Monday, April 17, 2006

EX MORMON STACY FINDS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS

A Quest for Righteousness - by Stacey Speck

One afternoon, when I was around seven years old, my mother answered a knock on the door. Outside were two clean-cut men in suits. They introduced themselves as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asked if they could share "the gospel" with her. My mother, who had been praying for direction about which church to attend, took this as a sign from God and eagerly asked them in.

The missionary lessons progressed rapidly and within a very short time my entire family (seven of us) were baptized into the Church.

While growing up in the LDS Church I became more and more aware of my sinfulness. In Sunday School we were taught to obey the Ten Commandments. We also studied the Sermon on the Mount. I was especially troubled by the verse "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28) I thought, "Even the sins committed in my heart will count when God judges me? How can I possibly control what goes on in my heart?" This scared me. I knew that I was in trouble, but I didn't know how to solve my problem.

I began searching for the answers to my dilemma by turning wholeheartedly to Mormonism. I thought, "If this is God's restored church, then He will change me and make me righteous." So, at the age of fourteen, I began to faithfully attend Church and fulfill all the requirements which would allow me to go on a temple trip. The nearest temple to my home in Saint Louis was in Washington, D.C. There I would perform the ordinance of baptism for the dead, which would enable my ancestors to accept the gospel and escape Spirit Prison.

All during the trip I was very aware of my sinful behavior, as well as that of the people around me. Though I tried my best, I could not stop sinning. I hoped that going to the temple would change me and I would become righteous.

At the temple I was baptized for twenty of my dead ancestors. However, instead of the great spiritual experience I was hoping for, when I left I found I was still a sinful person. I also had the sensation that what I had just participated in was not pleasing to God.

When we returned home we all attended a Fast and Testimony meeting at Church. There we were expected to express our belief in the truthfulness of Mormonism. I saw all the kids I had gone to the temple with stand and bear their testimonies (many, I knew, were simply lying to please their parents), but I could not do it. I knew it was wrong.

Then one of the men got up and told us that in ten years he would take an accounting of us kids to see if we "measured up." I was furious! I thought, "He's not God that he can judge me." This was the final straw. All the problems I had seen in myself and others forced me to conclude that Mormonism didn't have the answers. It was at this time that I mentally rejected the Mormon Church.

For the next few years I wandered from atheism to agnosticism to finally concluding that there was a God, but that He could not be reached.

After I left home at eighteen, I began to hang around with the wrong crowd. Though I didn't get involved in their lifestyle, I was heavily influenced by them and could see that I was ultimately heading for destruction. I begged God to help me find the way to Him.

Around this time I started a new job and made friends with a young woman named Dawn. One week she invited me to go along with her to an evening meeting at a local Christian church. There I heard the gospel message of the Bible clearly laid out--that the one and only God of the universe took the form of a man, lived a perfect life, died on a cross for my sins and rose again on the third day. The pastor read Romans 10:9-10: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

This was it! All the world religions I had considered taught basically the same thing: Rules and regulations (laws and ordinances!) lived out by imperfect, sinful people could somehow please a perfect God. In the good news of the Bible, we are told the truth: that we can't do it--we have to trust solely in what God has done through Jesus.

That night I believed in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I felt a horrible burden lifted from me; I felt so clean and new! I found that the good works I used to do in an effort to earn God's forgiveness I now wanted to do simply out of love for Him.

Today I attend a solid, Bible-believing church and share the biblical Jesus with Mormons and non-Mormons alike. My father and my oldest brother are still active in the LDS Church; whenever God provides an opportunity I testify to them of God's mercy.

I continue to trust that "He who began a good work in [me] will complete it unto the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

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