Testimony of an Old Saint

If you wrote an autobiography, how would your relationship with Jesus Christ influence the story?

It is a pity that more people do not leave behind a life’s story that at least covers the highlights of their life. This story would help relatives of future generations to understand the stock from which they came. You could give a summary of your philosophy of life. You could mention some of your strengths and a few of your weaknesses.

If your family has a weakness for alcohol, it would be well to tell the younger generation that some of those same genes live in them. If your family has been very critical and judgmental of others, and it has brought much unhappiness to your home, this might make your grandchildren understand how forgiveness and showing love and understanding toward others is the right way to go.

If your family members have been committed believers in Jesus Christ, tell this story, by all means. Your own spiritual awakening, which made you a new person in Christ, would help your grandchildren to have a better understanding of who you are. It would explain the peace and joy that molds your personality.

Let me tell you the story of Anna Fogdall Nielsen. I was twenty-eight years old when I became her pastor; she must have been in her eighties. On one of my monthly visits to her room in a retirement center, we had our devotion together and talked about the joy of being a Christian. That day she said to me, “You’re a young man. Let me share with you a verse in the Bible that means much to me.” She then read these words: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (I John 5:12).

After reading the verse she made some very pointed comments. Then, with a smile of love on her face, she asked me a question that I will never forget: “Do you have the Son in your life?” I assured her that I did, but was happy she was concerned her pastor knew Christ in a personal way. Mrs. Nielsen did not assume that, simply because I was an ordained pastor of the church, I knew Christ, and she wanted an answer from me. From that day on, we became real good friends.

Then came the day when I was called to her bedside, for the end of her life was near. We thought she was in a coma, but I quoted John 3:16 to her. “Mrs. Nielsen, do you understand that verse?” Out of her mouth she replied, “No, I don’t, and neither do you. But I believe it.” What a testimony to leave with her family and friends. Soon she left this world, but her testimony lives on in my heart and I am sure in the hearts of her family.

Now, let’s turn to Scripture and listen to the testimony of St. John. He had walked with Jesus in person, and then in prayer. The teachings the Lord had left behind, he carried both in his heart and in his head. It was between 85 and 90 A.D. He was an old man, the only surviving apostle on this earth. He was writing to give this generation of believers assurance and confidence in God and in their faith as he pointed them to the Lord Jesus.

He writes, “We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater, because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.” Many people had given their testimonies about Jesus, and John says we accepted them as containing some truth. But the testimony we should be concerned about is the Word from God Himself as spoken through the Scriptures. And this is the testimony of His Son.

Listen to verse 11 of our text: “And this is God’s testimony. God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life, and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

“Eternal means far more than lasting forever. Eternal life is nothing other than the life of God himself within us. What we are promised is that here and now we can have given to us a share in the very life of God.” I borrow this quote from William Barclay. Barclay goes on to explain that within eternal life are other gifts, such as:

1. Peace, which brings serenity. Fears are eliminated, which haunt the human situation.

2. Power, which means the defeat of frustration.

3. Love, which includes the end of bitterness and hatred.

4. Eternal life, which means the defeat of death.

Understanding these gifts goes far beyond my comprehension. Let me illustrate. A few weeks ago I sat beside a woman in her late 60s. Once we knew her as a very attractive person. Now her physical features showed the wear of battling a malignancy. It was only natural that her family pleaded with her to try to buy some extra time on this earth by going through treatments for this fatal disease. But Marilyn refused. “Help them to understand that I trust Jesus’ promises, and I want to go to my heavenly home.”

We talked about this real problem, and I told her that I sided with the family. We all wanted her to say with us for a while longer. “But pastor, just see where I am going,” she said.

She was right, but as much as I believe there is the eternal home with God, I still enjoy staying here. Eternal life and the joy of being with the Lord had so grabbed her life, she didn’t want to hang on any more, so I was convinced and joined Marilyn’s side. Today she lives with God forever.

Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. It is experiential knowledge.

Why don’t you write an autobiography? It doesn’t have to be more than a few pages long. If Christ lives in your heart, tell readers what he has done to make life a blessing for you. It will be a great experience for you to write the article, and hopefully a blessing for others, especially your loved ones, to read it.