BY ROME OR BY GRACE? (part 2)
SALVATION - WHAT DOES THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE SAY?
The fact that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, is clearly taught in the pages of the Roman Catholic Bible. There are an almost endless array of Scriptures that testify to this clearly and unmistakably.
Perhaps the two Scripture passages that are most clear are the following: "For by GRACE you have been saved through faith, and this is NOT FROM YOU; it is the GIFT of God; it is NOT FROM WORKS, so no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). This passage is clearly stating that salvation is by grace alone and no part of that salvation which comes from God is due to, or is a result of, anything that the saved person has done. The passage is saying that if any part of salvation is conditioned on man then he would have reason to boast in what he has done. But the Gospel of Christ is the only one that teaches that salvation, grace and faith are all from God, NOT FROM US, and therefore no man can boast before Him and ALL the glory for salvation belongs solely to God. Anyone who says or believes anything different to this preaches another gospel, which cannot save.
Paul the apostle could not have made it any clearer than this: "...a person is NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE WORKS of the law, because by works of the law NO ONE will be justified" (Galatians 2:16). A man is justified by a WORK OF GOD and not by any work of his own. If a man could be saved by a work of his own, then there would have been no need for Jesus Christ to come to this earth and die on the cross for our sins. You cannot couple what Christ has done with what we do as being the means to salvation for either you embrace what Christ alone has done or you must trust solely in what you have done, "You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law..." (Galatians 5:4). What every Roman Catholic needs to ask himself, and then examine, is the question: ‘Why did Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come to this earth to die on a cross? What did He die for and for whom did He die?’
The word ‘justification’, as used by the apostle Paul throughout his letters, "...refers plainly not to an infusion of righteousness, as Rome contends, but to the accounting of a guilty man as if he were free from guilt."28
"Stated very simply: because God treated Christ as if He had sinned our sin, He is now able to treat true believers as if they had never sinned. How? By laying to their account the righteousness of His Son. That is the essential meaning of justification. It does not mean that the sinner is REALLY made righteous (that has to do with sanctification), but that God REGARDS the sinner as righteous and declares him to be so."29
"There can be no dispute that the word ‘justification’ in the New Testament has a judicial meaning. Whenever it is used with reference to our acceptance with God, it means the declaration that a person is just; it does not mean in any way a making just. God justifies us freely by His grace (Romans 3:24; that is, it has nothing at all to do with merit or goodness on our part, with what we are in ourselves. God is said to justify (declare righteous) the ungodly (Romans 4:5).
"On what ground does He do this? Clearly, not on the ground of the sinner’s righteousness, but on the ground of that righteousness which God has revealed and provided in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21,22). By faith we are ‘in Christ’ and His righteousness is imputed or reckoned to us who believe in Him: "For our sake He made Him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God IN HIM" (2 Corinthians 5:21). All this is quite distinct from and independent of the inward renewal or condition of the sinner. The ground of his justification is not found in himself but solely in Christ.
"Now this is the teaching that the Reformers and others since have so jealously guarded and sought to defend against every attempt to include within it the idea that justification rests in some way upon an inward change in the believer. To be sure, the man who trusts in Christ is a changed man, and inwardly renewed by grace, otherwise he would not have faith in Christ alone but, and this is the matter of vital importance which the Bible makes quite clear, his justification must never be confused with, or supposed to rest upon, that inward change or anything in himself, as its ground or reason. The Biblical doctrine of justification logically has nothing to do with inward change."30 Listen to what the Roman Catholic Bible teaches: "...when one DOES NOT WORK, yet believes in the One who justifies the ungodly, HIS FAITH is credited as righteousness. So also David declares the blessedness of the person to whom God credits righteousness APART FROM WORKS" (Romans 4:5,6 cf. Romans 3:19,27).
