The Worst Decision I Ever Made With Respect to Eternity. How Jesus Got Me Out Of It and What I Learned Along The Way
by Walt Giddings
May 17, 2020
Greetings Kindred. We are on a first name basis here. My name is Walter. I am not your teacher. The Holy Spirit is your Real Teacher. As my classmates in God’s classroom You will do the work with me. In the Liberty granted me on this occasion I ask the able bodied brethren to join me in Proverbs.
Proverbs 13:13 Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.
Although I see the power of testimony in the lives of my brethren, I remain a bit of a sceptic with respect to autobiography. Second, the axiom that the pastors of a local body are by the Holy Spirit best endowed in Christ to see the church in its most immediate spiritual need, needs no explanation. Since I see that these two axioms, the power of testimony and the endowment of pastors, are not mutually exclusive, you get to watch me struggle to strike a balance.
It is a great honor to give back where I have been so amply fed. Church of the Covenant God of the Hebrews, you Church are witness to the local Body where I am churched. You picture Isaac’s sons, Saxons, sons of the miracle child of Abraham, and you do for us what we are unable to do. And, pursuant to II Corinthians 8:14-15, I have faith in God’s sense of equality that we do for you what you are unable to do. I yield to others, able in God’s algebra, to work His equations.
To avoid this assignment the first time, I pleaded that the lengthy impractical title, The Worst Decision I Ever Made With Respect To Eternity, How Jesus Got Me Out of It, and What I Learned Along The Way, is unworkable. Pastor Dan’s answer was classic: “I did ponder the very serious sentence, ‘The Worst Decision I ever made with respect to Eternity and How Jesus Got Me Out of It, and What I Learned along the way.’ I am personally eager to hear this lesson!” Was that period, end of argument, exclamation point? I do not have to explain to anyone here what it feels like to corner yourself.
I grew up in one of the New England states. I was born on a Wednesday afternoon in the first month of the year 1945. From the ages of five until I was nearly eight, Santa Claus was my God. I wanted to know all I could about my God. I asked so many questions my parents mistook that for suspicion, made me swear in December 1952 not to tell my younger brothers and chilled my soul. I do not have time to tell you why I deeply respect my parents and trust to see them again. They, like me, received bad training.
In September 1953 my mother asked me if I would like to sing with others my age, in the choir at the First Congregational Church. I trusted my mother. I said yes. My maternal grandfather, Walter, was disappointed. He attended four miles apart at the Second Congregational Church, a remnant body that I now know struggled to return to the faith once delivered to the saints. My mother’s argument was the lack of children’s programs.
After I turned twelve, Grandfather Walter, in the time of year traditional for such things, gave me my first Bible, the Authorized Version 1611 King James. He anticipated (I believe the King James English word is “prevented”), by one year my reception of a Revised Standard Version with my name embossed in gold letters from the First Congregational Church. The Second Congregational Church could not afford Bibles for young people coming of age.
At the age of seventeen I was singing in the adult choir. In retrospect I recall the theology in our hymnbooks was better than what came from the pulpit. In December 1962 our family, halfway through my senior year in high school, moved 120 miles south. On the second day of our new school my youngest brother Daniel decided to walk home absent our company and terrified himself entering the Garden State, New Jersey. An avid reader of science fiction, he believed he had trespassed into some kind of dimensional warp. He had to explain why he was late for family supper. We laughed fit to kill.
My parents did not rechurch. Mom said it was our choice. The Presbyterian Church, a quarter mile away, was a modern building without the massive pipe organ or extensive music program. We were jettisoned cargo, cut off from tradition.
At the county’s community college I commuted to classes working part time. In the first semester of my sophomore year, I watched the movie Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy, Fredric March and Gene Kelly, and decided the Bible was a beautiful book of fables, and I was not responsible for it.
Psalms 94:11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man that they (are) vanity.
The Great I Am knoweth the thoughts of Adam that they are Hebel. (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Hebel is the Hebrew word translated vanity. In this exercise I plug in the Hebrew word Hebel. I read, you follow. Hebel of Hebels saith the Preacher, Hebel of Hebels, all is Hebel. (). Why did I take us through this exercise in Ecclesiastes? Did the Preacher give us a second witness on the subject matter of vanity? The Hebrew word Hebel is also a man’s name. Scripture mentions him twice in The General Epistle to the Hebrews. We take up the second mention.
Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Do we see that Jesus and Abel are mentioned in the same verse? What do Jesus and Abel share? What do Jesus and Abel have in common? Let me read Isaiah 53:8. You follow closely. I am reading this verse only in part. The question to be answered is what do Jesus and Abel share. I begin with the word “who”. “... who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living...”Was Abel the first born son of Adam? Was Abel, the second born son of Eve, murdered by his womb brother Cain? Abel begat no progeny. Jesus begat no progeny on earth. Was He already working to save the Family He has?
Abel has something that nineteen year old Walter did not have. It reminds me of Pastor Jerry’s sermons. If we miss the mark on salvation our whole lives are fruit loop “Lord, are there few that be saved?” We are a nation who is real good at looping the fruit Did we say that nineteen year old Walter was a sophomore in his second year of junior college? What is a sophomore ? The English word sophomore is derived from two Greek words, sophos and moros. Sophos means wise. Moros transposes almost exactly into English as our word “moron”. A sophomore, fresh out of his rookie season, one step ahead of tenderfoot, barely escaped from newbie is a wise fool. We find both these Greek words in Romans chapter one, verse twenty two?
Romans 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
What is nineteen year old Walter’s greatest spiritual need? Would it take every major Bible Doctrine to answer that? To whom does the office of conviction belong? Does it belong to man? Does it belong to God? What can man do? Does the office of Conviction belong to The Holy Spirit? What does any earthly father do for a son to emphatically remind him that he is family, and needs to act like it?
Proverbs 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.
If I have been horsing around, making a donkey of myself, do I get all three?!
From the fall of 1964 at the age of nineteen until July 1982 at the age of over thirty seven and a half, I wallowed in the depravity of choosing every way to walk except the steps that God would have me walk. Faced with any choice, I wallowed in choosing every way but God’s way.
Psalms 107:17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
The Hebrew word translated afflicted has a compelling meaning. It denotes self-chastening. You heard that right: self-chastisement. Let me give you one example of my insanity. I choose this example for the sheer irony of it. Here I was from 1973 to 1976 going to school in South Carolina to learn how the living body works and I was regularly and routinely destroying my own body, and I had absolutely no idea what was hitting me. I bootstrapped myself through college in South Carolina. Guess what was the cheapest meal there. (Oink, oink!). By the time I graduated I had damn near killed myself. And damnation is a perfectly good Scriptural word. My major at school was the consumption of swine’s flesh. And I was in the best two states to do it: depravity and South Carolina. Twenty miles west of us was the town that features the Annual Chitlin Festival. That town sits in a bowl, a depression called a valley. And if you are not already down in it before they start cooking, the concentrated smell in that ten mile pit, that legendary odor will flat bar you from attending! In order to keep you from losing your last meal, let me tell you which parts of Wilbur I never ate in the four years I was there: the snout, the tongue, the brains the tail and the ears. No. Wait a minute. I have to delete the ears; they were in the cracklins.
22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.
