A Spiritual Life Testimony by Lynn Alford
It started at a picnic (our call is to feast abundantly on Jesus; see Isaiah 55:2), so I now can see that a picnic was a perfect place to begin this feast that was to be greater than I could ever imagine. I had been a Christian for three years at this point and some friends and I were talking about Jesus together. Suddenly I felt that all my words were too much about me and not enough about Him. I felt extremely awful and removed myself from the conversation as soon as I politely could. I felt very confused — what were these terribly self-denigrating feelings? I was a Christian now; these self-accusing feelings seemed incongruous with the fact of my being forgiven in Him, but they were so strong I felt disoriented and could not ignore them even as I could not understand them.
At my next quiet time when I could discuss this disorientation with my Lord, I heard, “You will not be able to help seeing this darkness of your lack — just keep your eyes on Me, the Light; focus on Me, not on this darkness.” I couldn’t figure out what this was all about, but I was somehow comforted in the middle of this upset by this impression that He spoke me to my heart.
For three days I continued to feel disgusted with myself, but I did what my Lord told me to do, I kept directing my attention back to Him. The third day I had to go to the Christian bookstore to buy a birthday gift for my mother. As I was looking for a book for her, I saw one with a poor title: The Christian’s Handbook to Happiness.
I thought, “No wonder we Christians are not taken more seriously when we use such terrible titles for our books! Christianity is not about being “happy,” but about the ultimate issues of God, like righteousness, truth, and justice!” Leaving my irritation and appalledness, I continued looking for a book for my Mom, but my eyes kept being riveted back on that “appalling” cover. Finally, not being able to keep my eyes off of it, I was drawn to pick it up. I opened the book and there in that very section I read the exact description of what I had been going through!
The author, Charles Solomon, spoke of how we would do anything rather than let God reveal our need to us. He said that we think we have arrived where God wants us when we are born again, fully committed, but that what He desires above all is to bring us to this place — and he went on to describe in amazing accuracy where I found myself feeling-wise. I had been dealing with this very issue, my utter wretchedness in myself. Solomon went on to say that we would prefer to give all our possessions away, or become missionaries, or do anything else but this: allow Him to remove the veil that covers our eyes and let us face this most frightening place of seeing our utter need because it is so terrifying. We think, he continued, that because we are born again we can now serve God and He will help us to tidy up our life to please Him. But this is far from the Truth.
What we need to see is that we are no more able to serve God now as Christians than we could before were Christians. We need to receive a revelation of the reality that our [independent] lives are no more acceptable or pleasing to Him now than when we were just self-serving people living only for our own pleasures. This means that what we need above everything is to see that Jesus Himself is our very own new Life, the only LIFE that can please our God or ever will please God — His Own Life given as a gift to us by the union of our spirit with His.
“Do you not know that he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 6:17). “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:30,32).
This is why the image of the bride is in the title of my testimony article. I was receiving the revelation of this mystery — of what it means that we are the bride of Christ. I have come to see how we are to go on growing in grace by deeper revelations [illuminations] of who Jesus is to us — our very Life — and then go on to ever more deeply seeing Him in every facet of our lives, taking on by faith His multifaceted and lovely grace Reality even as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. It is this very thing that Isaiah 61:10,11 is describing:
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, as a bride adorns herself with her jewels … so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”
The book’s author, Charles Solomon, goes on to say that we need to receive Jesus as our Life in the same way we have as we received Him as our Savior from our sins — up close and personally. We were not just saved from hell, and we were not just saved to go to heaven, but we are most deeply saved by our Heaven, Christ, now residing within us. Heaven has come to us. Jesus who is True Life has come to us and is presently this Life Eternal in us. So, he explained, we need above all to pray a “selfer’s prayer.” (This kind of prayer is parallel to the “sinner’s prayer” that first issued us into the Kingdom.)