As was stated earlier, no man can in any way effect his own salvation, though his life abound with religion and ‘good works’; these ‘good works’ in and of themselves can never save the sinner for, "...all our good deeds are like polluted rags..." (Isaiah 64:5) and "...without (saving) faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6). A good illustration, which may help in making this point clearer, is that of the rotten apple. Although it is diseased and rotting at the core, an apple may still have a pleasant aroma. And yet, no matter how pleasant the aroma may be, the rottenness remains! And no one is going to accept a rotten apple to eat, no matter how fragrant it is! So too, God will never accept an imperfect and sinful man, no matter how many ‘good things’ he might do, because his good deeds are all imperfect and can never do away with his rotten sinful state. The apple can do nothing to change the fact that it is rotten. It can never do away with its own rottenness. So too, a man who lives a life that gives off a sweet fragrance of good works, can never alter the fact that he is a sinner and can do nothing of himself to change the condition of his own unrighteousness before God. This can only be achieved by what His Maker, Jesus Christ, has done upon the cross at Calvary (see Romans 3:9-20; Galatians 3:10-14). Nothing we do, don’t do, or stop doing, can alter our sinful nature one bit. Man’s condition, and the fact that he can do nothing to change his state before God, and therefore please God, is highlighted by God Himself in the following verse: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin? the leopard his spots? As easily would you be able to do good, accustomed to evil as you are" (Jer. 13:23); "All have gone astray; all alike are worthless; there is not one who does good, [there is not] even one" (Rom. 3:12); "Yet there is no man on earth so just as to do good and never sin" (Eccl. 7:20).
That Jesus Christ is called Saviour is a simple reminder of, and points to, the fact that man cannot save himself, but is undeniably in need of One who can save him.
The Roman Catholic Bible makes it abundantly clear that salvation belongs to the Lord: "The salvation of the just is from the Lord..." (Psalm 37:39). Once you, the Roman Catholic, come to the point of accepting this truth, it will be easy for you to see and agree with the Word of God, which says that salvation is indeed "Not because of any righteousness which we had done but because of His mercy..." (Titus 3:5).
Eternal life is a gift, "...the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23), which is given to those who are the elect of God, "not by works but by His call..." (Romans 9:12). "We are told that Christ suffered as a substitute, ‘the just for the unjust’. And when man is encouraged to think that he owes to some power or art of his own that salvation which in reality is all of grace, God is robbed of part of His glory. By no stretch of the imagination can a man’s good works in this life be considered a just equivalent for the blessings of eternal life. We are, in fact, nothing but receivers; we never bring any adequate reward to God, we are always receiving from Him, and shall be unto all eternity."31
A man’s works are not what justifies him before God. The Roman Catholic Bible has shown us that it is God alone who justifies. "Yet God can only justify us on the basis of faith. That is why the apostle Paul tells us that we are "...justified by faith..." (Romans 5:1); or we are "...saved through faith..." (Ephesians 2:8). Faith alone does not save, yet we cannot be saved without it."32
The Roman Catholic Church wrongly instructs her followers that salvation is by a combination of God’s sanctifying grace, good works, the sacraments and by obeying the laws of God and the Roman Church. Yet the Roman Catholic Bible, as we have seen, simply declares that salvation is purely by grace, a gift of God, which no man can earn. Dear Roman Catholic, both teachings cannot be right. We either procure our own salvation by works, or a combination of our works and God’s grace; or God grants His people salvation completely and absolutely by His grace. The apostle Paul reiterates: "...if BY GRACE it is no longer because of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace" (Romans 11:6). If a man believes he is saved, to any degree, by his own works then grace cannot even play a small part in his ‘salvation’. The Bible simply states that if salvation is by grace, then it is NOT AT ALL by works, and, if salvation is by works, then it is NOT AT ALL by grace. Grace and works are like oil and water, the two simply will not mix! "...WE ARE SAVED BY THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS..." (Acts 15:11); "They are JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24).
The Question & Answer Catholic Catechism says that in order for man to gain salvation, he must keep the 10 Commandments. It is interesting to note the irony of the fact that in most Roman Catholic publications that carry a list of the 10 Commandments, including catechisms, God’s Second Commandment, which Roman Catholicism is guilty of breaking, which forbids the making and worshipping of idols or images of anything in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, is excluded!! However, Roman Catholic Bibles do contain the proper listing of the Ten Commandments as they were given to Moses.
