I was not born a Christian just because I was brought up in this country with its Christian heritage, or because I was baptised and confirmed in the local Anglican church and became a choirboy.
My parents had no interest in the Bible, and so there was not a copy to be found in our home. In the church I attended, the main emphasis was on the form of service and the choir. In all this, God seemed very unreal and the Bible merely a religious book.
As I grew up, sport and amateur operatics began to take over much of my spare time. For many years, I led a self-indulgent and self-centred life, which left me increasingly dissatisfied. Eventually, having reached a very low point, I decided to go to a church near where I was living at that time.
I had no natural desire to take God and Christianity seriously and so did not go with any realistic expectation. Looking back, I now know that it was God who was putting it in my heart to seek him. It was God in his mercy taking the initiative, and not me.
It soon became obvious that this was a totally different church to my earlier experience, even though it was also Anglican. The preaching from the Bible was with passion and belief, and the people I met spoke about Jesus Christ as though they knew him personally.
The Bible-preaching began to awaken and disturb me spiritually. I began to realise that I was a sinner, as the Bible puts it, and that I, like the rest of humanity, had fallen short of God’s perfect standard and deserved his guilty verdict and condemnation.
But, amazingly, the gospel (good news) in God’s Word also showed me that there was a way to be forgiven and accepted by a holy God, and that way was by putting my trust in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross at Calvary for my sins and for all those who believe in him.
The need for repentance also became clear to me, that is, that I should turn from the way of sin and pursuing my personal agenda without reference to God, to going God’s righteous way and putting him first in my life. I have since discovered that the life of faith gives me great peace and joy in the Lord.
As a born again Christian — still a sinner, but forgiven and saved by grace — I know that, in all the experiences of life — the good and bad, the happy and sad — God is preparing me for heaven, the home of my Saviour Lord Jesus. He was raised from the dead and has promised to come back again one day to judge the world and establish a new heavens and earth, where there will be no more sin, sorrow and suffering.
Jesus said, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life’.