That point being settled, and God having won the first battle with Satan, I turned again to John 6:40, "He that SEETH the Son, and BELIEVETH on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
I reasoned to myself, "Here I am a lost sinner going to Hell" – "seeth the Son" – "believeth on him" – "may have everlasting life" – "raise him up at the last day." I sat there conscious of my condition, caring not what
others might say or think. I knew that I wanted to be saved. It was then that Satan pulled one of his diabolical tricks on me, just as he pulls on many lost sinners when they first admit that they are lost. He showed
me a vision of Christ lifted up and said, "There is the Son – believe Him; He died for you." I did believe that He died for me, and as I read again John 6:40, "He that SEETH the Son, and believeth on him, may have
everlasting life," there came a quietness and a peace over my soul, which I rejoiced in. I felt so at ease, so light as it were floating through the air. I felt so wonderful. Of course, I did not know at that time
that it was a trick of Satan. Let me point out this one fact – any kind of feeling, or any type of vision (whether of Christ, or a cross, or a light)is not salvation. Salvation is the revelation of Christ to the
heart through the Word by the Holy Spirit (II Thess. 2:13; Gal. 1:15,16; I Pet. 1:2; John 1:11-13). If you rest the assurance of your salvation on anything else but Christ, you're on sinking sand.
I soon retired without saying a word to my brother about what had happened. That night I rested better than I had in many a night, and I arose the next morning with a joy and peace still in my heart.
Believing that the Lord had saved me, I went on and preached at both services. As I returned to New Orleans on the Sunday night train, that peace and quietness began to leave, and I became shaky about being saved.
By the time I arrived home everything had caved out from under me, and when I read the Word of God it would not assure me that I was saved. Therefore, I knew that I had not made it to Christ.
I cannot emphasize this fact too strongly – a vision is not salvation or the assurance of salvation. Neither is salvation resting upon the Word of God, nor upon the truth of God's Word, nor upon a promise of
God's Word. Salvation is not even resting upon the finished work of Christ. But salvation is Christ – the Christ crucified, buried and risen as lifted up in the Word, revealed to the sinner by the Holy Spirit and
received into his heart by faith. Then the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ secures the believer, and the Word of God assures the believer that the blood has been applied. If you are not saved, the Word of God cannot
and will not assure you, because you do not have anything for the Word to assure you about, for the Word testifies of Christ.
When I arrived home, I called the family together and told them that I was lost and going to Hell. That night I went before the church, made the statement that I was a lost sinner, and offered my resignation.
They voted not to accept it and to pay my salary right on and give God a chance to save me, saying to me, "You have been patient with us; why should we not be patient with you? As a lost sinner, you have just as
much right to salvation as anyone else." What grace! what mercy of a sovereign, loving God! I walked out of the pulpit and took my place as a lost condemned sinner. After service I went to the associate pastor and,
placing my hand on his shoulder, said, "I am a lost sinner going to Hell; please be true to my soul. Do not pull your punches, and do not comfort me. It is Christ or Hell, and I want to get saved."
Services continued and the Holy Spirit began to show me who I was by nature, what I was by nature and the judgment I was under by revealing my heart to myself. I began to see that I was totally depraved,
utterly wicked, having no righteousness of my own, but that all my righteousness was but filthy rags in the sight of God and that I was unclean and had no natural goodness or merit of any kind.
Satan did his best to sidetrack me with visions and feelings to hinder me being brought to Christ. One of the first things I came to see was that I was utterly demon possessed (II Tim.2:26). As I was unsaved,
this had come about largely by seeking a "deeper walk" with God (so-called). I have discovered this fact: when any unsaved religionist seeks a Spirit-filled life, or the baptism of the Holy Ghost, he will always
receive a demon spirit instead of the Holy Spirit. This is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn. The Bible plainly teaches that when God saves an individual for Christ's sake, the Holy Spirit comes in to
dwell and the body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. These demon spirits will give the individual any type of experience he may want to keep him blinded to his real spiritual condition.