One example that may be presented to show that man does not acquire salvation by his own works, is that of the patriarch Abraham who, "...had done good works but they did not mean a thing before God" (see Romans 4:3). The Roman Catholic Bible teaches that Abraham was not saved because of obedience to the Ten Commandments, for they had not yet been given! He was not saved by a church, for there was none. He never heard of baptism or sacraments." Nor was he saved because of circumcision! "Abraham’s salvation was THROUGH FAITH IN HIS REDEEMER, and through faith alone. IT WAS NOT FAITH PLUS WORKS. IT WAS FAITH INDEPENDENT OF WORKS (Romans 4:6)."33 "...if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works, he has reason to boast; but this was not so in the sight of God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham BELIEVED God and it was credited to him as righteousness" (Romans 4:2,3). "Does this blessedness apply only to the circumcised, or to the uncircumcised as well? Now we assert that faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was he circumcised or not? HE WAS NOT CIRCUMCISED, but uncircumcised" (Romans 4:9,10). Salvation comes by the gift of Faith and not by the works of man.
The following passage in the Book of Acts shows clearly that certain of the sect of the Pharisees "...who had become believers stood up and said, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them (recently converted Gentiles) and direct them to observe the Mosaic law" (Acts 15:5) in order to be saved. Peter the apostle rose up in denial, declaring "Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we are SAVED THROUGH THE GRACE of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they" (Acts 15:10,11). In no uncertain terms, Peter here shows that salvation is NOT by works, by anything a man does, but purely by the grace of God: "...you are not under the law but under GRACE" (Romans 6:14).
God’s objective in giving the commandments was to convince sinners of their guilt and to show them the impossibility of man being able to keep the whole of the law of God, and thereby merit heaven: "...the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified BY FAITH. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian" (Galatians 3:24,25; cf. Romans 6:14; 7:4; 8:2). The commandments of God are a guide for the believer’s life and should, of course, be obeyed by every true believer. But there is no salvation purely by keeping one’s life in accordance with the commandments, for one would have to keep them perfectly: "For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, HAS BECOME GUILTY IN RESPECT TO ALL OF IT" (James 2:10). The life of obedience is that which follows salvation, ie. belief in the Gospel.
The following is an important lesson for all Roman Catholics. The Jews were a people who also believed that salvation could be attained by their own works of righteousness. The apostle Paul, observing those who based their salvation upon their own good works, prayed for their salvation: "Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on their behalf is for salvation. I testify with regard to them that they have zeal for God, BUT IT IS NOT DISCERNING. For, in their awareness of the righteousness that comes from God, and their attempt to establish their own [righteousness], they did not submit to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for the justification of everyone who has faith" (Romans 10:1-4). An earlier statement of Paul’s in regard to Israel is one that should send a clear message to Roman Catholics, who have been misled into believing that salvation can be earned by, or is in any way dependant upon, good works: "...Israel who pursued the law of righteousness, did not attain to that law. Why not? BECAUSE THEY DID IT NOT BY FAITH, BUT AS IF IT COULD BE DONE BY WORKS" (Romans 9:31,32).
"...They were, therefore, not in the Church of Christ. He makes it plain that ‘the righteousness of God’ is given to us through faith, and that we enter heaven pleading only the merits of Christ. Time and again the Scriptures repeat the assertion that salvation is of grace, as if anticipating the difficulty that men would have in coming to the conclusion that they could not earn it by their own works."34
The reality that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone, cannot be presented to you, the Roman Catholic, in a more succinct and clear way than in the passage found in Acts 16:30-32. This is the passage where the crucial question is asked: "...what must I do to be saved?" The apostle Paul’s answer is simply this: "...BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS and you...will be saved." The very next verse in this chapter reveals that those who gave this answer to the man who asked, "What must I do to be saved?" immediately "...spoke the WORD OF THE LORD to him..." The context of this chapter shows that the Word of the Lord they taught the man was indeed the GOSPEL (see Acts 16:10). The only way one can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is to hear God’s only Gospel wherein, and only therein, the true Christ and His Righteousness is revealed: "...Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the Word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). True saving faith will not come by hearing any other gospel—which is filled with words other than God’s Word. The Scriptures make clear that saving faith is not something that comes from man, but is a gift given to man by the grace of God (see Ephesians 2:8), which believes in no other gospel but God’s unique and only Gospel.
