Jason Hauser - Dallas, TX
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Testimony of Jason Hauser:
Jason Hauser - Dallas, TX
A Proud Catholic
Growing up in a Catholic family I always had a strong reverence for God and appreciation for my Catholic faith. It was more than just a faith I adhered to but the history, identity, and blood of my family. My confirmation, first communion, and first trip to the Vatican were each very memorable and important events for me as a young Catholic. I never rebelled against my Catholic upbringing and always felt assured I was in a good place because I knew a long list of Catholics who who didn't know, believe or practice half of what I did.
Reflecting back on my childhood, I providentially had a few friends who belonged to grounded Christian families but in my Catholic pride I actually looked down on them spiritually. I believed them to be well meaning but misguided because they adhered to just a "splinter" of the one true Catholic Church. In hindsight, I thank the Lord for these friends who were grounded in Christ and welcomed me into their lives with their biblical values. Looking back, all the trouble I got myself into was when I was with other groups of friends (Prov 12:26).
When I moved away for college, I was well aware that the direction of my Catholic faith was now completely in my hands. I religiously went to Mass throughout college, often alone because few Catholic friends of mine had the same interest. In the mix, along with my Catholic faith during college, was my personal belief that college was a season of having fun and enjoying the experience. My priority for "having fun" quickly gave way to a party lifestyle and it led to one bad decision after another. Despite all the sin in my life, I never felt guilty because I always compared myself to others who were worse. I also rationalized that, even though I didn't do a lot of things right, my intentions were good.
A Hypocrite Exposed
One Sunday morning, during my senior year, I was leaving for Mass and my atheist roommate asked me where I was going. I told him that I was going to church and then he asked me "why." I reminded him of the obvious that I was a Christian and sarcastically stated, "that is what Christians do." He then said, "You're not a Christian" in a confused way as if he didn't understand how I could say I was. I knew he wasn't being mean or attacking me but simply being brutally honest with what didn't add up in his mind. He didn't need to explain himself as it was common knowledge throughout our apartment how often and crazy I partied, how often I spoke with obscenities, and how immoral my lifestyle had become. With a hangover that morning even, I rushed off to Mass and continued to ponder that conversation throughout the week. I recognized that he had called me out and with good reason. Though I affirmed the Catholic teaching I had been taught and considered myself a strong Christian, what truly governed my day to day decisions was my own value system.
A week later, still without resolution with this personal dilemma, I found myself having trouble sleeping at night. Up to that point my prayers were frequent but casual and often repetitive and memorized. I needed to talk with God and I had both a lot to say and ask. I had been greatly humbled and couldn't lie to myself any longer, I didn't know God and I felt like a phony hypocritical Christian. How could I go to Mass, wear a cross around my neck, and call myself a Christian when I knew nothing I did was grounded in biblical teaching. Broken and humbled, I pleaded with God to reveal Himself to me. I was at a new low and out of desperation confessed to God that I didn't know if He existed or not. I knew I was sitting on the fence, claiming to be a Christian when I lived like a pagan. I prayed to God that He would reveal Himself to me so that I could confidently follow Him with all my heart which is what He deserved if He did exist. If I came to conclude that He wasn't real, I was prepared to stop "wasting my time" trying to be spiritual. Little did I know that over the next year the Lord would begin to answer my prayer to know Him.
Through a series of events God providentially brought strong grounded Christians who truly lived out their faith across my path. One of those influential people was a Christian girl, who I became very attracted to because of her faith which she truly lived out. Trying to keep up with her, I bought my first study Bible, began journalling about my prayers and what I believed the Lord was doing in my life, and I started asking her lots of questions about important matters of faith that I never fully understood. Humbled by how grounded she was in her faith, I agreed to attend my first non Catholic church service. I was skeptical of anything non Catholic but at the same time curious because she had something I didn't. My initial impression of the church was that without stained glass windows or candles it didn't seem very spiritual of a place. I thought the pastor's suit made him look more like a business man than a man of God and I thought the words on the screen for the hymns we sung felt like Karaoke. Despite my criticisms, I couldn't deny that I learned a lot in the Bible study before the service. I was amazed with the fellowship of people who came early and left late. There was a true community unlike the Catholics I knew all too well that slipped in late and slipped out right after communion. When people sang it was with a passion that was foreign to me than any mass I had ever attended. The pastor's message was four times the length of the average homily I was used to, and I was greatly convicted to apply the biblical truth discussed to my life. Though I tried hard to look down on this Christian church, I couldn't deny that it had more heart than anything I had ever been exposed to. Upon graduating college, though I parted ways with that Christian girl who was such a blessing in my life, I would continue visiting different protestant churches and providentially meeting strong Christian believers in the most random of places.
