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Undeserved mercy

December 2014 | by Joe Bailey

The Bible tells us that, ‘To you who believe, he [Jesus Christ] is precious’ (1 Peter 2:7). That is one of my favourite verses in the Bible and it describes my relation to Jesus Christ today.

He is more precious to me than anything else in this world. But the Lord Jesus has not always been precious to me. In fact, there was a time when so many other things were precious to me and I didn’t know the Jesus of the Bible.

Like most other young people, I loved music and being with my friends. I used to play the drums in various settings and my greatest concern was to be popular and liked by others. I was a self-centred person.

I lived for my desires, my wants and my plans. I didn’t really care about what God had to say. On top of this, my time was often employed feeding my desire for material things — the latest phone, a better drum kit, or something else.

The thoughts, desires and direction of my life were almost entirely focused on earthly things. Despite claiming to be a Christian and going to a church, I had no love for the true God of the Bible and little consciousness of eternity.

Creation

One day, after moving to a different secondary school, I met the school’s head of science at a Christian union meeting. He happened to mention that he believed that the whole Bible was completely true, even that God made the world in six literal days.

I could hardly believe what I was hearing! A science teacher, who believes in creationism! ‘Doesn’t he realise you can fit evolution into the Bible?’ I thought to myself.

I had so many questions that I often used to visit him at break-times and lunch-times, but each time he would patiently answer my questions. After much wrestling, I came to a simple conclusion: either the Bible is totally trustworthy or you can’t trust it at all.

I was brought up in a Christianity which picked the verses it wanted to believe and discarded the rest. But, by God’s grace, I began to realise that you can’t pick and choose with the Bible.

If one part is wrong, then none of it is completely trustworthy. But if it is the very word of God as it claims to be, then it deserves my complete faith and obedience. Eventually I came to believe in its truth.

As I hungrily read the Bible, God began to reveal to me two life-changing truths. The first was that God is incredibly, burningly pure and holy. He hates all sin and evil and will punish those who sin against him. I read accounts of God wiping out whole nations: men, women and children, because they rebelled against God, the creator of the whole earth.

The second truth was that mankind is not holy. We are polluted by our evil thoughts and deeds and God is angry with us. Knowing my own corrupt heart, I knew that the Bible was true when it said, ‘There is none who does good; no, not one’ (Romans 3:12).

Redemption

These truths were so new to me, despite my religious upbringing. But they left me with a big question: if God is the same today, why hasn’t he judged my life?

After all, I’m no different from the countless people in the Bible he has punished. I’m just as much as a sinner and just as deserving of judgement. The only answer I could come to was this: God has been merciful and spared my life for a reason!

Over time, God showed me that reason. He had provided a way of escape from his judgement through Jesus Christ his own Son. Despite my rebellion, God loved me so much that he sent the Lord Jesus to the cross, where he suffered the wrath of God for the sins of all who trust in him.

God showed me through the Bible that it wasn’t about my efforts to please God; it was about turning from sin and trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross. That’s how I was saved and became a true Christian.

Although I can’t put an exact date on my conversion, I remember a time around six years ago when I began rejoicing over and over in the great truth that, ‘It’s all of him and none of me!’

Discipleship

I came to know the forgiveness of my sins and eternal life with Jesus Christ. He is now precious to me and the things which were once precious are like rubbish, in comparison to my Lord.

After graduating from the University of Leicester in 2013, I began working for a medical device company.

Perhaps the biggest battle of my Christian life is being faithful to God in the little things: seeking God’s face daily, putting sin to death and seeking to love my colleagues, customers, family and, most of all, my brothers and sisters in Christ with consistency.

How often I need to be reminded of the gospel, both to cleanse me from my sin and to motivate me to obey God!

Joe Bailey

 

 

 

 

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Evangelistic