Wm. F. P. Burton
It was not merely that he did not believe there was a God, but he did not want anyone else to believe in God. It was a passion with him. He went out of his way to sow seeds of unbelief and bring to ridicule those who professed faith in the Lord Jesus. He was the secretary and leader of a militant atheist club, consisting of young men and women, who went out on their cycles, distributing atheist (or as they would call it "rationalist") literature.
He said that he would very much like to meet me. I had not been saved very long, and I suppose that he thought I would fall an easy prey to his arguments.
We made an appointment at his home. I found him a handsome and attractive man, keenly intelligent. He not only knew the popular literature of Blatchford, Ingersoll, Spinoza etc., but was thoroughly well acquainted with the German philosophers and higher critics.
He was quite courteous, a good conversationalist, and had all the supposed errors, discrepancies and contradictions of the bible at his finger-ends. I could not answer one in ten of his charges against God and His Book. Moreover, he was at pains to speak scathingly of the inconsistent lives of certain outstanding Christians - whether true or false I could not say, but when I asked him if he could find any fault in the Lord Jesus, he admitted, "He was a good man, an outstanding idealist. I admire Him, but as for His bearing my guilt, how was that possible nineteen centuries before I was born?"
I could see I was getting nowhere with him. His sister had come into the room, and the two were thoroughly enjoying my discomfiture. Thus I said, "I find it quite impossible to answer your many arguments. I am a comparatively young believer and you an experienced debater, so I will just pray for you." I knelt by his table and committed the two of them to God, asking Him to convince them, in His own way, of the reality of His salvation.
On rising from my knees, I found them convulsed with laughter. They apologised but said that it seemed so funny for me to kneel by the table, close my eyes and talk to nothing. Then I left.
That was on a Wednesday. The following Saturday, I received a reply-paid wire, asking me to meet him, that we might enjoy a walk together, and ending up "I HAVE FOUND GOD."
What a change had taken place in those three days! He was no longer the cold, keen critic, but as humble as a little child. I shall not easily forget that walk.
He said that after I left, he lay on the sofa, reading, and thinking over our interview. He went on, "I came to perhaps the most intensely real, genuine moment of my life. I wanted to know. I looked up and said, "Oh God, if you are, then reveal yourself to me. If Jesus is Your Son, then I will own Him. If the Bible is your book, I will accept it."
There and then, he did not know how, he became aware of God. He knew, with something beyond argument and proof, that Jesus was God's Son and the sinner's Saviour. He started to read the Bible with new eyes. Every verse spoke to him. Every sentence was vibrant.
It was a lovely Summer afternoon, and now that he recognised the Lord Jesus as Maker and Sustainer of all things, he stopped by a wild rose bloom, regarding it almost affectionately, as he said, "Why, Jesus made that, didn't He?" He saw Jesus everywhere.
We talked of bird-migration and he remarked, "Of course, it is Jesus Who directs the birds across the trackless ocean."
He staggered his militant atheist club with the news, "God has revealed His Son in me." (Gal 1 v 16) as He did in Saul of Tarsus long ago. The change in their leader was too striking to be explained away. The club fell to pieces.
What was the explanation of the drastic and immediate change in that man's outlook; in his whole life? It was just that he was prepared to accept the truth, wherever that truth might lead him.
Jesus said, "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself." (John 7 v 17)(i.e. on my own authority) That same statement applies to you, reader. God waits to reveal Himself to you. Will you not ask Him to do so?
"Ye shall seek Me and shall find Me when ye search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29 v 13
The Church at Gun Hill is an Elim Pentecostal Church