Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Michelle’s Story

Michelle’s* Story

Literally the other day, I was set completely free. I’m still dancing!! And, I am not the dancing type!

About a year ago, my husband and I began attending a new church. I could not put my finger on what happened during that initial service, but I remember saying to my husband, “Whatever that was, I want more of that.”

At that time, I was a Christian, but a struggling one. I had not yet come to understand what being free in Christ meant. I was struggling physically with un-diagnosable chronic physical pain. I was on a downward spiral of acute insomnia coupled with not only the physical pain, but also fear and anxiety. I read my Bible. I went to Bible studies. My friends were almost all self-professing Christians. I grew up in a churched family. No one shared with me the truth I was about to hear and understand.

No one shared the truth with me…

About 18 months ago, after exhausting all of my options for treatment, I felt even more anxious that I (keyword, I) couldn’t do anything further to fix this. It was then that God brought an amazing woman into my life to teach me what a true and vibrant personal relationship with the Living Christ was … I bombarded her with questions. What she was teaching me and what I was learning at church on Sunday lined up with each other seamlessly. I have never met this woman face-to-face, she was introduced and referred to me through long-distance friends. Come to find out, she knew the pastor of my new church years back through a family member. Through her, God confirmed the difference was this church was under the leadership of a true Christ-follower. Praise God for people who know their identity in Christ and continue referring you back to Him.

God brought an amazing woman into my life…

As I continue to study, I’m really beginning to wonder if I ever was a Christian. I mentioned that I was a Christian, but a struggling one. And I did read my Bible, and go to countless Bible Studies.

Whether or not I was I guess is not important, because now I am – I get it, oh thank you, Jesus, that I get it. I didn’t get it before. I was under the assumption that since God’s will is for everyone to be saved, then anyone who wanted to be saved and prayed the prayer was saved forever and that could not change. In fact, my uncle recently passed away and we were not close but I talked to someone about this and I was assured of “once saved always saved.”

Oh, thank You, Jesus, that I get it.

A fire has now been lit under me that screams most people I know are likely false converts and they have no idea. I’d never heard of the idea that God saves you in His timing. I thought that as soon as you prayed that prayer, boom, that was it. Your address for eternity had permanently changed. I was never convicted of sin to the point of complete repentance and I don’t recall ever being corrected on this – in fact, I only remember being assured over and over again that I was saved. I was sorry for my sin, I didn’t like my sin, I knew Jesus died for my sin. All good, but I wasn’t changed. But now, the Truth has set me free.


*This is from a reader who shares my first name. This is not my (Michelle Lesley’s) testimony.

Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: My friend just graduated from “prophecy school”

 

What would you say to a woman who just graduated from a “school of prophecy“? How do you handle this subject in a graceful way to help her see the truth?

Wow, that’s a tough one! These prophecy, healing, and other apostolic gifts “schools” similar to Bethel’s notorious School of Supernatural Ministry, are popping up everywhere and leading people astray into damnable New Apostolic Reformation heresy.

We love our friends and don’t want to see them deceived by false doctrine, but it can be a difficult topic to address. Why? Because when you get down to the nitty gritty of loving false doctrine and false teachers, the foundational issue is idolatry. And when people love their idols enough to follow them for years, and invest a lot of time, energy, and money in their idols’ schools, conferences, or materials, it’s very likely their reaction to being told they’re following an idol is not going to be…shall we say…pleasant and polite.

Fear of a negative reaction, however, is not something that should keep us from loving our friends enough to speak biblical truth to them. Remember what the Bible says:

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6

In other words, if you’re a faithful, godly friend, you’ll risk hurting your friend’s feelings with kindly spoken Scriptural truth. If you lie to her or affirm her in falsehood in order to preserve her feelings, you’re her enemy, not her friend.

Ironically, in this situation, if you’re a true friend to this woman, you will likely lose your friendship with her. If she’s excitedly telling you about the prophecy school she just graduated from, she doesn’t want a true, godly friend who’s looking out for her best spiritual interests and will tell her that she just wasted precious time and money on something that’s dangerously unbiblical. She wants the kisses of the enemy to affirm her in her beliefs.

But, again, that’s OK. It really is OK if your “friend” chooses false doctrine over you (In which case, she isn’t being a good friend to you, is she?). It might be painful, but with the help and comfort of the Holy Spirit, you will not only survive, God will bless you.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Mark 10:29-30

So, here are my suggestions for responding to your friend in a godly way.

