Just for Catholics - Testimonies

A New Man

By Joe Serge

I emigrated to Canada in 1955 when I was 18. Many experiences have come and gone in the past 50 years Iíve lived in this country so far away from the quiet upper Sliema neighborhood (in Malta) that I knew as a boy. But the one experience I treasure most of all happened to me just eight years ago.

I was about to turn 60. By Godís sheer grace alone my eyes were opened and I became aware that nothing I could say or do could get me to heaven. Only Calvaryís cross could pay my sinsí debt in full. Only Christís precious blood has the power to justify me Ė make me just as if I never sinned.

I remember as if it were yesterday. My born again experience was triggered one September morning shortly after daybreak. Stirred from sound sleep, I had stepped out of bed and, coffee cup in one hand and the TV remote in the other, switching channels, looking for something to watch. Nothing seemed to interest me. I had flipped through more than 40 channels when a religious program caught my attention. It was Faith 20, a telecast of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Here was the program host, Joel Nederhood, telling me that I could be certain of eternal life in glory but it had nothing to do with prayers, penance or good works. Only because of Christís saving work on Calvaryís cross. ďFor it is by grace through faith that we are saved, and this is the gift of God, not by works, that no one may boastĒ (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

I became intrigued by the good news of a gospel I had never heard before. As I began to watch the daily early morning program, I discovered that much of what I had been taught to believe in my childhood was not found in the Bible. I learned that unless I was born-again, anything I offer to God in prayer is like a filthy rag to Him, contaminated by my carnal depravity and unacceptable to His standard of perfection.

On my own merit I couldnít get an inch closer to Heavenís gates. Only Jesusí precious blood will do. What an awesome feeling to discover that in accepting Jesus as my personal Savior, I became a new creature in Godís eyes.

Iím not the man I used to be. When God looks at me He sees me cloaked in the righteousness of His Son. He sees me blameless, just like Jesus. I am hid in Christ, not having my own righteousness, but the righteousness of God, credited to me through the faith of Christ. I am saved and set apart for eternal glory. No one can snatch me out of His hands. Yes, I remain a sinner, but a sinner saved by grace.

As a Roman Catholic I considered myself to be a follower of Jesus Christ. After all, my parents and countless generations before them were Catholic from birth. I attended Sunday Mass without fail, scrupulously observed days of fasting and abstinence and dutifully confessed my sins to a priest. I cherished holy relics, prayed the rosary, made charitable donations, served on the parish council and for more than 40 years I was a member of the Knights of Columbus. I believed such good works weighed in my favor before God. But I didnít know Jesus.

Today I know that on the cross Jesus took my sins upon Himself. That is the significance of Calvaryís cross! For my sake Jesus had experienced the horror of Godís wrath for sin, separation from the Father, hell! Ė that I may be freed from the punishment I deserved. ďAll we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us allĒ (Isaiah 53:6).

By His sheer grace, Christís perfect sacrifice is credited to me. I was bought with a price. Jesus paid my ransom. It is finished.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom.

(How Deep the Fatherís Love for Us, Stuart Townend)