This is a testimony from a woman who turned away from Catholicism upon reading the Bible and realizing that certain truths were present in it that Catholicism neglected to teach (or taught the opposite). It is her own personal story and is in no way trying to bash Catholics or Catholicism, she is just simply telling her story of how she found salvation. My husband actually read this story before I did, and compares it almost exactly to his own experiences with Catholicism versus Christianity, so for us, this testimony has a personal aspect to it.
“First, I want to say that I am not trying to “bash” Catholicism in any way – I am simply sharing my own personal story and how the Lord led me to dig deeper into the Bible to learn of its truths and of the great news of salvation through Jesus Christ! I believe there are many Catholics who are true believers, and I would never want to hurt anyone – however, I was once Catholic myself and was totally in the dark about salvation through grace, and that’s why I feel the need to tell the story of my conversion. If you are Catholic and are not sure about your salvation, please take the time to read this! If you are Catholic and you are a “true believer”, saved by the grace of God, then Praise the Lord! Please read my story for what it is – simply my story and how I felt “deceived” by the devil while I was in the Catholic Church.
I grew up in a loving family who attended the Catholic Church regularly. Not just my immediate family, mind you(!) – but my entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc.) was Catholic! I was a regular participant and played the organ at church and also was a leader in the “folk choir” for most of my teenage years. In short – I was as “Catholic” as they come!
I never doubted my faith because I was told to just believe everything the Church taught me without question. The Pope was supreme in his authority, and the priests and nuns were to be treated as “holy” and “special” servants of God who would never teach anything not true. I remember several times, non-Catholic friends of mine would ask me if I was “saved” – I had no idea what that term really meant, but I assumed it was akin to the “Sacrament of Confirmation” in my Church, so I would always say that yes, I was saved. Many friends dropped it at that – never realizing I didn’t know what they were talking about! If you have tried witnessing to a Catholic friend who says they’re saved, please be sure they understand it completely, or you may be losing the chance to bring someone into the kingdom.
I also remember many non-Catholic friends asking me about some of the doctrines, such as purgatory, confession, the Pope, Mary, etc. I always would tell them, “Oh – that’s in the Bible!” – but I had no idea where because we were never taught to read the Bible for ourselves, but rather to simply believe what we were told. I had no idea these teachings were not in the Bible at all – but were actually man-made beliefs that the Catholic Church had made up throughout the years. Many of the teachings they always said came straight from Christ were actually made up as late as the 1950’s! But I defended my Church – I loved my Church and trusted it completely. One time a friend really pressed me about where in the Bible were the teachings about purgatory. I asked the priest about this, and was given the verse where it says something about being thrown into prison and not getting out till you’ve paid the last penny. I remember thinking – “THAT is where you get the whole doctrine of purgatory from??!!” I started having some doubts about that time, but just pushed it to the back of my mind.
When I was 21 years old, I had a special friend (Creg) who was a non-Catholic. He asked me about my salvation, and again I convinced him I was saved. However, the Lord wasn’t going to let me get away that easily this time! I had been reading a magazine from the “Last Days Ministries”, led by Keith and Melody Green, and came across some pamphlets they were offering called “The Catholic Chronicle Series”. I remember thinking, “Oh, great! Finally something about MY church!” I ordered them and was thrilled when they arrived. I thought this would be great to prove my church was okay to my non-Catholic friends.
I remember that evening so well… My best friend, Wanda (also Catholic), and I sat on my bed and started reading the pamphlets excitedly. After a few minutes, we both realized the pamphlets were not “for” the Catholic Church, but rather were explaining the differences between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Bible. Our initial reaction was, “Oh – they don’t know what they’re talking about!” However, we got out our “Catholic Catechism” book (which contains the teachings of the Catholic Church to educate people interested in becoming Catholic) and my Bible and started to compare them. We took each of the Keith Green pamphlets and looked up every single Bible verse he quoted and then looked the doctrine up in the Catholic Catechism book. I started to feel my heart sink. Could this be true?? Wanda got so nervous and upset that she decided to leave.
So all by myself, I spent the next several hours – until 1 or 2 in the morning – studying, reading, praying, crying, and being very confused. The next day I had planned to go with Creg to an out-of-town meeting about 2 hours away. During the trip, I had the time to tell him what was going on. I started reading the pamphlets to him, and he was amazed. “Catholics really believe THAT?” he’d ask about different doctrines mentioned in the pamphlets. I’d say, “Well – I didn’t realize that’s exactly what they believed, but yes – I guess they do.” You see, I’d been taking the doctrines that didn’t make sense to me and explaining them away by changing what they really meant. For example, the doctrine of Mary and the “Immaculate Conception” – I always assumed this meant Mary conceived JESUS “immaculately” – through the Holy Spirit. In reality, what that teaching says is that MARY herself was born “without sin”. The Bible plainly states that ALL have sinned except for Jesus! Another example is when people would ask me about why we pray to Mary – I’d explain that as being the same as if I were asking a friend to pray for me – that I was just asking Mary to pray for me. However, the doctrine really states that Catholics DO pray to Mary and even that we are to go through Mary in order to “get to Jesus”!! This is totally un-Biblical. The Bible says that there is only one “mediator” between man and God – and that’s Jesus Christ, not Mary, not the “Saints”, not a Pope – no one else.
