Albert Lutz asked me recently to write a paragraph on how I came to faith in Christ for the benefit of those attending Solihull Presbyterian. So I came up with five. I thought I would maximise the time-investment by inflicting it on all you half-dozen or so readers with nothing better to do (though remember, there's still that volume of Calvin/Owen/Packer/etc on your shelf waiting to be read).
So, here it is...
How were you converted to Christ?
I was brought up in a home where I went to Sunday School but I did not have faith in what I was hearing. However, in my final year at school, aged 16, a good friend of mine became a Christian and he completely changed. He now wanted to read his Bible, pray and talk about Christ. He no longer speculated about spiritual things as we often did before. He was certain about the gospel. I found this deeply disturbing, so when I went up to Glasgow University the following year (1979) to live in one of the halls of residence, I was still thinking about what had happened to my friend.
There were some Christians in the residence who were connected with the Navigators who, in the first few weeks of that first term, tried to visit all the students and speak to them about the gospel. I had a long chat with two guys and got invited to a couple of social events. There was something different about these people. They had a love and care for each other and a certainty about their ultimate destiny which I could not ignore. Increasingly I became concerned about my own destiny. What happens after you die? I knew I was a sinner who deserved eternal punishment for my sins.
I got invited to an investigative Bible study with a couple of Christians and a couple of other non-Christians who had become my friends. The first study was on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I knew the story from my Sunday School days but had not ever thought about the truth of it. As the evidence was laid out and the objections answered I found myself more and more convinced. By the end of the study I knew the resurrection was a true historical event and the implications of Jesus' resurrection were all too apparent - Jesus is alive today and calls me to follow him.
I spent around a year of wrestling with the implications of all this for my own life. For a short period I called myself a Christian, and for a long period I did not. In that period the two other friends with whom I did Bible study had become Christians and several others in the hall of residence. Eventually the tension was too much to bear. A key verse which had stuck with me was Ps 139:7, 8: "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." (NIV) I think I can honestly say that for a whole year God brought this verse to mind every day. As I reflect on this I know that God was pursuing me by his Spirit in his word. At the time I did not like it, but now I see that God was pursuing me with his love, calling me to a new life in his Son, Jesus.
At the start of my second year at university I had a discussion with one of my friends who had since become a Christian. I saw that he too had found security in Christ. His testimony was compelling. I realised that my resistance to God was futile and that I would have to entrust all the difficulties I perceived to him. For the first time in nearly a year I spent some time in prayer, confessing my sins, thanking God for his saving work through his Son, and expressing my faith in Christ. I was now a Christ-follower for good.
In 1982 I was baptised in New Prestwick Baptist Church in Ayrshire.