By Ron Kempen
I’d like to share some points, from others’ testimonies, of those that ask, “What is truth?” “Why should we believe you?” or comment, “You certainly sound arrogant!” In Matthew, Jesus talks about the narrow gate, and we know most people will continue to reject the one and only way to Heaven. But that shouldn’t surprise you, after all, Jeremiah preached for thirty years and never saved anyone. But despite that and what Jesus told us that if they rejected Him, they will reject us as well, we will continue to “defend the faith given once to all.”
Here are some parts of the testimony from a former priest that I came across on the internet. Richard Bennett runs a website called www.bereanbeacon.org and he has ten different former priests and seven former nuns give their stories, which I’d highly recommend for all to see, in addition to this short summery.
In his own testimony, Richard Bennett mentions this: “The Lord Jesus Christ is personally All Holy; yet as the substitute for the believer’s sin, He rendered Himself legally responsible to the wrath of God. The consequence of Christ’s faithfulness in all that He did, culminating in His death on the cross, is that His righteousness is credited to the believer. It was God who legally constituted Christ to be “sin for us.” He was “made sin” because the sins of His people were transferred to Him, and in like manner, the believer is made “the righteousness of God in Him” by God’s crediting to the believer Christ’s faithfulness to the precepts of the law. Quite clearly, therefore, justification is a judicial and gracious act of God whereby a believing sinner has legal right standing in Christ. Without this perfect righteousness of Christ Jesus credited to you, you are spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins.” How does someone end up knowing the clear gospel to this degree, especially considering his start? All of the priests and nuns tell a very similar and fascinating type story on this website. Let me show you an example of what they describe in this abbreviated version of Richard Bennett’s testimony.
Bennett begins by telling us that, “We were a typical Irish Roman Catholic family. My father sometimes knelt down to pray at his bedside in a solemn manner. Most evenings we would kneel in the living room to say the Rosary together. No one ever missed Mass on Sundays unless he was seriously ill. By the time I was about five or six years of age, Jesus Christ was a very real person to me, but so also were Mary and the saints. I left my family and friends in 1956 to join the Dominican Order. I spent eight years studying what it is to be a monk, the traditions of the Church, philosophy, the theology of Thomas Aquinas, and some of the Bible from a Catholic standpoint.” (Note - As they continued their trip through the years, they all made the same fatal mistake that I did and as Richard states), “I began to compare Scripture with Scripture and even to quote chapter and verse.” He continues with saying that, “First, I discovered that God’s Word in the Bible is absolute and without error. I had been taught that the Word is relative and that its truthfulness in many areas was to be questioned. Now I began to understand that the Bible could, in fact, be trusted.” In studying Isaiah 53:5, the Bible states, “...and with his stripes we are healed.” I discovered that the Bible deals with the problem of sin by means of substitution. Christ died in my place. It was wrong for me to try to expiate or try to cooperate in paying the price of my sin. The Catholic Church, however, had taught me that the depravity of man, which is called “original sin,” had been washed away by my infant baptism. I still held this belief in my head, but in my heart I knew that my depraved nature had not yet been conquered by Christ. “With the aid of Strong’s Concordance, I began to study the Bible to see what it says about itself. I discovered that the Bible teaches clearly that it is from God and is absolute in what it says. It is true in its history, in the promises God has made, in its prophecies, in the moral commands it gives, and in how to live the Christian life.”
“That the Catholic Church was supreme in all matters of faith and morals had been dyed into my brain since I was a child. It looked impossible ever to change. Rome was not only supreme but always called “Holy Mother.” How could I ever go against “Holy Mother?”
“Sometimes I looked to the Roman Church as being absolute, sometimes to the authority of the Bible as being final. My stomach suffered much during those years; my emotions were being torn. I ought to have known the simple truth that one cannot serve two masters. My working position was to place the absolute authority of the Word of God under the supreme authority of the Roman Church. While I had learned earlier that God’s Word is absolute, I still went through this agony of trying to maintain the Roman Catholic Church as holding more authority than God’s Word, even in issues where the Church of Rome was saying the exact opposite to what was in the Bible. How could this be? The Word of God is absolute indeed. I ought to obey it alone; yet to the very same God I had vowed obedience to the supreme authority of the Catholic Church. It began to dawn on me that in Biblical terms, the Bishops I knew in the Catholic Church were not Biblical believers. They were, for the most part, pious men taken up with devotion to Mary and the Rosary and loyal to Rome, but not one had any idea of the finished work of salvation, that Christ’s work is done, that salvation is personal and complete. They all preached penance for sin, human suffering, religious deeds, ‘the way of man’ rather than the Gospel of grace. But by God’s grace I saw that it was not through the Roman Church nor by any kind of works that one is saved. I left the Roman Catholic Church when I saw that life in Jesus Christ was not possible while remaining true to Roman Catholic doctrine. Finally, at age 48, on the authority of God’s Word alone, by grace alone, I accepted Christ’s substitutionary death on the Cross alone. To Him alone be the glory.
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.”
Each one of these testimonies, of the other former priests and nuns that Bennett has posted on his website, they all show the same pattern and although my story and many other Christians may have different private details, we all have the same pattern. We thought we were happy people, and decided to improve our walks with the Lord by taking the time to learn what His Word tells us, only to discover that we hadn’t been saved in the first place. And now we know we are in thanks to Jesus Christ and the truths found in Scriptures for as Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” A big “Amen” to that!