Can Christ be Tested out in Practice? – my story

At Easter 1985 I went to a J John evangelism talk. J John said that you could take the Bible, assume it is true and act on that assumption. Test it out for six months or so, believing it completely during that time, and then you could look back and see whether it had made a difference to you. I decided to give it a go for myself.

I got a Bible and highlighted it in different colours. One colour highlighted practical instructions – these being the things I now needed to do, and then a different colour for the blessing which should follow that particular action. I found out quite soon that a lot of the Bible is written in this ‘IF you do this, then THAT will happen’ style, which is quite easy to test out in this way.

I checked things out for myself in the Bible since that is the source text although I also read Christian books as well as the Bible.

When I discovered I was supposed to pray I started a notebook with some columns for the items I had prayed for and more columns for whether anything had happened yet on that item. That’s about it on prayer – until I found it had to be ‘in God’s will’ for it to be prayed for and happen. Finding out what was in God’s will slowed me down a bit and involved quite a lot of looking up verses using my Cruden’s concordance. (A concordance is a really useful book which lists all uses of a particular word in the Bible. There wasn’t Google search back then!)

Of course after a while I came across various things I discovered that I needed to believe, for example Romans 10:8 and that was a new thing to investigate as well. I had a strange vision like experience round this verse as I saw God taking Jesus out of the tomb and restoring life to Him.

After about six months it was all going well. I was even quite enjoying it.

There was a Landrover being refurbished by the church which was due to go to a missionary in Madagascar. This clearly seemed to me to be in God’s will  and I prayed it would be a blessing and get there safely and so on. So did the church. Someone in the church had spent a year replacing lots of parts for this elderly Landrover and they had repainted it and so on. Some things I prayed for were less clear, but on the Landrover I was sure i was praying in tune with God’s will, and that this would all happen.

We had the handover service in church with the missionary but then the next day someone broke into the locked garage and STOLE the Landrover. I was gutted. I’d prayed by the rules. It made me realise how much I’d come to rely on this Christian way by now.

I hung on with the believing in God thing for about a week, expecting the Landrover to be found, but nothing happened. The theft was even on Crimewatch! After nothing happened I gave up on it all and decided that there wasn’t a God after all, since it didn’t work in practice.

Two weeks later a local firm donated a brand new Landrover, because they had heard about the theft on Crimewatch. So the missionary got a brand new one, which was way better! And I…

Landrover clipping

Well, I had to go back to God and say…sorry.

Then He gave me another vision. It was like I was looking back down a valley from a mountain top. And I saw that in this journey there would be more valleys, times to trust Him followed by more mountaintop views where it all fell into place. And I said I would trust Him in the valleys from now on.

That was in 1985.

That’s the experiment, really. I found compelling evidence which is totally personal to me. In my memory there were two Landrovers donated, and the Madagascan Bishop got one as well, but the newspaper cutting only mentions one donation, so I’ll leave my evidence at that for this blog post. Can I add that my faith perhaps rests more on the sense of smugness I detected from Heaven when the new Landrover was donated, than on the fact that it was donated.

God is amazing, actually. It gives me goosebumps to relive it! Please share your stories in the comments.

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15 thoughts on “Can Christ be Tested out in Practice? – my story

  1. This was great!! The Holy Spirit at work, gotta love it.
    I will give you a short part of my story, you can find the whole thing on my blog BGT.
    I had separated from my wife and was having a hard time with many things including my son. My wife’s friends, became my best friends and were such a help to me…and of course they knew The Lord. And now I do as well!
    Blessings
    Greg

  2. This is wonderful…thank you for sharing it with us.

    I’ve apologized to the Lord many, many times for not trusting Him to work things out. Some of the things He works out are obvious and we see them while here on earth. I think others we’ll see when we’re in heaven with Him….or maybe we won’t even care about those things when we’re there.

    Reminds me of my favorite verse regarding surrender (I think it’s about surrender, anyway)
    Isaiah 55:8,9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways
    and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

    As my mom battles brain cancer I cling to this verse.

    Thank you for reminding me to surrender to a good God who doesn’t need me to help Him figure out what’s best. He’s got all of it covered.

    Blessings to you!

