An Infidel and a Scoffer Sold Out for God

May 25, 2020

The man who engineered the construction of the tabernacle on the Apostolic Faith world headquarters campground tells how God got ahold of his life.

By William Paulson

I

thank God for the Name of Jesus—the Name I used disparagingly on my lips for years. It is the sweetest Name on earth to me today because it is through that Name that my life has been transformed. I was a prosperous North Dakota farmer who started out with a large farm when only seventeen years of age. While still a lad, I went to the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities and took up mechanical engineering, and later graduated from North Dakota State College as a civil engineer.

After I spent seven years in college, I came out a believer in the Darwinian Theory, and was nothing but an infidel and a scoffer against God. I did not believe in God or the hereafter, and tried to prove there was no God, yet I’m thankful that underneath it all, I feared Him in my heart.

I was entirely wrapped up in the world and in piling up wealth: a slave to the almighty dollar. Money was my god. I was also a slave to my fellowman’s opinions, and prided myself on the success of my business. Yet, there was an aching void in my heart.

Everything I put my hand to prospered. I made money, as the saying goes, “hand over fist.” I had everything I could wish for in this world—a beautiful country home, an eight-hundred-acre farm, and considerable city property. Those were the idols of my heart. I was entirely wrapped up in the world and in piling up wealth: a slave to the almighty dollar. Money was my god. I was also a slave to my fellowman’s opinions, and prided myself on the success of my business. Yet, there was an aching void in my heart, and I used to say, “What good will all this stuff do me when I am dead and gone?” At age thirty-eight I began to think my life was a miserable failure.

One day, while in my garage, God spoke to my soul, and tears started to flow from my eyes. From that moment, I didn’t care whether I made another dollar. I had bought my first Cadillac—about the first car that came out with an electric starter—and it had a beautiful motor with copper-jacketed cylinders. I started out touring the country. In those days traveling wasn’t as easy as it is today. We didn’t have road maps, and I got lost; but God had His hand in that. I stopped at a little railway station to inquire about the road. The young depot agent told me which way to go, and he said, “Here, take this paper along. It will do you good. I just came from Portland, Oregon, from a wonderful camp meeting!”

I didn’t think much more of it, but when I stopped that night I began to read that Apostolic Faith paper. As I read those testimonies, my heart began to melt, and I longed to see the people who could get such results out of the Bible. I had been looking for a people who had the truth, lived it, and held the standard where it belonged. For years I had tried to overthrow the faith of my fellowman and was one of those infidels who would argue and argue, but you can’t tamper with the Bible without getting under conviction if you have any honesty at all.

When I heard there was power in the Blood of Jesus to keep a man living without sin, I could hardly believe it. I knew it would be wonderful if God could enable a man to live that way.

Finally I said, “I’m going to Portland to find out if these people have what they are talking about!” In 1916, I drove 1800 miles to investigate this work. As I sat in their meeting hall, I looked on the faces of several hundred of the happiest people I had ever seen, and I coveted what they had. I heard the ex-drunkard get up and shout the victory, and tell what God had done for him. I had never heard such testimonies before. I saw the shine of Heaven on the faces of those people. When I heard there was power in the Blood of Jesus to keep a man living without sin, I could hardly believe it. I knew it would be wonderful if God could enable a man to live that way.

As I listened to those testimonies, I saw my own fallen state. I saw that I had never met God’s conditions: I had never repented with godly sorrow for my sin. The Lord showed me how proud and sinful my heart was, even with all my sincerity and so-called morality, and that I was still just a sinner on my way to Hell. My sins came before me. The Lord showed me my past life like a great panorama. There I was, supposed to be a moral, upright, honorable man! My word was as good as gold. I could go into any one of a half-a-dozen banks in North Dakota, and borrow the limit without a promissory note. No one would have dreamed that I could turn some of the underhanded deals I did.

