April 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
I am a Christian because at the age of six I embraced the Gospel, accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior through faith. At that age the Holy Spirit gave me the understanding of the burden of sin I carried after hearing the story of Pilgrim’s Progress and Christian’s journey to the foot of the cross, where upon reaching it, his own enormous backpack came loose and rolled away. I also understood from what my parents, who were recently saved themselves, taught me about God and sin and grace and heaven and hell. I was afraid of hell and comprehended Jesus as the way to heaven. That’s why I became a Christian, but it isn’t why I am a Christian now.
By that last statement I don’t mean to imply that a Christian can lose their salvation. I believe the Bible makes it clear that we are eternally secure once we give our lives to Christ (John 10:27-28; Rom. 8:38-39). But I do see that a believer can be ineffective by walking away from the reality of the Gospel in his life and ceasing to live as a Christian, as many have. I grew up in Sunday school and going to Bible camps, but lived out a pretty mediocre Christianity by the time I reached high school, and it didn’t improve much during a year at Emmaus Bible College. Although I met my future wife there, who influenced me greatly that what I learned at Emmaus was worth living out fully. She seemed to be doing just that. Tons of research suggests that Christians walk away from church and the faith because what they put faith in rather blindly as a youth doesn’t intellectually square when they’re older. I think this was a danger for me too.
My wife and I went on and got degrees, I got a job, we married and actively began serving in our church. During that time I saw lives transformed by Christ about the time I started to more deeply ponder the problem of evil and tougher theological questions. We had been involved in youth ministry and had seen the first of many kids come to Christ in our neighborhood. I could present the Gospel and see real change in real people, myself included, and so I was witnessing the transforming power of it. But I was also wrestling with the idea that maybe it was all somehow an illusion.
It wasn’t until my 30s that God began to really solidify the foundations of my faith by drawing me into His word. I had a renewed interest in studying the Bible, more so than I had in Bible college. Through this I discovered real answers and the fact that God’s revelation through Scripture truly does make sense of the world—the way my son behaves, the way morality works, relationships, music, love, humanity. It provides a far better and consistent explanation for reality than our own ideas do.
Out of this grew a new interest in Christian apologetics for me, and there are a lot of wrong ideas out there about what Christianity is all about. I think this was a turning point in my life. My faith now has reason. We are called to defend (1 Peter 3:15), but before I defend the truth of God and His word for anyone else, I am defending it for myself. With every new question, the search for an answer affirms and strengthens my faith rather than pushing me away from it. It’s a big reason “why I’m a Christian” today: Simply because I believe it to be true.