I was brought up Catholic and had a sense that Jesus was God but I was so hung up on my bad experiences of Church and the people in the church, the priests in particular, that I didn’t want anything to do with it. “Christians” seemed so hypocritical to me. Now I know that the problem with Christianity is Christians. You have to focus on Christ.
I thumbed to California in ‘71? On the way, we were camped beside Rt. 80 in Pennsylvania in a big field of wild strawberries and I wrote the song that I used as the title tune to my album. The song was about a guy that knew Jesus was God but wasn’t ready to give Him his life. He was busy “picking wild strawberries” whatever that means.
When we got to Huntington Beach I was body surfing and got caught in a rip tide. I couldn’t catch a wave and I was losing it. Finally I screamed to God to get me out and He did. I was about 50 feet from the pier when I caught a wave. I would have been dead if I ended up in the pilings. It seemed that God had heard me and I knew that He was there but I didn’t think I was ready to “serve” or “commit” to Him. I wasn’t sure who he was and I had no idea who I was. I think it was just after I hit the beach that I made a deal with Him. I wanted 20 years in the world and then I’d be back. I do remember telling God that if He gave me an album I’d call it Wild Strawberries.
19 years later, my world fell in. I was working in Boston selling printing and was engaged to be married when, in the period of 2 weeks, I lost my future wife and my job. I was devastated and decided after bouncing around doing gigs for the summer that I’d move to LA and pursue the song writing thing.
When I moved SoCal I had gotten in touch with a friend of mine, Dickie Gertz. He was the food and beverage manager at a hotel in Long Beach and got me a gig playing happy hour music in exchange for a free room. It was an interesting time. There was a guy working at the hotel that had gone to Bible College and was discipling people about the truths of the Bible. I got in a conversation with him one morning and told him I thought it was about time I read the Bible. He gave me a New Testament and I began reading the Gospels.
I was into Luke before I realized that the Gospels were the same story told by different people. I had never known that. I had never known that Jesus was a Jew and that all of the Apostles were Jews, that the Bible was primarily written by Jews. Right around the same time I met Tom Carmody. He was attending Tetelestai Christian Fellowship and asked me if I was interested in going to church with him and I started going. Hal Lindsey was preaching there at the time. Hal wrote “The Late Great Planet Earth” which was, according to the New York Times, the most read book of the 80’s. It is a book focused on end times and Bible prophesy. He was teaching the Bible verse by verse.
He taught about a personal God and a personal relationship with Jesus. That Jesus wanted to be our friend and He wanted us to know Him and spend time with Him. That He created us for fellowship, to hang out with us. I learned that we were born into sin as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve and that Jesus died so that we might be saved from sin to be in His presence. That we are eternal and there were only two places in which we could end up. With Christ or apart from Christ.
One Sunday he held up the Bible and proclaimed that there was nothing in it that was not the truth. That statement spoke to my heart. I have since learned in studying and reading and being taught about the Bible that the whole Bible points to Jesus. I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and committed my life to His purpose and glory.
I’m saved from my sins and this is how I know: Rom 10:8b says: ‘that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’ (NKJ) I’m not saved because of anything that I have done but because of what Jesus has done.
If we admit that we’re sinners, then who do we confess our sins to? Ultimately we sin against God. The Bible teaches that we need to confess to the one who we have sinned against. That is the God of the Bible. Scripture says: Ps 51:3-4 ‘For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.’ (NKJ) There is forgiveness but we must confess and ask for it. I Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJ)
Jesus has paid the price to pardon our sins and we only need to accept the pardon. Salvation is a free gift. It is because God is gracious. We are saved but not because we have earned salvation. Eph 2:8-9 ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.’ (NKJ)
The big gap between faith in Christ and every major religion in the world is that with Christ we can’t work our way into heaven. We only need to accept His payment for our sins. Every other religion requires work from us; that we might attain acceptance from God, that we can earn it by being good.
Humanity demands justice and so does God. There must be payment for sin but according to scripture this payment was made by the very God that created us. This is what the Bible teaches in I Jn 2:2 ‘And He Himself (Jesus) is the atonement for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.’ (NKJ) and again: Eph 1:7 ‘In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.’ (NKJ) Our place in His plan is that we accept and acknowledge that Jesus paid for our sins and proclaim it to the world. If we do not accept His payment for our sins we are sentenced to the place apart from Him. The place as He puts it in Mark 9:44 where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' (NKJ) Read Mark 9:42-48
In a nutshell, Jesus is God and we are sinners against Jesus and He, himself, paid the price for our sins. Rom 5:8 says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (NKJ). It’s phenomenal. It’s huge. It’s so simple that most find it hard to believe.
It was about six months after I got saved that I remembered my deal with God. He had given me 20 years in the world and had kept the promise that I had forgotten about. When I realized it, I fell to the floor in a puddle. Evidently, He had made a promise to me as well. He is a great God!!! If I could impress one thing, it’s that my life changed, drastically. Things that I thought I couldn’t live without are things that I don’t think about anymore. I strive to serve Christ and bring honor to Him. It’s a daily struggle and I fall constantly but I’m assured of His presence in my life in my rapport with Him. We are constantly in communication. I still fight with the flesh but I know that the battle is won.
The Bible is written by 40 authors over a period of about 2000 years and is flawless in it’s message. There are intellects that have set out to dispute this and ended up becoming Christians. This couldn’t be accomplished without a central author. It is written by men but as 2 Peter 1:21 says: “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (NKJ) The Bible is written by God through men.
The whole Bible points to Jesus as being the Creator: John 1:3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (NKJ), the Savior: Acts 4:12 "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (NKJ), and God’s only Son: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (NKJ).
Jesus himself proclaimed that the whole Bible spoke of him: John 5:39 "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (NKJ), John 5:46 "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.” (NKJ) and again in Luke 24:25-27 ‘Then He said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.’ (NKJ).
It’s all about Jesus. If you read the Gospels and do nothing but observe His life, He did nothing but serve and sacrifice. He preached the “Good News” which is the gospel. Paul reiterates the gospel in 1 Cor 15:3-4 ‘For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (NKJ) “According to the Scriptures” is a key phrase here. There are 306 prophecies in the Bible of the coming messiah that Jesus fulfilled in His life. This is an indisputable fact. The odds of this happening by chance are in the quazillions to one. In fact, if you are truly looking for God and ask Him to reveal himself to you as you read the Gospels, He will. This is a fact. You could consider it a challenge. One that you will be blessed by. The question is, are we willing to know the real God or content to make one up for ourselves? Especially when, according to the Bible, there is so much at stake!
The Bible says: Jer 29:13 ‘you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.’ (NKJ) The line is drawn but it’s a chasm. Jesus said in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” (NKJ) and again in Luke 11:23 He says: "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (NKJ)
Jesus is God. He's the only way of getting out of this world alive . . . . . Vini