Kelly’s Testimony

Testimony of Kelly Karns, that eternal life and peace as a child of the living God are accomplished only through believing in the Truth, Jesus Christ:

I rightly believed that God loved me. My pride led me to wrongly believe that because He loved me, I could, on my own, have a direct, eternal relationship with Him in heaven.

For as long as I can remember, I have known about God and Jesus. I believed Jesus is the Son of God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, died on the cross and rose again and ascended to heaven.  Despite persistent sin, I generally wanted to do what was right.  I thought I would go to heaven with God because I knew these things “about” Jesus and had prayed I wanted Jesus to save me.  Here is my story on how God patiently pursued me and revealed the truth of Jesus’ invitation, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

I was blessed to have been raised by wonderful parents in a loving home where we faithfully went to church. My dad prayed before every meal, and I knew that God was important to mom and dad. We were taught to do right, be moral and help others.  It allowed me to grow up knowing about God.  In Sunday school and church, I learned about Bible stories, learned some important scripture and heard teaching about God.

Every Sunday morning, the pastor would ask if anyone wanted to join the church. Looking back, to me it was not so much a call to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as it was about committing oneself to God, joining the church, and serving there.

When I was in the first grade, I felt led to go to the front of the church and say I wanted to be a member. That was all I understood at the time, but I do believe God called me to go forward.  Soon afterward, I formally joined the church on a Sunday morning where the pastor asked me a few questions about serving faithfully.  I do not recall any discussion of my sin nature and the need for a savior.  He may have asked me if I accepted Jesus as my savior but if he did, it made no specific impact on me.

Being in church did prove to be very beneficial. I continued to learn in Sunday school, church camps, choir music, etc.  By junior high, I noticed others in my broader circle had a peace and joy that somehow looked, sounded and felt different than what I had.  At the age of 15, I attended an area church camp.  I really enjoyed the singing, prayers and messages.  I do not remember going to an alter call (maybe did, maybe not,) but I do remember coming back excited about knowing Jesus more personally.  Something was definitely different.  It wasn’t just emotional.

As a junior in high school, I attended a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s weekend conference. We were challenged by an OU athlete to read the Bible daily for 5 minutes for two weeks.  I took the challenge and it became a lifelong habit.  It has been a special blessing from God and has allowed me to read through the Bible several times.  It gave me some grounding and spiritual support for moral battles in high school, college and beyond.  The Holy Spirit faithfully continued to draw me closer to Jesus, often working through my wife, Mary.

Many years later, after some of our children were born, it started coming together for me. I had walked out my life thinking I could have a relationship with God on my own terms:  me, directly relating to God.  God is the “main Man,” and I could simply talk to and relate to Him as I pleased because, in my view, He loved me, and I was his child.  By God’s grace, He revealed to me that I could not go directly to Him in my state of sin.  He is holy, and my sin separates me from Him.  Yes, He loves me, more than I can comprehend.  That is why He was calling me, to make me aware He sent His Son to die for my sin and was offering me a new spiritual life.  This was the true purpose of all the teaching about the one and only Savior, Jesus.  It wasn’t just “about” Jesus.  He wasn’t a side note or merely an example.  I needed to be forgiven, washed of my sin, reborn spiritually, and brought back to life from death.  This allowed me to come to God, the Father, as a new, reborn soul, seen in Christ and without my sin.  What a difference this truth makes.  All praise be to Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb, who paid for my sin so that I may be found new and acceptable to God our Father and truly experience His love and affection.

As I get older, I see that we are more humbled through life’s experiences, including aging and ultimately death. After my third job termination, I was more willing and/or able to hear the Holy Spirit and to seek Christ in an even deeper way. The fellowship I have with Him has been much better.  God has lovingly and graciously allowed me to see enough of my sin to know how hopeless it is for me to attempt to be good or to do good on my own.  A few good acts here and there do not give me a clean heart, mind and soul.  That only comes with being reborn through Jesus Christ.

More recently, God has been showing me how selfish I have been my whole life – while growing up, in college and as a husband, father and employee. I have been asking Him to take away my narcissistic nature.  I remain a work in progress and a long way from the image of Jesus.  The Bible explains this as me being “sanctified.”  Sometimes, I refer to it as being “a recovering jerk.”  More than ever, I realize life here, in this world and body, is short.  I want to be doing God’s work and only His work.  I still have limited comprehension of what that is and how to achieve it, but I am trusting in Him to finish His work in me as He has promised.

If I could change the past, I would have accepted His invitation to know the truth of Jesus and had a closer relationship with Him earlier. That would have given me a stronger willingness to be obedient and faithful to Him.  Secondly, I would have been a more loving and dedicated husband as well as a more loving, gracious and fun dad.  I would also have been more focused on others, kinder to all and a more patient employee.  All these would have come if I had less pride and more faith in God, therein being less fearful and not foolishly trying to be in control.  But there is great joy and peace knowing that as a new creature in Christ, God has accepted me, will not let me go and that the day is coming when my old, sinful body will also be replaced, allowing me to be in the fullness of His presence for eternity.

How about you? Are you confused, thinking you are in an eternal relationship with God, as His child, because you believe God is love or know “about” Jesus and try to follow His example by doing good?  If so, I urge you to repent, break from your pride, and yield to Jesus as your Lord and only source of salvation.  Receive the truth about Jesus, the perfect Son of God, who alone paid for our sins and can give us eternal life as a child of God.  Accept what God has said, that we must acknowledge our inability to be in His presence on our own terms and that we must have a relationship with Jesus, as Savior and Lord, to have a relationship with God the Father.  There is no other way to be a child of God and receive the wonderful and true peace found in the fullness of His love.

John 14:6: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 1: 12: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Philippians 2: 10-11: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.