Dr. Victor Lujetic's Personal Tesimony
The Apostle Paul’s personal testimony given before
King Herod Agrippa in
provides an excellent example for all Christians
of how to effectively share your testimony as Paul did, using a three-fold
model: pre-conversion, conversion, and post-conversion. Below is my own
I am a Baptist minister who almost became a priest. I grew up as a devout Roman Catholic, was baptized as an infant in 1954, and received my first Penance and Holy Communion at age seven. At age nine I was confirmed by the archbishop, having prided myself on memorizing both the Nicene Creed and the Lord’s Prayer in Latin. I attended Catholic schools and was a loyal “son of Rome” during my childhood and teenage years. I went to confession and Mass every week unless prevented by illness. I considered myself a Christian because I faithfully attended Mass, obeyed the requirements of the Catholic Church, prayed daily to the Virgin Mary and the saints, recited the rosary on a regular basis, and had received the sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Eucharist, and Confirmation. I trusted those sacraments and my good works, plus the mediation of the priests and the intercession of Mary and the saints, for my salvation. I was the most devout member of my family—a true, practicing Catholic—and considered myself to be the most religious kid on the block. I felt that God would surely let me into heaven, based on all my spiritual “brownie points” I had accumulated. I honestly believed that, if anyone deserved to go to heaven, it was I. Heaven was a given; I had earned it. Besides, I had gone above and beyond the basic requirements of the Church. I was very proud of my religious accomplishments and trusted in them as my ticket to paradise. However, despite my religious devotion, deep down in my heart I wondered whether all my good deeds were truly sufficient to get me into heaven. What if I hadn’t done enough? My greatest fear was dying and standing before the Judgment Seat and hearing God say, “Sorry, Victor, I can’t let you into heaven. You did a good job on earth, but you left this one thing undone.” That fear of barely missing out on getting into heaven drove me to be as good and religious as I possibly could in order to earn my salvation. So, I was driven, almost to the point of obsession. I had a lot of zeal in my life, but no peace in my soul.
On a weekday afternoon in March 1971, at age sixteen, I came home from school, went into my bedroom, and suddenly had an overwhelming curiosity to open our family Bible. It was a Douay-Confraternity Version Catholic Bible, yet we had never once read from it as a family, nor had I ever read it on my own. However, that afternoon, curiosity got the best of me. So, I took the Bible down from the shelf, placed it on my desk, then sat down and began to read the Scriptures for the first time in my life. I started with the New Testament, at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, and read non-stop through Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Then I hit John’s Gospel, and John’s Gospel hit me. In John 3, I read about a religious man named Nicodemus, to whom Jesus said, “You must be born again.” I didn’t understand those words, but I kept on reading. I then came across those seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. As I read them, it was as though they were printed in gold—written just for me—and seemed to leap right off the page and into my heart. Then I came to John 19, the crucifixion story, and read these words of Jesus from the cross: “It is finished.” Again, as in John 3, I was puzzled, but I continued reading. Finally, I reached the story of Doubting Thomas in chapter 20 and the risen Lord’s words to him: “Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.” Thomas’ reply to Jesus struck a chord in my own heart: “My Lord and my God.” It all sounded so special, yet I knew deep inside that that what was missing in my religious life was a personal faith in Jesus Christ. I wanted what Thomas had found. Then, just a few verses later, in John 20:31, I read these life-changing words: “But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, you may have life in his name.” I sat back in my chair and said to myself, “So that’s who He is!” Ever since childhood I had believed that Jesus was the Saviour of the world. I knew that from my catechism classes; I thought everyone knew that. But suddenly I realized, for the first time in my life, that He was my Saviour and that He died for me personally. For years I had trusted the sacraments, my Catholic ceremonies and identity, and all my good works to get me into heaven one day. Now, at last, I understood that when Jesus said, “It is finished,” He had accomplished everything on the cross for my eternal salvation. He didn’t need my help; He did it all by Himself—for me. I finally grasped the meaning of Jesus’ words to Nicodemus, “You must be born again,” for I was now spiritually reborn. The light went on in my heart, and it has stayed on ever since. Then and there, in the quiet of my room, I received Jesus Christ by faith as my personal Lord and Saviour. Up to that point, no one had ever witnessed to me, nor had I ever been given a religious tract of any kind. I had never once watched Billy Graham or any other evangelist on television, nor did I have any reason to, since I firmly believed that all Protestants were heretics. But I had a divine appointment; it was just me and the Scriptures and the Spirit in my room. For years I knew about Jesus, but now I knew Him—really knew Him—in my heart. He was no longer just the Saviour of the world; He was now my Saviour, and that made all the difference. I was born again!
My journey through the New Testament continued. After a brief break for supper, I resumed my reading at John 21 and forged ahead, page by page. I couldn’t seem to put the Bible down; I was glued to the Book. As I read through the Epistles, I discovered that salvation is by grace through faith—not by works—and that Jesus Christ is the sole Mediator and High Priest. Eventually, I reached the Book of Revelation, and finally read the last verse: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” Grace—that said it all. What I had been trying so desperately for years to earn by my own efforts was a gift simply to be received. I had it all backwards, but not anymore. I closed the Bible and turned off the light, realizing that I had read through the entire New Testament in just one afternoon and evening! That night, I fell asleep with the greatest peace I had ever felt—the peace of knowing that all my sins were forgiven and of having the assurance of eternal salvation. During the year that followed, I searched the Scriptures diligently, comparing each Catholic doctrine with the Word of God. To my surprise, I could find no biblical support for many of the doctrines I had once embraced so fervently, such as infant baptism. Upon my graduation from high school in June 1972, I decided to leave Roman Catholicism and seek another church. My search led me to the Baptists, whereupon, on December 8, 1974, I received Believer’s Baptism and joined Congressional Heights Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland—a Southern Baptist congregation located in the Greater Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. It was in that same church that I was ordained to the ministry on September 10, 1978. I remained a Southern Baptist for twenty years, until September 1994, when I answered God’s call to move to Canada and become Pastor of Agincourt Baptist Church in Scarborough, Ontario—a congregation affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec. Since 1994, I have been serving the Lord as a Convention Baptist pastor. My current pastorate is with King Street Baptist Church in Cambridge, Ontario, where I have been serving since October 1, 1999. My Lord Jesus has enabled me to earn the B.A., M.Div., D.Min., and Ph.D. degrees, and He has given me a wonderful wife, Sally, and two delightful daughters, Hannah and Sarah. My greatest passion is to share my personal testimony and the gospel of God’s grace with everyone, especially those who are religious yet unsaved—as I was—and who need to know that Christianity is not just a religion of rituals and ceremonies (that’s merely “churchianity”), but a warm, personal relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Most importantly, I want them to know that they can’t get to heaven by being good enough or religious enough. Believe me, I tried doing that for years. It just doesn’t work; I know that from personal experience. We are not saved by our own works, but by trusting the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Salvation is never accomplished by human merit, but solely and totally by God’s grace. It is a gift, not a reward. The words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:24 have become my supreme goal: “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” Amen!