My Testimony

            I grew up in a religious home where it was normal to go to Sunday School and church.  It was normal to see people praying and reading their Bible.  The people around me were what most people would refer to as “good.”  They didn’t drink alcohol, go to bars, smoke, swear, and so on.

            The culture I grew up in was an evangelical Mennonite culture. I know Mennonites are very different from one group to another. The group I belonged to did not live on a colony or practice a particular dress-code. In fact, we were relatively modern in our way of life.

            As to myself personally, I adhered to the religious beliefs I grew up with. I regularly attended Sunday School and church. I was consistent in reading my Bible and praying. Every night before going to bed, I would confess all my sins to God, asking Him to forgive me of my sins. I was even baptized at the age of 15. I also tried to the best of my abilities to be good, as I was taught.         

            The truth, however, was that I wore the religious life as an outer garment. Inside I was hurting and angry. When not around parents or other people I recognized as religious, I would become a different person. I would swear, get into fights, listen to angry music, and became addicted to pornography. Inside I was clearly a mess.

            I was brought up with the idea that you needed to invite Jesus into your heart in order to become a Christian and go to Heaven. So when I was about 5 I invited Jesus into my heart. Of course my lifestyle didn’t make me feel like a Christian. Especially when I would go to bed at night, I would lay there terrified that I would end up in Hell. So night after night I would invite Jesus into my heart, but nothing seemed to change. I was still going through the same cycle of sin and confess.

            On the religious side of me, I got into reading Christian books. I even went on several foreign missions trips. I tried to do all the things that were expected of me as Christian! There was just one problem – I was not a Christian! Was I just pretending to be a Christian? No, I actually thought I was a Christian! And because I thought I was a Christian, I was desperately trying to live like one, but all in vain! The reality is that if I had died, I would have ended up in Hell, and rightly so.

            With all these internal battles taking place, my search for the truth became ever more fervent. I just wanted to know that I was saved and in a right standing with God. I tried everything I could think of within my culture that I’d ever heard of. I tried the sinner’s prayer, inviting Jesus into my heart, and dredging up all the sins of my past and confessing them, but still I felt miserable inside!

            It was then that the most marvelous thought came to me. I realized that Jesus was punished and died instead of me! I realized that it was not something needed to do, but that Jesus had already done it all! I realized that it was just a matter of believing these simple truths. What a relief! It was Jesus who took my place! It was Jesus who was punished for all my sin. It was Jesus who died instead of me. It is also Jesus who keeps me unto that great day! It was and is all Jesus!

            I had tried to change myself for so long, and I finally saw that it is Jesus who changes me, and change me He did! Counselors can give anger management sessions, but Jesus took my anger away! Jesus changed me from within, and now I don’t need that religious outer garment to hide behind anymore! Jesus has indeed given me a life of rest, joy, and peace. Now I know I’ll go to be with Jesus when I leave this world behind! I know because it’s not up to me, but up to Jesus, to keep me. God has told me in His Bible that He has sealed the Christian with the Holy Spirit guaranteeing our inheritance. Wow, isn’t that amazing?! 

            You see, when I started looking in the Bible as to what God had to say about getting saved, I found nothing about inviting Jesus into your heart or saying a sinner’s prayer. Instead I found over 100 verses that say it is by believing/faith - in believing that Jesus is the Savior. God says that “Without the shedding of blood is no remission [pardon] of sin.” I understood that Jesus died for my sin instead of me so that I could be pardoned. I understood that “The wages of sin is death.” I knew I should die and go to Hell. Yet Jesus took my place on the cross in order that I could go free!

            “Come to Me all those who are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

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