23 He shall die without instruction: and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.
In the last two quarters of school I was more a patient in the clinic than I was a doctor. I accidentally struck my wrist at work and a great boil rose on the top of my wrist. The pain was so great I could not perform my job. I had to leave. I was in bed all week with raging fevers and shuddering, teeth rattling chills. Friends came by with water, fruit juices, and vegetable soup. The boil drained foul smelling yellow pus. In the latter half of the week I graduated to chicken soup. I got well. Not knowing what hit me, I returned to my wicked ways. Without any known injury I developed another boil on my right cheek. It grew to a much larger size than my wrist boil and became hard and very heavy. It dragged my lower eyelid away from my eyeball admitting the sting of air. It began draining the foulest smelling yellow pus. The only rest I got was with my head tipped back lying down. I could not even sit. My friends had to protect themselves from my foul odor to help me. Another round of water, fruit juices, herbal tea, vegetable and chicken soup gave me another occasion to heal. After three straight years of attending school by day and working nights I graduated adding the diploma to two degrees. I crashed for months catching up on sleep. My strengh and endurance improved and I took a construction job by day and still worked part time nights. I wondered how on earth I would ever get into practice or open an office. I joined a state licensing board team at the school to put our alma mater on the professional map. Every single one of us scored the highest on the Kentucky, Georgia, West Virginia, and New Hampshire state exams above all graduates from all the other schools. Our New Hampshire licenses were awarded on order of a district court judge who asked the Board in open court, from whom were they going to cheat, themselves [?], and accused the State Board of practicing professional birth control. I attained the height of my profession politically in one year. Three years later God pulled the rug out from under me. I got into deep trouble with the sheriff of Nothingham, and became a political hit. I arrived in Indiana, looking for Sherwood Forest. Isolated from family and abandoned by friends I reached rock bottom in June 1982 with over $127,000 in claims against me. I lost the ability to ignore that peculiar bad taste in the mouth at my own behaviour. I called my father July the 4th to apologize for not making the family reunion. He said my stepmother needed him and cut the phone call short. I was hopelessly in debt, all alone, no radio, no tv, the phone never rang. I had my PhD., Piled High and Deep It was so quiet. I felt the warm breezes, saw the sun blue, the fleecy white clouds barely drifting, and heard the babble of the brook winding around the house I was losing.
Psalms 25:8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore, will He teach sinners in the way.
Sinners?! Teach sinners?! Is that mercy all? Was I talking to Him? I could not tell. Just to see how bad things were I had made a list of the whole mountain of arrearages, a list of people that had done business with me, trusting me. At the top were the biggest bills: the IRS and the VA. The thought occurred to me, never declare bankruptcy Why? All the little people get hurt. The IRS and VA are immune. Made me angry. The next thought occurred to me right on the heels of the last one. Flip that list of arrearages on its head Start with the smallest amount. Round it off to the nearest five for being so patient with me. A hundred bucks. The littlest guy, the garbageman. He had been so faithful. He had given us great service. He did not even miss us in the blizzard I had something to do. I had no blinking idea how I was going to get the rest done. But I had a plan. Feeling utterly hopeless had evaporated. I was so shocked the dismal was gone, I masochistically tried to find it again. It was really gone. I just did not feel like myself. Good Lord, what do I do now? The next thought came fast, a revolution. That book I bought a year ago, Miracle on Main Street by Tupper Saussy: there was absolutely nothing to distract me from reading it right now. I turned to page ten. What is Deuteronomy 25:13-15 doing in here? All the time I was reading the book my mind kept going back to Deuteronomy 25:13-15. When I finished the book the next day I returned to page ten and read again Deuteronomy 25:13-15.
13 Thou shalt not have divers weights, a great and a small.
14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.
15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in theland which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Several different kinds of paydirt hit my mind. First I now understood a part of Scripture that had been closed to me. I understood the subject matter: just weights and measures, economics, household management. The second kind of pay dirt was understanding that the Author of these words knew a whole lot more than I did about household management. The Author of these words knew a whole lot more than I did about living. Eternally. This Author and His Library of Sixty Six Books suddenly had more credibility than anything else I could ever consult. That was number three. Fourth, the question occurred to me, What else is in these Books, this Bible, that could help me keep my tail out of the crack. If I had understood Deuteronomy 25:13-15 I would not be abandoned, in debt, and having no blinking idea how I could manage the rest of the Plan. Fifth, my mind went back to high school Ancient History. I tried to do a term paper for that course on a book of the Bible out of The Authorized Version 1611 my Grandfather gave me. I kept selecting the littlest books. The Bible was a closed set of Books to me. It might as well have been sealed with the seven seals of Revelation chapter five. I gave up, discouraged. I chose the conquests and untimely death of Alexander the Great. Little did I know that on God’s schedule it would give me later in life an anchor in studying the Book of Daniel. I had Ancient History in my sophomore year in high school. Wise moron. The Bible is a sealed book to sophomores. (Luke 16:11). After that no man could keep me from studying The Bible. I knew that The Bible was very high above me, and I would have to scratch and claw my way up to it.
For those of you having experience in the patriot movement, like I did, you know that Deuteronomy 25:13-15 is a rough entrance into the truth of God’s Word. It would be ten years before I found Luke 16:11: If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
To be faithful in the unrighteous mammon, it must exist, and I must have it.
