Clergy Column

August 24, 2013 

I became a Christian as a freshman at Millersville State College (now Millersville University). During my junior year I began attending Grace Baptist Church of Millersville. One feature that I liked about the church was the opportunity on Sunday evenings to give testimonies. The pastor, Herb Samworth, would invite anyone who so desired to share with the church what God was doing in his or her life. More often than not, Mrs. Mary Virginia Heissey would raise her hand. When called upon by the pastor, she would say, “I am a sinner, and I am so thankful that Jesus is my Savior.”

In my arrogance I would think to myself, “Mary, isn’t God teaching you anything else?” or “You should have learned this long ago;” or “Mary, there is so much more to the Christian life than just thanking Jesus that He is your personal Savior.” How proud I was (and still am), yet I am so thankful that over the years Jesus, my Savior, has been patiently teaching me how profound and how beautiful is this word of testimony!

Jesus is the Savior, and He is my Savior! I thank Him for that!

Jesus left the glory of the heavenly presence of God the Father. He was born of the virgin Mary in the village of Bethlehem. He gave His life as an atoning sacrifice for my rebellion against God.

I am the rebel. Created by God in His image and likeness, I freely and willingly chose to suppress the knowledge of God by my rebellion. I am the one who worshiped and served the creature not the Creator. I am the one who chose to live by my thoughts and feelings rather than by the Law of God. I am the law-breaker, the criminal, the rebel, the wayward son. I delighted in my will and my way. I rejoiced in my idolatry against the true and living God — living as if I were god.

In spite of all of this, Jesus gave His life for me because of His great love for me. He suffered not only physical stress but also emotional stress; He was forsaken and ridiculed by those whom He loved. He also suffered spiritual stress experiencing the full weight of God’s curse upon my sin. Being in such agony, He cried out to the Father, “My God, My God; why have You forsaken Me?”

Jesus is the Savior, and He is my Savior! I praise Him for that!

As I grow older and, by God’s grace, more mature in my relationship with God, I find myself appreciating more and more Mary Heissey’s profound and beautiful testimony, “I am a sinner, and I am so thankful that Jesus is my Savior.”

I close with the testimony of the apostle Paul which he gave near the end of his life, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (I Timothy 1:15).

The Rev. Drew Festermacher is pastor at Growing Faith. Contact him at pastordrew@growingatfaith.org

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