I Thought I Was a Pretty Good Person
The fall of 1999, I was driving back home after dropping my youngest son off at college. My wife was trying to find something good on the radio to listen to for the ride home. She was changing stations and came to a Christian radio station where a man was preaching about Jesus and the crucifixion. We were pretty bored as it was a dreary Sunday afternoon, so we listened to him as he spoke. As we listened, we begin to hear the gospel preached like we had never heard it before. What he said made a lot of sense, and we listened to the entire program. We found it very inspiring.
Pretty soon my wife and I became regular listeners to both Christian radio and television. I even started buying tapes to listen to on the way to work. What these preachers had to say was intriguing—it always made me think and stirred my heart. I was hearing the truth preached, and I now had a desire to listen more and more. I also was disappointed because the Catholic church wasn’t showing me these same truths, even though the truths were found in the Word of God. I had been raised a catholic and was a good church member. I believed in God; I was a faithful giver. I lived what I thought to be a religious life. I was faithful in praying my rosaries and mostly other memorized prayers and totally accepted my religion’s doctrines. But what I was hearing on TV and on the radio was not what my church was teaching. There I got very little of God’s actual Word—just a few parables that were repeated quite often. It started to bother me that the TV and radio was telling me more about the Word of God than the church did.
“I started reading the Bible to see how it fit in with my church’s beliefs, but was not sure how or where to start.”
I was not used to reading the Bible for myself—I had always depended on my church for guidance. But the more I read, the more I found that the church wasn’t even following the Bible. There were a lot of truths in the Word of God that I knew were not being taught. I also began noticing week after week all the distractions—parents giving snacks to their kids, people reading the weekly bulletin, conversations going on during the service. There was a general lack of respect for being in God’s house. Did people even know why they came and did most listen to the message, or were they just going through the motions of fulfilling their Sunday obligation? Were we the only ones upset? I was blind to my biggest problem—self-righteousness and pride. I thought I was better than most people at my church. I was looking at others rather than my self. I was also self-centered and had the attitude, “I can do everything myself.”
One Sunday, shortly around Easter in 2002, the sermon was blah, and the gospel reading was a greeting from Paul to one of the churches. I was so disappointed in what the priest gave as his sermon as it had nothing to do with the gospel reading. I decided that I was finished. “No more,” I said to myself. “This is not a message that teaches people the Word of God.” Our son Chuck was coming for a visit, and we begin making plans as to where to attend church on Sunday. He is a believer and had been concerned about our salvation. He had done some checking and heard of a fundamental Bible teaching church in a nearby town where we could worship that Sunday.
“We went, and it was really a change from what we were used to. We heard God’s Word preached.”
We never returned to the catholic church from that point on. We faithfully attended this fundamental church for several months, but then started attending an American Baptist church closer to home. At this time our daughter was coming to Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, and we occasionally would join her for service. We knew this church was solid, yet we were not sure if it fit us. God has a way of letting us flounder and stumble around till we finally run out of rope and allow Him to lead.
The things of the world began to lose their effect. There was an emptiness in things I once enjoyed. I started to make changes in my life, but I never realized the stranglehold that pride had on me. This was to be my big battle. You see, I thought of myself as being a pretty good person. But the Bible tells us in Romans chapter 3, verses 10-12, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” This passage really hit me hard. I truthfully thought I was saved as I had said the believer’s prayer several times. Yet somehow I wasn’t sure. I told my self that doubting wasn’t God’s way, and yet I wanted to be sure.
“I had to be sure—after all, I had prayed the prayer. Yet doubts filled my thoughts.”
Finally my son said, “Dad, do you know if you are saved for sure?” I assured him that I did. Then he asked again, “But are you really sure? There should be no doubting. Do you know when and where you were saved?” Well, at this point I couldn’t be sure of a time. So my son next set up a four-week Bible study, which I attended enthusiastically. I approached the study as if I was hearing the gospel for the first time. It was important to have an open mind. I really started praying because I wanted assurance of my salvation. I prayed, “Please Lord, soften my hard heart and open my mind. Work with my unbelief.”
The last lesson came, and I still was not sure of my salvation. We had gotten down to the end, and it was time to wrap it up. John kept asking me what I thought, but I couldn’t find the words. I was going crazy. I knew I believed, yet I had said that several times before. Suddenly, I realized that what I had before was just a head knowledge. I knew all the facts about Jesus Christ, but I had never turned from my sins and accepted His death as payment for MY sins. That night, December 19, 2006, I believed with my whole heart the Lord Jesus and His promises. I repented of my sins, and I put my trust fully in Him and His work on the cross for my salvation.
God made a turn around in my life since then. Prayer time, the Bible, and attending church have been and are the desires of my heart. I now feel such a burden for the lost of my family and the world. My conscience is pricked through the preaching every time I go to church. The mission field is more on my mind, and I pray each day for our missionaries. My Bible reading is in more depth than before. I am looking forward to mentoring and tutoring as my life in Christ grows. I know I am in God’s army for sure, and all doubts are erased.