By Rome Or By Grace?
Salvation is the most vital issue in any person’s life. What you believe about the Gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation, will have eternal consequences. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that salvation is attainable by grace and good works; by obedience to the laws of God and to the laws of Roman Catholicism. Rome also teaches that there is no salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Conversely, the Roman Catholic Bible states clearly that there is no salvation for those outside the Lord Jesus Christ, for those who do not abide in His Gospel.
SALVATION - THE ROMAN CATHOLIC VIEW
Put simply, salvation, according to the Roman Catholic Church, is made possible by a combination of God’s grace and the good works that are given unto man to do by God through His grace, and also by obeying the laws of God and the laws of the Roman Catholic Church. Rome is quite adamant about this, as we see in the following pronouncement made by the Council of Trent: "If anyone saith that the good works of one that is justified...does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life and the attainment of that eternal life...let him be anathema (accursed or eternally damned)."1
The Roman Catholic Catechism describes grace as a "...supernatural gift which God gives us to make us holy, and to help us to save our souls."2 The Baltimore Catechism adds that "Sanctifying grace is that grace which confers on our souls a new life, that is, a sharing in the life of God Himself."3
Rome teaches that this ‘sanctifying’ grace was obtained by Jesus Christ upon the cross, and the ‘new life’ that it confers is now available only through the Roman Catholic Church, by means of the seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, the Mass, Marriage, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick.
The Council of Trent, on March 3, 1547, defined the nature of these seven sacraments and pronounced yet another curse on those who deny their necessity: "If anyone saith that the sacraments of the new law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God through faith alone grace of justification, though all are not necessary for every individual, let him be anathema."
The Roman Catholic Church does not teach that we can do nothing to merit heaven, but that "...without grace we can do nothing to merit heaven."4 Romanism insists that God’s grace supplies us with good works, which contribute towards the salvation of our souls and are not merely a result of salvation.
As was mentioned earlier, it is also claimed by the Roman Church, quite dogmatically in fact, that there is simply no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church, implying, therefore, that faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, is not enough. One must be baptized into the Roman Catholic Church and live a life that is devoted to her, for it to be at all possible to one day ‘merit’ heaven. Justification, therefore, according to Rome, is the infusion of righteousness that enables a person to ultimately secure his own salvation by good works, which are given to him of God.
"The Roman Catholic Church teaches that through man’s faith, penitence and resolution of amendment, God is moved to infuse into one so disposed Justification, and with it the power to merit by good works increase of grace and eternal life."5 It is fundamental, however, to the teachings of Roman Catholicism, that justification is the result of being baptized into the Church of Rome.
Roman Catholics are instructed that in baptism, "...not only are your sins forgiven, but a righteousness is infused into you at your baptism, therefore you are made righteous by your baptism. Though you were an unconscious infant it does not matter, you are given this righteousness, your original sin is cancelled there and you are given this positive righteousness...it is not the righteousness of Christ, according to them, it is a righteousness made by God for those who are baptised. They are not ‘clothed with the righteousness of Christ’ but they are made righteous in the sight of God."6
More grace is needed, Rome contends, than a mere faith in Jesus Christ alone to secure salvation. As was mentioned earlier, this ‘sanctifying grace’ is obtainable only through the Catholic Church of Rome by means of the seven sacraments, good works and infused righteousness, rather than imputed righteousness, which all conspire to lead one more deeply into other erroneous Roman Catholic doctrines such as penance, purgatory and plenary indulgences.
The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that Jesus Christ’s death, alone, was not enough to save, but that Christ’s death simply earned "...‘satisfactions and merits’ which have been deposited into a ‘Treasury’ to which have been added ‘the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary [and] the prayers and good works of all the saints [beyond what they needed for their own salvation]’. From the most ancient times in the (Roman Catholic) Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners...Indeed, [by] the prayers and good works of holy people...the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed... Following in Christ’s steps, those who have believed in Him have always...carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others. They were convinced that they could [by such good works and sacrifices] help their brothers to obtain salvation from God..."7
Along with all the instructions and directions given by the Roman Catholic Church concerning salvation, as will be detailed in a later chapter, she ultimately and categorically states that she and she alone is the fountain of salvation from which all must drink in order to spend eternity with God.
