I visited a Charismatic Church a couple of times. It was so different from the strict ritualism of the Catholic Church. They were so comfortable and relaxed, almost to the point of irreverence it seemed to me. There was very little Bible preaching, but they had this strange excitement about being there that I had never seen before. It was nice at first, but then I began to see people swaying and waving their arms and women screaming and wailing some indistinguishable noises. I knew that this also could not be the way to God.
I eventually stopped going to church at all. I did however hold on to a few Catholic practices, maybe just to feel like I was in some small way close to God. I made the sign of the cross every time I passed a Church, said the three prayers I was taught every night and even read my Good news Bible occasionally.
All the while I lived a sinful life, that I suppose many people who grew up where I did, would think was fairly normal. I still considered myself to be a pretty good person though. After all I never robbed a bank or killed anyone.
At one point, a born-again Christian led me through a "sinner's prayer". She told me that if I really meant that prayer- that I was saved (that I was now a Born again Christian).
John 3:3 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.
Well, I really did mean that prayer, just as much as I meant the other three prayers I said. I was not saved though. I did not become the new creature the Bible describes a Christian to be. Nothing changed and I continued to live in sin. I occasionally told others that I was a born-again Christian, polluting the name of Christ through my lifestyle. Deep inside, I knew I was not like other Christians I had met, but I told my self that I was normal and they were just fanatics.
Many years later, my Step-Mother gave me a book about the end times and the second coming of Jesus Christ. I didn't understand it, but I knew that if Jesus did come back, I didn't want Him to find me where I was in my sinful life. I decided that I'd better clean up my act.
I had been taught as a Catholic that you had to do good things as well as believe in Jesus in order to be saved. So I tried to do good things and to stop doing the things I knew were wrong.(repenting)
I thought that I had to accomplish this "born- again" thing by being really, really good, but had little success. As a matter of fact, the more I tried to be good, the more I realized how bad I actually was. I began to see how sinful my life really was. I had fooled myself for years thinking that I could live in sin and still call myself a Christian. I finally realized that I wasn't fooling God, and that he could not be pleased with me. I had been lying to myself.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
In the early part of 1998, I began attending an Independent Baptist Church with my husband. The Pastor there preached only from the Bible. When I had questions, he opened the Bible and showed me what God had to say about it. When he preached, it made sense and spoke to me about my sin and my need for a Savior.
I learned from the Bible that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, and that there is no such thing as little sins and big sins. They are all the same to God. James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
In God's eyes lying falls into the same category as murder. Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: Because of our sin, we have all earned a place in Hell, and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.
Our good deeds or works will not pay the price; as a matter of fact they are actually dirty to God because of our sin. Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;
If we could do anything at all to save ourselves it would not make sense for Christ to have died. Galatians 2: if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
The truth is that our attempts to "help" God save us by adding our works to Jesus' death on the cross are actually an insult to the unimaginable sacrifice he made for us. It's as if we are telling Jesus, "Thanks for suffering and dying on the cross for me, but I'm already pretty good. I think I can get to heaven on my own. Thanks anyway."
The Bible tells us that because of our sin none of us is good enough to enter into the presence of a Holy and just God in heaven. Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. That was the bad news and that is why we need a Savior.
The good news is that Christ has already paid for our sins by himself. When he died on the cross, he said, "It is finished." The only acceptable payment for sin has been made, once for all. Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God died for your sins and mine and rose again so that we could be born again through faith in him alone. All that we can do is turn from our sins (repentance toward God) and believe in him (faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ).
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already.
Ephesians 2:8&9 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
Christ has done for me what I was unable to do for my self. He saved me and gave me a new life. Through faith in Christ, I have been born again, with a new heart, new desires and a new life. Now I can stand before a Holy God justified, and no longer condemned because of what Christ has done for me.