When writers share their thoughts on page and screen we can usually get some insight into as to who they are and how they think. But we really never get to know the writer unless there is an biography written about them or they write an autobiography to tell their story. The Christian faith has a type of biography. This is called a testimony. They share this to testify how God has worked in their life. How God brought them from one place and into another. To illustrate this, I will offer some insights into my life for you here.
As a Christian, I am a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and my Savior. And most Christians have a testimony that share similarities. It is usually the story of a life away from God, doing their own thing, then a preacher or witness comes and shares the Gospel message of the saving grace of Jesus. There is usually some type of invitation to receive Christ as personal Savior, and then begins rebirth into newness of life! Always an exciting story and celebrated by countless numbers of people throughout the generations since the New Testament times!
My story doesn’t quite go that way. In fact, as linear as the testimony is to most people, my testimony looks more like a spirograph. Or maybe like the crayon drawing of a two year old. There’s really nothing linear about me and my walk with God through Christ!
But to begin, I must put in a disclaimer: I am not an ordained minister or pastor of any particular church/denomination. I do not hold a degree in any religious studies from a higher institution. Everything and anything that I talk about only comes from my own studies and leadings from the Holy Spirit…of which I have been a most difficult student to Him above. This is why the need to constantly preach to myself all these things that He, God, shows me and lays on my heart, that He reveals through His Word. You may have differing views or opinions regarding topics that I share on here. I make mistakes, misunderstand, and often take a long while to grasp concepts from the Bible. God knows I’m a work in progress.
Testimony appears in various usages and forms in both the old and new testaments. In the Old Testament, Hebrew words such a yaad, ud, and anah are used. They were used by prophets testifying against Israel or by certain visible evidences that point to God. Remember Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments and glowing? That can be considered one of his testimonies.
In the New Testament, the Greek word marturia appears throughout and it can mean testimony, witness or evidence. It’s also referenced as a defense, such as the way the Apostles would give a defense from the accusations made against them. A good example of a testimony, a defense, would be Paul appearing before King Agrippa and making his defense in Acts 26.
To be true, the entire Bible is one complete testimony…not only the testimony of the saints from the old to the New Testament, but a complete testimony of God Himself.
The testimony is a very important thing for the believer, as mentioned in Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” The power of the word of our testimony will come into play in the end times. It is our stance against the devil and the world when it comes against the truth of God. The testimony is a powerful ally along with the Bible and other evidences in Christian apologetics.
Our testimony is essentially our story of the workings and reality of God Himself in our lives. How God has shown His power through us in our lives as a witness to others. Even the fruit of the Spirit can be considered a testimony unto God.
So, what about me, my “testimony”? As I mentioned before, I don’t have a rags to riches linear story of sinner brought to God and saved from hell unto heaven. I alluded to my on again/off again salvation story in episode one in which I prayed the ol’ sinner’s prayer numerous times over many years thinking that the salvation process didn’t work for me since I didn’t have a lightning and thunder total change of heart in an instant moment every time I begged God into my life.
I didn’t have any one particular moment in time that I can say with certainty when I was saved. Some folks I know, and others I have heard, such as the great theologian RC Sproul, can name the date, time and circumstances surrounding the moment they first received salvation and how they changed in an instant. My cousin had a “come-to-Jesus” moment while living on the streets, getting high on drugs. After hearing the Gospel message from some street evangelists, he prayed for salvation and has since then walked with God. Even committing his life to evangelism on the streets and around the world.
My story is a mix of self salvation and going through the motions. One minute on fire for a moment or season but then growing cold and shutting down. It’s been up and down and all around. I can say with certainty though that God has been constantly tugging and pulling at me most of my life, but I never recognized it being of God.
As much as I have tried to venture down the path that leads to destruction, God has always pulled me back from the edge…without my knowing or understanding.
Even though I grew up attending the Lutheran church, going through confirmation classes, I still had no knowledge of God, Jesus, or the Bible. It didn’t matter to me then.
I recall being in the Air Force over in Germany…being filled with drunken debauchery, living for self and self-gratification. As naive as I was to the ways of life, I easily fell under the spells of the world and all it’s lusts and desires. Yet, out of the blue one day at a military store, I had this “need” to buy a bible. Why? Don’t know. I just knew I needed one. Did I read it? No, not then…
Years later, after starting a family and struggling to make ends meet, I remember watching a Billy Graham special. At the end, I participated in the call to “pray to receive salvation”. I remember saying the prayer with the expectation of thunder, lightning, angels singing, and a complementary “well done good and faithful servant” from God himself. Well, that was a let down. The one positive in my approach to the salvation response was that I started to read the Bible. I actually bought a little New Testament and carried it with me, reading it during down times. I didn’t actually know what I was reading, but I read it just the same.
I didn’t have any zeal for sharing the Gospel, possibly because I didn’t know the Gospel.
I did attend and join churches, gathering head knowledge over the years as I struggled with the salvation process. I became active in a church worship team for years, enjoying fellowship and learning more and more. But, with my life still crumbling down around me, I found myself always pushing away from God, church, and the pursuit of holiness.
During these years, I often found myself doubting salvation, praying again the “prayer” to save me, in hopes of changing and becoming like so many people I have seen in the church…pious and happy, filled with the Holy Spirit. Actually, I was jealous and wanted that! But, I didn’t get it.
Instead, despair and hopelessness filled my life.
There were some moments of light that would break through from time to time. Probably the most encouraging time was I went to see a pastor at a local Baptist church and asked him if I wasn’t feeling saved because I committed the unpardonable sin…grieved the Holy Spirit.
