“My problem was I had not fully understood the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as my only Lord and saviour. I was still wrongfully, albeit good-heartedly trying to earn my way to heaven by good behaviour. This went on for many years until actually last year. It's sad to say but I think I actually just got saved last year because that was when I understood salvation, really accepted it and had the JOY of salvation in Jesus alone” – Tomi Favored
I am Tomi Favored, a worshiper, singer, songwriter, nurse and am blessed to be married to a great husband, Minister Seyi Alesh. We have 2 wonderful children, Isaac & Bella by God's grace.
I am the youngest of 3 daughters of my amazing mother and father. I was born and raised in Kaduna, Nigeria until I moved with my family to the United States at age 12. My Dad was a teacher of Braille at the University level and a soldier. My mother was a great nurse. They are both older and retired now. I attended high school and college in California where I lived for 16 years before moving to Texas with my hubby after getting married.
My childhood was good. It wasn't easy but it wasn't too hard either. My family wasn't rich but God always provided for us and my parents were hard working in spite of the horrible economy of where we lived. Plus being the youngest of my two elder sisters, I'm sure I was shielded and sheltered from most stresses as much as possible. Even if there was lack, I know everyone sacrificed so I would never have to know or feel it. But being older now, I understand many ways in which they all had to struggle and work hard to make things work and I love and appreciate them for it. My family was your standard Nigerian Christian family who went to church every Sunday and bible study on Wednesdays when possible. Growing up in the North, we were always surrounded by Hausa Muslims but we were average Christians who coexisted well with everyone. When my sisters weren't working or in school, they were in the choir and I loved music from a young age so God somehow made my gifting obvious and I joined the adult choir as the youngest around age 8 or so.
What Does It Mean To Be Saved?
This portion of my life is quite interesting as I think of it. It has taken me too long to answer this question and I think God also allowed it to take time because of the truths I needed to learn and be able to properly express in responding and sharing my story. If I may, I would first like to define the gospel and salvation. Then I can tell you my personal experience. The gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
To sum it all up, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God, who was born into this world of a virgin, was sinless and lived in the human flesh. He was crucified on a cross for OUR sins, died, was buried, rose again by His power, was seen by many and then ascended up to heaven and will return someday for His church because He is God.
To believe in this Jesus ALONE as the payment for my sins and my only ticket to heaven and God's perfect and holy presence is what it means to be saved and following the right Jesus. I am not saved by any works of my own doing...none. He paid it all and only He is the acceptable sacrifice. Only faith in the above-mentioned Jesus as my Lord and Savior saves me from my perfectly deserved portion of separation from God due to my inherent sin-nature. He alone can save me and then KEEP me in Him saved forever as my God-man high priest for all eternity.
Nothing I did before or now can save me, and nothing I do even after I choose to trust Him can keep saving me. He alone will get the glory for my deliverance. My redemption in Christ Jesus is not works-based but Jesus-based. My salvation is eternally secure and assured by the finished work of Christ on Calvary.
The problem was that I was born a sinner. Being related to fallen Adam and Eve, I am born in a fallen state already unable to coexist with God in His presence whose nature alone would consume me because of my sin. Just like fire and ice don't go together. But God in His infinite mercy, while I was yet a sinner and before I even understood the magnitude of my eternal problem, solved it by Himself as Jesus Christ to restore my fellowship and Sonship to Himself once I choose to receive and accept it. All it takes is ME understanding that I have sinned and fallen short of God's glory, I am sinful, and He alone is the solution. I cannot add to or take away from what Jesus has done. To do so is not only impossible and inadequate, it is an insult. Like a cup with 1 or 10 drops of poison, I am already contaminated and it didn't matter whether it was one sin or 10, or 1000, only Jesus suffices and my job is to simply receive His payment and live in it.
I also have to explain that salvation involves justification (my past), sanctification (my present) and glorification (my future). At the moment of believing and simply acknowledging all these truths in my heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I have obtained salvation in eternity outside time. But here now, I am being sanctified daily by the Holy Spirit through whom I am sealed unto the day of redemption. God gave me His Holy Spirit as my deposit and proof that someday when I leave this earth, He will complete the transaction in heaven. Justification dealt with the punishment, guilt and penalty of my sins forever.
Sanctification helps me become more like Jesus in the present as I am no longer conformed to the world, or subject to the power of sin, but I am transformed by the renewing of my mind. I don't always live perfectly, but Jesus is working daily in me to do and act according to His good pleasure. And then glorification is my future hope of being delivered from this flesh and the very presence of sin when I obtain my eternal body like Jesus Christ and never again have to deal with flesh. So all of this was done by Jesus and he assures me that He who has begun the good work in me will be faithful to complete it. Not by power, nor by might, but by His Spirit in me.
Where my works come in is that they earn me rewards in heaven someday when I stand before the judgement (Bema) seat of Christ. That seat is not to judge me to go to hell but to determine my rewards as a Christian. Only Christians will stand at the Bema seat for there we are all His children and saved by grace; not of works lest any should boast. Like the Olympics, no one gets penalized or thrown out to die, but rewarded for how hard they worked. As scripture says, some may suffer loss for their works being dead works when it goes through the Fire as wood, hay, stubble, instead of gold, silver and precious stones, but the person themselves have already been saved by Jesus.
