“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” – 1 Timothy 1:15
I am nothing but a wretch saved by grace. My name is Rowan Murphy and for the first twenty-two years of my life I willfully and gladly rejected God. As a child, despite being raised by somewhat deistic parents who were irreligious and never spoke of God, yet I knew and was fully persuaded of the existence of God; even having a rudimentary belief in Jesus Christ.
As I entered adolescence and noticed new lusts in my heart, I had a realization: these lusts are wicked and shameful! My options were clear: honour God, or run after my lusts. I chose the latter, preferring them to God. Not a long time passed before I became an atheist. It wasn’t logic that brought that about; but the will to indulge in whatsoever sin I desired.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” – Romans 1:18-20
As time went on, it came to mind again and again; atheism is untenable. A self-creating universe with nothing bringing about it’s order and design; all things occurring for no reason, and completely accidentally, and all giving rise to sentient beings who naturally strive mightily to apply meaning to their lives, even though in such a scenario life is totally meaningless and worthless; all men being bags of cells that were coincidentally cobbled together through random chance; all men will die, and the gain of each man shall pass from his hands; and even the sum total of all human ingenuity, evolution, and achievement shall be burned up when then sun goes supernova; or should men migrate from the Earth, all such progress and legacy will cease to be when the universe undergoes thermal heat death! This brings to mind these solemn words:
“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2-4
It was plain to my deceitful heart: God is! But my wicked heart was still unwilling to bow to His lordship and to humble myself in worship of Him. My heart now began another phase of godlessness. Having passed from atheism, through agnosticism, to a somewhat deistic mindset, I entered college at the age of nineteen; and it was there that I met a woman who herself was also without God, and her rebellion had some notable and strong focal points, but I will simply mention that she was heavily into new-age mysticism and occult practices. She introduced me to books and beliefs that suited my semi-theistic self-centered godlessness. In short, she introduced me to gnosticism. This is at its core, the self-deifying doctrine that all mankind are one with the divine and can, through a process of the learning of esoteric knowledge, meditation, and the practice of indulging vice, one can free himself from this physical plane of reality and transcend earthly bondage. I had found the most suitable belief system for the self-indulgence which I had lusted for all my life.
I also took a keen and active disliking to the Christian faith, to the Bible, and to Christians. I mocked them, argued with them, encouraged them to abandon the faith, promoted “a woman’s right to choose” to kill her child, and even wrote a song concerning my disdain for religion in general, yet I considered only Christianity in my heart as I wrote those wretched words; Christianity was the sole object of my contempt as I wrote that song. This contempt would continue to grow for the next three years.
That year I also became involved in activism of various kinds, scouring the internet and learning anything and everything I could that might appear to give my life meaning and freedom. I thought I was doing so in order to make the world a better place, but, looking back, any noble purpose I may have had was certainly not the chief motive in my heart. I was terrified of a life void of meaning, and of being a person whose life was lived to be ruled by others, and I wanted freedom from all constraints, at all costs!
I came into contact with a group of like-minded people who were also learning anything and everything that they felt the world needed to know, who also sought freedom, and I felt right at home with them. I plunged deeper in gnosticism and new-age mysticism, seeking to free my mind from some sort of spiritual bondage, though ironically, this strengthened the bondage I was under. We were going to change the world and free everyone from slavery, and yet it was here that I was introduced to my dependence on cannabis in order to have any peace or calmness, for without it I was very stressed and worried; and I also began to indulge in many other drugs besides. I even learned how to grow, prepare, and extract numerous substances, which I was ironically depending upon to free my mind from its shackles. Such was my thinking; fallacious and incoherent. Notwithstanding the blatant inconsistency of my worldview, whatever would silence my conscience whilst I lived life on my own terms, I was willing to adhere to. And for every inconsistency I could discover in my thinking, I could forge a rescuing devise for my twisted worldview.
