I once stayed in the home of Bernhard Langer, two-time winner of the Masters, one of the PGA Tour’s four major tournaments. As a result of the positive effect my Love and Respect ministry had on their marriage, he and his wife, Vikki, asked me to spend several days at their home, and during that time, he shared his personal story with me.
In 1985 when he won the Masters for the first time at Augusta, Georgia, the announcers ushered him into the infamous cabin where one of them asked him, “Did you look at the leaderboard?” Bernhard replied, “I was trying not to look, but I saw it for the first time at the ninth; and I thought, ‘Jesus Christ, I am playing well, and I am four shots behind!’”
Using the Lord’s name in vain prompted hundreds of people to write him letters complaining to him about such language. At that time, he had no idea what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. To him using Christ’s name was a mere expression, not a curse. Though he considered himself a believer, because he was raised in church and had served as an altar boy, he admits he didn’t understand the message of the New Testament.
In his book, Bernhard Langer: My Autobiography, he writes, “I always thought just being a good person and keeping the commandments would hopefully get me to heaven. I didn’t steal or kill and tried not to hurt anyone on purpose. As I got more and more successful, I thought I could do it all myself.”1
Fortunately, several days after winning the Masters, he was invited to a PGA Bible study and heard Larry Moody explain the gospel message. Bernhard comments, “I was amazed to realize that the only way to have eternal life was through Jesus Christ—that he died for our sins. And that it was not through worthy deeds or good behavior that one received eternal life, because we can never live up to God’s standard. We will always fall short.”2
Interestingly, eight years after his first Masters championship, he won the tournament again. “The 1993 Masters finished on Easter Sunday. . . . The first question I was asked was how the first Masters’ win compared with the second. I answered, ‘It’s a great honor to win the greatest tournament in the world, and especially on Easter Sunday, the day my Lord was resurrected.’ In saying those words, which went round the world on live television, I hope I was able to make up for my shortcomings in 1985 by saying something more positive. Having the opportunity of sharing with the world my faith in Jesus Christ was, for me, a unique situation . . . you see, I strongly believe that the resurrection of Jesus actually happened.”3
Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” What is the first and foremost will of the Father for us to do?
According to John 6:40, one must believe in Jesus Christ His Son. Bernhard Langer finally understood this. Do you?
- Bernhard Langer, Bernhard Langer: My Autobiography (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002), 50.
- Ibid., 51.