ROMAN CATHOLIC ‘EVIDENCE’ FOR SALVATION BY WORKS
The Roman Catholic Catechism teaches that man can do nothing to merit heaven without the grace of God. "The Roman Catholic doctrine, which asserts that we are saved by works, says that these are the gift of God and therefore not our own."8
We see then that the picture Rome paints is one wherein man, of himself, can do nothing to merit heaven, but through grace he is given a number of good works as a gift from God, and by performing these good works can earn his way to heaven. You see, "Romanism...teaches that salvation depends ultimately upon ourselves, upon what WE do; that one can ‘earn’ salvation by obedience to the laws of the (Roman) Catholic Church, indeed that the saints can even store up excess merits in heaven beyond the requirements of duty, through such things as regular attendance at Roman Catholic masses, by reciting rosary prayers, by fastings, and the wearing of medals, crucifixes, scapulars, etc. These excess merits Roman Catholicism calls ‘works of supererogation.’"9
All this is taught clearly in Roman Catholic Catechisms. "Sanctifying grace is increased by prayer and good works, and especially by offering the Holy Mass, and receiving the Sacraments."10 According to Roman Catholic teachings, salvation is not a free gift, it has to be earned, or won, as Vatican II has decreed: "...from the most ancient times in the (Roman Catholic) Church, good works were also offered to God for the salvation of the sinner...because they are necessary or at least better and more efficacious helps in the task of winning salvation."11 This statement plainly demonstrates that Roman Catholicism does not teach that salvation has been won by the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of His people, but is still to be won—by good works!
Whilst the Roman Catholic Church does say that Christ Jesus died for sins, what she believes about His death is revealed in what she teaches was accomplished by that death. The Roman Catholic Church is the leading promulgator of the Pelagian or Arminian doctrine of Universal atonement—that Christ died for the sins of every individual ever born. The Roman Catholic Church wrongly states that His death was insufficient of itself to procure salvation for those He died for, and that our sufferings, which she calls Penance, must be added to Christ’s sufferings in order to make His death effective. "In accordance with this, many have tried to earn salvation by fastings, rituals, flagellations, and good works of various kinds. But those who attempt such a course always find that it is impossible to do enough to earn salvation."12
The issue of penance is a vital one, for many have been misled into believing that self-inflicted suffering in some way appeases God and ‘makes up’ for our sin. Needless to say, this has given many sincere people a false sense of security when it comes to the matter of their eternal destiny. It is a denial of Christ as Savior to believe that our sufferings can in any way make up for sin and appease the wrath of God, rather than His sufferings alone upon the cross.
"Penance is a wholly different thing from Gospel repentance. Roman Catholic Penance is an outward act; whilst Biblical repentance is of the heart. Penance is imposed by a Roman priest; repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit. Penance is supposed to make satisfaction for sin. But nothing that the sinner can do or suffer can satisfy the divine Justice. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can do that, and He did do it once and for all when He made atonement on the cross thereby completely satisfying the Divine Law of God. The error of Roman Catholicism is like that of the heathen religions, seeking to win forgiveness or deliverance from sin by self-inflicted or priest-imposed punishment. Such are the tortures of Buddhist and Hindu devotees.
"What God desires in the sinner is not a punishment of oneself for sins, but a change of heart, a real forsaking of sin, shown by a new life of obedience to God’s Gospel and commands. In short, penance is a counterfeit repentance. It is the work of man on his body; true repentance is the work of God in the soul (Romans 2:4). The divine Word of God commands: ‘Rend your hearts, not your garments’ (Joel 2:13). Penance is ‘rending the garments’; an outward form without inward reality, which Christ commands His people not to do."13
Let it be known that there is absolutely nothing that can be offered to God for man’s salvation. Only that which has been offered to God for the sins of His chosen, the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, is acceptable, for only "...the blood of His Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Every true Christian is "...now justified by His blood..." (Romans 5:9); and "In Him we have redemption by His blood..." (Ephesians 1:7). Salvation is not dependent on that which we do, but on what Jesus Christ HAS done, for "...if justification comes by the law (that is by works of obedience to God’s Law), then Christ died for nothing" (Galatians 2:21).
