Brethren Archive

The Story of my Conversion.

by Alexander Marshall

MY parents were Christians and I had the unspeakable advantage of sound instruction in the things of God.  I was cradled to sleep with the lullaby of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and my memory was stored with choicest portions of Scriptures.  In our home, "family worship" was observed morning and evening, and many a prayer was presented to God that I might be early led to accept of His pardoning mercy.  As I grew up, I became careless and thoughtless regarding my soul's welfare.  Again and again, I was deeply impressed with my need of a Saviour from sin's penalty and power, but procrastinated, as I desired to enjoy more of the world's pleasures and amusements.
God did not leave me to myself.  His Holy Spirit convinced me of my guilt and peril.  Many a warning I had.  One day whilst skating on a lake near my home, I fell heavily on the ice and for hours was in a state of unconsciousness.  When I came to myself, I found I was in bed surrounded by my parents and the physician.  Whilst reflecting on my narrow escape, I promised to God that, if He would restore me to health, I would become a Christian; but as soon as I recovered, I returned to my worldly companions and did my utmost to forget my relation to God and eternity.  My conscience, however, was very uneasy as I endeavoured to stifle conviction.  I knew that God's Word said, "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that FOR ALL THESE, GOD WILL BRING THEE INTO JUDGMENT" (Eccles. xi. 9), and knew I was not ready for such a meeting.
I took to works of fiction and read large numbers of novels to banish from my mind solemn and serious thoughts.  Often, when I lay down to rest, I feared to go to sleep lest I should awake in hell.  I had a secret conviction that if I became a Christian, I would have to
How foolish I was!  A Christian is the only one that can afford to be happy.  Believers are happiest when they remember facts, whilst the unsaved are only happy when they forget them.
Special Gospel meetings were being held in a hall in the city of Glasgow, and after attending several of them, I became concerned about my state, but strove to quench conviction.  I said to myself, "I mean to be a Christian some time. I am young and strong and may live to a good old age.  I want to see a little more of life; to enjoy a little longer the world's pleasures, and then I shall be converted.''  In the midst of my infatuation and folly, God spoke loudly to me through His holy Word. The passage was Proverbs xxix. 1— "He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, SHALL SUDDENLY BE DESTROYED, AND THAT WITHOUT REMEDY."  l trembled from head to foot; it was a blow to my idea of ''death-bed repentance."  "Suddenly destroyed, suddenly destroyed, AND THAT WITHOUT REMEDY." rang in my ears and disturbed my false peace.  I said to myself, "God has often reproved me; many times He has warned me of my sin and danger; if I delay longer, I may, without a moment's warning, be cut down in my sins and be ushered into His presence, an unsaved, unsanctified, unforgiven soul."  Perhaps, the unsaved reader is resisting the Holy Spirit and stifling conviction.  If so, think on what a terrible risk you are running.  Oftentimes you have been "reproved,'' and still you ''harden your neck."  Ponder the awfully solemn words spoken regarding those guilty of this horrible sin—"shall suddenly be destroyed, AND THAT WITHOUT REMEDY."  If you are suddenly cut down as a cumberer of the ground, you will never be able to forgive yourself. Tarry not a moment longer!  Flee to Christ, the sinner's refuge!  
Restless and unsatisfied in heart, but not particularly anxious about my soul, one Sunday evening, I entered a circus in Glasgow, where a converted barrister was preaching the Gospel: Mr. Gordon Forlong (for that was his name) had been a deist, but through reading the book entitled "The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation," by an American citizen, [James Barr Walker], he was led to a knowledge of the Saviour.   After his conversion, he devoted his time and talents to the proclamation of the Gospel.  I don't remember his text, if he had any, or much that he said, but I thought he was a most extraordinary preacher.  I can distinctly recollect him repeating again and again the words—
He proved that salvation was not obtained on the ground of what we do for Christ, but on the ground of what Christ did for us.  In showing that all that was necessary for the sinner's deliverance was completed by Christ on the Cross, he exclaimed, "It's finished!  It's finished!  IT'S FINISHED!"  In thinking about salvation, my mind had been occupied with believing instead of with the object of faith—Christ and His "finished" work.
I imagined I believed on Christ, but not in the right way.  The words ''it is finished" were carried home by the Holy Spirit to my heart and conscience.  I asked myself, "What is it that is finished?"  I remembered that the words were the dying words of the Saviour (John xix. 30).  Mr. Forlong explained the meaning of the wondrous statement and showed that all that was necessary for our acceptance was accomplished by Christ when He "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. ix. 26; John i. 29; I Pet. ii. 24); and that everyone who believed on Him was saved and had eternal life.  Specially did he dwell on the blessed fact that the very moment anyone believed on Him Who did it all, and paid it all, he was saved.  "He that believeth on Me HATH everlasting life" (John vi. 47).  I had always supposed that
I MUST FEEL SOME GREAT CHANGE BEFORE I COULD BE SURE I WAS SAVED, and was continually looking into my heart to find peace!  The preacher seemed to understand my difficulties and explained that one must first believe on Jesus and the feelings would follow and clinched the truth by repeating again and again the following words: "BELIEVING IS THE ROOT, FEELING IS THE FRUIT."
The light of the "glad and glorious gospel" shone into my darkened soul.  I saw that the Lord Jesus had died in my stead and received sin's penalty, and by believing the "good news," made known to me in the Word, I was saved and had everlasting life!  I remained to the meeting for conversation, and a worker pointed me to several scriptures, among others to John iii. 16 and John v. 24, and I saw the truth more and more clearly.  I perceived the terrible mistake I had been making.  I had been expecting to
Now I knew that I was saved, not because I felt it, but because God said so in His blessed Word, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John iii. 36).  I believed on Jesus; that He had taken my sins upon Him and died for me, and I saw that there was no reason why I should be afraid to meet God.  At the time I felt no great change; I did not, like many, feel love filling my heart, or a heavy burden falling from me; I SIMPLY TOOK GOD AT HIS WORD AND THANKED HIM FOR SAVING ME.   I had fully a mile to walk after leaving the meeting, and I remember speaking to God somewhat after this fashion: "Lord, I do not feel that I am saved; I know it because Thou hast said so; I do not feel any change, but I WILL STICK TO IT THAT l AM SAVED BECAUSE THOU HAST SAID SO IN THY WORD.'' Though I felt no special change that night, a day or two after, peace and joy filled my soul.  My mind had been too much occupied with my believing and too little with the glorious fact that the Lord Jesus had borne away all my sins.  When I thought of His amazing love to me, I felt happy, but when I thought of my believing, I became miserable.  Years have passed since then, and I have had many ups and downs, but I have never forgotten the fact that God says I am saved.
By believing on the Son of God, Who loved him and gave Himself for him, the reader will obtain eternal life as a free gift and a present possession!  Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will know from God's Word that you are saved, 
"All thy sins were laid upon Him, 
Jesus bore them on the tree, 
God, Who knew them, laid them on Him, 
And, believing, thou art free."
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life'' (John iii. 16).   May you be enabled to say truthfully—
"God loved, God gave;
I believe and I'm saved."
"The Springing Well" 1915


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