Life Stories
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Nick Shaffer

Salem, VA

First, let me thank you for taking the time to read my story. Truthfully, it's not really my story as much as it is the story of God and His pursuing grace in my life. 

I grew up in a small town in northern PA, called Canton.  We had one light, one high school, 5 churches or so and about 8 bars.  Growing up, I really knew very little about Christianity, about Jesus Christ, about the Bible or about church. I didn't grow up in a Christian home. While there was a high regard for "doing the right thing" and high achievement, there was really no spiritual instruction.  As for me, being raised in a respected family in our town -- my parents were both teachers, my dad a football coach -- I thought of myself as a pretty good guy.  I was a good student, a good athlete, was outwardly obedient to authority, pretty repectful most of the time and I never got caught doing anything too, too bad.  I thought I was a good guy, but God would shatter that notion entirely.

I started going to church originally because I had a crush on this girl that was a year older than me.  I asked her to the movies, but rather than say "Yes," she invited me to come to church with her.  It was about the last thing I wanted to hear, but I figured that I could do anything for an hour to sit next to her.  I never thanked her for turning me down, but I should have.  Her invitation to church would change my life forever.

As usual, my infatuation with her wore off in a couple of weeks, but I continued to go to church.  It was new and different and it made me think about things I had never considered before.  I started to think about God and the fact that He made me and had the right to tell me what to do. I never thought about that before.  I had never given a thought to the fact that this earth and all that is in it, every human being ever born, has been created by God to bring Him honor and glory.  We have been created to worship and obey Him.  He gave us commands to show us how. He gave us the 10 Commandments and the greatest commandment -- to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves. God commanded this.  But I hadn't done any of those things perfecly or consistently, and in many cases, not at all.  And truth be told, neither have you.  None of us have. Not you.  Not me.

I wasn't a good guy at all.  To be honest, that was kind of a blow to my ego. I was a legend in my own mind! But the truth was staring me in the face. All I had to do was consider the 10 Commandments and I could see it.  Had I served other gods?  Absolutely.  Football was my god. I was my god.  Had I taken the Lord's name in vain?  More times than I could count.  I had rebelled agaisnt my parents and had not honored them.  I was guilty of murder in my heart -- more than a few times. I was guilty of lust -- extremely guilty, guilty of lying...I had broken every commandment.  And as for loving God -- not at all. I had never given it a thought.

The testimony of Scripture in Romans 3:10-12, was becoming very clear to me: "None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12)  I was not righteous.  I was ignorant of God and Christ.  I was not seeking God or seeking to please Him. I was a worthless rebel against God, plain and simple. I was a sinner and that was no small thing.

My first thought was "I can fix this.  I"ll reform myself and I'll start doing better.  I'll keep coming to church and I'll be a better guy.  I can do this."  But I couldn't.  I couldn't stop sinning and all the excuses that I had for what I did were more and more hollow sounding.  What was worse was I knew I was guilty before God and that I deserved His judgment.  I didn't know at that time a great deal about what it meant that God is holy, but I was pretty sure that it meant that He is perfect and righteous and will judge and punish sin and evil.  And I was a sinner, a rebel against God, and my sin made me His enemy.  I deserved God's wrath and eternal punishment from Him in a very real place called Hell.

The Law of God had done its work in me.  It had shut my mouth and made me accountable to God like it talks about in Romans 3:19.  It was hard for me to hear but it was true. All of my excuses meant nothing.  All of my goodness was an illusion. I came to realize that I was in real trouble.  Trouble that I could not get myself out of. I was under God's judgment and I needed someone to rescue me, to deliver me, to save me.  I was not good and I had no power to make things right with God.  I had nothing to offer in exchange for my soul.  I couldn't deliver myself, but God could...and did!!

After God showed me my sin and the danger I was in, He showed me the only way out -- Jesus Christ, His Son.  He showed me that though God was not obligated to and though I had no right to expect or demand it, God sent a Savior. He sent a Redeemer. 

