"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"


Sunday, February 10, 2008

...That Saved a Wretch Like Me

I was tagged by someone on youtube earlier this week, which simply means I was supposed to share five things about myself. I turned my 5 things into a shortened version of my testimony. Here is the video:





**I pray that the Lord will open up the eyes to anyone who sees this and is caught in the deceptions of cultural Christianity today. I pray that we continue to hold fast to the entire counsel of God's word and preach Christ crucified, for the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes (Romans 1:16). Amen.

10 comments:

Adam said...

Awesome!!

minnesotamom said...

Thank you for sharing this. I hope it gets many views at YouTube and that the Lord will use your testimony to His glory!

Anonymous said...

Susan,

Your story is sadly all to familiar. I too grew up in the church and lived a life much like yours. Unfortunately I did not see the "TRUTH" until much later in life. I now understand what is means to "repent from your good works".
My heart goes out to our youth today. I think the greatest mission field in America is in so many buildings all over our country that have a cross on the top of their buildings but have become so man-centered and have reduced the gospel down to repeat this little prayer? There are so many professing christians who think themselves saved and they are lost....how sad?
Restoring sound doctrine concerning the nature of conversion is foundational to being a church that brings God the glory He deserves!
Thankyou for your testimony it is exciting to see a young woman so much in love with the Lord Jesus Christ!
Blessings,
Ike..(bloodtippedears.blogspot.com)

Anonymous said...

I've listened to your testimony and I have also listened to Paul Washer's wife testimony. I don't quite understand how you and Washer's wife ( a missionary) believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and witnessed to other people about your faith and then say it wasn't real?

I have been saved for many years and it wasn't until I got a computer that I have been going to different "reformed" blogs and now question my faith? I basically have been to two blogs. I started with Truth Matters and this is where I heard Paul Washer. This blog seems to promote Lanes blog which is full of Washer and other's with the reformed view.
I said all that to ask you to be specific and please tell me what it was that made you realize you only had a, I guess, head knowlege. How do I know this is not me? Like I said before, I have never questioned my salvation as I do now and I not only fear for myself but all of my family who are all professing believers, but to be honest, do not show the passion for the Lord like I see on your blog and the other two I mentioned.

Nathan

Anonymous said...

I have sent your testimony to everyone in my family. Thankyou.

Susan said...

Hey Nathan,

Thanks so much for commenting. I am glad that the Lord has led you to this blog and to others that are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that I am able to clarify things for you a little bit better.

I know you saw the video of my testimony so there’s no need for me to repeat what is on there, but I will reiterate some things and expound on them. It is kind of hard to write specifically to you because I don’t know you or your story or what your life was like before you say you got saved etc. But with that said, I can speak generally about some of the huge problems with professing Christians today, including me in the past. You should know that your comment to me was very encouraging because if after examining yourself in the faith you realize that the supernatural work of God has not taken place in your life, then you reaching out and inquiring about it is a good sign. Paul the Apostle tells us to examine ourselves to make sure we are living in the faith, so it is not a bad thing. And listening to the messages of Paul Washer and other preachers who preach the true Gospel of Christ as it is presented in the scriptures is a blessing as well. For me, it truly was like the Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Many of the American churches today have watered down their message so much that the Word of God is not being preached in its entirety and therefore GREAT BIBLICAL truths are being glossed over leading people to take on, like I said in the video and like the scriptures say, “a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”

This answer may seem scattered but I am just going to start throwing ideas out there. First of all we must realize that the heart is deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked. The Bible tells us this in Jeremiah 17:9 and even asks, “who can know it?” The Bible also says that there is a way that seems right to a man but in the end leads to death. Also, when you read the Bible you will find the phrase “Be not deceived” countless times. This implies that there is a very good chance that one can fall into deception, or else the Lord would not put out this warning. So that would be one of my explanations as to how people like me and Charo Washer could fall into the deception of thinking we are living in sincerity of faith, but all the while following the lust of our deceitful heart. What takes place in a person when they are born of the spirit and experience the rebirth that Jesus tells Nicodemus about in John 3, is literally the death of the old sinful nature and putting on the newness of life in Christ. So it is a heart transplant, so to speak, in which God takes out your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19-20 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.) So that once deceitful heart of ours now becomes a new one, one that desires to live according to the righteousness of Christ. (Not perfectly, for the believer will still struggle with the old nature until the last day, but the Bible says sin will no longer have dominion over him.) So this is a supernatural work of God. It is life changing. All of a sudden, you are seeing things in a whole new perspective. It is like a pair of glasses that God has put on you and now grants you to see things the way that He sees them.

