My written testimony is a work in progress. This written version was completed in August of 2022, and my conversion was in October 2020. I will continue to edit and refine it as I continue to grow in my understanding of Scripture and improve my grammar and writing skills. Perhaps one day, God willing, I'll put it into a book by God's grace. If you'd rather read a shortened version of my testimony, check out my mini testimony.
This is my story of coming to true saving faith in Jesus Christ, in which my life has been transformed by the power of the gospel. I use my testimony as a platform to also explain the true meaning of Scripture (never my own personal interpretation of Scripture) and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I give understanding to what it means to have authentic saving faith and be a true follower of Jesus. I am a student of the Bible and reformed teaching. Reformed theology holds to the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and the necessity for evangelism. I believe in the Trinity (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and the Five Solas - Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scripture, Soli Deo Gloria. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, all for God's glory alone.
My testimony is interwoven with mini theology lessons, and I use the John MacArthur ESV Study Bible for reference and support, as well as the NASB. Much of the theological viewpoints I delve into come from the resources I've listed on my site; pastors and Bible teachers like John MacArthur, RC Sproul, Alistair Begg, Steve Lawson, Ray Comfort, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, etc. I've taken countless notes over the past year and a half and have compiled it into my testimony, my blog, and the descriptions of my art. With all the theological explanations, my testimony is a lot to digest at once, so I suggest breaking it up into sections as you desire. Or, feel free to read it straight through. I wrote my testimony so that it may be a blessing to others, and ultimately, I wrote it all for the glory of God. May God give you the grace to read all the way to the end, and may you take from it what you wish. At the very least, my hope is that it plants a seed of truth in your heart. God bless. Love, Jenna
The Holy Spirit Testifies to the Truth
The Holy Spirit was sent into the world to testify about the Truth, found only in Jesus Christ. He was sent into the hearts of true believers to bear witness of the Truth in Jesus. Therefore, it’s the Holy Spirit who bears witness of the Truth through me as a Christian. It’s those who have walked with Christ who are eyewitnesses for Him. It’s those who have seen firsthand who Jesus Christ is and how He transforms a sinner's life by the power of the gospel; how He takes a life and radically changes it from darkness to light, from dead in sin to alive in Christ, from the broad and easy road to hell to the narrow path to life. That's the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). More than writing His Law on stone, God writes His Law on the hearts of those He transforms. We don't become a Christian just because we attend church, practice good morals, prayed a prayer one time and "invited Jesus into our heart," nor because we simply profess to be one. We don't become a Christian just because we take communion, graduate confirmation class in the 8th grade, or even because we get baptized when we're three months old. We don't become a Christian just because our pastor signs some certificate and gives his 'authentic stamp of approval' that we are now officially a Christian. None of these things are what makes someone a Christian.
As a Christian, I don't have a document that will get misplaced or a letter written in ink that will fade over time. I have something that can never be lost, stolen, or ever taken away from me. As a Christian, Jesus Christ Himself has written on the tablet of my heart by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit because He loved me and chose me to be set apart before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-14). I became a Christian when I repented of my sins and believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ, all by the grace of God. I became a Christian when I was saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, and that's when the Holy Spirit came upon me (Acts 1:8). That's when I became a living testimony to the power of the gospel, to the truth in Jesus. If you like, check out my series sometime on Witnessing (currently unpublished because I'm working on it) in which I explain more in-depth what a personal testimony means and how it prepares us to share the gospel, which is what brings people to faith. So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
For you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. Acts 22:15
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
Many of us still search for answers to life's problems through secular teaching, vain self-help books, psychology programs, human philosophies, positive thinking seminars, and influential and powerful people like Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, and Dr. Phil…people who don’t mention one thing about the glorious light of the gospel and its incredible power to transform lives. See, the gospel is the only thing that can actually change any of us. We are all striving in vain without it and looking for joy, peace, fulfillment, and eternal life in all the wrong places. It's the gospel that we all need. The gospel is so simple that a child can understand and so profound that it will take all of eternity to receive it in all its glory. And it's humility that allows us to be able to se the Truth and love the Truth, by the grace of God.
I'm here to proclaim the gospel and point everyone to the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This is my personal testimony of coming to true saving faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. All glory belongs to Him.
Blinded by My Own Truth
I will start off by saying John 14:6 is the most powerful verse in the entire Bible to me. If you want to hear God speak directly to you and transform your mind and heart, read His Word. "If you want to hear God speak to you, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak to you audibly, read your Bible out loud" - Justin Peters. If you want to know who God is and who You are in Him, read His Word. “A true man reveals himself by his words. Therefore it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is called the Word of God. Jesus Christ is God speaking. God thinks what He says, and the thoughts of God are embodied in the person, work, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His dear Son. God could’ve never revealed Himself so fully in any other way than by giving His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
~ CH Spurgeon
The written Word of God points us to the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ. From Genesis to Revelation, the whole Bible is one unfolding story of God’s love, mercy, and saving grace towards sinners in Jesus Christ. The entire Bible points us all to Jesus for eternal life, Lord to all and Savior to all who trust in Him. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). Jesus Christ is God speaking.
Before coming to true saving faith in Christ, I had a universal way of looking at God. I grew up in the Lutheran church, received communion and confirmation in the 8th grade, was very involved in the youth group, and I had always intellectually believed in Jesus Christ and positively affirmed that He died for my sins. However, in my late teens, I stopped going to church, and eventually over the years of my spiritual decline into sin, worldliness, and deception, I gradually veered off into New Age thinking.
I chose to believe that there were many paths that led to heaven and that all religions worshipped the same god in their own unique ways. I thought Jesus was just my own personal path because of where I was born and the family I was born into. I thought everyone who believed in the existence of a higher power was saved and went to heaven. I had a hard time thinking anyone went to hell, simply because I didn't want people to go there. I thought only the worst of the worst went to that place; people like Hitler, Charles Manson, and John Wayne Gacy. The thought of hell created a lot of discomfort in me, to the point where I chose not even to believe in the reality of hell. I made it up in my mind that God saved just about everybody, no matter what they believed, so as long as they believed in a higher power outside of themselves. I didn't really know what to make of atheists or how to categorize them according to my own personal truth so I simply didn't address that category of people. Whatever made me most comfortable about God, humanity, and spirituality is what I chose to believe.
Child of God or Child of Wrath?
I thought everyone was a "child of God" by default, when in reality we are all born in sin. According to Scripture, quite the opposite is true: we are actually all children of wrath by default (Ephesians 2:3-4). We are all born with a sin nature, in the likeness of Adam. Only until we come to faith in Jesus and are born again by the grace of God on His appointed time, do we become children of God and officially join His kingdom. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (John 1:10-12).
Only those who put their trust in Christ have the right to claim the privileged title, "children of God." No one enters into the family of God just by being born into this world as a human being. To become a child of God, we must be adopted into the family by God’s grace, in which He gifts us with our faith to believe on the name of His only Son, Jesus Christ. Romans 8:14 says, For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. If we are to talk about a universal family, brother or sisterhood, where everyone is considered a "child of God," we confuse and distort the incredibly special and sacred relationship that Christ has made possible only for those who put their trust in Him.
God has a compassionate, benevolent attitude towards the whole world, and He shows His common grace to all sinners, which include the unbelieving and disobedient. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). But He loves His children who put their trust in Him, with a perfect, saving, and eternal love. He loves His own with a pleasing love (also known as a complacent love); the same love as He has for His beloved Son. How incredible is that?!
According to God's Word, now I understand that I was born in sin and a child of wrath by nature, and my default destination had been hell, not heaven, as I had ignorantly and self-righteously believed - as if I was automatically entitled to heaven based off my own justifications and relative truth.
Regeneration - God's Sovereign Grace
We are only able to believe in Jesus Christ by the grace of God, in which His grace grants us repentance and initiates our faith. Scripture reveals that by nature in our unregenerate state, we are unable to do anything that pleases God. Furthermore, none of us have the innate ability or natural desire to seek after God, apart from His saving grace. Yes, many people seek after a god of their own imagination, as I once did. However, no one is able to seek after the God of the Bible (the real God of the universe) in their natural, unregenerate state. None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God (Romans 3:10-11). Scripture says the natural person (the person without the Spirit of God) is incapable of understanding the things of God since they are discerned and understood only through His Spirit. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). In other words, nobody can trust in Christ apart from the saving grace of God granting us repentance and true saving faith, which is called regeneration. Once He puts His Spirit in us, we are able to understand the things of God and seek Him with all our hearts. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
Regeneration precedes faith. Once a person is regenerated, he or she is able to express faith and trust in Christ, but the initial step is the sovereign work of God - and God alone. Faith is a gift of God by His grace. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). We contribute nothing to our salvation. Even our faith comes not from ourselves - but from the sovereign grace of God. Regeneration is what we call a monergistic work rather than a synergistic work. Monergism is a work that is produced by one person alone, and synergism is a work that requires the cooperation between two or more people. Why we are unable to cooperate in the regeneration of our hearts is simply because we can't. We are incapable of the knowledge and wisdom of God apart from God intervening in our hearts. We are spiritually dead, unable to do anything apart from God's grace working in our hearts to bring us to spiritual life and grant us spiritual sight. Mankind is so incredibly fallen and utterly dependent on God that we can't choose to believe in him without the work of the Holy Spirit.
When we are regenerated, God gives us a new heart that has new affections and desires, which enables us to be able to walk in a manner that pleases God. It’s the regeneration by the Holy Spirit that opens the eyes of someone’s heart and gives them spiritual sight in which they come to saving faith in Christ. Once we are regenerated, the faith we express is our own personal faith. It is not God who does the believing in our place, but it is our own personal trust in Him. When I responded to Christ, it was my own personal response and faith, but it only began because of God's grace. Saving faith in Christ is the gift of all gifts, in which I will never be worthy of. I will be praising Him for all eternity for giving me what I never deserved - eternal life by grace through faith in Christ. Amen! The greatest act of mercy that God performs is giving the gift of faith.” - R.C. Sproul
Born From Above
Jesus said the only way a person can enter the kingdom of heaven is by being born again. Born again holds the idea to become children of God through trusting in Jesus, the incarnate Word.