Pray for yourself. Pray that God will help you speak boldly, yet kindly, to your friend. That He will give you the right words to say. That He will prepare your heart for the possibility of losing this friend by trying to help her.

 Pray for your friend. Pray for her salvation. People who are this far gone into heresy are not saved. (See John 10.) Pray that the Holy Spirit will open her eyes to the deception she’s under and the biblical truth you’re speaking to her.

Remember that you don’t have to say everything in one conversation. In fact, depending on the situation, it’s probably better that you don’t. Most women don’t respond well emotionally to drinking from a fire hose of informational rebuke, and she will probably not hear about 90% of what you say. Shorter conversations over a protracted period of time (as you’re continually praying for her) are much more likely to be effective.

✢ Asking questions is helpful. Instead of sitting down with an, “OK, girlfriend, here’s how it is,” approach, try asking your friend questions about the prophecy school and her beliefs. This will help in two ways. First, it helps you get up to speed on exactly what she was taught at this prophecy school and where she is, spiritually, so you’ll be able to give an informed response. Second, asking questions gives the conversation an “I care about you,” tone, which most women will respond to better than an “I’m here to set you straight because you’re wrong,” tone. If you demonstrate by your questions that you care about her and want to learn what she believes, she will be much more likely to reciprocate and listen when you share what you believe.

✢ Share the gospel. A really good verse to keep in mind during this whole process is 1 Corinthians 2:14:

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.

Here’s what this means in your situation: You can perfectly present – the right tone, an uber-caring demeanor, all the right verses, the exact right words – every biblical argument against the things your friend was taught at prophecy school and she’s still not going to “get it” if she’s not saved. It will be “folly” to her and she will not be “able to understand them,” because she does not have the Holy Spirit indwelling her. Saved people embrace and submit to Scripture even when it’s hard because the Holy Spirit enables them to. Lost people kick against Scripture’s requirements because they’re devoid of the Holy Spirit.

Your friend needs the gospel first. You may want to show her my article Basic Training: The Gospel or some of the Scriptures in it, and ask some questions like,  “What do you think this article is trying to say?” or “What did the prophecy school teach you about this passage?” or “You said the prophecy school taught you _____. How does that match up with this verse?”. Another great question for assessing someone’s understanding of the gospel is, “If I had five minutes to live and I asked you how I could go to Heaven when I died, how would you answer me?”.

Once she’s saved, the Holy Spirit will do the heavy lifting of correcting her theology. He is the one who will have to open her heart and mind to the truth of Scripture.

✢ Give her a graduation gift: A MacArthur Study Bible (I’d recommend the ESV translation.). Tuck in a bookmark with the gospel printed on it.

Share biblical resources. If your friend is open to it, give her gospel-centered, Scripture-rich books to read, sermons to listen to, podcast recommendations, etc. Invite her to services and events at your doctrinally sound church. (Do this occasionally. Don’t bombard her constantly.)

✢ Share Lindsay’s testimony. Last year, Lindsay Davis, while a student at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry, got saved after viewing the film American Gospel (a wonderful biblical resource to share with your friend), and was subsequently expelled for sharing the gospel with her fellow students and questioning the unbiblical teaching at the school. Lindsay has given her testimony in dozens of video, audio, and print interviews. Just Google “Lindsay Davis testimony” or “Lindsay Davis Bethel” and choose the one you think your friend would respond to best.

 

I hope things go well when you talk with your friend. I’m taking a moment to pray for both of you now, and I ask that everyone reading this would do the same.

Additional Resources:

Basic Training: The Bible Is Our Authority

Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient

Weak Women and the Idolatry of Personal Experience

God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones at A Word Fitly Spoken

Words With Friends at Berean Examiner


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Testimony Tuesday

Testimony Tuesday: Charla’s Story

Charla’s Story

As far back as I can remember, Christianity has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a small, traditional, Southern Baptist church, was active in youth group, and even attended a small Baptist college. Around the age of 7, I “accepted” Jesus as my Savior and was baptized. Looking back, I don’t remember much about this experience. I certainly didn’t understand the gravity of sin except that I knew I did not want to go to hell. Counting the cost and true repentance were not part of my childhood “decision,” but I also grew up in a tradition where people believed and taught that repeating “the sinner’s prayer” would most assuredly save someone, especially if one prayed sincerely.

