Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Testimony

Hello to all. This is the testimony of what God has revealed to me and my husband in the last year and a half. I wrote this to respond to my friends letter question regarding our leaving the UPCI. It started just as a totally non-confrontational letter, and this is what I ended up with. I decided to turn it into my testimony, and just enclose it along with a personal letter. I just wanted to share it with my blog friends. Please let me know what you think of this. We have come such a long way, from being totally leagalistic to being free in Christ. I just so much want my friends to see what God has revealed to me, which I know he must open there eyes to this also.

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I’d like to share with you my testimony of how God has changed my life. I hope you will take the time to read this. I do not expect you to understand the decision that we’ve made as a family. We are all (Rob, myself and the boys) extremely happy and comfortable with the decision that we’ve made. God has been so faithful to us through this transition. It is difficult for us knowing that many from our former faith family do not understand the changes that God has brought about in our life. We did consider this cost, however, we felt it was a price worth paying. It was a decision that we did not take lightly. We prayed and sought God’s face for nearly a year before we made the final decision. I will say, we have absolutely no regrets about this decision.

This is how it all began . We had an extremely large children’s/youth ministry at our church. We ministered to an average of 80 children/youth per week. We started to ask ourselves these questions: What is absolutely essential for salvation? What do we have to teach these children is essential for salvation? We began to pray and seek God for the answers. Rob and I just read our Bible and prayed for God to reveal things to us as he saw fit. He sure did, one thing after another, as we were ready to accept them. We did not talk to anyone about these things. We did not question anyone in the UPC, because we knew all the answers, we had been taught them our entire life and had been teaching them for 8+ years. We also did not seek counsel with those from the other side, we did not want to be swayed by either side. It was totally between us and God. We just searched the scriptures and prayed for God’s direction. He showed us so much and continues to show us each day. There came a point after almost a year, that we could not longer be a part of the UPC, because we felt we could not belong to an organization that we did not agree with wholeheartedly.

When we left, there were some untrue things said about us. That is fine. I hold no hard feelings towards anyone for this. God knows the truth and he knows our hearts. There are still those who will turn away from me in public, rather than have to speak to me, and that is fine also. I do not judge them, I can not say that I would not have done the same in this given situation. Again, let me say I harbor no hard feelings towards anyone at all from our former faith family.
God is so real to me, more than ever before. I feel like I have a closer relationship to Christ than ever before. I just realized (God revealed to me the true gospel) that nothing I could do, or had done made me worthy of salvation. If I say that you have a lists of steps to follow in order to earn salvation, do I take away the work done at Calvary? I believe the answer is “yes.” No steps that I can take on my own, or things I could do can bring salvation. If I have to work for it, is it a “free gift”?!


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

If I thought I was “holy” enough and could do enough good and live a “holy“ enough life, then I would be taking away from the work that was done at Calvary. Jesus Christ was sent to be sin for us, so that we could be counted righteous by the work that he did on Calvary.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2Cor. 5:21

How are we counted righteous? By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Totally separate from works. Christ’s righteousness is “imputed” or “counted” to our account at faith in Christ. It is a legal transaction. It is that simple. Accept with faith Christ as the savior and Lord of your life.

“know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16


Because of my faith in Christ and the work he did, I am counted righteous. Nothing can be counted against me. No good work I do or act of holiness, can take the place of what Christ did that day. Now, does this mean I live in sin? I’ll tell you I strive more than ever to be more Christ like each day. I just don’t place my trust in the “good works” and “holy living” that I do any longer, or the things I abstain from doing. We are not saved by works, but by faith in Christ.

“However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Romans 4:5

I don’t stand in fear that if God returns today for his bride, will I make it? What if I’ve not been good enough that day?! I have a peace that I’ve never had before. It doesn’t come from my works or my holiness either.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Romans 5:1

How are we justified (made right)? Through faith in Christ alone. I no longer worry about my “account”, it is covered by the blood. When God looks at me, he simply sees the blood. Not the good or the bad things I’ve done. Not the holy way I’ve lived my life. He simply sees the blood that was applied to my account. How was the blood applied to my life/account? By faith in Christ. Not by a list of things that I had done. Simply faith in Christ alone.

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9-10

Again, let me say that I believe if you are truly saved you will “produce” good works/fruits. Good works or holy living is not essential to earn salvation but are a product of salvation.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Teaching us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, Titus 2:11-12


Now does this mean I am above sin, and am perfect? Not at all! However, I feel secure in the fact I’ve put my faith in Christ, and am covered by the blood.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:11

I used to think this was “easy believeism”. I’ll tell you it is far from that. It is a much different walk with Christ that I have today. I do not depend at all on the things I do in my day to day life, or the things that I don’t do, in order to earn and keep my salvation. I totally trust Christ for the work he did. Again, let me say that although I may look totally different, my heart is more in line with Christ than ever before. I am more conscious of the things I do. I want so much to be a “good representative” of Christ. Not by how I look, but how I live my life. Am I perfect? Absolutely not, but I am striving, with the help of Christ to be better each day. Am I without sin? No? But on judgment day I’ll just plead the blood. Not guilty or innocent, just the blood. It has covered me, by my faith in Christ, it is that simple.