Jesus responded and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a person be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?” Jesus answered “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.' (John 3:3-7 NASB).
Just as we didn't have any control over our physical birth, we do not have any control over our spiritual birth. The phrase born again means born from above. The new birth is a spiritual birth, a sovereign act of God, where salvation is gifted to the believer the moment he or she comes to faith in Christ by God's grace - through regeneration. who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). This is called justification, in which a sinner is saved immediately from sin's penalty and granted eternal life by grace through faith. A sinner is justified by the blood of Christ through faith in Him, and he is then made right with God, meaning he is now at peace with God. To be justified is to be declared righteous in the sight of God, through faith in Jesus. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). Once someone comes to faith in Christ, he or she can never lose his or her salvation. A believer is completely secured by God's grace. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:27-28). If we were able to lose our salvation, we would all lose it. But we can't. God completes the work He starts. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
When someone is born again or born from above, one is given a new heart and a whole new nature in which that person comes under transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). This person goes from dead in sin to alive in Christ. The transformation begins with a change in mind (repentance and turning away from sin and turning to Christ), which inevitably leads to a change in life, yielding to new affections, namely a hunger and thirst for righteousness.
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may walk in my statues and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
Love Must Be Sincere
Someone who is born again will have a growing sensitivity and hatred towards the sin they once loved and a growing love towards the righteousness they once scoffed at. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good (Romans 12:9). If we are to love the holy, pure, true things of God, by virtue of that, we must hate the evil, tainted, false things of this world. Love must be sincere. God's love is a just and righteous love. He is perfect and consistent in all His attributes. We cannot sincerely love the things of God if we also love the things God hates or are entertained by the things for which Christ died. Here is a well-known quote by Paul Washer that sums up the sincerity of God's love:
“Someone once told me, 'God doesn’t hate, God is love!' No, my friend, God is love, therefore God must hate. If I love life, then I must hate death. If I love babies, then I must hate abortion. If I love Jews, then I must hate the Holocost. If I love African Americans, then I must hate slavery. If you truly do love that which is right, that which is perfect, that which is good, there is also an animosity, an enmity, against all that, that contradicts that standard. God loves all that is right, all that is true, all that is good, all that is virtuous, but Scripture after Scripture after Scripture tells us that His hatred is manifest against wickedness.” - Paul Washer
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). A growing hatred of sin and a growing hunger and thirst for righteousness will reflect in a believer's speech, actions, and lifestyle by the power of the Holy Spirit through the process called sanctification. Sanctification is God's will for us (1 Thessalonians 4:3), and it means to "set apart for special use." To be sanctified is to be made holy. While justification is a one time act of God declaring a person righteous by the blood of Christ through faith, sanctification is an ongoing process over the course of a lifetime in which a believer is being progressively saved from the power of sin. Sanctification is a long and slow process, and we do not become like Jesus overnight when we come to faith in Him. It is the Holy Spirit who works in us and gives us the grace to obey and grow in holiness, but as believers, we also carry a responsibility in our sanctification. Although God is sovereign, we are not robots, and the faith we possess by His grace is our own personal faith. The relationship between God's sovereignty and our human responsibility is simply unavailable to us in this life. How those two harmonize is simply beyond our finite minds and limited human comprehension.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33).
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29).
Believers are no longer slaves to the sins we once loved, but slaves to Christ and the things that God loves; things that used to bore us. We simply can't live the way we used to live before our conversion. At times, we may be pulled back in or drawn back in to the ways of the world or sinful things. But we can never live a life patterned by sin again because the Spirit of God simply won't allow us to go back to that way of living. God's seed abides in true believers, and His Spirit will not allow us to go on sinning (meaning swim in sin). No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, because God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9). This does not mean as Christians that we are sinless or can become sinless. It means Christians do not make a practice of sin since the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts.
Scripture uses the Greek word, d0ulos, meaning slave. Scripture says we are either slaves to sin or slaves to obedience. We can't serve two masters. It's either one or the other. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24). Don't you know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one who you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16) A slave is someone who is owned by someone else, therefore, we are slaves of Christ once we are born again and join His family. We no longer belong to the kingdom of darkness, but we are washed now and belong to Him. We are His children. He owns us. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
The Word of God, and the things of God now excite and stimulate a believer, while sin and worldliness becomes harsh, cringy, uncomfortable, or boring. It's truly a divine miracle to become a child of God!
"A true Christian will be sensitive to the sin in their life, and it will lead them to brokenness and genuine confession, but the person who says they are a Christian and is not sensitive to sin, does not lead them to confession. A person who is that way is not a Christian." - Paul Washer
Salvation by Grace Through Faith in Christ. (Three different tenses)
1. Justification (Saved: Past Tense) - When a person comes to faith in Christ, he or she is immediately saved from the penalty of sin and death (saved from hell) and granted eternal life in Christ (2 Timothy 1:9) A believer can never lose his or her salvation (John 10:27:28)
2. Sanctification (Being Saved: Present Tense) - When a believer is progressively saved from the power of sin over a lifetime, being made holy and becoming more Christ-like as time goes on (1 Corinthians 1:18)
3. Glorification (Will Be Saved: Future Tense) - When a believer is ultimately saved from the presence of sin the moment he/she enters his/her glorified state in heaven (Romans 5:9-10)
The Place No One Likes to Think About, But We Have To
Not only did Jesus say that we must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven, but He also talks about the place that makes a lot of us very uncomfortable, including myself. See, Jesus was a hell-fire preacher, not some soft "hippie guru" who just "spread positivity and good vibes," which is who culture often tries to make Jesus into. In Scripture, Jesus warns us of the dangers of hell far more than He ever speaks about the glories of heaven. Jesus warns us about hell over 70 times in the New Testament, and in total, there are 162 warnings of the dangers of hell. Jesus explicitly tells us that if we don’t repent of our sins and believe the gospel that we will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3). From the dangers of hell to being born again, I now trust every single word Jesus says, and I don't take anything He says lightly. I don't hear or read Scripture superficially anymore, nor do I glaze over it with unbelief like "yeah I don't think that applies to me. I'm a good person. He understands my heart. Anyways, God is love! How could He ever send someone like me to hell? I'm a 'good' person."
Now, this is what I do:
• I take Scripture for face value
• I don't interpret spiritual things based on my own relative truth
• I make sure I understand the biblical definitions of faith, grace, and love
• I interpret Scripture responsibly, as God commands me, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
• I hold myself to God's standards and no longer my own, nor do I compare myself to others. I am just as fallen.
• I trust both His warnings and His promises for my life
• I believe the Word of God in full measure, and I seek to obey what His Words says, in turn proving my faith to be authentic.
• I trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross.
• I live my life submitted to my Lord Jesus because I trust Him.
How to Correctly Interpret Scripture
Scripture calls us to interpret Scripture in the plain, normal sense of language, just as we would interpret the natural meaning of any kind of book or document. Normal, natural literal interpretation is the only way to interpret it responsibly and stop the reckless abuse of Scripture. As soon as anyone stops interpreting Scripture in the normal, natural literal sense that it demands for, it becomes a fair game for anyone to interpret the Bible in a wild and reckless manner. It's a very dangerous thing to interpret Scripture carelessly, and we would only be deceiving ourselves. “Ignorance of Scripture is the most dangerous self-inflicted wound” - Dale Partridge
"The most important law of biblical hermeneutics is that the Bible should be interpreted literally. We are to understand the Bible in its normal or plain meaning unless the passage is obviously intended to be symbolic or if figures of speech are employed. The Bible says what it means and means what it says. For example, when Jesus speaks of having fed “the five thousand” in Mark 8:19, the law of hermeneutics says we should understand five thousand literally—there was a crowd of hungry people that numbered five thousand who were fed with real bread and fish by a miracle-working Savior. Any attempt to “spiritualize” the number or to deny a literal miracle is to do injustice to the text and ignore the purpose of language, which is to communicate. Some interpreters make the mistake of trying to read between the lines of Scripture to come up with esoteric meanings that are not truly in the text, as if every passage has a hidden spiritual truth that we should seek to decrypt. Biblical hermeneutics keeps us faithful to the intended meaning of Scripture and away from allegorizing Bible verses that should be understood literally." - Taken from Gotquestions.org
Trusting in My Own Feelings
By trusting in my feelings and in my own relative truth, I made it up in my mind that the God of the Bible was also the god of all religions, where everyone was saved. That made me feel much more comfortable, as well as "righteous" in my own eyes. I thought I was being kind and loving in believing that because it was promoting world unity and peace. I encouraged people to believe whatever they wanted and do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. I encouraged people to just be their "true authentic selves," to "live their own truth," to do whatever felt right to them personally, and just do whatever made them "happy," (even if that meant sinful choices, behavior, and offenses against a Holy God). In actuality, I was just affirming people in their sins and own relative truths. See, deep down, I just really didn't want to offend anyone because I wanted to be accepted by everyone, (which wasn't loving at all, but selfish of me). Little did I know that my "lovingkindness" was geared towards supporting things that were harmful to people, and in the end, damning to their souls.
See, Jesus didn't come to affirm us in our sins and accept us just the way we are. He came to save us from our sins, convict us of them, call us to repentance, and transform our hearts and minds to live a life glorifying to God. That's what true love does. Love does not delight at wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Deep down, I even prided myself on having my own "noble and righteous" truth of God. When in reality, my relative truth couldn't help me or anyone, let alone save me or anyone, and neither could theirs. My relative truth was self-deceptive and leading me down a path of lies toward hell.
A god of My Own Imagination
What I had really done was form a god of my own imagination; a god who I was comfortable with; a god who "understood me" in my sins instead of convicting me of them; a god who I didn't submit to; a universal jesus who took on the name and form of all religions outside of Christianity, cheapening His deity and radically distorting the real Truth. I had formed a god in my own image; a god who was like me; a god who also affirmed everyone in their sins instead of lovingly calling them to repentance in order to be saved. Creating a god in my own image is called idolatry, which breaks the first and second commandments and is a serious sin. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
I claimed to be "super spiritual" but not "religious," yet still falsely professed to be a Christian when I was anything but a true Christian. And let me stop right there. I am not religious. I am saved by grace. Religion is for a lost person thinking that if they do all these rituals, say all these prayers, go through all the outward expressions and motions, they will be saved. I am not religious. I am saved by grace.
