Pastor Clarence Hafelin was converted in 1977 out of a hardened and rebellious lifestyle. Several years later, God called him to preach. He pursued formal training and finished degrees in both pastoral and missions ministries. After 8 years of pastoral experience, he entered the evangelistic ministry in 1994. For 18 years, Pastor Hafelin traveled the globe preaching the Gospel, until God called him to start Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Oriskany Falls, NY. He currently serves as full-time Pastor and still continues his evangelistic ministry as opportunity and time allow.
I Always Wondered "Where it was Really at" in Life, Until ...
I was respected and considered "cool" among most all my peers. Party-ers, bikers and all of my friends thought I really had it together. However, somehow I knew there had to be more in life than what I had experienced. I had a 1940 Harley Davison Knuckle-head and was known by many as "Straw Dog", my biker name. Bikes, drugs, booze and fun were my game. In my search for meaning and purpose in life, I had almost tried it all and still felt incomplete. It was not until 1976 as I was for the first time reading the Bible that I found answers that brought about the transformation in my life that made me a new creature. It was then I found the real purpose and meaning of life that I had been searching for so long.
This is what I found that God says in the Bible.
1. The Real Problem
Many today consider Drug Abuse, Alcoholism, Divorce, Crime, etc., as our problems. The Bible tells us they are only symptoms. The real problem is Sin. "For All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God," Romans 3:23. Sin is the root problem of all the above symptoms. God wants to deal with our root problem that we might have life more abundant.
A. Sin separates us from God
Isaiah 59:1-2, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His
face from you, that He will not hear."
B. Sin murdered us spiritually
There's something missing! Something vital to our being a complete and whole person: body, soul and spirit. You see the Bible tells us we are spiritually dead until we are quickened or made alive spiritually at conversion. Ephesians 2:1, "And you hath He quickened (made alive) who were dead in trespasses and
sins." Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
C. Sin's effect illustrated
In the Bay of Naples there is a certain kind of amoeba type jellyfish and a certain kind of snail. The jellyfish surrounds the snail, but cannot penetrate the snail's hard shell. So the snail leeches onto the jellyfish and begins to kill him from the inside. Thus the jellyfish dies a slow death from the inside. Friends, sin is like that. It does an inside job on our souls. It steals our integrity, honesty, uprightness, self worth, respect, and it leaves us dead toward God spiritually. There will always be something missing in our lives until we are made alive spiritually in Christ.
2. The Only Acceptable Payment For Our Sin
Because we are dead spiritually before a Holy God, our righteousness, good deeds, religion, etc., are not
enough payment to save us from our sins. We are spiritually bankrupt and have nothing to offer God because of our sin. "... There is none righteous, no, not one," Romans 3:10. And Isaiah 64:6, "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags...".
A. God's provision
"For He hath made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," Romans 5:8.
B. God's provision Illustrated
In California, a young girl was pulled over by the police for speeding. She then received a citation and a summons to appear in court. Going before the Judge she was asked only one question, "Are you guilty or not guilty?" The girl replied, "Guilty". The Judge brought down the gavel and fined her $100 or ten days in jail. Then some-thing amazing happened. The Judge stood up behind his judicial desk, took off his judicial robe, came down off the platform, brought out his billfold and paid that young girl's fine. What's the explanation for this? The Judge was the girl's father, he loved his daughter, yet he was a just Judge. His daughter had broken the law and he couldn't simply say to her, "Because I love you, I will forgive your transgression of the law." That wouldn't be justice. But being a just Judge and a loving father he was willing to pay the penalty for her transgression himself.
That is exactly what God has done for us through Christ. God's Law says, "The wages of sin is Death." Thus He, being a loving Father and a just Judge, left His judicial throne in Heaven, came to earth and died a death in our place as full payment for the sins of all who will receive Him. John 1:10-12, "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not. He came unto his own, and His own received Him not, But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."
3. The Personal Decision That Is Required
It is not enough to just have head knowledge of all this. God said in the Bible, "But as many as received Him
(Jesus) to them gave He power to become the sons of God even to them that believe on His name." Many say, "I will receive Christ as Saviour and get right with God when I am old, to get ready to die." But God's Word tells us we are already dead spiritually (Ephesians 2:1). The truth is that one needs to receive Christ in order to get ready for life and be made completely whole - body, soul and spirit. Receiving Christ as Saviour is a decision you can make right now. No one else can do it for you. Biblically you must call on His name, acknowledging your sin to Him, and repent, asking Christ to save you from your sins. Romans 10:13, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
On October 30, 1977, I called on the name of the Lord and received Christ, finding a new life in Him. Since then God has truly given my life a purpose and meaning that is Eternal. 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ He is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new."
How about you? What's your decision? In which are you placing your
trust for salvation: being a religious and good person, or in what Christ
has done for you on the cross? True salvation is Christ and what He has
done for us plus nothing. Have you trusted in Christ alone to save you?
If not, why not, right now, trust in Christ and pray, "Lord Jesus, I
acknowledge my sins before you and repent. I ask you to forgive all my
sins and come into my heart and save me. Please give to me the gift of
Eternal Life. I trust in you alone and receive you as my Saviour. Thank
you for saving me and help me now to live a new life for you. Amen."