Our deepest need is to see this New Life, Jesus Christ, is our very own. And we need to see Him intensely, to see what it means that Jesus is THE Life, the ONLY [spiritual] Life in us from the moment we were born again. Instead we have thought that God’s only purpose was to start us up with our own life tidied up so we could begin to get things right this time, and walk being on friendly terms with Him and serving Him by doing good things in a good way. (Actually what we most desperately needed was to live by a totally different kind of life, the only Life, Jesus Himself — God’s Way and Truth and Life — John 14:6) He’s told us this clearly, but we usually don’t get it at first, even after being born of His Spirit.
We need this revelation from Him, and He’s imparting it to us as fast as we’ll receive it (John 14:20). Of course, I bought the book immediately and read the entire thing within a day or so. I was overjoyed and full of awe at what my Father had done for me. And, of course, I also prayed that “selfer’s” prayer” that Solomon talked about. I rejoiced and delighted in my restored peace and rest — in Him who is my Peace and Rest — and in the wonderful new revelation of what it meant to be born again from above. We, in fact, must and do live by the Life that Jesus has come into us to be. I prayed that prayer long before I finished the book. Here is my version of it:
“Jesus, You have brought me to this place, the place where I am ready to acknowledge I do not have what it take to live the Christian life of myself. I am not pleasing enough, holy enough, strong enough, good enough, kind enough, loving enough, or anything else enough- in fact, I am simply not enough. But I praise You that You are and that You have come to be the very Life I have always needed and will always need. I take You now as my very own Life Eternal. Thank You that You are all that I need, my All in all, just like my Father has told me You are. I did not see this before, and yet You are even more than this, and I delightfully anticipate Your continuing to reveal to me ever more and more deeply what it means that You are indeed my Truth, my Life and my Way! I release myself into Your Hands and Spirit and Life. Yes and amen to You in whom all my Father’s promises are ever and always ‘Yes and Amen!’ O, Yes!”
Now I will share a bit more about what happened next.
First, I began talking to everyone I knew about this wonderful reality that Jesus is to us, but no one was able to understand or receive it for the next three years. There is still a mystery in God’s timing in giving this revelation to Christians — some have had to wait until the full glory of heaven has burst upon them upon leaving this time and space place before they have been able to see their real identity in Jesus. But within a year after I first had this revelation of Christ as my True Life, I began to feel a fire in my bones and I was greatly puzzled over it also. What was this fire? What was it that God wanted? I had the distinct sense that I was to cry out about something. What? These were the questions that were pouring through my mind on this particular morning in 1981.
It seemed to me that there were other Christians already declaring everything about God that to be needed to be declared: the need to be born again, the need for the power of the Holy Spirit, the reality that God can still heal us today. Many were preaching on all these things. Then why did I feel that something was yet needing to be said? At this time I had been reading through the entire Bible sequentially, a few chapters at a time, day by day, as I have done six or seven times since then. On this day I was reading in Isaiah 40.
I began asking God to please explain what this fiery sensation was, and then went on to do my daily reading in the Scripture. I found the words: “And I heard a voice say, ‘Cry” And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ And the voice said, ‘Cry that all flesh is as the flower of the field that fades and the leaf that withers, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.'” I had not yet realized the crying need for this Word of Jesus as our very Life to go forth. I only knew I hadn’t heard this message anywhere else before, and that no one I knew personally at the time had received it either. But as I read these words of Isaiah, I heard the Lord speak plainly within my heart, “I have called you to be an evangelist to evangelized, to clearly tell the Good News of My Life in them (Col. 1:27) to those who already know the Good News of My death for them (Isaiah 53:6).”
And then I saw it! He made me realize that too many Christians knew only the first half of His Good News, which is what the word Gospel means, but they were woefully ignorant — as I had been — of the second half and even more wonderful part of that same Good News! They knew Jesus had died for them, but not that He lives for them. This second half is the very purpose of the first! Jesus died on the cross for our sins that He could be raised from the dead for us and on our behalf so He could live in us as our Resurrection! This is what Jesus means when He says, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE” (John 11:25). And this is what the Spirit is saying in Romans 4:25: “He was raised for our justification.”…
This passionate fire has remained in my being as a fiery flame ever since — to be available and ready to share with the hungry and hurting Christian our Hope of Glory who is Christ our Life, our very All in all, and the wonderful depths of His Life which He has shown me up until now (Galatians 2:20).