"A lot of people think that Christianity is you doing all the righteous things you hate and avoiding all the wicked things you love in order to go to Heaven. No, that's a lost man with religion. A Christian is a person whose heart has been changed; they have new affections." - Paul Washer
I also claimed to not be like other Christians who were "so judgmental." I prided myself on being a "non-judgmental" Christian, when I had no idea what it even meant to be judgmental versus to righteously judge, according to Jesus Himself.
"Judge Not" Taken Out of Context
Judge not, or you too will be judged (Matthew 7.1). This verse is the most abused and misquoted verse in all the Bible. It’s often manipulated when people do not want light to be shed on their sins; when they don’t want to be corrected; when they demand to be supported and even respected in their sins, (or nowadays, even praised and glorified in them).
People often misquote this verse so as not to have to take responsibility for their actions, and they manipulate the conversation or situation by calling the other person judgmental. Ironically, they become the judgmental one for judging the person who they are say is judging them. Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning (Proverbs 9:7-9)
To understand "Judge not," accurately and responsibly, we must also read Matthew 7:1-6, and Matthew 7:13-20.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. 6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:1-6).
"Judge Not" In Context
Does this passage we just read say anywhere that we are not to make any kind of judgment? No, it does not. The thing is, if that’s what Jesus meant in the Sermon on the Mount, we would never be able to correct someone’s wrongdoing, help guide them in the right direction, or help them with an issue so that they can learn and grow. We wouldn't even be able to teach them the Truth at all if that was the case. That's because all of these things would require us to make judgments. In this passage, Jesus never says we are not to judge people. What does He say instead? He says that we are to first take the log out of our own eye. Why does Jesus say that? It's so that we will be able to see clearly to take out the speck that is in our brother or sister's eye. Jesus is actually saying that we are supposed to judge, and He is giving us the proper method and motives on how to go about it. Jesus says that we should first take a look at our own sins before we judge someone else for theirs. Basically, He is telling us not to be hypocrites. Scripture tells us that we are to confront others in their sins with the truth that is told in love. In other words, we are to be gentle and caring when we confront others about their sins. Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently (Galatians 6:1). Telling someone the truth is the most loving thing there is when done in love.
Jesus also commands us to not give dogs what is holy or throw our pearls before pigs. That means we are not to continue sharing the glorious gift of eternal life with those who are obstinate, dismissive, or even hostile towards the gospel. We are never to continue sharing the good news with someone who tramples all over it and even turns to attack us. How could we ever obey this command without using our judgment?
If we aren't to judge anybody ever, then we should never be able to tell someone they shouldn't lie, steal, cheat, hurt others, hurt themselves, murder, or even tell someone they can’t judge. See, all of this would require us using judgment. And so, Jesus is never telling us that we are not to judge. He is teaching us how to judge.
Basically, Jesus teaches us that we are to not judge hypocritically, unfair, condescendingly, or with a judgmental attitude, but He does call us to judge righteously. Jesus says, Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24). While Jesus forbids prideful or harsh judgment coming from a place of self-righteousness and pretense, He demands us to use moral and theological discernment to rightly observe and judge someone's actions, behavior, and lifestyles - the fruit they produce. We are never to judge the intentions of a person's heart, but Jesus calls us to righteously judge a person's actions and says that we will recognize people by their fruit. Jesus says,
13 "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, you will recognize them by their fruits (Matthew 7:13-20).
We must be responsible to read the surrounding context a verse is in and interpret Scripture with Scripture. We are always to compare Scripture with Scripture when trying to determine the meaning of a verse or passage. We can't just cherry pick one verse out of the Bible when it calls for context to be properly understood and applied. We will only be deceiving ourselves when we do that and abusing Scripture to try and suit our own agendas.
If you'd like to read about this more in depth, check out my blog "The Most Abused Verse in the Bible."
Even Demons are Spiritual
No matter how much I declared to believe in God, my verbal profession couldn't change reality and the spiritual state of my soul. See, mere verbal professions of faith in Christ mean absolutely nothing unless they are proven by actions; by the obedience to the Word of God; by the real desire to obey His Word. I was an example of an empty profession of faith in God, and I was the most "spiritual" person I knew. See, the thing is, even demons are spiritual and believe there's a God (James 2:19). However, the big difference is that demons don't submit to God. And like the demons, I was believing there was a God, but I wasn't submitting to God. In fact, I was outright rebelling and didn't even know it. There's a big difference between intellectual assent and true saving faith, which I'm about to explain.
Faith and Grace According to Scripture
Millions of people assent to the facts of the gospel and intellectually agree in a positive way that Jesus Christ died for their sins and rose again. This category of people tends to also believe that God's grace allows for unrepentant sin. Unfortunately, based on our own personal definitions of "faith" and "grace," (as I once had), many people falsely believe this gives us the green light to continue living for ourselves; doing our own wills and not the will of God; being self-seekers; living in self-sufficiency; having all sorts of idols, living however we please; living a lifestyle of sin and disobedience.
See, this is not what God's grace means according to Scripture. God's grace is given to those who put their trust in Him so that we may have the power by the Holy Spirit to choose that which is good, right, and true, and to glorify God through our obedience to His Word. With the Holy Spirit living inside of true believers, God has given us the grace so that we can choose to obey Him and express our trust and love to Him. His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we are born again, sin no longer has power or dominion over us because we are no longer under law, but under grace (Romans 6:14). It’s God’s grace given to believers that gives us the ability and desire to obey Him. We are not saved by works, but we are saved by faith. True saving faith naturally produces good works by God's grace that is bestowed on us through our faith.
Also, to just simply agree with the facts of the gospel is to fall epically short of saving faith. Before we continue with my testimony, let's address something very important we all need to know: the definition of faith according to the Word of God and not according to our own personal truths, based off notions and feelings. This is something I wish someone would have told me in the past, if given the chance, and so I would like to be that person for you now.
The Three Elements of True Saving Faith
1. An intellectual element (notitia), which is a positive recognition of the Truth
2. An emotional element (assensus), which includes a deep conviction and affirmation of the Truth
3. And finally, a volitional element (fiducia), which involves a personal trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This includes a genuine surrendering to His Lordship. (Meaning, we will have a real desire to obey the Word of God when we truly trust Him and His goodness for our life). Obedience to God's Word is simply the by-product and outward expression of our faith in Him. Obeying God's Word is proof that our faith is real. Faith and obedience are inseparable. We can't have one without the other. They go hand-in-hand. They are two sides of the same coin. For the whole world knows that actions speak louder than words. Well, that basic, universal principle also applies to expressing faith in God.
True Faith Obeys - Lordship Salvation
The words faith and obedience / believe and obey / disbelieve and disobey are synonymous throughout all of Scripture, and they are the exact same meaning in the original Greek. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36). To not believe the gospel is to simply disobey God, since the Word of God commands us to believe in the sacrifice of His Son, the gospel. And to say we believe in God, yet live a life of disobedience, is to really not believe in God or the truth of the gospel at all. In short, this is called Lordship Salvation. Lordship Salvation teaches that surrendering to Christ as Lord goes right along with trusting in Christ as Savior. Lordship Salvation is the opposite of the heretical teaching called easy-believism, which is the teaching that salvation is obtained through acknowledging and intellectually agreeing to a particular set of facts.
Modern popular theology tends to recognize notitia and often assensus, but far too often eliminates fiducia. This is called easy-believeism which is a very popular, modern-day Christianity that runs rampant in the church. It is heretical, a radical distortion of God's Word, just another type of self-deception, and another layer of Satan's deception to steal away souls to hell.
Easy-believism holds to the idea that we are saved by the intellectual belief in God's existence and the facts of the gospel, and it teaches that submission or obedience to God's Word is not needed. They believe in "sola fide" or "faith alone" to be saved. Easy-believism does not believe one needs to live a life of any commitment to Christ for proof of salvation. First off, that is not the correct definition of "sola fide" or "faith alone." True faith in Christ will inevitably produce good fruit and lead to a changed life; one that is committed to Christ. Another common way of using the term easy-believism is when people believe they are saved because they prayed a prayer one time "inviting Jesus to come into their hearts" - a prayer without no real conviction of sin or turning from sin, meaning no true faith in Christ. Praying a prayer is effortless and easy, resulting in the term easy-believism. There is more to obtaining salvation than just words or verbal professions. Committing your life to Christ is a daily and lifelong commitment, and it is not easy. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24). We also know that in Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."
People who follow the theology of easy-believism believe they can continue to sin without true repentance and still be saved. The foundation they stand on is that they intellectually believe the historical fact that Jesus died on the cross for sins and rose again. Millions of people have head knowledge of Christ, but it takes heart knowledge to truly know Him, walk with Him, and be His child.
See, faith is not authentic saving faith if it lacks the attitude of genuine repentance and a genuine surrender to Christ's authority and Lordship. Obviously, we are all fallen, we will all still sin, even as Christians (more than we even realize), and we will never obey God's Word perfectly. But nonetheless, true Christians desire to obey God's Word, and we do experience real victory over sin, as God sanctifies us until we are glorified in heaven. We will at times stumble, but it's God's grace that will pick us up and put us back on the good path, and it's God's grace that will continue to gives us the growing desire to obey Him through the faith He's gifted us with. We certainly have human responsibility, but it's the grace of God that is with us.
Obedience Is Proof of Faith
True Christians will still sin, but we will never return to the broad and easy road and swim in sin ever again. It is impossible for real Christians to make a practice of sinning when we are practicing righteousness. With the Holy Spirit living in us, we will be convicted of our sin before we could swim in it ever again. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:9). We are all born in sin, and that's why we must be born again. I used to be an example of someone who professed to believe in God (the god of my own imagination), but my actions and way of living said otherwise, until I was born again. Then I was given a new nature and came to know the real God of the universe where I desired to obey Him because I trusted Him. Verbal professions of faith in God are empty and futile if someone's actions continue to deny God. They profess to know God, but by their actions they deny him (Titus 1:16).
