Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

Satabdi Bannerjee's Testimony

I was born in a Brahmin (upper caste Hindu) family in West Bengal, India.

I used to worship many gods. I knew there was one God, but I also believed that there were different incarnations of that God, different ways we look at the same God. So I had my own personal god and I also used to believe in other forms of God, and believed that they were all the one and the same. I lived a very religious life and did all the ‘Poojas’ to please the gods. I believed that all religions lead to the same God. They were different ways to look at the same thing; different ways to the same God.

But one day I read the Bible, which gave me a new understanding which I want to share with you. The Bible was very different compared to all the books I had read in my early life. It gives the life and history of a man called Jesus. I used to think of Jesus as the founder of the Christian religion. Reading about Him I learned that He was a good man and taught great truths.

However, when I read one portion of the Bible called the epistle to the Romans, something caught my attention. This portion explained how every man is a sinner; each of us had sinned against the only true God who had created us. What surprised me initially was that the Bible listed the problems we see in society and gave their reason as sin. I was fascinated seeing a book as old as this talking of all the problems we find in our society today. The Bible also told me how I, being a creation of God, should have worshiped Him. I thought of all the  religious activity that I had been doing to please the gods. I read on, and the Bible told me that I had changed the greatness of God to a form, trying to limit the infinite God to an idol. As I thought in my mind, it made sense; may be it was not right for me to limit the infinite form of God, in fact, what right did I have to decide how God should look like? It is He who created me, I didn’t create Him. He is greater than me, therefore I didn’t have the right to decide whether His color should be white or black, whether His nose should be straight or long, whether He should have 2 hands or 10 hands, and so on.

The Bible says that we all are under divine justice because we have sinned against the holiness of God. I knew from my personal life that I hadn't lived a 100% righteous life. I hadn’t committed murder or any major crimes as such, but I had lied to my parents a few times;  sometimes I would be jealous of other people’s marks; I had thought many bad thoughts; I had said things that I shouldn't have said and done things I shouldn’t have done. I realized that if God is holy, I don’t stand a chance in front of His justice. The Bible told me how I thought I was wise, but actually was a fool. I thought of the many times I tried to be over-smart and show off, and did things I am not proud of. I understood that if God is truly holy, He can’t accept me. If He simply does accept me, then He is not holy and just, He is not God at all. I remembered all the pujas I did, and understood that it was complete waste, for I can’t really stand before God. I had nothing to be proud of myself after all. True, I had done many good things, but nevertheless, because of my sins, I had no chance of being accepted by a holy God.

As I kept reading the Bible however, my sadness disappeared. Do you know why? The Bible said that because God loved us, He sent His Son Jesus Christ, who was God Himself, to this world and Jesus Christ took the punishment and judgment that I deserved upon Himself and died on my behalf. It was such great news for me! I remembered having read in the Bible before about Jesus Christ, how many miracles He did and how He loved men, though they hated Him and finally crucified Him. But now I understood that it wasn’t just that they crucified Him and He died, but that He need not have died! Being the God who created the whole universe, He could have killed everyone at one go, but He chose not to. He suffered immense pain, suffering and mockery, all of which I deserved, and took my place on the cross.

I was stunned that God, having loved me, took up my pain, my sins, my suffering and died to save me from the punishment that I deserved. I deserved hellfire, being condemned from God’s presence because of my sins, but God became man and He took my place and was crucified for me. I remembered all the gods I served, all the great men I had faith on; none of them had done anything for me personally. No one took away the burden of my sins that had prevented me from coming to God’s presence; but here was the Son of God, God Himself, who took the form of a man, and suffered the pain that I should have undergone, the mockery I should have faced, the death I deserved, all because He loved me. Yes He loved me, He loved us all, and He took our sins, and died for us.

I had read of many religions and many gods, but there was no one who had done anything for our sins; they left us to do things to please God, but here was God Himself, who suffered and died to take the punishment we deserved for our sins. The sky came crashing down on me. How could God love a sinner like me? But He did. I was moved by His love. It was so amazing. The Bible says that death is a consequence of sin. When the sinless God-man Jesus Christ died on the cross, He being God, broke the power of death and he rose again from the dead on the third day. I realized that this was possible because He was God, the one who had created life and the whole universe. He broke the power of death and became alive again and went to heaven. The Bible says that if anyone believes that Jesus Christ is God, the only true God, and that He died for our sins and rose again from the dead, he will be forgiven of his sins and have a perfect standing before God. I understood that I shouldn't worship an image, idol or picture of Jesus that I see, but just believe that God became a man and lived on this earth and suffered and died for my sins and rose again from the dead. It was such a comfort for me. The burden of sin disappeared the moment I believed in the Lord Jesus. I received the Lord Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior in 2003.

