I was born into a Catholic home. I was baptized into the Catholic faith as a baby. I attended Catholic grade school. My mom and dad were poor and therefore I had to go to public high school because they did not have the money to send me to Catholic high school. I went to my first confession, my first communion and received confirmation all at St. Bernard’s Parish. I was a faithful Catholic and I believed everything that I was taught by the nuns and the priests. I had no reason not to. I attended Catholic Catechism classes while in high school
However, even back in the 60’s, teenagers were bad just as many are even today. As a teenager, I often disappointed my mom and dad with the wickedness in my life. I would go to confession on a regular basis. I really believed that the priests had the power to absolve me of my sins in Jesus’ name. I would faithfully say and do all the prescribed penances. However, deep down in my heart, I always felt that I had never done enough. I had a deep felt feeling of guilt. I would often go my parish priests and try to explain this feeling of guilt. I was always told that I had not done enough. I was told that I needed more faith. I was told to say more rosaries and perform more works of charity.
The older I got and the more deeply I got involved in sin, the more profound this feeling of guilt became. When I entered the Army in 1967, I was a wretched sinner. I would still go to confession to various Army chaplain priests and still firmly believed that they were able to absolve me of my sins in Jesus’ name. The last time that I ever went to confession was to a chaplain priest in Heidelberg, Germany. After I said my penance, I asked if I could speak to him for a moment. Once again I tried to explain to him the deep feelings of guilt and received the same basic answer that I need to do more. That day, I decided that I would just live a life of pleasure and sin. When I was discharged from the Army in November 1970, I was an alcoholic at the age of twenty-four.
Some friends of mine that I worked with kept inviting me to visit their Baptist church. Finally, I thought that if I visited the church one time with them, they would leave me alone. I finally agreed to go with them. For the first time in my life on September 5, 1971, I heard the true Apostolic Gospel proclaimed that salvation was not in a church. Salvation was in Christ and in Him alone. I heard for the first time in my life that salvation was by grace through faith alone. I realized that there was nothing that I could do to inherit eternal life. Christ had done it all for me and I had to only believe. Needless to say, that next week was the most terrible week in my entire life. I realized that if I were to die, I would spend eternity in hell. On the next Sunday, September 12, 1971, I once again went to that same Baptist church and once again heard the true Apostolic Gospel that salvation was in Christ and in Him alone. Marian, on that day, I responded to the Gospel. By grace through faith alone I believed that Jesus Christ would forgive me my sins. At the very moment that I asked Him to forgive me, He did. At that very moment, all the feeling of guilt was instantly gone.
Name: Rev. Robert J. Thomas
Association: Independent Baptist
State: South Carolina
Country: United States