Dr. Ron Cobb has taught at Luther Rice Seminary since 2002, advocating Christ-centered, exchanged life counseling. He recently gave his spiritual journey and ministry testimony for the GFI audio podcast. Here is an excerpt from the written edition:
” [After seminary and years of pastoral ministry] … In the weeks ahead I grew more and more frustrated with my life. Finally one day in my office at church I came to a crisis of brokenness. I looked up at God, raised my fist toward Him and said, “God, if this is all there is to the Christian life I am disappointed.” I was sick of self-effort and self-righteousness. God did not strike me dead, instead, I sensed Him make an impression on my heart that things were going to turn around for me spiritually. I had admitted my own inability to live the Christian life in my own strength; I was a broken man.
I believe God caused me to remember a book I had started to read several years before and had tossed aside. Underneath a pile of books at home I found the book that God would use to change my life. God used the book Lifetime Guarantee by Bill Gillham to lead me into an understanding of the Christ-like life (or Exchanged Life) concept. It was as if my eyes were opened and my heart was made to understand the essence of Christianity that
I had been missing for my entire Christian life. In rapid succession I began to devour everything about the exchanged life that I could get my hands on. In a matter of a few months I read Grace Walk by Steve McVey, Classic Christianity and Growing in Grace by Bob George, Birthright and Alive for the First Time by David Needham, and The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee. By His grace God enabled me to understand the important elements of the Christian life that I had failed to comprehend in the first twenty-three years of my life in Christ.
Through the authors listed above and through many others I began to understand why I was a miserable and frustrated Christian. I was trying to live the Christian life out of my own resources and out of my own strength. I thought it was all up to my self-effort if my Christian life was going to be a success. I was self-focused rather than Christ-focused. By the grace of God I came to a place of total surrender to the Lord. God revealed to me the fleshly ways I had been trying to please Him and I renounced them all. Once again the Christian life became a delight instead of a duty. Instead of trying to live for God out of my own strength I began to trust Jesus to live His life through me and supply me with His strength. Several texts from the Bible quickly became favorites for me.
Like Hudson Taylor in the nineteenth century I began to see from Isaiah 40:31 that God would “renew me” or cause His very life to manifest supernatural strength through me. John 15:5 became precious to me as I realized that I could “do nothing” without the Lord but that He wanted to use me uniquely for His kingdom purposes. Galatians 2:20 spoke to me of my identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
It became clear to me that I had been functioning out of only half the gospel (I was functioning out of Christ’s crucifixion for me but not out of Christ’s resurrection for me). From the beginning of my life in Christ I understood that through Christ’s death on the cross I had been forgiven but I had never comprehended the wonderful truth that through Christ’s resurrection I had the very resurrection life of Christ dwelling in me as my source of victory.
In short order things began to come together for me in the Christian life. The joy returned, the peace returned, I became a better husband, a better dad, and a better minister not because I was trying harder but because I was trusting Jesus to be through me what I could not be in my own ability. The joy of ministry returned because I realized that all the responsibility for success was not on me. I came to understand that it was the Lord’s church, that it was the Lord’s ministry, and that He delighted to do His work of grace in the lives of others through me. I comprehended the fact that my calling was to be faithful and allow the Lord to do the work of ministry through me. I was active, I still worked hard, but He was my source and my strength.