Recently I was asked to explain my conversion to Jesus Christ and my spiritual formation since then. This is a question every Christian should contemplate in light of Scripture and share with others. So here’s my story:
I was fortunate to be raised by parents who loved the Lord deeply, taught their children faithfully, and set an example of godliness in our home and their work. At the ages of 83 and 80 they remain some of my dearest friends and mentors. However, my conversion to Christ has no particular date to be marked on a calendar. From my earliest memories I felt like I was discipled and loved with the gospel, and that the tenants of Christianity were at the forefront of our family’s life. The theme of repentance and faith was an ongoing part of my life and continues to this day. I was discipled by two godly youth directors who kept God’s Word before us and taught us what it meant to serve others and pursue holiness. It wasn’t always heeded, but their ministry in my life was transformative and lasting.
With all that being said, I think my faith took a turn in 1986 (age 20). I had never questioned the truth claims of Christ, nor had I been fully taught the depth and breadth of who God is and how he saves sinners. Needing to complete a book report for a Religion class at Baylor University, I asked my seminary brother for a recommendation. He said, “There’s this pastor named John Piper in Minnesota who wrote a book entitled Desiring God. You should read that”. (Yep… I read Piper before it was cool to read Piper)
Piper’s book opened my eyes to the sovereignty of God, to the beauty of election, and to the high calling on our lives to seek satisfaction in Him alone. It led me on a journey that continued for 30 years. In my 20’s I read Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, and great works from other reformed authors. Those pastors/authors, along with many others, shaped me in profound ways that still resonate it my heart and mind. I’d like to say I figured it all out and applied it perfectly, but my life has been marked by a daily realization that apart from Christ’s amazing grace I am wretched and can do nothing.
In recent years my view of salvation has been enlarged to comprehend the whole meta-narrative of God’s redemptive plan. I’ve realized creation is not just a story of history, but a picture of God’s perfect design for life, marred by the sinful fall of man that brought spiritual death to all. The Old Testament is a story of the futility in seeking satisfaction in lesser gods, which should only increase our faith and ignite joyful expectation in the promise of a rescue. Jesus Christ is that rescue and it is only by faith in Him alone can we be reconciled to God and experience the restoration of all things for all eternity. That’s good news!
Since becoming a Christian, every aspect of my life has been transformed. From the daily battle of sin and temptation, the sanctification of my marriage, the way I raised my children, to the care and love I have for His church; from the heartache of losing loved ones, seeing friends and family suffer, and recognizing the fragility of my own life and body; from failures and successes of professional life to the struggles of living in this present, sinful world, while longing for the perfect world to come, I’ve learned that nothing is left untouched by the redemptive work of Christ.
When was I saved? I’m not sure; but probably about 40 years ago. More importantly though, I know I’m saved today and that his grace is sufficient for life and ministry and his new mercies are present in this very moment. If I’m met with that question, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” I will simply say, “Because the blood of your Son has atoned for my wicked life and His perfect righteousness has been imputed to me. If I am to enter my eternal rest it will be by your grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for your glory alone."