TV Transcripts

“From Test to Testimony” Conclusion
Broadcast #1610
August 13, 2023

Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1610 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: God wants to equip us, folks, but we need something in order to get to a testimony we have to go by way of a test, don’t we? Everything that God wants us to be able to speak with our mouths is gonna make a difference to somebody has to come from something. It’s not just that we take proof texts and that’s all there is to it. We’ve gotta have lived it and experienced it. So what is involved in that?

Listen to how Paul puts it. This takes some faith, doesn’t it? Here not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings. How many of you’ve got to that point? We kinda have some growing up to do, don’t we? But what what’s really behind all of this is someone who is not just saying, Oh, I love to suffer, this is awesome. He’s looking past all of this, just like Jesus did on the cross.

He was able to do what he did, why? For the joy, not of the experience but the joy that was set before Him. You see, it’s starting out with a hope that’s based on a promise of a God that you have had a personal experience with and faith has been planted in the heart and it’s there and it’s real. Now in the strength of that, we have the ability to go into something that is difficult, but we can see beyond it.

We’re always focused on the fact that this leads somewhere. This is not meaningless. God’s not gone to sleep. He hasn’t thrown me to the wolves. I’m here, and yes, it’s difficult but what is the essence of suffering? It’s anything, anything that challenges human nature. It could be pain, obviously, but every single thing that is a challenge to human nature.

Do you think God’s gonna put you in a place where you’re gonna be tested? Of course He is. He did to His Son. Was there no purpose in His going into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil? Yeah, He was tempted in all points just as we are yet without sin. In order for Him to be able to do the work that he’d been called to do, he had to go through some stuff and he had to be tested.

And that’s exactly it, the path that God is gonna set before us. And when these things happen we don’t need to see them as, Oh, my God, things are bad. They need to get back to being good. There are seasons when God does give us those good times. But the seasons when we’re having challenges, when our nature is crying out against what’s happening, is that good or is that bad? It’s good, isn’t it, if we could see through God’s eyes.

And so now we’ve left the castle, we’re having to go out into the real Christian journey and Paul had come to the point where he saw past all of this and could actually say, I glory in this because I know that God is doing this, not because he’s upset with me. He’s doing this because He loves me enough to deliver me from the power of this thing that has more of a hold on me than I realize.

He’s having to strike a lick here and a lick there and a stroke here and a stroke there to begin to touch these things that I need to be set free from. And the only way it’s gonna happen is he’s gonna have to let stuff happen that brings me into that contest between, am I going to trust God and serve Him, or am I gonna just give into this? And this?

What is that called for then? Do we just throw our hands up? You know, that’s what some did when Jesus talked about the parable of the soil, different types of soil. There was one type that was very quick to receive the message. Oh, the idea of forgiveness of sins and the hope of heaven. That’s awesome. But what happened? There was a hardness down in the heart that had never been broken up. No roots went down when the seed was planted in that soil. And so, when persecution and hardship and difficulty came along, Didn’t sign up for this.

Folks, if you signed up for the kingdom of God you signed up for the whole deal. It means laying down our lives, whatever form that takes, in order to possess a life that we could never lose. Thank God, thank God! So, Paul wanted to transmit to His readers here in Rome how he saw the things that he’d been through.

Now we’re talking about “from test to testimony.” Do you think Paul’s words carry just a little bit of weight? Yeah, just a little bit, just a bit. Why? He’d been there. God used Him as a demonstration of what it means to serve the Lord. Not only that, but somebody who could come through that and be better because of it and be able to stand there and say, God is faithful.

I was in this bad place, in this bad place, and He was with me all the way. I have come through stronger. He has made me better and stronger to serve Him. And I’m telling you, not just something I read in the book somewhere. I’m telling you something, I’ve been there. I’ve experienced this.

That’s what God is seeking from every one of us. He wants to bring us to a deeper experience. So, when we tell somebody something we’re not just saying, “Oh, the Bible says…”. We’re saying, “Let me tell you what God’s done for me. Let me tell you what it’s like to serve Him. He’s awesome.”

Okay, so we glory in our sufferings. Now, there’s a reason we do that because we know that suffering produces perseverance. See, the thing is, if we don’t give in, if we’re trusting God and looking to Him actively for the strength of, see, we’re in a place of grace, remember. The help is there, if we’re willing, the help is there. And so, He calls upon us in the face of this to look for divine strength. Not to try to find it in ourselves but to learn how to look to Him.

And what happens? There’s a quality called perseverance that gets stronger, just like muscles. I mean, if you want to be a world-class weightlifter you don’t spend your time in the, you know, in the fast food place. You don’t spend your time at the beach just lounging around. If your muscles are going to be worth anything they’re going to have to encounter some serious persistent resistance.

Well, the Lord knows what it takes for us to have spiritual muscles and He knows exactly how to design things. But you remember what He said, He won’t put on us more than we can bear, is how we put it in our language, but will with the temptation also make a way of escape so that we may be able to bear it, not escape it necessarily, but to bear it. That means I have divine strength.

