I sat in a Wednesday evening church service as a 13-year-old seventh grader, and was hit with conviction and uncertainty of my salvation. But I “thought” that I did get saved when I was a young boy, around 5 years old or so. But the conviction was real of my need. During the invitation on that Wednesday night service, and for three more weeks to follow, I gripped the pew in front of me keeping me from going forward to take care of my need. Every night that I went to bed, my heart raced with conviction, but my mind fought back saying that I was already saved. For some reason, I was embarrassed because I thought everyone would be disappointed in me, because I wasn’t REALLY saved already.
On this day in 1997, February 15, I sat in school chapel at Heritage Christian School in Cleveland, OH in this very auditorium pictured above (Cleveland Baptist Church). It was Spiritual Emphasis week and we had chapel every day. I knew what I needed. The emphasis may have been on growing spiritually, strengthening your relationship with God, walking with Him and doing right, but I knew before I could do all that I first needed to take care of the first necessity. Putting my faith and trust in Christ alone for my salvation. Not in a thought that I am already saved, or in a hope that I am, and not even in the fact that I was raised in a Pastor’s home and everyone already thinks I’m saved. None of that would save me. Only by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, His shed blood, would save me.
Dr. Al Stone was preaching this chapel service. I honestly don’t know what he preached on. I don’t believe it was on salvation, I just knew the conviction in my heart for salvation was making my heart pound the whole chapel service, and that if I died I was going to go to hell. Again, through another invitation, I gripped the pew and grounded my feet. The invitation seemed to go on and on. Then Dr. Stone had everyone sit down and he said, “I’m going to extend the invitation one more verse. There is someone else here that still needs to come forward. If it is you, this last verse is for you.” Wow. I knew that “someone” was me. I left my seat and went forward, got my dad, and knelt at the altar and cried to the Lord putting my faith in Him alone to save me.
I encourage all preachers to give one more verse! I am thankful for “one more verse”. It changed my eternal destination. There really is someone who still needs to come forward. Don’t rush or hurry through this point of the service. Why preach God’s Word for 30-40 min (or more) then give the Holy Spirit 2 minutes to work in hearts. This is the pinnacle of the service, the time the Holy Spirit can really work in hearts of people to make a decision and committment on the Truths you just preached. If you really believe people need what you preached, then give them time to act on it.
Today, I now have the privilege to stand at the altar to help those who come forward during church invitations. And I would stand there all day of “one more verses” because I know what it did for me. I am thankful that my Pastor, Dr. Jeff Amsbaugh, never rushes through an invitation and often, when you think it is about to close, gives one more verse.
If you are reading this and have been struggling with the certainty of your salvation, don’t wait any longer! Speak to someone, do whatever you need to to get it settled today. I often think about what would have happened if I died during those three weeks I fought it… It’s not worth it. Maybe this is “one more verse” for you? Get it settled today!