This all continued until I was twenty-two and a half years old, when a fellow gnostic/activist/drug-dependent friend stayed with his family for Christmas of 2010. On Christmas eve eve, he was watching the documentary “They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll”. It was during this 4 hour exposé on satanism in the music industry that my friend’s worldview was shattered, and his true heart-condition exposed, and he was given eyes to see and ears to hear through the documentary’s many Gospel pleas and Scripture quotations. He was saved from a life of sin and selfishness.
Once saved, he began to exhort me to become a Christian. He was now promoting the Bible, and turning his back on gnosticism and all manner of mysticism. He had absolute conviction that satan was ruling this world and that I needed to be saved from my sins. He did not speak so without my arguing against him. I could not and I would not heed his calls and pleas. He was a delusional fool as far as I was concerned, and I was unwilling to consider even the possibility that his message was true. I loathed Christianity. I loathed the Bible, though I had never read it; a common oversight of people who hate God and love sin; and I was not about to turn my back on that which I loved, to be reconciled He whom I hated.
In the course of all my refusals however, I began to realize that I knew that I was truly guilty of every charge which God had against me. I was not merely convinced that I had sinned, but I was also convinced that I was truly wicked because of my sin, and I was ashamed of myself for it. I began to see evil, vice, and filth; lies, hypocrisy and pride; all manner of iniquity, and not chiefly in others, but chiefly in my own heart. I knew without a shadow of a doubt, all the wretchedness with which God could charge the vilest of sinners was not too great for Him to justly level against me. I began to pray and to seek this God whom I had hated for my whole life. I began to fear Him and to tremble terribly. My lusts and my drugs became more and more abhorrent in my sight as the days went by. If I indulged in them, God’s chastisement grew more severe, and I came under greater measures of conviction and fear. These came upon me before I knew to grasp Christ’s free grace by faith. “What must I do to be saved?” This became the question of my heart, but I didn’t understand or apply the answer.
I knew however that the Holy Bible was the Word of God, and that no statement of it was up for debate; it simply was (and is) the binding rule of truth upon all men without exception. Therein was the Law of God revealed; the moral obligations which I had trampled upon and disobeyed. Therein were the promises and descriptions of God’s Holy and eternal vengeance upon all workers of iniquity. Therein was my heart laid bare and diagnosed, and not just my heart, but the hearts of every sinner from Adam:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” – Genesis 6:5
I am not sure of the moment of my salvation. I cannot recall the order of events with enough clarity. But I know that I was delivered from my sins and from the love of sin itself, and that I was given this salvation by the grace of God. I believe in God’s Word alone, which teaches that I am saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. I struggled with doubt for close on two years, looking more upon my sin than upon the Lord and His sin-conquering death and resurrection. I do not know when I first savingly trusted in Christ, but I know that it has happened. By the illuminating work of God’s Spirit in my darkened heart, I was shown that there is nothing in my flesh but wickedness and vice, and that I could never have an ounce of good of my own making which was worthy of God’s acceptance, and therefore I have no hope at all outside of the cross of Christ, and so I must depend solely upon Him for salvation or else be lost. I now say with Augusts Toplady:
“Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.”
Since the time that God has begun a good work in me, He has led me through Pentecostalism, and a brush with prosperity preaching, through both synergism and futurist end-times obsession, unto the Reformed faith. I began attending Arann Reformed Baptist Church on the first Lord’s Day of 2013, as I, along with three brothers, left a money-driven church to go and be where God is worshiped, and His Word is faithfully preached. The Lord continues to be faithful, despite my faults and failures. He continues to lead me and to direct my paths; to sanctify me through His Word; to expose and cleanse me of secret faults; and to cause me to evermore depend upon the grace of Jesus Christ for the salvation of my soul.
I Praise God alone for my salvation and for teaching me His truth, as I wanted no part with Him until He changed my heart. I was happy to remain as dead as Lazarus but the Lord Jesus called me forth. He quickened me from the dead and gave me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand. What have I that I have not received? 1 Corinthians 4:7. The very faith through which I am saved is a gift of His grace; and the desire to know and to walk according to His Word is something which He has worked and still works in me.