This is an updated post from Sat., March 24th. Tim Challies from challies.com has asked bloggers to post their testimonies today -- Testimony Tuesday. I recently joined a church and was asked to write my testimony. My thoughts come first with my testimony last. Join us and share your testimony. If you do not have a blog, please feel free to share yours in the comment section of this post.
Let's begin --
My Grandfather, my Dad's Dad, was a Pastor of a small Mennonite church, PA. There is information about him and his ministry under the Mother Bedford website. On my Mom's side of the family there were no Pastor's but a deep relationship with the Lord that was the result of the LCOB being built in a small community. So when I was young we attended the Mennonite church but my Father did not agree with the fact that you could lose your salvation, so we left that denomination and returned back to my Mom's church. This church preached all about love but would not preach Hell. My father had passed away at the young age of 42 in 1977. Mom and I continued to attend church but one Sunday the Pastor preached a terrific sermon on Hell. I could hardly set in my seat and keep my AMEN's to myself. We were setting in the back of the church and when the service was done the Pastor always left to stand in the back of the church to greet you before you went downstairs and out the door to home. We were setting there and the Deacon's of the church rose and followed him to the back and told him, "Don't ever preached a sermon like that here again! We preach love, not Hell and damnation." Well, Folks ... Hell is talked about more in the Word of God than love is! What is Hell but other than judgement? No judgement, no salvation message is there? I looked at my Mom and said, "Mom and I can not set in a church that will not teach the full message of the Word of God." And we left. I then attended a GBC in my area since 1989. But as it goes ... things started to change there ... Warrenism started creeping in ... the message did not change but it wasn't as potent. Jokes was the norm from the pulpit, Power Team came and that was like a circus, hymns slowly were exchanged for choruses, Power Point, you get the picture. The Power Team thing was the last straw for us ... the church had become a business. They did not want to offend unbelievers ... my husband and I left the church I loved and served and it was a difficult and emotional change. But God has brought us to where we feel He wants us to be. We have grown more there in the last 8 months than we had at the GBC in 3 years. We know we were called out of that church. God had us there for a season, to work for Him, and then He moved us on. God has blessed me with two sons who are full of character, integrity and have never brought shame to us. I do not know what tomorrow holds but they walk with their Lord. One is strong and bold in his faith and the other is quiet but when he speaks it is profound. God has so richly blessed me. I honestly do not know when He was not with me. I have always, even when young, known He was watching over me. I accepted Him as Lord and Saviour of my life when I was 12. I have been blessed with a Godly husband who came out of the Catholic faith to Salvation with the Lord and he walks strong in his faith and even more so since attending WOPC. He has grown in the Word and he has been faithful to his Bible Study and prayer time with an obedience that has blessed this family many times over. We talk more about what we are learning in this reformed church than we ever have. It has brought us closer and I thank God for that. My mother's faith is unswerving. She is a rock and prayer warrior. I am not the woman I am today without her. The Lord brought my brother thru some really tough times. But he serves His Lord by sharing his testimony in schools, colleges, etc. He was recently asked to speak at a large sports banquet back here at home, he told them there is no M without Jesus Christ. He is a part of me that has made me what I am today by His grace and I can share nothing else but Him. Guess what? ... they decided that would not work since there will be youth there of various faiths and they do not want to offend anyone, so it is best if they get someone else. What a shame. Those teens so need to hear M's message. But where a door is closed God will open another, Amen?! God has such a strong grip on me, my family, that it is a peace that passes all understanding. What would I ever do without Him? I thank Him, over and over again for my salvation, His gift of mercy and grace upon me and my family. And then there are those true friends He brings into your path. What a sweet smelling savour ... J, B, you who love me with all my faults, who honor me and humble me, you who are not afraid to tell me what you think ... I love you dearly and thank God for you. For those whom He has brought in my path that I have never sat down face to face with .. Kim of Hiraeth, Rosemary of Seasonings of the Heart, Rebecca of Rebecca Writes, and those I have yet to encounter ... you keep me sharp - as iron sharpens iron ... God you are so gracious to me. Thank you Jesus ... thank you.
As I have sat down and pondered the texts I would use for my testimony, the one that jumped at me the most was John 6:44., "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him: and I will raise him up at the last day." NKJV.
