At least one Tuesday out of each month I will try to post a testimony. Below is the testimony of Phil Johnson from Grace to You and Pyromaniacs. Personally it is one of my favorites because it was the power of the gospel through the Word of God alone that saved him. Hope you enjoy.
How Skepticism Masquerading as Christianity Almost Cost Me My Soul:
A Word of Personal Testimony by Phil Johnson
I came to Christ after being steeped for several years in the rankest brand of liberal Methodism. In the church I attended as an adolescent, the pastor and nearly all of my Sunday school teachers treated the Bible as a collection of legends, concocted by fallible human authors. They taught me that the Bible is scientifically and historically unreliable—but, they said, it contains moral principles that are good and helpful. Moreover, they said, it is great literature.
They clearly did not believe the Bible is true or trustworthy. In fact, they were convinced the Bible could be dangerous if you took it at face value, wihout demythologizing it. In effect, they denied that the Bible was either reliable or authoritative—and yet they claimed to hold it in high esteem.
Once while I was in high school, I pressed one of my Sunday-school teachers with questions when she said that the stories about Jesus’ miracles were merely fables with moral lessons—not to be taken as lieral truth. I asked how she could be so sure of that, when she seemed skeptical of what the Bible actually said about itself. I petulantly suggested that if all the tales in the about Jesus were fictional, perhaps we were wasting our time talking about them in Sunday-school. I wondered out loud whether it migh be a better use of my time to stay home and watch the NFL pregame shows on TV.
So the pastor summoned me to his office and cautioned me that it sounded like I was flirting with fundamentalism. I had never heard that word before. But I could tell by the way he said it that it wasn’t a good thing. He spent about an hour explaining to me why the Bible is important even though it isn’t true. Yet he flatly denied that there is anything supernatural about the Bible. It’s stories arent to be believed, and its teachings are not to be applied without carefully sifting the good principles it teaches from the “supernatural nonsense.” He said things to me I knew he would never admit in a sermon, and by the time he had finished, he had persuaded me that the Bible was not to be taken seriously. (I was never able to take that pastor’s preaching seriously again, either.)
That was about 1967 or 1968. By 1970, I had quit going to church altogether. I did, in fact, spend my Sunday mornings watching television. I would have become a convinced and devoted pagan if God had not reached out and sovereignly drawn me to Christ.
There was a meaninglessness to my life that I could not endure. I tried getting involved in politics and music and other things to feed my mind and keep me interested in life. I figured that whatever the truth was about God, He would accept me if I strove to be wise and good. But my heart was empty.
Then one night, almost on a whim, I picked up my Bible and began reading it. It was the first time I ever remember seriously reading more than a verse or two of Scripture to see what the Bible taught. And on that night, the Lord opened my eyes to the truth of Christ.
I set out to read the entire book of 1 Corinthians, and the early chapters just totally crushed all the confidence I had in my own wisdom and left me utterly without hope. I felt like Corinthians 3:18-19 was a hard gut-punch: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” By the time I got to the end of chapter 3, I understood that I was utterly without hope before God.
But I kept reading. And when I got to chapter 12, I read this in verse 3: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.”
I don’t think I had a clue what that meant in the context of 1 Corinthians. I could not have given you even an elementary explanation of the problems Paul was dealing with in the Corinthian church. But I somehow knew from that verse that Jesus is Lord, He demands surrender to Him as Lord, and no one can truly own Him as Lord without the Holy Spirit’s work in that person’s life. I embraced Christ as Lord and Savior then and there.
The very next day, a friend called me unexpectedly and invited me to an evangelistic meeting. He had no clue that I had been wrestling with spiritual questions, but he went to a fundamentalist church where the pastor had more or less made it a requirement for everyone in the church to invite at least one person to attend this gospel crusade. I knew this guy only as an acquaintance, so I was surprised by the call. (I think he expected it to cost him a friendship, and he figured I was the most expendable “friend” he had.) I took it as divine providence, and I eagerly accepted the invitation.
On the evening I attended, the preacher was preaching on the crucifixion, and he started with Isaiah 53. He also quoted a lot from Psalm 22. I didn’t know very much about the Bible, but I knew enough to understand that Isaiah was an Old Testament prophet whose writings pre-dated Christ by centuries, and the psalms were older yet. In all my years in that liberal denomination, I can’t recall ever hearing that Isaiah or the psalms prophesied the death of Christ.
I didn’t, however, know enough to bring a Bible to a meeting like that, so when I noticed the guy who invited me was not paying close attention, I reached over and took the Bible off his lap and began checking to verify that these verses giving so much explicit detail about the crucifixion really were in the Old Testament. When I saw it for myself, any doubt I had ever entertained about whether the Bible is to be taken seriously—all the liberal skepticism I had been force-fed by unbelieving Sunday school teachers—vanished instantly and forever.
(The sermon was a pretty good one, too—explaining how Christ’s death on the cross made atonement for sins by satisfying the penalty God demands.)
From that night to this day, I have never entertained one moment’s doubt or uncertainty about the power and authority of God’s Word. The whole course of my life was radically changed by the Word of God alone, and there is only one explanation for it: Because “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” (Hebrews 4:12).