My Story

There are some people who believe we, as Christians, shouldn't give our testimony (story) at all. I believe this is a violation of the principle in 1 Pt 3:15. It also goes against clear biblical examples of people like Paul freely offering forth their testimony without even being asked (Acts 26). Although Paul's testimony was more outwardly "extreme" than most (but not all) Christians, it was just as radical as any true Christian's testimony - passing from death to life, receiving a new righteousness not from ourselves, and having Christ come to indwell within us - this is what Paul highlights in Col 1. The fact that Christ Jesus the light of the world is INSIDE every believer... is pretty incredible.

Anyways, here's my story:

I grew up in a moral partially-religious family, with two younger siblings and two parents. We normally attended church twice a year, on Christmas and Easter. In my younger years, I was put into Sunday School and I went to "Vacation" Bible Schools. The only things I remember doing were making bracelets with different colour beads (see The Wordless Book). My parents did what was best in their eyes, and they did their best to instruct all of us with a strong moral belief system. I remember when we lived in AtlantaGeorgia, I was on a "Christian" basketball team that motivated little children players by giving them sticker-stars. I watched Veggie-Tales. There is no doubt that I was steeped in worldly "Churchianity" as a child - you know, where the people who go to church, read the Bible and talk about Christian values are "good people", so long as they don't go "too far."

Now, my ideas surrounding who Jesus is were pushed around and obscured by my lack of knowledge and my lack of true faith. I remember reading books like The Da Vinci Code and The Temple Crusaders, and because I knew so little about this Jesus, I was taken aback at what those books said about Him: they said that Jesus was a lying, deceitful, crazy carpenter who had sex with Mary Magdalene. I thank God for these books - not for the lies which they contain, but because they prompted me to actually start to do some research. I later discovered an article, and found out that said books were incredibly inaccurate. This led me to investigate further claims of the character of Jesus.

"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."

So, I considered myself to be a Christian. I mean I believed in God intellectually, and I thought to myself: 'that's all that matters, right?' But in Romans 10:9, it says 

"because if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord!' and believe in your heart tat God raised him up from the dead, you shall be saved. Afterall, with the heart man believes and is justified (declared 100% perfect before God), and with the mouth you confess and are saved."

Now, I had never believed from heart (nor declared Jesus is Lord before others, Lk 12:8-9). I had never actually had confidence or trusted in Jesus. No, I believed in Jesus in my head. Never from my heart. Don't get me wrong - I did genuinely intellectually believe He was Lord of Lords and King of Kings - I called Him 'my Saviour'. But I had no clue what any of that meant. I had no picture of His majesty, and no desire to be filled with Him.

Also, in Mark 1:15 we read:

"...The time has come, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe in the gospel."

Repent? Gospel? I had never heard of repentance, much less that it is integral in the promise of salvation. And I had a lot to repent of and turn away from; let me tell you, I used to sin a lot. In fact, the Bible says the natural man sins constantly (see "Only One Gospel"). Sinning is breaking God’s law: 1 John 3:4 states that everyone who sins breaks the law - or, to say it another way, breaking the law is sin. It is lawlessness. It's a criminal offense. It's doing something Biblically illegal. It's when you do something that's not in agreement with the character of God. Because God is infinitely good, he becomes the definition of goodness. We can read about goodness in the Bible as well, like the famous 10 commandments - and we see this law as the definition of goodness.

Again, the law is really just a reflection of God. It's when you do something that goes against who God is. For example, God cannot steal. For that reason, stealing is wrong (Leviticus 19:11). Even from a young age, I remember stealing. I stole my aunt’s gold necklace from her house, when she was kind enough to have us over. I stole money from my parents – I even stole Pokémon cards. I saw something, I took it. When I first stole that gold necklace and my parents found out, I felt a sort of burning inside of me, a searing of my conscience. Yet after returning the necklace, I was gently assuaged and told it was okay. But it's not - the penalty of such a sin (of any sin) is death (Romans 6:23).

Now, as a pre-teen, I lied constantly, giving my parents no reason to trust me. I also became really badly addicted to video games, which negatively affected my life. I would wait until my parent's went to bed before sneaking upstairs to play on the computer. I would have to lay awake until 11 or so, wait until my Mom came down to check on me, pretend I was sleeping, and then sneak upstairs after them. Sometimes I would play until 4 in the morning. I did this every possible night. I was sneaky, and I was a liar. They would catch me at it infrequently, and yet despite their commands to 'stop!' I didn't. I just enjoyed it too much. Because I did this very frequently, I got a little cold. My immune system gradually weakened because I was getting so little sleep. We also had a lot of black mold in the time in our basement, which my body had an impossible time fighting off because of my lack of sleep. So, I developed pneumonia, whereupon I was bedridden for two months. During these two months I continued to feed my addictions, even though I was punished by my parents. 

Moving through my early teen years, I did what every "normal" teen does. Acting gluttonous, watching pornography, masturbating, acting very jealous and lustful towards many girls, and dishonouring and rebelling against my parents. For those of you who don't quite know what it means to "dishonour" a parent, and why it's a bad thing, let me say it like this: to dishonour simply means to fail to give parents the proper respect due to them - talking about them in a light, jovial manner, joking even, or saying something rude about them. The penalty for this in the time of nomadic Israel was death (Leviticus 20:9). I lied constantly, cheated in school, and exalted myself above other people. And I absolutely loved to do so. I loved all that porn, all that vile filthiness, the late nights of video games and the rude disrespectful spite I had for my parents.

