Religion or Jesus?

Nick was a devout Catholic. He was baptized into the church as an infant and attended Catholic grammar school where he listened attentively to the nuns and priests. In first grade he made his first confession and received his first communion. When he was in fifth grade he was confirmed. Nick grew up to be a very religious man. When he was twenty-years-old he resolved that he would attend mass daily and receive communion. He also resolved to go to confessioold-man-walking-146189n every Saturday and ask forgiveness for his “mortal” and even his “venial” sins. Nick was very proud of the fact that he kept up this religious routine for sixty years. A few days after his 80th birthday Nick was on his way to morning mass when he happened to notice a very attractive young woman walking ahead of him who was dressed in a rather revealing outfit. For just a few short moments he lusted heartily after the woman and didn’t notice the approaching car as he crossed the street. Nick, a devout Catholic for his entire long life, was hit by the car and died with the “mortal” sin of adultery on his soul (Matthew 5:28). He would have to spend eternity in Hell according to the Catholic theology because he did not die in a “state of grace.” Catholics are taught they must constantly sustain themselves in a “state of grace” through participating in the sacraments and through good works and “avoiding” sin. Most Catholics, if they’re honest, will acknowledge they haven’t been entirely “good” so they’re hoping they get the chance to wipe the slate clean by receiving the sacrament of Last Rites/Extreme Unction immediately before they die.

**********************

Now let’s take a look at Bill. Bill was also raised as a Catholic. He was baptized as an infant and was introduced to the sacraments of reconciliation and the eucharist just like Nick and attended mass regularly growing up. But when Bill was twenty he felt like there had to be more to it than the ritual and constant striving so he bought himself a Bible and began reading the New Testament. He began to understand that he wasn’t a sinner because he sinned like the Catholic church had taught him, but he came to realize that he sinned because he was a sinner. Huge difference!

The message of the Bible was different than what Bill had learned in the Catholic church. The priests and nuns had taught him that by obeying the Ten Commandments and the rules of the Catholic church he would be justified before God. But the Bible said there are none who are “good.” There is no one who can possibly obey the Ten Commandments in thought, word, and deed, except for One.

“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12 

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20 

Bill had heard about Jesus for many years but for the first time he really began to comprehend that God sent a Rescuer, a Savior, Jesus Christ, into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for his sins. Although Catholics call Jesus “Savior” they don’t think that they actually need to be saved.

“I have not come to call the (self) righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 

“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Romans 10:2-4 

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 trail_of_the_tithe_2

Bill understood that becoming a Christian wasn’t a matter of baptism, church membership, receiving the sacraments, or being “good.” Rather, becoming a Christian meant acknowledging one’s sinfulness before God and accepting His Son as Savior. Bill humbly prayed to God and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and was spiritually reborn for the first time. He realized that “good” works weren’t the means to salvation, they were the fruit of his relationship with Christ.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10.

Bill walked with the Lord for many years and when he died he joined his Lord and the other saints in Heaven, not because of his religion or “good” works but only because of the imputed righteousness of his Savior, Jesus Christ.

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Philippians 3:9

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4 thoughts on “Religion or Jesus?

  1. I’m confused. When you said, “he wasn’t a sinner because he sinned like the Catholic church had taught him, but he came to realize that he sinned because he was a sinner. Huge difference!”, I fail to see the ‘huge difference’. The Church does in fact teach that we all are imperfect sinners. We all need to be saved. If we didn’t believe we weren’t sinners, we wouldn’t need confession, because the purpose of reconciliation is to heal the soul. And only a sick man can be healed. When Paul said not even one is Good as God is good, of course! No one is perfect or could ever hope to be. We all have sin, and need to be saved by our Savior. Paul said later on in Romans 3 that,” Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not!w On the contrary, we are supporting the law”. He simply means that the law in of itself is not sufficient without faith. But faith is not sufficient without love. We don’t believe that good works get you into Heaven. God does. But you can refuse Christ’s love because you have free will. I would really encourage you to check out this article that explains the catholic position on this very well: http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-staples/are-good-works-necessary-for-salvation
    Thanks for your time.

