MY CATHOLIC STORY
This seems long because I have included a lot of Bible verses. The reason for that is the Bible is God’s gift to us. If we read and obey it then when we stand before Him in judgement God will not deny Himself.
THE WHOLE REASON THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US THE BIBLE IS SO WE CAN KNOW THE TRUTH
and His truth will set us free from the lies and distortion and the wanton evil of those who desire to keep us ignorant, or more blunt spiritually stupid.
What God has said in the Bible is much more important then what I or any other person has said.
Our first Bible verse is Jude 1:3
Jude 3 (KJV)
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH WHICH WAS ONCE DELIVERED UNTO THE SAINTS.
One final remark. I have highlighted and capitalized parts of some verses so it will be easy for the reader to see why I used that verse.
My parents named me after a Jesuit Priest, so you could say I was born Catholic. If the Pope had said Larry run around your house three times and howl at the moon I would have done it. I believed the Pope to be God’s man on earth.
In the following I am describing the Church as I knew it then. The Church has gone through lots of major changes in the last 50 years. One thing about making the Bible your foundation of truth is that your doctrines may drift but they will never drift too far.
Also as you read this remember being a Christian is not about any church. It’s about Jesus, Gods Son. God loves His Son, read Isiah 53 to find out how much Jesus suffered and how much God loves us to let His only begotten Son to be rejected, tortured, spit upon, nailed to the cross and die. Isaiah is quoted later in this letter. Jesus stayed on the cross while his once friends deserted and many of His enemies mocked Him. It was not possible for anyone to kill Him. Only after sins payment had been paid in full did He willingly died [Mark 15:39, John 19:30].
My parents were devoted Catholics and every Sunday they would take me to Church. I also attended Holy Name, a Catholic grade school in Birmingham Michigan.
So I knew early that God hates sin and that is why Jesus came to die on the cross and for that I will always be grateful to the Church.
The Bible, the Catholic Church, and me all agree that I was and am a rotten sinner
For ALL HAVE SINNED, and come short of the glory of God; [KJV]
Because we are all born sinners the Catholic Church baptizes infants. I was baptized into the church days after my birth. The Church teaches that if a baby dies unbaptized it can’t go to heaven. So where does it go? The Church says it goes to a place called limbo.
That’s because it died in “original sin”
But we can’t find infant baptism in the Bible nor can we find a place called limbo.
If you want to know more about baptism I have a post on my Bible blog. Here is the link
I knew I was a sinner and even as a child it hunted me that if I died a sinner I would go to Hell. Shouldn’t that be normal for anyone who believes that Hell is real?
Of course the church had the answer for sin – CONFESSION. That is where you confess [tell] your sins to a priest and he forgives you and tells you to do something to show repentance like praying 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Mary’s.
Later, much later, I read in the Bible that there is no mediator outside of Christ.
1st Timothy 2:5
For there is ONE GOD, and ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (KJV)
I realized after reading that verse that Catholic priests were usurping the office of Christ as THE mediator. Ouch! In the end it will not go well for them.
As I grew older I began having a problem with confession – not because I felt the priest had no right to take the place of Jesus as a mediator between an individual and God – but because I figured I had to have a heartfelt sorrow for offending God and must purpose to never do those sins again. I couldn’t do that because Sin held me in its fist. I loved my sins and no way could I lie to myself about that. I was the problem because I always returned to my sins. Kind of like what Peter said in his second epistle
2nd Peter 2:22
But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (KJV)
I was a dog loving the vomit of my personal sins. Yes, I was young but I knew how vile my sins were and as a sidebar I grew up in a middle class home with loving parents. My father was a John Wayne type of man and my mom was always there for me and also for my brother and four sisters. I was the oldest born in 1941.
The Catholic Church teaches that if you die in mortal sin you will go to hell.
Of course the Church has the remedy, if a priest performs Extreme Unction just before your death then you will go to a place called purgatory. You will be there for a while but after YOU have paid for your sins you will make it into heaven.
MORTAL SINS – if you die in mortal sin – you go straight to hell and there you will burn forever. There is no hope ever for you just eternal torment. The Bible also teaches the same thing
Revelation 21:8 (KJV)
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
But venial sins are not capital offenses. If you die in venial sin you will be put in a place called purgatory until you have suffered torment long enough to have paid for your sins through suffering the hurt of flames. Then it is up to heaven for you.
Where does Jesus and his sheading of blood for the forgiveness of sin fit in with that kind of teaching?
Revelation 1:5 (KJV)
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and WASHED US FROM OUR SINS IN HIS OWN BLOOD,
Why did Jesus die if we could make ourselves an atonement for our own personal sins?
Romans 5:11 (KJV)
And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
Man, I don’t know about you but to me that sounds like mockery.
