Roman Catholicism’s reaction to COVID-19

In the last several weekend roundups, we have been observing and discussing how the Roman Catholic church has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Roman Catholicism is a works-righteousness religious system, which teaches its members that they must receive the church’s sacraments in order to allegedly acquire graces that will enable them to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in the hope of possibly meriting salvation at the moment of death. A religion comprised of compulsory sacramental rituals administered solely by its ordained clergy is paralyzed when access to the rituals is blocked. In reaction to the crisis, the Catholic church is scrambling in an attempt to offer sacramental “alternatives” (e.g., spiritual communion, general absolution, etc.).

What’s interesting about Catholicism is that while it demands that its members strictly adhere to its rules and rituals, it dichotomously grants that all non-Catholic religionists AND EVEN ATHEISTS are also able to merit Heaven if they nebulously and indefinably “follow the light they are given” and are “good.” That’s Universalism, folks, NOT Christianity.

On March 18th, the Italian daily newspaper, “La Repubblica,” published an interview with pope Francis regarding his thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, Francis offered the following as “encouragement” in these challenging circumstances:

“We are all children of God, and He watches over us. Even those who have not yet met God, those who do not have the gift of faith, can find their way through the good things that they believe in. They can find strength in their love for their children, their family, their brothers and sisters. Someone might say: ‘I cannot pray because I do not believe.’ But at the same time we can believe in the love of the people we have around us, and there we can find hope.”

What the pope said is a lie straight from the pit of hell. God’s Word says that everyone is God’s creation, but not everyone is God’s child.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2

I learned of the pope’s remarks via the interesting 50-minute video below. In this Zoom podcast, originally posted on March 28th, Leonardo De Chirico, pastor and director of the Reformanda Initiative, along with Clay Kannard, and Reid Karr, both also members of the RI team, discuss, “Rosary, Indulgences & Humanism: How is Roman Catholicism facing the Coronavirus Crisis?”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #18: “Up Out of the Water”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next installment, the Catholic apologist begins a twelve-chapter section on Sacraments beginning with baptism. In this chapter, Broussard counters Protestants’ argument that the proper mode of baptism is only by immersion because after Jesus was baptized, He came “Up Out of the Water.”

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Broussard delves into some of the other important differences between Catholics and Protestants regarding baptism in the chapters that follow, but in this chapter he focuses on whether baptism should be by sprinkling/pouring (i.e., affusion, Latin, affusio, to pour on), the Catholic mode, or by complete immersion as most Protestants believe. Broussard presents two Bible verses that Protestants use as proof texts for baptism by immersion only:

Acts 8:36-39: 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.

Mark 1:10: And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

In addition, Broussard acknowledges the Protestant argument that the Greek word for baptize, βαπτιζω, baptizo, means to immerse.

The Catholic apologist argues that the coming up out of the water mentioned in the two passages that are presented doesn’t necessarily refer to immersion, but could easily refer to the Ethiopian eunuch and Jesus only standing in the water for a sprinkling/pouring “baptism” and then ascending out of the body of water. Continuing his rebuttal, Broussard goes to Mark 7:2-4* and points out that the Greek words for wash and washing, baptisōntai and baptismous respectively, which are obviously related to baptizo and are used in the text to refer to the ritual washing of hands and vessels by the Pharisees, did not necessarily refer to immersion according to a modern Rabbinical Jewish source that’s cited.

Broussard then cites the Didache (1st-2nd century A.D.) and Letter to a Certain Magnus (255 A.D.) written by Cyprian, which recommended baptism by immersion, but specifically permitted sprinkling/pouring if circumstances don’t allow for immersion.

Okay, now let’s answer Mr. Broussard’s arguments. First off, God’s Word commands new believers to be baptized in several passages such as Matthew 28:19-20. Baptism is the public testimony of a new believer’s faith in Jesus Christ. We see from passages such as Romans 6:3-4 that baptism is a symbol of the believer’s identification with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. Baptism by sprinkling/pouring obviously does not picture Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

Broussard’s suggestion that Acts 8:36-39 and Mark 1:10 do not necessarily indicate baptism by immersion is interesting. Broussard later refutes his own suggestion by producing the Didache and the Letter to a Certain Magnus, which state that baptism by immersion is the norm unless sufficient water is unavailable. Sufficient water was available in both cases.

