This episode is part of my podcast series DEAR ATHEIST… If you prefer, LISTEN NOW.
This was a comment I wrote in response to an Atheist on another blog, where I write as a Contributor. I don’t know why I went so deep into it today… but I thank God I did. Here’s part one of my testimony, slightly edited from the original comment.
Peter’s question was how can someone know which religion is correct.
There’s no formula, Peter. If you’re truly seeking God and to know the Truth, He will reveal it to you. I’ll tell you a little about my experience.
God used a member of the International Church of God (ICOC) to convict me of my sin once and for all… so that I gave my life with no turning back on the 10th of Feb 2002… at a completely different Church, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC).
Afterwards, the Mormons visited me to tell me about Joseph Smith. I was very new in the faith then, and praying for more truth to grow and get grounded. I could have easily believed and followed them. But I told them I’d pray about it, because it seemed inconsistent to what I’d learned about Jesus from the Bible.
While at a service one Sunday at KICC, I was still waiting for God to answer my question. He did. Not through the Pastor, but through a passage in the Bible that He opened my eyes to see – about the Devil and his servants coming as angels of light to deceive (2 Cor 11:13-15). You may say it was a coincidence, but it was like God said to me, that’s the answer you asked after and joy filled me.
I returned their Book to them and that was it.
But God also opened my eyes about the Church, when I saw how they treated the poor and how they continually went on about ‘prosperity’. When the Pastor declared he’d devote the year to a prosperity gospel ‘claiming what you haven’t sown’ or something like that, I left KICC and never returned.
After that… I became very on fire and zealous for God and was still searching for somewhere to belong. I wanted to obey Jesus and preach the gospel so I started proselyting on my own. It was then that I meet the Jesus Christians (a Christian sect, which has pretty much disbanded now). They are mostly known for their literal interpretation of Jesus’ commands, particularly to sell your possessions and give to the poor, and that no man can serve God and money. That was a journey of my life I both love and regret. I love it because of the many ways I grew as a Christian and got to learn so much about God and the Bible. But I also got to see the pride and weakness of men. It was also there that I made a life changing decision I would later regret. The story of my time with the group and how I eventually left them is for another day.
However, while I was with them, we spent a lot of time evangelizing on the streets and I met people of other faiths. The strongest opponents were Muslim, who were also great evangelists. I took their Koran to read it.
I kept an opened mind, but it really wasn’t making much sense to me. It also contradicted the Bible in so many ways and taught that Jesus was just a prophet, and that Mohammed was the last prophet. I knew immediately that it wasn’t true. As I read, the words of Jesus came to me… “If you continue in my teaching, then you are truly my disciples. Then you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free” (John 8:31-32).
It was all the confirmation I needed to know that to follow Islam was to discontinue following the teachings of Christ. And as Jesus Himself said that anyone who comes after Him is a thief (John 10:7-10), it stands to reason that if I truly believe Jesus, then Islam must be a lie.
That’s how God settled my mind and heart on all those things. The Bible says we can test every doctrine to discern the Truth (1 John 4:1). I’ve read up on other faiths. Jesus is truly the only way (John 14:6). But I pray God reveals that to you, Himself.
God bless you, and thanks for being the first person to get me to share that publicly. Have a great day!
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God bless you!
Glad I inspired your post. I find it interesting to know the stories of others. We seem to have reached different conclusions but I do appreciate the tone of your blog.
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Thanks Peter… Do you want to talk more about your experience?
In April 2010 year I was reading a Christian devotional entitled “Spiritual Oxygen: Are you getting it”, when I reached the part that talked about the Holy Spirit directing our lives it occurred to me that I had not been seeking the Holy Spirit’s direction for my life. I had assumed that it was God’s will for me to continue in my current employment and to undertake Christian activities as time permitted outside of work activities. I prayed about the matter and immediately felt a calling to Christian ministry.
I then recalled an article by the late Alan Redpath who mentioned that he had worked as an Accountant and had not thought any more of it until God impressed upon him of the need for obedience, which included our occupation. This led him to seek to understand God’s will and eventually led him into the ministry.
As I thought about the matter I wondered whether God had a ministry calling for me as two people had suggested this to in the preceding month, but I had dismissed the suggestion saying I did not think so. However I realised I had not sought the Lord’s direction on the matter and as I seriously considered the matter I realised that I was becoming more involved in ministry, both inside and outside of the Church. So that night I prayed about the matter and asked God to show me whether or not this was my calling.
The next morning as I was about to start my morning Bible study, using the “Every Day with Jesus” study notes I thought “well God will show me”. The text for study was Isaiah 61:1-11, when I got to verse 6, the words, “And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God” were highlighted in my heart.
A day later at work, I received an email from a former work colleague who said he thought that I had a calling from God for the Ministry. My former work colleague asked me to look where my heart lay on the matter. As soon as I did that I realised that my heart lay not in my paid employment, but rather the ministry opportunities that God had already started presenting to me.
