“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.”
This protestant pastor came from a charismatic background (Assemblies of God) and yet somewhere along the way their membership and clerical position in such a church was no longer enough for them. A restless spirit and weak conscience perhaps resulted in such a party searching deeper for the real source of salvation but devastatingly in all the wrong places!
Clearly, Scott Hahn’s enticing words (a Calvinist turned Catholic apologist) had successfully hit the right chord with this person and so now expecting to have finally arrived in the one true church realised rather painfully that in fact, all he had done was go from one church system into another and now bitterly feels worse than before!
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 illogical and impossible.
Some may even suggest that believing and receiving what Jesus has already done for mankind is simply too easy. There must be a catch they say and yet nothing could be further from the truth. Salvation is so simple that even a child can understand it. However, men and women with either nefarious intentions or just sheer ignorance of Scripture whether Arminian or Calvinist, Catholic or Protestant have in reality replaced the Jewish Pharisees of Jesus’ day and are now nothing more than modern-day church Pharisees. They demand works for salvation and not grace (Matt. 23:15).
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 has already received you and cleansed you when you were in your worst possible state, and He and He alone has made you fit to be worthy of entering His eternal presence upon death. Going ‘church shopping’ to receive some ‘greater light’ or ‘higher knowledge’ is not the answer to a disturbed and unsettled spirit, but a deeper knowledge of the Scripture and a greater love of the Saviour is (2 Cor. 5:18-21).
For was it not the Gentile Galatians who felt they needed to ‘better’ themselves and so while already saved and forgiven after simply trusting in Christ’s shed blood alone for their salvation decided nevertheless to return to the Jewish law, something Jesus had abolished by His death, burial and resurrection, in hope of ‘connecting’ deeper and more ‘fully’ with God. Going from grace to works is an insult to God and results in one falling hard from grace. Protestants that convert to Catholicism or Greek Orthodoxy are equally as guilty as the Galatians were!
Such are easily dazzled by theatre and theatrics a bit like how the old expression goes, give them bread and circus. Man enjoys being entertained in the pews and the church of Rome like Simon the Sorcerer are past wizards at this.
The apostle Paul, who seemed to spend most of his time berating false teachers with their pernicious teachings understood this perfectly well and so he would put pen to paper and make the following and most profound statement about how God has already provided the most incredible and unique provision for those that have repented:
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you [free gift] 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 [Him not us] 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 after being born again is to stir up their minds and be conformed to the mind of Christ, then one will be meet for the Master’s work.
Please also note how Paul made no mention of belonging to this church or that church after salvation. When a person believes in and on Jesus as their own personal Saviour the Holy Spirit baptizes such into the body of Christ. Churches cannot save you and neither do they earn you ‘brownie points’ with the Lord. Fellowship with other believers is one thing post-salvation, but for one to have a perfect peace which passes all understanding comes only from a personal and daily relationship with the Lord, and not through religion or rituals. (For two’s a company and three’s a crowd).
Our advice therefore to this despondent and desperate party was simply to leave the Catholic church, repent for trying to reach Him through man-made rituals as the pagans did concerning the Babel incident from Gen. 11, and just receive the Lord’s free gift to be saved for it is most likely that he was not saved, to begin with, and then use this opportunity to get right with Jesus by starting a fresh and brand new 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 and sensitive spirit time is on their side. And as our loving God is most certainly a God of second chances, He can still make one free and totally victorious in Jesus, even at the 11th hour.
I 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 [a supernatural operation], in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism [spiritual], wherein also ye are risen with him [already in heaven] through the faith [gift] of the operation of God [He did this not man], who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:8-12).
Christ, therefore, is not copyrighted to this congregation or that congregation. Jesus is not some jigsaw that only one group of people are qualified to correctly assemble wherever and whenever they choose. Nobody has the right to claim exclusive rights to parts of the brand of the BRANCH. Immanuel is immaculate, incomprehensible and solely instrumental in one’s integration into heaven. Christ is and has always been above Christianity.
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 conviction and 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. For you are His and He is yours, and you are forever safe and settled in Him alone! Amen and amen (Rom. 8:31-39)!