Broussard engages in subterfuge by arguing that since washing and immersion had the same the root in the Greek, that they were therefore equivalent. No need to respond to Broussard’s lexical sophistry other then to repeat that baptizo/baptize strictly means to immerse. Objects can certainly be washed either by being immersed or by not being immersed, but immersion means immersion.

In regards to the mention of baptism via sprinkling/pouring in the Didache and the Letter to a Certain Magnus, Scripture, our ONLY authority in matters of faith and practice, does not address what to do in cases where sufficient water is not available for immersion or when suppliants are not physically able to be immersed (due to fragile health, etc.). Baptism is important, but not essential for salvation (see the thief on the cross in Luke 23:32-43). The early church would have done well to maintain baptism strictly by immersion rather than allowing for accommodations. Such compromises led to great error. In the next three chapters, we’ll discuss how baptism, the public profession and symbol of conversion to Christ, was eventually transformed into a sacrament alleged to regenerate a soul.

What is the proper mode of baptism?
https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-mode.html

If a person wants to be baptized, but cannot – what should be done?
https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-cannot.html

*In citing this reference, Broussard mistakenly forgot to include the chapter number.

Next up: “Believer’s Baptism”

Throwback Thursday: New organization, the Reformanda Initiative, seeks to educate Evangelicals about Roman Catholicism

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 25, 2015 and has been revised.

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I guess you could say I’m a bit of a Christian “Rumpelstiltskon.” I attended an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) church for eight years (1983-1991), but ended up walking away from the Lord because I became so fed up with “churchianity” and the legalistic aspects of fundamentalism. I finally returned to my patient and wonderfully merciful Lord (Who never left me) in 2014.

Well, from my perspective many of the changes within the church after 23 years were quite dramatic. There aren’t too many people calling themselves “fundamentalists” these days. Moody Monthly magazine is only a distant memory. Hymn singing before the sermon as largely been replaced by rock music with Christian lyrics on the overheads. Pastors now wear sneakers, flannel shirts, and blue jeans (sometimes even skinny jeans!) on Sunday mornings. Churches have shed denominational names for “more welcoming,” hip monikers.

Okay. I’m not complaining. No doubt the differences seem so radical to me because I’ve been away for so long. But there is one noticeable change that’s very troubling and that’s the change in the church’s attitude towards works-righteousness Roman Catholicism.

Back in 1991, there were definitely signs of growing cooperation, accommodation, and compromise with Roman Catholicism, but in 2015 the compromise and betrayal of the Gospel is going full bore. A recent survey revealed 58% of evangelical pastors believe the pope is a born-again Christian. I shake my head in utter disbelief!

The change didn’t happen overnight. Ecumenism with Rome began creeping into evangelicalism as far back as the 1960s via Billy Graham. In the 1980s, as Christians became increasingly involved with politics and culture battles, people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson said, “Sure, we disagree with Catholics on some doctrines, but we need them in our fight to “reclaim America for Christ.” How did that work out?

Predictably, political cooperation led to doctrinal accommodation and compromise and by the mid-1990s, people like Charles Colson, Bill Bright, and J.I. Packer were actively campaigning for the church to recognize salvation-by-works Roman Catholicism as a Christian entity. Anyone who objected was dismissed as an old-school doctrinalist or backwater fundamentalist.

But there’s no need to despair. There’s still a large group of faithful believers who are defending the Gospel of grace. This past year I was happy to see new books on Catholicism from Richard Bennett, Gregg Allison, and Leonardo De Chirico.

Here’s some more good news. Yesterday I was reading De Chirico’s blog and I see he has partnered with Allison, Michael Reeves, and Greg Pritchard in creating the Reformanda Initiative, an effort to “identify, unite, equip, and resource evangelical leaders to understand Roman Catholic theology and practice, to educate the evangelical Church and to communicate the Gospel.” Take just five minutes and check out the many resources available on the organization’s web site via the link below:

http://reformandainitiative.org/

Let’s support and pray for the Reformanda Initiative. Get the buzz going. Send the link to your pastor and to any others the Lord directs. Evangelical pastors and their flocks desperately need to be educated about Roman Catholicism.