All this time I had been growing in my faith and thought if ever I was a Christian it was now. After all, I was reading my Bible regularly, excited about church, and encouraged by everything I was learning. After moving, I needed to find a good church that was true to the Word of God. I had mixed feelings about Catholicism and wasn't growing in that environment and at the same time I was weary of mainline Protestant churches that had their own biases. I simply wanted to study the Word of God and live it out based on what it says. I found a small independent Bible centered church that expressed just those values. I then discovered that there was a Sunday morning Bible study before the service for new believers. Considering myself relatively new with a new boost in my faith over the past year I signed right up. The class worked through Jerry Bridges' book "Growing your Faith" week by week, chapter by chapter. It wasn't but a few weeks into the class that I stumbled upon Ephesians 2:8-9 for the first time.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
I couldn't believe what I was reading, it was as if the words just leaped off the page. As a Catholic I always knew Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose from the grave but I never knew what to do with that truth. I found myself simply trying to stay close to the "true Church", keep the sacraments, and be a good person. In my Catholicism with my own best efforts, my sin ran rampant which was evidenced based on how I spent my years in college (Rom 7:10). It wasn't just the wild partying though, I had all kinds of other sin throughout my life that I casually found myself partaking in and so easily overlooked up till now (Rom 3:23). Now I saw that Christ died for me and my sin, and this was a gift, given by God's grace. There was nothing I could do to earn this gift (it goes against the nature of a gift to try to merit it, Rom 11:6), I simply had to receive it. In receiving this gift, God gets all the glory, not me, I simply am the beneficiary. Right there I found myself driven to prayer repenting of my former lifestyle, sinful ways, trusting in my own good works to save me, and acknowledging that I was turning my life towards Christ and receiving what He had accomplished completely for me through His death and resurrection. For the first time in my life, the words to the hymn "Amazing Grace" which I learned as a child came to mind and now made sense. All of this felt analogous to me believing I had perfect vision and then one day someone handing me a pair of eyeglasses which I felt I had no need for. It was as if when I put them on for the first time I saw the details of the world around me and realized that all my life I had been blind. I thought I knew what a Christian was, I thought I understood salvation, I thought I was doing things right, but I couldn't have been more lost.
A New Creation
The next day, there was something new in me that I didn't fully recognize at first. As I found myself presented again with old sinful habits and partaking in sin that never once crossed my mind before, for the first time ever I was convicted and burdened by such sin. I realized that I was willfully heaping more sin on my Savior who died on the cross for my sin. I no longer saw sin as something to blindly indulge in and enjoy but rather as something I desired to steer as clear away from as possible.
Up to this point, I had never settled where my Catholic upbringing and faith fit in with all of this I had experienced so I began studying the issues. I soon found that in the Council of Trent and other various Catholic teachings that Rome spoke very clearly against everything key to my new salvation by faith through grace. In fact I saw that Rome taught I was an anathema if I didn't renounce giving my life to Christ and trusting solely in His perfect work on the cross. Catholicism was still part of my identity, so walking away from it was not something I could easily do. I found myself arguing for both sides and wondering if there was some possible way that I was misunderstanding what Rome was teaching and how it so blatantly was opposed to what God's Word says.
I signed up at a large local Catholic church's evening classes on the Catholic faith. I recognized that I needed to hear Catholic teaching right from the source if I was going to make a fair analysis. I went there with my Bible and a notepad week after week listening to every detail and looking for traces of the gospel of salvation in the teaching. Over the months that followed, we learned about church history, the Catholic sacraments, and Vatican II. As the last few classes neared the end of the series it became apparent to me that I was not going to hear the gospel message. I also noticed a theme that as much as the church was talked about, seldom if ever was Jesus Christ ever spoken of. Sadly none of the disciplined people attending these classes would hear the gospel message and how they could find salvation in Christ. Rather, we were all taught how one must simply adhere to Roman Catholicism and receive the sacraments and through that we were right on track. I became upset that the priests were instructing these people of all the things they needed to do and yet the gospel of salvation was never addressed. People were given false confidence and putting their trust in the church and its leaders rather than their Lord and Savior. I now had clarity that not only did their traditions nullify the Word of God and oppose the gospel, but that they didn't even know the gospel. I had no choice but to part ways with Roman Catholicism and renounce its false teachings and put my trust in Christ alone according to the teachings of God's Word alone.
