Is salvation a process where we must constantly pull out the weeds in our “soul’s garden” or is salvation coming to Christ the Savior by faith without a single plea of our own?


“The truly Catholic view is that we are created in God’s image and therefore we are good.” – Catholic priest, Dwight Longenecker

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12, God’s Holy Word

There are many people who call themselves “Christians” but their beliefs are outside of Biblical orthodoxy and their faith is in their religious system rather than in Jesus Christ. The Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are obvious examples. Roman Catholicism is a bit trickier because it has a pretty solid Christology (unlike the LDS and JWs) and it often refers to “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus the Savior,” just as evangelical Christians do. But the difference between Biblical Christianity and Catholicism become clearer when we discuss HOW a person appropriates the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Catholics will always vehemently object to claims that their religion is works-based. They will freely acknowledge that salvation is a gift by God’s grace but what they really mean is salvation is a process by which a person regularly participates in the church sacraments and receives sacramental grace so that they can abstain from sin and subsequently merit Heaven. Catholics are taught they must “cooperate with grace” received from the sacraments by obeying the Ten Commandments and church rules.

Catholicism is a very complicated legalistic religion and it’s always difficult to peel through the double-speak and nail down exactly what the church teaches regarding salvation, which is why I very much appreciate the recent article below from Catholic priest, Dwight Longenecker (pictured). Every evangelical who wonders about the fundamental difference between Catholicism and Biblical Christianity should read this short, revealing article. Longenecker gives the Catholic view that people are basically good and with the help of the Catholic sacraments, which allegedly infuse God’s grace into the recipient’s soul, the Catholic can become holier and holier in order to eventually merit Heaven (*although they can never be sure if they have done enough to merit Heaven).

In the article, Longenecker pooh-poohs the Biblical doctrine of “Total Depravity,” which states that no one is good and could never merit Heaven. We come to Christ and accept Him as our Savior by faith alone without one, single plea of our own. Our only plea is the perfect righteousness of our Savior. At the moment we accept Christ, His perfect righteousness is imputed to us. That is how a person is saved.

Although we use a lot of the same terminology, the Catholic view of salvation is diametrically opposed to the Biblical Christian view. They are not compatible.

Please take a few minutes and read Longenecker’s article below and hopefully you’ll get a basic understanding of why Catholicism and Biblical Christianity are at loggerheads.

*Catholics have no assurance of their salvation. They are taught they commit the “sin of presumption” if they assume they are going to Heaven. This is a clear cut indication that Catholics are trusting in their own allegedly meritorious works rather than the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Protestantism and Pop Psychology


12 thoughts on “Is salvation a process where we must constantly pull out the weeds in our “soul’s garden” or is salvation coming to Christ the Savior by faith without a single plea of our own?

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Tom. This one sentence really stood out to me…”Yes, the idea that you can be good enough to get into heaven is a heresy, but it is also a heresy that you are so bad that you can never get to heaven.” It left me wondering, “So why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” To me, the cross confirms total depravity. Thanks again for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, John. Exactly. When I was eleven years old and a Catholic grammar school student I had an epiphany. I thought, if getting to Heaven is a matter of obeying the Ten Commandments as Catholicism teaches then why did Jesus have to die on the cross? It would be 16 years before I accepted Christ but that was the start of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Tom, his article can offer lots of insight into Catholic teaching and views about their living in a non-Catholic country, the US. I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it. Wow, also confirms what I’ve observed that we are still heretics to devout Catholics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Maria. Yes, the article is very revealing in regards to the main difference between Catholicism and Biblical Christianity. Catholics hope they can successfully remove the weeds from their “soul’s garden.” Christians know from God’s Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit that there is absolutely no chance of removing the weeds. We would like to ask the priest, since no one is perfect, and some amount of weeds are going to be present, exactly what amount of weeds is acceptable? What is the cutoff exactly? Since there is obviously no good answer, followers of works religion like Catholicism can only “hope for the best.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah. Last night I was talking to someone who was struggling with the difference between Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism. I focused it on salvation and I thought the guy saw the differences very clearly. Then other areas suddenly was seen as problematic too and not a minor issue (Mary as interceder, the church as an institution of stored up grace, sacraments, etc). I think the blindness and misunderstanding among some Evangelicals is the result of an anemic understanding of salvation.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. “I think the blindness and misunderstanding among some Evangelicals is the result of an anemic understanding of salvation.”

        I agree. In evangelical circles, salvation doctrine is often discussed/preached in very vague terms as if it were some kind of warm fuzzy like, “I have Jesus in my heart.”

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Grace

    The Catholic Church’s view of salvation is very biblical.


    “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is a gift of God; Not of works, that no man may glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:8-10)

    The gift of God’s grace is essential to salvation, as the text of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians says we are saved by it. We are not saved by the works that we perform, rather the grace that God freely gives us.

    It says we are saved by grace, the gift of God, through faith. Paul emphasizes that salvation is a gift; we cannot get to Heaven merely by our own works. Yet we are to most certainly perform good works, since the text says that we were created for them. This passage no where says we are saved solely by faith. The message is that we are saved by grace.


    “But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, Must believeth that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him.” (Heb. 11:6)

    Faith is absolutely necessary to get to Heaven. If a Christian did not have faith, then he wouldn’t exactly be a Christian, because he doesn’t believe in Christ. We must believe in God and place our trust in Him.


    “If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, maranatha.” (1 Cor. 16:22)

    “Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for charity is of God. And every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God.” (1 John 4:7)

    “And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

    Love is essential! If a man was to place His faith in Christ and yet go through life having hatred for his neighbor, would he end up in Heaven? Not without love. St. Paul says that “there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor. 13:13). If we are saved by faith only, then why is charity (love) greater than faith?


    “For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen, is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?” (Rom. 8:24)


    “No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)


    “And being consummated, he became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal salvation.” (Heb. 5:9)


    “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)

    “Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

    Membership of Christ’s Church

    “Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body.” (Eph. 5:23)

    Lifelong Faithfullness

    “And you shall be hated by all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.” (Mt. 10:22)

    “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil will cast some of you into prison that you may be tried: and you shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful until death: and I will give thee the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

    It is the Protestant falsehood that works are seemingly un-needed. Goods works are a must, as we will be judged on WHAT we DO. (Matthew 25)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Obedience and sanctification come AFTER accepting Christ as Savior, not before. Catholicism puts the cart before the horse.

      “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:8-10


    1. Hi, Patrick. Former Catholics who have become evangelicals and want to help Catholics understand the Gospel speak from experience, knowledge, and further study when we speak about Catholicism. None of us is adequate for this but Jesus is adequate and helps us be truthful.

      Liked by 1 person

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