So relating that back to my testimony, I had all the head knowledge. In my mind I knew that the Lord’s ways were right, and I even had a desire to live a life pleasing to Him. I really can’t explain it in any other way than this: my intellect knew God and His ways, but I was still in bondage to my flesh. I did not have the new nature of Christ. I still found a way to continue to live for myself. My actions may have looked pretty godly on the outside, but my motives and my ambitions and everything about me was still serving, not God, but myself. And without Christ doing this work in me, I was helpless in getting myself out of this state This is simply because we are dead in our trespasses…not sick…dead and incapable of raising ourselves, so it requires an act of God. But I understand your frustration, because it is not easily explained. Nathan, I really thought that I WAS living for Christ, that is the scariness of this deception. I don’t have some 3 step process to finding out for sure that you aren’t deceived. All I can simply say is this: God was gracious and merciful to me, in that, all this time He was doing a work in me, but the work had not come unto salvation until about a year and a half ago. So while the world pronounced me saved because I had the form of godliness, the Lord was in the middle of waking me up out of a self-righteousness, that had I stayed in bondage to, I would be spending eternity in Hell. That is why I cringe when I see what is being taught today in churches…it is a watered down message that takes these people who have the form of godliness and instead of bringing them BIBLICAL truth, they just feed them half-truths (which is no truth at all) only lulling them deeper and deeper in their spiritual sleep. Here is a quote by Pastor J.M. Grapp that sums up a lot of what I just said:

“Let me say that I had a mind for God and the things associated with religion from childhood. I wanted to please God, and even had an experience in my teens which I believe was wrought by a work of God and which produced a change to a degree. The problem lies in the fact that it is entirely possible that it was merely a result of reason working on my mind, conscience, and emotions, as the change was not sufficient to change my nature. Even though this change was wrought by a work of God, it was not sufficient in regenerating my heart. Until that took place, I was not saved.”

Personally, one of the MAIN things that first started to wake me up out of this deception was the doctrines of grace. You mentioned that you have been on some ‘reformed blogs’ so you might be familiar with some terms like Calvinism or election or things relating to them. Basically, I am not here to preach a system of man-made theology, I am talking about what the Bible REALLY says about the character of God and the state of mankind and the reconciliation between the two. When I started to hear sound preaching on things like the doctrine of election, it was one of the main ways I started to realize the error in my deception. You see, I was never taught about predestination or election or anything like that, even though the Bible is plagued with it all throughout. I still thought that, more or less, I had made a decision to receive Christ into my life (sure, I still said I gave Him all the glory, but do you see the contradiction that it creates?) If God is sovereign (and I mean TRULY sovereign over ALL things) and if we are really DEAD in our trespasses like the Bible explains, then how did I just get up one day and ‘decide’ to follow Christ? Wasn’t it God that saught out me? Isn’t it up to the potter to do what he wills with the clay? American Christianity has been boiled down to ‘choosing’ Christ, when that just leaves the door wide open to living a life full of a self-righteousness, thinking you have done something to receive this (again, we would never say this because we are deceived into thinking we are glorifying Christ). But the Bible says it is by grace through faith that we are saved and not of works, so who are we to boast? So because I am saved does that mean that I was more spiritually aware than the unbeliever next to me? Nope, it simply means that God had mercy upon me and chose to save me and make me His. Now ultimately it is the responsibility of man to repent of their sins and believe and trust in Jesus Christ, but that can only be done after the Lord has begun a work in him and regenerated His heart into one that desires righteousness. Does this all make sense? I know it might seem like rambling, but I am trying to help you understand the errors in my believing. Errors that had me deceived and ignorant of the truth about the true character of God and my condition before Him.

Another thing that started to happen, through the Lord revealing to me His word and really making it a REALITY in my life, was much much MUCH godly sorrow. Suddenly, I went from someone who thought I had it all together, to becoming so aware of sins and motives that weren’t pleasing to the Lord that I had once overlooked so easily. Like Charo said, I knew I was a sinner and I confessed it to God, but all of a sudden, it wasn’t just a general statement anymore, it was a reality of specific ways in which I had been living apart from God. My eyes were opened to feel the gravity of sin. I thought I had been saved, but I started to realize that I had never felt the true condition of lostness. I said that I was lost, but I never really understood the gravity of my lost condition. I had never really faced a humility of truly seeing my helpless state before a holy, perfect, righteous, sovereign ruler of the universe who was capable of judging me for my wickedness and justly sending me to eternal death. So it was through that grieving and godly sorrow that I began to not look unto myself like I realized I had been doing all my life, but instead look UNTO Christ. There was no remedy within me so I had to look elsewhere for salvation, and well, there stood Christ and His FINISHED work on the cross in which His blood was shed for the remission of sin for all those who believe on Him. Suddenly I had an earnest call unto the Lord to save my soul. Earnest meaning I saw during that time that unless the Lord reached out His hand unto me, I was going to be stuck serving the lusts of my flesh, the lust of my eyes, and the pride of life for the rest of my life, and well, I no longer desired that. The thought made me sick. By the way, this is exactly what the Bible says will happen. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 it says “For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be regretted: but the sorrow of the world works death.” Godly sorrow led to salvation for me.

It was not a coincidence that when I started to study the doctrines of the Bible, and not just what mainline Christianity was telling me, that my pride and self-righteousness was confronted, and thus, it had to be dealt with. When you realize that it was the Lord who chose you, are you not going to find more passion and zeal to live a life serving Him than one who thinks it was them who came to Him, meriting some sort of reward for it? Also, when the Lord reveals to you His word (and he does this by giving you the faith to truly take it in and not just read it) then you hold your life up to what the scriptures say, and you begin to ask God to change the things in which do not match up with His word. The whole time that I was caught up in cultural Christianity, I struggled to give up idols in my life. I knew they shouldn’t be there, but I found that I would give them up and then take them back. But now, the Lord is truly sanctifying me, and just like He promises I am being conformed to the image of His son. Idols are being ripped out of my life left and right now. And as painful as this is, it is also the most joyous thing ever because you know you are that much more in communion with the Holy God. It is an ongoing process, not a one time flu-shot like experience. You continuously repent and continuously believe on Jesus, it is not a thing done in the past only to move on with the rest of your life. Jesus Christ BECOMES your life. He is everything, and without Him you have nothing, He is not just the cherry on top of a great life. And so now instead of finding myself in this huge drought of spiritual growth like before, I am now so overcome with love for my Savior that I can’t help but bear His fruit. A child of God has no choice but to bear fruit because if the Spirit is really in Him then it is He who is doing the work. And I have found that even if I wanted to turn back now, it is impossible. The Spirit is compelling me to fight the good fight of faith. That is what keeps me humble because I know it is not on my own strength or because I am this really spiritual, religious person. It is just simply that the Lord is doing a work through me, and He is granting me the grace and the faith to believe on Him and trust Him with my entire life, not just bits and pieces.

Read these verses from Colossians 1:21-23. These are verses that the Lord showed me in the beginning of Him drawing me in. I remember reading this passage and thinking to myself: if you have had an encounter with Jesus Christ of the Bible, then according to this I should be able to point back to a time in my life where I was alienated and an enemy to Him and then only to be saved from that and now have a newness about me that is noticeable.

“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moves away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven.

