Garner, Shane

I chose to be rebaptized in the church we now attend. Not because I feel my previous baptism was invalid, but because God called me to make my choice public. I will admit, it did feel good to not be baptized in the murky Wisconsin River by a worker while everyone sat silent. I do feel some of the 2×2 sect washed off of me that day. The baptism I experienced this time was the most joy I had ever experienced in one room with people sharing their honest testimonies about accepting Jesus as their savior and Lord. People sang songs of worship and prayed like I had never heard before. 

My Testimony

I grew up in a home-based legalistic church. Yes, it was a cult. It was believed that we were the only people that would be saved. I accepted Jesus out of fear as my savior at 9 years old but didn’t understand that I was saved by grace. I thought you had to be saved by works and lived everyday wondering if I had done enough that day to go to Heaven if my life ended that day.

I struggled greatly with sin in my teenage years. I never understood the power I had in Jesus if I would only turn my life over to him. Most everything I did in my religious service was out of duty and not out of love. Thankfully God didn’t give up on me.

I was baptized in college because it was expected by that age. Nothing had changed in my heart, and I know I did this step out of pleasing others and a fear for my soul.

I never knew my bible well enough to recognize the false doctrine that I was fed my whole life, so I led a lie. I did not live out my faith or talk about Jesus to others. I looked on others that talked about Jesus with sadness as they didn’t attend our legalistic church.

Fast forward to 2023 and God sounded a 5-alarm fire in our church. Jesus said, “follow me.” For the first time in my life, I truly listened and accepted him as not only my savior, but as my Lord. He has called me to be a disciple and to help spread the good news of the Gospel. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. That this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Jesus on the cross uttered his last words, “It is finished.” We are saved by grace through faith, and I can never earn salvation no matter how perfect I try to live my life.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus invites all people to follow him. Maybe you have had religious trauma in the past, but know that Jesus can give love, peace, and healing. Jesus will unburden you from sin and legalism. 

I am up here as a sinner with the spiritual understanding of a child, but I am so thankful for the work God has done in my life and called me to proclaim that I am buried with Christ and now raised with him. Only the blood of Christ can make me whole.

Shane Garner
Ripon, Wisconsin
January 7, 2024