By Earl Payne

I was born in a Catholic hospital, baptized by a priest, educated in the Roman Catholic catechism, received my first communion at St. Augustine's Catholic Church, went to confession, performed acts of penance, and became an altar boy.

Later, while in the U.S. Army, I had the opportunity to attend Bible studies at a nearby church. Although I had attended Mass and studied the catechism, I had never been taught from God's Word. Through the Scriptures, I learned to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour and received God's gift of eternal life.

As I continued to study the Bible, I discovered its teaching to be quite different from my earlier religious instruction. Following are just a few examples:

The concept of a Pope is not found anywhere in Scripture. Catholicism teaches that Peter was the first Pope, the rock on which that church is built. The Bible teaches that that Rock is Christ, as the Apostle Peter himself testified (Acts 4:8-12). (Also Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Co-rinthians 10:4). When the Lord Jesus said "...upon this rock I will build my church," He wasn't speaking of the weak and bungling Peter who would soon deny the Lord three times with oaths and swearing. He spoke of Himself, the One who never wavers. As Hebrews 13:8 declares, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."

The Catholic Church forbids priests, nun & popes, to marry, however, Peter was married (Matthew 8:14 ), and so were other apostles. 1Timothy 4:3 condemns any religious group which forbids marriage.

The rosary is an important part of Catholicism. Over those beads millions of "Our Fathers" and "Hail Mary's" have been recited. Yet the Scripture says in Matthew 6:7, "When you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do..." Vain repetitions is an accurate de-scription of someone praying the rosary. The Lord said that "heathen" use vain repetitions when they pray, and He commanded us not to follow them.

Catholics pray to Mary and the saints, and they confess sins to their priests to seek forgiveness. However, the Bible plainly declares in1I Timothy 2:5, "...there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. " Since Christ is the only mediator between God and men, why pray, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners...?" And why go to a confessional to find a mediator (a "go-between") between yourself and God?

Mary is called the "Blessed Virgin," but she did not remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus. Matthew 13:55 reads, "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is his mother called Mary? And his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?" Mary had a large family. She was definitely not the "Blessed Virgin" after the birth of Christ.

Another fictitious element of the Catholic religion is purgatory, a place where people who missed hell but weren't good enough to get into heaven suffer until their sins are "purged," at which time they are allowed into heaven's gates. As with other points we have mentioned, one can search the Bible from cover to cover without finding a hint at such a place. What we discover repeatedly, though, is that Christ Jesus the Lord has already "purged" our sins (Hebrews 1:3). 1 John 1:7 says further, "...the blood of Jesus Christ his (God's) Son cleanseth us from all sin." According to God, purgatory is unnecessary and nonexistent.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a person goes to heaven by living a good life, being a good Catholic, going to confession and com-munion, and doing other deeds which they consider meritorious. The teaching of the Bible on this all-important subject is far different. Romans 6:23 tells us, "...the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Ephesians 2:8-9 states, "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. " The Bible makes it clear in these verses and throughout its pages that heaven and eternal life are received as a gift, based on the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. It specifically declares that it is "not of works." Yet in the face of this, the Catholic Church, as well as many other religions and denominations, teach that a person must earn salvation.

When the Bible says, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," it is talking about a person relying on Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation and trusting the Saviour to do what a Saviour is supposed to do - to save! If a person tries to live in a certain fashion to merit heaven, he is trusting in his own deeds to save him - which means he is not trusting Christ as his Saviour - which means he is not saved!

As Lord of all, the Lord Jesus Christ deserves our undivided reverence. As the Saviour of sinners, He requires us to admit our guilt and accept His all-sufficient payment for our sin. You cannot do this and believe the doctrines of Roman Catholicism at the same time, for as we have seen, the two are diametrically opposed.

Therefore, I no longer believe the teachings of Catholicism. Instead, I rely on the Word of God which shall stand forever. I am no longer a Roman Catholic. Instead, I have God's gift of eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The gift of eternal life is available to everyone. But the only people who receive it are those who are willing to give up their own ideas and traditions and put their trust in the Saviour. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) This "whosoever" means me. It can mean YOU!

Don't' let anyone or anything stand between you and this precious gift. No one has a right to interfere with the reception of the gift of life, not even your church.

Choose Christ! Choose Life! And begin to live - FOREVER! For your sake and His glory.