The passage of Scripture that the Roman Catholic Church has consistently relied upon in defence of its ‘salvation by works’ doctrine is that which is found in the second chapter of the Letter of James, verses 14-26. The key verses in the passage are: "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (v.14) So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead (v.17). See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone" (v.24).
Roman Catholicism would seek to convince us that James is here saying that faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is not sufficient for salvation, but that faith must not only be accompanied by good works, these good works actually contribute towards attaining salvation. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the Roman Catholic position on the subject is to present to you several curses, which are proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church to this very day, upon any who would dare hold to the belief that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, and not by good works.
"If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than faith in the Divine compassion forgiving our sins for the sake of Christ, or that this faith alone is that by which we are justified, let him be anathema (accursed)." The Council of Trent also added: "If any shall say that justification received is not preserved and also increased before God by good works; but that these works are only the fruits and marks of justification obtained, and not the cause of increasing the same—let him be anathema."14
It is necessary to add at this point that every pagan system of belief demands that men do good works in order to earn salvation. All these systems, including that of Roman Catholicism, insist that by good works and merits, a man may earn his way to heaven. St. Augustine, considered the greatest theologian of the early Church and one whom the Roman Catholic Church has been most anxious to follow, clearly taught that salvation is purely a work of God by grace upon the sinner and is in no way attainable by mere human endeavour.
Perhaps the clearest teaching on the matter of works versus grace, or mercy, in the matter of salvation, may be seen in Luke 18:9-14 where we see the Pharisee, a religious leader, thanking God for the works he does: "...I thank You that I am not like the rest of humanity...I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income" (Luke 18:11,12). The publican, however, does not mention to God any works done by him but merely prays to God for mercy, thus placing himself completely in the hands of God, knowing that no good work of his own is even worthy of mention, let alone of attaining salvation: "...O God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13). After the telling of this parable, the Lord Jesus remarks: "I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14). The Pharisee thanked God for the good works he was doing but the Lord Jesus calls this exalting oneself! The Pharisee, just like the Roman Catholic, believed in a gospel that allowed room for him to boast of his works even though to his mind he was praising God for his good works. The only one who is justified is the one whose reliance for salvation is completely upon God and His mercy and on nothing that God has enabled the sinner to do. Good works follow salvation, they are a fruit of salvation, but in no way are they a contributing factor to it. Be not deceived! Any teaching that conditions salvation on anything other than the love, grace and mercy of God, is a boast in what man can do and boasts in man exalting him, rather than God ALONE.
"All men naturally feel that they should earn their salvation, and a system which makes some provision in that regard readily appeals to them. But the apostle Paul lays the axe to such reasoning when he says, ‘...for if a law had been given that could bring life, then righteousness would in reality come from the law’ (Galatians 3:21)."15 "But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Galatians 6:14)
Such curses as the above quoted anathemas of Rome are negated by the writings of the apostle Paul: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed!" (Galatians 1:8). Paul added: "FOR ALL WHO DEPEND ON WORKS...ARE UNDER A CURSE; for it is written: Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing ALL the things written in the book of the law" (Galatians 3:10)—"The apostle Paul is teaching here that anyone who would seek to earn salvation by keeping the law, in other words by obeying the commandments of God, must render PERFECT obedience...which clearly is impossible for any human being. Hence Paul’s anathema shatters that of Roman Catholicism, for it is the curse of God that is upon any who teach salvation by works in any form."16
Further investigation into the writings of Paul confirm the fact that salvation cannot be of works: "He saved us and called us unto a holy life, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS but according to His own design and the GRACE bestowed on us in Christ Jesus BEFORE TIME BEGAN" (2 Timothy 1:9). "...no human being will be justified in His sight by observing the law...the righteousness of God has been manifested APART FROM THE LAW...the righteousness of God THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST for all who believe..." (Romans 3:20-22). The Scriptures state that salvation is not merited by the individual obedience of the many (those Christ died for), but "...through the OBEDIENCE OF ONE the many will be made righteous" (Romans 5:19). The apostle Paul also wrote conclusively: "...we consider that a person is justified APART FROM WORKS..." (Romans 3:28).