I had broken God’s law again, and again, and again. I had wronged a Holy and Infinite God, and I was deserving of punishment - as every person is. The problem wasn't just that I had sinned - it was also that I had done nothing but sin. I had never done any good - and the same is true with every human being who is not regenerated by the blood of Christ (Genesis 6:5, 8:21, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10-12). In fact, the Bible says that all our best good works (visualize the very best thing you've ever done - saving someone's life, giving money to the poor, sacrificing years and years to help people, etc.). Close your eyes and visualize that.

Now think of dirty, bloody period-stained tampons. That's the language the Bible uses to talk about your good works (Isa 64:6, original Hebrew). Yes, that's incredibly strong language. Again, I say, if the Spirit of God does not dwell within you, if you have not be dramatically changed by the power of Christ, if you are living a masquerade of Christianity, hoping to deceive God and sneak into Heaven, the scripture holds true for you: even your best "acts of justice" are as menstrual rags before a Holy God (Isaiah 64:6).

Later, going onto my early high-school years, my siblings and I were tested, to determine whether or not we were “gifted”. I eventually became obsessed with being "intellectual", which led to me acting arrogant and a know-it-all. I thought I was wiser than my parents, even though I was an immature hormone filled little boy. Yet despite all this seeking to gain knowledge, I became depressed, and the sins I had once delighted in offered me little pleasure - they failed to satisfy me. Don't get me wrong - sin was still pleasing to me. Sin pleases all non-Christians - but for a season (Heb 11:25). 

I was tremendously depressed; my parents recognized something was wrong and they tried to help me, but we didn’t know what to do. I went to a psychologist, tried to get more involved in sports, in school, and I even blamed it on the fact that I didn’t have enough “good” friends. Nothing worked. I was looking for something or someone to cling to. I was looking for stability in my life. I felt a giant gaping hole inside of me, and I tried to fill that hole with porn, masturbating, exercising, thinking great and arrogant thoughts about myself, and intellectually stimulating myself. But nothing fit in that hole. I was empty, and I needed something. "Oh, you were but a youth," you might say, "with all your hormones and genetically triggered emotions." Perhaps I was young, but is there no wisdom in the child who realizes that he is going to die, and unless there is some hope for eternal life, life is pointless and stupid? Most grown men don't think of that until they hit their mid-life crisis, or on their deathbed.

At the age of 15, He thus led me to question what I believed in intellectually. I asked myself if the God of the Bible was truly compatible with scientific truth. All of the questions I had, like “who made God?”, “is evolution real?”, “did God make the universe in 7 periods of 24 hour days?”, and many more were answered on a Christian website on the internet. This website answered many of the questions I had. However, you aren’t saved based on knowing answers to some tricky questions: remember, Romans 10:9-10 says: “if you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I had yet to place my faith in Jesus Christ as my Saviour and repent of my sins. One day, I came across a video on the internet about the love of God. I won't say much about it, other than it's not 100% biblical. Yet it showed me the very thing I was so desperately in need of: God’s love. The thing that fills the soul - the only thing that can satisfy a human truly. As Jesus said about the water in a well in Samaria, 

"Jesus answered her, saying 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. In fact, this water will in him become a well of water springing up into eternal life.' " (John 4:13-14)

This video speaks about God's love, and how much He loves us. In John 3:16 it says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”. God is willing to pay for all the sins we have done against Him! He didn’t just offer me mercy, but he offered me grace! He paid for my sins!

Now, when I watched that video, I broke down and started to weep. I just broke down and sobbed from my heart. I was broken. Here, I could see God’s love, and I felt Him reaching out to me through His words. I felt the love of God pouring out through the words in this video, and I wept and sobbed because I knew I needed Him in my life. I was in such dire need of Him, and I knew it. I was empty, and I knew only He could fill me. I was ready to pray and ask Him into my heart (although this is not "biblical" - even the above passage in Romans 9, which speaks of calling on the Lord, in context means to be ready to die for Him - to receive eternal life.) However, I hesitated - a small voice, yea, a thought in my mind spoke forth: “you don’t have to do it right now. You’re not in the mood… do it later!”. It was right - I could postpone it. But then another a small, still voice, said “Why not now? Why wait another second?”. So I fell to my knees and I prayed. I just knelt on my bedroom floor, and I was sobbing from my heart, and I asked God to come into me. 

I was sorry for all the people I had hurt, and everything I had done wrong, and I knew I was deserving of punishment. So I believed in Jesus from my heart, repented of my sins, and I placed faith in Him. This doesn't mean I 'earned' eternal life, but I did meet the conditions of God's promises to save me.

 And then the Holy Spirit came into me. The Holy Spirit is God, and when He came into me I felt just an indescribable wave of peace that flooded my body… it is a sensation of joy, of being made new, and just pure peace. The chaos, the instability, the weight of the world, and the biting, bitter emptiness I had felt moments earlier was gone. It is something words will always fail to describe. I was absolutely euphoric, and I rejoiced!

That happened in August 2010, and God has been changing and molding me greatly since then. He has released me from so many of my addictions since then. While they used to break me down every night, and I was a slave to feeding them, God has set me free. As John 8:31-36 says, 

 While I once was a slave to sin, God has set me free. God is currently working in me, and He is teaching me to love and teach others about His kingdom and the glorious truth that Jesus came and died so we can be forgiven - and so He can be magnified.

Praise God above, for He is truly mighty to save.

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