Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Friday, August 04, 2006

I've Been Tagged! Part 1

Wow. I am tagged. I feel so loved and fortunate.

One book that changed your life:
Believe it or not, it is the book -- Absolutely Free!

I believed into Jesus Christ October 3, 1993 and I received the free gift of eternal life and was regenerated.

I wish I could remember the name or even the face of the gentlemen who presented the gospel to me at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, CA that night of my first visit to a non-Catholic church. He gave me the unadulterated gospel and the offer of eternal life. I believed Christ’s promise and that evening I was certain (I am tempted to say absolutely certain, but that would be redundant – words have meaning! – I don’t want to get into anti-postmodern rantings) that I had guaranteed eternal life that couldn’t ever be lost no matter what I believed or did in the future.

Two weeks later I was perusing the tract rack at the information booth at church and took a few handfuls of different tracts in order that I could share with others the same message that I had heard, the revelation that changed my life.

Contained in the text of one of those tracts that day were “steps” to getting saved. I think there were like 4 or 5 conditions to get right with God. One of them was “repent of your sins” and it explained that I had to turn away from my sins, do a complete 180 degrees with my life, and that this was indeed a condition for salvation.

I couldn’t resolve the tension in my head. Here a tract from the church I got saved at is saying that I had to do, what my mind had already considered as, a volitional work in order to be saved! It was saying that this act was something in addition to believing into Jesus. I started thinking. What work could be done to supplement Christ’s complete and finished work upon the cross, validated by His resurrection from the dead? I was wondering if I were confused for no good reason.

I proceeded to call the church and I asked for the senior pastor, Dr. David Jeremiah (of Turning Point radio and television ministry). I didn’t know that such people were so unapproachable; as they asked me who I was, what I wanted and assured me that he was much too busy for me. I told them my problem and they asked if some other kind of pastor would do. I supposed it would and said, “Yes.”

This man must have been Pastor of Janitorial Duties, for he was of no help whatsoever; he couldn’t give a straight answer!

That day I thought about it and resolved it: faith alone in Christ alone is the only thing necessary to appropriate eternal life. It was sufficient; the tract must be mistaken!

Within a year of being saved I was living on the campus of a bible college with a huge name: Linda Vista Baptist Bible College and Seminary.

I am trying to remember how I was introduced to Zane Hodges and Absolutely Free! Maybe it will come to me later. I just remember having the book and reading it and being amazed how it all fell together. I remember being in a little group study with some of the students and using a chapter of that book as a guide to a study I gave.

This book revolutionized the way I saw the Bible, and introduced me to a man in whom I am very deeply grateful, and now know personally.

The chapter on repentance especially was excellent, as it treated the subject with the skillfulness and impact it deserves. It shows how repentance is for all men, both saved and unsaved, yet not as a condition for eternal life. This chapter, by the way, can be found online here:
Repentance

I have since read all Zane Hodges published books, and other books that he has been a contributor to. I have much media, audio, video, and printed material as well of him. He taught at Dallas Theological Seminary for 27 years, with an emphasis in Greek and New Testament.

He is a very humble and godly man who the Lord has blessed with extreme insight into His word, to which I praise God daily for.

I had the opportunity to meet him some 4 or 5 years ago (after being in email correspondence with him for a year prior) in Dallas, Texas. I went to his church, shared the Lord’s table with him, brethren style, and later that evening I was able to treat him to a dinner out. What an amazing man he is!

I have since partnered in His ministry, Kerugma, Inc. (see an address below to write to ask for his free newsletter), and continue my correspondence with him. I have since met up with him again in California at a GES regional conference.

The following is a book jacket description/endorsement for another of Zane’s books, The Gospel Under Siege:

“Today you could let go of a theology that has kept you in bondage, and be free for the rest of your life.” – Luis C. Rodriguez, co-pastor of Victor Street Bible Chapel.

Most definitely this is the impact of Free Grace theology!

This man, Luis C. Rodriguez, is a testimony to the grace of God. Zane Hodges wrote a biography of this man, entitled Here Walks My Enemy: The Story of Luis. I read this book in a few hours, it so absorbed me!

Well, I have been tagged and this is as far as I got. Maybe I could do a few more of the questions, or even finish, tomorrow.

For a free subscription to his newsletter, write:

Kerugma, INC.
P.O. Box 870579
Mesquite, Texas
75187

10 Comments:

Blogger Bhedr said...