We return now to Roman Catholicism’s favourite passage of Scripture when dealing with the subject of salvation, James 2:14-26. What James has actually said, which incidentally is in perfect harmony with other portions of Scripture unlike the Roman Catholic doctrine of works, is that faith, if it has no subsequent works, is dead: James said: "...you have faith and I have works. Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works" (James 2:18). Former Roman Catholic priest, Bartholomew Brewer, has wisely stated: "We are not saved BY good works, but we are saved FOR good works" as is made clear in Ephesians 2:10: "For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus FOR (not because of) the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them." James was not making works the basis or foundation of salvation, otherwise this passage would conflict with the rest of the New Testament, but was merely demonstrating that if one claims to have saving faith but has no subsequent works, then that faith cannot be of God. Having saving faith but no subsequent works is like having a foundation but no house built upon it. Remember, the Scriptures do not contradict one another. If there is confusion, it does not lie in the Scriptures but in the unregenerate minds of lost men.
What James was simply trying to point out was that one cannot merely profess to have faith in the fact there is One True and Living God and expect to be saved, for, according to James, "..even the demons believe that and tremble" (2:19) and yet surely they have not gained salvation. The same is the case with having a faith which does not have any accompanying works. James says that kind of faith is dead. A faith which comes from the mouth is a dead faith. That faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that comes from the heart, which produces accompanying works, is a faith that is alive. Good works are a result of the true and living faith that comes from God, however it is important to point out that such works do not in any way contribute to one’s salvation; they are the mere fruit of faith. In other words, ‘Faith produces works’ therefore ‘Works follow faith’.
James was speaking primarily to those who, at the time, thought that one could have true faith without works; a justification without sanctification. "Good works, of course, are pleasing to God, and they have an important and very necessary place in the life of the Christian. They naturally follow if one has true faith, and they are performed out of love and gratitude to God for the great salvation that has been bestowed. If any professing Christian does not want to obey the Bible and live a good Christian life, that is proof that his faith is not sincere."17 If you are a professing Christian and you do not have an overwhelming love and desire for, and belief in, God’s only Gospel, then it is of a surety you have never been truly born-again. The true Christian is "...born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God...This is the word which (by the Gospel) is proclaimed to you" (1 Peter 1:23,25). The footnotes to this passage from the St. Joseph edition of the New American Bible state: "The new birth of Christians derives from Christ, the imperishable seed or sowing that produces a new and lasting existence in those who accept the Gospel..."
"Good works...are not the cause and basis of salvation, they are not what the person does to earn salvation, but rather the fruits and evidence of salvation which is: "...not because of any righteous deeds we had done BUT BECAUSE OF HIS MERCY, He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). The born again Christian produces good works as naturally as the grape vine produces grapes. They are a part of his very nature. He performs them not to get saved but because he is saved. And, it is to be observed further, that the distinguishing mark of a saint is not, as is the case in Roman Catholicism, what one has done for God, but what God has done for him."17
"The allegation which has been made by Roman Catholics and others is that this doctrine (faith alone through grace alone) makes good works of no value. Some have even called it an immoral doctrine. Nothing could be further from the truth. The apostle Paul anticipated such an objection when he wrote, ‘...Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not! How can we who died to sin yet live in it?’ (Romans 6:1,2). The Reformers taught that belief in the mercy of God in Jesus Christ gives a new life from which good works must proceed, and that if these do not come, it is evident that the life is not there. They distinguished between the act of justification or the counting men as righteous, and the work of sanctification or the making them holy, but they looked on the one as the precursor of the other. While they taught that faith alone saves, they taught also that faith could not be alone."18
The apostle James, in his Letter, is not saying that salvation cannot be gained without good works, what he is saying, however, is that no one can show or prove that he is saved without them (see James 2:18; cf. Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 2:9ff; Titus 2:14). For every verse of Scripture the Roman Catholic Church employs in an effort to support its doctrine of ‘salvation by works’, there are whole passages in the Roman Catholic Bible that stand eternally against this teaching, and as you will soon learn, clearly state that salvation is purely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and not of works at all, for it is the GIFT of God!