You'll hear me say this again later on:
Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, all for God's glory alone.
Relying on my own feelings and personal definition of what I thought faith and spirituality was to me, certainly couldn't save me. I was blinded by my own meanings I attached to spiritual things, and in reality I was spiritually dead. I had no idea what authentic faith meant, what it meant to be a true Christian, or what it meant to follow Jesus Christ and be His real disciple. I thought spirituality was relative to everyone, and I fell for the lie of the new age that there was no absolute truth. No matter what I believed, how true I was to my "authentic self," what my personal preferences were on who God was, what my own standards were, what my own definition of faith and grace were, how much I prayed to / praised / thanked the god of my own imagination, or how sincere I was in my beliefs - it certainly couldn’t change reality.
"The Truth is that which corresponds to reality only as it is perceived by God. It's because God sees reality in its fullest measure, from the perfect perspective, in the depth and of its dimension, as well as the surface. All things are known to Him. From the perspective of the One who is omniscient, there is such thing as an objective reality. And in fact, our eternal destinies will be determined by God's perception of reality, not ours." - RC Sproul
It's My Own Responsibility
In reality, I was lacking biblical truth and divine wisdom, and I simply didn't know that I didn't know. I was ignorant. However, I would only have myself to blame for that, wouldn't I? It is my own responsibility in this life to know and understand what God's Word says and to not be ignorant to His commands and promises; to not be careless with my own soul in this short life.
That responsibility is laid on every single one of us in this life, and we either choose to know, understand, and take God's Word seriously, or we choose to live in la-la land, meaning "live on the edge" with our eternal souls. This life is very short, and eternity is forever, so it is only wise and logical to live this short life in the light of eternity (Inspired from Charles Spurgeon 'life is short, eternity is long' quote).
Denial to the existence of God when we have clear proof all around us of a Creator, or ignorance to His Word for those who have access to Bibles will not be an excuse for anyone when we stand before Him on Judgment Day. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). There is a special wrath of God reserved for people who have the Truth, yet suppress it. Even the unbelieving world or people who follow other beliefs and false religions are responsible for knowing the Truth, and they are guilty for suppressing it or being ignorant of it. On Judgement Day, people will stand guilty no matter what their reason was, where they were born, who their parents were, how they were raised, what their background was, what religion they grew up in, or what their personal preferences were. Everyone will be culpable for rejecting Scripture, which ultimately is rejecting Jesus Christ - the way, the Truth, and the life. And God will judge each and every person with absolute righteousness and perfect judgment. Not one single person will be able to blame anyone else but themselves.
Ignorance is lacking the correct knowledge or proper understanding of something. People who are ignorant are unaware or uniformed. At times, we can be ignorant because we simply didn't know there was something we needed to know. On other occasions, we may be ignorant because we have made the choice not to learn or understand something we need to know. This is called willful ignorance. What does the Bible say about ignorance? the Lord says, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you" (Hosea 4:6). To willfully reject the knowledge God has graciously supplied us through His Word is a sinful ignorance. That's because it is an ignorance rooted in choice. Ignorance without choice about earthly matters is quite understandable. However, willful ignorance about spiritual matters, about our eternal destinies, found only in the Word of God, can lead people to their eternal demise (Romans 1:18-23). "Ignorance of Scripture is the most dangerous self-inflicted wound." - Dale Partridge.
In Hebrews 5:2, it says, Jesus is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. We are so blessed that God is long-suffering, meaning He is patient with us on this side of eternity. He is so gracious by giving us time to repent and time to come to the full knowledge of Him and be saved. He is patient, even in our willful ignorance, whether that's to the truth of His existence or to the truth of His Word. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Even when we choose not to believe in God, to not learn about who God is, or to not seek to understand His Word, He gives us an abundance of opportunities to learn. Paul says that God showed him mercy when he "acted ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Timothy 1:13). We are commanded to repent of our ignorance and seek Him with our whole heart. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, (Acts 17:30). You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
The direct opposite of spiritual ignorance is wisdom, and good news for us, wisdom is readily available to all who desire it and choose to seek it. God gives wisdom in abundance to all those who ask. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5). Proverbs Chapter One personifies wisdom as a lady who is calling out in the streets, commanding us to gain prudence, knowledge, and wisdom. When Scripture commands us to listen, God is giving us another precious opportunity to trade our willful ignorance for His wisdom.
To read more in-depth about ignorance and wisdom, check out my blog, "Ignorance Versus Wisdom."
The 10 Commandments - Written in Every Heart
We can't say that the Bible is only clear to believers. In reality, the unbeliever is just as culpable for the rejection of the Word of God because of its power, authority, clarity, and sufficiency. Because that which is known about God is made evident within us, God has also made evident to us. This means that Scripture directly correlates with what God has placed in the heart of every person. The Moral Law (The 10 Commandments) is written in the heart and sewn into the conscience of every person and is universal to everyone who has ever lived. Romans 2:15 says, They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even excusing them. Furthermore, Romans 1:20 says, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Through God's sovereignty, every single person in this world has been given enough light (truth of God's existence through the external world and His Word) to be held responsible. God has placed His knowledge in everyone through general revelation seen in creation and the moral law cemented into every conscience. General revelation and the inherent knowing of God's Moral Law does not automatically entitle us to salvation. It either leads to the full knowledge of the light in Jesus Christ, or it leads to condemnation for those who reject that light they are given. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world (John 1:9).
The Gift of the Conscience
God has given us clear revelation in creation of His obvious existence, and He has graciously given us the Word of God describing who He is and how we ought to live; the manual with clear instructions to life itself (including eternal life by grace through faith in Christ). God also gave us the gift of our consciences, which is our souls' built-in warning system. Our own consciences are there to help guide us on the safe and good path He has for us, and they are there to warn us of what is harmful and dangerous to our souls. One thing is for sure, we will do well to listen to our consciences, always. Unfortunately, for many people who continue to go against their consciences over a long period of time, it gets easier to do so, and they become faulty, seared, and simply don't work very well anymore - to the point of no return often times. "It is so deadly to misinform the conscience that it can become so convoluted to the point where people glory in their shame" - John MacArthur in reference to Philippians 3:19: Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. Isaiah 5:20 goes on to say, Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.
A seared conscience is an absolute tragedy because the conscience is our ally and true friend. Our consciences either accuse us or excuse us from our sins. And so, we are without excuse when we stand before God one day and have to give an account for every last thing we thought, said, and did, when we knew better. We can't say we didn't know because God gave us our consciences, and He also gave us His Word to fully inform our consciences with the Truth. God's divine power gave us everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and it's simply a choice we all make in this preparatory life to either reject the Word of God, diminish it, ignore it, or trust it and obey Him with joy.
"You see the conscience functions like a skylight, not like a lamp. It doesn't have a light of its own. It can only let light through. It's not the source of light. It does not produce its own light. It can only let light into the soul, and therefore it needs to have the right information. Its usefulness is determined by the amount of pure light passing through it. So a fully functioning conscience then is fully informed by the truth of God's Word." - John MacArthur
To read more in-depth about the conscience, check out my blog, "The Gift of the Conscience."
Scripture is Wisdom That Leads to Salvation
The Old Testament Scriptures all point to Christ and make clear the need to believe in God's promises. In the Old Testament, the Law is there to show us how much we need God's grace. The Law was never meant to be trusted as the means to salvation. The purpose of the Law was to display God's demand for holiness, to reveal our depravity and the inability to save ourselves, and our desperate need of a Savior. The Law was never given to save anybody, but to lead us to the only One who could - Jesus. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). The Scriptures from the Old Testament through the New Testament all point to salvation in Christ alone. The Scriptures are able to lead us to recognize our own fallenness and our great need of a perfect Savior in Christ. Salvation is carried by the Holy Spirit through God's Word. So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Ultimately, the Word of God is the wisdom that leads us to salvation through faith in Christ by God's grace.
You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 NASB
"Ignorance of Scripture is the most dangerous self-inflicted wound." - Dale Partridge.
"Satan’s greatest weapon is man’s ignorance of God’s Word." – A.W. Tozer.
The Word of God is Better than Gold (Proverbs 16:16)
We all know that knowledge is power, especially when applied. Knowledge means having understanding, possessing correct insight, and properly comprehending truth that is rightfully applied. Knowledge is a virtue that must involve close examination and the diligent study and pursuit of the Truth, found in God's Word. Knowledge of who God is and who we are in Him, found in His Word, is how we learn and grow spiritually; it's how we build our faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. Without the knowledge of God's Word, we simply cannot know who God is and grow spiritually in Him. How can we trust someone we don't know or even care to get to know? I was an example of someone who professed to know God but didn't even read the manual on who God was. How could I possibly know the real God of the universe when I didn't bother to read His Word? I only knew the god of my own imagination - and that god simply did not exist. That's an empty profession of faith in God.
This is why Bibles are incredibly precious to those in foreign countries who don't have access to them; places where the Bible is banned; places where people get killed for having God's Word in their possession (The Bible is banned in 52 countries). The Word of God is better than gold, and many people in the United States take for granted the precious, infinite value of the Word of God. How blessed are we to have access to God's Word! What could be better than holding the invaluable Word of God right in the palms of our hands? For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and all that you desire cannot compare with her (Proverbs 8:11). How much better to acquire wisdom than gold! To gain understanding is more desirable than silver (Proverbs 16:16).
Jesus is The Word Incarnate
Everything pertaining to life and godliness has been freely given to us in Scripture (2 Peter 1:3). It's all right there for us, folks. The Word of God gives us every answer and everything we possibly need to know to live a purposeful, meaningful, fulfilling life, headed for eternal life. And we ought never to trust in our own minds or place our feelings above the authority of the Word of God. Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered (Proverbs 28:26). In Proverbs 1:20-33, wisdom is personified and described as someone you can "get to know." Scripture says that Jesus Christ has become to us wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30). Therefore, wisdom and spiritual discernment is something that comes from knowing Jesus Christ, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). (Fear means awe, reverence, deep respect for God).
To read about what it means to fear the Lord, check out my blog, "Proverbs 9:10."
