Knowing Christ personally
Sam Matthews discovered that a Christian upbringing doesn’t make you a Christian.
Because I had a Christian upbringing people think I have been a Christian all of my life. But faith in Jesus Christ is not something that my parents or teachers could instil in me, nor something obtained by attending church. My faith in Christ is not just a matter of my background but something wrought in me by God himself.
That doesn’t mean that I came to faith in an instant – I didn’t have a sudden and dramatic conversion. Instead the Lord revealed himself to me and drew me to himself gradually.
Throughout my life both my conscience and the Bible told me that I was a sinner. I also believed from an early age that Jesus Christ had died to pay the price for sin. But just knowing these things didn’t make me a Christian. In fact these beliefs seemed very abstract to me – almost academic and unreal. I couldn’t claim to have the kind of personal relationship with God that I heard others profess.
Moved to pray
When I set off for my first term at Cambridge University, my mother wrote me a letter – part of which read: ‘These next few years are full of potential for you Sam; you can grow nearer or further from the Lord …’
How right she was! During those three years away I was brought nearer to God. I took with me several books of daily scripture readings given me by members of our church, which encouraged me both to read the Bible and think more about it than I ever had before.
Slowly but surely I was moved to pray for and seek a deeper relationship with the Lord. I was no longer content with the uncertain faith I had known so far, and wanted to have the assurance that Jesus Christ was truly my Lord and Saviour.
Over the months that followed, this is exactly what happened. I was brought by God’s Holy Spirit to see more of myself, showing me how much of a sinner I am in my heart and nature. But equally, I have been shown more of Christ – that he loves me more than I can ever imagine; that he died to save me from my sin; and that he was raised from the dead that I also might have eternal life in him.
I have also found that his Holy Spirit gives me strength and blessings each and every day, and that all this is not because of anything I have done or merited, but solely because of his love, mercy and grace.
In the weeks preceding my baptism some asked why I had not been baptised at a younger age. My answer is that baptism was a conscious act on my part – a confession of my personal faith in Jesus Christ, an act of obedience to his word, and a testimony to what he has done for me.
In years past I believed that Jesus Christ was the Saviour of the world, but I now know, far more deeply and personally, that he is my Saviour. And when I am asked what he has done for me, the only answer I can give is, ‘Everything’.