Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Testimony

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
I Tim 1:12-15

What follows is a brief account of the path by which God has graciously brought me to Himself . . .

From my earliest recollections, I grew up with the belief that I was a good person who did many good things and had a basically good heart. I thought God loved me because I was good, and any wrong I did was not really my fault. My family attended church and I made a commitment to Christ as a teenager. Afterward, for many years, I earnestly tried to follow God's commands as I understood them. But these efforts led to nagging frustration whenever I realized I was failing, and implacable self-deception whenever I managed to obey outwardly. No matter how much I tried to please God, my heart remained dead and cold. My actions proved that I was as proud, deceitful and self-centered as I was merciless, moralistic, legalistic, harsh, judgmental and condemning. The more determined I was to follow God's rules, the more troubled my soul became, and my sins multiplied. I was characterized by pride, anger, fear of man, hatred, lust, complaining, selfishness, unforgiveness, worry, criticism, and some sins too shameful to mention. My misery became unbearable. Nevertheless, I clung firmly to a strong trust in my own natural abilities and flawed wisdom.

Through hard circumstances, bitter failures, devastated relationships and a terrifying sense of hopelessness, I finally came to understand that I was a sinner, completely lost, darkened in my mind, foolish, justly condemned by a holy God, and desperately in need of His mercy. Gradually, through the light of Scripture, the counsel of caring friends and the Holy Spirit's persistent drawing, I began to see something utterly wonderful in God - a fact to which I had previously been inexplicably blind. Namely, that God loves sinners and desires to show mercy to them. That He is good, and His mercy is forever. That He is gracious, and ready to forgive, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness. That His mercy prevails over us and His kindness leads us to repentance. Captivated by these truths, I came to Christ as a poor sinner, trusting that He had the greatest love for me in spite of my wickedness. I cried out to Him to save me, holding fast to the promise that He had come to "seek and to save that which was lost." I trusted that the Friend of sinners would indeed "forgive all my iniquity" and "remember my sins no more," and that He would save me by His grace - for He had sacrificed His own life and blood FOR ME. I realized that these were merciful works of God, and that no man could do - or undo - what He had accomplished for me at the cross.

From that time, in spite of an ever-growing awareness of the depth and extent of my sinfulness, I have found rest in the assurance that all my sins are forgiven. I have discovered heart-level transformation happens only by His grace, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit - not by my futile striving and straining under the law. Some of the first evidences of new life were seen when I found myself viewing other people through a merciful rather than judgmental lens. Instead of getting angry about the sins of others, I was now able to draw my attention back to my own sin. The Lord helped me to take responsibility and stop blaming others for my faults. I began to trust God's sovereign plan, discipline, and fatherly care for His children. My heart became truly thankful for the many undeserved kindnesses He gives each day. And I learned to be grateful under the painful circumstances which He has ordained for His glory and my good. In short, my stubborn self-righteousness faded before the glorious radiance of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
I Timothy 1:17


  1. Derek, It is good to get to know you a little better through your testimoney.

    I love it when Paul breaks into praise! I can just imagine him getting so excited when he is writing that he has no choice but to sing out "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only Gog, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

    Beautiful and encouraging and discouraging and convicting and inspiring and wonderful!


  2. Rob,

    You must have been typing fast - the "only Gog?"

    I wrote this testimony as part of the membership process for the church I'm now attending. Actually, God "wrote" the story, I'm just describing what He did as best I can. This is a very scaled down version with only the major spiritual details included. It's hard not to break forth with wondering praise when we consider God's gracious work in our lives. I for one am totally amazed that my wayward path didn't lead to a long stay in prison or a mental institution, and then on to hell. I'm still in awe of the fact that God can save someone like me!


  3. It is awe inspiring to think that we are Gods chosen. Why Lord? Why choose me? What do I have to offer? What can I do? Nothing! I am humbled by the sovereignty of our mighty God.

  4. Hi Derek, pretty off topic here but I was wondering if you could post the chords used for your updated version of "Jesus, Lover of my soul" by Wesley.

    I can work some of them out but others I can't quite see the fingering on the fret board.

    Thanks (Great version of the song :)


  5. Colin,

    Thanks for the kind words. I love that old song by Charles Wesley, as it is rather similar to my testimony.

    Here are the chords in order, separated by line/phrase:

    Intro: G C2 G C2

    G C2 G
    G D2/F# Em
    D2/F# Cmaj7/G
    D2/F# C/G Dsus D
    Bm C/G G D2/F#
    Bm C/G G D2/F#
    G D2/F# Em
    G D G

    Here's a link to the video, in case anyone has no idea what we are talking about.

    BTW - Indelible Grace has a nice version of this song also.