I don’t know how the Church reckons that we can somehow pay for our own sins when Peter the first Pope has said
1Peter 3:18 (KJV)
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that HE MIGHT BRING US TO GOD, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
As I grew older, I got to thinking, why did Jesus come and die a most horrible death on the cross if I could make it to heaven by doing good things or if I was Catholic lucky going to purgatory? If I could atone for my own sins why did Jesus die for me?
Here is what I read in Isaiah 53
Isaiah 53:3-11 (KJV)
He is despised and rejected of men;
a man of sorrows, and
acquainted with grief:
and we hid as it were our faces from him;
HE WAS DESPISED, AND WE ESTEEMED HIM NOT.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet
we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But HE WAS WOUNDED FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS,
HE WAS BRUISED FOR OUR INIQUITIES:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and
WITH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; WE HAVE TURNED EVERY ONE TO HIS OWN WAY; and
THE LORD HATH LAID ON HIM THE INIQUITY OF US ALL.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth:
he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for HE WAS CUT OFF OUT OF THE LAND OF THE LIVING: FOR
THE TRANSGRESSION OF MY PEOPLE WAS HE STRICKEN.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
IT PLEASED THE LORD TO BRUISE HIM;
he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt
make HIS SOUL AN OFFERING FOR SIN, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 HE SHALL SEE OF THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL, AND SHALL BE SATISFIED: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for
he shall bear their iniquities.
The Bible verses above plainly teaches that Jesus died for our sins. That God, His Father, placed my sins on Him and therefore JESUS took MY punishment and died for MY sins and good news for you YOUR sins also.
BECAUSE JESUS TOOK OUR PUNISHMENT AND SUFFERED OUR HELL, WHAT SIN CAN BE WORSE THAN AN ATTITUDE OF I DON’T CARE, or I’ll do it myself, or I will do it my way.
God’s gift to mankind is the Bible therefore the attitude I can justify myself through baptism or good works or physical suffering, or by believing what any Church says must be appalling to God. The Bible is God’s final authority on everything including getting to heaven. I must go God’s way or I fear that I will not go at all. Like, who am I to tell God anything.
2nd Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
The Bible says we are saved by grace. Grace is the love of God for us in spite of our wicked ways. Grace is God’s love at His Son Jesus Christ expense. Grace is when we were yet sinners unable to please or do right by God sent His Son to die in my place so we can have God’s righteousness in Jesus.
Bottom line, you can’t earn God’s Grace because it’s a free gift!
Eph 2:8-10 (KJV)
For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that
NOT OF YOURSELVES:
it is the gift of God: 9
Not of works,
LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Please read the above passage again slowly because it is a simple to understand verse that reveals how God works salvation in us.
Notice that grace is a gift of God. If you work for it or spend time in purgatory so you can pay for your sins then it is no longer grace but works and if it is works then it isn’t grace and if it is works you can then boast of how you did it but the verse says there is no boasting in heaven. That’s because those who work to be saved go to Hell.
I use to think that as long as I was a Catholic I would maybe be okay.
A lot of people feel that way, not just Catholics, but also Protestants, Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons. But I knew I wasn’t okay and they won’t be okay either
Mathew 7:21-23 (KJV)
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and IN THY NAME DONE MANY WONDERFUL WORKS? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
That is a sobering passage of Scripture and it is part of the Sermon on the Mount. You know the blessed are the poor, those that mourn, the meek, the righteous, the merciful and finally the pure in heart. That sermon is three chapters long, from Matthew 5 to chapter 7. I wish I had read it all when I was struggling to find the truth that would set me free
Jesus said in
John 8:32 (KJV)
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Me, to me, when someone figures they have to do something to pay for their own sins it’s kind of like mocking what Jesus did on the cross.
1Peter 1:18-19 (KJV)
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, AS OF A LAMB WITHOUT BLEMISH AND WITHOUT SPOT:
Being Catholic, I wanted to do something to atone for my sins. I wanted God to accept me. But always there was this emptiness inside of me. I didn’t want to end up in a burning Hell.
The Catholic Church hammered that into me. And I am glad they did
Because that fact helped me to seek after God until I found the truth. I would think that would be what every Catholic would do
The church taught me that God hates sin and therefore there is eternal punishment for living an ungodly life.
It makes no difference how anyone feels about God putting the unsaved into Hell. The thing is the Bible is crystal clear that He does. Some may think that God is mean but God has proven His enormous love He has for all mankind by sending His Son.
Romans 5:8 (KJV)
But God COMMENDETH his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
COMMENDETH= PROVED OR SHOWED
We have free will so we can just put our faith in the Church and live our life anyway we want or we can seek God’s truth as He has given it to us in the Bible. The Bible is God’s gift to us but God will not force you to read it or obey it. You have free will so it is up to you. But I hope you agree with me that it is of vital importance that we do things God’s way.
John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I never had any doubt about the love and goodness of God. I had a free will and I was spending my whole life loving sin more than God. Oh wicked person that I was how should I ever make amends?
