Catholicism could not assure me of salvation, neither did the Assembly of God

Former Catholic shares how the Charismatic assembly he used to attend could not assure him of eternal life after he dies.

I was raised in a staunch Catholic family based in Zamboanga Sibugay Province of southern Philippines and my father was a rubber tree farmer. I am the youngest child among 4 children. We were all infant-baptised into the Catholic church and were taught in the ways of Catholicism and its practices.

We were taught to perform and maintain good works in order that we might be saved from Hell or go into Heaven. These works included attending mass, praying the rosary through the intercession of “mother” Mary, remaining faithful to the Catholic faith and participating in many Catholic celebrations and activities such as fiestas of local patrons. If we were good enough but not holy enough, we could end up in purgatory and pay for our sins there before entering into Heaven.

Despite my confusions and doubts, I believed and obeyed without question and followed the Catholic traditions of my parents such as kissing the wooden “Jesus” which was visible in every fiesta in our barangay. We used the Catholic Douay-Rheims version of the bible, which was translated into the Visayan language, a local dialect in my province.

In the 2nd semester of my first year in college, I was invited by my classmates to the Assembly of God (AoG) church and attended it for 3-4 months. I liked how their worship service was entertaining and lively, with loud drum noises and rhythmic beats. There were female students who led the praise and worship, using songs from Hillsong. This was where I witnessed them speaking in “tongues” for the first and only time.

Even though the AoG rightfully rebuked unbiblical practices of Catholicism, they taught that in order to make it to Heaven, one must continue to obey God, maintain good works and attend every church activity. They also told me that I had to speak “tongues” in order to show that I had the Holy Spirit in me as this was proof of my salvation. There was absolutely no assurance of salvation whatsoever, and it was no different from what Catholicism taught which was belief in Jesus PLUS works as a means to earn eternal life.

Despite that I was being prayed over to receive the gift of “tongues”, I could not utter a single word (gibberish, to be precise). I felt inadequate when I compared myself to those who could speak it.

Why did God refuse to give me tongues? Did He not want to save me? Was I not worthy?

I was constantly worried that whatever sins I would commit later or if I did not have tongues, I would jeopardise my salvation. When I lamented that I could not speak in “tongues”, the AoG leaders advised me to keep praying to God for it. But I never got it.

The NIV bible was the main staple of the AoG and most of their preaching were centred on experiences and emotions, trying to usher in “God’s presence” rather than focus on the contextual basis of biblical doctrine. There would also be women (lady students or members) preaching from the pulpit, which I now understand from Scripture that women preachers are unbiblical.

Around that time, a Christian named Jeito Vellas began his soul winning ministry in order to reach out to all the students in the men’s dormitory. He preached to me the glorious gospel of salvation by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and answered all my questions pertaining to the assurance of salvation from the Holy Scriptures alone (Romans 3:10,23, John 3:16,36, 5:24, Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, 1 John 5:10-13). It was a refreshing eye-opener!

All my years as a Catholic, I knew Christ died for my sins, but I never understood what that really meant, and neither did the AoG.

From that day on, I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ wholeheartedly as my Saviour who saved me from the wrath of God, who died and paid for all my sins in FULL on the cross, who was buried and rose again on the third day. My salvation, which cannot be earned by works, can NEVER be lost because it is purely the finished work of Christ.

As I began to read the four Gospel Books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), I realised that many practices and rituals of Catholicism are unbiblical. From then on, I renounced Catholicism.

After a few doctrinal lessons with brother Jeito Vellas and brother Mario Baquiller, I left the AoG. The AoG members tried to win me back, but I told them that I no longer wished to be in fellowship. I shared with them that there is assurance of salvation for all sinners who trust in Jesus by grace through faith alone. They reacted with astonishment, but chose to abandon me and distance themselves away from me. I continued sharing the gospel to Charismatics and Catholics in college.

When I told my parents that I was no longer a Catholic, they were upset and insisted I must remain Catholic until death for cultural and familial reasons (a common tactic in the Philippines used by Catholic families to bind their kids to Catholicism), but I remained rooted in my new-found faith. I shared with them the gospel, showing them from the book of Romans how Jesus saved us and that salvation cannot be lost. Sadly, they parroted their answers from the Catholic dogmas. Each time my father got drunk, he threatened to disown me as a son because I’m no longer a Catholic. Since there are no biblical churches in my area and I refuse to attend the Catholic church with my parents, I will pray, read the Holy Scriptures and sing hymns in my room every Sunday.

All my life as a false convert, I could never understand deeply the words of God from the holy bible, but after I got saved, I asked God for His heavenly wisdom to understand His Word. I was really happy to find out that I could understand more deeply with the help of His Holy Spirit. The more I studied, the more I became convinced that the KJV is the inspired, inerrant Word of God and I noticed the corruption and inconsistencies in the Douay Rheims and NIV. The KJV gave me so much more clarity and growth than I ever had with any other bible version.

I pray to and thank God daily for strength and wisdom to overcome challenges in my life. I try to maintain my good testimony towards my family by obeying their requests except attending Catholic mass. I also have relatives who are pentecostals, yet they never once convinced me out of Catholicism when I was a Catholic. Unfortunately, they also rejected the true gospel. Now, I participate in a ministry that distributes gospel tracts and I continue to witness to and pray for the lost.

To all Catholics and Charismatics out there, do not put your trust in the false jesus of Roman Catholicism or the Charismatic movement which can never save your soul from Hell. Examine yourselves against Scripture to see whether you are really in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). How sure are you that if you are to die today or tomorrow, that your soul will go to Heaven?

Jesus is our ONLY mediator between God and us (1 Timothy 2:5), not Mary, not the saints nor angels, not your pastor or elders, not anyone but only Jesus saves.

Hebrews 7:25 – Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.

As shown from God’s Word, I can say with confidence that Jesus fully paid our sins on the cross. We cannot earn it, neither can we pay for our sins. Salvation is a FREE gift. Repent and trust in Jesus Christ alone today for your salvation!

Meynard Abello

First published on our Facebook on 30 April 2020

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