"A good tree is recognized as such because of its fruit. The fruit is only the outward sign that the tree is good. Believers are exhorted continually to let salvation work out its fruit in their lives for the glory of God (see Matthew 5:16). The nature of salvation is full proof that good works are the fruit of salvation and not a cause. Salvation is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8). What the Roman Catholic must realise is that it cannot be by grace if works are required also "19 "A worker’s wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due. But when one does not work, yet believes in the One Who justifies the ungodly, HIS FAITH is credited as righteousness" (Romans 4:4,5). "But if by grace, it is no longer because of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11:6).
The doctrine of salvation by any degree of works, negates, it nullifies and blots out the doctrine of salvation conditioned solely on the grace and mercy of God revealed in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ the Savior. Paul said that he did not frustrate the grace of God seen in Christ’s death by conditioning his salvation on any work of his: "I do not nullify (neutralize or violate) the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing" (Galatians 2:21 cf. Romans 11:5,6). What Paul is saying is that if Christ is not, by His Person and Work, the Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end), the Author and Finisher, of all of salvation, then He is no Savior at all. If any part of salvation is due to, or conditioned on, anything a man does then grace is frustrated, it is nullified, salvation is by works and Christ has died in vain (see Galatians 5:1-4). In other words, if any part of salvation is achievable, any condition that can be met, by anything or anyone or any deed other than by Christ and what He has done—what has been provided in and by Him—then Christ’s death was all in vain. The doctrine that bases, or conditions, salvation on what a man does, is a doctrine that neutralizes and violates the doctrine of salvation by grace alone and trespasses upon what Christ has done, and therefore blasphemes His name. The Scriptures say, "And when He was made Perfect, He became THE SOURCE (AUTHOR) OF ETERNAL SALVATION for all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9). "And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for ‘the one who is righteous by faith will live’" (Galatians 3:11).
SALVATION BY ROME ALONE?
As was mentioned earlier, it is the contention of the Roman Catholic Church that there is no salvation whatsoever outside of her. ‘You must be a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church or you will be in hell forever and never see God’, is her cry. Vatican II declared: "This sacred Synod...basing itself upon sacred Scripture and tradition, teaches that the (Roman) Church...is necessary for salvation." Additionally, the documents state: "It is through Christ’s (Roman) Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained..."20
The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism states: "It is through the Catholic Church alone that the whole fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved."21
The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism’s response to the question, ‘Is the Roman Catholic Church necessary for salvation?’, is an unequivocal: "Yes, the Church is necessary for salvation. Christ Himself declared that no one can be saved except through faith and baptism. He thereby affirmed the necessity of the Church...into which a person enters, as through a door, in the sacrament of baptism."22
This baptism, of course, is a baptism into the Church of Rome and no other. Baptism, in actual fact, does not save anybody. True Christian baptism of believers is purely symbolic and in no way does it help attain, secure or maintain salvation. According to Roman Catholicism, you must, in order to be saved, also confess your sins to a Roman Catholic priest. You must do the penance which that priest imposes. A person must also, inevitably, endure the fabled fires of Purgatory before becoming ‘pure enough’ for heaven. All of this false teaching renders the magnificent saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross as merely another work that, added to our own, ultimately gains us salvation!! This is wrong teaching. It is false teaching. It is a different gospel compared with that taught in the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible.