But God keeps books. He showed me those cunning, underhanded business deals. He showed me the men I had in my employ that I had underpaid. God showed me the padded invoices, and all the rest of it. He let me see I was lost and undone and needed His power to take sin out of my life. All my “morality” was as filthy rags in His sight.

I thought it would be hard for me to write letters of confession back to the state where I was well known, but God told me, “There is a way out—pay the price!” I backed off for a time, took out the Bible to see whether a man could really live without sin as those people had testified, and I found that their message agreed with the Word of God exactly. All through the Bible, I found that we must live a life without sin—a holy life every day.

I would go and stand out in front of the Apostolic Faith Mission in the evenings when they loaded the Gospel cars for street meetings, and think that was a wonderful thing. Those people all looked like hard-working people, yet they came out in the evenings with earnestness and zeal to tell others what God had done. They had something real to bring them out after a hard day’s work.

I opened up to God, saying, “Lord, if You will give me victory over the powers of Hell that have ruled my heart for years and years, make salvation real to me, deliver me from my sins, and give me peace, faith, and power to live right, I will give You my life and straighten it out. I will begin tomorrow to make the confessions and restitutions.”

Finally, I went back to the Mission, and meant business. I walked down the aisle to the altar after the service was over, got on my knees, and cried to God for mercy. I opened up to God, saying, “Lord, if You will give me victory over the powers of Hell that have ruled my heart for years and years, make salvation real to me, deliver me from my sins, and give me peace, faith, and power to live right, I will give You my life and straighten it out. I will begin tomorrow to make the confessions and restitutions.”

Those Christian people gathered about me and prayed for me, and when I was willing to pay the price of the Gospel, God saved me. I felt the powers of darkness leave; I felt the chains snap, and I was set free. Why, the price was nothing but to forsake my old sins and make my back life straight! When God saved me, this infidel became a believer. The purity and peace of Heaven came down in my soul. My heart was filled with faith and the joy of the Lord, and I walked up and down the aisles praising the living God. Old things had passed away and all things had become new. I was a new creature in Christ Jesus. The power of God was in my soul to live a life that I had never thought could be lived.

I didn’t sleep much that night. I was up early the next day, and began to write letters. The Lord was right there to remind me of every crooked deal; they came before me as though I had committed them the day before. I told the people just what had happened, and I didn’t make excuses. One letter was to a college I had attended for five years. It was mighty hard for me to confess that, among other things, I stole items out of the laboratories. I spent nearly the whole day writing letters of restitution and enclosing the checks to cover the wrongs. My restitutions cost me a great deal of money, but I was so happy to get that life cleaned up that I couldn’t contain myself. It brought faith to my heart. Thank God I straightened out that old life, and today I have a conscience void of offence toward God and man.

I told the leaders of this organization I wanted to put some money into the work. They said, “The Lord doesn’t need money. He needs lives.” So I consecrated my whole life to Him.

I told the leaders of this organization that I wanted to put some money into the work. They said, “The Lord doesn’t need money. He needs lives.” So I consecrated my whole life to Him. What the world could not give me, I found at the foot of the Cross. I have been happy since, because God changed my life.

God also healed my body. For many years I had suffered with asthma. At times, I was awake all night and couldn’t even lie down, but God healed me and I am delivered.

These past fifty years prove that the Bible is true. It is a wonderful Book to me. It means my very life. The peace and reality I found in the blessed old Bible, tongue can never tell. I praise God He ever gave me an honest heart. He brought me to His own people and revealed this mighty Gospel to me. He flooded my soul with joy from Heaven, and today I am a child of the King, saved through the Blood of Jesus Christ. This wonderful Gospel has filled my soul and life with something that I wouldn’t exchange for the wealth of the whole round world.

About the author

William Paulson attended the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon, and also served for many years as secretary-treasurer of the organization. He negotiated the purchase of the Portland campground and also engineered the construction of the tabernacle. In addition, he helped with the construction of several Apostolic Faith churches in North America. He died November 11, 1966, at the age of 89.