Was I now a converted man? Hell no. May I remind the brethren that Hell is a perfectly good Scriptural word? I was still unconverted, a carnal man. I am not a nice guy. Jesus Christ in me is a nice guy.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
In verse forty five, “And they shall be all taught of God” is from Isaiah [54:13]. In verse forty four the word draw is translated from the Greek verb helkuo whose seminal or seed meaning is drag. For this time period up to October 1986 I have a picture other than the current proverbial “Footprints in the Sand” hanging in the picture gallery of my mind. Though the earth is His footstool God’s footprints are magnified, for in the words of Nahum, “the clouds are the dust of his feet”. The marks in the sand are two close furrows made by both sets of my toes.
God sent me a dairy farmer, Douglas Thornburg. He suggested to me that I had the same enemies Jesus Christ did. And does. He asked me, do you think you might be descended from one of the twelve tribes of Israel? I could not unstick that from my mind. Douglas invited me to help proselytize that truth to Bethel Christian Church fifteen miles north. Their Bible Study was a straight read through and they had just started in Genesis. I was with them from 1983 to August 1986 when I nailed down a steady ride with the Rogers family to Christian Reform Fellowship two hours north to Fort Wayne. As the tenderfoot there I was a bit of a nuisance. I kept referring to Walt Rogers as that guy with the great first name. I kept calling him Walt the Greater and referred to me as the Lesser. It irritated him no end. Twice he snapped at me to cease and desist. My stock answer was, I cannot, you are my elder. I was now, 1986, four years gone on my ten years paying up my obligations to people. I was poorer than a church mouse with unbaited traps.
Just about the entire church body planned on attending 1986 Tabernacles in Missouri. Walt Rogers was already there with his job and his wife Karen secured his permission for me to ride out with the ladies. I made myself useful. While the daughters took turns driving, I rode shotgun, keeping the windshield clean, the oil and tire pressures checked, and navigating. Walt was amazed we got there so fast.
It was raining all over the world, especially Tabernacles. Just after we arrived the last road in flooded over. We were utterly compassed [surrounded] by a wall of water. It kept us in, and this world of malice out. I grabbed my sleeping bag and Bible and claimed a cot with the single men at the Cowboy bunkhouse. For eight days I forgot the world and the world forgot me. The boat people had all they could handle ferrying those with motel reservations over the wall of water. Sheltered on festival grounds, we made no unnecessary trips. We began lobbing theological hand grenades at each other. Pastor Dan preached a two-part lesson on The Gifts of the Holy Spirit. He had those who could know their gift, sing certain verses out of the congregational hymns. I saw the brotherhood convert from theological hand grenades to wonderihttp://kinsmanredeemer.com/ng what each other’s Gift is. The change in attitude was so marked the encamped men of Israel marvelled. We looked upon each other with amazement. We talked about it among ourselves. Pastor Dan reported that the local news media openly wondered what had happened to us. Attendance at the feast meant we had prepared for eight days of self sufficiency. That translated into preparing like everything depended upon us, and praying because everything depended upon God. We wondered about the news media. We made no demands on public services. Did they think the outcasts of Israel had been deluged in violation of the rainbow covenant?
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
The Wall of Water had focused us into one place. It was not Pentecost in 1986; it was Tabernacles. Since we all were fully come into one accord, what could hinder the Holy Spirit Power of Conviction? On the last Great Day of the Feast one of the roads out of the Osage River area opened. My ride, the Rogers family, decided to avoid the rush and elected to wait until morning to leave.
