Who First Showed Joe Bartemus the Beauty of the Gospel?
Who was the first to share the beauty of Christ and Scripture with you?
This question brings many good thoughts to my mind. In thinking back over my life, I never cease to be amazed at the sovereignty of God—he is in control—and of the extravagant grace of God—he provides so much that I do not deserve.
When I First Accepted Christ
I was born into a Christian family and my parents desired to raise us to love Jesus. My first memory of that was in the living room of my house in Glen Burnie, Maryland. My dad tried to do family devotions several times in my life (they generally did not gain much momentum and stopped soon after starting). This is the first one I remember. He went through The Wordless Book, which is a helpful resource to teach kids the gospel through the use of color. Its blank pages of various colors told the story of redemption and—though it was definitely not politically correct—it showed me my need for the Savior. It showed me Jesus atoning work on the cross, and my need to repent and believe. I distinctly remember going to my room and trusting in Jesus that night. All these years later, I still recall that as my entry, by grace, into the family of God.
My parents were faithful to take us to church and put us in a Christian school. My dad preached to us about faith and my mom lived it out. We were constantly in the Word. In fact, I remember having a KJV kid’s picture Bible as a fairly young elementary schooler.
Seeing the Beauty of the Gospel
As I moved into junior high, I was considered mature enough to receive a Scofield Reference hard-back Bible (when I got older I got a leather edition—the ultimate achievement). Now, I may not agree with all the notes in that Bible and all the translation of the KJV. Yet, those were formative years for me. I still remember learning Psalm 139, which has been an anchor in life through stormy seas—“where can I go from your presence?. . . If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there your hand will lead me and your right hand will hold me.”
In college, I loved playing sports and also found a deeper love of the Bible, thanks to a particular professor. Dr. James Grier, who was influential in the lives of many College Park pastors, teased us in philosophy class with hard questions like, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it does it make a sound?” Then he took us to the more profound thoughts for life, showing us that the basis of all of life is a person—God, revealed in Jesus—who is “the way, the truth and the life.” God revealed himself in the Word and that Word is the very “breath of God”(1 Tim. 3:16). From then on, I had an insatiable desire to know God through his Word. I saw the beauty of the gospel more clearly than ever before.
I am eternally grateful to my Lord, who in his sovereignty brought people into my life to be agents of his Spirit to help me see him in his Word! I look forward to spending eternity with the eternal Word of God revealed by the Spirit: Jesus!