Despite the fact that my life may have looked religious, my soul was far from God and I didn’t even know it. Nonetheless, I seldom doubted my salvation because I knew I had prayed to receive Jesus and I sincerely believed that that was the way to salvation. If I did experience doubts, I would just pray again. A “deceived deceiver,” that’s who I was: pretending to be something I wasn’t, living a double life, and under the delusion that all was well with my soul. I could play the part of the model Christian or delight in the evils of the world – it just depended on where I was and who I was with.

My habitual, heinous sins only really bothered me if they got me in trouble. Granted, I sometimes felt guilty about my behavior, but I would ignore the authority of my conscience and the written commands of God and would purposefully pursue sin ever while tightly clutching to my “sinner’s prayer” as my get-out-of-hell-free card. Sure, I prayed when I needed something and sometimes would even ask God to forgive me and help me to live better. But my sorrow over sin was worldly and not godly; I was distraught that my behavior didn’t line up with the Christian image I was trying to maintain, not that my grievous sins were a direct assault on God.

When I was 27 years old, I met my husband, Jeremy. Even though we both expressed a desire for a Christian home, I now know that you can have “Christian” desires without the desire for Christ Himself. But God, being rich in mercy, brought my husband under conviction and repentance in the tenth year of our marriage. Jeremy immediately and suddenly surrendered his life to God’s leading and call to preach.

As my husband began to submit to the Lord, he also began to lead our family spiritually. Our conversations started to change and I often thought the level of his commitment to Christ and Scripture was a bit too radical. The idea of complete surrender to God was a frightening thought. During this time, we found a more doctrinally-sound church and I began to listen to expository, biblical preaching centered around the truth of Scripture, the preeminence of Christ and the holiness of God. I began hearing words I’d never heard or understood before – words such as atonement, justification, propitiation, sanctification, and regeneration. Although I resisted at first, I slowly came to realize that my understanding of salvation and the gospel were shallow and even unbiblical.

At some point during the past six or seven years, God opened my eyes to the beauty of His gospel. He showed me how detestable my sin really was. God showed me that my behaviors and even my “good intentions” or “good works” were evil because the motives that produced them were evil and sinful (self-serving), and no matter how hard I would try to conform to the religious image of the “Model Christian,” my real problem was that on my own, I would never be able to conform to the image of Christ.

My attempts to be “good” flowed out of selfish and self-righteous motives, not out of a grateful heart that longed to please and obey my Father. God gave me a godly sorrow for all my sins, not only my past sins, but even the stubborn sins that still often plague my heart: pride, selfishness, and ingratitude. I came to understand the truth about salvation: That I am only saved because of Christ’s finished work on the cross and it is by His work alone.

I began to meditate on this truth: the entirety of my own, actual sins was placed on Christ as he voluntarily endured the wrath of God in my stead while he hung on the cross. The reality that God chose me for Himself before the foundations of the world and that He sent his Son to ransom me became a source of great joy and thanksgiving. When I came to understand that His act of grace and mercy was not because of anything I had done, nor was it because of his foreknowledge of any future actions or “decision” on my part and that I had done nothing to deserve or merit salvation, I stood in awe of my Redeemer! Salvation is completely, entirely and wholly a work of God. He shall receive ALL the glory for the salvation of his people!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus Christ has ransomed and redeemed me – I BELONG to Him. I didn’t “decide” to be a Christian – Christ bought my life. There is nothing about my life that belongs to me, but ALL to Him I owe!

As I spend time with God in prayer and in His Word, He continues to show me the glorious beauty of the gospel. There was a specific instance during this past presidential election when I had been having discussions with several Christian friends who just didn’t see things the same way I did. I couldn’t understand how they could justify supporting the “lesser” of two evils when I believed that supporting neither candidate was obviously the “holier” choice. Didn’t they trust in the sovereignty of God? How can we have the same Holy Spirit guiding our lives and yet have such different convictions, I wondered? I even began to contemplate that perhaps they weren’t truly saved. Maybe they were just pretend Christians. As I thought about these things, a question popped into my mind: Well, Charla, how do you know YOU are saved?

So, I thought about it for a while. Well, I know I’m not saved by a prayer, of course. And then I began to go through all the reasons why I knew I was truly saved. I began to justify myself before God: “I am saved because I know it is a work you have done. I believe what your word says. I know I am a sinner. I know Jesus lived a sinless life. I know He was my substitute. I know He died for my sins. I believe He was raised on the third day. I even understand the doctrines of grace, such as total depravity, unconditional election, and limited atonement.”