In discussing the matter with my Christian friends I have been surprised that they all have said that they had already reached the conclusion that I had a ministry calling from God long before I did. Just yesterday a dear Christian friend told me that her daughter had said to her in church two weeks earlier, “You can see Peter has a calling form God, but he does not know where yet”.
That was 2010, fast forward to February 2015. I had been ordained a Christian Minister, one day I read a piece by a Biblical Scholar who in a matter of fact way pointed out how certain parts of the Old Testament could not be recording literal history. I asked myself, the question I had not dared ask myself before, “what if this is not true?” Over the period of my theological study I had been building up a steady list of issues in the Bible, in Christian history, in Christian theology and Christian experience that troubled me. Many of those issues came back to me at this time and I realised there were many issues I could not explain that seemed inconsistent with the Bible being true and Christianity real.
I then read the blogs of a few former Christian Ministers who had lost their faith, as I read their stories it was as though I was reading about myself.
It was the experiential aspect of Christianity that I found hardest to explain away. But after exploring how the mind works I have come to see how the experiential aspect of Christianity can be explained by the complexity of the human mind.
I have continued to look into these issues for the last six months, hoping for certainty, but I doubt that will ever be the case.
What I do ask myself is, “is it possible that the Bible could contain error and still be a divine book?” I say this because I am convinced that the book of Daniel, contains failed prophecy.
There is much more that I could say, but that will give you a flavor of my story.
Hi Peter. Thanks for going deeper into this with me. The issue of infallibility we place on the Bible is the beginning of our error. The reason we felt we had to place that upon the Bible was because it is the only authentic material that we have from God, passed on by tradition. If it were to be questionable then it was felt that we could be sure of nothing. But the Bible cannot hold the burden of being infallible because it wasn’t written by the hand of God. It was written by men, inspired of God, to record important moments in the world’s history and to point us to Jesus. We need the Bible, and the testimony it provides of God and Jesus. But we can only ascribe infallibility to Jesus!
The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1). Jesus said that He will send us His Holy Spirit, who will then remind us of all He has taught. The Holy Spirit is the second witness to the Bible, and makes the scriptures come alive to us at certain points and even reminds us of the teachings of Christ and other Biblical messages.
It is Jesus you should follow and worship. He will confirm to you the Truth. The Bible is excellent and reliable, profitable for instructions as Paul said to Timothy (2 Tim 3:16), but it is not the infallible word of God. When your faith is correctly rooted in Christ and Christ alone, it is unshakeable.
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but it is not the infallible word of God.
But there are Christians who say it is the infallible word of your god. How is one supposed to identify which is truth and which is not?
Why should Christian accept your view rather than a biblical innerantist?
The Bible says that the Believers were first called Christians at Antioch. Clearly, the first Christians didn’t have what we call the Bible, because it wasn’t yet written. They had the gospel that had been preached to them and the Torah.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, when he said all scripture is profitable for teaching, it is safe to say he didn’t mean his letters, but their holy book. His letters and the testimony of the Apostles were then included into what we know as the Bible.
It was the Catholic Church that canonized it into one, rejecting what they believed to me false accounts and sealing it as the complete word of God. They felt entitled to do that, because they believe that whatever they bind on Earth, will be bound in Heaven, as Jesus told His followers.
So, it is clear to see why the Bible as we know it CANNOT be the infallible word of God. Especially after the many translations it has suffered. However, we can be certain that the accounts are true and certainly believe the testimony of Jesus and His followers as written in the Sacred Book (because it is still holy and sacred).
I hope I’ve answered your question and that of others.
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Acts is pretty much historical fiction and must genuine biblical scholars are beginning to recognise this, so I wouldn’t consider using this as a source f reference regarding when there were ”Christians”. You should do some serious research. I am sure Arch will gladly supply suggestions and /or links.
In fact, most people know it is all nonsense. I was just wondering how Christians justify among themselves. And on some points we actually know how,don’t we?
Take the wars on heresy for example. Remember the Arians and the Cathars?
The Catholic church, the true inventors of you religion, took quite some time to get their made-up story just right and tried to crush all dissent along the Appian Way and beyond. God bless Constantine! And let’s tip our hats to Eusebius as well.
By the way, all genuine biblical experts state that 2nd Timothy is pseudo-epigraphical. That means Forgery to you and me.
Ok Ark. If I need you or Arch, I know where to find you.
Absolute pleasure, Ufuoma. Any time you need a history lesson about your religion, give us a shout. We are here to help. Can’t have this filth taught in schools, now can we?
I deeply respect your journey to know the Lord. There is a God and His Word is infallible. Keep digging, Ufuoma. I hope we can continue to encourage each other as we press on to know Him more.
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Thanks Elihu 🙂
I know you and many others will have a problem with my assertion that the Bible isn’t the infallible word of God. However, I was just asked to explain why I believe so, and I answered it in a comment on this post.
Please read it. You might change your mind.
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I have read a great deal about the canonization of the scriptures, the copying of manuscripts and how the Bible came to be what it is now. Very few historical books have so many copies made so close to the time of the original manuscripts. The closest document is Homer’s Iliad.
