Rarely today will you read the testimony of a professing Christian who has been genuinely ‘taught of God’, John 6:44,45. And yet the following account of my friend’s experience is one such testimony.
Here is a genuine sinner being called by almighty, sovereign grace: of one who, in living experience, was truly ‘a servant of sin’, who ‘walked in darkness’ and was of ‘a reprobate mind’; but who at length proved to be one of ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ for whom the Lord came. It is therefore wonderful proof that Christ Jesus really did ‘come into the world to save sinners’.
Surely then this testimony of my brother must be, on the one hand, an encouragement to the reader who finds himself at his wit’s end due to his sin – yea, an encouragement to continue seeking the Lord until he is found; while on the other hand it will be a terribly disappointing and joyless read for the Pharisee and the easy believer. In this my friend’s testimony of God’s saving grace will prove to be akin to Paul’s preaching at Corinth: being to some a savour of life unto life, and to others a savour of death unto death, 2 Cor. 2:14-17.
Upon beginning to read one will not only be struck by the testimony itself – which is nothing if not stark and unmitigated – but also by the style of writing and use of language. A good example of this can be seen in a text message he sent while writing it:
‘You don’t even imagine the inworkings that this work has been doing to my soul. It’s so hard even to think about those things without being drowned in doubts. How easy I forget that God is Holy and I’m so filthy, unworthy of the least of His mercies and see Christ at the cross for me when I look deep down into my soul, but be not worried, the Lord shall see me through this barrier.’
The reasons why his use of language is so singular are twofold: firstly, because my friend, being Portuguese, does not have English as his mother tongue, and secondly, because his knowledge of our language has developed to a large degree by his reading the King James Bible – my beloved Tyndale/AV! These factors make the writing all the more arresting, lively and refreshing, and give the lie to all those – native English speakers! – who tell us that ‘the AV is just too difficult to understand.’ Therefore my friend’s testimony proves that God still speaks by and blesses this version of the Scriptures – and, I would say, uniquely so.
I have kept the editing of the text to the barest minimum; mostly it has been to tidy up sentences or insert simple punctuation to make the account easier to follow; for, as the reader will soon notice, my brother being wholehearted in his writing was often so taken up in his narrative that, as the words kept flowing, these things seemed to lose their importance. But apart from that the language and phraseology itself has been little touched: what you read is what my brother wrote.
For a time I thought of dividing the text into chapters, but that would only have spoiled the flow. Then I was reminded of Bunyan’s autobiography ‘Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners’, which was also written in one long burst, and so, like it, I decided simply to number each paragraph, thereby making the text more easy to return to if one could not read it through without interruption: but just try putting it down once you’ve started! Having said that the account does naturally divide into three sections: paragraphs 1 to 91, 92 to 197, and 198 to the end.
May God be pleased to bless the reading of this testimony to his grace – how little we really know of it! – may his Son be glorified by it, and may we be stirred up – surely we must be stirred up? – to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith.