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My Testimony of Coming out of Religion

By Leon --

A REALIZATION OF TRUTH

My church membership started with the baptism as an infant and ended when I realized the death of Christ on the cross is more than just a paying the price for my sins, but he also canceled the written code (religious rules and regulations) that have opposed me, and He defeated them. His death justifies salvation not only from sin, but from religion as well.What he did on the cross is all that matters. As a result, my faith is not based on man’s teaching of Christianity, but on Christ’s death and resurrection. I have been so confused over the years that I would hop from church to church, not realizing what I was doing. Sometimes I hopped because of the style of worship, different doctrines, and other times because of the social gatherings and the activities they offered. However, eventually I came to the realization that Christianity is not what Christ taught, but what man established and taught after He died. When I read the bible and study it, it tells me Christ tore down the veil and that His Kingdom is not of this world. THAT TELLS ME I AM FREE FROM THESE WORLD RELIGIONS AND I CAN FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHERS AND TELL THEM ABOUT IT.

As far as my salvation is concerned, I used to believe any method—if you accept Him as Lord and Savior or invite him into your heart, if you confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, if you repent of your sins, if you are baptized in Jesus’ name, or the name of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Ghost (does not matter which formula they use), or if you are baptized with the Holy Ghost. They believe this was how salvation was fulfilled, never mentioning the finished work of Jesus Christ. Because man has taught wrong, I come to the realization that I believe in Christ’s death and resurrection. THAT IS ALL that saved me from sin and that is what baptized me, as well, not the water they have in their buildings, or their altar calls. I believe that because it is the only reason I am saved. It is not something I made up or something I found out, but it is truth. Ever since I have been studying the Bible, I cannot think of a better way to believe than the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because I am freed from religion, I came to the realization the death of Christ is the key to my freedom and I am proud of it. There is no better freedom than the freedom in Christ. While man’s doctrine of Christianity teaches about salvation through temporary means—confession, repentance, invitation, water baptism, and spirit baptism, I achieved salvation through eternal means—belief in the death and resurrection of Christ. It does not compare. Now I do not have to worry about my salvation. IT IS PAID IN FULL AND THAT IS THE REALIZATION OF TRUTH.

THE CHURCH BUILDING EXPERIENCE

In the last 32 years of my life, I was a member of six churches, two of which required baptism—Upper Room Apostolic and Central Christian Church. The first church I was a member of, Grant Chapel AME, I was baptized as an infant and joined by public confession at age 12. Then after a year, I left and joined with First United Methodist on confession of faith. I again left after a year and transferred to St. Mark United Methodist. I was a member there for nine years until I left in 2001 and joined Central Christian. However because they required baptism for membership, I was only a regular visitor. After a year, I rejoined St. Mark a second time. During my membership, I joined Central Christian again in December 2003 with plans for baptism in January 2004, but because of my behavior toward a female, I was told to leave and never return. Then I retained my membership at St. Mark where I eventually left again to join Agape Fellowship Church of God in Christ (COGIC). After a year, I rejoined St. Mark a third time. During my membership there in January 2007, I was baptized at Upper Room, but rejected membership within that month. Later that year, I left St. Mark a final time and rejoined Agape Fellowship. When the merger with St. Mark Church of God in Christ occurred in 2008, I joined with them. A year after the merger, I asked the pastor to renounce my membership.

