I grew up as a Roman Catholic. I attended Saint Catherine of Sienna elementary school in the Cincinnati, Ohio neighborhood of Westwood. I graduated from Covington Latin School in Covington, Kentucky in 1985 at the age of 16. I guess I was around the age of 13 or so when I first started having doubts about some of the things I was being taught in these Catholic schools. I did not know where to turn to find out if my doubts had any merit or not because all of my family is Roman Catholic and just about everyone I knew was Catholic. Besides that, I had been taught that all the other denominations were wrong. It was in my late teenage years that I started having a desire to read The Bible. However, I never followed through with that desire, but I believe that desire is what helped me see the truth when I was 25.
I remember on our way home after that third Sunday that I commented to Kelly that I did not believe that someone could know for sure that they would go to Heaven when they died.I met Kelly, who now is my wife, in October of 1993. After we had dated for a few weeks, I started asking her when she was going to introduce me to her family. She had told her mother about it and her mother said to invite me to church and we would go out to eat afterward. So Kelly told me what her mother had said and I said OK. The next Sunday, I went with Kelly to Fellowship Baptist Church in Lebanon, Ohio. I was excited when I found out that they used The Bible in the services. I went back again the next two Sundays. I guess the messages started sinking in and I started to think more about God and Heaven. I remember on our way home after that third Sunday that I commented to Kelly that I did not believe that someone could know for sure that they would go to Heaven when they died. Kelly was not looking to argue with me but she said that is what The Bible says.
The next Sunday Kelly had to work so Saturday night I borrowed Kelly’s Bible and planned to go without her. I was a little nervous about going that morning because I had asked Kelly to marry me that Friday and I knew her dad was upset about it. I was surprised by the huge smile her dad had when he saw me come into the church that Sunday morning without Kelly. The preacher that morning preached on being saved and how it was either “yes I’m saved” or “no I’m not saved.” He said there was no “I don’t know.” After the service ended, a man came back to where I was and asked if I knew if I was saved. The message was still ringing in my head and I had a slight smile when I said “I don’t know.” I had grown up believing that you just had to be good to get to Heaven but I wasn’t sure I was good enough so I knew I could not answer “yes I was” but I didn’t want to admit that “no I’m not.” The man asked if I would go up front with him and let him show me some things from The Bible. I said sure and went up and sat on the front pew with him. He started showing me things about Jesus Christ and how he is the Son of God and that he died for my sins and how he arose from the dead. He asked me if I believed all that and I said I did. Eventually, we came to 1 John 5:13:
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
I was amazed! Just a week ago I made that comment about it being impossible to know and here The Bible was telling me I could know! Immediately after I read that verse, I told God that I was wrong – that I had been living in darkness all my life but now I saw the light and I believed his word. I repented of my rebellion from God. I trusted in Jesus Christ as my saviour. I could not get to Heaven on my own. God saved me and lifted the burden of sin from off me. The guilt was gone! The shame was gone! I was alive for the first time in my life! I never again have to worry about what will happen after I die! O what a marvellous God and Saviour!
I can remember many times when I would get so scared about death. There was one time when I was about 7 when I was nearly hysterical. My mom thought my older brother had been teasing me but he had nothing to do with it. I now realize it was Romans 1:20 being fulfilled:
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
Deep down I knew I was sinner and that my sins were not pleasing to God. When I was a teenager, I prayed every night before I went to sleep asking God to let me live until the morning. I had convinced myself that I was afraid of dying simply because I did not understand death and could not comprehend eternity. But the real reason was that I knew I was lost and needed some other way besides myself to get to Heaven. Thank God for the shed blood of Jesus Christ!
You too can have the peace of God by repenting and trusting Jesus Christ.