TESTIMONY: DAVE KRELL - ERNEST O'NEILL (JOHN 19.31)

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O'Neill


Dave Krell Speaking:

Good evening everybody. For those of you that don't know me, I've been at Campus Church for about seven years with my wife Claudia. We've got two kids, maybe you've seen them, and one of them is my son Jonathan and then my daughter Rebecca. We've been here about seven years and we live in Hudson, Wisconsin, which is about 30 miles away and by the grace of God we've been able to continue to come here.

I work near here at the Creamette Macaroni Company as a Personnel Manager, just about a mile away so it's very convenient to come after work. Well, it certainly has been a blessing to be here these seven years and I appreciate you giving me this time just to share my background and tell you a little bit about what I've been through. I have only lived here in Minnesota for seven years. Actually the first Sunday that I moved here, I came to Campus Church. I was single then, but prior to that, I've lived generally in metropolitan cities but I grew up in St. Louis for the most part.

My dad is an attorney. He was an insurance supervisor in insurance company when I was younger but he is an attorney now. I've got a brother that's an attorney and then I've got two sisters and my mom has always been a home maker. My grade school life was a contented feeling. I really enjoyed it and I don't remember having any real bad feelings. I just enjoyed it, and maybe I was like many of you, I just had a good time playing, and having fun. It wasn't until I was about 12,13,or 14 that I really began to think about why I was here. God really planted in me at that time when I was in junior high an immediate sense of "Why are you here?"

Questions like that began to come up in my mind and I know it was God planting those in me. It's always been a gift to me that those have been there. Because I've talked to some and they're not always there at an early age. But for me they were there, so I began to think about God at that age. I had been raised in a church, a Presbyterian church, and had heard about Christ and been told about the Gospel but I never really understood it or understood how to apply to my life mainly because I looked around in the churches I was going to and I felt that there was a lot of hypocrisy.

That was my viewpoint at that time of my life. I pretty much wrote off the Christian church as I was raised in it. I didn't see if there were any answers in the formalized church even though I was confirmed and went through all that kind of a thing.

So as I got into high school, I really began to carouse and did a lot of it. I hung around with some people who were considered "hoods". I was involved with cars, drinking and smoking and the things that were considered at that time as trouble making kinds of things. I actually sought that for solace.

We did a lot of wild things. I put myself into that on the weekends and that was what I looked forward to. I think I had this drive in me, that I needed God and I drove it into wild times. So that went on all throughout high school. I was involved in sports and had some girl friends. I had a girl friend when I was a senior in high school and really got into a severe crisis situation with her.

I had at that time a tremendous sense of fear that my life would be knocked out from under me. I felt like, if the thing went through, if the thing that I feared happened, my future would be destroyed. I guess that would be the way I would describe it. Because even though I caused trouble I think my parents had planned on me living a certain way and not getting into too much trouble.

Even though I did get into some trouble with the police, I thought, now this is just out of the question. If this happens, it's going to ruin my life. I went to church, in a Presbyterian church on a Sunday. I never had real prior contact with anybody from the evangelical circle, who would come to me and share the Gospel of Christ really point by point. I never really had that even though I had some training.

I went to church one Sunday morning and had this deep sense of fear in me and loneliness. I don't even know what was preached that morning, but I know that I sought God and I remember it because I began to weep in the service. I remember as I sought Him and asked Him to get me out of the situation I was in, that I was filled with an incredible sense of peace and joy and a sense that He was really present.

I had never really experienced that so it was an overwhelming kind of experience for me at the time. I still remember it vividly because I know now that that was the time that I turned to God and really received Christ, and received the Spirit. And the Spirit was so clear. I can testify that the peace, the joy, the assurance that I had, (and it stayed with me after that day when I was about 19 years old) was very clear and vivid to me, as anything in my life really.

So the result was that I left and I really began to testify to people then right away. I didn't really know what I was talking about quite honestly, from a theological standpoint, but I'd go to people and I'd say, "Why don't you just realize that God is here with us you know, can't you sense it He's here?" I came out of the blue with this kind of stuff to my parents and to my girl friend. I said, "You know everything's going to be all right. God is here and He is taking care of us. We have a Father, and that Father has His arms around us." I would testify to these things and it was kind of a strange kind of a thing for my parents. But it was a wonderful thing for me because I was secure in my heart.

Eventually, I did break up with this girl friend. I thought I was going to marry her but she just really couldn't handle what I was going through. It just blew her mind because as I went through it, I said at the same time, "We're going to stop doing a lot of things we're doing. We're going to stop doing this and that and stop doing the different carousing things we're involved in." Of course that didn't set too well with her.

