Sierra’s blog is:  HERE

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I’ll begin just by saying that I was baptized on Christmas Day of 2011. Naturally, I spent a lot of time beforehand pondering what baptism actually meant. I came to the conclusion that, although baptism was not required for my personal salvation to be accomplished, it was yet a declaration that I had chosen to devote my life to serving and glorifying Jesus Christ. Consequently, I also spent a good amount of time thinking and writing about my own salvation, or my testimony as it is called.  I would relate my testimony to my church body, the story of God’s amazing grace, love, forgiveness, and sovereignty as I have personally experienced it, before my baptism. The following is a copy of that testimony. I hope that it encourages all who read it.

My Testimony – A Sovereign, Loving, and Gracious Work of God 

It probably is not a surprise when I say that I have been raised in a Christian home for my entire life. I cannot begin to express what a blessing it is that God has allowed and is allowing me to grow up in a home where I am receiving constant Biblical instruction and teaching from my parents. I have not always accepted that instruction with joy and thanksgiving as a child of God. In fact, I recently came to the realization that I was not truly saved until I was about thirteen years old. Compare that to my former opinion, which was that I was saved when I was four years old, and you’ll get a pretty good picture of how God has humbled me during my walk with Him. Still, I am extremely thankful that God was gracious toward me to accept me into His family.

Before I surrendered my life to Christ, I was completely depraved, my heart was corrupted by sin, and I was an utter enemy of God. Romans 1:29-32 very justly describes my sinful state, saying,  “…being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful.”  I was by no means an exception to Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall of the glory of God.”Although I knew that I was a sinner, I probably would not have described myself in so many words. I was of the opinion that Jesus Christ was already “in my heart” and had been since I was four years old. Consequently, I did not often care to dwell on my sinful state. However, if I had had the discernment to examine the fruits in my life, or the lack thereof, I would have seen a stark contrast between myself and one who was truly saved by Jesus Christ.

For the first ten years of my life, my family lived in southern California. The church that I grew up in was unstable and did not teach the truth of God’s Word. As a result, it was easy for me to go through the motions, to look the part of the little Christian girl that I thought I was. At home, my siblings and I were home-schooled, which also meant that we were constantly under the teaching and instruction of my parents. But I did not take it to heart. I learned enough to know the rules and to keep from getting in trouble. I never imagined myself to be an angel child, and I secretly reveled in my rebellion. As the years continued, I nursed this rebellion and I became very adept in deception and manipulation. I would go to great and precise lengths to get what I wanted. This would eventually lead me to a point of desperation. Oddly enough, through all of this, I was still blinded by own sin, still thinking that I was a member of God’s family.

About a year after my family moved from our home in California to a new one in Tennessee, my sinful habits culminated into a period of time when I began to experience what real bondage to sin felt like. The first step was minor. I allowed myself to surreptitiously indulge in a specific area of sin which would slowly grow into an obsession.  Gradually, the sickly pleasure that I found in this sinful action grew until I anticipated it, planning when I could indulge my flesh.  But even as my fleshly lust for particular sin grew, so did its weight on my conscience. I could identify with Proverbs 5:22, which speaks of the sinner being held by the cords of his own sin. My sin plagued me and I was always haunted by the fear that my sin would be found out. I remember considering and even desiring to confess my sin to my parents, but the desires of my flesh made excuses, repeatedly reminding of the horrible consequences that would ensue. I felt chained to my sin, wanting to be rid of the guilt and the shame that I felt, but also not wanting to give up this source of fleshly satisfaction.

Thankfully, regardless my absolute hostility toward God, His Spirit was working in my heart to draw me to Himself. Several times the thought had occurred to me that a true believer in Christ would not be committing such a sin against God. And I think it was this that led me to realize that I truly was not a child of God. In my mind, this “big” sin was proof that my life was not truly surrendered to Christ. Rather suddenly, I confessed my sin to my mom one night, three years ago. My desire to be forgiven and reconciled had brought me to a point where I experienced, for the first time, true repentance and sorrow over my sin. I confessed my sins to God and pleaded for His forgiveness, and I clearly remember being overwhelmed by a feeling of relief and joy. Christ performed the redeeming work in my heart.

At the time, I was so overwhelmed by my sin, and I do not think that I fully thought through substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. I was well aware of the fact that Christ had offered up His perfect life as a sacrifice to receive the wrath of God in my place, and it was in this that I placed my trust. I was completely sure God would forgive me of my sin, although I did not logically consider that at the time. Regardless, Philippians 2:6-8, speaking of Christ, still rings true: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed the form of God, did not regard equality with a God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” The message is finished in Ephesians 1:7-8a, “In Him we have redemption through blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us.”

Since then, I believe that God has worked in my life and in my heart to develop a growing love for Him, for His Son, and for His Word. Whereas before I could only fulfill the desires of my flesh, I have now been enabled through the redeeming work of Christ to produce fruit for His glory. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away, new things have come.” I thank God that He has accepted me into His family, that He purified my heart and made me a new creature so that I might begin the journey of being conformed to Christ’s image and of spending my life glorifying Him.

God has taught me so much about His character during the time that I have been in His service. I have wondered at His marvelous love, His completely unmerited forgiveness and grace, His awesome sovereignty, and His incredible strength. More recently, however, He has taught me much about His faithfulness, particularly in the areas of forgiveness and prayer. Psalm 103:11-12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” I have been continually awed by the fact that God, despite the extent of my sin, regardless of the sinful condition of my heart, has never failed to remove my sins from me so that I am pure before Him once again. Not only that, but He is incredibly faithful to answer prayer. I am slowly learning to commit everything to my Savior, because He has shown Himself to be unchanging and unfailing.

During the years that I have been saved, 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 has become a kind of theme verse for me: “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” Not only does this speak of the sacrifice that Christ made so that we might live to serve Him, but it also describes the fervor with which I am to serve Him. From this passage, I know that I am to be beside myself, or “going crazy” for God, I am to be completely controlled and motivated by His love. This has encouraged me to spend every moment of my life pursuing and glorifying Christ with reckless abandon.

I am thankful that God has brought me to Himself, that I have been reconciled to Him through His Son, that I am eternally able to reap the rewards of serving and glorifying Jesus Christ. God has blessed me in so many ways, and my prayer is that He will receive all of the glory in my life.