Several people had requested Pastor Dan to give a lesson, Marriage and Divorce. That afternoon following the final Fellowship meal, we, now numbering a group, met in the Sanctuary. Pastor Dan welcomed us to the Second Tabernacles of 1986, citing the second feast of Nehemiah chapter nine. We laughed. Pastor Dan heralded the Glory of the Scriptures from the Doctrine of One Flesh in Genesis to The Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Revelation. That lesson was the swiftest, fasten your seat belts uncompromising, relentless overview outlining every major point in the Bible Doctrine of Marriage I had ever heard in one place at one time. In years as a serious student of the Scriptures I have yet to hear the like. The beauty of God’s Plan for Marriage overwhelmed my heart. (). From the comparison of God’s Graceful Plan for Marriage and the life I lived from age nineteen to age forty I had no escape. I was stunned numb. I saw me as God saw me. And I knew why He had enlarged Hell. Suddenly conscious that my cheeks were wet, I looked to see how others were affected. None of us were escaping the comparison. Pastor Jerry had acquainted us several times with this Scripture:
13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
I looked to Pastor Dan to see if he had noticed us sitting in our own wreckage. He was still pedal to the metal. Within minutes he stopped to check the time. He said that he would not have time to cover Divorce. We were already an hour and a half gone. And then he saw us. He spoke, in brief, words of comfort. I remember this Scripture because I returned to it often:
I Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
At The Wall of Waters Tabernacles 1986 I first met Pastor Don and Randa. The only thing I remember about the trip home was the waters had receded from the road on which we left.
How on earth in God’s dear name, Jesus Christ our Kinsman Redeemer, could I have ever been such a college wise moron to judge The Bible a beautiful book of fables?! October 1964, I watched the movie Inherit the Wind. Summer of 1989 the thought kept reoccurring to me to go to the Library and see what they had done to me. That fall I attended my fourth straight Tabernacles. In 1990 I found an eyewitness account to the 1925 Monkey Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, a copy of the Broadway play Inherit the Wind, and the movie on VCR. I watched it again, and saw what they had done to me. For the first time I discovered that the Play contains a disclaimer. The co-Authors claim their work is fiction. Reading the eyewitness account of the 1925 Trial in Dayton, Tennessee confirmed that.
The Movie follows the Play closely, especially the court room scenes where a Christian of National Reputation takes the witness stand, and is crucified for his belief in The Bible. The word “crucified” means impaled Co-authors, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, under their title Inherit the Wind incorporate this scripture, “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind...” Proverbs 11:29. The brutal, ferocious, scandalous, taunting, tortuous death of the perfect neighbor Jesus Christ demands a response. I judged the Bible a book of fables to which I owed no study, troubled my own house, and inherited the wind.
Without a foundation I headed for hell in my own hand basket. As another stupid sheep wandering far from The Great Shepherd, I thought wolves were just black sheep.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Paul told Timothy to command the faithful to be:
1 Timothy 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
I kept 2 Scriptures with me to outline my Testimony, Foundation. This verse in John 7 witnesses to the danger of a man speaking of himself. What Jesus spoke is autobiographical:
John 7:18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
In Acts 15, the Jerusalem Congregation hosted the Historic Assembly of the Sister Churches. They disputed the question whether Christians must be circumcised “after the manner of Moses” and observe The Handwriting of Ordinances nailed to the Cross, to be Saved. After much disputing Peter arose to testify the Holy Spirit had fallen on the Uncircumcised. Barnabas and Paul testified to “the miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” When all fell silent James confirmed that Peter at the first had testified as witness to God taking out of the Gentiles “a people for His Name.” James quoted the Prophecy of Amos to show these things done through Peter, Paul and Barnabas had been predicted long ago. Then James said:
Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. [ James ]
God worked a Revolution in me. He returned me to a Babe in Christ, no longer a sophomore. God returned me to the place I had been before. God used my maternal Grandfather Walter to plant lasting seed in me.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Are you tempted to ask me this Question: How do you feel about being a one-time member of the fastest growing church in America, Freedom from Religion?
Ashamed! What a Sheep I am! Did God create to make us worshipping Creatures? The Question is never, will we worship (?); the question is ever, whom or what will we worship (?)! Freedom from Religion Church is deception, hypocrisy, doublemindedness.
Are we God’s Workmanship? Are we God’s Husbandry?
1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
Jesus got me out of the worst decision I ever made with respect to eternity. What did I learn along the way? Seven years after I read Miracle on Main Street, the thought kept occurring to me that I should go to the Library, and see what they did to me. I found G.K. Chesterton’s account of the 1925 Monkey Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, a copy of the Play, Inherit the Wind, and The Movie on VCR. I saw what they did to me.
To be continued, God Willing, on the next occasion.
1 Corinthians 6:11
1 Timothy 6:19
1 Corinthians 3:9