A Testimony

By David at The Thirsty Theologian

Yesterday my wife and I joined the church we’ve been attending. This is the testimony I presented to the congregation. A previously-written, and quite different version, can be found here.

I haven’t shared my testimony publicly in this way very many times. Of the times I have, when I look back and remember what I have said, it occurs to me that most of what I have said has been about me. That ought not be the case, and I am going to try to avoid that this time; because my testimony is not primarily about me. It is primarily about God. God is the main character in my story, and the mover behind the various minor players.

God has been gracious to send people into my life and use them to bring me the gospel. In my earliest years, I was given wise and godly Sunday school teachers. I thank God for the example of my mother, whom I frequently saw — and who still can be seen — sitting with her Bible, always with a notebook at hand, writing copious notes. He sent me friends whose lives made me want to know God, even while I resisted him.

I don’t know when God saved me. I know the general time frame in which I began to receive assurance of salvation, which is now more than twenty years ago. Because of some rather confused theology in the churches I grew up in, I had a difficult time gaining that assurance. That’s not particularly important. What is important, and what I do know, is how God saved me. Ephesians 2 says,

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I have done nothing; God has done it all. It was God who chose me before the foundation of the world according to his good pleasure (Ephesians 1). It was God who sent the gospel to me, who convicted me of my sin, called me to faith in Christ, gave me the gift of faith (Ephesians 2), granted me repentance (2 Timothy 2), and gave me the understanding to discern the things of God (1 Corinthians 2). It was God who adopted me as his son (Romans 8, Galatians 4, Ephesians 5), and made me a joint-heir (Romans 8) with his only natural son, Jesus Christ. It was God who gave me a new nature (2 Corinthians 5), so that I would hate my sin, and love him and his Word. And it is God who continues to work in me, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2). Finally, it is God who has promised to perfect the good work he has begun in me (Philippians 1) and to glorify me with him (Romans 8).

I was conceived and born in sin. I had no ability or inclination to choose Christ, accept Christ, make a decision for Christ, or any other phrase you may have heard or used to describe conversion. I was an enemy of God, a rebel, concerned only with my own pleasure and well-being. As much as I would like to diminish my role in this story, there is one way in which I was very actively involved. I actively hated God and loved myself. But God loved me, and saved me. Just as he called Lazarus out of the grave, he called me from mine; and just as Lazarus could not raise himself from the dead, neither could I raise myself.

I am not saved because I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am saved because God, in Christ, by his perfect righteousness and his death for my unrighteousness, has made me acceptable to him. He has not accepted me because I have accepted him. My acceptance of him is a consequence, not a cause, of his acceptance of me. I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior because God has accepted me in Christ.

Because of Christ, God doesn’t see me as the sinner I am. He sees me covered with Christ’s righteousness. And in that same way, I hope when you hear [or read] this testimony, it causes you to see not me, but the glory of God in Christ.

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