In August 2007, after the two-month gap in my employment and searching for answers about the meaning of life, I met four Christian co-trainees. I was drawn to them hoping they could tell me what I needed to know about God.
They welcomed my curiosity, shared their stories and the Gospel to me. They did not only tell me the most important truth I needed to know but also showed me how I could learn more about Jesus through their example.
I am a fruit of their obedience and labor in the Lord. I am forever grateful for them for reaching out to me and sharing the most important treasure anyone can ever have.
Understanding The Truth
One day, Angge took me aside and told me she has something important to tell me.
After training, we were assigned to different teams on different floors and had different schedules so we seldom had the opportunity to see each other.
Weeks passed and I couldn’t wait any longer, so I went to her station and reminded her of what she promised to tell me. She took a quick break to accommodate me. We searched for a quiet place. Then she took out a colored booklet with no words in it.
She told me a story about a loving God who created mankind but mankind sinned against Him. Because of sin, they’re condemned to eternal punishment but because of God’s unfailing love He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross as payment for sins. . .
Uh. . . Why is she telling me the Gospel? Is this it? Won’t she tell me something I don’t already know?
Catholics also believe there is one God in three Persons, that the Bible is God’s Word, and that Jesus came to save mankind from sin. Since childhood, I believe that Jesus is God and the Savior of all.
But there were significant details I wasn’t aware of and didn’t understand even after the Gospel was presented to me and I was led to pray.
1) Every sin = Eternal death
We’re taught that sins are classified according to gravity — venial sin (lesser sin) and mortal sin (grave sin) — and each has their own penalty.
While we are aware we are imperfect, we think only criminals are sinners and deserving of hell. But every kind of sin is rebellion in the sight of God. All sin violates God’s holiness.
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) that anyone who even looks at a woman (or man) with lust has already committed adultery with her/him in his/her heart.
He also said anyone who is angry without cause or hates another person is as guilty as someone who committed murder. Another passage in 1 John 3:15 says: anyone who hates another brother or sister is a murderer at heart.
No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one. Romans 3:10-12Tweet
The Bible says: When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. (Romans 6:23a)
The fitting compensation of every sin is death — punishment with eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power.
2) Man’s goodness ≠ God’s holiness
We always hear God is love, merciful, kind, compassionate, etc. But overlook the truth that God is also holy, righteous and just.
God is holy which means He is separate from everything impure. He does not take pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with Him. (Psalm 5:4).
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23)Tweet
God requires holiness. If a person committed even one sin his whole life, that sin makes him fall short of God’s holy standard.
We’re taught that being good or doing good will earn us favor from God. But can this erase our previous sins? Does it bring us to the level of God’s holy standard? Does it make us blameless, spotless and worthy before God? Does God owe us heaven for the “good deeds” we have done?
For if keeping the law — being good, doing good deeds, or following God’s commandments out of our own strength — could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
No one is good–except God alone. (Mark 10:18 b)Tweet
God is righteous and just. He does not leave the guilty unpunished. However “good” we try to be, we still have to pay the penalty for the sins we have committed and will continue to commit.
Unless we recognize our sinfulness and God’s holiness, we won’t recognize our need for a savior.
3) Knowing about Jesus ≠ knowing Jesus personally.
Since I was a child, we were taught in school and in the church about Jesus and I believe that to be true. But what I didn’t realize is the subtle difference between knowing and believing a piece of information as opposed with trusting and having faith in what you know and believe.
While I believe in Jesus as God and Savior, I didn’t trust Him with my life. I trusted myself with my life. I made my own decisions based on what I thought was right and beneficial for me. This reflects I am the lord of my life. I’d pray to Jesus only when I need Him.
James 2:19 states, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.”
The demons know and believe that there is one God but they don’t have faith in God.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)Tweet
Saving faith is not mere head knowledge. Saving faith is TRUSTING in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. It means resting upon Christ alone and what He has done.
Eternal life is God’s gift to everyone who will humble themselves to God, repent of their sins, and trust Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19)Tweet
Those who put their trust in Jesus as the only savior are not righteous in themselves, but God has put them in Christ. So when God the Father looks at them, He sees Christ’s righteousness and holiness.
Only then will we be able to follow God’s righteous standard in a way that is acceptable to Him, not because of ourselves but through the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)Tweet
Unashamed of God’s Word
It was in the wee hours of the morning. I just had my lunch. I went to the main lobby and sat on a couch.
Then I saw Van seated at the end of the room, absorbed in her book. I went up to her and had a quick chat. She said she came in early and was waiting for her shift. I asked her what she was reading and she replied it was her Bible.
She’s not ashamed to read her Bible in public? Who even reads a Bible?
We were taught that the Bible is holy and is the written Word of God. An authority that guides us in our life. Anyone who sincerely believes this should be eagerly reading it and paying close attention to it. But in reality, it is a mere decoration which accumulates dust at home. I didn’t know anyone even opens their Bible.
Her refreshing example inspired me to buy my own Bible and motivated me to read despite the many difficult-to-understand passages.
They advised me to buy a certain version which is easier to read and understand. Then they suggested me to start with the Gospel of John.
The One True Living God
One Sunday, Aiane invited me to their church. It was the first time I attended a Christian worship service.
During the sermon, the pastor mentioned something about idols made by human hands, then quoted Psalm 115:3-8
3 Our God is in the heavens,
and He does as He wishes.
4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold,
shaped by human hands.
5 They have mouths but cannot speak,
and eyes but cannot see.
6 They have ears but cannot hear,
and noses but cannot smell.
7 They have hands but cannot feel,
and feet but cannot walk,
and throats but cannot make a sound.
8 And those who make idols are just like them,
as are all who trust in them.
He gave an example, made a comment and everyone laughed about it. Everything he said was practically true and on that sense their reaction was valid but I was offended because my belief was challenged.
So I snapped at my friend, “What’s so funny?!”
After the service, Aiane toured me around their church. It was completely different from the traditional churches I had been to.
As soon as we stepped out, I found myself praying: “Lord, I also want to attend a church like this but can You bring me to a church near our house or my workplace so I won’t have an excuse not to go.”
Looking back, I was amazed that even though I was offended with the truth, the Lord made me forget the offense and gave me the desire to be part of a Christian community.
More than two months later, the Lord brought me to a church just a block from where we worked. 😉
Growing in Intimacy with Christ
Mommy Mae lent me her Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren which was my first devotional book. As a new believer, this helped me understand Biblical truths that were too complicated or confusing for me. God also used this book to heal a wound in my heart I never thought was there.
She also gave me a Christmas present: Charles Swindoll’s His Name is Wonderful. This was my first Bible study guide. It was very useful in bringing me to a deeper understanding of God’s Word and His character as it examined the different names and titles of Jesus, each introducing a unique aspect of His infinite nature.
I remember those times when I would excitedly go home from work to meet with Jesus in spirit by reading and studying the Bible through the help of study guides.
It is through the reading and study of the Bible that we can come to know Christ more intimately.
For it is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him. (Philippians 2:13)Tweet
(This story was first published on August 19, 2017. Rewritten in September 2019)
A personal testimony of Ma. Olivia Jill Temporal. Learn more about her on the Author’s page.
Read the whole series about her life story: