As a former devout Catholic, I am writing this testimony to point you to the light, which is Jesus Christ the Lord. Having been a Catholic believer when I was growing up, I thought that the way to salvation was obedience to the Roman Catholic teachings, which was not resting my confidence in Christ, but rather in a church system that had presented a veneer of righteousness, denying in its very doctrine the righteousness that is by faith of which the Scriptures speak, and God commends.i
God the Father, through Jesus Christ sent a number of people in my life nudging me closer to Himself. My journey to full faith in Christ Jesus as my Savior took many twists and turns.
The Early Years
When I was of preschool age, I remember my mother saying some prayers in the Lithuanian language. When I questioned her about what she was doing before going to sleep, she told me about God, Jesus, and heaven. I pondered this for a considerable time, catching bits and pieces about faith and God as I was growing up. In my childlike heart, I said that I would follow God according to the light that He would give me. Later I was to learn that, “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarded of them that diligently seek him.”ii
I briefly attended an Anglican church in a rural Alberta town in Canada in the late 1950s because there was no Catholic church in my hometown. I heard some preaching but, at that time, it did not fully make sense to me. However, to this day, I remember the congregation reciting the Apostles’ Creed outlining what they all believed. In the early 1960s, I broke my elbow in a bicycle accident and was taken to a Catholic hospital where some nuns gave me a prayer book. In my childlike way, I viewed my broken elbow as a good thing coming from God, because I was in some sense growing in the faith, as scripture states, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”iii
A few years later, our family moved to Toronto where my mother, sister, and I attended Catholic Mass weekly; to the point where my parents wondered why I was so religious. Starting in the seventh grade, I attended a Catholic school. This paved the way for me to attend a Catholic high school where I felt very privileged. While at high school, I learned the enjoyment and value of serving others in many ways. My high school motto, “Teach me goodness, discipline and knowledge” was close to my heart. During my high school days while watching the movie, The Brothers Karamazov, I was struck by a scene: that if I would call myself a Christian, I should read my Bible every day, which I began to do, one day learning that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”iv
When I was in my first year at university studying chemistry, I was challenged by a classmate who asked me, “Are you a Christian or a Catholic?” Although I said that I was both, the underlying purpose of her question caused me to examine my faith. As scripture states, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”v
Into the Kingdom of Light
After completing my Bachelor of Science in chemistry, I felt led to teach math, physics, and chemistry in Africa for two years as a volunteer. I had a tremendous peace and joy teaching boys working in Benin City, Nigeria for two years. While in Nigeria, I met some Christians who invited me to join them to go camping in England after my two year volunteer service was over. Although I was expecting canoeing, hiking, and the great outdoors of England, I found that I was actually attending an Evangelical camp listening to biblical teaching by Jay North. I actually enjoyed listening to sound biblical teaching, although I cringed when the various speakers attacked the Roman church.
While at this camp, I was struggling within myself about the step of baptism. But one thing I understood: to declare my belief and commitment to Jesus Christ, I chose to be baptized identifying myself with Him, as “we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”vi
My brothers and sisters in Christ instructed me to attend a Bible-preaching church upon my return to Canada to get grounded in God’s Word; as it states, “to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard.”vii
I attended a Baptist church in Toronto, Canada, close to where I was living at the time. I made friends with the young people there, although I still felt the moral obligation to attend Mass. I attended the Baptist church for a year, in addition to Catholic Mass. After that, I realized that I could not keep this up because I recognized that I was being pulled in two directions. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them..”viii Doing some soul searching, I realized that I was not growing in the Catholic Church as I was in the Baptist church; remembering the words of scripture, “but you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.”ix
At one point, I wrote a letter to the Bishop asking to be excused from attending Mass, but I never mailed it. I made the difficult decision to stop attending Mass. It was difficult because I had made attending Mass a commitment many years earlier. However, my commitment to follow Christ was strengthened, and this gave me more strength than ever attending Mass, as scripture states, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”x
One of my personal struggles was committing acts of personal impurity. Going to Confession year after year, I was always struggling with this same sin for over a decade. Penances, prayers, and personal effort had no effect on ridding me of this bondage. One day I just cried out to the Lord from deep within my heart that I was in bondage, and would God please free me from this bondage. God heard my cry and delivered me from this bondage. “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul… The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.”xi
Having attended many funerals of family and friends in the Roman Catholic Church, I felt an emotional tug to “come back to the familiar.” However, most of the time there was a sense of morbidity in the Catholic funerals, while Evangelical funerals reflected a positive celebration of life.
