"Original Good News" Brings New Life
Testimonial of Henry Shalm
I want to tell you again what a tremendous impact this "New Gospel" (actually "Original Gospel"), of Jesus as the Saviour of the whole world, has had on my life. When my friend Irven Gerbrandt brought up the subject at our home Bible study it hit me like a bolt of lightening--as the truth! Unfortunately, most of the others in the group, including a young pastor, were quite unhappy and opposed to what was discussed. But for me it is new life. As I had said in my previous letter, I had already had an inner conviction some years back about the possibility of getting a chance to get right with God after death in those areas that we failed so much in this life. But I didn't have much Biblical information (I haven't been an ardent Bible studier), and I didn't follow through on the thought. Let me give you some background on my life.
I am 67 years old and retired. I was born in a German Pentecostal home, and attended a small country German Pentecostal church until I was 21. We had no pastor, and the local farmers took turns preaching. Some were ok, but, as you also may be aware, there is nobody like the Germans for preaching hell-fire and brimstone sermons. And my dad was of the same nature. What I remember most is constant warnings that we had better live right, or we're bound for hell! I did try to live right, but I never felt I succeeded. One day, when I was 18 or 19 a young woman evangelist was preaching a sermon about people who had committed the "unpardonable sin," and how they wept and prayed and pleaded with God and tore out their hair and banged their heads against the wall--all to no avail. They were lost and bound for hell, and God would never listen to them again. Well, would you believe it, suddenly I felt the Spirit of God leave me, and I plunged into hell! I was now one of them. I too prayed and cried and pleaded, for almost 10 years, but it seemed God had indeed written me off. I lived in horror and agony, but I read the Bible and pleaded with God continually. But eventually, little by little, I was able to sense the presence of God again, and I felt there was hope.
One of the most amazing things in my life happened during the time of hopelessness. One night while I was asleep, after a particular time of agony, I had a vision of a Bible school. I was an ignorant country young man and knew of no Bible schools, but in my dream I saw one in complete detail. I saw every part of the building, every room inside, every door and window, every colour inside and out, and while I was walking through the building I came face to face with the devil. We stood and had an eye-to-eye battle that was one of the most intensive experiences I've ever had in my life. Finally, the devil dropped to the floor--and, would you believe it, he was a person I later went to Bible school with! Yes, I knew that the vision was meant for me to go to Bible school, so I went to a bigger town a distance from where we lived and went to see a Pentecostal minister and told him what I had experienced, and I asked him if he knew of a Bible school like that. And he did. It was one in Vancouver, so I applied immediately, and although it was just a few days from starting I was accepted. I won't go into a lot of detail, but even during my three years in Bible school I still had great battles with despair and depression and the feeling that I still wasn't fully accepted by God.
A few years after I graduated I was married, and we applied for a church to pastor. We got one in a very small place in northern BC. You would think that by now I should be on my way to a normal Christian life, especially being a pastor. But while I was preaching the doctrines I was taught I went through a powerful inner feeling that I didn't believe what I was preaching! It was terrible. I again went into agony, and I prayed day and night with all the urgency I could. I was always saying, "please, God, I just want to be like all the other ministers and believe what I am preaching." One late night, after particularly urgent praying, the voice of Jesus came to me with such force and said, "that's exactly what I do not want you to be"!
So I resigned, and we moved to where we now live and got a job as a school bus driver. The next 35 years were up and down. I never felt I wanted to become a church member. I attended a variety of churches, and sometimes I didn't go to church at all. In fact, I went through such spiritual battles that for a while I even tried to be an atheist. But that didn't work either, because so many times when I went through my worst distress Jesus would come to me in a dream and deliver me from utter defeat. One of the greatest trials I had was struggling with great loads of guilt. I could never seem to get away from the feeling that I failed to please God, no matter how hard I tried. I think I know now what the basis of this bondage was. My dad made me feel I was lower than any of my neighborhood friends. Most of the sermons I listened to were along the line that we had better smarten up spiritually or God would be angry with us. But I believe there is even a more accurate basis for what I went through: I believe that God was preparing me to welcome and accept the true Gospel of Jesus Christ when it was introduced to me--to make me emotionally and spiritually ready to receive it.
Until about a year ago I went through hard times of depression. Then one day I attended a group of lay people in a worship service, and Jesus brought me a new deliverance, and He made it very clear to me that I was too much alone, and I should associate with fellow Christians. Since then I have joined in the ministry of the Full Gospel Businessmen's group, and a church laymen's ministry, and home Bible study. That too has lifted me spiritually, and I believe also helped to prepare me to receive the good news that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the whole world. I still do not feel that I should become a church member, but I do like to attend the worship services in a number of evangelical churches. I love the worship services, but many of the sermons don't do a lot to lift me up or help me feel the presence of Jesus.
Now that I have learned much from the tapes and booklets you sent me I think I have a better understanding of the reasons why I--and maybe most Christians--had/have difficulty in living a victorious Christian life. We were/are always told that one of the most important acts we are to carry out is the love of God. "We should love our fellow believers, we should love our enemies, we should love the whole world," and so on. But at the same time that is probably the greatest area in which we fail to practice what we are urged to believe and carry out. And that is what created a lot of guilt within me, and maybe in others too. So why can't we succeed in this seemingly most important "law" of the New Testament?
I believe it is because although we accepted it outwardly, yet in our innermost being we couldn't erase the suspicion that God Himself didn't succeed in the love He expected us to practice. He claims to love the whole world, and He claims to have reconciled the whole world to Himself through Jesus Christ, and yet in the end He will plunge most of the world's people into hell with wrath and anger! So how in the world can we, sinful, weak and faulty human beings, practice what God Himself cannot carry through?? But now I have a completely new understanding of what the love of God really is, and I can actually feel a love within myself for the whole world that I never experienced before. It is not because I am better or more righteous or holier than others, but because I now see the true Gospel of Jesus Christ for what it is---the salvation of the whole world. But now I'm faced with another challenge, and that is to tell the world what I believe.
The friends in our Bible study group know what I now believe, but the rest of the world doesn't. Even my wife doesn't because she works in the evenings we have our Bible study, and I haven't had the guts to tell her because I think she will go into shock. I can't help but feel that most of my Christian friends will reject me if they find out that I believe in this so called "satanic doctrine of universal salvation." Well, maybe I'm wrong, and anyway one of these days I will have to make it known.