By Wayne Reynolds, Pastor

Each year, during the last full week of March, Independence Baptist Church sponsors a Bible Institute of one-week duration. The meeting held this March was the 29th annual Bible Institute. We invite preachers, pastors, and missionaries from various states to meet with us in an effort to refresh enthusiasm in the Bible. During this week of renewing ourselves in the Bible, we hear four messages each day, two in the morning and two in the evening.

The Bible Institute has always been an exceptional time of worshipping God and fellowship. The services this year were no exception.

Two years ago, in 2002, the Lord graciously saved four people during the Bible Institute. This year, the Lord saved two young women, who have a lot in common.

Lessons we can learn

I am including an email from one of the women telling the good news of her salvation. As you read what she has written, I trust you will examine yourself to see whether you are saved.

Those who enter eternity without salvation will never receive salvation. Today is the day to "Ögive diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall", II Peter 1:10.

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Hey friends and family! I write to you guys with good news~the Lord saved me two nights ago after church at the special services in Foristell, Missouri! For those of you who were there~ you have to hear it again! For those whom Iíve told over the phone~you know that took an hour and are probably wondering how long the "e-mail version" will take to read! But Iíve gotta tell...so here it is! :-)

Brother Larry Ellis preached on "Professors but not Possessors of salvation." He preached a strong message on making your calling sure and differentiating between a profession of salvation and truly being saved. He preached of Hell: that itís real; and a false profession, church membership, or good lifestyle wonít deliver you from it.

Well I hadnít consciously walked around knowing I was lost, thinking, "Iíll fool everyone." Iíd made a profession when I was 11 years old~ no one twisted my arm then or told me I was saved. I had felt a fear of Hell and of the rapture taking place~ knowing Iíd be left behind. I was miserable for months and one night it was so strong I cried and cried and felt such peace afterwards. I was baptized and joined one of the Lordís churches. As the years went by, there were times when I would doubt but I always turned back to that day~ I remembered it clearly and knew I had felt such misery and then a peace~ so Iíd push the doubts aside. In the past few months especially, Iíd felt such distance from the Lord~ maybe I wasnít walking close enough or I was backslidden. So Iíll do better~Iíll read more, pray more, listen to more tapes, try to practice the godly living Iíd heard preached. There were times I looked around me at those who were saved and I knew I didnít have exactly what they did.

So with all this in mind I sat listening to the Brother preach about the difference between professors and possessors of Christ. As he preached I felt empty inside~ nothing. No surety of "possession," no communion with the Lord, just a complete void, dead. And my logical little mind tried to process this: all I could come up with was "somethingís not right. Iím not sure here." You could see on the faces of those around who were saved that they were sure. After the sermon we sang and Brother Reynolds stood and reinforced the message with "God knows if youíve been honest in your heart tonight." He offered himself and the other brethren as available to talk with anyone about this and closed the service. By then I was thinkiní I should probably let someone know Iím not 100% sure. But I wouldnít go so far as to say I was lost. :-)

I thought Iíd wait until later~ a little more private and talk to someone. But the Lord was working and the need to tell kept getting stronger. I decided to go talk to Brother Reynolds and as I did he was just heading back to counsel someone else. So I was pacing around waiting to talk with him and trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy when people came up to talk. :-)

Brother Paul Reynolds came over, spoke a few minutes, and walked away. As he walked away I thought I canít wait anymore to talk~ I think heíll work! We went downstairs into the fellowship area and Brother Billy & Tracy Holbrook came down, too. By then I was crying and shaking~ all I could tell them was "I donít think Iím saved." I cried and they read scripture~ they read, and taught, and I kept thinking, "I know all this, Iíve heard it all my life." Bottom line, they kept coming back to the simple teaching of Godís word is true~ He says believe in Christ and He will not cast you away. Trust in Him~ Heíll grant you eternal life. They prayed and read, all the while I was trying to make something happen. I kept trying and trying but couldnít make myself believe. I was trying to make a feeling or vision or some big sign or wonder happen and I couldnít do it. I could hear those who had stayed upstairs singing, while those with me were praying. I was praying ĎLord help me to believeí over and over. It seems I finally started getting quiet and Tracy read a few verses. And as she read it struck me for the first time ever that what she was reading was true. Essentially believe, He saves. Godís word is true. Christ came and He died for His people. I was sooooo surprised! I kept thinking "thatís it?! It canít be that simple." And I was afraid~ what if itís not real? What if I just feel better cause Iíve been crying for like an hour?! I told them I needed to be sure, I needed to feel it, I didnít understand. They read scripture and told me Iíd never understand it~faith isnít a feeling, it isnít logical, it canít be reasoned. Thatís what makes it faith. Well as most of you know thatís hard on me! :-) But as we sat there it came over me slowly~ these words are true. Christ is real~ He really came down; He was really here in my place! I felt such relief~ His work is done and finished~ thereís nothing for me to do, nothing I can do but believe. I know now that God alone can give us that faith to believe on Him and His word, that He died for the sins of His people~ Heíll draw His children to Him but we have to stop everything weíre doing and hold to Him alone and trust Him as Saviour. We went upstairs and all I could say was "Iím saved.":) Everyone rejoiced~ Godís people are full of love!! :-)

Since then Iíve kinda been "floating" :-) Someone asks how are you doing? And an hour later is probably thinking she didnít even pause for breath. :-) Already there have been moments of fear: what if itís not real? What if I donít feel saved tomorrow? But the Bible is right there with the plain and simple truth and when I read, that peace and relief come, knowing my salvation isnít dependent on me, my service, my mood, feelings, or emotions... itís dependent on Christ and heís the same forever. :-)

So this is what I wanted to share with you all~ not so I could talk about myself for 6 paragraphs. And if this e-mail in any way seems boastful or arrogant or "I, I, I, me, me, me" please forgive me~ that was not my intent. I just pray that by sharing this the Lord will receive more glory for what he has done! He deserves all glory and praise. And perhaps He may be pleased to work on some of you who may be lost or have a false hope in your own service/works like I did.

In closing Iíd just like to ask for your prayers~ I know there are many people going through trials and sicknesses who need to be lifted up in prayer everyday... so pray for these first, pray for the lost, and if youíre still prayiní tag me onto the list, too. :-) Thanks to each for your friendships and love both past and present. Take care and God bless!

~Les

p.s. another young woman was saved at the Foristell meeting...her first name is Jenny. I donít know more about her, but Iím sure sheíd appreciate your prayers too!