This is the continuation of Part 1 of this testimony, my testimony, wherein I explained how God enlarged my view of sin, for the purpose of enlarging the purposes of the Gospel of Christ’s work.
Ok so now let’s fast forward to a few months ago, and look back on what my new Christian life has started to look like. An experience of Grace is a great thing, but the evidence is clearly in the fruit. As I mentioned before, I will reiterate in this post now. Namely that Grace this was bearing fruit in my heart and mind and outward life. I was able to answer yes to the tests of assurance laid out in 1st John. All of the them, for the first time at the same time.
Equally amazing was how God was speaking to me through his rhema (spoken) word, and then confirming that through his written word, and through the testimonies of others, stirring up a greater faith and greater trust in what Christ had done in me. The best way I can describe what has been happening, is that God was taking me by the hand, and gently leading me on a journey, that is still continuing to this day. It started about 2 years ago, reached a turning point this summer, and is growing stronger, not diminishing. This has started the birth of an unshakable hope that his flame will continue burn brighter, and that this joy will continue to spill out.
So I want to give 3 examples of this to give glory to how God’s Grace has been continuing to work in me:
I had always felt a bondage of shame to do with past sexual sin in my life. I am not talking about the conviction of the Holy Spirit that shows us we are sinning, for believe me, I always knew that lust was a sin. However driving one day, someone passed into my field of view, and sensing the danger I immediately withdrew my gaze. I know for a fact that I did not sin in that moment, however I suddenly began to feel the oppression of the feelings of shame and condemnation. Then something happened, and I believe the Holy Spirit said to me, “This shame is not from me.” Immediately, the feelings of shame and condemnation dissipated, and the oppression was gone.
Still, not yet trusting in my own ability hear God, I told myself not to be overconfident but to test this against Scripture and the testimony of others. I was then drawn to Romans 8:1-4 which begins with, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus…” So scripture seemed to confirm what I thought I heard the Spirit say.
Then later that week, I was reading a book on this very issue called “Surfing for God” by Michael John Cusick (AMAZING book by the way) where he had a whole chapter dedicated to how shame is a tool of demonic oppression to further a cycle of guilt then, self pity, then sin, then more guilt and so on. So what the Spirit of God spoke to me in that moment was directly confirmed by Scripture and there “just happened” to be a whole chapter devoted to it in a book I “just happened” to have on my reading list for that week!
I feel that what happened in that moment, is that Satan overplayed his hand, and God called his bluff. I had been set free, and there was no longer condemnation. The demonic oppression of shame could no longer deceive me, and hasn’t since that moment. All that I can say is Praise God! “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36
I was ruminating on the idea of weight gain or loss, and found myself stepping on the scale one morning and thinking, “I know why I didn’t lose anything yesterday, because I was hungry and had those chips last night…” Now I wasn’t overly despondent about this, but was simply musing to myself, as I often seem to be doing these days. (Head in the cloud syndrome). All of a sudden the thought popped into my head:
“Everything good in life requires a sacrifice.”
Ok, I thought… this should be fun. Let’s explore this idea. So continuing on this train of thought, I postulated that
“The larger the good, the larger the sacrifice required to attain that good.”
If I want to lose 20 pounds, that will require greater sacrifice than losing 10 pounds. If I want to have the good of driving where I want, by owning a car, that requires the sacrifice of making insurance payments, and having gas money. If I want the good of house that I own, I will probably sacrifice thousands and thousands of hours and dollars maintaining the place, and paying a mortgage. So it seemed to ring true. Then suddenly it hit me…
“The infinite good of a totally saved soul, required a sacrifice of infinite proportions – the death and rejection of Jesus Christ.”
And immediately after that:
“A sacrifice of infinite proportions, necessitates a gratitude that is absolute. Nothing short of absolute surrender.”
This idea held water in my heart as I followed this reasoning back to a sacrifice given as a gift in smaller proportions. How did God confirm this? He drew me to Romans 12:1, and this verse now became the battle cry of my personal walk with the Lord, and thus the namesake for this website.
Then… what do you know, literally the next day, which sermon “just happened” to be released on the Timothy Keller Podcast? His exposition on Romans 12:1, which confirmed what God had already started in me, and enlarged my understanding of this passage even more.
I have already shared in my post titled Stop Trying to Get Faith that I believe that the parable of the treasure in Matthew 13:44 in a sense is about how we get faith, and that my view of faith was changing: It was changing from something good that we choose to do, to simply a response to the treasure of Christ and his Gospel. Faith isn’t something we do, it’s something we get when we fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author of our faith. I started to reject the notion of faith as some great end in and of itself, and rather see it as a gift that grows when we behold the gospel.
It was especially personal to me, because at this point I was truly starting to feel that I never had a true faith before. What do I mean by this? I didn’t trust and rest in Christ as my salvation, I trusted and rested in the idea that I had made the leap of faith, and had made Jesus my Lord. The scary thing was that this trust didn’t feel like rest, and seemed to be continually failing me, so I was losing faith in my faith, as I wasn’t seeing the fruits of it.
But again God has been so gracious. He has solidified the idea that faith not something we must DO to get to God, but is a response to what Christ has DONE on calvary. Then, after wrestling with this belief and being drawn to this very parable specifically… I started to read “Desiring God” by John Piper. And Piper uses this parable in the exact same way that I had… namely that first you must discover the treasure and then you put your faith in it, for the joy of what the treasure will bring. Again God had shown me something by his Spirit, and then it was confirmed by someone else looking at that scripture independently of me and coming to the same conclusions, and going even deeper than I had.
In all of these 3 examples, I could see how God was working to increase my faith in the Gospel of Christ… he made the Gospel so compelling to me that I couldn’t help but believe it… and because I was totally compelled of the value of this treasure, I want to share it with others that they might join me in being able to give glory to God for His love and Grace. This good news was so compelling, and so good, and so real to me, that I couldn’t resist the freedom it offered.
But something was still nagging at me… in the richness of the Gospel of Grace, I started to have a dilemma. I had always been taught that I am saved by faith. That all I had to do was pray a prayer, “Jesus I believe that you died and rose again, forgive me of my sin, I make you the Lord of my life”. If I prayed this prayer in faith, then I would be born again… right? I’m not so sure, because that whole “in faith” thing was so subjective.
Yet, I couldn’t help but get the feeling, that my new true faith grew out of God’s Grace working in my life. I didn’t choose to put my faith in Christ, but rather the beauty of the cross had captured my heart, and I was compelled to believe. Of course I trust the one who released the chains of my bondage to sin, opened my eyes to see the joy I can have in glorifying him, and who gave up everything to be with me. Who could resist such a grace! It wasn’t really an effort to make him Lord of MY life, it was more like simply recognizing that Jesus IS Lord, and has always been Lord of all. It felt wrong to say that I chose him, because he had first loved me… and my choosing him was a response to his first choosing me to see the Gospel.
But this is already too long again, so I will have to leave the rest of the story till part 3.