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FOR THOU HAST DELIVERED MY SOUL FROM DEATH
(Psalm 116:8)

My Personal Story

The scriptures tell us that “God cornmendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Thus, those of us who are saved (or born again) have been blessed through the death of another. In my case this was especially true since the death of President Kennedy brought me to that place of repentance where 1 was able to see that through the death of Christ I was saved. How could I help but believe that? Here’s how it happened:

 

My early teaching from the scriptures was received around the kitchen table since we generally read a chapter from the Bible as a family at least once a day. My father would usually comment on what we had read and then we would pray. Although I didn’t enjoy these sessions, I did learn that God is going to cast unconverted sinners into Hell when they die and that this is a place of torment. (See Luke 16)  I also learned enough about Bible prophecy, particularly as it relates to the Jewish people, to believe that the things written in the Bible are the Word of God. As a result, I always wanted to be saved; and, when I was young, I used to think that by the time I was in my late teens I would be looking back at this mysterious thing called the new birth (John 3) or "getting saved” as most Christians termed the experience.


Time went on; however, I didn’t get saved as I had anticipated. After finishing high school, I enrolled at our local Junior College in Mason City, Iowa, and kept myself busy studying as well as working for a local CPA firm. During my second year at the Junior College, I began to get concerned about missing our family Bible reading sessions. Realizing that I would soon be leaving home which was my one contact with the Gospel at that time, I began trying to read and pray on my own, but I didn’t seem to get very far.


After graduation from the Junior College, I did leave home to go to the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Since one of my older brothers was already attending the University, we began rooming together in an off-campus double room. During my first few months in Iowa City, we spent many week-end evenings discussing scriptural things, since we were both unsaved but concerned about our salvation. We also attended some meetings of a small group of Christians in Marion, Iowa, where the Gospel was preached. Things might have gone on this way forever if God had not intervened with those solemn events that occurred on November 22, 1963.


I was in a business course when I first heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated. When I left that classroom, I found that the news was true, and two things began to bother me. The first was that once President Kennedy was shot he had not had an “eleventh hour” chance to get right with God. I had always thought that if worse came to worse and I was dying, I would certainly try to believe since that was the way one was supposed to get saved. (I don’t know why I hadn’t tried it before if it was going to work when I died.) However, I could see that if I had been President Kennedy, I would have been in Hell. The second thing that bothered me was that the Bible told of “perilous times” in the last days. (II Timothy 3:1-5) Thus, I could see that I needed to get things settled with God.

 

 

That evening we went to a meeting at Marion which was primarily for Christians;  however, the speaker advised those of us who weren’t saved to go home and read Ephesians 2 until we got saved. Although the next day I should have been studying for two important exams, I tried to follow the speaker’s advice. As I read Ephesians 2, I knew that I had walked according to the course of this world (v. 2) and I knew that I had at times had my “conversation” in the lusts of the flesh (v. 3). I tried “to believe” but was not satisfied that I was saved. After having spent most of the afternoon trying to get the matter settled, Ephesians 2:8 seemed to fix itself on me.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves.” I realized that after noon that I couldn’t give myself the assurance of salvation.


Even though I couldn’t seem “to believe” or “have faith”, I knew that the scriptures tell us to strive to enter in (Luke 13:24); therefore, I continued to read Gospel papers and the Bible. I even searched my brother’s desk for tracts that he had collected; however, I didn’t talk to him or anyone else that weekend about my concern. I remember one tract in particular. The little paper was called “Heaven or Hell for Eternity -- Which?” In it this statement was made, “Will no pang of deep remorse be shot into your heart as Satan taunts you (in Hell) saying, ‘Was there no Redeemer to be found on Earth?’ “ I knew there was a Redeemer, yet I couldn’t be sure He was mine since I still wasn’t ready to just receive what the Lord had provided.


That Sunday afternoon was frustrating. I had not gotten the matter of my soul’s salvation settled, although I had tried all weekend. In addition, I was not prepared for the two exams scheduled for the next week. Since I had read everything that was available to me, I decided to start studying, not knowing what else to do. I figured I would probably never get the matter settled.  However, just before I started to study, I thumbed through a pamphlet that I had read before called God’s Way of Salvation by Alex Marshall. I hadn’t read it that afternoon because I didn’t think it would help me. As I hurried through it, bold print on the second to the last page caught my eye which said, “God says I am saved, and it must be true.” These were the words uttered by a young convert on the night he found peace according to the pamphlet. I continued reading the section and also saw these words, “If, therefore, you really believe on Him who bore the wrath and curse for you, you have God’s word for it that you are saved.” As I read these words, I suddenly realized that the same Bible that told me I was a sinner on my way to Hell also told me that Christ had died to save me from that Hell.  Of course, I believed these things or I wouldn’t have been concerned about them.  For the first time I rested on what God said about Christ. No longer was I concerned about getting saved since I was saved through what Christ had done and I knew it.  So that Sunday afternoon, November 24, 1963, when all hope was lost, I passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

 

A postscript should be added to this story. Because of President Kennedy’s assassination both exams were postponed. I was able to study for them later and received good grades on both of them. God means it when he says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)

I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications. (Psalm 116:1)


Bruce Collins

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)

For more information or for a spiritual discussion contact:
Bruce Collins
3828 Memory Lane
Waterloo, IA 50701-9351
hone 319-230-9140 or email
mail@bdcministries.faithweb.com