Start Writing Your Testimony
Note: If you do not plan on getting baptized this year, you do not have to do this but, it may be a good exercise in case you change your mind.
Step 1: Spend Time in Thought Preparation
There are a few things to consider before you start writing your testimony. Think about your life before you met the Lord. What was going on in your life leading up to your conversion? What problems or needs were you facing at the time? How did your life change after that?
Step 2: Start with a Simple 3-Point Outline
A three-point approach is very effective in communicating your personal testimony. The outline focuses on; 1) before you trusted Christ, 2) how you surrendered to him, and 3) the difference since you’ve been walking with him.
- 1) Before
- Simply tell what your life was like before you surrendered to Christ. What were you searching for before coming to know Christ? What was the key problem, emotion, situation, or attitude you were dealing with? What motivated you? What were your actions? How did you try to satisfy your inner needs? (Examples of inner needs are loneliness, fear of death, and insecurity. Possible ways to fill those needs include work, money, drugs, relationships, sports, and sex.)
- Catechism Q&A
- Ch1: The Condition of Man Before the Fall
- 1. What was man’s condition in Paradise?
It was glorious and highly blessed.
- Genesis 1:28-31
- 2. Was man created good?
Yes. God made man upright. He created man in his own image, after his own likeness.
- Ecclesiastes 7:29, Genesis 1:27
- 3. In what way does man’s likeness relate to God?
Man was created after God’s righteousness and true holiness.
- Ephesians 4:24
- 4. Did Adam and Eve continue in their blessed condition?
No. They sinned and fell away from God – they and all their descendants.
- Romans 5:12-19
- I. The Fall of Man
- 5. What sin against God did our first parents commit?
In disobedience to God’s command, they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden when he said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”
- Genesis 2:17, Genesis 3:3
- 6. What induced them to commit this sin?
An evil spirit, called the serpent deceived them?
- Genesis 3:5,13
- 7. Who is this evil spirit?
He is called the Devil, and Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning and does not hold to the truth.
- Revelation 12:9, John 8:44
- 8. How did Satan beguile Eve?
He said, “You will not surely die – you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
- Genesis 3:4-5
- 9. Why did they so readily believe?
They filled with a desire to become wise and like God.
- Genesis 3:6
- II. The Results of the Fall
- 10. What were the results of Adam’s disobedience?
Sin and death came into the world.
- Romans 5:12
- 11. What do we understand by this death, which came over Adam and his descendants?
The death of soul and body; the body must die and return to the ground, and man, prone to do evil, has become guilty of eternal condemnation.
- Genesis 3:19, Psalm 14:3, Romans 5:16
- 12. How did sin reveal itself in Adam’s descendants?
All flesh had corrupted their way on the earth, so that the Lord had to destroy them from the earth.
- Genesis 6:12-13
- 13. Is there anyone on earth without sin?
No. That which is born of the flesh is flesh. No one is without sin, except the Son of God, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit.
- John 3:6, Luke 1:35, Hebrews 7:26
- 14. What should this teach us?
From this we should learn that by nature we are prone to evil and are children of wrath; and realizing our sinful condition, we should seek forgiveness through the grace and mercy of God.
- Ephesians 2:2-3
- II. The Law, a Schoolmaster unto Christ
- 10. By what means did God control the people of Israel before the advent of Christ?
He gave them the law of Moses, especially the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, written upon two tablets of stone.
- Exodus 20:1-17
- 11. What are the Ten Commandments?
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
- Exodus 20:1-2
- First Table
1. You shall have no other gods before me.
- 2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them, or serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, and showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me, and keep my commandments.
- 3. 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.
- 4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your
gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
- Second Table
5. Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
- 6. You shall not murder.
- 7. You shall not commit adultery.
- 8. You shall not steal.
- 9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s.
- 12. What is the sum and substance of these Ten Commandments?
The first table commands us to love God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind. And the second table is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself.
- Matthew 22:37-39, Romans 13:10
- 13. Has the law respect only to actions?
No. It has special respect to the inward movings or desires of the heart.
- 1 Timothy 1:5, Matthew 15:19
- 14. Does the law forbid secret lusts?
By all means. For it is written, “You shall not covet.”
- Exodus 20:17, Romans 7:7, Colossians 3:5
- 15. Has anyone ever fully kept the law?
No. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
- Romans 3:9-19, James 2:10
- 16. For what purpose was the law given?
The law was our guardian until Christ came and that man might have a knowledge of sin.
- Galatians 3:24, Romans 3:20
Lesson 4 Notes
We strive for peace, and tolerance, we invent things to make life easier to live, basically, we are trying to find common ground for all people. We as people have been doing this for as long as we have been around.
There are fundraising events for just about every disease known to man, we have all types of programs to help the less fortunate get their feet back on the ground, and we have facilities and tonnes of people involved in preventing tragedy and helping those who have been through it – there are countless ways in which we can participate, give money and our time to these causes to help make this world a better place.
Somehow, after all the time people have existed, we have not been able to achieve world peace, we have not eradicated sickness and disease and life is still difficult to deal with. In fact, it appears that homelessness, anxiety, depression, and criminal activity are on the rise.
What is so wrong with this world that we can’t seem to fix it – no matter what we do? Is the world the problem? What if the problem is in the people? What if the problem is in you and in me? What if it’s a problem that we cannot fix?
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
What is the problem? . . .
The problem is that we are separated from God as a result of our sins and because of that, we are without life.
Isaiah 59:2 “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 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— 3 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”
Where did sin come from?
Who was the first to sin?