God opened my eyes to see that because of His great love, over 2000 years ago, God sent His own perfect, holy, sinless Son into this world to save me and sinners like me. Despite our sin and that we are not good, despite the fact that we have not loved or obeyed God, despite the fact that we rightfully deserve God's wrath and judgment; God showed us grace.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became a man and did two things in my place, in the sinner's place, that I/we desperately needed.  

In my place, as my representative before God, He lived a perfect life of absolute obedience and love to God the Father.  What I could not and would not do, He did.  Jesus lived a perfect life, as my representative, on my behalf, so that I could receive credit for his perfect life and have the righteousness that I needed to be accepted by God.  But that wasn't all.  I needed more than righteousness; I needed someone to pay my debt, the penalty of sin that I owed to God. And Jesus did that, too.

After living a perfect life for me, He died the death and suffered the wrath and the fury of God the Father that I deserved, in my place, as my substitute.  At the time appointed by God the Father, Jesus gave Himself up to die on the cross at the hands of evil men.  He was beaten and mocked and crucified, and while He hung on that cross, bleeding and suffering, He paid my debt. He endured the wrath of God against my sin and paid for it all.  And He rose again from the dead three days later to prove that what He did was real and powerful to save because He is the Son of God.

John wrote: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the wrath-bearer) for our sins."  (1 John 4:9-10)

I could do nothing to save myself, but Christ did it all, but there was one thing I had to do. I had to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.  I had to admit the truth about myself, and turn away from my sin and from being my own god, and I had to believe and trust in Jesus Christ in order to be forgiven of my sins.  I had to receive the gift of salvation that God offered in His gospel, in Christ. 

The only way that anyone is forgiven by God is through faith in Christ.  That is what Paul so clearly taught in Romans 3:23ff: "For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, throught the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith." (Romans 3:23-25)

I could never earn forgiveness with God, but I could believe in Christ. Scripture tells us:  "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (that means more than just saying it; it means believing it and submitting to Him as Lord) and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and with the mouth one confesses and is saved...for everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9-10)

That was the greatest news I had ever heard.  And I was faced with a choice. I could try to convice myself that I wasn't so bad. I could try to ignore the truth about my spiritual condition.  I could try to ignore what the Word of God and my heart was telling me or I could surrender my life to Jesus, turn away from my sins, and believe in Him alone for salvation...and I trusted Christ. I still do and I have never regretted it for a moment.  

Not that it has been easy and not that all the circumstances of my life since I believed in Christ have been exactly what I wanted them to be. They haven't.  In fact, it wasn't very long until I was faced with a test of my faith.  God called me to be a preacher and, to be quite honest, it was the last thing I wanted to do. I had my life planned out.  I was going to be a Navy pilot, travel the world, etc., and God called me to lay down my desires for His.  I'd like to tell you that I immediately obeyed God's calling, but that would be a lie. I rebelled. I ran. I tried to disqualilfy myself.  And God would not let me go. God disciplined me.  He took away everything that I thought that I really wanted and needed.  He broke me and made me realize that my life was not my own.  I was bought with a price.  I could not treat Christ as a piece of the puzzle that I needed to complete my life's plan.  Jesus and His plan was my life.  He was not just my Savior, He was, and is, my Lord.

I know there are some of you who are reading this who have not placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and have not recieved the gift of forgiveness of your sins and eternal life.  Like me, maybe you think you are a good person, but friend, the Bible says no one is good.  Maybe you are trying to convince yourself that all this Christianity stuff is make believe, but deep in your heart you know there is a God, just like you know there is such thing as right and wrong. Maybe you are trying to fill that gnawing emptiness in your soul with some other "god," but it isn't workng is it?

Isaiah 55 asks: "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear that your soul may live...Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:2-3a, 6-7)

Believe the gospel.  Call upon Jesus to save you and find life.  

If you have any questions or just want to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, you can contact me at  God bless you.

Visit my church: West Salem Baptist Church