And here's the thing, we cannot truly come to know Jesus Christ if we do not care to know His Word too. That's because Jesus Christ is the Word. The two are inseparable. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Jesus is the Word incarnate. Jesus is the Word made flesh. The Word is Truth. The Truth itself took on human flesh as Jesus Christ. The Truth is God. God Himself took on human flesh as Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man; truly God and truly man.
As said before, how can we trust someone we don't know or want to get to know? And how do we love someone we don't know or trust? Without coming to know Christ through the Word, we will only end up loving a jesus of our own imagination, an idol and not the Jesus of Scripture, the only One who can save any of us from our sins. Scripture is infinitely more precious than all the riches in the world. It's the Truth. It's our path to eternal path. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).
To read more about the infinite value of Scripture, check out my blog, "Scripture is Better Than Gold."
In my own ignorance, my Facebook cover photo for a year said “Live for God,” and at that time I really had no idea what that meant. I thought I was living for God - yeah, based on my own truth! In reality, I was living for myself, having all sorts of idols in my life, thinking I was a "good person," priding myself on being kind (without knowing I was priding myself on it), wanting to please everyone and be liked by everyone, having wisdom in my own eyes, relying on my own self-sufficiency to direct my life, having no fear of God, living in open and secret sin, and simply having no idea what true saving faith really meant for a sinner like me. Basically, I was making myself the queen of my own universe without realizing it. I was being the queen of my own kindness, thinking that kindness was originating from me, which was elevating myself. I figured that I did "way more good" than bad in this world, and by virtue of that and sincerely believing in the existence of God and the historical facts of the gospel, I'd be going to heaven.
I considered myself a "good" person. However, there were a few specific instances in the year leading up to coming to faith in which I questioned if I was really good or not. I started questioning where was the tipping point on that scale. God was drawing me to Him. I had no idea the level of my own depravity at that time, but soon I would find out more, which would soon crush my pride and increase my joy. I still don't know the level of my own depravity, but all I know is that I am way more sinful than I realize, and God is way more gracious, merciful, and loving than I could ever imagine. The more I see my own depravity, the more I praise the Lord for His mercy. So I basically considered myself a good person, but in reality, there has only been one good person in this world, and that is the person of Jesus Christ.
Another trap is that we often compare ourselves to others whom we think are not as "good" as we are, which further gives us a false sense of being good ourselves through our own relative truths, scales, and definitions. I not only had a radically distorted view of God, but I had a distorted view of self. I was being utterly self-righteous without even knowing it.
See, it's awfully hard to judge ourselves. By human nature, we always paint ourselves in a better light than what is reality. And by default, we tend to be more cynical towards others, rather than quick to give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to certain situations. When we don't have a clear answer for why someone may be acting funny or weird, by nature, we tend to fill in the blank by airing on the negative side. We are quick to assume it's probably something bad, rather than something well-intentioned. But ourselves, we are naturally bent towards thinking we are much better or righteous than we actually are. That's our sin nature, rooted in pride.
Sure, I would openly admit that I was a sinner. I had no problem with saying that out loud. A lot of people in the world readily admit that. However, the problem wasn't that I didn't know I was a sinner. It was that I didn't understand the gravity of my own sin, and I didn't hate my sin. The problem was that I loved my sin, and I thought my sin was no big deal because I figured there was far worse out there. I wasn't convicted of my sin, and I based my eternal destiny off my own scale of goodness. I figured I did more "good" than bad, according to my own personal standards and feelings. I justified myself with my own fallen conscience and the world's deceptive standards instead of measuring myself by Scripture and God's perfect standards. See, the world isn't going to be judging me, but God will be judging me. It would be wise to get on His scale then, right? I also ignorantly had my own definition of God's grace. I flippantly believed He died for my sins, and I casually assumed His grace covered all my sins in which I could live however I wanted. I thought that was what "saved by grace" meant. That's because I also had my own skewed definition of faith, which skewed my definition of grace. I figured I wholeheartedly and positively believed in God's existence and sovereignty, I did more "good" than bad according to my own fallen standards, and that alone would be sufficient to grant me entrance into His eternal kingdom. In short, I was self-deceived.
See, it's pride that blinds us from what is really true, right, and good. Pride was so blinding that I had no idea I was even being proud or self-righteous until God's grace opened my eyes to the Truth. Pride is the root of all sin, and it's ultimately what keeps billions of people from seeing the light of the gospel. Pride is what begins and fuels every single sin in us. Pride is what ultimately drags people to hell, and I was on that broad and easy road to hell because of my own pride, ignorance, and spiritual blindness. Yes, my name was written in the Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world, and I was predestined to come to saving faith at 33 and be granted eternal life, so hell was not my fate. But there is also a harmony between God's sovereignty and human responsibility that is simply unavailable to us in this life to explain. They are two truths that run parallel and simply cannot be reconciled by our own human logic. God's sovereignty and human choice harmonize together in only a way that only the infinite mind of God knows. Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)
I was on the broad road to hell by first being born in sin and then by making sinful choices because of my sin nature. I had to be born again by God's sovereign grace and be given a new nature, and that's when I was truly humbled and understood my depravity. It was only the grace of God that opened my eyes, granted me repentance, saved me, and set me on the path to eternal life. It was not by my own will.
Four Ways That Ensure Someone Will Die in Their Sins
1. Being self-righteous: thinking you can obtain salvation by your own merit and "goodness." Thinking you're "good enough" to get into heaven or thinking that God would never send you to hell because "you're a good person," or "you do good things." I'll keep saying it. Pride is the root of all sin, and it's what fuels every single sin we do.
2. Being worldly and earthbound: Not focusing on that which is eternal, but focusing on earthly things like money, possessions, vanity, notoriety, recognition, and praise from man, power, control, status, and image, and "keeping up with the Joneses." These things are called the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. 1 John 2:15-17 says, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
3. Being willfully ignorant: (Hosea 4:6) If you missed this paragraph - here is where I talk about willful ignorance
4. Being unbelieving: This is either suppressing the Truth of the existence of God altogether, or it's living a life of disobedience even with knowing and agreeing that Jesus Christ died for your sins.
- Key characteristics of willful unbelief:
• Unbelievers set false standards that are rigid and based on feelings, personal truth or experience
• Unbelievers perform biased research that's purely subjective
• Unbelievers straight up reject, ignore, and remove the facts
• Unbelievers center everything around self
• Unbelievers always want more evidence for the Truth but are never satisfied. The Pharisees continued in hard-hearted, willful unbelief when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43:44) and gave sight to a the blind man (John 9:11). These were obvious, unmistakable miracles that could't be explained any other way except by the power of God Himself, and yet, they still chose to reject Jesus in willful, hard-hearted unbelief.
The Pharisees were inflexible and hardened in their willful unbelief. They were spiritually blind to the Truth. They claimed to see, even though they were walking in darkness. In Scripture, blindness is symbolic for spiritual darkness. It's the incapacity to be able to discern the Truth in Jesus or comprehend His Word. Only the grace of God can open their blind eyes. Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind" Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, "Are we also blind?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains" (John 9:39).
Those who do not see - This refers to those who are humble and know that they are in spiritual darkness
Those who see - This refers to those who are proud and think they are in the light, but are in spiritual darkness
It they recognized their own lostness and spiritual darkness and cried out to see for the light, they would no longer be guilty for willful unbelief and suppressing the Truth. They would be granted repentance, turn to the light of the gospel, and be saved by grace through faith. Unfortunately, they were content in their blindness, thinking their spiritual darkness was the light, and further hardening their hearts and rejecting the Messiah, the only One who could save them. They chose their sin instead of Christ.
I checked all four categories, all fueled by pride, which blinded me to the Truth.
My Definition Vs God's Definition
"The human dilemma is this: God is holy and we are not. God is righteous and we are not." - RC Sproul. We must first understand that there is a huge gulf that separates sinful man from the Holy God of the universe. Comprehending this truth is vital to having a clear view of objective reality - of who God is, who we are, and just how bad sin really is. Let's first conceptualize the difference between sinful mankind and the Holy God of the universe:
Ok, so if Hitler was standing in one end zone on a football field and Jesus Christ was standing in the opposite end zone, where do you think the average "good" person would be standing on that field - from really bad in one end zone to morally perfect in the other? This might be surprising to you, hurt your pride, maybe even anger you, but brace yourselves for some sobering truth. We all would be standing at the one-yard line, an arm's length away from Hitler. And that's actually being quite generous by giving us that one whole yard line closer to Jesus Christ. That's how inherently sinful mankind is, and that's how pure, holy, and beautiful Jesus Christ is. And it's only by God's grace that we are on the one-yard line and not standing in the end zone right alongside Hitler. It's God's common grace that restrains us from all going full-blown evil. Some people are given more common grace than others. A lot of people are filled with God's common grace, and that's how we are able to live like civil people for the most part. Although, you look around today and see God's grace has abandoned nations, and He has given more people over to their sins with how crazy and violent this world is getting by the hour. The definition of "good" in the world's eyes is actually filthy rags to God. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; (Isaiah 64:6). God's definition of good means moral excellence. It means perfection. It means sinless.
According to the world's standards, I agree that there are lots of good, kind, sweet people in this world. For sure there are. I meet "good" people everyday. However, we will not be judged according to the world's standards or the world's definition of "good." We will be judged according to God's perfect and holy standards and His definition of good. We must first understand and accept that God's standards, measures, and definitions are vastly different than the world's, and His are perfect, and ours are far from it. God is Holy, meaning He is set apart from His creation. There's a great gulf between a Holy God and a sinful mankind. All that being said, we need to be living according to God's objective, perfect view of reality and not according to sinful mankind's perception of reality. I now trust God's definition of good in the Bible over my own definition of "good." And now, by God's grace through faith in Christ, my perspective has greatly altered into an eternal perspective. I now live my life by God's standards and no longer my own, and I fix my eyes on that which is eternal and not temporary. See, living by my own truth and standards would only deceive me and drag me to hell. These are foundational things we must understand in order to even begin to have a right view of God and self. We must also have the humility to accept the truth of our human depravity and the ability to truly understand the offenses of even our smallest of sins against a Holy God.
