“Scott Hahn had me convinced 20 years ago to join the Catholic Church.
I need to know what to believe. I was a Protestant minister for the A/G church for 40 years.
I have been to mass 3 times a week for 8 months.
Now I feel I am Damned. God help me.”
As sad as the above e-mail may sound, and it truly is, it’s not unusual for us to receive mail such as this. This party, as one can see, came from a charismatic background (Assemblies of God), and yet somewhere along the way, their membership and position in this church were no longer enough for them.
Clearly Scott Hahn’s enticing words (a former Presbyterian turned ‘proud’ Catholic apologist) had successfully hit the right chord with this party, and so, now expecting to have finally arrived in ‘the promised land,’ realised, rather painfully, that in fact all they had done was go from one system into another, and perhaps, tragically, now feels somewhat robbed.
To some, my diagnoses may appear a little too black and white and yet the fact remains that within mankind, there has always been a yearning to be identified with either ‘this particular group’ or ‘that particular group.’ Resting and trusting in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, for many, seems impossible.
May I say that if there is one thing that the child of God must understand it is this: you are ALREADY perfect and loved just as you are! He received you in your worst possible state, and He and He alone has made you fit to be worthy of entering His presence, upon death. Going ‘church shopping’ to receive some ‘greater light’ or ‘higher knowledge’ is not the answer to a restless spirit, but a deeper knowledge of the Scripture and a greater love of Jesus is.
As the old expression goes: “The one thing that men learn from history is that men never learn from history.” The same seems to be true of many church people too. For was it not the Galatians who felt they needed to ‘better’ themselves and so, while already being saved from their sins, they decided nonetheless to return to the Jewish law, something Jesus had abolished by His death, burial and resurrection, in hope of ‘connecting’ with God, something the Gnostics no doubt had influenced them to do.
The Apostle Paul, who seemed to spend most of his life berating false teachers and their pernicious teachings understood this perfectly well, and so he would take pen to paper and make the following and most profound statement about how God has already provided the most incredible provision for His children:
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:4-8).
This remarkable piece of Scripture clearly affirms how complete and enriched the born-again Bible believer already is. All one needs to do is stir up their minds and be conformed to the mind of Christ, then one will be totally transformed into a mighty warrior for God. As they say, “God helps those who help themselves.”
Please also note how Paul made no mention of belonging to this church or that church. Churches cannot save you and neither do they earn you ‘brownie points’ with the Lord. Fellowship with other believers is one thing, but for one to have a perfect peace which passes all understanding comes only from a personal relationship with the Lord, and not through religion. (Two’s a company, three’s a crowd).
My advice therefore to this despondent and desperate party was to leave the Catholic church, repent and cry out to the Lord to be saved, for it is most likely that they were not saved, to begin with, and then use this opportunity to get right with Jesus and start a personal walk with Him. In time, this will feel like a bad dream, but while one still has breath in their lungs and a convicted spirit, time is on their side, and as our loving God is most certainly a God of second chances, He can still make one can free and victorious in Jesus, even at the 11th hour.
I can recall a long discussion I once had with a Mormon missionary, some years ago, about how no church saves you, but only faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross, I concluded my witness by citing the following and unequivocal verse:
“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. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:8-12).
I cannot say for sure whether or not the party that contacted us could have avoided the pain and misery that they are now experiencing had they known and understood these verses all those years ago, but what I can say with some confidence is that if you, the reader, take the above pieces of Scripture to heart, you’ll be completely grounded in Jesus and nothing and nobody will ever be able to sway you away from Him. You are His, He is yours, and you are forever safe and settled in Him alone! Amen and amen to that!