Roman Catholic used to trust in good deeds

Hello and welcome to this series on Why I am no longer a Roman Catholic. A little bit of my background. I’m Italian so therefore naturally I was born baptized and raised a Roman Catholic. I’ve received my First Holy Communion and my confirmation as I was growing up and attended church. I was faithful in my beliefs. If you had come and challenged me according to what I believed, you could be guaranteed that you were in for a fight even if I didn’t know what you were talking about or didn’t know what I was talking about all that much. All I would know is that you are attacking my church or you’re challenging my beliefs and the gloves will come off and you and I are, not physically but verbally, we’re going to duke it out and we’re gonna have a battle on our hands. My motto was: as I was born a Roman Catholic and I’m going to die a Roman Catholic. 

I can remember often times as I attended church I went to as I was growing up and went to St. Mary’s Church in Paterson New Jersey and right across the street from where you’re going to church there there’s a small Baptist Church. It’s still there there to this day. I’m not quite sure what kind of Baptist Church it is, what they believe in exactly, what they don’t believe but I remember this clearly. I used to walk up those steps going to church and I’d look over at that church – the Baptist Church – and say you know, those poor people, they’re dying and they’re going to hell. As I said, I didn’t know exactly what they believed when I knew this much they weren’t Roman Catholic and because they weren’t Roman Catholic they’re gonna die and they’re gonna go to hell. Again that’s what I believed. I was born a Catholic I’m gonna die a Catholic and don’t try to change me and don’t attack my church. 

Well as years went on, God slowly began to work with me. He started to deal with my way in thinking. Later on in life, my father naturally Roman Catholic, he changed, whatever that meant at a time and some of my aunts and uncles on my father’s side, a few of my cousin’s, I had heard that they changed. I didn’t know what they changed to but I heard that they were no longer Roman Catholic either and that they were out there talking about the gospel and talking about the bible. My thought at that time was hey if they want to change, go ahead change but why bother everybody else about it. Kind of like just leave us alone and do what you want to do. But again God kept working on my heart and when I was taking a trip one day with my father, we were going to see my brother in upstate New York, two-hour ride of the New York State Thruway, I’m driving, my father’s in the passenger seat. My father who never talked about the Bible, who never really talked about spiritual things, he just didn’t do it, he went to church and that was it. That was what happens, there was no big spiritual conversations. He’s talking to me all the way up the New York State Thruway about the Bible. What am I gonna do? I’m trapped 65 miles an hour going up the road. I can’t get out and walk but actually my major thought was: What’s going on here? My father is talking about the Bible. Number one, that’s a surprise and number two, he kind of sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, like he’s actually read something here. That’s how God started to work with me. 

I think maybe a few months later I was at my cousin’s house, my brother was over visiting and I went down there being with my brother and my cousin and they start talking to me about the gospel. Now my cousin’s sharing the Word of God with me and explaining to me what salvation is specifically and what I needed to do in order to know Christ as my personal Savior. And I have to be honest, as he’s talking to me about all of these things, I really didn’t understand what he was saying. And he mentioned to me that you need to trust in Christ personally as your Lord and Savior and you need to accept him as your Savior. And that I didn’t grasp. I didn’t quite understand why that was necessary or why I had to do that but in faith I sat back and said to myself: You know what, I believe everything and he’s telling me I believe that I’m a sinner as every Roman Catholic believes this, I believe that I’m a sinner. I know that my sins will send me to hell. I know that I don’t want to go to hell. I know that I want to go to heaven. I know that I want to be forgiven of my sins. I know I don’t want to spend eternity separated from God. 

I kind of thought and I would imagine like every Roman Catholic thinks that my salvation was based upon my good works. I figuratively, I laugh about it sometimes today but you know I figuratively thought in my mind that when I get to heaven I’ll stand before God and God has this big scale, you know the one of these scales that go like this, they used to you know weigh the minerals and things. And now I knew we didn’t actually have a scale but the picture would be that I’d stand before God and he’d take all my bad works and bonk he’d clump them down on this side and then you take all my good works and bonk he’d put them down on this side and that scale would kind of like teeter back and forth and it would ever so slightly just hit it over here and my good works would outweigh my bad works. I even jokingly envisioned that God will look at and go phew, you just made it, come on. And that’s how I thought. I believed all these things about Christ but ultimately it was my good works versus my bad works that would get me into heaven. And so my cousin talk to me about this and asked me if I wanted to accept Christ as my savior. Again I said to myself: I don’t really understand why I have to do that. I don’t understand but all these other things and all these things about salvation and heaven and hell and sin, I believe all of that. So you know what? If that’s what God wants me to do I got no problem with it. And God saw that – the honesty in my heart – even though I didn’t completely understand something, I truly believed in it. I truly trusted in it and so I said: If that’s what God wants me to do, if God wants me to pray and ask Christ to personally be my Savior, I got no problem with that, I’ll do it. And we prayed that night. My cousin led me in a prayer and I personally asked Christ to come into my life, forgive me of my sins and to be my Savior and emphasized with him that I was trusting in him for my salvation. And I was trusting completely in what he had done on the cross of Calvary to pay the price for my sins. That night my life changed. There was no big bombs going off. There was no siren sounding and lights going on in heaven and I could hear angels rejoicing and things like that. With me instantly there was nothing. My cousin was happy, my brother was happy, they’re shaking my hands, congratulations, praise the Lord, you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior. My sister-in-law came in later on and my cousin’s wife and they told them I accepted Christ as my savior and they’re all happy and then jumping up and down, tears in her eyes and hugging me and quite honestly I’m sitting there, I mean they’re my family, I know them but I’m going? What’s the matter with these crazy people? What are they so excited about? I didn’t understand what they were excited about and really I saw nothing different with myself. 