Postscript: Since the above post was written back in November, 2015, Dr. De Chirico and Reformanda Initiative have been faithfully educating evangelicals about the false gospel of Roman Catholicism and the need to reach out to Catholics with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #17: “Sanctified For All Time”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist completes his six-part section on Salvation by countering evangelical Protestants’ claim that they are “Sanctified For All Time.”

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In the previous two chapters, Broussard attacked the doctrine of the assurance of salvation for the believer based upon faith in Jesus Christ alone, and continues the assault in this chapter. Broussard opens by presenting Hebrews 10, verses 10 and 14 as Protestants’ proof texts for eternal security:

10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Evangelical Protestants declare from God’s Word that people are genuinely born-again in a moment in time when they repent of sin and place their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Christ’s sacrifice washes away all sins – past, present, and future – of those who trust in Him.

In contrast, Catholicism teaches that a person is born-again/regenerated at baptism and that they must then continue with a lifetime of receiving sacramental grace and obeying the Ten Commandments in order to hopefully merit salvation at death. Eternal life is forfeited, according to Catholic theology, upon every occasion a person commits a mortal sin. The person must then confess the mortal sin to a priest to gain absolution/forgiveness, and the cycle begins again.

Broussard argues that Hebrews 10:10,14 “cannot mean that all future sins are automatically forgiven because the Bible elsewhere teaches that there are conditions for having our future sins forgiven” (p. 93). Broussard then presents his two proof texts for conditional/merited salvation:

Matthew 6:12,14-15: 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 18:21-35, is the parable of the unforgiving servant: 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Since his proof texts are alleged to support conditional/merited salvation, Broussard then returns to Hebrews 10:10,14. He suggests that verse ten’s “once for all” should be interpreted to mean that “Christ’s one (author’s italics) sacrifice is sufficient to take away our sins (whenever we repent)” (p.95). As for the “perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” in verse 14, he suggests the meaning to be that “Christ’s sacrifice makes complete provision (author’s italics) for Christians of all times to achieve their goal of perfection” (pp.95-96).

Going back to Broussards’ proof texts:

Matthew 6:12, 14-15: Jesus is not suggesting conditional justification, but that a born-again believer must maintain sweet fellowship with the Lord, by continually confessing known sin, including grudges against others. Confessing known sin as part of our daily walk is like the washing of the feet rather than a full-body bath, as referenced in John 13:10. Believers are born-again only once, but need to maintain their close fellowship with the Lord by confessing sin and cleansing away the sinful influences of the world. Believers are justified once, in a moment of time, when they repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to them and they are forensically, objectively declared righteous before Holy God, but sanctification continues in this life as the believer walks continuously closer to the Lord.

Matthew 18:21-35: Broussard would have the reader believe that the phrase, “the master delivered him (the unforgiving servant) to the jailers,” signifies that believers forfeit their salvation when they sin and are sent to hell. But several Bible passages, such as the one below, declare that the Lord chastens His disobedient children:

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” – Revelation 3:19

When Broussard returns back to Hebrews 10:10,14, he grasps at straws with fanciful interpretations. We choose, rather, to believe the clearly intended meanings of the texts. When we accept Christ as Savior by faith alone, all of our sins are forgiven, past, present, and future.

Important: In these last six chapters, Broussard has zealously defended the Roman Catholic works-righteousness salvation system whereby its members are taught they must merit their salvation by strictly obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and by adhering to the church’s 1752 canon laws. In contrast to all of this exacting and imposing legalism, the RCC at the same time dichotomously grants that all non-Catholic religionists AND EVEN ATHEISTS may also merit salvation if they nebulously and indefinably “follow the light they are given” and are “good.”

Works-righteousness, pseudo-Christians of all stripes (Catholics, Mormons, JWs, etc.) cherry-pick Bible verses/passages to support their false gospels of merited salvation. Some Bible verses/passages, pulled out of context, can be construed to teach merited salvation so that “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matthew 13:13). It is the Holy Spirit Who gives sight to the blind and reveals in the pages of the Bible the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

Next up: Broussard begins a new section on Sacraments with “Up out of the Water”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #16: “No One Can Snatch Us”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ claim that “No One Can Snatch Us.”