I’ve got a problem. He may have sent the devil, allowed Him to do something, but who allowed him? You think the devil has freedom to come and do as he pleases. We serve a God who’s in charge. If He has sent a devil to me to harass me and to give me a problem, I have every right to look to God and say, Lord, you have given me this, but you are also with me. And I am trusting you for the strength to stand fast and to believe you and to praise you in the midst of this storm, whatever it is, I’m gonna stand.

And boy, there’s some spiritual muscles that are beginning to get stronger. There’s some experience that we’re beginning to acquire as everything, I mean, it’s worth everything, okay? Suffering produces perseverance.

Well, now perseverance produces something as well, doesn’t it? It produces what He calls character. I think another translation says experience. How many of you need some experience in the Lord? How many are well ready to sign up for the process that gets you that experience? See, we’d like to avoid all of that and think something’s wrong when difficult things happen, when adversity happens.

But here’s God sending us the one thing that can enable us to grow up in Him. If some form of adversity but in everything He means for us to turn to Him, to stand fast and look to Him. And in doing that there’s some character that’s being formed.

There’s people are gonna look at us and say, Yeah, I know what they’re like. I’ve watched them be in a difficult place, but they didn’t cave, they didn’t give up. This is somebody you can, kind of, you can count on them. They’ve got some, they’ve shown me what it’s like to be in a place of action.

How many of you’d like to, you know, we got some people who have been in the military and I never had that privilege. I thank, I respect everyone who has been. But how many of you think we could successfully fight a war by recruiting a bunch of young men and taking ‘em into a classroom and then handing them all the stuff they need to go out and say, All right, go fight?

You know, I think I’ve the testimony of some that recently went in, they used the word, Hell, as to their immediate experience of what military life was like and the training that went into it. Do you think there’s a reason for that? Do you think we are equipped in the spiritual life without going through bootcamp, spiritual bootcamp, without having to face any real enemies? And I’m the victor. I’m the victor.

Have you ever faced anybody? Well, no, but I’m a victor! God is gonna put you and me in exactly what we need in order to become the people that He wants us to be. Thank God for His love and His wisdom and His mercy because we would not go that way.

And, as I say, we are so prone to just imagining that, Oh, this is what spiritual life and spiritual victory is about, it’s wonderful feelings. It’s joy, it’s freedom, it’s all these glorious things. And sometimes we’re singing through tears and we’re standing and we’re looking to God and we’re waiting.

Sometimes we can be in the place where David was when he said, How long, oh, Lord? And yet there was an expression of faith even in the midst of praying, Oh, God, where are you? How long is this gonna go on? But the Lord knew, didn’t he? Praise God! But God is trying to produce some characters.

Now I know some of you are characters, but in this case He’s talking about something different, isn’t He? He’s talking about the kind of a person you and I are. How do we become that? How does He take somebody who’s just come to the Lord and come to faith and they’re baby Christians? How does He produce somebody in them that you could characterize as faithful? They’re somebody that’s been there and fought real battles and they know what it takes and they know how to encourage other people.

How does God produce that? How does He get you and me to a place where we could talk to somebody else and say, I don’t just know the theory of the gospel. I serve a God who has worked in me and made himself known to me and He has brought me through all kinds of things. And I want to tell you what God’s like. I want to give you not just a theory but a testimony.

But you don’t get to testimony without the test, okay? Character, hope and hope does not put us to shame. You know, I was thinking about this as I read this. It starts out with hope and then it gets to hope again. What’s that all about? I thought we already had hope. Do you suppose hope needs to be made stronger? Do you suppose it needs to be confirmed by real-life experience that’s what’s going on?

I’ll tell you, you come through something and you’re able to look back and you say, God allowed something that was difficult but I stood fast and I trusted in Him and He was faithful and He brought me through. What does that do to hope? All it does is confirm the hope that God planted in there in the first place. And it gets stronger and it gets stronger and you see what we have to give to somebody else. It’s not religion and theory, it’s real-life experience. May God raise up a generation of people who know Him.

[Congregation] Yes.

Who have a foundation planted in their hearts and their lives. God is not looking for apologists, but that means people who just defend the faith intellectually. He’s looking for people who know from real-life experience, don’t have to be super-intelligent, don’t have to be important in the eyes of the world but you know God personally and you’ve been through something and you can tell them, I’ve been there. I’ve been where you’re at and God was faithful. That’s worth immeasurably more than theory.

But God is raising up a people in this hour they’re gonna shine like lights. But this is the road that it takes. This was the road that it took Christian to get from that castle, beautiful, whatever it was, all the way to the celestial city. He went through a lot of battles. He went through some nice places. He went through the Valley of the Shadow of Death too, didn’t he?

And it was hell. I mean, there were demons screaming at him. It was a dark and dangerous place, narrow path. But he stayed the course and he came out the other side and the sun was shining. I thank God He knows when to let the sun shine and when to let the storm hit. But he’s always with us, always holding our hand and making us stronger.

And hope does not put us to shame. Again, we got a God who cannot lie, He’s promised because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit has been given to us. Praise God!

