Testimony by Ryan Porter
I grew up with loving parents who instilled in me morals and the knowledge of God. Seeking my parents’ affirmation I did all I could to please them, looking like a relatively “good” kid; however, the reality of sin and my need for salvation tormented me. As a 12-year-old I would lie in bed at night, knowing my sin and even asking Jesus to forgive me, but I had no assurance and no true Savior.
As I grew older and more temptations entered my life, my desire for affirmation shifted from my parents to whoever might make a big deal out of me. This eventually led to a pretty self-indulgent lifestyle. Meanwhile, knowing that I could not live up to God’s standards, I stopped going to church in my early twenties. I equated church attendance and a moderately “holy” lifestyle with being a Christian and thought of Jesus as a lifeguard who only saved those who waved their arms and did their best to make it to the side of the pool. I thought that if you showed significant effort He would reward you.
By my late-twenties, I was no longer hanging out in bars and nightclubs, I had gotten married, I’d cleaned up my vocabulary, and I was attending church regularly, so I decided that I was ready to be “devout Christian.” In my zeal, I read a popular Christian book, which in turn crushed my zeal with this line from the second page: “You were made for God, not vice versa.” I thought that I was at the center of the universe and that God really needed me to get my act together, but the idea that creation revolved around Him enraged me. I had thought God needed me, almost worshiped me, but then I discovered that the God of Scripture delights in Himself and wishes the same for all of us.
I was now in a state of internal chaos and wrestled with skepticism, anger, fear and sadness for months, desperate to discover who God truly was. Christian apologists gave solid arguments for the existence of the God of the Bible and the authenticity of the Scriptures, but in my anger, selfishness and anxiety, I still didn’t have peace.
I’d heard many times that Jesus died for my sins, but it still meant nothing to me until a buddy of mine gave me a sermon which proposed this scenario: What if the content of our lives, our thoughts and deeds, could be displayed before an audience? What would I do in order to keep my life from being completely exposed? I would physically assault someone in order to keep him from exposing who I really was. It was then that I realized that I was not good at all. I hadn’t regained any righteousness by getting married, leaving the clubs or restraining from using my favorite 4-letter words; I never had any righteousness to offer God from the start. I didn’t just sin in my actions; I was infected with sin from the beginning. My actions were simply a symptom of my disease, so cleaning up my actions would never clean up my heart.
I was shown little by little through Scripture and godly men the beauty of the person of Jesus Christ, His life, death and resurrection. The God-man could live as God intended for me to live. The eternal Son could endure my punishment and death. His resurrection validated His perfect righteousness and obedience to God the Father. God had exhausted His wrath due to me on Jesus. In Christ, my penalty was extinguished, and my sins were no more. This was truly good news. The true and living God is so righteous that He demands from us what we cannot offer, yet He offers what He requires to all who repent of unrighteousness and self-righteousness and place their confidence for reconciliation in Jesus alone.
Exodus 34:6-7 says, “Then the Lord passed by in front of [Moses] and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…’” Where else but in Jesus could we ever see the compassion and lovingkindness of God meet His justice? I praise God for bringing me into this truth and rescuing me from my sin and myself."