At the same time that Phil was receiving personal revelations into this new gospel, he was continuing his education and was by this time a student-pastor. He tried to share what he was learning with others there, but it was not well-received. He discovered that most people were comfortable and secure in their gospel of “Jesus did it for us” and were not looking for anything beyond the forgiveness of sins and good deeds. But that was not good enough for Phil.
“The idea that ‘we are all sinners; there’s not much we can do about that, but God is forgiving and He sees us through Jesus as if we hadn’t sinned’ never sat well with me. As a child I understood that the way to keep a connection with Jesus was through a good conscience, and when I sinned, I felt condemnation. I never found peace and joy and a good conscience in forgiveness for sins alone.”
Learning how to be a true disciple
“For example, now for the first time I was hearing verses such as these read in a church: ‘I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?’ Job 31:1. And: ‘But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her had already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.’ Matthew 5:28-29. These are Jesus’ own words, and the zeal in them is a far cry from being resigned to not being able to do anything about it and resting in the laziness of forgiveness without even trying not to give in to sin because that was not possible. Yet, this was all that I had been taught up to then.
“But now I was learning that it was possible to take that lust and, by the strength of God, fight against it and never give in until victory was won. Just as Jesus did when He was a young person, and thereby follow in His footsteps and become an actual disciple of Jesus. (Matthew 16:24) Not just a so-called believer and follower, but a disciple, meaning one who wants to be like Him. I learned that to do so I had to take up my cross and suffer daily, in order for sin not to be allowed to live. (Luke 9:23-24) But this suffering leads to life and to joy, and this doctrine went into my heart. It made all the difference in the world to me. That I could believe the Bible, the Word of God, just as it’s written, and that I could do the Word of God, and that I could become as the Word of God. This was something entirely new! This was the great mystery of Christ manifested in the flesh.”
“It has been many years since I first heard this revolutionary gospel, that victory over sin is not only true, but that it is possible, and it changes the lives of those who choose to believe in it and give up everything to become a true disciple of Jesus. It has had a tremendous impact on my life.
“I’m happy to report that I made the decision to believe in the gospel of victory over sin in my youth, and looking back now, I’m only tremendously thankful that I made that decision. I can look back over many years and see that my life has been transformed. When I look back it is exciting, because I can see that there has been a development! This is a life that changes you daily. Every single day has an effect, because every day sin – the lusts of the flesh – is dying; it’s put to death on the cross. And that’s not the end of the story; that’s only the beginning!
“The good part is that now there is room in this vessel that we have, our flesh and blood, for the virtues of Christ! We partake of those more and more, day by day, and so it grows in us. The Bible speaks about the height and width and depth and knowledge of Christ, and instead of being a theory, and something to discuss, I can say that I have experienced that. There is rest and peace in my life that wasn’t there before.
“Even when the situation itself is not restful and not peaceful, I, by the grace of God and use of the gospel, can remain in rest and peace! I can feel that tangibly in many areas of my life. For example, honor of man, love of money, lust of the eyes. I can see a huge difference from even ten years ago. And every day that rest increases.
“One place I have really noticed a change is that the empathy and love that I have for mankind in general have grown dramatically. I see how sad it is when people have everything that they need materially, but do not have joy and peace inside. The spirit of fear and anxiety seems to have gripped this generation; they are fearful and anxious of everything! I have to say that because I have practiced the Word of God and believed in this gospel, fear and anxiety have no power over me.
“I thank and praise God that this gospel is real. It’s been tested and tried, and I can say that it works. It’s worth it to give up everything for this calling. But it doesn’t work if you do not give up everything. If you just go to church and do good deeds, but that’s all you do. It’s when you give your own life as a complete sacrifice to God and are willing to put your own will, your own ego, your own lusts to death, and let God do a new work in you, that you experience a tremendous yield from that. Then you partake of a tremendous blessing. Use the death of Christ to put all your lusts to death, believe in the gospel, and follow His footsteps. Your yearning to have more patience, more goodness, more love, more care, more longsuffering, will be fulfilled. You will sense those virtues are part of your very body. You’ll partake of His divine nature, so that it becomes your nature also.
“My prayer is that this grows day by day, until the last day when we become like the Savior of our soul. That’s what we want. Those of us who have that yearning, we want to be like Jesus. We don’t just want to be good people: just church-goers. We want to be like Jesus. And we have found the way to life and happiness.”
Read part 1 of Phil’s journey to the truth here.