This revelation will continue to go deeper and deeper as long as we live on this side of Heaven — even as it has for me almost weekly, if not daily, since I first began to comprehend that He is my true Life. And it will continue to be ever more wondrous to us for all eternity!
Father has continued to do this revelational work of His among many of those I now know and fellowship with. And I have met many others, scattered here and there around various states and countries, whom He is taking into the unfathomable depths and glories of Christ and His Life in us.
It’s been over twenty years since that church picnic. There are now many to whom I have had the thrill of declaring this more complete Gospel and have entered into this Wonder-Life of Christ — the Utter Good News of our existence in Him. And I have had the profound gift of hearing person after person who has done so declare with joy, “I never knew that Christ was this good! My entire life is radically different and unspeakably more glorious now that I know Him as my very Life! This is just too wonderful!”
If you have not had this reality burst upon you, you surely will, though it sounds as mysterious as the whole concept of being born again sounded before you were a Christian. Jesus has told us that He came so we could have this very thing: “Life and Life more abundantly.” This is that “more Abundantly John 10:10).”
It is now reported that it took a minimum of ten times of hearing the first half of Gospel before the typical Christian was able to receive it. I have found that it can take six or ten years or more for some to come to a real revelation of this second half of the Gospel that Jesus is their true Life; and yet it can take only a single declaration for others. It is for this reason that Paul said that he was always and ever passionately praying for the Christians he knew to receive this revelation; and he explained how he prayed and prayed that “the eyes” of their understanding would be opened” that they might know what is “the riches of the glory” and receive “the spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the Knowledge of Christ” (Ephesians 1:17).
This is our greatest need and most sublime joy — to KNOW HIM, our LIFE! (Philippians 3:10). This is the prayer that I now pray for all the Christians I now know who have yet to begin to walk clearly in their own glorious Inheritance of Eternal Life. And above all this is what Jesus prayed for us in His highest prayer in John 17 as He prepared to go to the cross. He says He died to give all that He has and all that is to us: “That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that You have sent Me. And the glory which You gave me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one” (John 17:21,22).
I have gone on to discover a multitude of such believers and teachers throughout every phase of Church history, and many even now who declare this Glory of our Christ and His Life to us and in us, though I have to say that most Christians have yet to receive Him as their real Life.
This is a revelation of such glory and magnitude that Father has kept it until now as part of His plan of wrapping up this time and space realm now that we are so close to the very end of the ages … “the mystery … has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26,27).
 The third day is a significant number. I can also see now that this timing speaks so much of Him, pointing to the fact that He, Himself, was three days in a tomb. Even so, the Lord let me be three days in this “wretched man” state that Romans 7 teaches about — “O wretched man that I am!”)
 [There are many cases where the message of our identification with Christ has been proclaimed from the pulpit or in print prior to our discovery and appropriation this wonderful Truth, but — for some reason — we did not personally “know” and “reckon” until later (Rom. 6:6,10,11). -J.B.W.]
Lynn’s web site is dedicated to declaring the good news of Abundant Life in Christ: http://HisGospelGrace.com
Handbook to Happiness relates the message of identification with Christ (Romans 5-8) to a strategic, illustrated discipleship counseling process. A summary is online here as The Wheel and Line. The book is available from Grace Fellowship International or Tyndale House Publishers.
Examples of daily devotionals that emphasize both aspects of the gospel are listed at RevitalizingPastors.org.
An excellent Christian film has been released in theaters nation wide and is experiencing an unusual surge of popularity. War Room is about the power of prayer and family values. For the trailer and information see http://warroomthemovie.com/