Let me close with this. This is my favorite scripture at the present moment. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Galatians 5:1 & 4

We have been saved to be free. We no longer have to live according to a certain set of rules. We are free in Christ. Now, again let me say, I do not believe this means you can live any old way. I believe a person who is truly saved will produce good fruits. These spirit produced fruits are not what qualifies us for salvation. You are only qualified by faith in the blood of Christ, and the work that was done on Calvary. The fruits are a product of your salvation. We will not be perfect, however, we have been justified (made right) by our faith. Let me tell you, from my personal walk, this is in a way much harder than the list of Do’s and Don’ts that I used to live by. I have to be sure I am in close relationship with Christ each day, because I no longer have this set of “rules” to look to. I can only look to Christ to help me live my life as an example for him.
Another thing that I’ve learned is that I am so unworthy of God‘s grace. I am not better than anyone because of the good things I’ve done, or that I do more than someone else, or even that I have faith, because saving faith is a gift from God. The only “measuring stick” is Jesus Christ, and how in the world can I ever be compared to him? He was absolutely perfect in every way. I can only put my faith in him and be justified through the work he did on Calvary.

11 comments:

Karen said...

Melissa...your testimony is so God-inspired. I know He will use it to help others...your friend and also those He leads to your blog.

Love in Christ...

Karen

Shalee said...

Wow... that's what I think about this splendid, faith-led, honest post. Sometimes it is so hard to speak the truth and not to let the repercussions bring you down. I too had a similar experience with it.

It sounds as if you have given the entire situation to God and allowed Him to lead you to where you need to be. What a great example of trusting God so much with your lives and those of your children.

BTW, thank you for telling me how to fix my blog. It worked! I feel so much better now and it is all thanks to you!

A Bishop wife said...

This is a beautiful God inpired testimony.May God continue to bless you.

Heather said...

Amen sister. I admire your willingness to step out and speak truth for His sake.
love in Him,
Heather

Grafted Branch said...

Welcome to the family! It takes some amount of spiritual maturity for you to be so Christ-like in the face of your persecutors. Remember that those that aren't FOR Him are against Him, they are BLIND and need mercy, and sadly -- WILL hate you because they first hated Him.

But we love you! I'm inspired by your well-worded, faith-filled post. Thanks so very much for bringing it to my attention. Let's stay in touch, can we?

Grafted Branch said...

Oh yes. I use blogger too. Linking isn't really hard -- shall I give it a shot?

(1) Go to (open) the page you want to link, from your archives.

(2) Got it? Now highlight the address that appears in your bar on the top of your screen.

(3) Copy it by pressing and holding "Ctrl" while you then press "c"...now your computer is holding that address in its memory (until you Ctrl/C again on something else)

(4) From your Dashboard, create a new post.

(5) In the rough text of your post, highlight with your mouse -- the word or phrase you want to reference with a link.

(6) On the Dashboard toolbar, from left to right, you've got your font choice, font size, "B" for bold, "i" for italic, "T" for tint (I think), and then a green dot with what looks like a chain link. WHILE your reference text is highlighted, go up and click on the link button.

(7) A new window will appear. Simply fill in the address by pasting your computer's memory to it. The cursor is probably already there -- all you have to do is press and hold "Ctrl" and then "v."

(8) Press the "O.k." button on the new window that appeared when you pressed the linking icon, and voila!

That should do it. Let me know if I can help more. And feel free to delete this when you're done with it; I'll take no offense -- kinda long, isn't it?

Erna said...

Praise God for the work He did in your life to set you free from traps of legalism. I love the way you and your hubby relied solely on God so that you would not be swayed by any wind of doctrine. Praise God! May He use your story to set others free from legalism . . . He has set us free indeed! Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing testimony, and it is only through God's power can you stand up for what you believe, and not let the consequences bring you down. Praise God, the Lord will use your testimony to bring glory to him.

Blessings.

Heather Smith said...

I love your testimony. I'm so glad that I don't have to do anything for my salvation on my own. I know I'd fail miserably. But like you said, because of all Christ has done for me, I strive to live for Him daily. I do fail, but He is always there to forgive me!

Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

WHat a wonderful testimony. Glad you were able to find the truth! I just posted my testimony today.

Lauren said...

This is a wonderful testimony of God's control and faithfulness. Awesome how you and your husband chose to seek God's truth and His truth alone. We must be in prayer for the others who are still in satan snare.