Joy Alone

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Call it a strange new hobby. I can’t stop viewing them, at least one a day, sometimes two. You see, I came across a website dedicated to sharing the testimonies of new believers. Specifically, they are people who have come out of a major American pseudo-Christian religion to find—in the true Church—a real personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior.

I find it fascinating and very encouraging to see the unique ways God has worked in the lives of these individuals to draw them to himself. But also, having watched maybe 60 of these interviews so far, I’m hearing certain themes repeated again and again.

These new believers express wonder at discovering the identity of Jesus. They talk about their eyes being opened—“the scales falling off.” One woman said she was overwhelmed when it finally dawned on her that “Jesus is God!” They have all come to see that salvation has been provided by this Jesus Christ alone. 

A second conviction that all of them express is that the Bible alone is the Word of God. No other man-made “revelation” can be trusted. The Bible alone reveals who Jesus is and what he has done for us. Many of them remarked that they now love reading the Bible—can’t get enough of it.

Of huge importance to these new Christians is the concept of grace. They all have come to identify their former religion as a works-based system. They had been saddled with a great weight of somewhat arbitrary requirements and rituals that were necessary in order to be considered “good enough.” Knowing inside that they weren’t good, they lived under tremendous guilt. In every case, as they found their way out of that religion and began to grasp the concept of God’s grace toward sinners, they experienced wonderful freedom. They spoke in terms of “the burden being lifted” and “the chains falling off.” It’s not about their works plus a little grace. It’s only grace that saves them. And that grace only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

One last area that many of these new converts to biblical Christianity agree on: When they first walked into a worship service in a Christian church, it felt both strange and wonderful. They found people who worshiped joyfully, and found that Christian worship was all about Jesus—only about Jesus. This was a marked contrast from what they had previously experienced, and many expressed how much they now love to worship Jesus in church.

Christ alone. The Word alone. Grace alone. Faith alone. Result: Joy Alone!

Rev. Brent Juliot is editor of Faith & Fellowship magazine, teaches math at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, and serves as pastor at Stavanger Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, MN.

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