Being a Christian was never part of my life plan. I used to have many plans, from big ones of studying abroad and establishing the career to the small ones of dawdling with girls in clubs. But I never planned to be a Christian, not even in my dreams. After moving to Italy, I came in touch with Christianity for the first time. I didn’t reject everything about it, but looked down on it as something inferior. My belief was pretty much like Immanuel Kant: Christianity, like other religions, has a positive effect indeed to the personal morality and social mood, but unfortunately it cannot be tested by the science and human rationality. So I respected religious people, but, as an evolved human being, I disdained to believe any religion. The Bible says: “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” What I thought was just the opposite: “the heavens and earth mock and deny God.” When I recall it today, it was such a transgression. I used to resist him, thinking that I had no faults and he has no right to judge me. But he let me realize that I was always sinning against him and that there are much more terrible faults than the lack of secular ethics and morality. I cannot understand how God has such mercy to send his only Son to die for me, a son of disobedience.
In the following months, I read some books such as Evidence that Demands a Verdict, which were very helpful. Unexpectedly, I sank into a strange state that I could speak in ‘defense’ of Christianity but was not able to believe in heart. When I talked with friends about the gospel and Christ, they would ask me “Do you believe?” “No, I don’t.” “Then what is wrong with you? Don’t you have anything else to do?” At that time, my soul was in darkness and pain, of which nobody was aware. The fight between my brain and heart drove me crazy. Later on, I started to awkwardly read the Bible with many ridiculous questions. Nevertheless the seed of the gospel was sown by the Word of God itself. After a couple of months, God called me to himself in a Gospel Camp in Rome. In summer of the same year, I was baptized into Christ.
Not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans2:4
By the grace of God, I always had time to read. I was fed with reformed theology at the very beginning of my spiritual life in Christ. Some basic theological foundations were set up by listening to the sermons of some reformed pastors online. Some books of Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin, afterwards, another book named The Legacy of Sovereign Joy written by John Piper helped me connect the theological thoughts of Augustine and Calvin and recognize reformed theology. Later, I visited some non-reformed churches to ‘explore’. My experience in these churches helped me realize the essentiality of the Word of God, both the Law and the Gospel. There may be good people and good friends in a church, but what makes a church a true church is the Word of God. Otherwise we become a restaurant, a firm or a club.
During that time, however, I thought all faults belonged to others. I was blind to my own sins. Thanks be to the Lord whose provision from past saints woke me up. The Doctrine of Repentance by Thomas Watson, the third volume of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, and other material made me find out that the reformed people treat the Law of God, sin, and repentance in a very honest and brave way. This helped me to understand that God’s kindness is meant to lead me to repentance (Romans2:4). In the following months, God pulled me out of my sins. Our God is faithful and just and he will forgive our sins and clean us from all unrighteousness (1 John1:9). These are not just written words on paper, this is the living Word which is at work in our lives.
Because of God’s forgiveness, I determined that with my mouth I will make known his faithfulness to all generations (Psalms89:1). The message of repentance and forgiveness is not popular on the stage of most churches today. People are selling health and wealth instead. But the only comfort for the real sons of God is the message of repentance and forgiveness in Christ. Without Christ preached, all things in the Scripture become moral stories which are dry and astringent. I was the deer panting for flowing streams, panting for the flowing Word of God…