Furthermore, the Catholic Church includes the apocrypha which are books that are of doubtful origins; most people will only accept the standard Bible sans apocrypha.
What it really boils down to for me (and I know this is not a satisfactory answer for many) is do you believe that God can make His Word survive the ages? I believe that He has the power to do that. What we have supplied to us is sufficient. What more info do I really need? The Mormons tried to convince me that their book was inspired of God but it did not contain the textual integrity of the Bible by a long shot. Besides that, their doctrine doesn’t mesh with what we know about God from the Bible.
As far as Acts and the letters in the New Testament, when they refer to the scriptures, they are referring to the Old Testament. The Jews had copies of it in all their synagogues. They could read the prophecies, know the nature of God and see that what was being taught meshed. The Ethiopian Eunuch had a copy of Isaiah that he was reading. Phillip started with the scripture that the Eunuch was reading and taught Him about Jesus.
I get why people doubt it, I really do. But I have read no other book so beautifully composed and so rich in meaning. I know of no other historical manuscript that has been able to bear under massive criticism. I read it because I believe it is how God testifies of Himself and His Son Jesus Christ. I want to know Him, so I read.
God bless you Ufuoma and thank you for the stimulating discussion!
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Thanks also Elihu, for your enlightened contributions. The Bible is God’s love letter to me, and I have no intention of challenging its authority. I, however, believe Jesus is the Word of God, and it is on Him that I place and build my faith.
God bless you too! He will certainly lead us to all Truth, amen.
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I was converted Dec.7,1957 from Atheism to Christ. I had attended church (a local rural, small town Southern Baptist church as a child in Arkansas) during my childhood (my grandfather with whom I lived, insisted). Near the end of that period I quit attending , because I said, “How could there be a God and let happen to children what happened to me?” Moving to St. Louis, I gave free rein to my Atheism until the night of Dec.7, when I attended a Youth For Christ meeting with a girl (the only reason I would have been in such a place). While sitting there, I got to thinking I would like to go forward. Then I thought, “Why? When I don’t believe any of this is true?” Just at that moment I saw a vision or a hallucination (some have told me that it was a delusion) of a person whom I identified as Jesus of Nazareth. He was about 5-8 pews in front of me, facing me, with a hand raised like He was knocking at a door. He had red and blue robes and a beard and long hair (I think). The main thing I noticed was He was looking at me. My response was, “Let me out of here>” When the service was over, I went one way while the young lady (who had a ride home) went another. I was determined to tell no one. After all, it is really hard on your Atheism, when the God you say does not exist shows up, seeking admission. Very embarrassing. About two blocks from my home, I decided to tell my mother. The result led to my conversion that night, and I joined the church where my mother attended with the proviso that if I ever found a church more true to the Gospel I would join it.
There is more, but I soon learned I had to deal with the teachings of other churches or sects or groups. I still have my first Bible (quite marked up). I am thankful for the removal of a burden that I did not know I had, and that night I cried tears of joy for the first time in my life. For the past 42 years I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening, using the verses from Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt which inspired Carey and others to launch the Modern Missionary Movement as promises to be pleaded for such a visitation. I now believe that it is possible for a whole generation to be converted and that the awakening could continue for a total of 1000 generations, reaching to the ends of the starry Heaven (Mt.24:31), a helpful thought as we seem to be already traveling to distant star systems (and I do not mean rocket ships visiting bodies within our solar system).
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Hi James (I hope I can call you that)
Thanks for visiting my blog and dropping your testimony! I appreciate that. It’s really inspiring and good to know that God still reveals Himself visually to people. That’s a blessing 🙂
I didn’t really follow the last part of you comment when you mentioned the Third Great Awakening or Jonathan Edwards or Carey, and the conversion of others in distant star systems. Please can you clarify what you mean, so I can understand? Thanks!
When I began my pilgrimage, I was a pre trib, pre mil. In ’67 or 68 a dear brother whom I consider to be the wises man I ever met asked me, “Have your ever considered the possibility that at any one time, every last person could be the elect of God?” I said no, because my eschatology would not allow it. Later, perhaps about seeren years later, I was studying Jonah’s message to Nineveh, when it hit me that it was unconditional and yet it did not come to pass. Even and unconditional statement can have another purpose, one other than the one stated, and in this case it was to bring the people of Nineveh to repentance as Jonah knew. That along with Dan. 2 and the stone become a mountain that filled the whole earth brought me to accept the thought that god might win the whole world for his Son by the very message every one despises. After that I came across John Own’s statement about the atonement being sufficient enough for the multitudes on other worlds, if such existed. Then I came across I cHRON.16:15 AND THE THOUSAND GENERATION. A generation of just 20 yrs. would mean 20,000 years, but if man regains longevity, it could mean 900,000 years. There is likewise the statement by our Lord about His angels gathering His elect from one end of THE heaven (starry, obviously) to the other. Since there is indications that man is already going to the stars, I came to the conclusion that such was the possibilities confronting us.