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Broussard begins this next chapter on salvation by presenting the following Bible passage as one that Protestants often use as a proof text for absolute assurance of salvation for the believer:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” – John 10:27-29

Roman Catholicism in contrast teaches that a person is saved by sacramental grace and merit, and that after initial justification (i.e., baptism), salvation can be lost with the very next mortal sin. Broussard agrees that while no external power can snatch a “believer” out of the Father’s hands, he asserts the “believer” can willfully forfeit salvation by sinning. Broussard offers the following two passages as proof texts:

John 15:4-6: “I am the vine; you are the branches…If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

Matthew 24:45-51: Describes the wicked servant who is cut in pieces by the returning Master and consigned with the hypocrites.

Let’s begin our rebuttal of Broussard’s argument by defining our terms. Gospel Christians and Catholics disagree on what constitutes a “believer.” Gospel Christians hold that all those who repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone are believers, while Catholics assert that all those who are baptized and attempt to attain salvation via sacramental grace and merit are “believers.” With that important distinction made, let’s look at Broussard’s proof texts.

In John 15:4-6, “abide” is mentioned five times. The abiding believer is the only genuine believer. A person who is genuinely saved in Christ will continue to abide in Christ through God’s power and will necessarily bear fruit. Those who never bear fruit were never genuinely saved. Some commentators suggest that the fruitless branches in this passage refer rather to the unworthy works of wood, hay, and straw of a disobedient believer that will be destroyed, while the believer himself/herself will still be saved (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). I tend to lean towards the first interpretation rather than the latter. The article far below, “Does the vine and branches passage in John 15 mean that salvation can be lost?,” provides a good explanation of this passage.

In Matthew 24:45-51, the wicked “servant” (Greek: δοῦλος, doulos, slave) refers to a pseudo-Christian, an unbeliever. In Jesus’s illustration, being a servant/slave did not equate to being a genuinely saved child of God. The wicked servant/slave in this passage is a false believer. False professors must one day stand before the Lord and give an account of their sinful life.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” – Matthew 7:21-23

Genuine believers will abide in Christ. Neither externals or personal sin can remove a genuine believer from Christ and from the Father’s hand. The Bible declares believers are born again into God’s family, adopted by God, when they trust in Christ:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:14-17

Being born again doesn’t mean perfection in this world. Believers will continue to sin. Only Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life. Does God “unadopt” a believer out of His family every time they sin, only to adopt them back again if/when they confess, and over and over and over? Such is the Catholic view. Genuine believers will desire to joyfully follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly.

But what of those people who claimed to have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but never bore any fruit and may have even renounced God? What about those Bible verses and passages that seemingly refer to apostates? The Bible says such persons never genuinely accepted Christ.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” – 1 John 2:19

Apostates are those pew sitters (and even ministry workers) who never genuinely trusted in Christ and eventually ended their charade.

Important: Roman Catholics profess to be “Christians,” yet seek to establish their own righteousness as their means to salvation, rather than submitting to God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 10:3).

The two articles below are very helpful in this discussion of the assurance of a genuine believer:

Does the vine and branches passage in John 15 mean that salvation can be lost?
https://www.gotquestions.org/vine-and-branches.html

If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?
https://www.gotquestions.org/apostasy-salvation.html

Next up: “Sanctified For All Time”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #15: “We Know That We Have Eternal Life”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ claim that “We Know That We Have Eternal Life”

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Broussard begins by presenting the Roman Catholic view, which is that while Catholics can hope for and even allegedly have somewhat of a confident expectation of meriting eternal life if they are obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church precepts, they cannot have an absolute assurance of eternal life because the commission of a single mortal sin at any time will send them to hell. In fact, if a Catholic presumes to have merited Heaven at any time, they are judged by the RCC to have committed the sin of presumption. In contrast to the Catholic view, Broussard states that evangelical Protestants claim to have absolute assurance of eternal life based upon such Bible verses and passages as 1 John 5:13:

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Broussard argues that the “know” (Greek, οἶδα, oida) in 1 John 5:13 can easily be interpreted to mean the Catholic confident expectation rather than the evangelical absolute certitude. Broussard contends that the apostle John taught that salvation is conditional by presenting 1 John 5:13 in context with the following verses also from 1 John:

  • “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” – 1 John 5:12
  • “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” – 1 John 2:3
  • “But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.” – 1 John 2:5
  • “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” – 1 John 3:23

Broussard argues that in order for 1 John 5:13 to be in effect, all of these conditional teachings must be met over the course of a person’s entire lifetime.