Salvation is possible, according to the doctrines of Rome, if the Roman Catholic Mass be regularly attended. Belief is compulsory, upon threat of eternal damnation, in the claim that the Roman Catholic priest ‘miraculously’ changes the communion bread and wine into the literal body and blood, soul and divinity, of the Lord Jesus Christ, a process known as Transubstantiation.
The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that to ensure salvation, one must also be in subjection to the Roman Catholic Pope and his decrees. Pope Pius IX, quoting Pope Boniface VIII, once stated: "It is necessary to salvation that every man should submit to the Pope." The Second Vatican Council also confirmed the longstanding dogma of Pope Boniface VIII of 1301, ‘Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salvus’, meaning, ‘No salvation outside of the Church of Rome.’ The New York Catechism states: "The Pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth. He is the true vicar of Christ....God Himself on earth."
The more recent doctrine of Papal infallibility must also be adhered to by one who aspires to salvation: "Papal infallibility is the teaching of Roman Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and of salvation." It was added: "If anyone—which may God avert—presume to contradict this our definition: let him be anathema"24 The documents of Vatican II even state that "...loyal submission of the will and the intellect must be given in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff even when he does not speak ‘ex-cathedra’... or ‘from the chair’ (Vol.1, pp.378-379). Ex-cathedra is when a Pope speaks of faith and morals defined by him as infallibly true and which is to be accepted by ALL Roman Catholics. In other words, the people are to completely submit to everything the Pope teaches, whether he speaks ‘infallibly’ or not!
According to Roman Catholicism, amongst other ‘necessities’ required for salvation is a belief in the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary. "The new dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on November 1st, 1950. It makes the Roman Catholic teaching that Mary was ‘assumed (taken up) body and soul’ into heaven an article of faith to be believed on pain of eternal damnation."25 St. Alphonsus Liguori whose book, ‘The Glories of Mary’, was pronounced without error by popes Pius VII in 1803, and Leo XII in 1825, and which is officially approved by the Roman Catholic Church, declared: "...our salvation is in the hands of Mary, he who is protected by Mary will be saved, he who is not will be lost."26
In stark contrast to Liguori’s declaration, the Roman Catholic Bible states: "Whoever possesses THE SON has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12).
"You see how it works — everything in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church makes you dependent upon the Church. Are you saying that you can repent and go to Christ and believe in Him and be saved? No, you must have this operation worked upon you by the priest through your baptism. All along it makes the priest and the Church absolutely essential. You are helpless without them, you are bound to them. There is no direct communication with Christ, you have always to go through these intermediaries. The Bible says that there is only one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. Not so in Rome—Mary, the Pope, the priests and all the hierarchy and all the underlings, all these are necessary too."27
Dear Roman Catholic, I believe that you would scoff and laugh at me if I came to you saying that your salvation depended, not on God alone, but on your commitment to an organization AND God. Friends, you don’t need a man; you don’t need an organization to be saved from your sin. And you certainly do not need to seek out and embrace the man-made teachings of tradition to save you. You need the Lord Jesus Christ; you need God alone; you need His Holy Word, the Bible. You need to believe HIS GOSPEL wherein is revealed the Righteousness of Christ without which no man can be saved. You need to receive God’s Gospel Truth. At that Last Day, the Day of Judgement, you will not be among an organization of millions facing God, you will not be one of the crowd, you will be facing Him alone. It will be you face to face with God. He is the One you are answerable to and He is all you need. If one is not clothed with the Righteousness of Christ and has not completely rejected, just like the apostle Paul (see Philippians 3), all one’s religious efforts as being in any way a contributing factor to one’s salvation, as well as every thought that you were saved before hearing and believing God’s only Gospel, you will perish for all eternity.
A person or an organization may lead you to Jesus Christ but God does not require you to be a member of any organization on earth to be saved, other than a member of the true Church of Jesus Christ, the one that is made up of every true believer in Jesus. The Bible calls it the Church of the first-born (see Hebrews 12:23).
The Roman Catholic Church is no different to any cult or sect that preaches allegiance and devotion and trust in the organization, rather than in the God-Man Jesus Christ, alone, as the one and ONLY way to Salvation.