Saved By Grace Alone Through Faith Alone in Christ Alone
I was blinded by pride and casually thought I could get to heaven on my own definition of "goodness," when no one can because God's perfect standards are utterly unattainable for sinful man. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23). We can't save ourselves no matter how "good" we might think we are. Not even Mother Teresa can get to heaven on her own goodness. She too falls insanely short of the glory of God, just like the rest of us. That's how inherently sinful we all are, especially in comparison to how good and holy God is. He is morally perfect. He is without a tiny blemish or stitch of evil anywhere in His perfect infinite being.
Mankind is all born in sin, in the likeness of Adam, and naturally depraved; whether people like to believe that fact or not. It's true, and humility is what helps us accept that truth with eagerness and joy, by the grace of God. Apart from God's grace, we simply have nothing in us good to offer. Every single good thing we do, is only by the grace of God, and not by our own merit. That is why it's called the surpassing grace of God in you. (2 Corinthians 9:14). See, this is why we are all in desperate need of a savior. We are not justified by works in God's sight, but by faith alone.
I can't stress this enough you guys - We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, all for God's glory alone. "The only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that made it necessary" -Jonathan Edwards. And although we are saved by grace through faith alone, it's not a faith this is alone. Saving faith naturally proves itself to be true by producing good fruit, and that good fruit is objective evidence and assurance of one's salvation; of truly being born again. It's the work of the Holy Spirit in us, not our good works, that is the root of our assurance of salvation. Good fruit produced by the work of the Holy Spirit, also known as spiritual fruit, is the by-product of a righteous life lived for Christ. We are not saved by good works. However, we are certainly saved for good works.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
Examples of How Scripture Identifies Good Fruit:
• Leading people to Christ through witnessing or sharing the pure gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 16:15)
• Praising the God of the Bible (and not the god of your own imagination) and building a personal relationship with Him (Hebrews 13:15), (Hebrews 11:6)
• Praying for the spiritual welfare and spiritual growth of others, including the salvation of others (1 Timothy 2:1), (Romans 10:1)
• Living a godly life; desiring to live a pure and holy life (Hebrews 12:11), (1 Thessalonians 4:-3-13)
• Giving money, your time, and help to others (Romans 15:26-28), (Proverbs 19:17), (Galatians 6:2)
• Having spiritual discernment / being able to discern right from almost right (Romans 12:12), (1 John 4:1)
• Displaying holy attitudes like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control (Galatians 5:22-23)
• Increasing in Christlikeness and in the knowledge of God - *Spiritual growth cannot occur without growing in the knowledge of who God and knowledge of the will of God- The will of God is found in the Word of God. (2 Peter 3:18), (1 Peter 2:2)
Evidence of Spiritual Growth Includes:
• A deeper understanding and illumination of Scripture (Hebrews 4:12), (2 Timothy 3:16)
• A deeper love and craving for God's Word (Psalm 119:97)
• A more perfect obedience to God's Word (1 John 2:3-5)
• A strong doctrinal foundation (1 John 2:12-14)
• A growing faith (Thessalonians 1:3)
• A greater love for others (Philippians 1:9)
Deceived and Distracted by Society's Toxic Culture of Self-Love
I was getting more and more caught up in the toxic self-love, self-care, self-this-and-that, attention seeking, "look at me," "look what I got," "look where I'm at," "Instagram-perfect," new age culture and all its twisted ideologies, run by Satan. I was blindly following along with the large crowd on the broad and easy road to hell, instead of being vigilant on the narrow path to life. And with just how blinded I was traveling down the broad and easy road, I thought God was proud of me, when I was actually under His wrath to get me to repent! His wrath is not like our wrath, which is selfish. God's wrath is a holy wrath. Not only is God's kindness supposed to help us repent, His wrath is also to help us repent. God was patient with me and didn't want me to perish in my sins. I'm eternally grateful that He didn't just give me over to my sins and abandon me to my own desires, as He does to many people who choose to continue living in unrepentant sin. His wrath was to help me turn from my sins and turn to His ways. His wrath was to wake me up. I was deceived by Satan’s many layers of deception, distractions, and empty entertainment in this world, but I don't want to blame everything on Satan. I was also blinded by my own pride, and self-deceived by my own relative truth of who I thought God was and who I thought I was, based upon my own feelings and finite wisdom. Ignorance is not bliss. It's just ignorance.
"We only embrace relative truth when objective truth is a threat to us. And there is no objective truth more threatening to those than the absolute truth of the holiness and sovereignty of the almighty God of the universe. The myth of moral relativism and relative truth is modern man's attempt to create an ethical license for sin; to call evil good and good evil." - RC Sproul
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
The Lust of the Eyes, Flesh, and Pride of Life
It was around the beginning of October 2020 when something just came over me. I don't really know how else to explain the simplicity of it all. One day I just made a choice that I simply no longer wanted to live the way I was living for so many years - living in open and secret sin, living in worldliness; sleeping over with boyfriends and "playing house" as if I was already married, partying hard and taking things I shouldn't be taking, doing things I should't be doing, being reckless and throwing caution to the wind; not being able to sleep because of all that and burning the candle at both ends, always living for the next party; relying on my own strength and self-sufficiency every single day, feeling sickly, tired, and dizzy at work way too often, barely ever having a real appetite, living in anxiety - especially social anxiety, feeling an impending doom on Sundays evenings, scraping by at work and doing everything half-heartedly, but somehow making it look like I was doing a lot; not knowing how to set healthy boundaries with people and doing things I didn't want to be doing to please other people, finding my identity in relationships, living to please other people even if that meant falling over myself and exhausting my energies, worried about what people thought of me or if I was understood; using foul language and gutter speech thinking I was just being funny and "just being expressive," making fun of people to make my friends laugh and feeling justified by that; being attention seeking and pridefully showing off my body; living in idleness when I wasn't working, wasting time watching trashy TV shows, filling myself up with empty social media entertainment; priding myself on my own kindness, (even creating an identity out of being kind, which I only see now as I look back on it. I was so blindly self-righteous I had no idea); being foolishly trusting to just about anyone who approached me, not having any street smarts or discernment with people, often being tricked by people and allowing myself to be taken advantage of, attracting sociopaths and narcissists into my life, thinking my baseline in life was my own relative truth, being superstitious and near obsessed with the number 13, and idolizing and praying to St Anthony and all the Catholic saints on a daily basis. I thought astrology, healing stones, the number 13, fortune telling, palm reading, witchcraft, and divination were all ways of God communicating with me. All these things are an abomination to the Lord. God hates witchcraft, superstitions, and when we put our faith in creation and worship the creation rather than Him, the Creator. because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen (Romans 1:25). Scripture tells us that we are not to be ignorant of Satan's schemes. So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). I was naive and foolishly ignorant of Satan's schemes and the understanding of the spiritual realm of good and evil altogether. I didn't grasp the concept of evil in the spiritual sense at all. And it's my own responsibility to not be ignorant in this short and fleeting life, as I previously mentioned in my section of willful ignorance.
I thought the world and people were mostly good. I had zero spiritual wisdom or discernment, and I certainly did not know the difference between right and almost right. I didn't know what I didn't know, but now I know, and it's clear as day. Now I understand that we are physical beings who live in a spiritual world, and we do not fight against people but against the evil that dominates this world; the evil spirits that are behind people and drive them. That's why we are to love our enemies and pray for them. Our real enemy who we ought to hate is Satan and his demons, never people, no matter how satanically driven they are.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:21-12).
"A Balanced Life"
Looking back, I see it as living a double life where I was this "positive, sweet, and angelic Jenna" in public, and behind closed doors I was really a reckless party animal who was lost - falsely believing she was "free" and just "figuring out life," and "doing the best I could," and "just livin' it up!" I was fulfilling my daily responsibilities, showing up to work on time, and paying my bills so I figured I was free to do whatever I wanted and live however I wanted. I figured I was living a balanced life between light and dark; a little responsibility here and "a little fun and figuring out my life" there.
Waking up every day was quite the chore, and I often lived in dread of having to face another day. I wasn't really ever full out depressed, but I certainly wasn't filled with real joy or purpose. Hmm, maybe I don't have the correct definition of "depressed?" Well, getting this definition correct is maybe not as important as the definition of faith in Jesus.
I wasn't filled with anything that really drove me or inspired me. I had these beautiful gifts of art and music, but it didn't bring me much joy; more perfectionism and frustration. My happiness was rooted in my circumstances, feelings, and other people, which we all know are ever-changing. I was only happy when I considered my circumstances to be good, which isn't true happiness. It's a shallow happiness that is ruled by fallen emotions, fallen people, and external things in a fallen world. There's no stability or reliability in any of those things. And earthly-wise, I had everything anyone could ever want and more. Now my joy is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ who never changes. True joy comes from fully recognizing what Christ has done for me and knowing that unlike my ever-changing circumstances and feelings, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If as a Christian I lose my joy, I need not to look at my circumstances, but I need to examine my relationship with the Lord and my obedience to His Word. See, Jesus never changes, so my joy in Him and what He did for me on the cross, is rooted in His unshakeable foundation. Grounded in humility, joy is the ultimate confidence that God is in complete control of my life, including the various trials and sufferings that He calls me to face all for His glory. Now when I lay my head down on my pillow at night, I just think about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of real joy and deep gratitude. And when I wake up in the morning, I have so much energy and I'm so excited to do God's will and work heartedly for the Lord in everything I do - my awesome art career and my ministry.
Many days felt aimless, even if I was accomplishing what I needed to at work. Even if I achieved something great at work, I didn't really care. I was just so thankful and relieved the project, podcast, or presentation was over. I was never excited about things, never excited to see anyone, but always relieved when things were done or over with. And then I dreaded starting the next thing. Aimless, anxious, and empty was often my disposition, and I was living in constant hyper-vigilance. I dreaded seeing people, and now I know why. It's because I was living in sin. I never wanted to see anyone, and I loved being by myself, days on end. I often joked to people about hoping I'd get hit by a bus, or a semi, or a train on far too many occasions, thinking that would save me from all the relentless grief and dullness of life. I often masked all of this with humor, being positive and encouraging towards others, and so you'd never really think I was unhappy. Little did I know that had I gotten taken out by a semi, the grief of hell would've been far far worse than anything I've ever experienced on earth. There is no relief from pain and no hope in hell. On earth, there is relief from our pain and a wonderful, blessed hope in Jesus!