    • Hi there, good to meet you. I’m so sorry about your mum. I don’t have all the answers either! I love that passage from Isaiah that you mention. I love the next verse too, that the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, Isaiah 55:10
      We get wet in the rain, but it has a purpose. And rain falls on good and bad people alike. Matthew 5:45
      I like the word you use – surrender. I have never thought to use that word to describe my relationship with God. I will ponder on it some more. Do you think it is a bit like dying to self, choosing Him instead of your own life?
      Blessings to you
      Ambling

      • Yes, I do think surrender is like ‘dying to self’, but unlike when I was younger I now think of it as a good death. Before entering recovery I had no idea how much love Jesus had for me. I was afraid of God and always thought He was mad at me for the stuff I was doing, wasn’t doing, and everything in between. When I was going through my breakdown, His love broke through my heart and it leveled me completely. It shattered every concept I had of God, and it was the beginning of my understanding Him. All of a sudden when I read the Bible or when He’d bring a scripture to my mind I could finally see that everything He tells us to do and NOT to do is for our good. It’s not to harm me or punish me or give me a standard to meet in my own strength; He intends for me to rely on Him to live the way He wants me to – because He loves me.
        So, it was His love that motivated me to follow Him. It was His love that allowed me to see who He made me to be. It was His love that set me free from myself.

        That’s what I mean when I say ‘surrender’. I mean surrendering to a good God who has far better plans than I could ever imagine.

        1 Corinthians 2:9
        …”but just as it is written, THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
        AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

        When I know how much He loves me and I believe He has a plan for myl ife, why would I ever want to live a plan I made for myself?

        His love is the key for me….

        Hope this answers your question. 🙂

      • Yes, yes, you are totally right and utterly lovely comments about Him. I know He has a plan, it my aim is to walk one step at a time with my eyes tightly shut! Each step as one that follows Him.

        i agree completely. Being dead in Him is totally a good death, it’s being alive to life. I write about that loads in my book. I am going to think about surrender more. Is there a verse that has surrender in it? There is of course Jericho, and some involving submitting.

        I had a look round your blog earlier and I loved it, although I haven’t read everything! I know what you mean about watching people’s actions. I am an INTJ and I so know about that.

        I have so much I want to post about…

        Blessings
        Ambling

      • Oh, Ambling. I love it. You had me googling surrender verses!

        Here’s what I found:

        Mark 14:35-36
        “And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

        Mark 8:34-35
        “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

        John 15:1-7
        “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

        James 4:7
        “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

        James 4:10
        “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. ”

        Romans 12:1
        “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

        Proverbs 23:26
        “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”

        Not Helpful

        Matthew 11:29 (one of my very favorite verses)

        “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

        Luke 23:46
        “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.”

        There are so many instances in the Bible where people surrendered (submitted, yielded, gave in) and God blessed them because of it. God’s blessing always follows surrender. It has to be that way, otherwise He’d be rewarding something that wasn’t from Him and that’s against His nature.

        Thoughts? Additional verses? 🙂

      • Apart from me you can do nothing, isn’t that worth thinking through! I love that verse for the freedom and the time it frees up. If He’s not in it, it’s not worth doing.

        Yes, I love all those verses. I nearly quoted the James submit verse at you, but thought it might be a bit about the outer life not the inner life, and I think surrender is an inner action before an outer action.

        What do I think? hum.

        Well, I think that surrender is okay as far as it goes but to me surrender means being overcome by force and you might not LIKE having to surrender so I’m not sure I would use that word. If I were picky I’d say your verses don’t use the actual word surrender, but then I am a very pedantic INTJ…

        The picture which does it for me is Caleb the spy who finally makes it into the promised land with JOSHUA. Joshua is a type or a picture of Jesus the saviour, same name really Hebrew / Greek as I expect you know. Now Caleb, well his name means Wholehearted, or a dog, that faithful obedience and complete Wholeheartedness, to me that is MORE than surrender, but I think we are talking about the same thing really, what do you think?

        The others, their BODIES FELL in the desert, so like they nev made it through the dying to self and through the SECOND river, the second baptism in the Holy Spirit, they only experienced Johns baptism. I am not making a great job of explaining this, but you can ask me, you may know it all already.

        So step one, repent, start following, but later on another step is Wholehearted which is like complete death of self…entry to promised land.

        Guess I’m happy to use surrender if it is a glad, free, willing surrender PLUS willingness to be a puppet on His strings…

        Blessings
        Ambling

  3. so refreshing. love it! how quick we are to doubt Him when our prayers don’t manifest for an extended period of time… why do we think that outward circumstances could possibly change His faithfulness? really great blog. like kurt, i’d like to as if i may please repost it? kari

  4. I enjoyed this writing. When I first came back to Christ I read the bible through and saw all the promises. Holy Spirit said to me in that hour that all the promises were mine in Christ Jesus if I listened to the sound of his voice. So I did and everything that was promised was added to me including family, lands, money, health, happiness, joy, peace and love. But most important I hear his voice daily. Couldn’t live without him now.

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