A Testimony from the Bat Cave
Eric Keel from Bat Cave wrote this to me today. Yes, Bat Cave, North Carolina is a real place, with a real zip code of 28710. It is about 20 minutes from Asheville, NC and 2 hours west of Charlotte, NC.
Eric writes: I heard you on The Dividing Line recently and your 5 shows on the doctrines of Grace were life-changing for my wife and myself. I would like to personally thank you for your obedience to speak on these topics and give so much Scripture that I can no longer consider myself an Arminian...lol.
John Samson: Hi Eric, Thank you for your most encouraging words. May I ask what exactly was "life changing" for you and your wife?
Eric writes: I've been saved since I was 12. (30 now) I've always enjoyed teaching God's Word and leading God's people in worship (I'm the worship pastor at Bat Cave Baptist Church in the mountains of NC). I have believed and taught since I began teaching that Jesus died for the WHOLE WORLD and therefore salvation was placed in our hands. All the while I would say that salvation is 100% of God, and yet would continue to teach that He has done everything that He CAN do... now it's up to us.
It's funny, I started working for UPS in November of '13 and have about 5 hours a day that I can listen to sermons/podcasts, etc. So I started listening to the Reformed Pubcast just for the entertainment value but couldn't run from or argue against the theology that was presented. James White was mentioned multiple times in each podcast so I decided to head over to the Dividing Line and started listening to that as well. This was probably around Feb of this year. I went all the way back to November and binge listened....lol. I got to February (I think) where Dr. White was gone to the Ukraine and you filled in for him for 5 sessions. The first (I believe) was on the Law and the Gospel and how witnessing cannot be just what Christ has done for me nor can it be SOLELY, "Here is your Savior." I remember the point very clearly that the Law is needed in conjunction with the Gospel, first to show sin and separation, and then the Gospel and Christ enter the picture to fix the problem presented to us in the Old Testament.
My memory fails me at the moment to the 2nd sermon, but I do remember that sermons 3-5 were on the the Doctrines of Grace. 1-Total Depravity (TD), 2-Unconditional Election, 3-Limited Atonement. I listened to the TD sermon probably 3 times before I took it to my wife and said, "You have to listen to this." In the same way that 'it doesn't matter how bright a flashlight you have, if a man is blind, he can't see it', God had miraculously open my (and my wife's) eyes to His Amazing Grace. I was saved before by His grace, but it's so much more obvious and glorious now just how He did it.
I have to admit that I was quite disappointed that there were still 2 sermons left to go and no way to hear you teach through them. Then, in God's sovereignty and perfect timing, you come back, months later, and continued what you started.
I have listened to each of these messages multiple times still trying to soak in all of God's Word. He has given a fire and passion for His Word that I've never had. At one point, I just sat down and read straight through John with new eyes. His Word means so much more, is so much more rich, knowing that I was elected, not because of any of my deeds or my personality, but because of Him who calls. All for His glory, both now and forever Amen!
So you ask how has it changed my life. God has used what you taught to open my eyes to His glorious grace and given a passion, not only for His Word (like I've mentioned), but also for reaching a lost world with the Message of the Gospel.
So for that, my wife and I cannot thank you enough.
Oh, and my wife and I are considering moving to Phoenix/Tempe since all this has transpired to submit ourselves to the teaching of the Gospel under the 3 pastors that means so much to us right now (Durbin, White and you). I was blown away when I found out that you were all within a few miles of each other. I want to learn and grow in God's Word to be better equipped to teach the gospel.
Sorry for this being so long, but God is good!
The youtube video teachings Eric refers to can be found at this link. - JS