    Grace & peace,

  6. Thanks Derek :)

    Every Blessing,


  7. Hi Derek.

    You recently responded to a post I (put/placed?) on Barry Wallace's blog the other day (on whether faith in the actual, historical resurrection of Jesus Christ was necessary for salvation - great topic and discussion in my opinion)...

    I was directed to this website by way of your response and came across your testimony here.

    Interestingly, your story sounds very familiar to mine. Of course, they will not be the same in every detail. But, I could not help but notice many of the parallels. Which "resurrected" (please pardon my pun in this case!) a question I have had for a long time that no one has specifically been able to answer yet. That is probably by divine design as it keeps me pursuing Christ and His truth.

    For the record, I don't expect that you will be able to "answer" it completely either, b/c maybe it is not meant to be or cannot be at this point.

    You mentioned in your testimony when you were "At the crossroads", that God was beginning to change how you perceived the character and nature of God to be. You began to see "something utterly wonderful in God - a fact to which I had previously been inexplicably blind. Namely, that God loves sinners and desires to show mercy to them. That He is good, and His mercy is forever. That He is gracious, and ready to forgive, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness. That His mercy prevails over us and His kindness leads us to repentance."

    You placed this change of looking at God as (presumably - please correct me if I am wrong) B.C. or before Christ.

    My question is this: can that not also be a sign of sanctification?

    The reason I care and even ask is b/c God is doing the very same things in my life (bringing a deeper awareness of the true character and nature of God as I study His Word, my sin, my need of His mercy and grace etc.) and yet there is also much evidence that I AM ALREADY SAVED. Can this be something that God does both before and after salvation?

    Wonder what you think about the subject.

    By the way, I think there is great need in the church to wrestle with the paradoxes in Scripture. I never knew how many there were until I started to study Scripture for myself.

  8. Kevin,

    Thanks for the thoughts and the interesting question. To put it briefly, I definitely think God can do those things after conversion. I'm not exactly sure of the exact moment I was saved, so I'm not sure if that was pre- or post-conversion. I remember "praying the prayer" years ago (then praying it again numerous times). But Biblical conversion, characterized by repentance and faith, didn't evidence itself in my life for a long time. Somewhere along the line, I knew I was saved.

    Have you ever heard how the highest quality bamboo grows in Asia? It barely sprouts the first year. The next two years it hardly grows at all. Then, suddenly, it grows something like 50 feet in a month! When I heard that story I started to understand my conversion. I'm just a bamboo tree in God's garden. :)

    Grace & peace,

  9. Great example Derek. I have never heard of that before, but it does seem to make a LOT of sense. I think I am seeing the same thing happen in my life. I guess "the proof is in the pudding" as the saying goes. Thanks again. I think I can tend to get bogged down in "how does one actually get saved?" questions. The Bible seems to suggest a lot of evidences of salvation and descriptions of what happens in salvation (redeemed, forgiven, sanctified, saved etc.), but I have been trying to get down to "what exactly is necessary and completely sufficient for salvation, to actually GET saved?" I think the answer is repent and believe. But, then of course, the questions of "How much repentance is necessary? Complete? Partial? Full intent (b/c we will be repenting of sin our entire Christian lives)? Faith in WHAT? In His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension to Heaven? Only in His life and death? I don't know why I ask these questions. Most people I know are like "Of course I am a Christian. I believed that Jesus Christ died for my sins and that settled it." For me, it is one question after another. If Satan or one of his demons is behind it all, I am going to come away with a rock solid understanding of God's Word one day that they will not be able to use against me. Every question that gets answered only solidifies and strengthens the faith I already have in Jesus.


  10. Amen, brother! We fight the good fight of faith, and by His grace we prevail. I suppose one might say we are to believe all we know of Jesus. As we read Scripture, we add to that knowledge (Peter said, "Add knowledge to your faith"). We may never have a perfect understanding, but from Scripture's clear teaching we get at least the basic core of the faith we are to believe (the Gospel), and as believers we hold to it. We are characterized by holding to it in spite of every opposition from within or without. Read Martin Luther's struggles in coming to faith. He was a raw, honest man. Both he and Calvin show in their writings this rock solid trust in the goodness of God, and in God's saving power. Their trust was not in themselves, but in God who saves. As far as I can tell they had no illusions about their own godliness. They recognized themselves as sinners to the very end. But SAVED, repentant sinners. Then also there is John Newton. I think his last words were, "Two things I know: I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior."

    Fight on!

    I would also say, make sure you are in fellowship at a good Biblical church and developing friendships with godly men. God will use that to strengthen you. It's been good chatting with you, and please feel free to comment further on anything you find interesting.



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