A Personal Testimony by Marilyn Joy Tyner (Containing Apologetics)
Life is a series of choices, right? Hopefully we make wise decisions so they don’t turn into regrets. Have you ever stood at a crossroads in life, faced with a major decision? Well I certainly did, and I’m forever grateful I made the right one. At age 34, I finally understood the life-giving gospel message, and I acted on it!
I grew up as the daughter of a priest in a mainline Protestant Christian church. My father ministered in a series of small churches, and my mother played the organ and served as church secretary. I had one sister, an identical twin. Our parents sheltered us from many harmful things in the world and taught us to hug, forgive, and try to behave.
Our church worshipped the God of the Bible. But our denomination believed that faith and good works were both necessary to get to heaven. By being a good person and keeping the Ten Commandments, people could earn their way. That made sense to me. After all, I thought, God is a loving God. Surely He will reward people for godly behavior. So I aimed to be as good as I could be.
When I became a teenager, my parents’ divorce caused my faith to crumble. The wonderful experiences I’d enjoyed on Sundays—singing hymns to God and sensing His holiness during our church liturgy—became a thing of the past. At my high school, no one ever discussed religion. That was fine with me. I felt embarrassed to say that my dad was a minister.
In junior college, I took courses in philosophy and world religions. None of my teachers were Christians, so I began to seriously question two things: Is Christianity really the one true religion? and Is the Bible really the Word of God? Many years passed before I became convinced in my heart and mind that the answer to both questions was yes!
A Turning Point
Several years later, while I was employed as a litigation paralegal and married to my second husband, my life radically changed. I developed health issues and needed to resign from my job. That plunged me into an identity crisis, and I began searching for real meaning in life. Of course I loved raising my two spectacular sons, yet there was a spiritual void in my heart.
During my search for answers, a friend invited me to a weekly women’s Bible study held at a nondenominational church. They believed the entire Bible was God’s truth to humanity. After I joined the study, the Scriptures and worship music ministered to my soul like living water. And I heard testimonies of women who claimed to have a dynamic, personal relationship with the Lord.
Saved by God’s Grace
I began listening to Christian radio stations, enjoying the clear Bible teaching and the call-in programs. I discovered that plenty of solid evidence existed for the historicity of Jesus and the Bible. I learned from Scripture that salvation (eternal life in heaven) only comes by God’s grace (His divine favor), not by doing good works or being good.
“By grace you have been saved through faith
[in Jesus], and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of
God not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
RELIGION is our hopeless attempt to reach up to God thru some form of good works!
RELATIONSHIP is God reaching down to us to provide the way to Himself through Jesus!
At one of our Bible studies, a woman in our group said the closing prayer. I wondered what she meant when she thanked God that she was “born again.” At our next group luncheon, I asked my leader. She recited John 3:3, where Jesus told a religious leader, “Unless one is born again, he [or she] cannot see the kingdom of God.” In other words, people need a second birth—a spiritual birth. The Holy Spirit makes us spiritually alive and destined for heaven.
I already understood that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary to pay for all our sins out of His deep love. So she went on to explain that I could become born again (“saved”) by BELIEVING in Jesus and RECEIVING Him into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior. And if I said a heartfelt prayer to God (like the suggested prayer at the bottom), I’d begin a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus.1
“For God so loved the world that He
gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever
BELIEVES in Him should
not perish but have everlasting life.”
(John 3:16, emphasis added)
“As many as RECEIVED Him [Jesus] to
them He gave the right to become children
of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
(John 1:12, emphasis added)
I couldn’t wait to become born again. I wanted a real relationship with God, not just a “religion.” That afternoon, I drove home with great anticipation. Then I went for a walk in my neighborhood park to pray. My prayer of surrender went something like this: Dear Lord, I’ve said many prayers to a distant God, but I’ve never asked You to be my personal Lord and Savior. Please come into my heart and life and forgive me of all my sins. I want to relate to You and follow You. Amen.
A New Creation in Christ
Filled with joy, I sensed the Lord’s loving arms around me. I became a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). That day I started traveling with Jesus on the “narrow road” that leads to life, no longer on the “wide road” that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13–14). We all naturally travel the wide road unless we respond to our Savior’s compassionate call to walk with Him. For all of us have sinned, and the result of our sin is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). But the sinless Son of God died for our sins so we could live and enjoy the glories of heaven. Praise God!
Real Meaning in Life
I am eternally grateful for God’s gift of salvation, and I’ve found real meaning in life. After growing in God’s grace for a few years, God gave me a writing ministry. He gave my husband and me a marriage counseling ministry. Many of our family members have come to faith in Christ. And my beloved father, the Protestant priest, became born again at age 75. Praise the Lord! Who would have thought?
Do you remember those two questions I had about the truth of Christianity and the Bible? Well, eventually I received a college degree in Christian Apologetics (reasons and evidence for the truth of Christianity).2 And now I can confidently declare the following truths:
IS THE BIBLE GOD’S WORD?
There is no other book like the Bible. The internal, external, and bibliographical tests confirm that the Bible is the revealed Word of God—just as it claims to be. Consider the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled centuries later, the Bible’s amazing harmony and unity, its extensive manuscript support, its accurate textual transmission, the hundreds of archaeological confirmations, the wonder of the Bible’s survival, and the millions of lives changed through a relationship with the biblical Jesus.3
WHAT SETS CHRISTIANITY APART
- Christianity has the MOST EVIDENCE supporting it. Consider the historicity of Jesus Christ, His miraculous resurrection from the dead (one of the most well-attested facts of ancient history), His fulfillment of 300 messianic Bible prophecies, and the numerous miracles He performed.
- Christianity is the MOST IMPORTANT faith. It connects us with the only living God—our Creator—who created us to enjoy an endless love relationship with Him.
- Christianity is the MOST LOVING faith. Jesus sacrificed His life for us (experiencing the greatest suffering ever known) so we could live in heaven and be spared from eternal destruction.
- Christianity is the MOST HUMBLE faith. Christians must humbly admit they could do nothing on their own to get to heaven. God did it all by His grace.
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus
and believe in your heart that God has raised Him
from the dead, you will be saved.”
A SUGGESTED PRAYER TO RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for loving us so much that You sent Jesus to be our Savior. And Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross of Calvary for my sins and rising again, so heaven will be my eternal home. Please be my personal Lord and Savior, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit’s power so I can live for You. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’s name, amen.
1 The Bible teaches there is one God in three Persons–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ (the second Person of the Trinity) declared in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” 2 Visit Marilyn’s website TrueWayTracts.com for a variety of gospel tracts, her book Awesom-Azing God, and apologetics pamphlets, such as “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” and “How Can We Know if God Exists?” 3 Dr. Norman L. Geisler and William Nix, From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible (Moody Publishers, 2012). See also Josh and Sean McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict: An Updated and Expanded Classic (Thomas Nelson, 2017). Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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