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John F MacArthurJohn MacArthur has told the following story in more than one of his sermons.

I have run across it twice before and meant to post on it but never did.

In short, a playwright, Channing Pollock (1880-1946), was converted through the power of Mark’s Gospel.

The story, which is in ‘Responding to the New Covenant’, follows. I used this sermon in my Good Friday post this year. Emphases mine below:

You say, “Now, I’d like to know more about faith. I want to have faith in God. How does faith work?” Well, let me give you an illustration. Three points. First of all, faith begins with a felt need. It begins when you sense a need. For example, Paul, on the road to Damascus, was just shaking in his tracks, stunned, and he said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” That’s a need. He felt a need.

Whether it’s a need for forgiveness, whether it’s a need for purpose in life, whether it’s a need for fellowship with God, whether it’s a need for somebody to love you, whether it’s a need to get rid of guilt, whether it’s a need for peace in your heart, whatever the need is, the real kind of faith begins only when you feel a need. And I say that because if you don’t feel a need for God, and if you don’t feel any needs in your life, then you’re nowhere near faith, at least faith toward God. It begins with a felt need.

Secondly, it continues with collecting evidence. If you have a need, you want to look around and find out how that can be supplied. Right? The Bible presents the evidence that Jesus Christ is the only worthy object for faith. In Romans 10:17, it says, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by a speech about Jesus.” Hearing by a speech about Jesus. So you collect the evidence, and maybe you examine the person of Jesus Christ, and you say, “Oh, maybe He’s the one that can fulfill my need.”

There was an article by Dan Poling of an experience that he had with Channing Pollock, who was a pretty well-known playwright. And he related the story this way, he said, “Mr. Pollock was collaborating with another author in writing a play. They were working late one night in Pollock’s New York apartment. Something in the work that they were doing caused the friend to say to Pollock, ‘Have you ever read the New Testament?’ He admitted that he had never read the New Testament, and he went on working. After that, the men worked into the night, and, finally, in the wee hours of the morning, they parted.

“Pollock went, assuming that he could sleep, to bed. But he couldn’t sleep. And he was haunted by the question, ‘Have you ever read the New Testament?’ Finally, he got out of bed, searched all over the place and found a New Testament, sat down, and read it. He read straight through the Gospel of Mark. After he had finished reading the Gospel of Mark, he put his clothes on, and he walked the streets of Manhattan until dawn. When he returned to his apartment, exhausted, he said this, relating the story to his friend, ‘I found myself on my knees, passionately in love with Jesus Christ.’”

And, you see, that’s the process of collecting the evidence and making a decision. Faith begins with a felt need, continues in collecting evidence. Thirdly, it climaxes in commitment. You can say, “I believe,” but it doesn’t mean anything until you commit yourself to it.

Channing Pollock’s story is amazing and inspiring.

Another man who converted thanks to the New Testament is British actor David Suchet, best known for playing Hercule Poirot.

I wrote about him in 2013. That year, he gave an interview to the Radio Times saying that he converted in 1986 after reading St Paul’s letters, beginning with Romans 8. He was alone in a hotel room at the time. He had no religious upbringing and became a practising Anglican.

Several years ago, Suchet completed an audio series of the books of the Bible. It was a decades-long ambition of his to do such a project.

Here he is reading St Mark’s Gospel at St Paul’s Cathedral:

I wish those reading the Bible for the first time every blessing. May God’s grace guide them to the eternal truth found only in Jesus Christ.

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