I went home that night – I lived alone by myself at my own apartment – went home about 11 o’clock at night, got down, sat down in my living room getting ready to go to bed. I looked across the living room and on the windowsill there was a Bible there, decoration Bible. My mother had given it to me years ago from Maine. It came in a nice wooden box, straight Bible, no study notes. That it wasn’t really for reading, it was decoration and I pictured Jesus under wooden cover. You’d sit there and look at it so somebody thought you were spiritual. So I sat back and I said you know what, let me look at that book, let me see what’s in there, you know I’ll just give it a perusal, I’m not a big reader or anything like that. So I just sat down and I started reading. I couldn’t tell you today what I read but this I can tell you: I started reading and flipping the pages. Next thing I did was looked up on the clock at the wall, it was four o’clock in the morning. That’s the first thing that hit me, I said: I have been sitting here in this chair and I have been reading for four hours. For four hours I’ve been reading, that’s something miraculous because if it’s a comic book or the newspaper, okay I’m reading. And I’m not only reading for four hours, I just read the Bible. I knew something was different. God had given me immediately a thirst for his word. And I began to read the scriptures and I began to study and I began to search the Word of God and the more that I read and the more God gave me a thirst for his word, I began to realize that a lot of things that I had believed and a lot of the things that I have been taught were not lining up with what I was reading in the scriptures. 

And I started to become confused and like: What’s happening here? This is the Word of God saying this and what I’ve been taught and what I believe is over here and I just can’t bring these two things together. The bridges aren’t lining up. I can’t connect the dots. So what do I do? I said, you know what, I’ve got a lot of questions, let me go ask, let me get some answers so I began going around to different churches, go up to the rectory, knock on the door “Excuse me, got a minute? Like to talk to you.” And I began talking to different priests and I began asking them different questions saying hey I’m reading this and I’m reading that and what’s this and what’s that and it was a multitude of answers that I got, all kinds of different input that was coming. Primarily what I got though was not from the Word of God. I got from what people were understanding and the last one that I’ll tell you is: It’s the last conversation that I had. I wound up meeting with a bishop. He’s the bishop in Pompton Lakes New Jersey and hey I got an appointment with him and I went in there to see him and sat down and walked into this big sprawling office that he had here. And he was surrounded with books. There were books on all around the walls and he’s sitting behind this big desk there. He’s got a big ashtray. I think he’s got a cigarette in his hand like this. I don’t know why I remember that cigarette but I remember it and I come in and “Hey, come on in, have a seat.” And he’s smoking this cigarette and I sat down and I just started asking him questions, very nice conversation, back and forth, back and forth and I don’t know we’re about a quarter the way in or the half way in and he stops me and he goes “Hold on a minute here. I think I got a Bible here somewhere.” And he’s looking around, he can’t find a Bible. He’s got this room filled with books, he can’t find a Bible. And he looks and he goes: “I just can’t find one here but go ahead” sits back, he’s come with the cigarette and I’m asking him some more questions. I’m not fighting with them, I’m not challenging him, I’m not trying to beat up on him, I’m asking him some sincere questions. Finally he stops me and says “Fred, you’re asking me a lot of questions about the Bible and I really can’t answer you. Now, if you want to know what the Church believes, if you want to know what the Church teaches, I can tell you. I can tell you what tradition says. I can tell you what the Church believes but I can’t really answer you from the Bible.” This is the bishop I’m talking to. “I really can’t answer you.” Then he sits up, straightens his hand in his chair and he looks at me he goes “Satana, you’re on fire for God. We got to get you back into the mother church. I stood up and I said “Thank you very much for your time. It’s not happening.” I shook his hand and I left. And I got to be honest. That was the last conversation I had and when I left I left mad. I was angry then. I was angry because he couldn’t answer me from the Word of God. And then I started to turn and I got my Bible into my arm and I said “You know what? Something’s wrong here and I’m going after these guys.” Thankfully the Lord put a stop to me. The Lord spoke to my heart and said “No, this is wrong. I don’t want you using my word as a hammer. It’s a sword but it’s not a hammer. You’re not gonna go and beat people over the head with this. You need to see some things for yourself now you study my word and you go in this direction.” 

I’m doing these lessons today and I want you to understand something. It is not my intent, it is not my purpose to attack the Catholic Church. I’m not gonna do that as I said in the beginning, if you came to me and you attacked my church, the gloves would come off. We’d be going, tooth to nail. I probably wouldn’t hear half of what you said. I’d just be fighting you because you’re attacking my church. I’m not trying to attack the church. If you look at a lot of what’s in Roman Catholicism, they have a lot of sound doctrine. When you talk about God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, the Trinity, the virgin birth, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Jesus Christ the return of Christ, heaven hell, they’re sound in those biblical beliefs. They’re sound in it but there’s one key area that they differ and that’s why I’m doing these lessons and this key area is more important than anything else. It’s the doctrine of salvation. They’ve made a left-hand turn and what they’re teaching here is not scriptural and that’s what I want to focus on. I want to focus on what the Word of God says about what someone must do to truly receive God’s gift of salvation and what the Roman Catholic Church teaches. Then you decide. There’s nothing more important than your salvation, than my salvation. So again, this is not an attack on the church. This is: let’s look up. let’s open up the Word of God, get your Bibles out, look at it and let’s see what God’s Word says and see if that lines up where you are and what you are believing. When God showed it to me, when someone shared the gospel with me and I saw the difference, I didn’t even understand that at the time but believed it by faith. I’m telling you over 40 years ago that happened. It changed my life. I’ve never looked back and I’ve never regretted one day. So as we continue on in this series I want us to look at the Word of God and what the Word of God teaches with regard to your eternal salvation. Thank you for watching. I hope that you’ll listen through the rest of this series and may God bless you.