35 Years of Faith in Jesus: Why I’m Still A Christian

I have been a follower of Jesus longer than He actually lived on the earth.

That’s a humbling thought to me.

I was 16 when the journey began, birthed at the height of pimples, hormones and insecurity. A lot has happened since then, and if I could tally up my failures, mistakes, and sins—the things that would make you wonder if I really was a Christian—I could fill 10,000 ledger books.

And yet, here I am, 35 years later, still clinging to the hope of forgiveness and heaven and eternal life in Jesus Christ alone.

With all the discouragements and temptations I’ve experienced, and all the mistakes and sins I’ve committed, what made my faith stick? From a human perspective (setting God’s power and grace aside for the moment) how can I account for the fact that I am convinced more than ever that Jesus is who He said He was: the Christ, the eternal Son of God, the Savior? How can I account for the fact that I still believe in Jesus, and that my faith has deepened and grown?

In answer, I see five significant events and experiences—call call them milestones—that have led me to where I am after these 35 years. Five things have contributed, more than anything else, to who and what I am today: a middle-aged Christian who sees no reason to abandon faith in Jesus.

I’d like to tell you what they are, and recommend them to you.

✣ I SURRENDERED TO JESUS

Surrender, yes. Not a wish or whim. Not a vague belief that there is a God. I’m talking self-abandon. I admitted the bad news about myself, and put my all my hope in the good news about Jesus.

The bad news was that one day I would face God’s judgement, and the evidence to condemn me would be overwhelming. But, thank God for the good news—that Jesus, the mediator, would exchange His perfect record for mine (Read 2 Corinthians 5:21). I still sin a lot. But God forgives again and again because I have an advocate whose work on the cross paid for all my sins past, present, and future. And over the years, He makes me more and more willing and able to follow Him.

What difference does it make?

Jesus is my hope of eternal life, my hope of heaven. I hope for a coming kingdom in which Christ reigns, where sin is banished, and I am free from sin, death, and misery. He is my only hope. But, it is a certain hope, that gives meaning and purpose to the last 35 years.

I recommend you place your hope of heaven in Christ alone.

✣ I MARRIED DAWN

I married a Christian girl who was committed to following Jesus, even though it required her to forgive my sins against her, and repent of her sins against me.

What difference does it make?

Nothing is as comforting and encouraging as living with someone who will love you in spite of yourself—someone who, in mutual dependence, will pray with you, or for you anytime, anywhere, through everything.

I recommend you be such a Christian, like Dawn, always ready forgive and pray with the one you love.

✣ I STUDIED THEOLOGY

Another way to say this is, I studied the Bible with the help of great Christians who studied the Bible better than I ever could. And this helped me learn to think the Bible’s thoughts after it.

Studying theology and church history helped me learn how the Bible addresses the big questions of life. When your back is up against a wall, you want to know that the thing you’re staking your life on actually makes sense.

What difference does it make?

Studying theology and church history gives me a broader perspective on life and faith, beyond the current trends and fashions of the church. You might say, it shapes an eternal perspective. It helps me perceive errors in my faith and life, and in the world around me. Studying theology tills the soil of my heart and mind, which the Holy Spirit waters to raise a harvest.

I recommend you be such a lover of the Bible that you make a life-long study of it. Study it well with the help of the great Christian scholars and teachers throughout history so that your faith will not be too much a product of your own time.

✣ I EMBRACED CALVINISM

When I was 18, I was told not to believe it. And, in fact, I didn’t want to believe it. The theological system commonly known as Calvinism (the proper label is Reformed Theology) raises uncomfortable, inconvenient questions that I didn’t want to think about. But I did. I studied it out. And finally at age 25, I drove down the last nail in the coffin of my intellectual objections to Calvinism, and I took the Bible at its word.

What difference does it make?

Letting the Bible speak for itself, and not bow to what I wanted it to say, allows it to make sense of itself. More than that, it makes sense of me, indeed, it makes sense of the world.

If you want to make sense of life and death and suffering, if you hunger for the peace of a real assurance of salvation, if you want to experience the full freedom of belonging to Christ, then I recommend you study and embrace the theology of the Reformation, which I believe, most fully allows the Bible to speak for itself.

✣ I BECAME A “ONE ANOTHER”

So much of what we call the Christian life requires the language of one another. Love one another. Serve one another. Forgive one another. Comfort one another. Strengthen one another.

So, how can I truly live the Christian life if I isolate myself? If my highest values are my independence and privacy how can I participate in the life that comes from Christ? It can’t be done.

That’s why I attend church. It’s why I’m faithful and regular. It’s why I’m a member of a congregation. It’s also why I’m committed to meeting with a small group of men for mutual support, prayer, teaching, and accountability. I need them. And they need me.

What difference does it make?

Being a “one another” gives me the comfort of belonging. It provides a community of friends who care about me, and whom I can care for. It gives me a band of brothers to walk with, shoulder to shoulder, as we follow our Savior. He calls us by name, individually. But, He places us into one family that His love may multiply among us.

If you want to follow Christ, if you want the comfort of belonging to Him, I recommend you not try to follow Him alone. He won’t have it. He will make you a one another, and you will praise Him for it.

These are the five most important milestones in my spiritual journey. They have contributed the most, so they’re what I value most. I recommend them to you, and I hope you’ll recommend them to your friends by sharing this post. And please let us know about your significant milestones in the comments below.

God’s grace to you,

Lon

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I’m sick of living in this world.

I know that sounds negative and perhaps, makes you wonder about my emotional health and what kind of sermons I hear. But, I believe my reflections and the sermon’s arise from sound minds.

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I know most people don’t really believe in religious notions like sin. Most no longer believe that human error ascends to the level of offenses committed against an almighty, law-giving God.

Long lay the world...

But the Christian does.

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George III by Allan Ramsay, 1762

[King George III by Allan Ramsay, 1762. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.]

In sum, this doctrine teaches that due to Adam’s disobedience, the entire human race is morally corrupt and driven, to lesser or greater degrees, by deceit, self-interest and self-exaltation.

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