A look at Roman Catholicism
Matthew 7:13 and 14 states these two facts. First there is only one way to an eternity in Heaven. And secondly, any other way gets you an eternity in Hell. So what is that one right way, and what are the other ways, you must be wondering? After all, aren't there some 30,000 different denominations with sincere people in each? How can you tell who is right? And for that matter, what about those people who never heard the gospel? Wow, there is so much information to follow and so many beliefs to look at. But letís go to the only credible resource, the Holy Bible, God's very words to mankind for these answers.
That is the first clue in the search for God's ways, the Bible, for we are told to seek first the kingdom of God, so it helps to know where to look. The Bible tells us plainly and clearly that the Bible has the power of God for salvation to everyone that believes its message. (Romans 1:16) Why? Because as 2 Timothy 3: 16 and 17 tells us, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Furthermore, 1 Peter 2:2 adds that we should, "like new born babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that you may grow up to salvation." And Ephesians 6:17 tells us that we should, "take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God," for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division soul and spirit, of joints and morrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." And finally, Jesus tells us in John 17:17, that the Father will "sanctify us in truth, thy word is truth." In contrast, often times we are mistaken because we don't know Scriptures. (Matthew 22:29) John 8:31and 32 adds that, "Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed Him, if you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." So there appears no doubt about the reliability of Scriptures as far as where to look in order to compare ideas, or to find the true way to salvation. Now that is a pretty reliable source, wouldn't you agree?
So for the next few months, letís take a look at the various religions and compare what each one believes with the Bible as the foundation, just to see which ones follow Biblical Christianity. This will take some time and since the main focus for my ministry has been Roman Catholicism, I begin this month by briefly looking at them. Despite what may seem as an anti-catholic, I simply write in an effort to tell people what they donít realize is how deceived they have been by their own church. What some feel as just a matter of interpretation so they donít have to change their beliefs, will someday come back to haunt them. The Bible does say that there are "none that have an excuse" (Romans 1:20) and that "there is no one righteous, no not one.... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:10+23) Therefore, we can know that ignorance is not an excuse either.
What is wrong with the Catholic Church for starters is how they think one gets justified and how they claim our works are needed to get saved. Sure they use James 2, where it reads "faith without works is dead," to back themselves up, but God has a message of grace, so how can anyone do anything to merit grace? The works are a characteristic of a believer, not a means of getting saved. For what can anyone do to remove sins? Scriptures show that all of our righteous deeds are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and Titus 3:5 tells us that it isn't by any righteous deeds that we can do. For if we could merit it, then it no longer would be grace, but a wage. (Romans 4:4) The Bible clearly says that it is a free gift, (Romans 6:23) a gift that money cannot buy.
There are other issues as far as being unbiblical in the Catholic Church, such as their belief in praying to or for a dead people. The Bible shows us that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4) and that we "can go boldly to Him." (Hebrews 4:16) The Catholic Mass and sacramentalism are both very religious, but deceptive practices, despite how good it may make the people feel because Jesus did away with the sacrificial priesthood (Hebrews 7:13,14.) He never did teach the many deceitful practices such as "the real presence of Jesus being in the host" or the priestsí ability to hear and forgive sins. That was accomplished at Calvaryís cross attainable through faith in Jesusí death and resurrection. The Catholics are taught that the Word of God includes their Holy Traditions and that the Bible is not to be used as the authority alone. Their Majestirium has the authority even over the Bible despite how often their practices go directly against God's written word. They also include a Catechism, a book held to be the guide-line over the Catholic people rather then simply what Godís Word says. It should not surprise anyone that the Catholic Apologists include many former protestants such as scott hahn, Karl Keating, John Salsa, Dave Armstrong and others, all of whom are genuine and sincere, but they all are misguided individuals because they reject the finished work done by Jesus Christ at Calvary in exchange for their own attempts to get purified. It didnít work for the Jewish people in Romans 9:30-32 and 10:1-4, so why would it work for anyone else?
In closing, I do believe that some Catholics do get saved, those being ones that see past all of the extra, unbiblical practices and trust in Jesus and His shed blood alone for the removal of sins. No purgatory, no rosaries, no catechism, nothing matters but the Blood of Jesus cleansing people for as His word tells us, "and without shedding of blood there is no remission." (Hebrews 9:22.) When they then reach out in faith to accept His free gift, admitting the errors of what they thought was right, they would be saved. And like Ephesians 2:1-3 says, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.)
Yes by grace, they would admit to being saved by grace, but this talk doesnít save one if in reality they would practice the works oriented system of sacraments and good deeds by which they could merit their own salvation. So if you are a Catholic reading this, ask yourself what you are really trusting in? What Jesus did at Calvary or by things that you can do? This is the difference in Biblical Christianity as opposed to Roman Catholicism. The difference is simply two letters, n and e. Jesus has done it for you, you cannot do it. And if you need answers, then talk to the people at this newspaper or Gospel Light Ministries. Weíre here for you. Next month: The Jehovah Witnesses.