Josh McDowell: The Atheist Who Met God
Josh McDowell was a very intelligent young man, and an atheist. He was also very unhappy. His father was the town drunk, and although he laughed when his friends joked about his father’s drunken escapades, inwardly he was crying.
Josh was a very angry youth, who would “blow his stack” at the slightest provocation. To this day he still has scars from almost killing a man during his first year at college. Although he was angry at a lot of things, he especially hated his dad, who along with being an alcoholic was a wife abuser. On one occasion Josh found his mother lying in the manure behind the cows. His father had beaten her so badly that she could not get up.
While Josh was at college he met some genuinely born-again Christians. He saw in them something his heart longed for, yet he could not accept intellectually. After some conversations with them he purposed write a book to finally and forever refute Christianity. As a matter of fact, the background of his book “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” which shows the great evidences for the Christian faith, was started at that time to make an intellectual joke out of Christian belief. Josh dug determinedly into the evidence, but found that far from refuting Christianity, the evidence backed it up. Josh became more and more frustrated at this, but the time came when he realized that he was not an atheist anymore. He not only believed in God, but he found that
he also believed that the historical Jesus Christ really rose from the dead.
Convinced but reluctant, (Josh couldn’t think of a faster way to ruin a good time than by becoming a Christian) he did what he believed was the honest thing to do. He genuinely repented of his sins and trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. It was a quiet genuine decision. But what began quietly soon became a great transformation.
Years later, while Josh was debating the head of the history department in a Midwestern university, when the professor challenged him to name some concrete changes Jesus Christ had made in his life. Forty five minutes later, the professor asked him to stop.
One of the changes involved taking away his fierce temper. Josh says that his temper was such an integral part of him that he didn’t consciously try to change it, yet one day in a crisis situation he discovered his temper was gone.
Josh discovered another astonishing change some months after he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. God had replaced the hatred he felt towards his father with genuine love. One day he looked his dad in the eye and said, “Dad, I love you.” Some time later his father came to him and asked how he could love a dad like him. Josh told him that just six months earlier he had despised him. Then Josh told him that just six months earlier Jesus had saved him and turned his hate into love. His dad who had known Josh’s hatred, said, “Son, if God can do in my life what I’ve seen him do in yours, I want to give Him the opportunity. Josh’s alcoholic father prayed with him and trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. His father’s life changed from night to day. Only once afterward did he touch alcohol. Josh said he got it as far as his lips, and then put it down. He didn’t need it anymore. He had become a new creation in Christ Jesus.
Almost twenty centuries ago, Jesus Christ promised that all who genuinely repent of their sins and trust in Him for salvation would be born-again. (John chapter 3) The Bible says this birth is as real and as Life transforming as the first one. “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” II Corinthians 5:17 If ever a promise has stood the test of time it is this one. In the 2000 years since Jesus Christ’s resurrection it has been the practical experience of millions.
The fact that this new birth is real is only half the story. The other half is that it is necessary. Jesus said, Verily, verily< I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3 Many people have a hard time accepting this, preferring to believe they can make it to heaven on their own. The Bible says however that we are all sinners, desperately in need of a Savior. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, (moral impurity) lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. . . They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19
The Bible says that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth to provide a way for sinners to be forgiven and saved from their sins. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace (with God) was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:14)
Jesus died on the cross so we can live forever with Him. He rose from the dead and is waiting to save anyone who will repent of their sins and trust in Him for salvation. He promises: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10 :13