Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.
In the last several weeks, we’ve examined nine verses/passages which Armstrong presented as proof texts for salvation by faith plus works. Today, we’ll examine the next six verses/passages that Armstrong presents as evidence that salvation is dependent on works and can be forfeited.
Armstrong introduces the six verses/passages below with the heading, “St. Paul On Falling Away from the Faith and Salvation.’” Directly beneath the passages he writes, “Catholics believe in accordance with these passages, that salvation can be lost and that one can fall out of faith and the good graces of God.” – p. 80.
#38) 1 Corinthians 9:27 – “But I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (Note – All Bible quotes presented by Armstrong are from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, RSVCE)
As I’ve noted previously, Catholicism regularly confuses the Judgement Seat of Christ/Bema Seat, where believers will be judged and rewarded for their servant ministries, with the Great White Throne Judgement where unbelievers will be judged. In 1 Corinthians 9:23-27, Paul is using the example of accomplished athletes of that era to exhort believers to fight the fight of faith and run the race of life with nothing less than dedication, passion, and perseverance, not to merit salvation, but in service to Jesus Christ.
#39) 1 Corinthians 10:12 – “Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”
John MacArthur writes of this verse, “When a Christian becomes so confident of his strength that he thinks he can handle any situation, he is overconfident and in great danger of falling…The danger is not of falling from salvation but of falling from holiness and from usefulness in service. It is a serious danger and one the Lord does not take lightly.”
#40) Galatians 5:1 – “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
#41) Galatians 5:4 – “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”
In the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul was writing to the entire church at Galatia. He did not presume everyone in the fellowship was saved and was writing to both the believers and unbelievers, the wheat and the tares. Paul was admonishing the entire fellowship to hold fast to the Gospel of grace rather than being seduced by the false gospel of the works-righteousness Judaizers. Individuals within the Galatian church who had genuinely accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone could still be tempted to adopt elements of legalism in their worship and practice (as Peter had done at Antioch) without losing their salvation, but that would be dangerous for the church.
It’s ironic that Armstrong appeals to the Epistle to the Galatians in his arguments because Paul was warning against the very type of merited salvation false gospel that Catholicism teaches.
#42) Philippians 3:8-14 – “8 Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Again, just as in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is admonishing his readers to passionately pursue holiness in Christ Jesus, not salvation. It’s interesting that Armstrong includes this passage in his defense of Catholicism because Paul writes that he left his impressive works-righteousness resume behind and counts it as rubbish and now glorifies in the very un-Catholic truth of “not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Armstrong sinks his own ship with this passage.
#43) 1 Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
The meaning of this verse isn’t that genuine Christians will lose their salvation, but that people posing as Christians will fall away and even proclaim false gospels. Every day, people profess faith in Christ, but not every profession is genuine. It’s revealing that Armstrong stops with verse one because verse three of the same chapter warns against the coming false teachers who “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods.” Hmm, sounds a lot like Roman Catholicism.
While Armstrong cites these six verses as proof texts of the possibility of losing salvation, careful examination reveals otherwise. In fact, we found that a few of the passages warn against the very kind of works-righteousness false gospel that Armstrong and his church propagate.
See the articles below for further study.
Olympic Spirituality – Beyond the Gold (1 Corinthians 9:27)
The Danger of Overconfidence, Part 1 (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Does Galatians 5:4 teach that we can lose our salvation? (Galatians 5:1 & Galatians 5:4)
Reaching for the Prize (Philippians 3:8-14)
Teach the Truth – 1 Timothy 4:1-6