I was an atheist for most of my life. I believed that religion, any religion, was a crutch for those who were failing in life on earth and needed both an excuse (it’s not my fault) and a hope for the future (Heaven). I was doing just fine on my own and didn’t need Jesus or anyone else telling me what to do. Over the course of 6 years, a small business I had taken over slowly failed (went bankrupt) and our family was also forced into personal bankruptcy. It was a mess. In that lengthy process, my accountant kept telling me about Jesus. Candidly, I found myself in the position of needing a source of hope for the future, a crutch if you will. So, I started digging into Christianity. I spent about 2 years actively poking around the Bible, researching creation, dinosaurs, the fall of man, miracles, angels, Satan, etc. I started exploring online sermons, talking to pastors, reading books, listening to tapes (a lot of tapes), and all that stuff.
Finally, I landed on the resurrection of Christ as somewhat of a prooftext on Christianity. I bought books outlining how it could be disproved that Jesus rose from the dead. As I read, I concluded that this guy actually did die and come back to life. Well, there was a great deal more involved but, in March of 1989, I intellectually told my pestering evangelical friend (the accountant) that I believed in the resurrection of Christ. Further, once I believed something as crazy as that, then all the rest (the Bible) started fitting into place like a giant puzzle that I had been building for years but had never seen the forest for the trees.
So, God dragged me kicking and screaming to the cross of Christ and consequently to His Word, the Bible, which I believed was written by God and not just by man.
HOWEVER, I was still destined for eternity in Hell in MARCH of 1989.
The reason for that was that I believed intellectually that Christ died for my sins, but that was not enough for eternal life.
Romans 10:9 talks about the need to confess that Jesus is not only our Savior but also our Lord. That requires more than intellectual assent. It requires a heart change. That event, for me, took place on April 15, 1989, when I sincerely prayed to accept Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins and, to the best of my sin-cursed ability, follow Him as my Lord.
God used a crisis in my life to get me on my knees, begging for relief from my failures. Had that accountant not been in my life AND had I not experienced the emotional pain of financial collapse, I would still be a staunch atheist today. However, from a supernatural perspective, I believe it was God’s will (unknown to me) that was what was truly in play.
So, my belief in the Bible starts with the resurrection of Christ while seeing the rest of the pieces of God’s fulfilled prophesy and plan fit into place so perfectly. When one believes the Bible was written by man, then one can parse verses as they wish, based on the cultural trends of the day. But when one believes the Scripture was written by God, perfect in all He chooses to illuminate, and simply penned by man, then the responsibility for what it says (especially the parts I don’t personally agree with) is taken out of our hands.
Many consider true Christians as holier-than-thou antagonists and hypocrites. There is truth in those descriptions. As saved sinners, we try to navigate God’s Word juxtaposed against changing cultural norms. For those willing to openly hold firm to their beliefs, persecution is just part of what the Lord has predicted for His children. However, incredibly more than offsetting this potential negative is the faith and blessings from a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe and the joy that will come from spending eternity with the Lord, in Heaven.
Anyone, at any time, can come to the Lord
The key to that “peace that transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) is so simple, yet so profound. The late Billy Graham, along with millions of others, have all expressed the process the same way. Salvation comes through God’s grace alone and not through our efforts. It is a sincere faith-based decision to accept that Jesus Christ died for my sins, miraculously rose from the grave, and to have a willingness to accept Him as the Lord of my life.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 10:9-10 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
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