Joe Mizzi’s Testimony - Just For Catholics
I was brought up in a Catholic home and I am grateful to my parents who taught me about God and his law, and the judgement to come. However, they did not teach me the way of salvation because they did not know how.
I heard the Evangelical message for the first time when I was 14 years old. Some Irish tourists had converted my brother to Protestantism. Apparently the first thing he did was to come home and inform me that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the merit of our good works!
To my mind this teaching was clearly wrong and dangerous. Wrong, because St James says that faith without works is dead. And dangerous because it encourages careless living since a person is not saved by works.
I became interested in studying the Bible for myself, not least to rescue my brother from this ‘heresy.’ To my surprise I found that James' concern is to distinguish between true faith and its counterfeit. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:14). Such 'faith' is obviously impotent to save.
Given that genuine faith must be fruitful, the central question remained unanswered: 'Is a person saved by true faith alone? Or is he saved by faith plus the merit of his own good works?' I searched the Scriptures for months, especially in the John’s Gospel, and Paul’s epistles to the Romans, Galatians and Ephesians. The answer of the Bible was clear and surprising:
“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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Saved through faith...not of works! It is amazing: the same Bible that emphasizes holy living and good works, also states that salvation is not dependent of personal works. The Christian does not depend on his 'goodness' or his efforts, but trusts completely in another person, in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Slowly I begun to realize that the work of salvation was done by Another, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. True, we are saved 'not of works' but that is a reference to our efforts. The work of salvation is so immense that no-one could perform it except the Son of God, who humbled himself, became a man, and died on the cross. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13). The payment for my sin was the precious blood he shed on Calvary’s cross and not my religious works, penance and sufferings in purgatory. Certainly that's why God wants me to believe in him.
One question remained: Why should I perform good works at all? Again, Ephesians 2:8-10 clarified this issue. Immediately after stating that we are saved 'not by works', the apostle Paul writes that we are saved 'for good works.' Therefore good works are the result, not the cause, of salvation.
By God’s grace, I trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, realizing that I was not depending anymore on anything I do, the church or any other person, including Mary, the mother of the Lord. The immediate outcome was the loss of my best friend because the priest charged him to disregard me. That was insignificant in comparison to the priceless new relationship with the Lord, no longer as a distant Judge, but as my dear Saviour and faithful friend. Now my sole desire is to live worthy of the One who loved me and gave himself for me.
I am concerned for Catholics (and others) whose life is overrun by sin and yet feel that somehow it would be fine at the end. The Bible warns them that their ‘faith’ is dead and useless to save them from Hell. On the other hand, I'm also concerned about those devout Catholics who are afraid of God's judgment, and do their best to merit his forgiveness and grace. They claim to believe in Jesus, but they really don't because they are relying on their own goodness and righteousness.
My great desire is to make known the same message that gave me life and liberty. One way of doing so is by the internet. I built a website which I called “Just for Catholics” www.justforcatholics.org to explain the Gospel to lay Roman Catholic people. Thousands have visited the site and I receive scores of emails every week.
Here are some examples from the letters I received this week. A young Christian is being influenced by his peers to look into the Roman Catholic religion. I tried to show him that we are complete in Christ and that he will find no water in the dry wells of Catholicism. A woman asked me why the Bible doesn’t say much about Mary. I answered that the Bible is a book about another person, Christ, who is the Chosen of God to be the only saviour, mediator and priest. A devout Catholic man informed me that if I follow the doctrines of Luther, I’m following the doctrine of the Devil. I filed his letter (maybe I’ll answer him later) because I have better things to do. I have the Gospel of God’s grace to proclaim to any person around the world who is willing to listen.
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