My experiences in the church buildings are from singing in the choir to Sunday school to bible study to being part of the youth group to taking part in testimony service and attending revivals. None of that led to the realization Christ was pleased with any of it and I was going through the motion, which led to emptiness from attending all these functions. I had no idea how empty I was until I found the truth about my experience in these church buildings in the Bible and on online Bible studies. Because of this, I knew I was wandering from church to church looking to belong—not knowing what to believe and what is right to believe. However, when I studied the bible and the online studies, I came to the realization this is what has confused me over the years—church teachings that are biblical or not, which I used to believe, unbiblical church membership, and all their functions, which I would sometimes partake in, are legalistic. I felt empty because I knew then that the freedom in Christ means the freedom from religious rules and regulations, which within me, contradicted the freedom of fellowship with other believers. The freedom of fellowship with other believers is the result of the freedom in Christ. In my experience, it was more like a chore to fellowship not a freedom. If I was not in church, I was out of the will of God. I have been told that God commands us to fellowship; the fact is, He does not tell us what day to fellowship and Christ’s resurrection does not correspond on what day to fellowship. Nor does it correspond to what day God rested when He created the world. Fellowship, in my experience, was based on Sunday service or whenever the opportunity arose when they had certain events, such as revivals. I enjoyed meeting people and making friends. However, I did not know to approach the religious issues they were discussing in church school or even during youth group meetings. As a result, some or most of those issues did not matter to me—such as prayer, fasting, witnessing, and praise. But when the discussion of love came up, who would discuss it? It was a topic rarely discussed unless it was during the holidays or when tragedy strikes. Most of the time I felt like an outsider there.

Singing in the choir was another big issue. I sung in choirs at three churches—Grant Chapel, St. Mark, and Agape/St Mark COGIC. The problems that occurred were several things-the rehearsal times, the lyrics of the songs, and the style of singing. Rehearsal times often conflicted with daily life because sometimes I never had time for choir, especially in the teen years. Some of the lyrics of the songs were hard to memorize and some of them are either unbiblical or referring to legalism. Because I sang bass and not tenor, it was hard for me to mesh. The style of singing was a major problem because it was hard to mesh with others. The speed of the music was too much to keep up or it was hard to hear what is being sung.

Testimony service was one of the times where I initially had to express what I believe as a saint who is “baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost.” However, I did not get into that. I mainly would sing a song or tell my testimony of what God has done for me. For me, when the opportunity came, I felt obliged to testify or sing in such a way as it complied with their doctrine. This is one of the many problems I experienced. Every church I was a member of I felt discontent. As a result, I began study the Bible and looking at various issues in church buildings. Most of them I studied, dealt with legalism, bondage and human regulations. On reading about these problems, I came to understand why church building life is so empty to me and my life outside it is so vibrant and free. With that in mind, I became nonreligious, meaning not believing in or practicing any religion. This assures salvation is no longer a mystery nor do I have to doubt whether I am saved or not based on man’s doctrine because it adds to the finished work of Christ.

MUSIC AND THE CHURCH

Music has been a part of virtually all my life, as far as I can remember, but most of it I listened to on radio that played oldies, 80’s, and early 90’s pop music. I listened to gospel music on the radio in my teen years. Then I would listen to music on digital cable channels, and later on downloaded files on my computer. The truth is, when the church has this idea of thinking music that does not praise God is the “Devil’s music,” there is a serious problem in their judgment. I believe God created music for pleasure and enlightenment. He gave us choices of what kinds of music we like or dislike. It is not a matter of what we should or should not listen to, but a matter of choice. I hear many stories about musicians’ lifestyles being told through various religious leaders. Most of those stories singled pop artists, but they forget their music has problems too. Gospel music like pop music has its problems. Some of the lyrics are not true or Biblical. There are several examples of songs:
  • “Have you Got Good Religion, certainly Lord.” That is not true because God did not establish any religion whether good or bad, man did.
  • “I sing because I’m happy.” That song is based on the external in which happiness is temporary.
  • “The downward road is crowded with unbelieving souls.” If that were true, all of us would be on that road.
  • “The Holy Ghost power.” This song is based on religion, trying to get oneself right with God, which we can never do.
  • “I’m so glad I got my religion in time” Or “I know I got religion, yes I do.” This is selfish thinking, not knowing Christ has already died for our sins, and his death baptized us.
  • “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Jesus is not a reason for any season, He is the Way, Truth and Life, for every season.

