Pastor Ernie Ruemenapp
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share with you who I am, and what the Lord has done in my life.
My name is Ernie Ruemenapp; I was born in Detroit and raised in a large loving catholic family. My father was a good man and a hard worker. He worked as a prison guard in Detroit. This was not a pleasant job but it put food on the table and clothes on our backs.
Growing up in a large catholic family has given me many good memories. The church was a big part of our lives. As with all my brothers and sisters, I also received the sacraments of the Catholic Church. These sacraments, I was told, would help me become a better person, and would hopefully make me more fit for heaven. Receiving these sacraments was an exciting part of my childhood, and they were also the occasion for many family celebrations.
When I was about 17 years old I began to feel as though there was something missing in my life. I had doubts of whether or not I was good enough to go to heaven. And I felt a deep desire to know God in a real, more personal way. So naturally, I turned to the Catholic Church to try and fill this void. I became more involved in my local St. Ignatius parish. For a short time I considered going into the priesthood. That is, until I met Theresa, a lovely catholic girl and my soon to be bride.
In 1984, being newlyweds, Theresa and I moved to Alpena where I began working for a local utility company. Shortly after arriving in Alpena, we became members of St. Bernard’s Catholic Church. I became active in this parish, teaching catechism and sitting as a delegate on the Bishop’s pastoral board for the Diocese of Gaylord.
In 1985 I also led a group of concerned citizens in opposing “adult entertainment” at the Centennial Bar in downtown Alpena. Through our efforts, a new law was passed by the city council prohibiting this kind of business. The bar shortly thereafter closed down.
In 1987 our first daughter Lydia was born. After the excitement of her birth had passed, I was struck by the awesome responsibility of being a father to this beautiful little girl. Not only would I have to protect and provide for her I would also be responsible for her spiritual upbringing. I loved this child and I wanted her to know God and live with Him forever. I wanted her to go to heaven, but how could I help her, if I wasn’t sure how to get there myself?
As I began pondering my new found responsibilities, I realized that the void I had felt in my life as a teenager was never really filled. I knew there was a God, but I never really knew Him in a personal way. And I believed there was a heaven for those who were good. But how good did I have to be? I was a good Catholic but I was still a sinner. Would I ever become good enough to get into heaven? Could the sacraments really help me?
I remembered hearing that Jesus said “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you”. So I began a personal quest to seek the answers to my questions. At first, I tried to seek these answers from the Catholic Church. I read several catholic theological books, but no sure answer was to be found. They only taught me what I already knew; that the best I could do is to receive the sacraments, try to live a good life, and just hope that perhaps I might someday be good enough to go to heaven. In fact, I read that the Catholic Church teaches it would be a presumptuous sin for me to know, for sure, that I am going to heaven. It seemed as though I would never find the answers to the questions that troubled my heart.
Fortunately, God did have an answer for me. While reading meters for my company, I began listening to the Christian radio station on my “walkman” radio. The Bible teachers on the radio made the Holy Scriptures seem so understandable and relevant. So I began looking to God’s Word to try and find the answers I was seeking.
Jesus’ promise was true; I sought and I found! The Bible had the answers to my questions, but the answers I found surprised me. The Bible taught that I could never become good enough to enter into heaven, Heaven is a holy place, and those who enter therein must be perfectly righteous.
“There is none righteous, no not one… For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God… For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:10, 23 & 6:23)
I knew that I was a sinner and no matter how hard I tried, and no matter how many times I received the sacraments, I knew that I could never become perfectly righteous. And without perfect righteousness no man can enter into heaven.
At first what I learned upset me. I felt doomed. I read that the disciples were also troubled by these teachings. They asked Jesus “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matt 17:25, 26) As I studied the Bible, I learned that it is not my righteousness that is supposed to get me into heaven. It is not the kind of righteousness that I can muster up with good works and the sacraments. The righteousness I needed was from God. I needed to cast down my own righteousness, and receive the perfect righteousness which is from God.
“Not having my own righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is through faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil 3:9)
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)
The righteousness which is from God is by faith, and not by works. No matter how hard I worked, my righteousness would never satisfy God. I heard it said that “You can put fancy clothes on a pig, but it is still a pig.” I found that the only way to satisfy God was not by becoming a better person, but by becoming a new person.
Jesus said, “Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7) I had to die to myself, to my sins, and to my own righteousness, and by faith I had to receive new life. By faith my old sinful man died with Jesus on the cross, and by faith God put upon me the new man with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
“For He hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor 5:21)
It was in the spring of 1988 that I stopped trusting in my own righteousness, such as my good works and the sacraments. It was then that I decided in prayer, before the Lord, to place my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and His righteousness alone. He died to forgive me of my sins, and He rose to give me new life.
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:10, 13)
God is great and He is merciful. What we could not do for ourselves He did for us. It is wonderful to know without a doubt, that my family and I, because of our faith in Jesus Christ, are heaven bound! I am glad that God cares for me, and that He wanted me to know the answers to my heartfelt questions.
Far from being “presumptuous sin”, having the assurance of one’s salvation is a good thing. In fact, it is the very reason the Apostle John wrote his first letter in the Bible: “These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” (1 John 5:13)
It has been several years since I have been saved. God has done a work in my heart, and He has brought many blessings into my life. In 1994 the Lord blessed us with the birth of our second daughter Sharon. In 2003 He blessed us with our first son Gabriel. And in 2005 the Lord blessed us with our third daughter Liberty. I have never regretted, even for a moment, that day when I asked Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. Though the Christian walk is always joyful, it is not always easy. There are times of suffering and there are times when I still struggle with sin, but I am always confident of the Lord’s forgiveness. I know that when the Father looks upon me He does not see my sin, but only the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
“My little children these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (1 John 2:1)
After we were saved, Theresa and I prayed that the Lord would lead us to a new church where the Word of God was taught clearly and accurately. After visiting several churches in the Alpena area, we found the Baptist churches to be the most consistent with the churches spoken of in the New Testament. After moving to Harrisville in 1996 the Lord laid on my heart a burden to start a New Testament Baptist Church in our hometown. In February of 2001 we started Family Heritage Baptist Church in Harrisville, Michigan. Then in January of 2005 the church called me to be its’ full-time pastor. We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to visit our church. Where you too can learn the life changing truths of God’s Word.
Thank you for allowing me to share my testimony with you:
“For you shalt be His witnesses unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15)
It is my hope that you will also be saved. That you will know for sure, that you have eternal life. That you will drink freely of the living water, and that you will never thirst again.