It took me realizing that that time had not yet come for me. I really just pointed back to my life and saw it as, well I have served Christ for as long as I can remember, so I must be saved. And one last thing. I was a little different from Charo in that I don’t ever recall saying, on my goodness I am not a Christian I need to get saved…it just sort of unfolded into these convictions and only NOW looking back in hindsight am I able to point back and say, “no, I was not a Christian during that time and it wasn’t until just a year and a half ago that the Lord did a work in me unto salvation by giving me that new nature.” And I was confused for a little time afterwards as to what I should refer to my past as, because I seemed so much like a Christian it was hard for me at first to believe that I wasn’t. But I know now that I was not regenerated, and therefore was not saved. But I don’t get too caught up in that, because being a child of God, I was predestined to be one since before the foundation of the earth, and it was just up to Him on the timing of it all. It just so happened that this was the specific manner in which He chose to reveal Himself to me. But that does not excuse me from my wicked ways during this time of deception, because ultimately it was a result of me loving my darkness rather than the light of Christ, and had the Lord not awaken me, I would be justly facing my judgment.

One of the best ways that I have heard belief in Jesus Christ described is in a sermon by John Piper. He explains that belief in Jesus is not merely a way of thinking or a state of mind….IT IS AN APPETITE. The Bible says Jesus is the bread of life, and when you are one of His you know exactly what that means. Because you experience the hunger in which you have for the very thing that sustains your life: the person of Jesus Christ.

I pray Nathan, that God will use this to bring clarity to you and your family’s situations. I pray that He will draw you unto Himself and make you His if you are not already, and if it be in His will to do so. I pray He will humble you and allow you to see the gravity of your sin, so that you may cry out to Him. Ask the Lord to show you the motives of your heart, and one way He does that is through His word (Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.) The book of 1 John is a great book that points us to the fruits of assurance of faith. I will be praying for you Nathan, and please don’t hesitate to ask me anything else or to stay in contact with me. I would be glad to give you my email address.

With Love from the Father,
Susan

Daniel said...

Beautiful! That God can use even Calvinism still blows me away!

Berean Wife said...

Thank you for your testimony. I've added the YouTube videos to my website with link backs to your website. I have a burden for the non-Christian "Christians" in the church. Keep spreading the news.

ABClay said...

Susan,

I was much in the same boat as you are in except I was in the darkness far longer.

My question is this: How did your parents feel about your conversion? Particularly in regards to the doctrines of Grace?

I have struggled with this in regards to my family. My father is the most Godly man I know yet he believes that God chose him because he believed. My former pastor, (who, ironically, passes out MacArthur Study Bibles to all who are baptized)actually led my father and my former church family to believe that I was close to a heretic.

I wonder if you have met the same resistance?

I know that prayer is the ultimate answer and I continue in this daily, but to a community who believes that Jerry Vines hung the moon, I have been cast out.

While it saddens me that they are so entrenched in their man centered theology, I am blessed more than I deserve. God has led me and my family to a new pastor who is beginning to teach these doctrines and the sovereignty of God to his congregation.

I know that this may be of a personal nature. If you wish to respond, feel free to respond via email.

Grace and Peace...

ABClay

Iona C. said...

That was amazing.

My testimony is somewhat like yours except I didn't even have head knowledge about God or the Bible. I suppose I knew enough to skate by in church or VBS, but I had no part in Bible studies or youth groups. I was destined to 'fall away' (which I realize is impossible now because I had never been regenerated in the first place despite my 'profession' of faith) as soon as it came time to go to college.

God had other plans for me and I wasn't accepted to any of the colleges I applied to. I ended up attending a local community college (this semester will complete my two years before transfer) and living at home. Around that time I remember 'stumbling' upon Paul Washer's "Shocking Sermon". God had turned my mindless internet surfing into a powerful encounter with truth and conviction.

I realize that I am only in the very beginning of my walk with Christ. Many times I can't fathom how I could ever be expected to be like Him, but I hold on to Philippians 1:6 and trust that God will complete that work in my life. I know it won't be easy, but it's all for Christ and He is undoubtedly worth it.

Your love for God permeates your blog and even if I'm on the other side of the country and don't know you, I know you're a sister in Christ. Peace and God bless!

- Iona C.