Question and Answer
I have been praying for repentance, saving faith and a new heart for over ten years but I fear that God will not grant it because somehow deep inside of me I do not sincerely want this, thus I was born to be a vessel unto wrath. For the past six months I no longer am able to shed any tears, I feel my heart hardening, and I see the door of my heart is forever sealed. I feel God has given up on me because I quenched my conscience and his Holy Spirit. I feel the Gospel can no longer penetrate my heart.
Providentially, you have contacted someone who also prayed for salvation for many years before the Lord opened my eyes to the true nature of salvation. I had made a profession of faith by going forward in an evangelistic service. However, for years I faithfully attended church but did not believe I was truly saved. I spent a lot of time in prayer, praying for the Lord to change my heart. But I could not stop the praying. Something (someone) kept bringing me back to it. I finally realized that I could not give up on seeking God because He would not let me. Why do you think you have continued in prayer for so long? Could it be that the Lord has a hold of you and will not let you go? I also realized that I truly did believe in what the Bible said. That was why I could not walk away from it.
I also came to realize that Biblical salvation is different than perfection. The church I was attending did not teach perfection, but it did teach that there was a slight chance that once you took Christ as your savior you might lose that salvation. This was only a slight chance but it was a possibility. With time I learned from the Bible that you do not become a Christian because you take Christ as your savior but because He takes you as His adopted child. I had to struggle with doubts until I realized that God already had a hold of me and would not let me go.
I also learned from the Bible that I had to pursue and employ the means of grace God talks about in the Bible: Bible reading, the church, prayer, etc. Through these means I came to understand that repentance was more than feeling sorry for my sin but it was trusting in Christ and what the Bible taught. It meant I had to, with His help, see real changes in my life. I had to get to a church that truly taught the whole counsel of God. This brought me, ultimately, to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
There were many difficult struggles in my growing closer to the Lord. I struggled with anger, lust, lying, etc. My help was in what God did in me and what He said in the Bible. In Romans 7 Paul describes his struggle with sin. He was an apostle, an author of divine Scripture, but he still struggled with sin. I could see, and still see, that the struggle with sin lasts until we die and are perfected in Christ (1 Cor. 15). I learned that faith meant following God because he is God not because I have the strength to follow him. Like Paul I often failed but like Paul I found victory in Christ (Rom 8:1).
Therefore, I recommend that you find a good church that preaches the whole counsel of God. This may be abbreviated by seeing if they hold to and declare the system of doctrine summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms.
I also suggest that you seek counsel from someone in that church, the pastor, a godly elder, or a godly woman (recommended by the pastor or an elder). Again, please do get to a good church and attend regularly. Make friends of the people there and use the tools God has supplied to help you in a more personal way.
Finally, I had to learn that being a Christian is not so much what I felt as what God taught and my obedience to that teaching.
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