I was waking up every day with no purpose, no fulfillment, no real identity, no passion, no peace, and no true joy. But I was an overall "positive" and humorous person so that helped me from going off the deep end, and I kind of blinded myself with my own false positivity. I didn't admit to all those things as I'm openly admitting now. Again, pride kept me from seeing my life clearly, and I prided myself on my own kindness, positivity, and gratitude. We as Christians should never balance between sin and righteousness, good and evil. That's just another way we would deceive ourselves into thinking it's ok to sin and live in disobedience. We are called to live balanced lives in line with the Truth. "Remember that if you are a child of God you will never be happy in sin!" - Charles Spurgeon
Someone had once told me that I had the Holy Spirit since I was little. Absolutely not. There would be no way that I could be living that type of life for all those years with the Spirit of God living inside of me. Worldliness and sin are never compatible with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would never allow anyone to continue living in that manner and swimming in sin. By God's grace, my conscience was heavy for many years, and that helped a little from going off the deep end. But ultimately, it's Jesus Christ who saved me from my sins, not my own heavy conscience, not psychology or self-help books or programs, not practicing positive thinking or willing things to happen on my own, and not just "growing up." All glory belongs to Jesus for my transformation, and I praise Him for the gift of His Word to help me direct my life.
"The Instagram Perfect Crowd"
Let's continue - I was blindly following along with what I'm describing right now as the "Instagram perfect crowd" in all its pride, illusions, selfies, humble bragging, and attention-seeking motives. (First off, nothing is wrong with Instagram. I like Instagram and social media. It's great when it's used as a tool for fun, not when it's abused or turned into an idol). Anyways, I was getting more and more swept up in worldliness and the patterns of this world. For all that is in the world - the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life - is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:16-17). The lust of the eyes and flesh and the pride of life are things that are only smoke and mirrors; things that promise but never deliver; things that are common with the multitudes; things that sound good but always elude us; things that make us more and more self-absorbed, prideful, empty, lost, seared, insensitive, hardened, and deceived as time goes on; things that are run by Satan and are highly popular among the masses; things that distract us and steal our focus away from the one thing that will give us eternal life - Jesus Christ, God Himself. The toxic self-love, self-care, "look at me," "Instagram perfect" culture is just a black hole of pride, which as mentioned many times, is the root of all sin. It's diametrically opposed to being a true disciple of Jesus Christ, which is rooted and grounded in humility and self-denial. The only thing a true Christian can boast about is boasting in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31).
All a sudden, I felt crushed under the weight of my own sin. I felt contrition for my sins when I had easily brushed it off all those years prior, like no big deal. I felt weary and burdened, as if I was getting washed up in the world and swept away. Although, according to the world's standards, I was living rather "normal" and seeming to manage ok and get by in this crazy world, as I blended right in with the large crowd on the broad and easy road. I wasn't doing anything too outrageous according to my own truth, to the world's standards, or compared to a lot of other people. But according to God's standards, and without comparing myself to others, I was living in grave offense to Him every single day. I wasn't living for God like I ignorantly thought. I was living for myself. I was living in sin. I was doing my own selfish will and not doing the will of God.
The Will of God is Found in the Word of God
Knowing the will of God for your life begins in knowing the Word of God. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:17). Knowing and understanding the will of God through His Word is spiritual wisdom. One cannot understand the will of God without knowing the Word of God. God's commanded and revealed will in His Word is that we should be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4), we should be Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5:18), we should be sanctified (grow more like Christ everyday) (1 Thessalonians 4:3), we should be submissive (1 Peter 2:13-15), we should endure suffering for the sake of Christ (1 Peter 2:20), and we should be thankful, regardless of external circumstances ( 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Christ is the ultimate and supreme example for all of these. It's the one who does the will of God that proves to have authentic saving faith in Christ. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21). If you do the will of God, not only will you have eternal life in Christ, you will live an abundant life of joy and peace here on earth too, regardless of your external circumstances; even in the midst of suffering and trials. True joy and peace are natural by-products of obedience to the will of God. And boy do I live with so much joy and peace in my heart every day now! I am filled with so much purpose because I'm living for the very purpose for which I was created. I've surrendered to God's will and finally understand what my God-given purpose is (Will mention that later).
God’s Commanded / Revealed Will
• Revealed in the Word of God
• It can be obeyed, disobeyed, or resisted
• It includes only that which is good and holy for the believer’s life
• It is specific and provides principles for living and navigating life
• The believer is responsible to know, understand, and obey what God has revealed in His Word through faith
God’s Sovereign Will
• Secret – known only to God except as revealed through history or revelation
• It cannot be resisted or thwarted
• It includes both good and evil
• It is comprehensive and controls all aspects of life, time, and history
• The believer is not commanded to know or discover what God has not revealed
The Light Shines in the Darkness
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). Doing the will of God is diametrically opposed to what the world is always encouraging us to do.
I want to first give the definition of the term world that I will be using. The word world is used 185 times in the New Testament. It can be defined in Scripture in three ways:
1. The physical created universe.
2. Mankind in general
3. The invisible spiritual system of evil run and dominated by Satan and his demons, and everything the system offers contrary to God and the Truth of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and true believers in Christ.
I will be referencing to the third definition.
The world hates the message of the gospel because it is the Truth, and the Truth is light. The light shines into the darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend it. (John 1:5). The light of the Truth exposes evil deeds that are done in secret. People hate to be exposed by the light. They love the darkness because they love their sin, and they want to keep doing their sins in the dark. Anyone who does lovingly shed the light of the gospel in this dark, sinful world is often considered to be judgmental and hateful. When in reality, a true Christian genuinely cares for and loves people and simply doesn't want anyone to die in their sins and go to hell. It's actually quite painful for the Christian, and that's what helps drive her to boldly share the gospel with zeal, not caring what the world thinks of her, only caring to please God, and knowing that her love is going to be misunderstood and misinterpreted for pride, judgment, narrow-mindedness, weirdness, authoritativeness, and even hatred. And she knows she's going to be hated for sharing the gospel, and at times, persecuted for it. It's biblical and to be expected in the life of a Christian. Satan targets and persecutes those who tell the truth, while he lies to the world in a thousand different ways and tells us anything to keep us from Jesus Christ and doing the will of God.
Take Up the Whole Armor of God
The more you study the Bible, the more you realize just how much Satan has deceived the world. It's actually shocking to realize just how much deception there is out there. Layers and layers of lies and deceit. And don't think that just because you're a Christian you can't be deceived. If you think you can't be deceived as a Christian, it's likely the deception has already begun. Christians must be vigilant and watchful at all times. It’s a command in Scripture. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
“Consider how precious a soul must be when both God and the devil are after it.” Charles Spurgeon. There's a spiritual battle constantly surrounding the one who speaks the Truth, constantly trying to thwart her efforts and discourage her from doing so. Someone once told me that Satan really hates my website...without a doubt. My website and social media profiles are a serious target on my back in the spiritual realm, but I have the Lord, and He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4) So I have nothing to fear. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). Nevertheless, I must take up the whole armor of God every single day and never take it off, otherwise I'm toast. I can't stand up to Satan on my own strength. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Satan and his demons are going to do anything to stop me from sharing the Truth, and I must be prepared, equipped, sober, and alert (1 Peter 5:8). The best way to fight Satan and his lies is by knowing and living in the Truth; by practicing righteousness, by obeying the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit. Submit yourselves therefore to God and resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:6-7).
These are the first three pieces of armor a believer must take up and never take off. They are to be worn continuously, just like a solider ready and prepared at all times on a battlefield.
• the belt of Truth
• the breastplate of righteousness
• the shoes of the gospel of peace
The next three pieces of armor are to always be kept close by and ready to use when the battle begins
• the shield of faith,
• the helmet of salvation
• the sword of the Spirit
To read about the full armor of God, read Ephesians 6:10-20.
Contrition Over My Sins and Repentance
And so finally, something came over me in the beginning of October of 2020, and I felt contrition for my sins. I was humbled. I felt this desire for righteousness and wholesomeness...something that seemed to be missing since I was a little kid. And that's when I repented and turned from my old ways and old habits, and I said a loving goodbye to the bad influences in my life (even though they were nice people...just lost people who also needed Jesus). In that moment, I had no idea I was repenting and turning away from my sins. This was all coming from outside of me. It's only looking back now that I see God's grace must've been intervening in my heart for me to have truly repented. I couldn't have done that on my own strength. He was softening my heart so that I could recognize my own sin with contrition and turn from my selfish ways. God had been drawing me to Him and the light of the gospel for a long time..in fact, my whole life. I finally responded to His call on His appointed time, and all glory to God that I did! Jesus says that many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).
About three weeks after I began to repent (without realizing that's what I was doing at the time), the biggest milestone of my entire existence happened. I think the date was on or around October 20th, 2020. That was when my life changed forever. I went from darkness to light; dead in sin to alive in Christ.
I had no idea how ignorant I was until I opened a Bible for the first time in my adult life. I couldn't be happier for making that fateful choice to look up Scripture (by the grace of God drawing me to Him). Only God knows the exact point of my conversion of coming to saving faith in Christ, but from my own limited perspective, I do believe I was born again in this very moment...
While looking up Scripture about the Holy Spirit, I came across John 14:6. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." I will never forget that moment. When I read that verse, something suddenly washed over me. There wasn't a split second hesitation of any question or doubt that Jesus Christ is the way, the Truth, and the life. God must've been like, "Jenna, only one way, My child." That particular verse out of the entire Bible was what He knew I personally needed to hear for truth and clarity. He spoke to me directly through His Word because God is His Word. I was instantly filled with a deep conviction of the Truth. Looking back now, I'm pretty sure in that moment I was experiencing a true miracle of God. There was no way I could have ever chosen to believe that on my own, especially with the power of conviction that I had. It was all by the grace of God gifting me with that faith. Just as my repentance was not coming out of my own strength, my faith was not either. I contributed nothing to my repentance and faith. God chose me, regenerated me all on His own, and put His Spirit in me (Ezekiel 36:26).
