Personal Testimony of Ben Carnes

My testimony begins when I was 5 years old. I was the opposite of a precocious child growing up. Much of my childhood memory is fuzzy. However, some things stuck vividly in my memory.

At the age of 5 I was mostly clueless about spiritual matters. On two occasions, I found myself confronted with a false Gospel and had no clue what I was hearing. On the first occasion, an old man at a car dealership approached my twin brother Jeremy and me. He asked us, "do you know how to get to heaven?" We said "no", and the old man said, "You get to heaven by being a good boy". He then gave $2 to my brother and me. My mom, who was a born-again Christian, was polite to the old man but later tried to explain to us that what he said was wrong. However, I did not understand. On the second occasion, my grandmother told my brother and me that everyone one goes to heaven and that "everyone is a son of God." We asked her what a son of God was, but she could not explain.

As I recall, this incident with my grandmother caused my parents to decide to start home devotions to try to ensure that we were taught correct Bible doctrine.

Around the age of 6 and 7 I began to think more about life and death. Death became my biggest fear. I began to think whether I could be good enough to get to heaven. From Sunday School and home devotions, I learned that God rewards righteousness and judges sin. I could not understand how my righteousness could be good enough to allow me into heaven in the presence of a perfectly holy God.

One day during family devotions, my dad explained the Gospel and everything suddenly made sense. I could not be saved by my own merit. I could only be saved by putting my trust in God and receiving Christ's payment for sin. At that time I placed my faith in Christ as my Savior. Afterwards, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. The burden of my greatest fear, the fear of death, was gone.

Later, around the age of 9, I wondered how I could be sure that I was saved. Looking back, I think my insecurity regarding salvation was due to a very poor knowledge of the Word. Over the next several years, I went through cycles of becoming insecure, then hearing the Gospel message in church and being reassured of my salvation.

At the age of 13, I came to realize that I knew no specific scriptures supporting the doctrine of salvation. I was familiar with the Gospel message, but I did not know were specifically to turn to in the Bible to defend the Gospel message. I became very disturbed. I wanted to be certain I believed the truth of God, not the mere teachings of men. I began searching the Bible for answers. At first, I started reading through many of the Psalms. At church, I began paying attention to verses related to salvation. It was then that I learned John 3:16, which became my first memorized verse. John 3:16, "the Gospel in a nut shell", was conclusive evidence of the hope that I believed in and heard preached many times. Around the same time, the pastor of my church began a study of Galatians. The book of Galatians proved valuable in countering the salvation-by-works doctrine, which was the main opposing view that I was familiar with. It also explained the Gospel message very well. Galatians 3:22 states that all are under sin. There is no hope of finding righteousness by the law because the law only condemns (Galatians 3:10-12). Christ bore the curse of the law for us so that we can receive justification through faith (Galatians 3:13, 14).

After finding a firm foundation in the Word, I began to wonder about my own salvation experience. How could I have been saved without knowing a single verse of Scripture? Did I really understand the Gospel back then? I prayed and asked the Lord to save me if I had not yet received salvation. It was not necessary for me to figure out if I had been saved previously. The important thing was that I knew I was currently saved. I had made my "calling of election sure" (2 Peter 1:9-10).

Receiving Christ as my Savior has not only ensured eternal life; it has brought many blessings in this present life. Jesus said that He came to bring "more abundant life" (John 10:10), and that has definitely been my experience. Becoming born-again at an early age has been a blessing to me because the Lord has directed me away from the tragic sins that are common among unsaved youths. Over the years I have grown in my appreciation for Christ's sacrifice for my sins, and the Lord has drawn me into a closer relationship with Him. I have found life more clear and meaningful because the Lord has given my life a purpose and a goal (Ephesians 1:5-6, 2:10).

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