And as I began to unload all my incredible theological wisdom before God, I felt an emptiness in my spirit as if all of these reasons were just not enough. There was simply – “No.” Immediately, I became desperate and undone. I thought to myself, “No? No? Then I have nothing. What can I say? How can I know for sure that I am saved?” And it was at that moment that I saw with my spiritual eyes – Christ crucified: Christ hanging on the cross for ME, Christ spilling out his blood for ME, Christ drinking the cup of God’s wrath for ME, Christ giving his life for ME. Christ. Only Christ. He is why I am saved. He is my assurance. My faith rests entirely on Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. In that moment, the gospel was so clear and so glorious that I literally covered my mouth with my hand and gasped.

God has truly done a miraculous work in my life. He has given me a desire to know Him, a desire to follow Him, and a desire to love Him. I am not who I once was. I truly am a new creation! I am being sanctified as the Holy Spirit convicts me daily of that residual sin that is still at war in my flesh and by His grace, He helps me to crucify my flesh, pick up my cross and follow Him. Even though I’m not sure when the exact moment of regeneration took place in my spirit, I can always look to the finished work of Christ on the cross. That day is the most significant date of my salvation! Recently, I came under the conviction that I should follow Christ in believer’s baptism and so a few months ago, I was baptized by my pastor (who happens to also be my husband). God is so, so good. What a gracious, merciful Savior!


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Sunday School

How Can I Be Certain I’m Saved? ~ Sunday School Lesson ~ 10-27-13

sunday schoolThese are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.

How Can I Be Certain I’m Saved?

The Character of Genuine
SAVING FAITH*

2 Corinthians 13:5: 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!

**Scripture is the measuring stick we use for examining ourselves. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 19:7-8)
**Direction, not perfection.

1: EVIDENCES THAT NEITHER PROVE NOR DISPROVE ONE’S FAITH

A. Visible Morality: Matt. 19:16–21; 23:27.
*Rom. 3:10
B. Intellectual Knowledge:
**Notre Dame professor on O’Reilly
Rom. 1:21; 2:17ff.
C. Religious Involvement: Matt. 25:1–10
D. Active Ministry:
**Justin Peters Lecture 1
**Justin Peters Lecture 2
Matt. 7:21–24
E. Conviction of Sin: Acts 24:25
F. Assurance: Matt. 23
G. Time of Decision: Luke 8:13, 14

 

 2: THE FRUIT/PROOFS OF AUTHENTIC/TRUE CHRISTIANITY:

**These are not things we strive to do, but what God works in our hearts as He sanctifies us day by day. 

A. Love for God: Ps. 42:1ff; 73:25; Luke 10:27; Rom. 8:7; **1 John 4:19
B. Repentance from Sin: Ps. 32:5; Prov. 28:13; Rom. 7:14ff; 2 Cor. 7:10; 1 John 1:8–10; **Psalm 119:128
C. Genuine Humility: Ps. 51:17; Matt. 5:1–12; James 4:6, 9ff.
D. Devotion to God’s Glory: Ps. 105:3; 115:1; Is. 43:7, 48:10ff.; Jer. 9:23, 24; 1 Cor. 10:31.
E. Continual Prayer: Luke 18:1; Eph. 6:18ff.; Phil. 4:6ff.; 1 Tim. 2:1–4; James 5:16–18
F. Selfless Love: 1 John 2:9ff, 3:14; 4:7ff.
G. Separation from the World: 1 Cor. 2:12; James 4:4ff.; 1 John 2:15–17, 5:5
H. Spiritual Growth: Luke 8:15; John 15:1–6; Eph. 4:12–16
I. Obedient Living:


J. Hunger for God’s Word

K. Transformation of Life

Matt. 7:21; John 15:14ff.; Rom. 16:26;

1 Pet. 1:2, 22; 1 John 2:3–5

1 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:17

 

If List I is true of a person and List II is false, there is cause to question the validity of one’s profession of faith. Yet if List II is true, then the top list will be also.

3: THE CONDUCT OF THE GOSPEL:

A. Proclaim it:               Matt. 4:23


B. Defend it:                  Jude 3

C. Demonstrate it:          Phil. 1:27

D. Share it:                    Phil. 1:5

E. Suffer for it:               2 Tim. 1:8

F. Don’t hinder it:           1 Cor. 9:12

G. Be not ashamed:       Rom. 1:16

H. Preach it:                  1 Cor. 9:16

I. Be empowered:           1 Thess. 1:5

J. Guard it:                    Gal. 1:6:-8

*This document was written by Dr. John MacArthur and is part of the MacArthur Study Bible notes. It can be found on line here.

**Supplementary information I have added to Dr. MacArthur’s original document.