I have found that the vast majority of the religious world today thinks and believes that all religious experiences come from God, but this is not so. I would be safe in saying that almost one hundred
per cent of so-called religious experiences today (namely, visions, dreams, trances, etc.) come from Satan and his demon spirits, and not from the Holy Spirit. The vast majority of all the so-called "faith healing"
and fleshly religious emotions is not of God, but is of Satan. When the Holy Spirit definitely revealed to me that I was demon possessed, this added to the terror of my soul (II Cor.5:11). Seeing my helplessness
and totally depraved condition, without a righteousness that God will accept, demon possessed and held prisoner by the power of Satan, I knew that the only thing I could do was to cry out against it and call
upon the Lord for help (Psa. 107:10-14).
There I was lost, condemned to die (and that justly) and also demon possessed. I became afraid to cross the street lest a car hit me and I wake up in Hell. I did not want to go to sleep for fear I should die in my
sleep and wake up in torment. When night came, I would it were morning; and when morning came, I would it were night! (Deut. 28:67). The more I cried unto God for mercy, the more He stripped me of my self-righteous rags.
The more I cried for pardon, the more he showed me that I was guilty and deserved to die. As I read the Word of God, judgment blazed forth from every verse – I saw judgment written over everything. The world completely
lost its beauty and charm and became just a desert – lonely and desolate (Psa. 107:4-7). Slowly God stripped me of everything and left me alone as a naked sinner before Him (Rev. 3:17). He showed me that all my religious
nature was no better than the nature of a drunkard or of a harlot (Isa.64:6). Alongside me a harlot looked clean and a drunkard in all his filth and vomit was a gentleman (Rom.3:9-19). I came to see myself as the chief of sinners (Luke 18:13).
I now became afraid that the Holy Spirit would leave me (Psa.51:11). I knew that if He did there was no hope. I knew that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit I could never get saved (John 6:44; John 16:7-11).
I was also afraid that the Lord would come back before God saved me. My mind was made up that if He should come before God saved me, I would never bow my knee to the Antichrist during the Tribulation Period.
But I did not want to go into the Tribulation Period; I wanted Christ, and I wanted Him alone.
Reading the story of Christ dying for sinners as given in God's Word, I would try my best to believe and appropriate Him as my own personal Saviour, but I found that I could not. Another fact that I learned here is
that Christ is revealed to the heart of the sinner and the sinner cannot make God do it (Matt. 16:17; Gal. 1:12, 15, 16; II Cor.3:15,16). At the same time, the Holy Spirit was slowly but surely opening my heart to let me
see how wicked, how vile and how corrupt I was by nature. I came to see myself more and more as the chief of sinners, until I could not see how God could love such a wretch as I. Here I was demon possessed, with a heart
so stony that I could not believe that God loved me, and Satan kept saying again and again, "God doesn't love a sinner like you – you are too wicked, too vile, and too corrupt for God to save you. Surely He doesn't love a
sinner like you!" All hope of ever getting saved began to flee away, and for days I remained in that condition, believing that God did not love me. There it was the last of November, and still I was not saved.
About that time I began corresponding with a thirteen year old boy, whose name is Omer Ritchie, then of Mobile, Alabama. He would write me such simple, plain, childlike letters, telling me what the Lord meant to
him and how real Christ was to his soul, and he showed such childlike faith in Christ. I would take those letters, spread them out upon my desk, and read and reread them, bathing them with my tears. I would say, "Now,
there is a child who can trust Christ with such a simple, childlike faith, and here I am a high school, college and seminary graduate who has been preaching for twenty-five years, who knows the Bible historically and
who believes the plan of salvation completely – and yet, I cannot trust Christ for salvation!
In the midst of these struggles of trying to believe, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart Matthew 18:3, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
I began to cry unto Him to make me as a little child. There I was, having gone through high school, college and the seminary, and having preached for twenty-five years, with a library that would grace any preacher's study,
helpless and hopeless and could not believe! I would walk the floor of my study, or lie flat on my face on the floor, with one cry in my soul, "Lord, make me as a little child." As someone said, I knew too much;
I kept telling God how to do it. I knew a little child knows nothing, a little child is nothing, a little child has nothing, and a little child trusts with simple faith. Every sinner learns only two things before he gets saved;
one is that he is a sinner, lost and Hell-deserving, and the other one is that Christ died for him.
