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 fifteen verses/passages which Armstrong presented as proof texts for salvation by faith plus works. Today, we’ll examine the final four verses/passages that Armstrong presents as evidence that salvation is dependent on works and can be forfeited. Last week’s six verses were written by the apostle, Paul, and these final four verses/passages appear under the heading, “Other Biblical Writers on Apostasy.’”
#44) Hebrews 3:12-14 – “12 Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end,” (Note – All Bible quotes presented by Armstrong are from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, RSVCE)
#45) Hebrews 6:4-6 – “4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt.”
#46) 2 Peter 2:15 – “Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Be′or, who loved gain from wrongdoing,”
#47) 2 Peter 2:20-22 – “20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.”
The Catholic church teaches that the salvation of its members is dependent on their receiving grace from the sacraments so that they can obey the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Because their salvation is dependent on their obedience, a Catholic can never be assured of their salvation. Armstrong presents these four verses/passages as proof that Christians can apostatize and lose their salvation.
Bible Christians believe a person is saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. We believe charity and good works are the fruit/evidence of genuine salvation, but never the basis of it. There are many people who profess to have accepted Christ, but were not genuinely reborn in Christ and “fall away” from church and religious activities for a variety of reasons.
Many people attend evangelical churches. Some are saved, some are not. The wheat and the tares are often together as we read in Matthew 13:24-30 and only the Lord knows who is truly saved. The Epistle to the Hebrews and 2 Peter were both written to the saved saints/wheat within the church and to the unsaved tares who were constantly exposed to the Gospel of grace, but had not genuinely accepted Christ. When a formerly church-going, professing “Christian” abandons the Lord and the church, what are believers to think? That the person was a genuine believer who apostatized and lost their salvation? No, the person never genuinely accepted Christ.
1 John 2:19 gives precise clarity to this issue: “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.”
It’s interesting that Armstrong quotes from the Epistle to the Hebrews in his attempt to prove merited salvation and to “confound” Protestants. Hebrews directly refutes Catholicism’s basis for its priesthood and ongoing sacrifice for sin.
While Armstrong cites these four verses as proof texts of the possibility of losing salvation, careful examination reveals they discuss the reality of those who have yet to accept Christ and are in danger of being led astray or those who made a false profession of faith in Christ and fell away.
See the article below for further study: