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Josh McDowell - How To Know God's Love  (10:28)

Josh McDowell - Part 3

The Source of a Changed Life

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Video transcript:

You say now, c'mon Josh, you're starting to come to the conclusion that God is, the Bible is the word of God, and He loves you and wants a relationship with you. How could that cause a crisis?

Very simple. Is it true, or do I so want to be loved, I am willing to be psychologically manipulated to believe in it? Because I concluded as a non-believer, if it is not true then I will walk away and never ever turn back. But if it is true, then I will serve him for the rest of my life with every breath that I breathe.

This is when my attitude changed, from being antagonistic. I really believe, I became an honest inquisitor or inquirer. I didn't set out to prove it true or to prove it wrong. I just simply asked the question, is it true? And out of this search came the book, the huge thing, called New Evidence That Demands a Verdict with thousands of historical evidences and documentations.

First I concluded, starting with the New Testament, that it is true. Just for example, whenever you check out any document to see if it's accurate and true and historically reliable, you do what is called a bibliographical test of the manuscripts.

A manuscript is a hand written copy over and against a printed copy. In other words, before the introduction of the moveable type printing press in the 1500's. Everything that was done by hand. And one question they ask of every manuscript is this. How many of those hand written manuscripts do you have? Because this is a truth of history. The more manuscripts you have, the easier it is to create the autograph, the original and check out any errors of discrepancies. I document all this. Just with the New Testament I can now document almost 29,000 manuscripts of just the New Testament.

Do you know what is the number two book in all history of manuscript authority? The Iliad by Homer, with 643 manuscripts. Almost 29,000 difference. And I never knew that until I set out to make a joke of it. So I knew I could hold the New Testament in my hand and say it is accurate. It is true.

Second, I examined the person of Jesus Christ. Is He the Messiah, the Son of God? Because I knew as a non-believer, if he was not the Messiah, the true Son of God, then love is not real and neither is forgiveness.

And this is when, after a whole year of intensive study, examining the evidence, I concluded that God became man and His name is Jesus, and that He is passionate about a relationship with me. So December 19, 1959 at 8:30 at night, I returned to the university and I became a Christian.

Somebody says, how do you know? I was there. It changed my life. I got alone with a friend of mine. Made sure my other friends weren't watching. I was a coward yet, and I prayed for things that established a relationship with a living, personal God. I said, "Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on a cross for me."

The most humbling thought I've had to this day, and I had it before I ever became a Christian, is when I realized as a university student that if I were the only person alive Jesus still would have died for me. What brought me to Christ was his love. It was God's love that brought me to Christ. All the evidence merely got my attention, but I don't down play it. Without that evidence, and until I became convinced that the Bible is true, I never considered its message.

Second I said, "I confess, as the Bible says, that I am a sinner." No one needed to tell me. All you needed to do was spend a day with me.

My sin, I knew there were things in my life, in my character, that was incompatible with a holy, just, righteous, personal God. The Bible says if we confess our sins, He is faithful just to forgive us and cleans us from all unrighteousness. And I said, "Lord Jesus, forgive me. I confess my sins to you."

Third, I knew that God said, "I want a relationship with you and it's not a religion." Religion is men and women trying to work their way to God through good works and religious ritual. I found that Christianity is not a religion. It's a relationship. It's a personal God who became man through Jesus Christ, who desires an eternal relationship with us and He is passionate about us. He is jealous that we share that with no one else. And I knew the Bible says, "But to as many as received Him, to them give ye the right to become a child of God."

A verse that visualizes it is the book of Revelations where he says, "I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in." So I said, "Right now, best way I know how," I didn't know a lot, but I said, "I place my trust in you as Savior Lord. I place my whole life in you. I accept your forgiveness. Come into my life." The last thing that I prayed was just, "Thank you."

And nothing happened. Nothing. No bolt of lighting. I didn't rush out and buy a harp. But in about six months, a year, year and half, my entire life was transformed.

For example, after I made this decision to trust Christ as Savior and Lord, and only God could have done this, I found myself looking my father right in the eyes and saying, "Dad, I love you." Even as a new Christian, by an act of my will, I chose to hate the man who I believed killed my mother and destroyed my family. And I found myself saying to the man I chose to hate, "I love you."

I was in a car accident, a serious car accident; my legs arm and neck in traction. I couldn't move my body. All I could do is flash my eyes. My father walked in to that room, and all I could do was flash my eyes to look at him. Two noticeable things. One, he was sober. He was sober. But second, he was crying. I had never, ever, ever seen my father cry. And all of a sudden my father just stopped and he leaned right over me, right over my face, just crying, and he said, "Son, how can you love a father such as I?"

I said, "Dad, six months ago I despised you. I hated you. I despised everything that you stood for." And I said, "Dad, but I've learned something. That God became man and His name is Jesus. It is real. It is relevant. But Dad, it is true."

And I said, "Dad, God is not only passionate about a relationship with me, but He is passionate about a relationship with you." About 45 minutes later, one of the greatest thrills of my life, my own daddy said to me, "Son, if God can do in my life what I've seen him do in yours, then I went to give Him the opportunity." And right there, my daddy prayed with me. And he prayed a very down-to-earth prayer.

As best as I can recall he prayed this way, "God, if you're God and Christ is your Son, and if He died on the cross for me," now notice what he prayed, "If you can forgive me for what I've done to my family, and if you can do in my life what I've seen you do in the life of my son, then I accept you as my Savior and Lord. I place my trust in you. Come into my life."

It was like somebody reached out and turned on a lightbulb. Now don't get me wrong, I've never seen it before or since, such a radical change. Usually when someone comes to Christ it takes anywhere from a few months to a year, year and a half, to see the changes. It happened to my father instantly, but I've never seen that before.

Fourteen months later he died because three-fourths of his stomach was destroyed through forty-some years of drinking. He was an extreme wino. His liver, I think it was his liver, had been destroyed through the alcohol.

But in that fourteen-month period, scores of people in that little town and surrounding area committed their lives to Jesus Christ, because of the changed life of the town drunk, my daddy. I've come to one conclusion with deep intellectual and emotional convictions: God not only forgives, but he became man in Jesus Christ.

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