A Testimony of Grace

I was born and raised in a Roman Catholic home, partaking in what the Bible calls “having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5, NKJV).”

What the Roman Catholic church taught me was not the Bible’s definition of discipleship, but nevertheless I went to church each week as a faithful practitioner with my lifelong-devoted grandmother. Church became a weekly expectation of Mass services, and although I was receiving exposure to the New Testament, I did not understand the meaning of true discipleship to Jesus Christ.

Around this time, I developed a very negative sense of self and grew increasingly hopeless about my future, so I became severely depressed. I despaired about the meaninglessness of my life, and church was not helping to resolve this problem, so I came to the point of needing outside help.

During my mid-teens, this led to the need for psychological services at a mental health facility, which was truly one of the darkest periods of my life.

The Bible has the Answers, but …

What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that the Bible had all the answers to the problems I was thinking about. This was plain in the Scripture, but without the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, it might as well have been a foreign language.

I considered my struggle some kind of human issue, rather than a spiritual one, so I had the wrong idea that “if I got myself into it, I can get myself out.”

Sadly, this mentality worked against me by preventing me from realizing the “fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ (Romans 15:29, NKJV)”, causing years of waste as I floundered around like “a blind person at midday groping about in the dark (Deuteronomy 28:29, NKJV).”

Only by the grace of God did He permit me to return to a semi-normal level of functionality, but I had yet to really deal with the lingering, deep dissatisfaction, and hopelessness in my heart.

Set Free by the Holy Spirit

Some time later, the LORD permitted me to enter university where a friend introduced me to a club on campus whose mission was to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission. (See Matthew 28:18-20.) They helped me to see what the Bible said about Jesus Christ’s calling and explained from Scripture what Jesus asks of those who profess to follow Him.

God finally revealed to me the “fullness of the Gospel”—my own sinful nature was spelled out in His Word, my depression was no longer resolvable by my own (human) efforts, and I realized that distressing thoughts were a spiritual battleground which needed a spiritual solution (Psalm 108:12; Romans 3:23; 1 Corinthians 15:50).

I learned that true discipleship is to “deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24, NKJV).” I saw that following Jesus was worth more than anything else, like the “hidden treasure” in His parable, so I “sold all I had and bought that field (Matthew 13:44, NKJV).”

Finally, I was able to “be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4, NKJV).”

My time of despair in depression was like the lost son’s longing after the pigs’ food in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal (Luke 15:11-32). Only by God’s great mercy did He—our great and loving Father—keep a watchful eye on His wretched, prodigal son. By the mercy of God, I had gone from being a wretch to being rich in Christ!

Transformed by His Word

Looking back, I thank God for the many faithful people on my university campus who decided to take up Jesus’ calling to share their faith and encourage me. Without their obedience, I’d probably still be dead in my sins, lost in the darkness, and “futile in my thoughts (Romans 1:21, NKJV)”, like an idolater “changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man (Romans 1:23, NKJV).”

My reflection looking back is that a vain sinner who “was dead” has become “alive again (Luke 15:24, NKJV),” having been loved and utterly transformed by the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3, NKJV)” through an encounter with Jesus Christ. What was once “wisdom” has now become “foolishness” to me, because “God [has] made foolish the wisdom of this world (1 Corinthians 1:20; 3:19, NKJV).”

As one who was “…formerly a blasphemer… and an insolent man (1 Timothy 1:13, NKJV),” it is my greatest joy and privilege to testify to what it means to have a true, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ!

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36, NKJV).”

Written by Carlo Palumbo

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