I was being born of the Spirit. Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again (John 3:3). I was born again. I was regenerated. I was converted. I came to true saving faith in Christ. No one knows the gravity of just how lost they are until they see the light of the gospel in all its glory. I had no idea I was that lost for all those years until the moment I came to saving faith. I knew for a long time I was missing something in my life, but I didn't know to what extent. In that moment, it was like the veil dropped from my eyes, and I saw the light - not by my own merit, but by the grace of God. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. Jesus Christ is God, and there is only one path to eternal life - through faith in Christ.
All Glory to God!
For several months following that, I experienced some of the most vividly beautiful and vibrant dreams I've ever had in my life. I used to have such weird and disturbing dreams since as far back as I can remember. My dreams now are peaceful, colorful, and sweet; so full of joy, shalom, and rest. My soul found the Truth by God's grace. My soul was saved by God's grace. Now I understand what true peace and joy means. My soul is resting safely in the arms of Jesus Christ for all of an eternity. I now have a peace that surpasses all understanding; a peace that the world can't comprehend; I have peace with God - meaning I have been made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1). All glory to God!
Since that day, I haven't stopped hungering for the Word of God, for wisdom and discernment, for righteousness, for a heart of love, and for building my faith and personal relationship with Jesus Christ - the One True God - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - The Trinity. I have gone through a true transformation in my mind, heart, and way of life. I wake up every morning, eager to start my day, filled with immense purpose and drive. I am so filled with joy that sometimes I don't want the day to end because it was such a good day. Sure, I still have hard days and go through trials, but I am no longer alone in those hard days and trials. I have peace and trust that grounds me when those hard days come. And I even have joy in my trials, knowing that suffering is producing endurance and strengthening my faith. Being alone means not being around people. Being lonely means not having purpose. I am bursting with purpose, meaning, and joy. I had no idea life could be like this. My perspective because of believing in Christ has had a major impact on my daily living. There is no way to explain the liveliness, the peace, the joy, the purposefulness, the eagerness, the energy, and the passion I feel now except by placing my trust in Jesus Christ and doing the will of God. That's because I am fulfilling my God-given purpose, which is to glorify God and do His will.
I am a new creation in Christ. God put His Holy Spirit in me the moment I came to faith. He gave me a new heart. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Since that moment, my passion has been Jesus Christ, and I have been consumed by the Truth. I love knowing the Truth, living the Truth, studying the Truth, proclaiming the Truth, being joyful in the Truth, and standing fearlessly on the Truth. Biblical truth is often offensive (only to those who are blinded to it or hardened against it because of their own pride or ignorance), but see, the Truth is the only thing that saves. The Truth is the most loving thing there is. The Truth is Jesus Christ. Only a humble and contrite heart can understand its need for a Savior, see the light of the gospel, genuinely repent of its sins, and come to true saving faith in Jesus Christ by God's grace. Just as pride is the root of all sin and what ultimately blinds us from the Truth, humility is the foundation in which all other virtues flow and what helps us accept the Truth with eagerness, like little children. Humility is the very essence of Christianity and of true saving faith. Humility is what produces joy. The attitude of humility and a sense of unworthiness naturally generates true joy, in which I don't demand things from God with the belief that I am deserving, but I humbly receive things from God with delight and gratitude, knowing I am undeserving.
Come to Me
Now I understand what it really means to believe in God. I repent of my sins and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which means I follow whole-heartedly after Christ, doing God's will. I turned from sin and doing my own will, and I turned my eyes upon Jesus, trusting His goodness for my life and His promises. When we don't trust God's promises is when we disobey Him. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). I now live my life by the Word of God and trust Him instead of having pride in my own eyes and trusting in my own feelings, definitions, personal truths, and worldly wisdom to direct my life. What a weight off my shoulders! Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). The yoke of sin and self-sufficiency is heavy, but the yoke of righteousness and surrendering to Christ - is light. My life is now rooted and grounded in absolute Truth and divine wisdom. I trust the Word of God now, and although I know I'll always fall short, I do my best to obey what I read, not because my own works can earn my way to heaven, ( but because I truly trust Him and His goodness for my life). I am no longer free-floating alone in mid-air on the basis of my own feelings. I am no longer lost inside a black sea of pride, deception, relative truths, and countless false religions run by Satan, masquerading as an angel of light. I am on the path to eternal life and headed for eternal glory.
Lord to All and Savior to All Who Believe
Comprehending the real Truth is not only exhilarating, joyful, and beautiful, but it has been incredibly heavy and painful for me at times knowing there are so many people who do not know Jesus and maybe never will. And there are so many Christians who think they know Jesus, but tragically are self-deceived by their own definitions of faith (as I used to be) and following a distorted version of Jesus and Christianity. It's just another one of Satan's many layers of deception, aiming to keep lost souls from biblical truth and the One True God. Ultimately, Satan's goal is to drag as many souls to hell as he can through outright lies, half-truths, and things that seem to be good, but are just a trap disguised as an angel. Unfortunately, false self-professing Christians are some of the hardest souls to reach with the gospel. It overwhelms me at times to know that billions of people are deceived and blind, as I once was.
My life's calling is to share the gospel, explain and clarify the biblical definition of authentic saving faith in Christ, and simply plant seeds of Truth through Scripture, knowing that God is the One who does the saving. I pray all the time that others come to that same promise of eternity, true love, joy, peace, and a blessed hope in receiving Jesus Christ as their personal Savior - their only hope. Whether people like it or not, Jesus Christ is Lord, but it is their choice to humble themselves and receive Him as their Savior and be saved. It is inevitable that the hour will come where every single soul in every part of the world will bow the knee and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
Christ is My Supreme Treasure
I now know my true identity and who I am in Christ, what that means, and what I am called to do by God - to do His will and to share the Truth with others so that they too can come to saving faith and rest in Jesus. My life's purpose is to give God glory in everything that I do, say, and think - and be a blessing to others by loving people through my actions, not just my words and professions. I have developed an eternal perspective on my life through faith in Christ, and I live my life in the light of eternity by focusing on God and His eternal rewards for me, as opposed to this world and its temporal benefits - things that are all passing away in the next 50 or 60 years for many of us.
Jesus Christ is my supreme treasure. He is so very precious to me. When I have Him, I have everything I will ever need, in this life and in the glorious one to come. If I have Jesus Christ, and yet I'm stripped of everything and everyone else, I am nevertheless blessed beyond all incredible measure. I have eternal life and freedom in Christ. And I have nothing to fear - past, present, or future - because I have Him. What more could I ever want? (Psalm 23:1). With Jesus Christ, I am immeasurably blessed beyond all comparison with infinite riches and eternal blessings beyond my wildest dreams. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8).
All Glory to God for gifting me with my faith by His grace and opening my blind eyes to see the light of the gospel, which is the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Tomorrow is Never Promised
I pray that my testimony might be of some help, encouragement, or even inspiration to someone out there who is earnestly seeking the Truth. In the end however, I know there is no amount of any persuasion or convincing that I can do on my own accord through my own story to get someone to believe in Christ. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). I'm simply a vessel and a messenger of light in this dark world, sharing the Truth with boldness and courage, by the grace of God. The only way someone is able to truly come to faith is through hearing the Word of God, by the grace of God. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of God (Romans 10:17). If you want to hear the gospel from me verbally, please contact me, and I will be very excited to tell you the best news the world has ever received. Obviously, Jesus Christ blows everything else out of the water, and that's an incredible understatement. That's because He is the way, the Truth, and the life. (John 14:6).
The Day of Salvation is Today
As to what I'm about to say, may my love and concern not be mistaken for being authoritative or pressuring. To you who are reading this right now, I encourage you to seek the God of the Bible while you still can in this life. And to you who professes to be a Christian (as I once falsely did myself), please do examine yourself to make sure you're truly in the faith; test yourselves not according to your own mind or feelings, but according to the authority of the Word of God. The most responsible thing any of us Christians could ever do in this lifetime is to biblically examine to see if we're truly in the faith. Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5). (Read the book of 1st John to biblically examine your faith. It's a short book, only 100 verses, and it won't take you long).
You guys, don't sit around and waste time. Life is not only short, but it is fragile. Once you cross over on the other side without the security of Christ, it will have been too late. You see, we all get one chance at eternal life. Now is your chance. You're living on borrowed time. This is the favorable "year" of the Lord, meaning the day of salvation is today. That's because tomorrow is never promised. The most universal gift of God's common grace is time - time to repent of our sins and believe in Jesus; time to be saved. God is patient. He is long-suffering, and you're living in the time right now of His patience and grace. Once you cross over on the other side, the day of salvation will have passed you by, never ever to return again, and His patience, mercy, and grace will no longer be.
All our days and hours are numbered with precision, and we never know how many we have left. That being said, the day of salvation is today, can I stress that enough? It's not next year. It's not next week. It's not later this week. It's not even tomorrow. It's today. Call on Jesus today, and He will hear you. No matter what types of sins you may have committed in your life or how bad you've been, it's never too late (on this side of eternity) or ever too much for Jesus to wash away your sins, save you from them, grant you everlasting life in Him, and transform your life to where you have an abundant life of joy and peace on this earth. No matter how great of a sinner you are, remember that Christ is always a greater Savior. His grace and mercy far outweighs the greatness of our sins, which says a lot. By the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, may He soften your heart and open your eyes to receive the magnificent truth and tremendously good news of the gospel in all its glory. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30).
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6).
The gospel is urgent because:
life is short,
death is certain,
this world is deceptive
sin is damning,
hell is a real place,
eternity is forever,
salvation is available for everyone,
and there is only one way,
and that's through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Repent of your sins and believe the gospel, and you will be saved. That's God's promise.
All glory belongs to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Eternity won't be long enough to give Him the praise that He deserves for giving me what I never deserved - eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Please reach out to me if you have any questions about the gospel or would like to talk about Jesus.
Salvation is found in no one else, and there is no name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-5
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
Jesus answered,“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’" John 3:5-7
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain (Exodus 20:7).
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44-46
If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8
For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Romans 10:2-3
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:1-4
All glory belongs to my Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.