This was in the spring of my senior year and then in the fall I went off to college. I went to Kansas University and basically went to college because my family was always educated and had secondary degrees. I just saw it as an extension of high school really. So I went off to college. I remember even then testifying to my parents as they dropped me off at the dorm, "It's okay. God's with me, I'll make it."

I don't think that they understood. I'm not sure I really understood what I was talking about either, but I knew the Holy Spirit. I knew it was the Holy Spirit. I knew that much. So, God was gracious because I never had had any real fellowship with anybody during this three month period. God had given me a few verses like He give me 1 Peter 5:7. Right after this experience He said, "Cast all your anxieties on Him for He cares about you." That's the first verse that God gave me and it was a real precious verse and it still is to me today because of the release that He gave me from that.

But I hadn't had any real meat and so God was gracious. When I went to school, the first week I was there, I was confronted at the student union by a Campus Crusade for Christ person. I think their evangelical approach was just appropriate for me at that time. I needed a clear cut explanation of what I had gone through. He really explained to me the four spiritual laws: that you're a sinner and that you're to receive Christ and that Jesus is the Son of God and He is really the representative of the Father and so on.

So, I began to get some meat. I went back and just confirmed what I knew I had done with the Holy Spirit. I went back to my room and just committed my life again to Jesus because immediately as we began to talk about Jesus, I realized that these two things (Jesus and the Holy Spirit) are connected.

Jesus is the Lord and He is the person that I received three, four months ago, even though I wasn't really thinking it through that way quite honestly. But I reconfirmed my commitment and, when the Navigators, another evangelical group, came to my dormitory, I began to get discipled by them.

It was two years that I was really in The Navigators which I would consider a kind of church. I mean, we went to church but it was a church and it was God's time of teaching. That organization is very strong on Bible study, scripture memory and witnessing door-to-door. It emphasizes the practical things of Christianity and they are very strong in that area.

So I did learn a tremendous amount during that period of time. It was a great time of learning the scriptures. But as I began to go along, I found myself measuring myself up against the list of things that you're supposed to do to be a Christian, the good things that you're supposed to do. I felt that life, that original life that I had received from Jesus, was not really flowing in me anymore the way it had. I was now concentrating on if I had a quiet time everyday and did Bible study and witnessed on Tuesday nights. If you don't cuss, and you don't drink, then everything will be okay.

It's like what Pastor was talking about this morning. I fell into that thought pattern of what I would call legalism. So I knew that. One summer when I was home God gave me Galatians. Galatians is a book on the law and grace. I hadn't really seen that book before but I saw that I was in this pattern of legalism a lot.

So, I left the Navigators. That was a big step for me because it was a home for me. They had told me, "You can't leave this organization because you're under our spiritual authority and if you do you're going to run into all kinds of problems." It was too tight. So, it was a really big step for me.

After that time, about 10 years ago, I fell into a two year period of being disillusioned because I'd had such programmable thoughts about Christianity. Christianity had become a mental thing for me rather than a spiritual thing. So I was really disillusioned. I was trying to think back through that, had a lot of fears and problems during those couple of years and really I would say the main thing that happened to me is that I lost the hope that I had had, when I first met Jesus.

That hope became squelched and I lost it. I dropped out of school because that period was so intense. It was such a hard time for me. Then I went back and began to get involved again. I began to get in other organizations, and began to try and seek God again. I got out of school in 1976 and moved to Colorado. I lived in the mountains and was there to ski and just to get some time away to think. Then I decided to move here to Minnesota.

The reason for that was I had some friends in Minnesota that were in Young Life, a high school Christian organization. They were seminarians training to be Young Life ministers and I thought I'll go there and live with those guys and that'll help me get back into the swing of things.

Then I came here to Campus Church about 8 years ago and from the services and the preaching the hope was revived in me after a period of months. When I say the hope, that means the hope of what the New Testament says about Christianity. It says that we're to be free. We're to be free people, free from sin and free to live above all the grungy things that go on. I knew that because the Spirit had told me that that's where we're to live.

So the hope was rekindled in me. I listened to the preaching here, and began to see that I needed to seek a deeper life with God. I really did for about four years. The first four years that I came here, I really was seeking God. I was reading books about the idea of seeking a life free from sin. I was reading books referred to me like, 'Release of the Spirit', and 'Baptism of the Holy Spirit' and was talking about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and was praying about it and it was really laboring over it in my own heart. I saw that my life was really just an up and down.

I came in here on a Sunday and it was the greatest shot in the arm -- like an injection. It was a good deal but the problem was all week long I failed in everything. I tried to double my will power and try to be a good Christian, like I did 10 years ago and it wasn't working. But I kept seeking God, I kept praying, I kept saying, "God, you know, deliver me from this," because I know that there is a life beyond what I've already experienced.