Broussard then states, “It’s clear from Paul’s writings that he didn’t have absolute assurance” and presents the following as proof texts: 1 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 1 Corinthians 10:12, and Philippians 2:12.

In our reviews of Broussard’s three previous chapters on salvation, we discussed at length the conflicting views of Roman Catholicism and Gospel Christianity. Catholicism teaches a person must become subjectively and intrinsically “holy enough” to merit Heaven. Because a Catholic can never be sure what they have done is “good enough” or of what they may do/may not do in the future, they can have no assurance of salvation. Gospel Christians, in contrast, believe God’s Word that we are all sinners and there is not one soul that is righteous. However, when a person repents (turns from rebellion against God) and accepts Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone, Christ takes away all of their sin and imputes His perfect righteousness to him or her.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” – 2 Cor. 5:21

After we are saved, we then follow the Lord joyfully in obedience, albeit imperfectly. Works and charity are important, but they could never be the basis of our salvation. As I’ve pointed out in previous rebuttals, Ephesians 2:8-10 succinctly states the correct relationship between saving faith in Jesus Christ and our imperfect works. Works are the fruit/verification of our salvation, not the basis of salvation.

Catholics think that it’s the absolute in arrogance and presumption to claim to be saved and have an assurance of salvation. They are blinded by their church. It’s actually the ultimate in arrogance and presumption for ANYONE to think they could possibly obey the Ten Commandments and merit their way into Heaven! It’s the ultimate in humbleness to agree with God that you are a hopeless sinner without one single plea of goodness of your own and to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone!

In regards to Broussard’s last claim that the apostle Paul taught Catholic-style imperfect works-righteousness salvation, Catholicism stumbles badly by confusing verses/passages from Paul’s epistles referring to the Judgement/Bema Seat of Christ for believers versus the Great White Throne Judgement for non-believers. Paul doesn’t exhort believers to “run the race” of salvation, but to be faithful, diligent servants who must someday give an account of their service before the King in Heaven. I imagine we are going to see A LOT more of Catholicism’s and Broussard’s confusion regarding the Judgement/Bema Seat and the Great White Throne Judgement in future chapters.

Although Roman Catholics feign joy in their works religion, they really have none because their legalistic religious treadmill offers them no peace or assurance.

See the helpful articles below for more information:

How can I have assurance of my salvation?
https://www.gotquestions.org/assurance-salvation.html

What does it mean to work out salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)?
https://www.gotquestions.org/fear-and-trembling.html

What is the Judgement/Bema Seat of Christ?
https://www.gotquestions.org/judgment-seat-Christ.html

The Christian’s Assurance of Salvation
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/48-20/the-christians-assurance-of-salvation

Next up: “No One Can Snatch Us”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #14: “Justified by Faith, Not Works”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ arguments that believers are “justified by faith, not works.” As you’ll see, Broussard trods some of the same ground he already covered in his previous two chapters on Salvation.

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Broussard opens by presenting Romans 3:28 as a verse that Protestants often use as a proof text for justification by faith alone. The apostle Paul wrote:

“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

Broussard acknowledges that this verse, and others that similarly teach salvation through faith in Christ alone, present a problem for works-righteousness Catholicism. Broussard’s stakes his belief in works-justification on James 2:14-26, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (v. 24). 

How can the two seemingly opposing views be reconciled? Broussard attempts to harmonize Paul and James by offering two options that are acceptable to Catholic theology:

1 – Paul was referring only to initial justification via baptism. A helpless infant obviously cannot merit the (alleged) salvific effects of baptism. However, once a person is baptized, they must then seek to remain justified by receiving the grace administered through the sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

2 – In referring to the “works of the law,” Paul (allegedly) meant only the Levitical ceremonial rituals of the Mosaic Law. Christians are not required to adhere to Levitical ceremonial circumcision, dietary rules, festival participation, animal sacrifice, etc., but will be judged according to their obedience to the Ten Commandments and charity towards men.

Broussard is satisfied that Paul and James can be satisfactorily reconciled via these two Catholic explanations.

Gospel Christians defend the Biblical doctrine that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior alone, apart from any and all works. The Ten Commandments are as much a part of the Mosaic Law as the Levitical rituals. “Aha!,” Catholics exclaim as if they’ve caught the evangelical Protestant in a “Gotcha!” moment. What about James 2:24? Catholics are quite surprised when Protestants remain unfazed by James 2. We believe as the Bible states that fruit/good works, albeit imperfect, are the evidence of a genuine conversion in Christ. However, good works and charity validate our salvation in Jesus Christ, they are never the basis of our salvation.

