Most non-believers and even many Christians, though they have accepted Christ as their Savior, don’t understand the incredible rights and privileges that belong to the born again believer. They think that being a Christian means that they have to go to church every Sunday, put their hard-earned money into the offering plate and try hard all week to live a good moral life.
For the first forty-three years of my life, that is what I thought being a Christian was. I didn’t understand that when we accept Christ, the Spirit of God moves into our spirit causing us to “become born again by the Spirit of God”: Or that when we respond by faith to receive healing for our bodies, God will heal our bodies. And unlike Huruko Ashitani in this month’s War Story, I never acted on the “word of God”, nor did I respond to an invitation to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior or to be healed. That is until I came in contact with a book entitled Power in Praise.
My view of Christianity began to change when I came in contact with the book Power in Praise written by Merlin Carothers, a retired Lt. Colonel in the United States Army. Initially I thought that it was a secular success motivation book, so I eagerly began to read it. After reading several chapters of Power in Praise, I realized that Carothers was not talking about business success; he was talking about spiritual success and God’s gift of eternal life. He explained that God has given us many wonderful gifts, and they are free for the asking; but most of us only know them as ten-cent gifts, and therefore we never get very excited about them. Carothers said, “Many church-going people think of God’s plan of eternal life as a ten-cent gift. They believe they have to struggle to live a good life to keep their “free gift.” Trying hard to live a good life puts them under such a continual strain that they often wonder if trying hard to be a Christian is worth it. To them it just means going to church on Sunday, staying away from things that might be a lot of fun, and giving their hard-earned cash into the offering plate” (1). I didn’t classify myself as a church person, but frankly that’s exactly what I thought being a Christian was—I thought it meant leading a boring life.
In my book entitled Business by the Spirit, I relate a story in which my seventeen year old brother was seriously injured in a car accident. While he was in the hospital, my father promised God that he would build Him a new church if He healed my brother. Like my father, most of us have been conditioned to believe that we only get what we deserve or what we are willing to pay for. But God doesn’t give eternal life to people who meet some minimum standard of behavior by being good or by giving a large amount of money into the offering plate. God says, “I will destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be, and ignore the best ideas of men, even the most brilliant of them” (1Corinthians 1:19 TLB). As I read Power in Praise, Carothers shared several scriptures from a modern translation of the Bible:
“This Good News tells us that God makes us ready for heaven- makes us right in God’s sight – when we put our faith and trust in Christ to save us” (Romans 1:17)
“…No one can ever find God’s favor by being good enough. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we don’t obey them” (Romans 3:20).
“Then what can we boast about doing, to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in him. So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by good things we do” (Romans 3:27-28).
I, like many of people, knew that I was not living right and that there were many things in my life that were not acceptable to God. Therefore in my mind, I saw no way that I could ever be acceptable to God. But someday, I reasoned, maybe when I get older, I would begin to live a better life and then I could approach God. But reading the above verses began to change my thinking. They proclaimed that there was no way that I could get good enough to receive “eternal life”; I had to believe that Jesus Christ had already paid the penalty for my sin. I read this chapter on eternal life over and over for nearly two months before I had the faith to act on it. I remember the occasion vividly. I was at home in the bathtub with a Jacuzzi unit, massaging a chronic spasm in the muscles of my lower back. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon of March 8, 1976. I prayed “Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God. I believe that you died and paid the price for my sins, and I believe that you have risen from the dead. Now I ask you to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior.” Then I continued, “Lord, help me to change the way I live.” When my prayer was finished, I got out of the Jacuzzi and lay down on my bed and fell asleep, the most peaceful sleep that I had ever experienced. I no longer had the fear of death; I knew that if I died I would be in heaven with Jesus.
“It is from God alone that you have your life through Christ Jesus, He showed God’s plan of salvation; He was the one who made us acceptable to God; He made us pure and holy and gave himself to purchase our salvation” (I Corinthians 1:30).
Huruko Ashitani didn’t have the benefit of a printed Bible, or Merlin Carothers book “Power and Praise”, but she did have the testimony (the living word) of the man who spoke that night in the Casa Blanca Night Club in Kobe, Japan. Just minutes before she had heard that man share how he had asked Jesus into his heart, and she had heard how God had healed him. Huruko acted on his words, which were Gods words, and she was healed and born again at the same time.
Huruko’s husband Yasuhiko Ashitani who heard the same testimony of healing and salvation that she did, and actually urged her to go forward to receive healing, received nothing. He received nothing that night because he wanted the healing without a heart relationship.
The good news is that Yasuhiko Ashitani did receive Christ as his savior in another Full Gospel Business Men’s meeting several years later, and became a bold witness for Christ.
Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America