From the time of my salvation and growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, the person I am today is night and day different from the person I used to be. As I went on to share the testimony of God's grace in my life and His Gospel with others, especially Catholic family and friends, I soon found it was not welcomed and often met with hostility. My biggest surprise was the large amount of Protestants who though they didn't adhere to false Catholic teaching were just as far from Christ and salvation. I soon learned that Jesus spoke with great clarity and offered the best explanation regarding those who have found eternal life. In His sermon on the mount He says:
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." -Matt 7:13-14
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" -Matt 7:21-23
Greatly burdened for the billion plus Catholics in the world, who are like I once was and have a false confidence with what awaits them in eternity, I'm dedicated to giving my life to reaching them. I also recognize that in our current Christian culture the truths of the Reformation have been marginalized and many Christians have little discernment regarding the gospel. There is great need for clarification of what the gospel is and how groups like Roman Catholicism are leading others astray by their false teachings.
If you'd like to talk to me about anything you have read above, I can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Gendron's "Reversing the Reformation" YouTube video:
Mike Gendron's "The Coming One World Religion" YouTube video:
Testimony of Mike Gendron:
As a devout Roman Catholic I believed I was on the way to heaven until I began reading the Bible at the age of 34. I was horrified to see that I was really destined for a Christ-less eternity in hell. Being ignorant of God's word, I was following a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12). Then God called me to Himself through His Gospel which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). Now I know Jesus has saved me completely and forever! He has paid the complete punishment for all my sins and has given me the assurance of eternal life. Through His amazing grace, God has brought about some dramatic changes in my life.
As a Catholic for over 30 years, my life was characterized by four words–worldly, religious, enslaved and deceived. But thanks be to God, my life is now expressed, with heartfelt gratitude, by these four words–liberated, forgiven, reconciled and secured.
From the world's perspective my first 34 years were uncommonly successful. I excelled in athletics, playing varsity baseball all the way through college, and winning a gold medal in springboard diving. After earning a master's degree in business, I channeled all my competitive energy into a rapid climb to the top of the corporate ladder. This enabled me to quickly obtain great wealth and recognition but it also led me into a hedonistic, pleasure-seeking lifestyle. I was corrupted by deceitful desires and had given myself over to sensuality, with a continual lust for more (Ephesians 4:19). I built my half million-dollar dream house in one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Dallas, joined a fabulous country club and purchased a Mercedes 380 SL sports car and the universal sign of accomplishment, a gold Rolex watch. Yet with all this success and wealth, there was still a nagging void in my life. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from God, but is from the world (1 John 2:16).
My enslavement was all encompassing and I was powerless to do anything about it. Not only was I in bondage to sin but also to the legalism of Catholic traditions (Colossians 2:8). The Catholic priests, like the Judaizers were false brethren who kept me in bondage (Galatians 2:4). Their confessional box was a place I dreaded to go. Each week I had to confess the same sins to the same priest because I was disobedient, deceived, and enslaved to various lusts and pleasures (Titus 3:3). Many times I would disguise my voice so the priest wouldn't know it was me again. Undeniably, I was ensnared by the devil, held captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26).
As a devout Catholic, I faithfully participated in religious rituals and received the sacraments to merit God's grace and to avoid the fires of hell. In retrospect I was motivated more by a fear of hell than a desire to be with God. Some of my good works included being an altar boy for 7 years, teaching Catholic doctrine to high school students and initiating the first Little Rock Scripture Study at a Catholic Church in Dallas. This religious activity gave me an external righteousness that covered my corrupt and depraved nature. Yet according to Isaiah, all my righteous acts were like filthy rags (64:6). I had a zeal for God but it wasn't based on biblical knowledge so I sought to establish my own righteousness before God (Romans 10:1). Now I know how Satan destroys religious people for their lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
I had no way to discern truth from error because I was biblically ignorant. It wasn't that I didn't have a Bible, in fact, I had a huge one displayed in my home as a sign of piety. I never bothered to read it because the priests told me it was too difficult to understand. No one ever told me the Bible sets forth the truth plainly to every man's conscience (2 Corinthians 4:2). Because of my lack of biblical knowledge I was easily deceived. I lived in error because I did not know the Scriptures or the power of God (Matthew 22:29). Satan, who deceives the whole world had blinded me from the truth of the Gospel (Revelation 12:9, 2 Corinthians 4:4). I was separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that was in me (Ephesians 4:18).