Think of the many souls mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23 who will stand before Christ and vainly point to their works as the basis of their salvation. Think of the many who were invited to the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14 but who showed up in their own garments (self-righteousness) rather than exchanging their clothes for the wedding garment (Christ’s imputed righteousness) provided by the King.

What Catholicism proposes is the broad way (Matthew 7:13-14). The “faith” that it refers to is faith in its system of sacramental grace and merit. But it is not an exclusionary religion. It grants that works religionists of all stripes – Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Buddhists – and even atheists, may also merit Heaven if they are “good” and “follow the light they are given.” That is NOT Christianity.

Roman Catholics believe they must merit their salvation. But if that were possible, why did Jesus Christ have to die upon the cross at Calvary?

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. – Galatians 2:21

The Law is NOT the way to salvation, rather the Law shows us that we are all sinners in desperate need of the Savior.

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20

Jesus Christ, God the Son, the ONLY Person who EVER obeyed the Law, died for us and paid the penalty for sin because we could not possibly merit our salvation. Each person must repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Only after trusting in Christ as Savior by faith alone can we follow Him in obedience, albeit only imperfectly.

101 Bible verses that teach salvation is NOT by works
http://gochristianhelps.com/tracts/stl/notworks.htm

Why is faith without works dead?
https://www.gotquestions.org/faith-without-works-dead.html

Next up: We Know That We Have Eternal Life

John MacArthur’s Blog Series – Exposing the Heresies of the Roman Catholic Church

I’m so grateful for the ministry of Pastor John MacArthur (photo right). After returning to the Lord after my long “prodigal” season, He introduced me to several faithful teachers including JMac. John MacArthur is one of the few remaining, nationally-known, evangelical pastors who continues to take an outspoken and uncompromising stand against the spiritually deadly errors of Roman Catholicism. MacArthur’s blog recently featured a six-part series under the banner, “Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church.” We’re all bombarded with information choices each day, but I enthusiastically invite curious Catholics and evangelicals to check out all six of the excellent, short articles in this series:

John MacArthur on the Evangelical Attraction to the Catholic Church
by Cameron Buettel
Monday, February 10, 2020
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200210

The Heresy of Works Righteousness
by John MacArthur
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200212

The Illegitimacy of the Pope
by John MacArthur
Friday, February 14, 2020
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200214

The Idolatry of Mary Worship
by John MacArthur
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200217

The Blasphemy of the Mass
by John MacArthur
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200219

John MacArthur on Why the Reformation Isn’t Over
by Cameron Buettel
Friday, February 21, 2020
https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200221

Thanks to Pastor Jimmy at The Domain for Truth for bringing this series to my attention.

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #13: “Not Because of Works”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. The Catholic apologist continues his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ arguments that believers are saved “not because of works.”

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In opening this chapter, Broussard acknowledges that Catholicism initially seems to have a dilemma. Chapter twenty-six of the “Decree on Justification” issued by the Council of Trent in 1547 states, “Hence, to those who work well unto the end and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.” There can be NO misunderstanding regarding the interpretation of this Tridentine decree. According to Roman Catholicism, and seconded by Broussard, “eternal life will be given at (the) judgement as a reward for…good works” (p.73).

Broussard then refers to Ephesians 2:8-9, which is often used by evangelical Protestants to refute Catholicism’s works-based soteriology:

“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.”

Broussard admits that this and other Bible verses/passages that proclaim salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone seem to contradict the Catholic view declared at Trent. How to solve this dilemma? Broussard offers the Catholic argument that the grace by which Catholics are saved apart from works is the sacramental grace of initial conversion, i.e., baptism, but after baptism, works are meritorious.