Thanks brother...I always get a real charge out of testimonies when people give them. Dr Jeremiah came from My mother and Fathers background. My parents know him. In fact one of his mentors was our beloved friend on the mission field. When I was six years old I was lead to Christ as you were and like you stumbled into the teaching of repentance and got confused. I don't have as much trouble confusing it now though and realize that Paul used it in the gospel call.

I guess what helps me now is the differance between the Rich Young Ruler and Zacheaus. The Rich Young ruler was told to repent while Zacheaus was given a wonderful promise. I am comming to your house today...wow! To good to be true.

All I can say...and this may bother you some...is that God uses the call to repentance as well as not using the call to repentance.
I often think that sometimes we are two ships passing in the night with very similar views...yet appropriating them differantly.

Jim mentioned on his own site that many need to hear the law so that they finally work themselves out of the impossibility. Some like perhaps you...COMING FROM A CATHOLIC church had been worked until you were weary with all forms of repentance and so like cool cold water you heard the simple gospel call. I am beginning to learn to put myself in other peoples shoes and at the same time understand that God bring men and women to himself from differant areas of life and differant angles...but the bottom line is always Sola Fide.

God bless you,
Brian

Sometimes I wonder if God has put me through some trials to better understand what other men and women have faced.

August 04, 2006 10:09 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Antonio, that was delightful to read.

August 05, 2006 12:35 AM  
Blogger Nate said...

Antonio,

I never knew you were such a Zane fan,hahaha!

Peace,
Nate

August 05, 2006 6:20 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
I really enjoyed reading that. I now understand more fully how it must hurt when people call Zane Hodges names and attack his character in your discussions with them.

So - the message that the book defends is the message that changed your life? Amen ... me too, brother!

I would love it if you answered the rest of the questions.

You are loved ... and fortunate. ;~)

August 05, 2006 2:45 PM  
Blogger Jon Lee said...

Antonio -

The senior pastor at my church, Terry Kern, studied under Zane at DTS. He has said repeatedly that Zane is one of the most humble, godly men he has ever met. I had the joy of hearing him speak at the Grace Conference in February. Zane's command of both the english language and the greek is simply phenomenal. I do not know him but I thank God for him often!

August 06, 2006 2:28 PM  
Anonymous David Wyatt said...

Bro. Antonio! man oh man. What a joy to read your testimony. I, like Bro. Bhedr said, also love hearing & reading testimonies that honor Christ, like yours. Someday I will share how a '65 Impala SS was used of God to lead me to Christ! May the Lord continue blessing you my brother. I must also say that bro. Hodges' material has been a blessing. It hurts me too to hear him ridiculed as many do. Yet he is earning rewards (!!) by his Christ-like response. God Bless.

December 23, 2006 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I share your heart for Zane. I was asking God "I know the gift of eternal life is free, but why does the Bible make it sound like it cost everything?" Then God brought a book called "Absolutely Free" into my life to explain my question. I was amazed while reading through it, I didn't understand just how free eternal life was. I'm willing to stake my eternal destiny on that promise (John 6:47).

February 15, 2007 8:56 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I rejoice in everything you said, Antonio. That book (Absolutely Free)changed my life, too. I was saved before I read it, but it brought the pieces together like a puzzle... everything fit. I too read everything he writes and learn so much. How I thank the Lord for bringing into my life Zane Hodges!!! He's been the person who takes me step by step through the Bible and says..... see this, and see this, and see this!!! I see how all the pieces fit together. I see just HOW free eternal life really is! What a wonderful gift God offers to the person who takes it freely by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.... no strings attached!!! I praise God for Zane Hodges. He is one of the most gracious, kind, and humble teachers of the Word of God that I have ever known. We all need to pray for him because he is constantly under attack from many in the evangelical community who don't want to believe the truth. But Zane doesn't budge. He keeps focused on Christ and never gives in to the pressure to stop teaching the truth. I thank God for him because he has opened my eyes to the truth of the Word of God like no other.

With a grateful heart,
Diane

April 15, 2007 9:13 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Thank you, Diane!

Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you!

Antonio

April 18, 2007 2:56 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Hi Antonio,
You're right, "Zane is a very humble and godly man who the Lord has blessed with extreme insight into His word!" I grew up at Victor Street Bible Chapel and Zane has always been the same dedicated, loving person you described. Unfortunately for us, he died November 28, 2008. Fortunately for Zane, his work is done and he is now in the presence of our Lord. Wasnt it great that such an intelligent and accomplished man was so approachable?! He has impacted so many lives with his writings, teachings, preaching, counseling, friendship and example! Praise God for Zane Hodges!

December 03, 2008 2:30 PM  

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