Paul said in
Romans 7:24 (KJV)
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I just knew that I had to stop doing those sins that I loved more than Him.
So I grew up with the guilt of knowing that God was deserving of all my love but my particular sins were extremely offensive to Him. I just couldn’t stop sinning. I firmly believed that if I could stop I would then be accepted by Him and my life would then take on purpose.
WHY DO I NOT NAME MY SINS THAT WERE SO UGLY BAD?
Because I now know that all sin is wicked and that all of us are vile because we have all turned our backs on a loving God who sent His Son to die for us but we didn’t care enough to seek the truth.
Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that HE IS A REWARDER OF THEM THAT DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM.
I was serving myself and trusting in something other then what He had wrote in His Bible – the Bible is God’s gift to us and there is no excuse for not reading, believing and doing what it says.
Isaiah 64:6 (KJV)
But we are all as an unclean thing, and ALL OUR RIGHTEOUSNESSES are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Romans 5:6 (KJV)
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:6, tells me that I had no strength to do right. Man, didn’t I know that was right on. And more important that Christ died for the ungodly. Wow! Fantastic I have no strength to get right because I am a flat out sinner and so I qualify for God’s forgiveness because of His son’s death.
I DIDN’T LEARN THAT FROM THE CHURCH I LEARNED IT FROM THE BIBLE.
For a long time, from my twenties into my late thirties I would often repeat Hebrews 11:6 [verse already quoted]
My prayer was: Dear Lord I know I am seeking you wrong. But, yet, I am diligently seeking you with all my heart. I know I must be seeking in all the wrong ways and places but you promised to reward me and I am diligently seeking you.
In answer to that often repeated prayer God moved me 200 miles north to Frederic Michigan. There a Baptist preacher came to my door. He asked me if he could show me in the Bible how I could be born again.
I don’t ever remember the Catholic Church telling me that Jesus said
John 3:3 (KJV)
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
And John 3:36 (KJV)
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Was I believing the Church rather than Jesus?
If so it will not end well with me!
Was I born again?
If I wasn’t then I was going to spend eternity in hell. This was no frivolous matter.
The preacher showed me
FOR ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD;
Well, I knew that. For sure I had been struggling most of my life with the fact that I was an outcast and when I died I would go to Hell.
Also I was so Catholic that I never felt comfortable around “Baptists” Yet I said to me, “I know they are going to heaven and I’m going to hell, therefore there is something wrong with me because I should love these people and if I can’t then even if I made heaven I would hate it. I kid you not that is what I thought.
I told the Baptist pastor that yes I knew I was a sinner.
He showed me
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
He explained to me that the wages that sin paid the sinner was Hell.
Well, well, well, I already knew that is where I was going to end up. That thought had haunted me all my life. If you believe the Bible or Catholic teaching that fact should scare you also!
That Baptist preacher said that God had provided the great and only hope.
He then showed me Romans 5:5-8
Romans 5:6-8 (KJV)
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
He explained how God loved us enough to send His Son Jesus Christ to die for us but to get in on that I must know and admit that I was a sinner without strength.
Wow give me some of that!
He then turned to the greatest chapter about hope. The chapter that is the catalyst for being born again.
Joh 3:7 (KJV) MARVEL NOT THAT I SAID UNTO THEE, YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN.
Romans 10 is the how to chapter
If you are still reading then Read the following slow and reverently
Ro 10:8-13 (KJV) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: THAT IS, THE WORD OF FAITH, WHICH WE PREACH; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.
The preacher looked at me and pointed out
verse 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Then he showed me Revelation 3
Revelation 3:20 (KJV)
BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR, AND KNOCK: IF ANY MAN HEAR MY VOICE, AND OPEN THE DOOR, I WILL COME IN TO HIM, AND WILL SUP WITH HIM, AND HE WITH ME.
He said, that means “if you know you are a sinner and you want to repent and do right and trust Jesus to be your LORD and saviour He will save you. It is a heart thing – not a work thing. It’s when by faith you put your faith in Jesus to save you and to change you into the person he created you to be.”
40 years ago I repented and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as my saviour.
He changed me. He instantly changed me.
In a moment I was a new creation
He saved me, gave me new life and desires. He changed me from the inside out.
And now Jesus is my LORD. I have eternal life just as He promised
1John 5:10-13 (KJV)
He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that GOD HATH GIVEN TO US ETERNAL LIFE, and this life is in his Son. 12 HE THAT HATH THE SON HATH LIFE; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
The next thing in my Christian walk was baptism. That didn’t get me saved it is just the first step in living for Him who bought me
1Pe 1:23 (KJV)
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
It wasn’t long before I was baptized. Willingly, under water and risen to new life in Christ. According to what Jesus had said that was my first step in living for Him
Mt 28:19 (KJV)
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
In closing let me say, as you read through this you got to decide who you will believe
or the Bible
Because the one is contrary to the other. You may not agree with that but it is the Bible truth and we will all answer to God for what we believe.