Then I was led to lay hold of Phil. 1:6 and plead this promise before the throne of God's grace: "He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of redemption." I knew that He had begun a work of grace in my heart,
and I also knew that God cannot lie and that His Word cannot be broken. Also by His grace I was now able to lay hold of Isa. 55:7, "I will abundantly pardon." Yes, I was guilty – so guilty – and I wanted a pardon. God had said, "I will."
These promises I kept daily before Him. Then it dawned upon me that God loved me, and I said, "if God loves me and if Christ died for me, then He wills to save me." That was a great moment in my life when the light of God's love
broke in upon my poor, wretched soul, and I saw that Christ died for such a wretched, Hell-deserving sinner as I, and that He wanted to save me (Rom. 2:4). This completely broke me at His feet crying for mercy.
It was Monday morning at the break of day, as I was riding on the train between Tallulah and Delhi, Louisiana, that the burden and guilt of sin weighed heavily upon my soul. I was lost and going to Hell, and I knew it.
I walked from one end of the coach to the other end and fell down upon an empty seat, crying from the depths of my soul with all hope gone, "Lord, I am lost; save me, or I perish!" I had come to the end of my way,
and God had given me strength to cast myself completely upon Him, trusting all into His hands to save me or to damn me. Here I was a wicked, condemned, lost sinner who had forsaken his way; here I was resting
at the feet of a sovereign God helpless, hopeless, hapless, begging for mercy; here I was an unrighteous sinner who had given up all pretensions to any righteousness of my own, abhorring my corrupt nature,
realizing I was lost and ought to go to Hell, and also realizing that God ought to send me to Hell, but I had one plea – that Christ had died for me. On that basis I cried for mercy, "Lord, save me, or I perish!"
The battle was over; the Holy Spirit had at last brought me to the feet of a sovereign, eternal, merciful, pardoning God and made me to realize that He could save me or damn me. There I rested, knowing only two things – first,
that I was a lost sinner condemned to die, a sinner whom God ought to send to Hell, a sinner who did not deserve to be saved, a sinner who, if God chose to send me to Hell, would say, "Amen," to his own condemnation, and second, that
God could pardon me because Christ died for me. A quietness came over my soul, and a peace settled down upon me. There was no more struggle. My one hope was that Christ died for such a sinner, and I believed it. God's Word could not be broken.
We reached our destination – Herringville Baptist Church, six miles east of Epps, Louisiana – where we were to hold a week's meeting. Friday night came with everything frozen, the temperature just ten degrees above zero.
Twelve of us gathered for the last service around the old wood heater in the large one room church building. We sat there freezing on one side and burning on the other. The preacher had not been preaching very long when,
to my utter surprise and gladness of heart, the Holy Spirit revealed Christ definitely to my heart as my Saviour and Lord.
What a moment when God chose to reveal His Son in me! I sat there in amazement and wonder. I would say to myself, "Is this salvation?" I had made sure that, if and when God saved me,
no doubt I would shout all over God's creation; but there I sat not saying a word. It was so different from what I had expected. It was the quiet revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ to my heart
and life as my Saviour and Lord. The Holy Spirit had brought me to rest upon Christ and to commit everything into His hands, and now He had revealed Him to my heart as the One who had died for me – my Substitute, my risen Lord.
Salvation is the revelation of Christ to the sinner's heart as his Saviour and Lord. Salvation takes place when the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to a sinner's heart as his own personal Saviour
and Lord after He had brought him to realize that he is condemned, admitting in his heart that he ought to go to Hell and saying, "Amen,"
to his own condemnation if God should choose to send him to Hell (Matt. 16:17; Gal. 1:11,12; Gal. 1:15,16; I Cor.15:3,4; Eph.2:8,9; I Cor.1:26-29).
Salvation is not resting upon the Word of God or believing the promises of God – salvation is not resting upon one's faith. Salvation is the revelation
of Christ to the sinner's heart. Reader, do you know Him? Every saved person can say, "I know WHOM I have believed."