|Robert Surgenor - Policeman Berea OH|
Robert R Surgenor (the policeman, not the preacher) <
I grew up in a home where the Bible was read every day. My dad was a preacher, and I was used to going to church three days a week. That doesn’t mean I was happy about it. While my friends were playing baseball on a Tuesday night, my parents were packing us up in the car and driving to the weekly prayer meeting. Thursday nights were the Bible readings. And then of course, Sunday was completely shot, with the morning Worship, Sunday School, and the gospel meeting in the evening. By the time I was a teenager, I was tired of going to church.
But I was well versed in the Bible and scriptural truths. Our family read one chapter from the Bible every evening after dinner. Throughout my life I attended thousands of gospel meetings and listened to the story of God's free offer of salvation from an everlasting hell through the person of Jesus Christ. “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)
Since I was five or six years old I was aware that I was a sinner and did not measure up to Gods standards. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). I had no trouble understanding that one sin was enough to ban a person from God's perfect Heaven, and I had violated that minimum standard as soon as I was born! I knew that if I died I would wake up in hell. Being young though, I didn't worry too much about dying.
My problem was that I wanted a piece of the world. I recall how on numerous occasions when being troubled about where I would go if I died, I would push the fears away. "I've got too much to look forward to" I thought to myself. "If I get saved, I'll have to give it up." Being raised in a strict fundamental atmosphere clashed with my nature. As a young child, I wanted to get involved in the world rather than the "boring" life of a Christian. When I was 20 years old and playing music in a rock band, I recall how I used to think "If I get saved, I'll have to cut my hair and give up music." When I became older, I used to tell myself "If I get saved, I'll have to give up Sunday afternoon football games on TV." I spent years resisting God when he came knocking on my heart's door. I spent years saying “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts 24:25)
Then there were times during my life when I became worried that I wasn't concerned enough about my soul. I used to get down on my knees and ask God to trouble me and not to leave me alone. I knew that I would never get saved while the world looked more attractive than my soul's salvation. On one occasion, I actually asked God to use whatever tool would work best in bringing me to my knees. If contracting cancer was the answer, then I was ready to deal with my life being cut short. I was hoping for anything to push me towards that decision I knew I must make.
What troubled me the most was the fact that the Lord's coming, or "rapture" was getting closer every day. When I was a young child, I feared that I would be left behind in an empty house if the Lord came and took my parents home to heaven. I grew up and got married, moving away from the constant sound of the gospel. But God kept "prodding" me. In 1973, my parents supplied me with God’s tool number one, a copy of Hal Lindsey's book, "The Late Great Planet Earth." It sat on the table for months before I had the courage to read it. When I finally did read it, it scared me half to death. Hal Lindsey's talent in interpreting Bible prophecy and his writing techniques pierced my mind with the fact that we were nearing the "last days". After reading Mr. Lindsey's book, I began reading other books on Bible prophecy. I became very learned in the area of prophecy, the last days, and the tribulation period prior to Christ's return to this planet.
In 1982 I became a police officer in Berea, Ohio. I began to see, on a regular basis, the result of sin in our society. From alcoholism to drug abuse and violent crime to suicide, I began to realize the powerful grip that Satan has on the world. As I looked into the unseeing eyes of murder victims, I pondered their fate, and wondered where their soul had gone five minutes after they died. As I looked upon the still face of the suicide victim, I wondered how much they now regretted their actions. And for them it was too late. I used to think "Thank God that's not me. I still have a chance.”
Then in the fall of 1991, my wife filed for divorce. What transpired during the next fifteen months made the movie "War of the Roses" look like a Disney flick. After being unjustly accused of abuse, I was escorted from my home by the local police. God had given me tool number two to push me towards my decision. All of my hopes and dreams about retirement and the future went down the drain along with half of my assets in the divorce settlement. I was again faced with years of mortgage payments and bills.
God then gave me tool number three. In the spring of 1991, I purchased a book by Grant R. Jeffrey called "Armageddon, Appointment with Destiny." Here was a book I had been searching for. It gave dates. The author predicted through Biblical prophecy when the tribulation period would begin, when the new Temple would be desecrated by the Antichrist, and when Armageddon would occur. Now we were getting some place. But my exhilaration was short lived. The author predicted that Christ would come back to earth at the battle of Armageddon on the 15th of Tishri on the Jewish calendar in the year 2000 AD. I knew that the last seven years of mankind's history on this earth, known as the tribulation, would begin when Israel signed a "peace treaty" with the Antichrist. The author predicted that Israel would sign the "covenant with death" with the Antichrist on the 15th of Tishri, or September 30, 1993. I knew that the rapture had to occur before that treaty was signed. That didn't give me much time!
As the fall of 1993 drew near, I became more concerned about the rapture and the coming tribulation period. I thought about it daily, about how I would feel when I saw Peter Jennings announce on the ABC Evening News that millions of people had simply disappeared from the face of the earth. I wondered how I would be fooled into receiving the mark of the beast, and how the 666 system would be implemented. I began to recognize events that were taking place as possible steps towards our dependency on the Antichrist in the future. I could see where President Clinton's National Health Care Plan could be the forerunner of the 666 system in this country, with everyone needing a health card to receive medical treatment. No card, no treatment. I read information about Europe's rising dependency on the World Bank, and it's developments in the area of electronic funding, controlled by a micro-chip which would be implanted under the skin of each citizen. The possibility of those ancient !
prophecies being fulfilled in my lifetime became all too real.
