Having read this book for two years, I knew that God wanted control of my life. And that meant that He wanted me to go public with what I’d been doing (Because I tell you that those two years of research was all done in secret). Nobody knew what I was doing. Not a soul. I closed my door. My family had no idea –they thought I was studying my physics textbooks. I was studying the Bible. So I kept it a secret from everybody.
But I knew that if I gave control of my life to the God who was responsible for this book I couldn’t do that any more. He wanted me to go public. And where I was studying at that time, the University of British Columbia, I had a fair idea of the ridicule I would suffer if I were to do that. Or even from my own family.
So I didn’t do what was rational; I did what was irrational. I believed in the second law and trusted it but I did not put my faith and trust in the Bible, or in Jesus Christ. And for three months I witnessed something in my life that I had never witnessed before –my grades going downhill. I mean, I barely made it through the first grade; I was right at the bottom of the class, mainly because I wasn’t talking. I could read but I couldn’t talk. My teacher finally discovered that I could read and she pushed me into the second grade. By the end of the second grade I was number ten in the class. Then in third grade I was at the top of the class. And I had taken great pride in my academic excellence, from that point onward. But at nineteen years of age, I saw my grades go downhill.
I said, “No problem, I’ll work harder,” Hard work did not produce the results I desired. The grades still continued to slip. Then I discovered something in reading John 3 in Romans 1: “When a man rejects what he understands to be true about God, his mind becomes darkened and confused.” And suddenly I realized that I was suffering the darkening of my mind, because I was rejecting the truth — the things I’d convinced myself were true about God.
I made a commitment, on a certain Friday night, I would talk to God. I didn’t know much about prayer; I just decided I’d talk to God and ask Him to make me a Christian. So when it came that night, I started at 7:00 PM, and I was looking through this book and talking to God, saying, “God, I can’t do it. You’re going to have to do it for me. Make me into a Christian.”
And nothing happened. There was no peace in my heart. I kept struggling with this. “God, I want to be a Christian. Please make me into a Christian.” And as I continued to read through the New Testament, I discovered that I was asking God to do something counter to His nature. I was asking Him to FORCE me to become a Christian and I was telling Him that I had no power to do what He asked me to do. And both things were not true.
Jesus Christ is a gentleman. You see that in the gospels –He never forced Himself on anyone. And moreover, He emphasized our responsibility to respond to His truth. It’s up to us. So I realized that God wasn’t going to act unless I acted first. He wanted me to humble myself, and I was resisting that point of humility.
Finally at 1:07 in the morning, though, I did turn control of my life over to Jesus Christ. My shirt was all sweaty, but the battle was over. And I knew in my heart that I had offended God, that I wasn’t perfect. I knew that because of my conscience. Whenever I violate God’s code of law, that’s in this book –in fact in every religion in the world that’s one thing in common– all the religions of the world have the elements of the Ten Commandments. That’s not surprising, since it’s written on our hearts. When we violate that code of law, we experience guilt. And not just 10% of the time, or 90% of the time, but 100% of the time.
I realized that even when I think something counter to God’s law, there is guilt. That convinced me that God demands perfection. And I knew I didn’t have that, and I knew nobody else had it either. But thanks to what this book told me I realized that God had sent His Son Jesus Christ and He lived a perfect life. And in His perfect state He decided to pay the penalty for my offenses against God and others –by dying on the cross and shedding His blood.
And so I accepted the pardon that was made available through God’s sacrifice on the cross, through His Son Jesus Christ. And I gave Him control of my life. And I told God that even if that means I got to share it with my lab partner tomorrow, I’ll do it. But the funny thing is after I made that commitment to God, my tune changed –I was eagerly looking forward to meeting my lab partner the next day.
I got up early and went to the campus early. And I was surprised to discover that my lab partner was there early too. I learned a great truth that day: that God’s in the business of making it easy. Because I walked up to my lab partner, and he spoke first. And I had it all figured out what I was going to say to him, how I was going to get the conversation going. He said, “Hugh, I’ve been going through problems in my life. I need to talk to somebody. I need to talk to somebody about God. Do you know anybody on this campus that knows anything about God?” So we talked.
We had several talks. And over the years I’ve had many talks, with my fellow students and with professors, in physics and astronomy and geophysics (he was a geophysicist). Many talks. But…I was making a grave error. I was assuming that the battle between Man and Christ was similar to my battle. And I witnessed that in the lives of other scientists. It doesn’t take that much to convince them that the Bible is true –sometimes only an hour or two is enough. Where the struggle comes is with the will, the need to submit our lives to Him. That took at least two years. One person it was six years, with one it was ten. One it was three, but in no case was it less than two.
When I got to Caltech … actually, that was a blessing too because I was headed for Europe, which was even more spiritually destitute than Canada. But God changed things –I got an offer from Caltech that I couldn’t refuse, so I went to Caltech. And I was shocked to see the number of Christians that were operating here in southern California. You can’t believe what an encouragement that was to discover.
There were even bumper stickers here. I mean, I’d never seen Christian bumper stickers before. And there was a professor at Caltech in the astronomy department who was a Christian. And he shared something with me soon after I got to Caltech.
He said, “Hugh, scientists struggle with the will, not the mind. But almost everybody else is the reverse –they struggle with the mind, not the will. They don’t know that this is true. They are willing to submit to God but they don’t know who He is.
“They can’t find the truth. I want to encourage you to talk to these people. You’ve spent the last ten years talking to scientists. Why don’t you talk to non-scientists?”