So, I came up for altar calls. I really wanted to experience this deeper life and Baptism of the Spirit. I really was trying to obey God. I was also looking inside my life and trying to see where is all this wickedness? I began to realize how wicked I was and how I was trying to cover that up. All my motivation and everything I was doing was SELF. It was just to glorify me. It was to make me a good person and make myself look good. I was realizing this over time.

One Sunday, two years ago, when my daughter Rebecca was born in April, and Claudia was in the hospital we were having a hard time. It had been a hard delivery because Claudia was sick a lot of the time. It had scared me that maybe there would be something wrong with Rebecca. Rebecca is really such a little thing. It wasn't real serious but it seemed like there were going to be some problems associated with the delivery so there was a lot of fear rising in me. She was delivered and she was okay.

She was little and not eating well, but anyway, I came to church as I always did. I was sitting right over there by myself and thinking how long are you going to go through this up and down life? How long are you going to evade this issue of Self? How long before you give your life in total surrender? I don't even know what was preached that Sunday, but I do know this-- that God came to me right then and said to me there is a verse in Corinthians, it's 2 Corinthians 2:6.

I didn't know what the verse was at that time, but I know what God told me. He said, "Now is the day of salvation, now is the appropriate time." I remember Him saying now is the day of salvation. So I just quietly prayed to Him and said okay, now is the time I will lay my life before You. I believe that was the time that I really, totally surrendered my life. That day afterwards, was probably one of the most horrendous days I've ever had.

I don't know if Satan was trying to discourage me or what, but it was just a terrible day. Rebecca wouldn't eat and we thought she was going to starve to death and there was a lot of fear. But I clung to what I did. I stood by what I had done and believed God for His deliverance. I'll give you some examples of things that happened in my life after that.

One thing is that I'd never understood what faith was until then. I realize today, the reason that's the case was because you can't figure out what faith is. You can sit out here for years and try to figure it out, but you can't figure it out. You have to actually exercise it and when you exercise it, then God blesses you with kind of a wisdom about what it is. Then you understand what it is. Then you don't go years in thinking, "Hey I got to exercise faith, I got to do more faith, I just do more faith and I can get into this thing."

That's not really what it is. Faith is a simple thing and God blessed me and showed me what faith was. God delivered me from impatience. Claudia can tell you. In traffic, I was the classic guy that would just run right up to the other guy's car and say, "Get out of my way!" God delivered me into patience not only in traffic but in my home.

Here we had two children and some of you know what it's like to have two children. It's wild. You need patience and God delivered me the patience. The other thing is that life began to flow out of my heart, and I became more involved here because my heart broke forward. I had been in a family group before this, but I began to lead a family group after that. I can say that for the first time, I was in a Christian group where I was leading and actually advocating this life of faith rather than questioning it. I was telling other people this is what you do. I could with good conscience say, "There is some real freedom, and this thing is true, it's really happening." I began to do this and explain it to others and continue today with that.

So those are just a few things. If there was anybody that spent years ringing his hands trying to find Christ in a deep way, it was me. I was a handwringer. I would say to you continue to persevere. Maybe you're a little bit on a wrong track but continue on, and don't give up. Because life is there, the life of freedom exists. I thought in closing I'd share what I have been reading from Hebrew 12:1-3. It really explains to me what I am doing now and what I think we're called into, which is this life of faith.

God has great things for us. It's really an exciting life. If you'll shed that old man and repent and go into this thing, there's just a great life ahead for all of us. I'll just close with this, it says, "Therefore since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race which is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. May God help us to understand that. Thank you.

Rev. Ernest O'Neill:

It seems loved ones, that from little things that happened this evening that it is probably somebody's time tonight, you know. I remember the testimony of Jessup, a British preacher who preached liberty and freedom that Dave talked about and he wrote it in a book and the title of the book was 'I met a man with a shining face,' and that's what convinced me when I met this man with a shining face. And nobody's any fool tonight. I mean you saw a man with the shining face and there's nothing so convincing as seeing somebody who has come in and has stepped right in.

Maybe the key thing that Dave shared tonight was that faith is only real to you if you exercise it. You can't think your way into it. You can't analyze it and then do it. You actually have to do it and then everything opens up to you. It's really like a sheet of paper, of tissue paper, that is right across there and on the other side of it is the other side of Calvary, the resurrection side, with a new you and the whole victorious life.

It doesn't matter how long you stand contemplating it and it doesn't matter how many people call to you from the other side and say, "You should come in, it's great here, there is victory over self and sin." Nothing happens until you step through that by faith. And faith is believing, that what he has said happened to him, has already happened to you in Jesus. But you do have to step through.

