This is my written testimony of the grace and love that the Father has bestowed to me through Jesus Christ,
my Lord and my God.
My parents divorced when I was very young, maybe at the age of four years old. We once lived in New York, but my mother and I soon moved to Tampa and from Tampa to Miami, where I resided most of my life. Since I could ever remember, I have always gone to "Christian" schools. Though my parents were not "Christian", they did have high moral and ethical standards and values. Not always biblical, but they did have them.
Having never attended public schools, I gained a pretty good amount of knowledge about God and the Bible. They made us memorize verses, attend Bible classes, and/or once a week attend assemblies in the chapel. They definitely had their alter calls to have students invite Jesus in their hearts.
I remember in sixth grade having one of those alter calls. I went up, and though I don’t remember the details, I thought I had "accepted Jesus into my heart." I changed schools in seventh grade and there were other alter calls and for some reason I was always doubting and wondering if I did accept Jesus, as they were preaching. So I remember for about two years I was doubting in my seat every time they did their altar calls. Then something happened in 8th or 9th grade, and I decided that I did indeed "accept Jesus into my heart" and so I believed that I shouldn’t be doubting anymore. So after that, I never doubted again.
Now, because of my upbringing I really wasn’t a "bad" kid or "problem child". I generally obeyed my parents and didn’t get really into trouble of any serious kind. But one thing I always noticed, looking back through the years, was that it never seemed to me that my life ever changed when I "accepted Jesus in to my heart." I felt like the same old kid doing the same old thing, which means since I wasn’t a "bad" kid, I still kept not doing bad things. However, that doesn’t mean I never sinned. I did sin as a kid and all throughout my high school years. Come to think of it, even now I sin. In essence, I wasn't clean, no matter how much I tried to not be a "bad" kid.
So through my high school years, I felt comfortable that I had "Jesus in my heart" and that all was well. Yet, I really continued to live my life the way I thought was right. Some of it agreeing with scripture, and some of it not agreeing with scripture. At this time of my life, I did a lot of arguing with my mom and it grew and grew over middle school and high school years. I was constantly calling and telling my Dad (who still lived in N.Y.) how unfair this was and unrealistic she was being. The fighting became almost the norm if not for the lulls of silence between us, and the few and far between moments of casual conversation. It got to the point where at the end of my first year of college, only working part time, she wanted me out of the house by the next summer because she couldn’t live with me like this. That was about October or November of 1994.
Suddenly, she died at the end of the next month of a sudden and unexpected heart attack, in December of 1994 at the ripe young age of 40. I was only 20 at the time.
Needless to say, this was utterly and completely devastating to me. Within a few short months of her death, my little sister who lived with us, moved with her dad (not my Dad) to Puerto Rico and in the span of 3 months I had lost the two most important people in my life, who were in close proximity to me. I had a mortgage on my hands that I couldn’t afford working part time and felt totally alone, with the weight of the world on my shoulders and no one there to help me.
I use these words to describe my situation, but if you would have seen me at that time you would not have been able to detect, very much anyway, the affect it had on me. I didn’t realize till after a year had passed the depths of brokenness that I had experienced. The year after my mom’s death was spent searching. I mean really truly searching for something to hold on to. My "faith" was distant memory, and as I said before, it really did not change my life. But it was that foundation of "faith" and the love of God that led me to a real and true relationship with Jesus Christ.
I, by invitation of a friend, started a bible study group at the end of that first year after my mom’s death. Then I met a pastor who discipled me for 3 ½ years and for the first 8-10 sessions with him, I cried and cried, and cried some more in his arms...
...every single session.
You must understand that when my mom died, at the hospital, I went out of the emergency room yelling at, cursing at, and damning God and everything that had to do with Him, straight through to the parking lot outside. Shaking and crying there on the curb, however, I asked the Father to forgive me and immediately I stopped crying and shaking. But I never cried about it again for a whole year.
Nevertheless, God continually showered His love, mercy and grace upon me, as well as His power. At this church, I was baptized. Later, after realizing the need to walk in the power of the Spirit, I received the Spirit (by the baptism in the Spirit) evidenced by speaking in tongues on my bedroom floor after some time of praying and asking Him to do so. At this point, however, I did not realize that I had just received Jesus. Later, I realized that I was being led by the Spirit, to appropriate the plan of salvation, which was the apostles gospel of Jesus Christ.
This church is not what I would consider now an apostolic church. I don’t remember if I was baptized in the name of Jesus or not, but I’ll get back to this later.
Some time after this (1999), through a biblical discussion with a precious brother named Bishop Clarence Harris, it was revealed to me that repentance, being baptized in the name of Jesus to the forgiveness of sins, and receiving the Spirit was the plan of salvation laid out by Jesus through his apostles.
I questioned the necessity of the three. I still thought that it was solely by believing in Him that a man would be saved. However, believing without obeying is like saying that you believe a chair will hold you up when you sit in it, but never sitting in it.
That's trust! and that's a big difference.
I questioned my history and realized that when I thought I had "accepted Jesus into my heart" in sixth grade, I really hadn’t. I only convinced myself that I had and I allowed myself to walk in my own understanding and experience so that I could continue to walk in my own self will. But when the time came that I had to measure my experience with the measuring stick - the word of God - I could not argue. I realized I didn’t have Jesus in my heart, at that time, and my life’s fruit was the evidence of that. Nothing changed. My life was not led by the Spirit and I definitely was not walking in holiness. Even though I had knowledge of scripture, and knew about Jesus, I really didn’t have a relationship to speak of beyond that knowledge.
I came to realize that you don’t have relationships with knowledge, you have them with people. Jesus came into my heart when I took His Spirit, and I have no doubt in my heart about that and it lines up perfectly with scripture.
When I came to the point in my life where I trusted on Him and obeyed Him, that is when my life changed. Now, I can safely and assuredly say that Jesus is in my heart, by His Spirit, because I have trusted on Him and obeyed His gospel. The regenesis and renewal in my life can not be denied. My life is completely different and I am not ashamed to say that at some point in my life I thought I had Jesus in my heart, but I really didn’t. Now I know when and where I received Jesus in my heart and my life will now never be the same again.
You may be in that predicament now. You may think that you're right with God. You may think that you do have Him in your heart because you invited Him in at some point and time in your life. Like I was before, maybe, just maybe...
...you could be wrong too.
I encourage you to seek a true and honest relationship with the one and only true God that there is. His name is Jesus.
Addendum can be found here: My Testimony (Addendum)
Or you can move onto "It is Written... Introduction"
© copyright 2008, revised 2011 Jesus M. Ruiz