I mean, you could go on in this whole passage and see, as Paul unfolds the mysteries of the Gospel, it’s amazing and clear, I thank God, but I thought about the examples and one of them certainly is David, examples we’ve used many times. But what was it that enabled David to write the Psalms? Did he go to Bible college? I mean, I’m not against that if that’s what, you know, the Lord can get in it and get beyond just reading books and having theory.

David went through hell, he went through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, but he also knew that the Lord brought him out on the other side and he could, it wasn’t like, I know God’s gonna be with me. I know this is gonna be terrible but I know he’s gonna be with me. He could look back and say, Yeah, that was rough but God was with me and here I am on the other side of that thing.

That’s what makes the Psalms so powerful. They are the voice of experience and God wants to give us just what we need to fill our place in the kingdom where we can look somebody in the eye and say, This is not theory, folks, let me tell you, Mike, let me tell you what the Lord’s done for me. Let me tell you what He’s meant in my life. Let me tell you about the places I’ve been and the things I’ve experienced and what He did for me. It’s real, you can trust Him.

Just a few verses of Psalm 40. for example. “I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire.” Now for him to be lifted out, he had to be in. God allowed him to be in a place that he described as a slimy pit, mud and mire. But what was the end result of that? His feet were on a rock.

How did that happen? “He set my feet on a rock and gave me” — I didn’t earn this — “He gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him. Blessed is the one who trusts the Lord.”

Can you sense the testimony of somebody who’s been in that dark place and seen God at work? Praise God, praise God! That’s what God is trying to produce in us. He is producing it, let’s put it that way. But do you see how this follows the Lord giving us some secrets about the Christian life and now all of a sudden, okay, now what? How do we get there?

How do we come to a place where we know this is true? Because, because, we’ve experienced it, you’ve got to go through something that’s gonna be adverse because everything about your nature and mine, the one we got from Adam, is gonna fight this and it’s gonna fight it in ways that are gonna surprise you. You’re gonna come to places in your life where you say, I didn’t know that was there. I didn’t know I felt I was like this, but God is so merciful and faithful. He knew it all along.

He has loved you all along even though He knew all of that stuff. My God, what a God we serve! And what an amazing thing it is that, what’s His motivation in all of this? It’s love, isn’t it? I’ll tell you, I could surrender and serve One Who loves me like this.

Well, one of the other scriptures I was gonna read a little bit of was, guess what, Psalm 34, surprise, surprise, just a little bit of this. “I will extol the Lord at all times. His praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord. Let the afflicted hear and rejoice.” Now is that a testimony? There’s an ability to exhort somebody else. Where does that come from?

“Glorify the Lord with me. Let us exalt His name together.” But here’s where it comes from. “I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears.” See, he had some real fears.

“Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called and the Lord heard him. He saved him out of all his troubles.” Do you see where test turns into testimony? We stand fast, we look to the Lord in those times and faith grows strong, and suddenly we can look somebody in the eye and say, I know this God, this is real. You can put your trust in Him. I’ve been there.

“The angel of the Lord encamps round those who fear Him and He delivers them, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Fear the Lord you His holy people. For those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

That’s where that line of that song comes. He gives you everything. He’s not talking about earthly pleasures and riches. He’s talking about what Peter was talking about. Everything we need for life and godliness is there for us to earn if we’ll only try hard enough? No, He gives it to us. What He wants is for us to come into possession of that.

How do we do that? We’re gonna have to come into it in the field of battle. Fight the good fight of the fight, lay hold of eternal life. There are things that we have the privilege of making our own, making them personal. And it simply means walking with God, surrendering to the things that He brings our way and giving Him praise and standing firm in them and knowing that God’s going to impart something to us we didn’t have when we went into that.

And we’re gonna come out the other side and say. I know this God, you can trust Him. He is my God and I’m gonna stand fast. And my hope, I had hope before I started this, but it’s gotten stronger. The habit, the character, the way I look at life, the way I look at myself, it’s gotten more firm than it was just simply knowing about this. Though I knew about it, I heard sermons about how the Christian life works but now I’ve been through stuff that was very personal.

A lot of people didn’t even know what was going on. But I knew about it. God was touching things in my heart and bringing a deliverance to me that I couldn’t have any other way. And now here I am on the other side of that, yes, I fought Him. Yes, there were things in me that resisted, that struggled but He gave me the victory because of He’s given me everything that I need for life and godliness.

And I, like the Israelites, I’ve come into possession of this city and that city because the battle was His and He’d already given me the land. He just needed me to have the faith to stand, to move forward and know that He was gonna fight this battle with me ‘cause it wasn’t my battle, it was His.

I’ll tell you, we’ve got an awesome God, don’t we? So, do you see where the Lord is taking every one of us from test to testimony? And God is going to have a people, like I say, in this hour, who have a real living testimony, who know God in a personal way, have been through things and know that He’s faithful. What else is gonna be able to help somebody who’s in need? We’re gonna convert him to our religion. We need Jesus to come. We need God to reveal something to the heart.

But I’ll tell you, God’s gonna use people in the process who can speak a word of real testimony that comes out of real experience with God. God is faithful. He has given us everything but He wants us to come into possession of more than we have, and He’s doing it. To Him be the glory, praise God!

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