This one verse sums up for me my election to salvation. The literal Hebrew word for draw in John 6:44 is 'drag.' Strong's #1670 -- drag, draw, pull in.
Do you know of anything that has been "dragged" out of anything or anywhere that could have come if it wanted to? Free Will insinuates that I can make the choice. If I can make the choice, then I don't need to be dragged do I? If I can make the choice then where is Omnipotence? How can salvation be a gift if it can be chosen? Can I choose for you to give me a gift? Or, do you, the owner of the gift, choose if you want to give it and who you want to give it to, being that it is yours? I think the entirety of the bible is a paradox. That is what confuses people. In the worldly understanding of the process of my salvation, as well as any other persons, I chose to follow Jesus. I made the choice in the worlds eyes. However, in the heavenly aspect of it, the truth is that I was called out, clearly stated in John 6:44 as well as many other verses.
This is a paradox. Whosoever could be anyone to us, in this worlds understanding. Because we are not at the throne of God, we do not know who the elect are, so all, to us, are able, therefore the Great Commission of "go, tell the world." God does not NEED us to complete this work, but, what a privilege to have a mighty God want to involve us in His work!
According to Romans 3:1-19; Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:4 and 2 Tim. 1:9 tell us that no 'free will' exists in man's nature, for man is enslaved to sin (total depravity) and unable to believe apart from God's empowerment. Isa. 64:6 -- "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags." My utter unworthiness to be in God's presence.
So then, my predestination came before my election which came before my gospel call which came before my inward call which came before my regeneration which came before my conversion through my faith and my repentence which came before my justification. (that's a mouth full!)
I was previously taught that my regeneration came after my salvation which I could not comprehend according to John 6:44 and the numerous other verses on election, predestination, called and chosen.
I have been studying thru Redemption, Accomplished and Applied by John Murray and I can not tell you enough how much you would gain in the reading/studying of this little book. I have not posted as much as I want to on this book because of its depth. I have come to realize that I need to study it thru thoroughly then read it again and then possibly post.
Thus far I am even more fully convinced in the study of this book as to how in my audacity could I have ever chosen Him? What arrogance! I am being humbled over and over as I study thru the obedience of my Lord and Savior who hung upon the cross for me. The obedience is profound. I think of the words .. Because of Calvary, but I add ... Because of the obedience of Calvary, His blood was shed for me. Oh, thank You Lord Jesus, thank You!
My Testimony . . . as written for church membership ...
"...And so we must say that this love of the Father was at no point more intensely in exercise than when the Son was actively drinking the cup of unrelieved damnation, than when he was enduring as substitute the full toll of the Father's wrath...What love for men that the Father should execute upon his own Son the full toll of holy wrath, so that we should never taste it!" John Murray, Collected Writings
He loves His chosen that much is mind boggling. Amazing Love but more so, Amazing Grace! He chose a wretch like me? How in my filthiness could I have ever chosen Him? Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who otherwise would have been there. He changed my heart through His effectual calling and made me willing to come. He chose to teach me about Himself through study of His Word, calling me out of churches that would not preach Hell, churches that tried to teach me that I chose Him. I can not know myself without knowing Him. Because of my wicked pride that is naturally in me, He is continuing to show Himself to me, to mold me and break me into becoming a woman after His own heart. I cannot worship my Lord rightly without this principle of knowing Him. I am justified on the grounds of nothing that I did, nor anything that I possess but rather on what I have received, I have no merit of my own. I have been trudging through a deep bog, slogging along trying to understand what my previous church was teaching when everything the Holy Spirit was revealing was a different principle. I had no name for it only an understanding. Now I do – Reformed, Covenantal, … the 5 Solas! My understanding has so deepened since attending Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church under the teachings of Pastor B. and G.S. The constant encouragement to read stout books and study the Word is phenomenal. I never had this before but I always taught it. The worship is worship here, not a “make me feel good” sensory type of thing. God is forefront always! What a blessing this is. I ask you to read Colossians 1:9-23. Especially verses 19, 20: “For it pleased the Father … having made peace” He is pleased to have chosen us, to save us from His wholly wrath! I am dedicated to learning fully covenantal, reformed theology with a growing appreciation for the Westminster Confession of Faith. I pray you all realize what you have here at this church with the teachers you are given. As one coming in from outside running from the wolves of false teaching, I am at home here among you all, you have made us so welcome. Thank You ….