I grew up in a “Christian” environment, but from a very early age I had little to no desire to understand or comply with what I was being taught. By the time I became a teenager, I had grown skeptical of anything to do with church or God. I saw Christians as hypocritical and insincere. Through most of my teenage years I lived to serve myself and only gave my attention to things that I deemed important. I started to adopt a self-sufficient philosophy. In my pride, I thought that people who needed God and religion were weak-minded and only used religion to make themselves feel better about what would happen to them after they died.
As I began to approach my teenage years, I started to question: Who is God? Is there even a God? If there is a God, then what (if anything) does He want from me? I started to think about everything that was around me: people, the earth, animals, nature, etc. It all seemed so uniform and well-designed. I had to ask myself, “Could all the order come into existence without an intelligent Person to create it?” Very early on in my seeking, it started to seem that there must be some kind of a God. It just made sense!
I started to look to the Bible for answers, and I learned how amazing the Bible really was. How it is a perfect historical document that has been verified by thousands of eye witnesses. I was amazed by the prophecies of the Old Testament that had been so perfectly and specifically fulfilled by Jesus Christ thousands of years after they were originally written. The more I looked to the Bible for answers, the more it became clear to me that the Bible was not just any ordinary book. I started to question what I believed, and I began to seek after answers from the Bible.
Here is what I found that would change my life forever: God created everything, including me “By what standard am I going to be judged?” (Colossians 1:16, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”). Because God created me, then He has the right to judge me and He has appointed a day when He will do this (Acts 17:31, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead”)
The next logical question is: “By what standard am I going to be judged?” Many think that they are a good people and therefore, their good works will be enough to earn Heaven and God’s favor. So let us use God’s Standard (The Ten Commandments) of a “good person” and see how you measure up!
Have you ever told a lie? (9th commandment) The answer for me obviously was yes… which makes me a liar. Have you ever looked with lust at another person who wasn’t your husband/wife? In Matthew 5:28 Jesus says, “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Which is a violation of the 7th commandment; this really got to me. Have you ever used God’s name in vain or used it to express disgust – like mixing His name with a curse word? The 4th commandment says not to take the name of God in vain. Exodus 20:17 says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” So, according to God’s Standard, how would you measure up?
“This reality really bothered me, and for the first time in my life” I saw that compared to God’s Standard, I was completely guilty of breaking God’s laws! So what does God do with people who break his laws? Revelation 21:8 makes it pretty clear, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” This reality sank into my heart and mind. God is going to judge me. I am going to be guilty before Him. The result for this law-breaking is punishment in Hell. This reality really bothered me, and for the first time in my life, the Gospel (Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the payment of my sins) made sense!
For all my life, everyone around me told me that I should love Jesus; that He would give me a great life. The problem was that I thought I could have a great life without Him. I didn’t see that I had a need. But after I realized the trouble I was in with God because of my sin, I saw how much I needed Jesus Christ. You see, God sent his son, Jesus Christ, so that he could die on the cross and take the punishment for my sin. Basically, I did the crime, but Jesus paid the fine! In that moment, I realized that I needed to repent (a complete mind-change about my sin/a desire to want to turn away from my sin) of my sin towards God and put my confidence, faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone to be the payment for my sin.
The Bible says in Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the “I wanted to give up trying to be a good persone” presence of the Lord.” It also says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I remember lying on my floor and just saying over and over again, “I give up!” I wanted to give up my sin. I wanted to give up trying to be a good person. And I did. I gave up and transferred my trust from myself and my good works to trusting in Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross!
From that moment on, I have had a relationship with God. I started to see myself have victory over sin in my life – victory that I never seemed to be able to have before when I was trying with my own self-effort. The difference was that I now understood what God had done for me so that I didn’t have to be punished for my sin and I loved Him for it. I used to be a huge liar. But then I read God’s Word which said, “Thou shalt not lie.” I still wanted to lie but I now loved God and didn’t want to continue to break His laws. My love for God gave me power to defeat my lying and have victory. I was also very selfish and self-focused. The Bible taught me that I should be sacrificial and serve others over myself. God changed me in that area and showed me the joy that I could gain by putting others first and being sacrificial.
“This was a trial that, without God, would have ruined me and probably my marriage;” My relationship with God has sustained me through many dark trials. When I was 22 years old, my first child (Natalie Blythe) was stillborn at the 38th week of my wife’s pregnancy. This was a trial that, without God, would have ruined me and probably my marriage; but with a relationship with God, I was able to trust Him and His plan for my life. God has blessed me immensely in the years since I’ve became a Christian. I have a kind and loving wife, four amazing kids, and God has grown me into more of a Christian man than I ever would have thought possible. His power was enough to save me, but His power has also been enough to sustain and grow me throughout my whole adult life. I love God. I know He’s real. No matter what your situation, I know that if you seek after Him, He will show you too how He can save you from your sin and give you a more abundant life than you ever thought possible. Real freedom and liberty are found in a relationship with Christ!