The Bible says that when we believe in the Lord Jesus, God looks at us through His Son and sees that our sins have been judged and He sees us through the righteousness of Christ, so we have a perfect standing in front of God. The Bible also says that when we believe, we become the children of God. So today God is my Father. He leads and guides me. Since the day I put my trust in the Lord Jesus, I am experiencing Him and His loving care everyday, and getting to know Him more and more intimately. He is so amazing! He has proved time and again that His word is true even when there was no one else to tell me.

I had become a disciple of Jesus Christ from my own reading of the Bible. I soon realized that I should seek the fellowship of other Christians. I tried to find some believers who would support me, but my early efforts were not very successful. I wrote to a Christian website and got in touch with Carrie Rostollan, a Christian lady from Michigan. She told her Pastor (church leader) about me and with the help of his friends who had been to India, I was put in touch with Paul Varghese, a full time evangelist (preacher of the good news about Christ) in Kolkata, India. Brother Paul contacted me and I joined an assembly, a local church that follows the distinctive pattern of the New Testament.  

Then I decided to get baptized. Let me tell you why. The Bible says:
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" – Romans 6:1-5
In these verses, we see that the disciple is baptized (immersed) into Jesus Christ. Just as Christ died and rose again, my old self was crucified and now I arise in newness of life. Water baptism symbolizes this. Jesus Christ, the sinless Creator of mankind, loved me to the point of taking my shame, guilt and punishment of my sins on Himself, so that I could be saved from the penalty of my sins and that I may be cleansed from all sins (1 John 1:9, 1 Corinthians 6:11) and He rose again to give me a new life as the child of God, adopted in Christ. I got a new identity and I was placed in the Church, which is Christ's body. So I wanted to obey my Lord's command as in Matthew 28:19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." I was already as a disciple of Christ, so baptism was appropriate. I was convinced that it is important to confess publicly and declare to the whole world what the Lord did for me on the cross. If He could die for me, couldn't I even testify about Him to others?

Thus the Lord gave me this wonderful opportunity. Thank you Lord Jesus!! So I was baptized after my first year exams in college.

As I grew in my faith, I began thinking and praying about God's will for my life. I followed the example of the Biblical character Paul who prayed, "Lord, what do you want me to do?". I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but God showed me that He wanted me to preach the good news about Him to the millions of people who do not know Him, and therefore are in darkness, especially in North India. Through the Biblical account of the Israeli lepers who found food in the Syrian army camp (2 Kings 7:3-9), the Lord reminded me that just as it would have been wrong for the lepers to keep silent about the food that they had found when their countrymen were starving, it would be wrong for me to not share the wonderful love and provision of salvation to others. I ignored God's voice, scared of the thought of speaking to others about Jesus Christ. The Lord's voice was very forceful the next time, through Ezekiel 3:16-27 and Ezekiel 33:1-17. The latter passage made me resign to the will of the Lord that I should preach His message to the people; to be, as He said, a watchman who "blows the trumpet and warns the people". If the watchman does not sound the alarm, then he is guilty of the blood of the people who die when danger comes. In the same way, I would be guilty of the blood of my fellow-Indians if I did not warn them of the dangers of ignoring or rejecting the one, true, God of the Bible.

To learn more of the Bible systematically, I realized the need to have formal training. God led me to join Asian Christian Academy, Hosur, in South India. After my studies there the Lord has been so gracious in giving me opportunities to testify and share about my Savior to men and women, the elderly and children. Since the day the Lord Jesus called me I have been experiencing His miraculous leading and provision. Everyday I get to understand how small I am, and how mighty and capable He is. Of myself, I am so unworthy, yet in His grace, He has blessed me with all spiritual and earthly blessings. Since November 2003 to this day in July 2014, I testify that the Lord Jesus lives, reigns and is way more awesome than words can say. I'm so thankful that He reigns!