I was baptized into the Catholic church as an infant, had my first confession and received my first communion when I was seven, and was confirmed when I was ten. All of my parents’ six children attended parochial grammar and Catholic high school. I wouldn’t say my family was piously religious by any stretch but we did attend mass every Sunday. I was an altar boy from 5th through 8th grades and even entertained the idea of being a priest someday but lost most of my interest in religion by the time I went to high school. Like most Catholics my “faith” was just a part of my family and cultural baggage. I do remember having a bit of an epiphany in 6th grade when the question occurred to me, “If going to Heaven is a matter of obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules as Catholicism teaches then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” Little did I know the Holy Spirit was working in my heart even then.
“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21
After my wife and I were married and our two sons were born I was determined to be a responsible Dad and raise our children in the Catholic faith. I began attending mass again and even bought a Catholic Bible. Catholics aren’t generally encouraged to read the Bible and relatively few do. As I read the New Testament I discovered many discrepancies between God’s Word and Catholicism. I became so disillusioned that I stopped attending mass. As I continued to read the Bible a couple of born-again Christians witnessed to me at work. I found from the Bible that salvation cannot possibly be earned by baptism, church membership, obeying the Ten Commandments, or trying to be “good” as Catholicism teaches, salvation for sinful man is only by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!
“For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
My wife and I accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior in 1983 and began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church in the area. We grew somewhat in the Lord after eight years but eventually the legalism of that church took its toll. I became exasperated and walked away from the Lord for 23 years because my trust had been in men rather than God. But thankfully the Lord was merciful and patient with me and kept calling me back to Him.
I returned to the Lord in 2014 but after my long absence I was surprised to see how many Evangelical pastors and para-church leaders were embracing Rome with its “gospel” of sacramental grace and merit. But we’re not discouraged because our foundation is the Lord, not man.