In 1981, after attending an apologetics seminar called "Evidence for the Christian Faith," the Bible became my sole authority in all matters of faith. I began searching for answers to questions that priests were unable to explain. I was amazed at how often the Bible contradicts Catholic teaching and tradition. Soon I faced a difficult dilemma. With my eternal destiny hanging in the balance I had to make a decision. Should I trust the Word of God or the teachings and traditions of the Catholic Church? Once I saw it from that perspective it became an easy decision. The truth of God's word began to set me free from the legalistic bondage of the Catholic Church. I read where Jesus came to release the captives, and to set free those who are downtrodden (Luke 4:18). He said: If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32). The ransom payment for delivering sinners from the bondage of sin was the precious blood of Jesus. He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (Titus 2:14). It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that I can put to death the evil deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). The battle between my sin nature and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit is ever present within me but by God's grace, sin no longer is master over me. Thanks be to God that, though I was a slave of sin, by His power He made me a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).
As a Catholic each time I confessed my sins to a priest he told me I was forgiven. But was I really? I never even knew what God's forgiveness meant or what God's justice demanded as punishment for sin. Each time I entered the Catholic Church I saw Jesus hanging on a cross but I never knew why he had to die. I never knew, that is, until I read in the Bible that the penalty for sin is death, eternal separation from God in the lake of fire (Romans 6:23, Revelation 20:14). The sin debt that must be paid to satisfy God's justice is death. Then I discovered "to forgive" means "to cancel a debt that is owed." So when God forgives a sinner He cancels the entire debt for all their sins–past, present and future. My substitute, Jesus Christ cancelled the certificate of debt against me. It was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14). Jesus suffered and died so that I could live. He was pierced for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Oh how can it be that my God and Creator should die for me? The answer is profoundly given in one word – love. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). My sin, not in part but the whole, was nailed to the cross. I bear it no more! God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on my behalf, so that I might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). This was the greatest news I had ever heard! No longer was I condemned to death but justified to life! I was acquitted because God, the righteous judge, saw that justice was served through His Only Son. Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10) Through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43).
Once I knew I had been reconciled to God through the death of His Son, I no longer needed priests offering sacrifices for my sins. For by one offering Jesus has perfected for all time those who are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). No longer is there a sin barrier separating me from God (Isaiah 59:2). Jesus has given me access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). This was powerfully demonstrated at His death when the four-inch temple veil, separating man and his sin from God, was torn open from top to bottom. Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). Those who trust the redeeming work of Christ can exchange their religion for a relationship with almighty God. Through the blood of His cross Jesus is able to present me before God holy and blameless (Colossians 1:20-22). Jesus changed my relationship with God from one of hostility to one of peace and harmony.
Each time I got on an airplane as a Catholic I experienced a nagging fear as to where I would spend eternity if the plane went down. I never knew if my sins were serious enough to warrant hell or if I had done enough good works to qualify for heaven. Now as a Christian, I know eternal life is not determined by what I do for God but by what God has done for me. I no longer have to wonder about my eternal destiny. It is based on the assertive faithfulness of God. I am secure in Christ and nothing I do will ever change God's promises to me. Jesus promised that He will lose no one the Father has given Him. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day (John 6:39-40). I came to realize that eternal life, by its very nature, can never be terminated. I am held securely in the hands of the Father and the Son and no one can snatch me away (John 10:27-30).Those whom God justifies He also glorifies (Romans 8:30). The Holy Spirit, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, seals everyone who hears and believes the Gospel of salvation in Christ (Ephesians 1: 13-14). Based on God's promises, I am more confident of spending eternity in heaven than one more day on earth.
I am forever thankful that God has made me alive in Christ, healed my spiritual blindness, adopted me into His family and given me the privilege of telling others about His amazing grace! The life I live, I now live for Him!