Someone I used to work with once said to me, ‘I find it hard to believe that you, a reasonably intelligent human being (!), can take God so seriously or believe that the Bible is true!’
Well, I can honestly tell you that there was a time in my life when I didn’t take God seriously or care very much whether the Bible was true or not.
I came from a Welsh chapel background, where it was traditional to go to church and attend Sunday school every Sunday. I used to learn my Bible memory verses in Welsh the best I could and, for special occasions like the gymanfa ganu (singing festival), learn a special portion of the Bible to recite.
It was with this ‘religious’ background that I came to Cardiff in 1965 to study full time at a local technical college. While there, I spent most of my free time ‘living it up’ in the local pubs, clubs and dance halls, and really believed that this was ‘life’.
Although the teachings of my chapel upbringing bothered me now and again and acted as a sort of restraining influence, I did not really allow God to interfere in what I wanted to do. Attendances at chapel became fewer, until in the end they became the exception rather than the rule.
Whilst at college, however, I got to know a girl from Cardiff University (who is now my wife), who had been asked by a friend of hers to go along to the college Christian Union (CU) meeting.
After attending one of the conferences held by the CU, my then girlfriend suddenly informed me that she had become a Christian, to which my reply was simply, ‘Aren’t we all?’
My reasons for making such a reply were also simple — and maybe you reason in the same way — ‘That as long as I do my best, and don’t do anybody any harm, and try to live a reasonably, clean and decent life, then all will be well between me and God’.
I got a shock and felt angry inside when it was explained to me that this was not the definition of a true Christian. So I asked the question, ‘Well, what is then?’
It was then that I had to face something I found unacceptable, in which I wanted no further involvement (although God had other plans).
I was told that we are not born Christians; we do not grow up as Christians because we live in a ‘Christian’ land; and we are not Christians because we go to church and carry out religious requirements, such as baptism.
It was a hard pill to swallow, but there was more to come! I was told that, not only would I have to admit that my view was wrong, but I would also have to accept the fact that I could do nothing to put myself right with God, because God himself had done everything necessary for my salvation.
Despite my opposition to what I had been told, at my girlfriend’s invitation I started going reluctantly to the CU meetings and I also started attending a local evangelical church.
Over the following months I heard more about the deep love of God for me as an individual, how he had sent Christ to die in my place, and how I needed him to be my Saviour.
I was shown from God’s Word, the Bible, that I was sinful (although I had always called my sins ‘little shortcomings’) and falling short of God’s standard of absolute perfection.
Many questions went through my mind, and I tried hard to run away from it all and became extremely determined that I should have no more to do with such nonsense.
I found no rest, however, in running away and the question kept coming back to me, ‘Was it really possible that my view of Christianity was wrong, and that I was under the anger of God rather than his love, and that I could be condemned to hell rather than find myself in heaven?’
Such thoughts gave me no peace, and I had to enquire as to whether there was a way in which a sinful man could be reconciled to a holy, pure and perfect God.
How could I reach God’s standards of perfection and be accepted into heaven? How could I obtain this righteousness which would satisfy God?
I was then directed towards the Bible, where I read that I had to do no more — although then, it seemed impossible — than admit my sinfulness, confess it to God with sorrow and repentance, and he would credit to me the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had paid the penalty for my sin and satisfied the perfect demands of God, through his death on the cross.
It seemed so easy and yet it was so hard. For months a war raged within my soul, until one day, 17 April 1967, God gave me faith to believe and take the Lord Jesus Christ as my own Saviour. The transaction was done: to him I gave all my sin, to me he gave all his righteousness.
Because of that day, I too can say with the apostle Paul, ‘Therefore being justified by faith [not works], we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ’.
That then is the testimony of one ‘reasonably intelligent’ (!) man as to how God saved him. But you see, the salvation which is to be found in Christ has nothing to do with intelligence — it is all of God’s mercy and grace. We have but to receive it ourselves.
Amazing grace how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
You have probably sung that hymn at one time or another, but is this true of you? It can be.
It would take many more pages to tell you how God’s mercy has kept us both over the years, but we believe that one day the Lord will also see us safely home to his heaven and glory for evermore.