In fact, this is what I FIRST believed in the fall of 1974. I sat in a lecture at Clarion State College. I was listening to Josh McDowell, traveling apologist for Cru.* (A much older Josh is pictured to the right.)
I was a skeptic. Not a hostile skeptic, but a jaded one. It is a little funny that at age 18, with almost no life experience, virtually no bad experiences, and having all the benefits of growing up white, middle class, and suburban, that I was jaded. But I was, and so were many of us.
I went to scoff and appear bored as I sat there with my friends. But the magnificent, holy, sovereign, life-altering God had other plans. I was his plan that evening. And as I would discover, so were another 5o or so listeners that evening.
For over an hour, Josh spoke in ways that were exciting, passionate, clever, humorous, thoughtful, historical, philosophical, and always back to the Bible.**
By the end of his presentation I was pretty sure that Jesus was God, that Jesus had died, and that Jesus rose from the dead.
Christ crucified for sins.
Christ dying, suffering, struggling, agonizing.
Christ now dead.
Christ now buried.
The Crucified God.
God the Son himself experiencing the just wrath of God against sin, against evil, against spiritual disease, against moral rot, against apathy, injustice, impurity, terror, horror … against all the maladies the human race has learned to inflict upon ourselves as we have invented new ways of evil—such a vast ledger of evil.
And my own was written on that ledger. It needed to be forgiven, canceled, expunged, eliminated, cleansed, absolved. And I could not do it for myself. But God could. And God did.
When I confessed my evil and asked for forgiveness, God the Father immediately granted full pardon. The language is justified. I was declared innocent and the righteousness of Christ himself was credited to me. And more. I was changed. I was redeemed (bought back from evil). I was made alive (the Bible uses the word regenerated). I was adopted into God’s own family. Holiness was infused into me (sanctification).
And the greatest of all, Christ himself began to dwell in me through God the Spirit. I was in Christ and Christ was in me. All things had become new.
I experienced all of that when I believed, trusted, and gave my allegiance to Christ, crucified for the sins of the world.
I hope that is your experience also this Holy Week.
If not, may it become your story.
P.S. I also believe in the Resurrection, but this is a post for Good Friday. It is Friday, but Sunday is coming.
*Cru is the new name. The original name was Campus Crusade for Christ, begun by Bill Bright. It is one of the largest missional organizations in the world.
** Josh spoke for an hour using the main ideas in his book Evidence That Demands a Verdict. I went out and bought it and began to dive into reasons for the faith.