Since I started to read testimonies in the book, Far From Rome Near to God, written by a number of former priests who have become born-again believers I began to understand the harsh and tyrannical nature of Roman Catholic Canon Law, especially regarding the Inquisition. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”xii
Catholic seminarians study Greek philosophy at great length, between two and three years. When I endeavored to study at a Catholic seminary many years earlier, just after graduating from university, biblical courses were almost non-existent. Although I still believe in the benefits of a disciplined life, which is often characteristic of a Catholic upbringing, only a biblical upbringing will ultimately bear fruit for eternity, as our Lord Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”xiii God is all holy; this is the distinguishing factor of His nature. Thus, this is the reason why I needed to be in right standing before Him. By His grace, I turned to Him in faith for the salvation that He alone can give. I knew that I was a sinner. As a result I believed on Jesus Christ for salvation, as scripture states, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”xiv
In 1982, I attended Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Vancouver, Canada for two years, graduating with a Master of Divinity. After graduation, I had hoped to become a Bible translator, but I ended up moving to the prairies with my new bride, Shirley, where I began my career as a chemist while serving in children’s ministries at the churches that I attended. The Lord Jesus said, “Suffer [permit] little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”xv
A lthough Evangelicals and Catholics may use the same words, it was at seminary, and afterwards, during my personal study that I learned their concepts and definitions are often completely different. The Catholic Church emphasizes good works to commend believers in Jesus Christ to God. Then the Catholic Church presents her seven sacraments as the inherent means of obtaining the grace of the Holy Spirit. Thus, its official teaching states the following, “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.”xvi Such teachings as these come under the Lord’s curse of perverting the Gospel of Christ.xvii Then Catholic priests use sacraments to mislead Catholic people. The Catholic Church teaches its priests “have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels…God above confirms what priests do here below.”xviii The New Testament established pastors and elders to lead the Church, not priests! Why? Priests daily offer sacrifices on behalf of the people although Scripture states unequivocally, “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”xix
I encourage you to study the following terms: sanctification, salvation, justification, and grace to understand the difference between what the Roman Catholic Church teaches and what the Bible teaches. Linacer, who was a distinguished physician during the reign of Henry VIII, picked up the New Testament. “Reading it for a while, he tossed it from him with impatience and a great oath, exclaiming, ‘Either this book is not true, or we are not Christians.’” He saw at once that the system of Papal Rome and the system of the New Testament were directly opposed to one another; no one who impartially compares the two systems can come to any other conclusion.
God has opened up doors of ministry to me in a variety of areas. When my father passed away, I was able to present the gospel message to family members. In 1991, God blessed me with an opportunity to visit Lithuania, the land of my forefathers, where I explained the gospel to my extended family. God has blessed me with a shared pastorate at a local ethnic church. “And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.”xx The Lord has also opened up an electronic outreach on the Internet as I mentor younger men from around the world.
In my experience, most Evangelical Bible teachers have always encouraged their students to be “good Bereans,” always confirming what is being taught by searching the Scriptures. Many Roman Catholic teachers do not trust the Scriptures to be clear enough for the people. However, the Bible says, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”xxi
A noted Bible teacher has also cautioned against being personal followers of a particular teacher. To listen to a multitude of Bible teachers is a safeguard against extremism. “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”xxii
Having been a devout Catholic, I know from personal experience that listening to anyone attack my former church would immediately raise an emotional wall blocking communication. My brothers and sisters in Christ who have come from the Roman church into true faith in Christ know better than to attack what is dear to the hearts of a people. The better approach is to present the historical facts and the biblical account and let the Holy Spirit lead the people to make their own decision.
John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”xxiii But the Roman Catholic Church has exalted itself at the expense of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom belongs all the glory, honor, and praise. As the bride of Christ, we seek to honor our Lord Christ Jesus and not seek our own glory.
Praying that you be reconciled with God, I finish with the words of the Apostle Paul, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”xxiv
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i Hebrews 11:6
ii Hebrews 11:6
iii Romans 8:28
iv 1 Timothy 3:16
v 2 Corinthians 13:5
vi Romans 6:4
vii Colossians 1:22-24
viii Ephesians 5:11
ix Jude 1:20
x Philippians 4:13
xi Psalm 116
xii Colossians 2:8
xiii John 15:5
xiv Ephesians 2:8-9
xv Luke 18:16
xvi Catechism of the Catholic Church Para 1129
xvii Galatians 1:9
xviii Catechism of the Catholic Church Para 983
xix Heb 10:10
xx Luke 9:6
xxi Acts 17:11
xxii Psalm 11:14
xxiii John 3:30
xxiv 2 Corinthians 5:18-20