His answer would soon spark some revival within me when the shadows of doubt would permeate my heart. He said if I am worried about my salvation and being right with God, that’s the Holy Spirit working within me, convicting me, prompting me, moving me toward a path of righteousness instead of prodigalism. He shared that people who will not, or can not get right with God, those elect by the Spirit, won’t pursue God and His ways. They don’t think or worry about whether or not God is in their life. They don’t want to read the Bible or go to church.
That answer re-ignited hope within me.
Is this to say that my walk afterwards was that of a pious man? A man after God’s own heart? That the Word filled me with a righteousness? Unfortunately no. As hopeful as I was that there was a glimmer of hope, my hope lasted for just a season and I was back to the hot/cold/lukewarm battles.
As you can see up to this point, my testimony is one of wandering comparable to the Israelites in the desert for 40 years!
Even to this day, the battles rage on. What’s different about nowadays versus the many decades ago is that during the years wandering in the desert, I learned a lot about God. More than just that, I learned about theology. The study of God. I learned not only about the history of the church after the Apostolic period, but also about how man managed to interject himself into biblical interpretations and really skew the Word of God to fit certain narratives.
Not that this is some new means of attack on the Word of God and God’s true church…no…that has been going on since the beginning of time. Questioning God’s Word has been a scheme of the devil since before humanity came onto the seen. As explained in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, Lucifer was an angel of light, most beautiful in the heavens. Since he (and the other angels) are created beings, they are not perfect like God. He became full of himself and thought he should be glorified as God also. Pride. That very nature we all possess without having to be taught!
Lucifer brought a third of the angels with when cast out of heaven for his rebellion toward God. He convinced a third! Smooth talker and smart! He knows God’s words better than any human can. And because of that and his work to thwart God’s will…he manipulates those who study the Word of God, the Bible. So you can see how there are often differing views and opinions when interpreting Scripture. That is a history I don’t have time to get into today, but let’s just say that it is rampant in today’s churches!
Fortunately, the Holy Spirit helps guide people to read, interpret, understand, and use the Word of God correctly. After the reformation, many great men of God came out proclaiming the Word of God instead of man made rules and laws. Thankfully, this proper teaching of the whole Word inspired multitudes to walk away from false-teaching preachers and theologians and truly study the Word themselves. I thank God that I have a questioning spirit sometimes, because I find myself asking questions when listening or reading preachers and teachers. I constantly ask “where in the Bible does it say that?” And “what is the context of those words?” When you cast aside interpretations of men and read for yourselves, prayerfully and thoroughly, you discover God’s Words directly.
This is not to say that many teachers and preachers are bad. On the contrary, I have found great helps from the writings and teachings of good and solid reformers and theologians. But, we must take each with a grain of salt and, like the Bereans in Acts, test everything through the Scriptures! Thus, many of the social, cultural, and prosperity preachers and teachers are being exposed as false and heretical because people are using the Scriptures to examine their ways!
So many other aspects to my testimony, but as impatient as I am, wanting to be walking in the glory and light of God every minute of every hour of every day, I had to learn to be patient. God’s timing for things are not ours to alter. The Israelites wandered for 40 years in the wilderness because they were a “stiff-necked” peoples. God has to send each of us through different trials and paths to get us prepared for the Celestial City. Some come to faith easier than others. I have struggled long and hard. But, it has to be God’s timing. And most of all, I have to learn to trust in His timing! That….that is a difficult thing to do! We are a people of instant gratification. And having to wait through the sanctification process is hard…specially when we have an enemy that uses that time to trip us, hinder us, cause us to question God and His Word and His promises. Thus…all the more important to know the Word, the Scriptures!!!! I cannot stress this enough!
Had I taken time early on in my walk with God to study the Scriptures, I know that there would have been a stronger walk. But, God uses our faults and failings despite ourselves! This is why my testimony is all over the board. The prodigal son went out from his father for a season and came back. I’ve made so many trips away from God’s calling that I probably have enough frequent flyer miles to circle the heavens a thousand times!
Look, just saying a prayer and making some verbal commitment at a church service or event doesn’t save you. God saves you by changing your heart where you are…at the right time. God calls you from the depths of our depravities. Jesus paid the penalties for our sins on the cross as an atonement. The Holy Spirit works in you, continually, not just once in a while or at the time of our rebirth. Receiving Christ as our Savior is really us surrendering our ways for His ways. The process may be instant, or it may take decades. Either way, salvation is of God alone through Jesus Christ alone by the power of the Holy Spirit alone and explained in the Scriptures alone. To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.
No matter how your path toward Heaven goes, we all need to continually refill ourselves with that first love, that moment we realized we need God in our lives. We revisit that by filling our hearts and minds with his instruction book…the Bible. Without it, we are wandering the desert aimlessly. But during our journey, we need to pay close attention to the wild beasts that seek to devour us and lead us astray from the narrow path God has laid out for us. The only way to defeat the enemies during this journey, the only way to stay focused on the prize is to know where we are going and use the road map given to us…His Words!
Your testimony is your story of God bringing you into His fold, saving you from eternal hell. We all have a story, and the central point is God’s grace toward us, to call us to Himself. We must never lose that story, as it is powerful! To take a sinner, a heathen rebel, such as myself and allow me access to eternal glory and happiness and peace in Heaven…well, that’s a story of salvation! Whether I deserve it or not by man’s standards, that will not have any say…because God thought enough of me to give me the ultimate gift….a testimony!