Then developments in the middle east stunned the world as the nation of Israel began to develop peace accords with her Arab neighbors. As heads of state scrambled to be included in these historic meetings, it occurred to me that this was possibly the infant stages of the "covenant with death" spoken of by Daniel the prophet. I waited to see someone rise up out of the European nations to take control of the peace process and convince Israel to depend on him for their safety. I knew that it could develop quickly, even overnight.
In September of 1993 my concerns became intensified. I was assuming that Grant R. Jeffrey's predictions were accurate, and that I only had thirty days left before the tribulation began. I began searching the scriptures more and more for the truth of God's salvation. I would sit in the police car and read the Bible and other Christian books in an attempt to discover what had been eluding me for such a long time. One day my 19 year old son showed me a small paperback called "Full Assurance" by H. A. Ironside, which had been given to him by his girlfriend. Here was tool number four. When I opened the book and began to read, I immediately recognized some of the doubts he pointed out were common amongst many searching for Christ. Not wanting to take the book away from my son, who was also searching for Christ, I ordered my own copy. Several days later I received the book and began reading.
And then something happened that caused me to develop chronic insomnia. It was announced on the news that a peace agreement had been arranged between the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat. Arrangements were being made to sign the treaty sometime during late September, named the Oslo Accords. I quickly looked at my Jewish calendar and confirmed that the 15th of Tishri was on September 30th of this month. I was convinced at that time that the Lord was coming before that date. I began reading the Bible in my police car while I was running radar, searching the scriptures for answers. Here I was, In Berea, Ohio, like the Berean’s of old in Acts 17:11, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
On Monday September 27th 1993 at 1:30 PM, while sitting in the police cruiser and reading the book "Full Assurance", I came to the following words written by H.A. Ironside, “Now the blessed Lord sits exalted at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. He could not be there if our sins were still upon him, The fact that He is there proves that they are completely put away. God is satisfied.” I stopped reading as I began to see something that I had never seen before. I read the part again. “He could not be there if our sins were still upon him.” A verse that I had heard many times popped into my mind,”When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:3)
In my mind I pictured the Lord Jesus Christ, re-entering heaven and being greeted by God the Father with open arms. I was smart enough to know that not one sin was allowed into heaven. I pictured the Lord as spotless and without sin. "Where did all the sin go?" I asked myself. It has all been purged, I realized. "But where are my sins?" I asked again. They've been purged also, I realized. "Wait a minute," I thought, "If Jesus cleansed my sins on the cross, and he wasn't taking them back into heaven with him, why wasn't I saved?"
The full realization of that problem was immediate. I had never before wanted to be saved more than anything on the face of this earth. I had spent my life saying to God "Go away, leave me alone, I do not want your free gift of salvation." I had never asked God for his free gift, for the Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
My entire life had been spent telling God to "leave me alone." For the first time, I asked God for his free gift of salvation. It was the simplest thing I have ever done. I felt extremely helpless, picturing Christ sitting on the right hand of God, spotless and without sin. What on earth was left for me to do? Nothing! There was nothing I could do except take what was being offered to me. God was saying, “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8) I recall saying softly "I'll take your free gift." The second I made that decision, I was saved.
My problem, for the previous forty two years, is that I never filled all of the criteria that God demands before he saves a lost soul. It wasn't his fault I wasn't saved, it was my fault. I discovered that there were three main things that I had to do. One, I had to want salvation. Granted, everyone wants salvation. Nobody wants to go to hell. Then why isn't everyone saved? Because they don't put it first. I finally wanted salvation when I assumed there were three days of grace left on this earth! Second, I had to realize that Jesus died for me and me alone. I discovered that day that the Lord Jesus had ascending into heaven without sin, and realized that he had cleansed every one of my sins on the cross. Third, I finally did not say "Go away, leave me alone, I do not want to be saved." For the first time, I truly asked God for his free gift, and it was given to me immediately.
What is amazing to me is that God kept "prodding" me, never leaving me alone. Although I rejected His grace day after day, He kept knocking at my heart's door. I believe that the devil and his demons work overtime on the relatives and friends of Christians, using every tool that he has devised to keep them from seeing the truth and simplicity of God's salvation. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
I have thanked God every day since then for His longsuffering and patience, and His constant striving to bring me to Himself. He could have left me alone, but His will is that everyone be saved. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). Thank God that he loved me so much that he sent his only son to die for me! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosover believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Receiving God's salvation was so simple, that after less than an hour of patrolling in the police cruiser, I was having doubts. "There is no way it is that simple" I told myself. "There's got to be more involved than just saying 'I'll take your free gift.'" By the end of the day I was again searching the scriptures to find a shred of evidence that I was indeed born again. I hunted down the traditional scriptures that talked about assurance like 1 John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” That one did nothing for me, so I went on. For the next two days, I searched the Bible for the answer.
During those days, the taxpayers certainly weren't getting their money's worth out of me. On that Wednesday, while again sitting in the police car searching the pages of the Bible, my eyes stopped dead on a verse in Matthew chapter seven. I never got past the first sentence in the verse before I actually shouted, "Yes!" Here was my answer in no uncertain terms. The verse read, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:8). My eyes moved back to the first part of the verse. “Every one that asketh receiveth.” Wow, I thought, this is in plain and simple english! Every one that asketh receiveth! Every one! I had asked God for his free gift. He had given it to me!
If not, I was the first person in the history of mankind that God had ever turned down!
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