do anything to help yourself. He made the first move, because you did not have the strength to make it yourself. He opened the door because you could not; all that is left for you to do is to walk through. He paid the price, and all you can do is to take it as your own. Will you? You would be a fool to stay wallowing in your doom as a condemned sinner when all you have to do is reach out and grab hold of the hand that will save you.
Jesus said in Luke 13:3, “ . . . except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
For years, I wondered what repentance was. I wanted to repent, because I knew that I would not be saved unless I did; but for a long time, the issue of repentance is what kept me from coming to Christ. I had made it into a condition I had to meet before Christ would save me. It was another obstacle that stood between me and God, and I was confused on how to overcome it.
I thought repentance meant being sorry for my sins, so I turned my focus on trying to see how sinful I was so that I could be sorry; but when I tried to repent, I was scared at my lack of remorse for my sins, and I didn’t dare hope that God would accept my repentance as genuine.
The Bible makes it very clear that only those who repent will be saved. It is the dividing line between being a saint and a sinner. It is the difference between heaven and hell. Biblical repentance is not something that you keeping trying to accomplish, but never know if you truly did. If you have repented, you know it for a fact; it is not something you keep trying to reach but never arrive at. There is a way you can know that you have truly repented.
Acts 20:20 “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice that repentance and faith are linked together. They are not a series of steps that must be followed in the right order; repentance and faith happen at the same time. Biblical repentance is a change in your mind and heart, and not just in your feelings or actions. It is to change your opinion about something.
Repentance that leads to salvation requires a change of your mind and opinion concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul gives an example in his letter to the Philippians:
Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
The word repentance is not mentioned in this passage, but that is exactly what Paul is describing. He listed all the good things that he had done. He was an Israelite, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and a Pharisee. According to the law, he was blameless; that is, no one could prove him guilty of breaking the law. But there came a time when he heard about the Lord Jesus and that Christ offered him a righteousness that was better than his own. At that point, Paul had to make a decision; he was forced to decide between two options: (a) he could keep trusting in the things he had to offer as righteousness, or (b) he could cast those aside and take the righteousness that Christ offered to him. This decision required a change of mind and heart toward Christ, and that is what repentance is about. It is to stop trusting in one thing and begin trusting another. It may not be an easy thing for you to do, but it is not complicated. Repentance is not about changing your view or opinion about yourself. It is to change your view and opinion about Jesus Christ, and is therefore something at which you can immediately arrive, simply by believing the gospel.
When I was a young boy at home, the man we worked for collected special stones called fossils. We children would spend hours in creek beds and gravel pits searching for these. When we found them, we gave them to this man, who always gave us candy and other goodies. It was always a big excitement to bring him our finds and to receive our rewards.
One day, my brothers and I were in the log yard, which was covered with limestone gravel. Suddenly we noticed that many of the stones had special marks on them that looked like fossils. We got excited, and as we looked around, we discovered they were everywhere. We started filling our pockets, but they soon filled up, so we also used our hats. As we gathered the “fossils,” we chattered excitedly about how pleased the man would be with us and about all the goodies we would receive.
After we had filled our hats, we took them to him, expecting him to be pleased and excited with what we had to offer. To our surprise and deep disappointment, he looked at them and started scolding us. “Those aren’t fossils; they’re gravel! What do you think you’re doing? Go put them back where you got them!” Gravel? No, it couldn’t be. We showed him the marks, but it was no use. We had picked up gravel to give to the boss in exchange for goodies. As we carried our hats full of rocks back to their place in the log yard, we were not only disappointed, but we were also embarrassed and ashamed. Not only did we not receive the reward we were expecting, but also all the “fossils” we had worked so hard to gather had been rejected by the man we had gathered them for, and we were left with nothing. After all our efforts, we only had a pile of gravel.
When the great Day of Judgment comes, all people will be there. It won’t matter what church or religion they are from; all will be judged by the same Judge. You will be there, too. As you stand before Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and His eyes pierce into your soul, you will be alone.
You will not stand there as a member of your church; you will only be an ordinary human being, giving an answer to your Creator and Judge.
Your church will not be there with you; you will face God as the person you are under your religious cover.
What will you answer when He points to your sins and says that you are guilty?
What will you offer Him that will have the power to satisfy His justice and allow you to enter into heaven?
Will you offer your church membership?
Your good Christian life?
What if He still points at you and says, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you worker of iniquity”?
Will you be like my brothers and I were, hoping to receive a reward for what you worked so hard to get, only to be rejected and turned away, discovering too late that what you brought has no value?
The problem with our gravel was not that we didn’t have enough; it was that we had the wrong kind. Will you have something to offer to God that will have real value, or will you be sent away with your hat full of gravel, realizing that God would not accept what you had worked all your life to establish?
That would be a tragedy.
You need something that you can be absolutely sure will pass the test of that day. Only one thing is guaranteed by God to do so: the blood of Jesus. It alone has the power to please God on your behalf. If you will place your faith and trust in Him alone, you will be guaranteed to be accepted of God, for God accepts the blood of His Son.
I challenge you to think about the reality of these things. As each day passes, you and I are moving closer to that great day. It is the one thing we have in common. I am ready for it, and I have no fear, because I rest in Jesus Christ and His blood. I will meet God as my friend and Jesus as my Savior and brother; death is only the door I must walk through to meet Him.
Are YOU ready?
You can be.
1 John 4:15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
This concludes the fourth and final part of My Story, written by Emanuel Schrock.
If you’d like to contact Emanuel directly, you are invited to do so. God bless you, as continue to make your way toward the Promised Land.
PO Box 1450
Bowie, TX 76230
To order a free copy of My Story—in booklet form—please contact the Amish Voice at (419) 962-1515, or send a note to P.O. Box 128, Savannah OH 44874.
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