My Testimony Story #1
Pharisee or Prodigal Son?
Hey guys! This is the FIRST post in a new series: “My Testimony Story”.
A series that I can see quite possibly being very long, and going in a thousand different directions. Because, as I explained in my previous post, (New Blog Series: My Testimony Story), a testimony is an ongoing journey!
But, for the sake of change, and breaking free…… I am going to break my typical mold of trying to have everything perfect and planned out before I start….. And just START.
We’ll see where this thing takes us. I hope you are stay me……
My Testimony Story: Pharisee or Prodigal Son?
I feel like there is something I need to explain up front, before we go into anything else. And that is, what I believe are, the two most common types of testimonies. Which will be the topic of this first post.
The two types of testimonies:
#1: The Prodigal Son
#2: The Pharisee
Now, are these the actual “names” of the testimonies? No. LOL. These are just the names I chose to describe them. For reasons that will make sense to everyone once I explain further in a minute.
Also, are these the ONLY two kinds of testimonies there are? I wouldn’t dare to claim that. Although, from what I have experienced…. every person’s testimony that I have personally heard has fallen into one of these two categories. But that does not mean there aren’t others out there! God is a big God, and I am working on taking Him OUT of boxes of expectations. (If you have a different testimony example, I would love to hear about it in the comments below).
So first, I am going to give a slightly larger than “brief” summary of the two. And then I will tell you which category my testimony falls under.
If you have never thought about it before, you may find this helpful in identifying things about your own testimony.
# 1: The Prodigal Son Testimony
For those of you who are not familiar, there is a story in the bible that people commonly refer to as “The Story of The Prodigal Son”. (Reference- Luke 15:11-32)
Now, there are MANY deep and meaningful things that can be learned from this story. But for the sake of our conversation today, I am only going to reflect on one….. the most obvious one.
To put it in a nutshell, there was a father who had a son. The son did not want to wait for his father to die to get his inheritance, so he asked his father if he could just have it early. (Yikes…. pretty harsh).
The loving father said yes anyways. So the son took the money, and foolishly wasted it on things that, today, would be the equivalent of bars, casinos, and prostitutes. Then, what a surprise…. he ran out of money! And was too ashamed to go back to his father.
He was homeless, and had nothing to his name. He tried earning a living, but eventually decided to go back home and ask his father if he could at least be a servant at their house, because he knew the servants were treated well.
As he was approaching his old home, the father was ecstatic to see him coming. He ran out to meet him on the road, and welcomed him with open, loving arms. He treated him like a son who had never left in the first place, and restored him to his position of son, not that of a servant.
SO….. A lot of you can probably relate to this story in your relationship with God, and how you came to know Him. Or, you may know someone who can relate.
You once were a different person…. You made bad choices…. Your life wasn’t going so hot…. and you knew you needed help and a change. Then somehow you heard of Jesus and His forgiveness. You gave up your life of sin, and “came home” to the Heavenly Father. And hopefully, you came to understand that He is a good, good father, who holds none of those things against you. (Just like the father in the story).
The Prodigal Son testimony is pretty simple to explain, and commonly understood by most.
#2: The Pharisee Testimony
The Pharisee testimony is harder to explain, less recognized, and often more misunderstood.
The perfect example to use to better understand this, is the bible story of Saul/Paul. (BTW… it’s the same person. His name was changed after he received salvation).
Once again, for those who are not familiar with the story…. you can find it in Acts 9: 1-22. Paul’s story is all throughout the New Testament, and goes much further than Acts, but this is the story of the BEGINNING of his testimony and conversion.
To TRY and make a very long story short……
Saul was known as a Pharisee.
By definition, a Pharisee in biblical times was:
Pharisee [far-uh-see ] : a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written laws of Moses.
What this means is that Saul was high up in religious ranks. He grew up studying the laws of Moses from the Old Testament, and the prophets of the Old Testament. He was beyond schooled on all things religious, and had the prestigious reputation of someone who had committed his life to the things of God.
In a way, you could say he was “better than everyone else”. At least, he thought so.
He was alive when Jesus came on the scene. And was one of “those people” that the bible says constantly questioned Jesus’ teachings, and went about trying to arrest him, turn the people against him, and eventually killed him.
Some of you may be asking, “If he had committed his whole life to God, then why would he be trying to kill him?”
The answer is that Saul, as well as other Jewish leaders at the time, didn’t believe that Jesus was God, or was sent from God. They actually saw him as a heretic, a false prophet, someone who was against everything they stood for religiously.
If you think about it, if someone is claiming to be God when they are not, that is pretty sacreligous and blasphemous. This is what the pharisees and Jews thought was happening.
That is because when Jesus came to bring in the New Covenant of GRACE and MERCY, they didn’t understand or see that. They were too blinded by what they thought they knew based on all of their great knowledge and “wisdom” from their studies. They were stuck under an Old Covenant of RULES and LAW. (2 very different things).
(This is a VERY deep and spiritual topic that I do not intend to go into in this post. But I will definitely be talking about it more in this blog series, stay tuned).
But… in the bible story, after Jesus has been crucified, Saul is going around arresting and executing all the new “Christians”, or Jesus followers, that he believes to be blasphemous heretics.
And this is where Acts 9 picks up at, (the link I referenced above).
Saul encounters Jesus, realizes that he IS indeed the true Son of God, and is converted, AKA- saved! And his name is changed to Paul.
He went on to be so sold-out for Jesus, that he spent the rest of his life traveling everywhere, spreading the good news of the Gospel of Christ. He then had to deal with all of the Pharisees who used to be HIS friend, because now they saw him as following a false teacher/prophet, (just like he accused all the Christians of doing). And eventually they killed him for his faith.
I was a modern-day Pharisee
Now! As you can see….. both the Prodigal Son and the Pharisee came to Jesus in the end and were saved. But their lifestyles and choices in the beginning were completely opposite from each other! Also, more importantly, their hearts were very different in the beginning as well.
One of them was as far away from God and religion as they he could get. And the other was SO engrossed in religion, that he had gone about “trying to establish his own form of righteousness, and did not submit himself to God’s true righteousness”, (according to Romans 10:3).
One of them acted out of shame and guilt, knowing they didn’t deserve to come to God because of their sin. While the other acted out of pride and self-righteousness. They thought they were so good in their own works of righteousness, that they didn’t even need a savior when He came on the scene.
I have brought you this far to help you understand my story. My past. Where I’m coming from as a Jesus-follower.
I was a modern-day Pharisee for a long time without realizing it, and turned from my own self-righteousness…. to Christ’s righteousness.
I turned from trying to gain, and work for, my salvation….. to receiving Christ’s FREE GIFT of salvation through faith alone.
To make it simple, I made the decision to turn from self-effort…. to surrender.
And since then…. since the beginning of my testimony…. God has been walking me through the true meaning of surrender. The true meaning of grace and mercy…. And He’s been working the self-righteousness out of me….
One day at a time.
And this is the journey that I want to share with you in this blog series.
The steps I have taken, and lessons I have learned all along the way.
Some parts will be hard to talk about. Some embarrassing even! But I hope you will stick with me….. I hope I can shine some light into someone else’s journey as well.
Until next time, take each day one day at a time.
Her Life In Season