Satan, who is called Lucifer, was the first to fall into sin when he rebelled against God in an effort to exalt himself above God.
We don’t know a whole lot about Lucifer’s origin but are given glimpses through prophets regarding the corruption and fall of evil kings.
Isaiah 14:12-14 “12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God, I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’.”
Ezekiel 28:12-19 “12 ‘You were a signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.”
How did the problem of sin come about in mankind?
What was Lucifier’s sin? He coveted God’s position. So guess what he deceived Eve with? Coveting God’s position; “You will be like God.”
Satan planted in the mind of Eve the very thing that caused him to be cast out of heaven; pride.
What is sin? . . .
Simply put, sin is the condition of the human heart from which all of man’s sins / hurtful and hateful actions come to life. One definition of sin is to have missed the mark of absolute perfection. Everything we do that does not hit the bullseye of God’s standard is sin because it is a life not fueled by God, but by self. So no matter what we do, no matter how good of a thing it is, apart from God our best deeds are just as rotten as our worst deeds. Our condition of sin severs us from God.
The condition of sin isn’t wrongdoing, it is wrong being – it is a wrong type of existence, it is a broken existence.
Q: What makes you a sinner?
Did you know you were a sinner before you committed a single sin?
Romans 5:12,19 “12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
“19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners.”
Look at children, even babies, in their innocence are incredibly selfish – that is the nature of sin. They push the boundaries and limits of what they can do in order to get what they want when they want it. They have a rebellious nature before they are even aware of it.
You don’t need to teach a child how to misbehave; that came naturally to us all. I think we are all aware that even in our adulthood, we recognize that same rebellious nature in us that desires to live for ourselves even at someone else’s expense.
The difference between sin and sins
Sin is a state of existence. It is “wrong-being” (noun) which has nothing to do with bad behaviour. Sin is separation from God’s life which leaves us with a sickness like cancer that hides under the surface until the symptoms begin to show.
Sins on the other hand are the symptoms of sin. This is our “wrong-doing” which is about our bad behaviour.
What do the symptoms look like?
Sin is not something you do.
Sin is something you have because of the fall.
Sin is death.
And because you have sin, you commit sins.
For example, what happens to your body when you have a nasty cold? . . .
You get a runny nose, you cough, and you get tired. Are the runny nose, the cough, and the fatigue the problem? No. They are unpleasant but no amount of blowing your nose and drinking cough medicine is going to get rid of the cold until it has run its course. The problem is the cold itself because it is the cold itself that causes a runny nose, coughing, and fatigue.
Jesus made the difference between sin and sins clear when He exposed the depth of God’s commandments. God gave us commandments like, “You shall not murder” and “You shall not commit adultery” both of which are outward actions of the condition of sin.
One example can be found in Matthew 5, where Jesus says, “27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus looks right through the outward, visible actions that clearly violate God’s commands and into the source which is found in the heart of the doer.
Our actions aren’t the problem – remember, God is not interested in making you nice. He is after transforming you completely from the inside out. The problem lies right at the core of our being. Our sinful actions have separated us from God leaving us dead in our sin.
Our sinful actions are a desperate attempt at trying to find meaning and purpose and value in this life. Can anyone guess why?
Because the center that tells us who we are is dead and separated from its original source of life. At best, we are functioning at only 2/3 of our full capacity – this is our flesh.
We hate, steal, lie, cheat, kill, collect, and even do good in order to fill that emptiness in our center.
The short and bitter of it is that we are trying to fill a God-given need in a God-forsaken way.
How did we inherit the condition of sin?
As mentioned earlier, there is nothing we did to contribute to this condition although we have all acted in sin. It was by Adam’s disobedience that we all became sinners. Paul tells us in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 that sin entered this world through one man – Adam.
In the Garden of Eden, God warned Adam that on the day that he would eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die. We know that he did eat of that tree but he did not physically die on that day. He lived to be 930 years old (Genesis 5:5) but his spirit died the moment he acted in disobedience to what God had said. How do we know this?
What is the first thing Adam and Eve do when they realized what just happened? They hid because of shame. How is shame linked to our identity? Guilt says, “I did something wrong” while shame says, “I am wrong”. Adam and Eve immediately realized they were naked and shame overcame them. It was at that moment we were severed from the life of God.
We were cut off because we were in Adam when he fell.
The dead spirit of Adam is hereditary and all who come from His seed (which is all of human creation) are born into this world with a dead spirit – a spirit separated from God.
Our condition of sin is the problem because it separates us from God. The problem isn’t the bully, the hater, the thief, or the guy that cuts you off on the highway. The problem isn’t terrorism or a corrupt government. Their extreme actions come from the same problem we all share which is a dead, unregenerate spirit that is separated from God. Each of us has the capacity for murder, terrorism, genocide, and whatever extreme evil can think of.
Our sinful actions are proof that there is a sickness beneath it all. It is this sickness that we have to become aware of before we can realize our need for redemption. If we are to believe Jesus, we must first believe that what we are born with is corrupt, broken, and ultimately evil. Seeing the ugly nature of our sinful nature is critical to understanding our need for the Life of Jesus.
Without a relationship with God, we are dead at our center; dead in our sins. Without a relationship with God, we are condemned to eternal separation from God in hell because that is what sin, when not dealt with produces.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.” That covers all aspects of death; spiritual death, physical death, and eternal death.
God has no interest in covering our sin up with good behaviour because no matter how good we think we are, we are still dead inside if we do not have God.
1 John 5:12
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
We need to see the truth about our sin so we can see the need to turn from it and towards Jesus in order to be saved.