“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 (baptism). 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.” – CCC 2010

Broussard makes a ham-fisted distinction between the “works” cited in v.9 and the “good works” cited in Ephesians 2:10 below:

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

He argues that the works mentioned in v.9 are the Levitical ceremonial rituals of the Mosaic Law (e.g., circumcision, dietary restrictions, etc.) while the “good works” cited in v.10 are meritorious acts of obedience and charity. Broussard would argue that the passages below that prohibit salvation by “works” are also referring to Levitical ceremonial rituals:

Romans 3:20 – “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

Galatians 2:16 – “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

Galatians 3:11 – “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

Qualifying these verses as referring only to the Levitical ceremonial rituals is sophistry of the deadliest order. Paul encompasses ALL aspects of the Mosaic Law, whether they be the ceremonial rituals or the moral teachings (e.g., the Decalogue) in the verse below:

“For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law” – Galatians 3:21

Gospel Christians get it. There is no one who is righteous (Romans 3:10). Even our supposed “good works” are tainted by our sinfulness (Isaiah 64:6). We have no plea of our own that we can stand upon. A genuine believer’s only plea is their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone and His perfect righteousness that was imputed to them.

Important: It’s ironic that Broussard and other conservative Catholic apologists continue to contend for Catholicism’s salvation system of baptism and the six other sacraments in conjunction with the rigors of Catholic legalism, when modern popes and prelates since the Second Vatican Council have declared that people of all religions, and even atheists, are also able to merit salvation if they “follow the light they have been given” and are “good.”

Next up: “Justified by Faith, Not Works”

Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #12: “We Are Justified All At Once”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist begins his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ arguments that believers are justified “all at once.”

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The Roman Catholic church teaches that people must diligently work their entire life attempting to merit their salvation. Catholics hope that following their death they may be able to stand justified before God based upon their baptism and subsequent reception of their church’s sacraments and their obedience to the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Catholics contend that they must become intrinsically/subjectively holier and sanctified in order to merit Heaven. In marked contrast, Gospel Christians believe that a person is justified at the moment they repent (turn from their rebellion against God) and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The moment a person trusts in Jesus Christ as their Savior, His perfect righteousness is imputed to them and they are extrinsically/objectively/forensically justified by His righteousness alone. Gospel Christians then follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. Broussard offers Romans 5:10 as an example of a verse that Gospel Christians use to defend their belief:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the above verse, Paul was summarizing his example of Abraham in Romans 4 as one who “believed (Greek πιστεύω pisteúō – “put one’s faith in, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow”) God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

Broussard then counters with the following proof-texts with which he alleges that justification is a process rather than a moment in time:

Romans 2:13: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”

Romans 6:16: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Galatians 5:5: “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.”

James 2:21-23: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”

Those verses/passages do not befuddle Gospel Christians. Ephesians 2:8-10 succinctly presents the correct correlation between faith and works:

“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.”

Obedience and charity are the fruit/verification of genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, but not the basis of salvation. A person who has genuinely repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone WILL bear evidential fruit. It’s vitally important to know that when Roman Catholics speak of “faith,” they are referring to faith in their clerics and their institutional church and its sacramental-works system, they are NOT referring to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

For examples in the Bible of people who were saved in a conversion moment, think of the thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43. Think of the publican in Jesus’s parable in Luke 18:9-14. Think of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:9), “Today salvation has come to this house,” and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), and the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:25-34), and the apostle Paul (Acts 9:20). Those souls did NOT go through a year of RCIA, learning the complicated details of a legalistic religious system, but genuinely repented of their sin and placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior in a moment. A genuine conversion does not entail accepting Christ as Savior daily, over and over and over again. True conversion in Christ is by necessity a moment in time, being born-again in Christ Jesus. It is NOT a lifelong process of toil, failure, and imperfect, sin-tainted works.

Martin Luther rightly argued that justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. Not just Roman Catholics, but pseudo-Christians of all other works-righteousness denominational stripes cherry-pick verses from the Bible to support their view of merited justification and salvation. How can they miss the Gospel of grace? We think of Jesus’s words in Matthew 13:10-15, “You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

Catholic apologist Broussard’s passionate arguments for a process of intrinsic justification and merited salvation SHOULD BE a red flag for all ecumenically-minded evangelicals who misguidedly embrace the RCC as a Christian entity.

In this short post, I could never do proper justice to this all-important topic. For more information, see the articles below:

Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?
https://www.gotquestions.org/salvation-faith-alone.html

What is justification?
https://www.gotquestions.org/justification.html

Please pray for Roman Catholics, that they will see their desperate need for the Savior, Jesus Christ, rather than attempting to merit their justification and salvation, as they are taught by their church.

Next up: “Not Because of Works”