    In Christ, Catholic2theMax

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  2. “I’m confused. When you said, “he wasn’t a sinner because he sinned like the Catholic church had taught him, but he came to realize that he sinned because he was a sinner. Huge difference!”, I fail to see the ‘huge difference’.”

    Hi C2M, I’m not surprised you couldn’t see this at first glance because it’s the Gospel of grace vs. the gospel of works and is only revealed by the Holy Spirit. Okay, here goes….

    CATHOLIC VIEW AS THE NUNS USED TO TEACH US: A baby is born with original sin. When the baby is baptized by a priest all the sin is washed away and the soul is bright-white clean. As the person matures and deliberately disobeys God, the stain of sin once again darkens the soul. The person needs to wash the soul clean again through confession and receiving communion. The cycle continues over and over and the person hopes to time it just right by dying while in a sinless “state of grace.” So Catholics believe people are fundamentally “good” and become sinners only if they sin. Catholics believe God’s grace is infused into their souls through the sacraments and as long as they toe the line and time it right their souls will be white as snow and acceptable to God when they come knockin’ on Heaven’s door. Being sin-free is a high hurdle so Catholics use purgatory as a safety net.

    BIBLICAL VIEW: We are all sinners by nature and no amount of trying to obey the Ten Commandments or church rules is going to reconcile us to God. Jesus made it clear that not only do sinful ACTIONS count as “mortal” sins but sinful THOUGHTS and ATTITUDES do as well (Matthew 5:21-30). There is not a single soul on earth who can live up to that standard. I’ve heard Catholics gripe that they would like to go to confession more often but they would feel foolish because they don’t have any “mortal” sins to confess. Oh, my Lord! A Christian understands that they commit “mortal” sins constantly throughout every single day – in thought, word, deed, or by omission – because they are deeply aware they are sinners and that is what sinners do.

    The Catholic church honors the apostle Paul as a GREAT “saint.” Surely if anyone could merit Heaven he could, right? WRONG! The concept of meriting any part of his salvation was repugnant to Paul and the farthest thing from his heart.

    “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

    So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Romans 7:15-25

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    1. Thank you for getting back to me. First off, I have never said that we earn our way into Heaven. Like you said, St. Paul was firmly against that idea. That does not mean you can’t get to Heaven though! A saint is anyone in Heaven, like St. Paul. We know he is in fact a saint because of miracles and such that could not happen if he was anywhere but Heaven. We as Catholics know that we can mortally sin not only through actions, but thoughts, words, and omissions as well. I have confessed al of them plenty of times. If you have ever seen an Examination of Conscience, you would have seen stuff like, Did I steal (deed), Did I entertain impure thoughts (thoughts), Did I take the Lord’s Name in Vain (Words), or Did I neglect to show love for my neighbor (Omission). Just like you, I would tell the person who doesn’t believe that they have mortal sin about the same thing you did. I also agree with you. No soul on Earth could ever live up to the standard of a sinless life. But Jesus often asks for the impossible, but He rarely requires it. God knows our imperfections and failings, so He forgives us. That doesn’t mean we are no longer sinners, but forgiven sinners. If a murderer goes to confession, and then jail, he is forgiven and has paid the price to the government. Does that change the fact he is a murderer? No. Does God hold on to that even after he asked for forgiveness? No. Forgive and Forget. God is the Father of the Prodigal Son, He forgives us.
      In Christ, Catholic2theMax

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      1. “First off, I have never said that we earn our way into Heaven. Like you said, St. Paul was firmly against that idea. That does not mean you can’t get to Heaven though!”

        While you may have never said that we earn our way to Heaven, the Catholic Church has always insisted that merit is part of the salvation equation (see below). As for getting to Heaven I thought I’ve been very clear that all who forsake their own merits and accept Christ as personal Savior will have eternal life (John 3:36).

        “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.” – Catholic Catechism, paragraph 2010.

        The Council of Trent condemns to Hell anyone who believes salvation is by the grace of God through faith in Jesus alone.

        Canon 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

        Canon 12: “If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified . . . let him be accursed”

        Canon 14: “If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.”

        Canon 23: “lf any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,–except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.”

        Canon 24: “If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.”

        Canon 30: “If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.”

        Canon 33: “If any one saith, that, by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.

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