Friday, January 11, 2008

Personal Christian Testimony

This is a brief account of my conversion, written to be given as an evangelistic talk.

For a long time I’ve had a few very significant questions. In my earliest years the most pressing of these was “what will happen to me when I die?” or “how can I know that I’ll go to heaven?” As it turns out, the Bible has the answer to these questions.

The story of my conversion to Christianity is short, thanks to my parent’s faithfulness. They decided when I was born that they were going to see to it that I went to church, and they were going to teach me how to be a Christian. So I learned the answer to the first question very early. The Bible teaches that there are only two ways to live: we can either continue in our own way—which is at best ignorance of God, but is at root rebellion against God—which will lead to death and judgment and hell, or we can live God’s way—which is the way of repentance (that means turning away from our sin and rebellion) and reliant trust in Christ as our savior and Lord. The second way results in forgiveness and freedom and eternal life. I learned this very early. In fact, two of my earliest memories are of my mother leading me in prayer and my baptism at age six.

The second question took a lot longer to answer, though. The second question has to do with what Christians call “assurance of salvation.” This part is important because it has a lot to do with the details about how a person becomes a Christian. Early on, I placed an awful lot of hope in a prayer that I prayed. It was something along the lines of, “Jesus, I’m sorry for my sins. Come into my heart and save me.” While that is a good prayer, the prayer itself does not save a person. For the longest time, I had no idea how to know that I was a Christian. To answer that question, let’s quickly review the basic message of the Bible.

1. God made the world and rules over it.[1] The first point is that God made the world, he rules the world, and he appointed men and women to rule the world under him. Unlike any king or president we know of, he rules perfectly and does what is best for his people. The Bible says in Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."[2]

2. People naturally reject God's rule. But still all things are not right with the world, which brings us to the second point: we all reject the rightful rule of God and determine to live and rule ourselves according to our own way. This has been true of men and women from the beginning of history, and this is what the Bible calls sin. In Romans 3:10-12 it says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” So the question is what will God do about it?

3. God takes this rebellion seriously. The third point answers that question: God won’t simply let the rebellion continue. He takes it very seriously, and the sentence he rightly passes against us is everlasting death and judgment. The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27, “People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” The fact is that this would be the end of the story for us, if God had not intervened.

4. God intervened by sending Jesus. The fourth point, however, is that God did intervene by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. Jesus always lived according to God’s rule; he never sinned or rebelled. But it was a part of his plan from the beginning to die as a substitute for us rebels. He died in our place in order to take our punishment and bring us forgiveness of sins. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

5. Jesus was raised from the dead. The fifth point is that the story doesn’t end at Jesus’s death—God raised him to life again. God has also made him the ruler of the world. He defeated death, gives life to those who would be forgiven of their sins, and will return on the last day to judge the world. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The question is where does that leave us? We all have a choice to make.

Here’s the choice: We can choose to live our way or God’s way. Our way is to continue to reject God as our ruler and to try to run life in our own way. The result is that we remain condemned by God and we face death and judgment. God’s way, though, is to submit to Jesus as our ruler and to rely on his death and resurrection to save us. The result of this way is that we are forgiven by God and given eternal life. The Bible says in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

Which choice represents the way you want to live? If you want to choose your own way, I would urge you to consider these things closely, because if they’re true then they have dire consequences. I would love to talk to you if you have any questions, or if you’d like for me to get a Bible in your hands. On the other hand, if you want to live God’s way, then tell him. Let him know you’re sorry for your sins, and that you need forgiveness and want to change. Begin to associate with a Bible-believing church in order to find out how Jesus wants you to live. And then keep on persevering—keep on Trusting Jesus. The Holy Spirit will help you do this!

Do you want to know how I became sure of my salvation? I realized that I kept on trusting Jesus. Salvation was not something that I had accomplished for myself—it was a gift that God had given to me. Philippians 1:6 says, “[I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” If you trust in Jesus Christ the way I’ve been talking about, you can be confident of that promise too. Thank you for listening to the story of how the gospel worked in my life. I would be happy to talk to you later to try to answer any questions you might have.

[1] These points are adapted from the tract Two Ways to Live, by Matthias Media.

[2] All passages are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (1984).

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