Every spring semester at The Master’s Seminary seniors are given the opportunity to share 5-7 minutes testimonies about how they got saved, how they ended up at TMS, and what their future plans are. I am always blessed by these times; it’s amazing to hear the stories behind each graduating student. There are students from literally all over the world– last week’s chapel saw two graduates from South Korea, another from Argentina, one from Canada, and another from a land even more strange: Texas. These testimonies are Providence put to words. It’s fascinating.
One graduate’s testimony was particularly amazing. John Chester. I’ve never met him, but if the audio of his testimony shows up on the TMS website (which they sometimes do), I am going to download it and keep it. Anyway, I hope he doesn’t mind that I am going to try to relate his testimony here on my blog. I hope I don’t butcher it. At least he would be happy to know that it has already encouraged me to share the gospel and give out Bibles to the four skater-teens outside my building here. I hope it encourages you as well.
John was raised in a non-believing home. His father left his mom when he was young, and his mother, though unbelieving, thought it would be good to send young John to a Presbyterian church. John, now looking back on the church, said it was dead. He attended out of duty, and never heard the gospel.
But when John was 13, the pastor gave him a Bible– which he brought home and promptly put on the shelf. That Bible sat on his shelf for 16 years, untouched.
John became a writer. One particular night, as a 29 year old, when he was working on a piece for some worldly magazine (he mentioned the name but I don’t remember it), he got writer’s block. To break out of writer’s block, he began to do what he always did– he picked a random book off his shelf and begin to read, just to get the words flowing again. When he looked at his shelf to pick a book, it seemed (and this is his description) that all the books were out of focus– except one. The Bible that pastor had given him many years ago stood out from all the rest. So he picked it up– for the first time.
He didn’t know where to start reading, so, like any other book, he started in the beginning. Genesis 1:1. He became so enraptured that he kept on reading. And reading.
Two days later he arrived at Mark 12:17 “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” At that moment the sword of the Spirit pierced his heart. He was overwhelmed with his own sin, the holiness of God, and the grace offered in Jesus Christ. He knew that he himself was one of the “things that are God’s.” He crawled under his desk in shame over his sin, and eventually surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. The Hound of Heaven got another one.
Isn’t that amazing? No one to share the gospel, no one to explain the text, no one to lead him in prayer– just the simple reading of the Word of God. O how often we need to be reminded that the work of God is accomplished by the Word of God! Unleashed, the Word saves, seals, sanctifies, and secures. It is wonderfully powerful, and it does not need the accouterments of man to be effective. Let us, especially we who handle the Scriptures, never forget this.