Monday, February 21, 2011
A Romans 7 Testimony
I preached yesterday morning on "The Civil War" (Romans 7:21-25). I concluded the message by sharing the baptismal testimony of a young person named Rebekah that I had read in the newsletter of her church in England (Lord willing, the pastor of this church, Malcolm Watts, will be one of our speakers at the Keach Conference this fall). Her story beautifully illustrates the tension Paul describes in Romans 7 in the believer's life of being saved but realizing you are still a sinner (emphasis added):
I used to think that I was a very good person, and I ranked myself with Christian people. But I found church services a good cure for insomnia, and had no interest in the Faith, as a general rule. I hated being labeled as a sinner, since I felt sure that I had done nothing very wrong in my short life.
(She then describes beginning to attend the church where she was baptized) I was surprised by the insistence that all people are sinful and that they can never do anything good by themselves.
One sermon I heard spoke about how everyone sins, without even opening their mouths – by their thoughts. I remember admitting to myself, "There goes my ' I am a good person' excuse." So I soon came to the acceptance that I was a needy sinner, but I still didn't understand why sin was such a serious matter.
Until… one Lord’s Day evening Pastor preached a sermon which described, in great detail, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was horrified at the vivid account of all that the Son of God had suffered for sins He had never committed. I realized that night how ungrateful I was. He had given up His life, out of love for me, and I hadn't cared... a bit.
When I came home that night, I knelt down, and tearfully asked the Lord to come into my life and to save me from my sins. Although I felt no different, I convinced myself that I was a Christian, because the Bible promises salvation to whoever asks for it. I soon began to feel more and more depressed, as I realized that I hadn't been transformed into a perfect person, but that instead I felt my sinfulness more keenly than ever. This frustration grew, until I did not know anymore whether or not I was a Christian.
Eventually I realized that I was still a sinner, but that I was now a forgiven one. I kept on begging that I would be given the assurance that I lacked, but it was not until several months later that I knew for certain that the Lord had saved me. I remember Pastor was talking about what it feels like to know that the Lord Jesus is with you, every moment of your life; and I suddenly realized that I knew what he was talking about, because I felt – and still feel – the same.