Singing In the Pews . . .
On My Way To Hell
(By: Rob Oliver)
I grew up in a family where my parents and relatives were all Catholic. My parents were divorced when I was just a young child. I resided with my mother and maintained a good relationship with my father. Growing up we attended the Catholic church from time to time... I would not say we were extremely devout Catholics. However, I received infant baptism, first communion, confirmation, and we fasted from meat on Fridays during Lent. All of this was quite unfulfilling, but were things you just "had to do."
I was educated in parochial schools (Catholic) from 1st grade to 12th grade, so you could say I was definitely exposed to and indoctrinated in "religion." I thought as long as I went to church and received the Catholic sacraments I would be okay. I always believed in God but I never had a personal relationship with Him. It was pure head knowledge. I would pray on occasion but it was very empty. Looking back - it was because a lot of the prayers I recited would be standard and repetitive, never really talking to God from my heart. My whole family was Catholic so I really never learned anything else.
I moved away from home and went off to college. As far as religion went, things pretty much stayed the same. It took some time to settle into college life. I was weighed down with classes, having to adjust to being away from home, and trying to create some kind of a social life. Sad to say I really never gave any time to God. Then the next year came and I decided to change majors. I ended up transferring schools, which led me to the East coast. At this school, I joined a fraternity and made a lot of friends.
I think I was definitely lonely inside and was just trying to fit in somewhere. There would be constant social activities and parties so I kept very busy between trying to keep my grades up (school was never really easy for me, I had to spend a lot of time studying) and all the fraternity gatherings as well as student government which I was involved in as well. I know now I was trying to fill an empty void in my life by keeping busy. During this time I would attend the Catholic Church occasionally and that was the extent of my relationship with God, if you want to call it that.
After graduating from college I began working for a wonderful family; they really kind of took me in. I noticed that there was something different about these folks. They were completely honest in their business dealings, showed a lot of care for others, and were very fair and quite generous to me. We got to know each other quite well, and one day we started talking about religion. I shared my background and I knew they were God-loving, church-going people. Our discussion turned to the topic of evolution verses creationism. As a science major I had my fill of all the "scientific proof" of evolution. I took classes upon classes and heard theories upon theories supporting this evolution idea. So I was ready to fight.
The father of the family, of course, supported creation and tried to explain to me why evolution was a lie. I put up great resistance and thought they were kind of goofy because I was the "science man" and they weren't going to tell me that we didn't evolve from the big bang. Now being that I did believe in God, I took to the idea that God must have started the evolution process because I knew He must have been involved. The interesting thing is that the very scientific laws I learned can easily prove all the theories of evolution are false, which is precisely what they are, just theories. More specifically they are man's concoctions and now I realize where the ideas have come from: you guessed it, a great lie of Satan!
Then the father of this family began to share God's Word with me in a loving and considerate manner. This was the first time I think I really looked in any depth into God's Word. Then we turned to my Catholic upbringing and this is when I really felt that God was removing the blinders off from my eyes. We looked at scriptures like:
"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." (Matthew 6:7)
"And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven." (Matthew 23:9)
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;" (1 Timothy 2:5)
I thought 'Wow - God said that. I have never heard these things before.' And they were completely opposite and contradictory to what I had been doing my whole life. This really hit me hard. All the time spent - or should I say wasted - praying this repetitive rosary over and over again, praying to Mary and all these different saints. What was going on here?! My eyes and ears were being opened. Praise God! I began to really listen to what they were saying and most importantly what God's Word was saying. I was beginning to realize I had been gravely misled and was seriously missing something.
So I decided to meet with the pastor of their church to find out more about this. We talked, read scripture and now I know the Holy Spirit was really speaking to me. I knew I was a sinner and was separated from God. The pastor explained, sighting God's Word, that the only way to be reconciled back to God and to obtain eternal life was through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I couldn't earn it. I couldn't be good enough. I broke down and asked Jesus to come into my life right then and there in his office. A short time later I stood before the congregation as the pastor told the story of how I received Jesus. I was later baptized and started to attend the church regularly.
Sad to say, after some time passed, I slowly fell back into what the Bible calls 'the world' (meaning people more influenced by Satan than by God being allowed to influence them). I started to fall back into sin, living much like I was before like a dog turning to his own vomit again (2 Peter 2:21-22). Honestly, I am not proud of this because I was trampling on the precious blood that Jesus shed for me.
Sadly during this entire time after graduating from college I had a real sin problem in my life. I was in love with money and the pursuit of it. I purchased so many get rich quick schemes, "money making programs," I even tried to start my own small business that completely flopped. I read business opportunity magazines like they were going out of style. I wasted thousands and thousands of dollars on this garbage trying to pursue the "American Dream."
I only recently, within the last several years by God's mercy and grace, paid off the debt I had accumulated. What is really sad is that I even prayed to God asking Him to help me get rich. It was the most self-serving, self centered prayer imaginable. I failed at everything I tried; everything I touched turned into more debt. But, you know God being so perfect and all knowing had a better plan for my life. I now understand the truth of His Word which says:
"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13)
"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10)
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:23-24)
A few years later I moved back to my hometown. I was still in a worldly and sinful state, which I am ashamed to admit. This continued until roughly around the time I took a job that required the use my car. I was flipping radio stations one day and came across a Christian radio station that I stopped on and listened to. I was so interested I just kept listening day after day. However, sadly from one of the broadcasts I got involved in another "Christian" cult (Catholicism being the first). The "pastor" of this cult used fear and scare tactics of the end times to corrupt and bring you into trusting him for protection and not God. I really see now how people twist and pervert scripture to their own advantage and for their own heathen purposes. Being involved in this cult was a great strain on my new marriage because my wonderful wife saw right through this "pastor" and discerned great wickedness. Finally, by the grace of God I got out of this cult. From this experience I learned several important things. First, was to get into the Word of God myself and learn from the Holy Spirit.
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (John 14:26)
Also, I learned not to trust in men but rather to put my trust in the Lord God Almighty alone.
"For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged." (Romans 3:3-4)
God was also teaching and showing me something very important during this time. Before, I had made Jesus my Savior, but not my Lord. I had called upon Him for eternal life and to save me from hell, but I really never made Him Lord and first in my life. I repented with a broken and humbled heart. I realized that if Jesus is not Lord of your life, He is not your Savior either. I also realized that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory is not some life or fire insurance policy that you can call on to save you from the fires of hell but then continue on in sin and living like the unsaved heathen, trampling His precious shed blood, and never truly making Him Lord and King of your life. He is either Lord to you or He is nothing to you.
So where does that bring me now? Jesus is my everything! God has changed me tremendously. I care about the things and ways of God. I desire to be in His Word and to do His will. I thank God so much for His wonderful gift of salvation through his glorious Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only way!
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)
"Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again." (John 3:3-7)
All through my childhood and young adult life, there were several very important things I never realized and never really learned. First, it doesn't matter how good you are or how many good deeds you have done in your life as the cult of Catholicism teaches. These don't erase the sin that we have all committed.
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3:10)
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
You can be in 'religion' your whole life, join a church, be good to your neighbor, go to church every Sunday, give tithes to the church and still end up in hell. These things don't save you. You cannot please God enough by doing these things to earn a right to heaven.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Jesus is the only way; there is no other way. God loves you so much He gave His only begotten Son who suffered and died with the weight of sins of the entire world on Him. Whosoever repents and receives Jesus as Savior and Lord will receive the gift of eternal life. That is incredible love! Jesus waits with open arms if you will repent and turn to Him with your whole heart. It is the most important decision you will ever make! Please turn to Jesus before it is everlastingly too late!
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.
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Remember: All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)