There are many others but I am quite sure the result is the same—religion is based on getting oneself right with God, because of the fear of going to hell. I used to enjoy gospel and I used to listen to every song gospel had, but because I changed my religious beliefs I left gospel music behind. Now, pop music is what I enjoy and I enjoyed it before, too. I love music from the 50’s to the 90’s and most of it I grew up with since listening to the radio, especially 80’s to the 90’s. The church likes to control my life on what I should and should not listen to and such attitude is wrong not only in my eyes but in the eyes of God.

SUNDAY WILL NEVER BE THE SAME

“Sunday will never be same,” a song sung by Spanky and Our Gang, in dealing with how life used to be simpler back then. Now life is simple. I am no longer controlled by what man teaches me in their buildings nor do I practice any religion. I have longer weekends and more time to spend with family and at home watching sports, playing music, or doing housework. I have more time studying about how to defend my faith in Christ and about issues in the church buildings that I have experienced in the past. My time with God is not through prayer and fasting, but enjoying the life He created, and myself and others of whom he created. It feels good to not to worry about Sunday, because there is not church membership to deal with. There is no denomination, sect, or cult to believe in. There are no church functions to participate. However, I can still fellowship with other people, talking about life, and when the opportunity arises, that I can enjoy talking about what experiences we had when we were controlled by religion, some of them may not even believe the same way, but have similar background. This is what fellowship is all about—enjoying life and enjoying people.

I have been told many times about the verse in Hebrews 10 about “not forsaking oneself from assembling as in the manner of some.” However, what the churches I have been a member of would point out is “you should go to church.” I do not see that as meaning going to church because fellowship is not based on a certain day of the week but based on opportunity and, like I mentioned before, have encountered false teaching. Going to church used to be the norm growing up. Now it is what I no longer practice. I have read that scripture and am conscientious about the meaning behind it and I am conscientious about the truth of churches using that verse to bash those who do not go to church. It is a shame and I am sure God does not command such act. God is not of buildings nor does He not dwell in buildings.

THE HEALING

My healing came through self-discipline through taking care of my health and fulfilling the needs of my body. This has kept me from having to attend revivals or healing services that are common in Christianity. Because I know deliverance comes through the power of God, I know religion can do nothing but control me. When I was healed of my asthma through the practice of nasal irrigation and drinking lemon water, it happened at home. One of the church leaders, when I told them this, said I did not believe in the power of God to defeat Satan, meaning I did not fast or pray and ask God to heal me. Because I know this person is wrong, it tells me the power of God is not in a church building, but in what you have in you when you apply it with wisdom. I try to apply it to everything I do and I do not need any religious service. This explains religion does not heal of any problems; it judged me of them and shunned me because of them. In the end, the result is the same: I am a healthy man, and I know what I am free from—church control and anyone connected to any religious founder, whether it’s John Wesley, Roger Williams, Witness Lee, Charles Mason, etc. —and I do not practice any religion.

IN A NUTSHELL

Briefly, what does this all mean? First, I am nonreligious and second, I know how sick and tired I am about the teaching and the doctrine and the control man have had on my life. Salvation is one thing but control is another. Being that I know what I believe, religion wants to add to what I believe. As a result, I am nonreligious because of four things: the death and resurrection of Christ, which saved me from sin, the freedom from the control of religion, that I do not practice any religion, and that I am not part of any denomination of Christianity. The thing is clear: I enjoy the life that I live and I am going to live the life I enjoy. I hope you understand what I am saying. Thank you for reading it.

MY CHURCH MEMBERSHIP HISTORY


YEARS ACTIVE (1977-2009)

Churches from Wichita, Kansas
  1. Grant Chapel AME (1977- 1991)
  2. First United Methodist (1991-1992)
  3. Saint Mark United Methodist (1992-2001, 2002-2005, 2006-2007)
  4. Central Christian (2001-2002, 2004)
  5. Upper Room Apostolic (2007)
  6. Agape Fellowship/St. Mark COGIC (2005-2006, 2007-2009)

Religious Affiliation
  1. Christianity (1977-2009)
  2. Nonreligious (2009-present)


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