The Word of our Testimony: Sutton Wirt

In tandem with our sermon series on the Book of Acts, we thought it would be helpful if the leadership of the church each shared their testimony. Testimonies are powerful. They’re personal stories of what God has done in our lives. Along with the blood of Jesus, Revelation 12:11 says that we overcome the Enemy by the “word of our testimony.” Our hope is that through this series of articles, your faith to continue the fight will be strengthened, you’ll get to know all of us better, and you’ll see that Jesus can and does redeem all kinds of people in all kinds of ways.

I grew up in a Christian home, in the strongest sense of the term. I was given the incredible gift of parents who didn’t merely bring us to church so other people could tell us about God, or even just tell us about God themselves, but who faithfully and humbly showed us what God was like, through their love for us and for the people with which our family interacted. To this day, my parents are some of the most consistently Christ-like people I know.

So when it came to God, I had no trouble believing in his existence or that he came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to save us from sin and death. And I certainly didn’t have any doubt that I was a sinner in need of his saving. At the age of 5, I remember lying on the top bunk of my brother and I’s bunk bed, asking for Jesus’ forgiveness and inviting him to live inside me.

As I grew though, I began to feel a lot of doubt about what had taken place in my heart. I began to be confused by the process of salvation, and I found myself constantly questioning whether I was secure in the Lord’s love or not. As I attended church services, and Christian concerts, and conferences, I found myself wracked with guilt, “praying the prayer” yet again, and wondering if maybe this time I had been repentant enough for it to “work.”

My fear of death and hell got worse until my anxiety kept me awake at night. I was only able to fall asleep after hours of listening to worship music. I couldn’t figure it out in my head. I knew that Jesus had come to bring salvation, but the Bible seemed to be all over the place in its descriptions of how we were supposed to receive it. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9) “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21) “Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b) “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) What was it? Repent, believe, call, confess? I couldn’t make sense of it.

I tried to. I would cry and wrestle and read and think, and my parents would counsel and pray for me. But it wasn’t until I was reading Max Lucado’s In the Grip of Grace that the Spirit finally helped me to understand: I couldn’t be saved by my own effort. No amount of “praying the prayer,” repenting, confessing, our believing could save me. Only Jesus could. And the Bible said that he had already saved me on the cross (Rom. 5:6), that he was saving me as I became more like him (1 Cor. 1:18), and that he would save both my soul when I died (Rom. 5:9) and later my body (Phil. 3:21) when his people are all raised to life on the new heaven and new earth. I finally saw that I couldn’t do a thing to rescue myself. But he could. And he did. And he will. HE himself is my great hope, and now my soul finds rest in him alone.

Sutton Wirt