Creg and I talked about this the whole trip and that evening when we got back to his house, he got his family together to help me understand “true” salvation doctrines. They got out their Bibles and went through everything with me – explaining how Christ’s death at Calvary paid the price for my sins and that because of that, anyone who accepts Him as their Savior is immediately brought into the Christian family and can be assured they’ll go to heaven. I was totally amazed! The Catholic Church taught me that we can never be sure we’re going to heaven – that it was a guessing game, depending on how good or bad we were, and whether we died “with sin on our souls” (meaning without having been to confession since sinning). They explained to me that when Christ died, He took ALL my sins away – past, present, and future – and that God wouldn’t hold them against me any more. There was no way I’d die “with sin on my soul” – because Christ took them away! I was in shock, and quite upset about my Church’s apparent errors, but I was also pretty excited and hopeful.
While we were looking up the Scriptures, we came across one in my Catholic Bible that said, “Unless you do penance, you shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” They all were quite shocked and said, “That’s not what that verse says at all! It says, ‘Unless you REPENT, you shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven’!!” “Penance” is a Catholic term, meaning going to confession and then doing what the priest tells you to do to “make up for” your sins. “Repent”, on the other hand, is an internal change that happens when we turn away from our sins and turn back to God. A totally different meaning! Creg was so upset that my Bible had such untruths that he gave me his own personal Bible and told me to read it! And I did!
That whole weekend, I kept my nose in that Bible and read pretty much the whole New Testament. It was like a light-bulb had come on in my head. Words I’d heard many times before now made perfect sense – in this new light of salvation through grace. I felt light and happy and joyous – like I’d found the truth at last – something “real”! I called Creg a few days later and said, “Creg, this is amazing! I feel like a brand-new Christian!” He said, “Jacki, you are a brand-new Christian!” I realized then that while I was following the doctrines of the Catholic Church, I had never really been a “Christian” in the true sense of the word – believing totally in Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary to save me from my sins. I mean – I’d always heard from the Catholic Church that “Christ died for our sins”. But it really had no meaning, if you think about it. If Christ died for our sins – then why were we forced to go to confession, do penance, attend church, follow the other sacraments, etc., etc. – in order to HOPE we were going to make it to heaven? And if Christ paid for our sins, why on earth would we still have to go to purgatory when we die to keep trying to make up for them?? Where did Christ fit into that picture? In reality, His death did me no good according to the Catholic Church – I still had to try to earn my way. But the truth was that His death did everything! There was nothing I could do to add to it. He paid the price in full. I could be assured of my salvation! The Bible even says, “I write these things unto you so that you may know you have eternal life.” You can’t get more plain than that! Something about this made me feel so FREE – and made me want to serve God with all my heart because of what He’d done for me.
The next several days were so exciting for me. I learned about the rapture and how we Christians who are still alive will be taken up to heaven to be with Jesus! I learned what heaven is going to be like through reading the book of Revelation. I never knew any of this was in the Bible! The Catholic Church actually taught that heaven was not a real “place” but rather a “state of mind”! I have to admit, I felt cheated – like the Catholic Church had kept all these marvels from me. I was so happy to have finally found the truth that I started sharing about this with my friends and family. My younger sisters and brother all were anxious to receive God’s “gift of salvation” and all accepted Christ into their hearts as their Savior. That was a precious moment for me.
However, my friend Wanda was another story. She got so angry that I was saying these things about the Catholic Church that she turned her back on me. She said I was “dead” as far as she was concerned. My mother also had major problems with this – she had a very hard time believing that the Church she’d loved for more than 50 years could ever teach anything in error. I was very sad that this came between us, but I knew I had to choose between the Bible and the Church. I chose the Bible.
I was just a week away from moving to Florida to attend college, so I attended the Catholic Church before leaving. I heard words in a totally new light now, though. Words of the “Mass” that I’d heard a thousand times before and had just taken for granted – not even giving a thought to their meaning – now were so obviously anti-Biblical that I knew I couldn’t continue to participate in the Catholic Church once I moved to Florida. I found a wonderful little Bible-believing church that helped me grow spiritually as a Christian. I have never looked back – never once regretted leaving the Catholic Church – never doubted that I did the right thing. I know now that every single belief I have comes straight from the Bible – I’ll never again have to “defend” my beliefs with half-truths and made-up stories.
Shortly after I moved to Florida, my mother pressed me about talking to a priest to try to “straighten myself out”! I told her I would. I made an appointment with a local priest and went with my Bible in hand. He thought he was going to counsel me on the teachings of the Catholic Church. For about 5 minutes, I asked him questions like, “What does the Church teach about Mary?” and “What does the Church teach about Purgatory?” Then I asked the biggie(!) – “Does the Church teach we can know we’re going to heaven?” I’ll never forget what happened next! He just said, “Well…I wouldn’t say we can know we’re going to heaven – we can only hope that we won’t die with sin on our souls.” I knew then that God had opened the door for me to witness to this priest!”