Testimony to the Gospel of Grace Back in 1972, when some Christians had taught me about the Lord healing our bodies, how much more helpful it would have been had they explained to me on what authority our sinful nature is made right with God. The Bible clearly shows that Jesus substituted for us on the cross. I cannot express it better than Isaiah 53:5: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (This means that Christ took on himself what I ought to suffer for my sins. Before the Father, I trust in Jesus as my substitute.) That was written 750 years before the crucifixion of our Lord. A short time after the sacrifice of the cross, the Bible states in I Peter 2:24: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” Because we inherited our sin nature from Adam, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. How can we stand before a Holy God, except in Christ, and acknowledge that He died where we ought to have died? Only through faith we can see, understand and grasp Christ as our substitute. It was Christ who paid the price for our sins: sinless, yet He was crucified. This is the true Gospel message. Is faith enough? Yes, born-again faith is enough. That true faith, engendered by God, will inevitably show good fruit, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). In repenting, we put aside, through God’s strength, our former way of life and our former sins. It does not mean that we cannot sin again, but it does mean that our position before God has changed. We are called children of God, for so indeed we are. If we do sin, it is a relationship problem with the Father which can be resolved, not a problem of losing our position as a child of God in Christ, for this position is irrevocable. In Hebrews 10:10, the Bible says it so wonderfully: “...we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The finished work of Christ Jesus on the Cross is sufficient and complete. As you trust solely in this finished work, a new life which is born of the Spirit will be yours -- you will be born again. The Present Day My present task: the good work that the Lord has prepared for me to do is as an evangelist situated near Austin in the central Texas U.S.A. What Paul said about his fellow Jews I say about my dearly loved Catholic brothers: my heart's desire and prayer to God for Catholics is that they may be saved. I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based in God's Word but in their church tradition. If you understand the devotion and agony that some of the men and women in the Philippines and South America have put into their religion, you may understand my heart’s cry: “Lord, give us a compassion to understand the pain and torment of the search that devout Catholics have made to please You. In understanding pain inside the their hearts, we will have the desire to show them the Good News of Christ’s finished work on the Cross.” My testimony shows how difficult it was for me as a Catholic to give up Church tradition, but when the Lord demands it in His Word, we must do it. The “form of godliness” that the Roman Catholic Church has makes it most difficult for a Catholic to see where the real problem lies. Everyone must determine by what authority we know truth. For Papal Rome the ultimate authority lies in the decisions and decrees of the reigning Pope. In her own words, “The Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful...he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held as such.” (Code of Canon Law, Canon 749). Yet according to the Bible, it is God's Word itself which is the authority by which truth is known. It was man-made traditions which caused the Reformers to demand “the Bible only, faith only, grace only, in Christ only, and to God only be the glory.” The Reason Why I Share I share these truths with you now so that you can know God's way of salvation. Our basic problem as Catholics was that personal worth and dignity was ingrained into us. We believed that could respond to the help God gives us to be right in His sight. This presupposition that many of us have carried for years is aptly defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) #2021, “Grace is the help God gives us to respond to our vocation of becoming his adopted sons....” With that mindset, we were unknowingly holding to a teaching that the Bible continually condemns. Such a definition of grace is man's careful fabrication, for the Bible consistently declares that the believer's right standing with God is “without works” (Romans 4:6), “without the deeds of the Law” (Romans 3:28), “not of works” (Ephesians 2:9), “It is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8). To attempt to make the believer's response part of his salvation and to look upon grace as “a help” is to flatly deny Biblical truth, “...if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace...” (Romans 11:6). The simple Biblical message is that “the gift of righteousness” in Christ Jesus is a gift, resting on His all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). So it is as Christ Jesus Himself said, He died in place of the believer, the One for many (Mark 10:45), His life a ransom for many. As He declared, ...this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). This is also what Peter proclaimed, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God...” (I Peter 3:18). Paul’s preaching is summarized at the end of II Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him..” (II Corinthians 5:21). This fact, dear reader, is presented clearly to you in the Bible. Acceptance of it is now commanded by God, “...Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The most difficult repentance for us dyed-in-the-wool Catholics is changing our mind from thoughts of “meriting,” “earning,” “being good enough,” simply to accepting with empty hands the gift of righteousness in Christ Jesus. To refuse to accept what God commands is the same sin as that of the religious Jews of Paul's time, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3) Repent and believe the Good News! Richard Bennett If there is something on your heart that you wish to share, please email me at: [email protected], thank you Booklet - FROM TRADITION TO TRUTH, A PRIEST'S STORY. CHAPEL LIBRARY 2603 W. Wright St. Pensacola, FL. 32505 (850) 438-6666 Fax: (850) 438-0227 [email protected] . www.mountzion.org . Richard Bennett's programs are broadcast on public access stations by sponsors without charge. If interested write [email protected] for info. Please check out testimonies of other converted Catholic priests, and converted nuns on our website: www.bereanbeacon.org There are also many interesting articles, videos, and MP3s on the website. http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=berean+beacon . Spanish - http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=Español+Berean+Beacon . Please use the comment button on the video page.