I realized that I was a sinner and needed to repent from my sin and trust in Christ alone for my salvation (I later learned the three elements of saving faith are: knowledge about Jesus, intellectual assent that the gospel is true, and entrusting ourselves to Christ for salvation). Because of the new life God breathed into me, I truly felt “born again” and like a new creation. I found that I genuinely desired to live a life of obedience out of gratitude.
Have you ever come to a significant fork in the road of your life and felt your very destiny, and the destiny of those you love, could be forever altered? A situation in which, as Morpheus said in The Matrix:
You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
All of us have a story, but not all have a “Reformation” story. Here’s mine: I was baptized as an infant and was raised in the American Lutheran Church, which later became a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). This was the more liberal branch, so I had both male and female pastors.
I went through my First Communion and then Confirmation, and what still frustrates me to this day is, I don’t remember ever actually being taught what the gospel was. Admittedly, I did learn about the historical facts (the Apostles and Nicene Creeds), but I never heard about the imputed righteousness of Christ or justification by faith alone. Ironically, in a church named after Martin Luther, I wasn’t taught the two concepts that formed the foundation of his theology!
I remember during a confirmation class, I asked one of the pastors if “good people” in different religions were going to be in heaven. Her reply: “There are many ways to God, but Christianity is the most direct path.” I look back on this as a cataclysmic moment. If all paths ultimately lead to God, why not forge my own path? That’s exactly what I did for the next decade.
Post Tenebras Lux: After Darkness, Light
God was gracious enough to place Christian co-workers around me. They challenged my claim that I was a Christian. Even my then-fiancée told me that if there was one thing she could change about me, it would be that I would become a Christian. Since Confirmation, I firmly believed all I had to do was intellectually “believe” in Jesus and I would be saved. He was one of the many roads to God.
My co-workers pointed out James 2:19 in which James says that, “even the demons believe, and shudder.”
The Holy Spirit illuminated my mind as I read these passages. It was as if a light bulb went on. I was able for the first time to understand, and care, what the Bible was saying. I realized that I was a sinner and needed to repent from my sin and trust in Christ alone for my salvation (I later learned the three elements of saving faith are: knowledge about Jesus, intellectual assent that the gospel is true, and entrusting ourselves to Christ for salvation).One night after work, I went out and bought a Bible. I was determined to prove to myself and others that I was a Christian. After reading the Gospel of John and Romans, I realized becoming a Christian involved more than just intellectually believing in Christ.
Because of the new life God breathed into me, I truly felt “born again” and like a new creation. I found that I genuinely desired to live a life of obedience out of gratitude.
Journey to Geneva
When the gospel took root in my life, I decided to return to the Lutheran church. I was delighted to find the Missouri Synod was committed to the inerrancy of Scripture.
Our first-born son was baptized in the Lutheran church. So, metaphorically speaking, it was from Wittenberg that my small family began our journey to Geneva.
As I grew in my faith, I found how life transforming the Scriptures were. The concept of grace permeated to the core of my being.