My Way Home

A Salvation Testimony by Bro. Max Neer

I was about six years of age when I remember God talking to me. At that time, I did not recognize it as God’s voice. I just remember the place. A few things I was taught at an early age were that there is a Heaven and a Hell. I remember thinking I did not want to go to Hell: It was God speaking to me through my conscience.

         I grew up in a Mennonite church, thinking that we were just as right as any other church. I attended with my parents as often as the doors were open, memorized Bible verses, sang in the holiday choir, and took part in other activities. Something that always bothered me, though, was that when summer came, Wednesday and Sunday night services were mostly cancelled due to lack of interest and attendance. When they did have Sunday night services, there were seldom more than a handful of attendees. The eighteen years I attended there, I never saw an altar call portion of the service that invited souls to be saved.

At about twelve years of age, the church held a revival. At the close of one service, the minister asked everyone to close their eyes, and an invitation was given to raise your hand if you wanted to be saved. I thought I was doing what was right, so I raised my hand. Never once did I confess and repent of my sins. I went through what they called “instruction classes,” yet remained unsaved. Looking back, I see more clearly how I was being deceived.

I had little interest in spiritual things, but went to church because my parents did, and I also wanted to see my friends there. Church attendance was considered “the right thing to do” in the local community. I never saw anyone get saved in all the years I attended there. I wonder how much different things would have been if there had been an altar of prayer and a minister of God to instruct me how to get saved.

One Sunday morning, the church held a baptism service. Baptism made you an official member of that church. In joining, I thought that I was doing what was right and went on professing to be a Christian the next few years of my life, being a good church member with my name on their roll book, but with no salvation in my heart. If I would have died in that condition, I would have gone to Hell.

At about 19 years of age, I joined the United States military. Before my time was finished, I met my wife Deborah, and we were married. I completed my time in the service and came home to help my father farm.

My parents wanted my wife and I to attend the Mennonite church where they attended. Our marriage was not going well, and we desperately needed a God-called pastor to counsel us. The Mennonite church we were attending offered us no spiritual help. My mother knew our marriage was crumbling, and she told us that her sister, who attended the First Church of God (not to be confused with the Church of God), had a new minister, and encouraged us to go and talk to him. As I look back, I can see the hand of God leading us. He was beginning to open my eyes.                                                                                 

It was a Thursday or Friday evening when my wife and I met the pastor at that church. I don’t remember our conversation, but I just wanted to be saved. In spite of being in a room with others, it felt like it was just me and God. I bowed there at the altar and repented of my sins and God saved me. The change that took place that night was that my heavy load of sin, my love for the world and my sinful associations were gone from my heart and life. If you’re worried about what your sinful friends will say when you get saved, trust me, they will soon not want to come around.

We started reading the Bible and attending church there. We had a desire to find other couples our age that were saved. Soon after that, God allowed my wife and I to meet other young married Christian couples. Besides attending church regularly, we started having Bible studies together at our homes, sometimes two or three times a week. As we studied, God began to open our eyes to the truth of his Word. We were hungry for all the Word of God to be preached to us. I am happy to say that our search for all the truth did not stop there.

The best way I know how to explain our search is like a newborn baby. A healthy baby has an appetite for milk. After a while though, the milk will not be enough to keep him healthy, and if not given some stronger food, his health will begin to decline and eventually, he will die. This same thing holds true spiritually. This is what was happening to us. We were being starved where we were attending church and started looking for someplace to get our souls fed. The time we spent studying the Word of God together was about all we were getting to keep us spiritually alive. We needed some spiritual meat to keep living.

A friend that I had been studying with asked me if I thought it was possible to live a holy life. I remember telling him I thought if a man lived close enough to God, he could.

At different times, some of us couples, in our search for truth, would go to meetings at Pentecostal services, and it seemed they had more spirituality than our church, but it actually was a lot of emotionalism mixed with false doctrine. Our search continued.

One of my close friends worked with a man whose church was having a revival. He asked me if I wanted to go with him and I consented. I remember the happiness there. The sermon was just what I needed. My friend and I attended that church several more times. We wanted to take back to hear the truths we heard and share it with others from our church. Sad to say, they did not want what we had found.

One truth that shone a light on me was the doctrine of holiness. It not only showed us what was right, but who was right. When you find out what is right biblically, you will find out who is right, concerning denominations.

A separation began to take place at our church between those that would stand for Bible truth and those that wouldn’t. Some began to accuse us of causing division. I remember one night being troubled about a spiritual stand I had taken. I was being accused of causing division in our home. God gave me this scripture: Luke 12:51–53, “…suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay but rather division…” Read all of these verses to get the whole picture what Jesus was teaching.

Alike spirits attract each other. If you love the truth, you will be attracted to others that do. Likewise, if you don’t stand for what is truth, you will be attracted to others who won’t.

         It came to a place where God wanted us to come out from among them and be separate, as commanded in Revelation 18:4, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” In 1973, we came out of spiritual Babylon and stood with the true Church of God. I can almost hear someone say that they might want to stay in a false church just to help others there. My answer to you is, can you do what God cannot do with His Word of truth and His Holy Spirit of teaching and convicting? Jeremiah 51:8-9 states that for you to help a person in quicksand, you first must get out yourself and then you can help them out. God has only one message for those in churches teaching either false doctrine, or only partial Bible truths, and that is to come out from among them and be separate. When you think you can stay and help them, you will become disobedient and compromising and lose your soul.

Just because you have done something your whole life does not make it right. Tradition and family ties have a way of binding people to the place where they can’t tell their loved ones they are wrong. It may cost you your closest friend, but God will give you new friends and family, and in the end, eternal life. I found this scripture to be true in a personal way: Luke 14:26-27, “If any man come to me, and hate* not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” *“Hate: In Scripture, it signifies to love less.”1

Friend, if you have found yourself in a similar situation in life, God has a holy people and a true congregation of the Church of God for you. Many people today are meeting in their homes and having Bible studies with no God-called pastor to feed them. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to get on your knees and humble yourself before God with an honest heart and ask Him to lead you to where his people are. I found one of these true congregations at the Mt. Tabor Church of God in DeGraff, Ohio, where I have attended for 48 years.

Bibliography:

  1. Webster, Noah, American Dictionary of the English Language, First Edition, 1828