Sincere, But Sincerely Wrong
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“Sincere” and “zealous” are the words which describe the religious aspects of my life for twenty-nine and half years as a Roman Catholic. I so desired to do what was right. I went to Mass, received the sacraments, loved my neighbors, and basically tried to do good to all people. I always thought that by going to Mass, doing good and being nice to people was the way to get to Heaven. The desire to do good to all people led me to become a member of a religious order, the Sisters of Mercy, for four years, 1967-1971.
In October of 1973, while waiting to undergo surgery, another patient came into my hospital room and asked me a question. The question would lead me to a totally new life in Christ as a child of God. “If you were to die in surgery today, Wilma, do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven?” she asked. “Yes, I do”, I replied. Our conversation was interrupted at that point by a nurse ordering her back into her room across the hall.
During the next two weeks, however, we did talk more about where I would spend eternity. She showed me verses from the Bible that salvation—going to Heaven—is a free gift. She explained that there was nothing I could do to earn that gift except receive it by faith, because the Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9 “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.” Again, in Titus 3:5 it states that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”