His name was Dave. I said, “Dave, where do you find these people?”
He said, “Go off the Caltech campus, you’ll find a few.”
I was a bachelor at the time and really just kind of spent my whole life there. But I did that. I went to the community of Dilarty and just started knocking on people’s doors. If they didn’t want to listen, that’s fine; I’d go to the next door. Jesus was a gentleman, after all –that was my approach.
But I only got half-way down one block. On that first day I talked to five people, I spent four hours talking to five people. Three of them prayed to receive Christ right there on their doorsteps. And I’ll never forget one man. After ten minutes of giving him the evidence –some of which I just shared with you– he said “Stop, I don’t want to hear any more.”
I said, “No problem, I’ll go talk to your neighbor.”
He said, “No, I don’t want you to leave. I’m telling you I’ve heard enough. You need to tell me what I need to do with my life.” And he prayed to receive Christ.
I discovered again that God is in the business of making it easy. He makes it easy for those that are committed to follow Him. And that’s something that’s proven to be more and more true as I get older and older. I mean, I left Caltech after a few years, because I discovered I was having a whole lot more fun talking to people about Jesus Christ than discovering quasars at the edge of the universe.
For I realized that we are a privileged generation. Since 1984, astronomers have measured the universe –that’s only true of our generation. The universe has been measured. And if you can measure the universe, in some respects you’re going to measure the Creator. And it’s now those measurements prove that we’re interacting with the God of the Bible, and prove that the gods of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, etc. no longer square with the facts of science.
And I think God’s doing this on purpose. This is a prideful generation, and God is giving us special tools to break through that pride. Because God’s in the business of bringing as many people as possible into a knowledge of and a faith in the promises and the blessings he has for us.
Now I want to give you an opportunity –because that’s one thing my friend Dave said: Once the mind has been convinced, we need to give the will an opportunity to respond. I’m simply going to close in prayer, and if you can agree with my prayer, you pray with me. If you’re not ready, that’s okay. But if you’re prepared, I want you to pray with me. Let’s just take a moment to pray.
Father in heaven, we want to thank you for giving us so much evidence, especially to this generation. Thank you that we can know for sure that you do desire to communicate with us, and that what you’ve communicated to us through your book, the Bible, is in perfect agreement with what you’ve communicated to us through your Creation. Thank you for that confirmation. And thank you that you didn’t leave us in a hopeless situation, unable to live up to your standards, and that you’ve sent your Son, Jesus Christ, and he lived up to those standards. He was perfect. But He chose to take our penalty, for all of our sins and offenses against you. And He died in our stead, and shed His blood in our stead. Thank you for the pardon that’s been made available to us through His sacrifice. And right now we receive of that pardon.
And we also realize that we’re not fit to run our own lives, because we don’t know what’s best. We’re imperfect. But you are perfect; you know what’s best. And so we give you control of our lives and we trust you to direct our lives as you see fit, whatever that means. And we realize, too, that there are many that need to understand these truths, and we commit ourselves to be part of your work to bring this truth to others. Equip us, we pray, and help us to encourage one another to be effective sharers of your truth. And we ask this is Jesus’ name, Amen.
Well, thank you for listening to my life story. If you just prayed with me to commit your life to Jesus Christ, I would just like to take a few moments to share with you how you can continue on your spiritual journey. First of all, I would encourage you to begin to read the Bible on a regular basis. Read God’s Word. If you have not really begun that in a serious manner I would suggest that you begin with the Gospel of John, that’s the fourth book in the New Testament, which really gives an overview of the evidence from John’s perspective that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Creator-God of the universe. The same author wrote First John (1 John), that’s toward the end of the Bible. It’s a small book, and it’s a little letter as an introduction to the Christian faith for new believers. It’s an excellent little book that describes for you how God relates with believers. So I would suggest that you begin there, and then follow that with a straight-through reading of the entire New Testament. And it’s not that big of a job, if you read three chapters a night you’ll get through it in about two months.
The second thing that I would recommend is that you find a group of people that believe like you do, that the Bible is the error-free Word of God. That God has indeed died on the cross to save you from your sins. Find a church, or some kind of group of people who believe that way and begin to spend some time with them on a regular basis. I’ve discovered in my own life that spending time with believers on a regular basis is a tremendous stimulus to the growth of my relationship with Jesus Christ.
The next thing I would suggest is to begin to talk to God, to listen to what He has to say –to have quiet moments during the day when you can just pause and listen in your spirit to what He may be saying to you and to begin to talk back to Him. And talk to Him just like you would to anyone else. That communication that you establish with God through prayer is a very important way of finding out what would God have for you in your life. Telling others about your decision to follow Christ, telling others about the Bible, about the truth, life and love that God has made available to you is an excellent way to strengthen your relationship with God. He tells us in the New Testament that’s the way we build hope and righteousness. And it’s also a great source of joy as you introduce others to this new life.
If you’ve got questions, the organization I’m with, Reasons to Believe, we maintain a daily hotline. We also respond to letters, so if you got questions or you need more evidence, information about the Christian faith and its relationship to history or science or whatever, we will be available to help you in that way.
You know I might be an astronomer, an astrophysicist, and as I shared with you it’s great fun being an astronomer and an astrophysicist, but the top priority in my life is my relationship with Jesus Christ. The things I talked to you about today are important, I want you to know that God really cares for you and me and our spiritual walk. Please call today, and may God bless you on your spiritual journey.