Now, I think it's the tragedy of many of our lives that we keep thinking faith will somehow work itself up inside us or somehow we'll contemplate our way into faith. You never will. The tragedy probably is that you could, like so many of us, sit night after night after night. You know we're all relatively young here but the tragedy is you could sit night after night after for years, always hearing this thing delineated, and always saying, "Yes, that's where I should be", and yet never stepping into it.

So the only way to come in is to step in and to say, "Lord Jesus, I know I was with You on the Cross, I know that and I know that all the things I have trouble with and all the self that I've trouble with has gone. And I know that I can walk up free from these graveclothes this night, if I choose to believe that. And God knows that. If you say to me, "Well now brother, isn't it true there's to be a willingness to let go of the things in your life that God has shown you are wrong?"

Yes, there is that. If you're not willing to let go of those things, then faith will not spring up when you exercise it. But if you have come to that place, where you've said, "Lord, I am willing to be whatever You want and I am willing to do whatever You want and I am willing to be with or without, whatever," then if you are in that position of full consecration, all you do is step through in faith and take your stand.

What I saw in my life was that it was easy to come to a place where you felt you were fully consecrated except you wouldn't exercise faith. I was sharing with Joe last week at Fish prayer, for some of us, the sin is jealousy or anger or just our own fullness of ourselves and our desire for other people to think well of us. But for some of the rest of us the sin is, not exercising faith. That's the sin and that's our little bit of independence and we get away with it because it sounds so holy.

We say, "We're fully consecrated and we don't know why God won't baptize us with the Holy Spirit," but we're just waiting for Him to do it. And we don't see why He shouldn't do it because we're fully consecrated and we've laid everything down. Except that we won't exercise faith and whatever is not of faith, is sin. It is very interesting, but you can see that if we're all crucified with Christ and we've all been raised with Him, then not exercising faith in that is probably the biggest sin.

So, failing to exercise faith can so often in itself be the most potent declaration of self that a person can have. So it is good to reflect on those things in the light of His clear testimony to what faith is

Let us pray:

Dear Lord, we would reflect on that. Especially those of us who have been like Dave, hungering for years and seeming to ourselves to want this with all our hearts and yet we're still claiming the freedom to lose our temper, to be critical, to remain on the dark side of Calvary Lord, we realize that if we step over the line we give up all our rights, all our rights to be a little angry, all our rights to have a little pride and yet Lord we know that sooner or later we have to take that step. So, Lord we thank You for precious evenings like this evening when a brother shares from his own heart, a clear testimony to what You have done for us.

We realize the nation is full of churches where people cannot hear that and the world is full of people who have never heard it. So, Lord we thank You for Your clear testimony tonight and Lord, we don't really see too clearly why we should hold back. It seems right what he says that you don't have the fruits of faith until you exercise faith. That we can't experience the grace that awaits us on the far side of Calvary unless we step into the far side of Calvary.

Lord, we know it means stepping away from self forever and leaving self behind and leaving all that we have been on the dark side of Calvary and actually becoming utterly new, not even remembering our own names, or the way we used to behave or the way we used to feel we have the right to behave. Lord it means stepping into a new shell tonight, into a new person, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens that has been created in You Lord Jesus, in Your resurrection body on the other side of death and that You have that person ready for us to step into, waiting for us, and You're waiting for us to welcome us into that new creation that is free from sin.

Lord Jesus, we know You stand there with Your arms wide spread and we know Lord that that person is there for us who has been given a new name, a Christian name, that is the name of Christ. Lord Jesus, we know You are waiting and we simply need to step in now because today is the day of salvation for us. Lord we'd step in now, right now, we'd step out of this old self and step into You by faith and never look back and never take things as our right again. If Satan prompts us, we'll reject every suggestion from him that we have not stepped.

We will put a stake in the ground tonight and say, "Tonight, I stepped out of that old self and stepped into the new self hid with Christ in God where only Christ will has any right to be done and where only Christ's words are spoken by me." Lord Jesus we step in now through this veil and through Your dear Cross and into this bright sunlit side of Calvary. And Lord, we intend to live here with You. And Holy Spirit with You, as You flow over us and through us and fill us with Yourself.

Dear Lord, we thank You for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. We thank You Holy Spirit for coming into us and filling us. We thank You that we can obey You now without fear and we'll obey instantly what You tell us to do and we'd move with You. Trust You for the new tongues if You want to give us them, trust You for the sense of praise and joy if You want to give it to us, if You want to give us a spirit of weeping and sorrow, we'll receive that, we'll receive You Holy Spirit in whatever clothes You want to come to us but we commit ourselves now to being Yours and belonging to You from this day forward. We will never again look back to all that we used to be. Thank You Lord for this evening and for Your love and care for us.

Now, the grace of our Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with each one of us now and evermore. Amen.

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