Jesus’ own words in John’s Gospel are just as clear: "...whoever BELIEVES (on Me) has eternal life" (John 6:47). The witness of John the Baptist is also in agreement: "Whoever BELIEVES in the Son has eternal life..." (John 3:36). Moreover, the Roman Catholic Bible testifies to the fact that, "To Him (Jesus) ALL THE PROPHETS bear witness, that everyone WHO BELIEVES IN HIM will receive forgiveness of sins through His name" (Acts 10:43). To believe in Jesus Christ is not merely to believe in a Supreme Being whom one address as ‘jesus’, it is to acknowledge and hold dear the doctrine that identifies the only Jesus whom God testifies to in His Gospel. The doctrine you believe is indicative of the God/god you have embraced. The apostle John concluded his Gospel by saying that the signs of Jesus Christ that he had written of, were written so that "...you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through THIS BELIEF you may have life in His name" (John 20:31; see also Romans 10:9; 3:26,27; John 1:12; 3:15,16). Again, to rightly and savingly believe in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God is to not merely utter these words and sincerely believe them to be true, but to believe what GOD has said in HIS Gospel concerning that which Jesus, as Messiah and the Son of God, would do for His people.
You will notice that in the above scriptures, no one spoke of a church, nor any of the sacraments, not even of baptism as necessary for salvation. The one requirement for salvation is that you BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ: "For, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART that God raised Him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED" (Romans 10:9). Of course, the word ‘believe’ involves far more than a mere acknowledgement of Christ’s existence and the historical facts pertinent to His life. The belief of a true Christian is "...according to the Scriptures..." (see 1 Corinthians 15:3,4) and cannot be separated from a deep reliance and trust upon the Saviour, Jesus Christ, and an adherence to His every Word. Believing in Jesus Christ is to entrust oneself to His care.
To believe this truth, which is in essence the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that upon believing on Him—that is, on His righteousness alone as that by which a man is saved—one is translated from the Kingdom of darkness and into God’s Kingdom of Light, the Roman Catholic "...would have to...completely reject Roman Catholicism’s false gospel" and confess that they were NEVER saved whilst believing a gospel that God does not teach. "One cannot believe two contradictory propositions at the same time; one cannot believe Christ obtained redemption through His blood and ALSO believe redemption is BEING accomplished through Roman Catholic liturgy; one cannot believe salvation is by faith and ‘not of works’ and at the same time believe that good works earn salvation." Paul the apostle counted all that he formerly did and believed as "...so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having ANY righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God depending on faith" (Philippians 3:8,9). So too, the Roman Catholic must turn his back on Roman Catholicism and her false gospel of works, completely rejecting any previous claim of being a saved Christian, realising that prior to hearing and believing the Gospel no one is saved.
"Paul declared that ‘all have sinned’ (Romans 3:23), and need to be ‘saved’ from God’s eternal judgement upon sinners. He also insisted that one can be saved ONLY by believing ‘the Gospel of Christ’ (Romans 1:16). The early Church ‘turned the world upside down’ (Acts 17:6) with the preaching of this Gospel which Roman Catholicism has denied for 1,500 years."35
No one is saved, or can be saved, whilst believing in the false gospel of Roman Catholicism. The reason we can make such a sweeping statement is due to the fact that the Roman Catholic Church does not preach THE Gospel of God but a shrewd counterfeit. According to the Scriptures, none are or can be in a sanctified state, made righteous before God, by believing in falsehood. Speaking to believers in God’s Gospel, Paul the apostle states: "...God chose you as the firstfuits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the TRUTH. To this end He has [also] called you through OUR GOSPEL to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Thessalonians 2:13,14).
This information is shared, not with the intention of mocking Roman Catholics because they do not know the true Gospel, but in an attempt to show to you, the Roman Catholic, that your Church has not taught you the truth. What chance do you have of believing and receiving the truth if you have not been taught it? We do not mock you, but we simply tell you, in love, that you have not been taught the truth about Jesus Christ and His Gospel!! We implore you to investigate what you have been taught and compare it with what the Scriptures say, for they are the very Word of God.
Roman Catholicism teaches a life of rituals and ceremonies, good works and devotion to the Church, priests, and Pope; of building a storehouse of merits in order to one day gain heaven. The Roman Catholic Bible, however, teaches that the true Christian worships God in spirit and in truth, and believes in Jesus Christ who "...is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20) and that it is "...through the OBEDIENCE OF ONE the many will be made righteous" (Romans 5:19).