... I know this is long but it is vital and I truly hope you understand. THIS is what it means to be saved. Jesus, and Jesus Christ alone.
So now, where my story comes in is that I don't actually think I was saved for many years now. I was a faithful church-goer, I loved God and I tried my best to live a good life. I was a good, religious person and I said the sinner's prayer probably every day of my life thinking that was what would save me. I thought, like I was taught, that I better do good works and live a perfect life, and never sin or if I died I could still go to hell even though I had prayed many times. See, my understanding was faulty...I was probably like many people today who was trying to EARN my salvation by my good works. But I was a failure like anyone else who has been trying to be perfect on their own. I was also very legalistic and insecure. I did not have a great relationship with God and the devil always harassed my mind because I was not perfect. I lived under the fear of death and hell even though I was a faithful churchgoer. My problem was I had not fully understood the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as my only Lord and saviour. I was still wrongfully, albeit good-heartedly trying to earn my way to heaven by good behaviour. This went on for many years until actually last year. It's sad to say but I think I actually just got saved last year because that was when I understood salvation, really accepted it and had the JOY of salvation in Jesus alone.
I always used to be afraid of the scripture where Jesus says some will say Lord Lord...but they will be cast into hell. Like many people I'm sure, I was terrified. I kept thinking, this is sad, I may work and work hard for Jesus but someday still be cast into hell?!! I did not understand. I could not love Jesus rightly, serve Him truthfully, or even preach the gospel. I felt like I should leave people to enjoy so they don't suffer like me a Christian who even though I'm supposed to be saved, never had joy, never knew I was saved fully. So I didn't share my faith. Because what I had was not salvation. It was legalism, and I didn't understand until last year, 2017 that the reason Jesus would drive those people away is that they would show up at Heaven's door wanting to enter because of something they did, and not what He did. It is an insult to Him. All my righteousness is like filthy rags. That's why the Pharisee that said he was good was not considered righteous by Jesus in the parable of the sinner who came truly broken and just said Lord, save me, I'm a sinner.
So I think overall, I just got saved last year. Because that was when I believed Jesus Christ's finished work on the cross as my ticket to heaven and my new life of freedom to be righteous. Before then, I was in the bondage of not understanding the very basic John 3:16 that whoever believes Him will be saved. And that is all. Nothing I do.
I think I was at work when this understanding finally happened and I received Jesus. I work long 12-hour shifts during the week but I have the blessing of being able to listen to messages in my earphones while at work and it was after listening to messages by Chuck Missler on eternal security, Billy Crone on Salvation and Rapture, Jack Hibbs and Charles Stanley on salvation. I have listened to many messages but on that day it all came together and I finally believed. I took a moment to pray but I understood that it wasn't the prayer that was saving me, but my faith and earnest acknowledgement. I understood that the next Sunday, I would not fearfully go up to the altar again for the thousandth time to pray that prayer. Because Jesus has saved me once and for all and I am confident.
Like the Bible says, "I write these things that you may KNOW" that you are children of God. Saved… I didn't cry too much as at other times where I had but still was not liberated. I actually lifted my hands and praise God and my heart filled with joy and understanding. Love and thankfulness to Jesus overwhelmed me and a new sense of wanting to share it with everyone. A rejuvenated zeal to share the gospel with anyone who would listen and confidence... Finally, I had confidence in Jesus and His perfect, loving, wonderful, amazing and complete work for me. The other thing I noticed is that I was always so afraid of death (For me and for my loved ones), but after that day, I wasn't anymore. Because I knew that because I have received Jesus truly if I died today, I KNOW I am going to heaven. I will show up there and even if the devil himself meets me at the gates of heaven and says you got angry, lied or committed one sin or the other just before I died, I would confidently say I can enter God's presence because of the blood of Jesus shed on Calvary. So when me I say Lord, Lord to Jesus, it will not be because I wrote songs for Jesus, or taught the Bible, or any other thing, it will be Lord, Lord, you died for me. Period! I'm yours.
Today, I can say the journey is exciting. Before, it was almost non-existent and full of fear as I explained before. But today it is exciting because I can't wait to tell people about Jesus. It really is good news. I also feel a great sense of responsibility. I feel that I must be careful to properly express the simple message of salvation. I want people to hear from me about Jesus and understand. So they can run to Him; not away from Him because they have gotten the right message.
My parting shot
Please, go to Jesus. Don't be afraid. Fear is of the devil. God did not give you that Spirit. You don't have to fix yourself before going to Jesus. You go to Him, receive His sacrifice, and HE will fix you. He wants to. He loves you. He knows you (Your past, your present, your future) He has already taken care of all of them. The Bible says He is the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. And even after you receive Him, He will keep working on you until the day you die or are raptured. The devil has lost. In the words of Chuck Missler, no one will go to hell for their sins. Rather, those in hell go there because they simply refused the finished work of Jesus which was already paid for them.
God bless you!
Romans 3:23. Ephesians 2:8-9. Romans 10:9-13
John 5:24. John 10:28. Romans 8:35-39.
1 Corinthians 1:8. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.
Ephesians 1:14. Philippians 1:6. 2 Timothy 4:18
Hebrews 7:25. Hebrews 9:12. 1 Peter 1:3-4.
1 John 5:13. John 3:16. 2 Timothy 1:7. 1 John 1:9
1 Corinthians 3:12-15
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