Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 44, 45, 46, & 47: Can Genuine Christians Lose Salvation? – Part 2

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:

When Believers Stop Believing: Portrait of an Apostate

Are we honoring a defender or a compromiser of the pure Gospel of grace?

This morning while driving to work I was listening to “Joni and Friends” on a localCreated by Readiris, Copyright IRIS 2005 Christian radio station. Joni Eareckson Tada provides a five-minute daily message aimed at encouraging Christians who face disabilities and other challenges. Over a year ago, I posted a message about how I was surprised that Joni had recommended “First Things,” an ecumenical journal published by Catholics, to her audience. See here.

In today’s message, Joni invited her audience to celebrate Billy Graham’s 98th birthday. Graham is widely esteemed by evangelicals as the most important and influential Christian of the last 100 years. There’s no doubt multitudes accepted Jesus Christ as Savior through the evangelistic ministry of Billy Graham and yet perhaps no one individual is more responsible for blurring the Gospel of grace in our times.

Many readers at this point might respond with, “Sheesh! Who would criticize such a beloved and respected figure as Billy Graham?” Most evangelical Christians don’t realize that as far back as fifty years ago, Graham and his organization invited local Roman Catholic bishops and clergy to participate in his crusades. When Catholics came forward at his crusades’ closing “altar calls,” they were referred to Catholic workers and counseled that their decision to accept Christ was only a recommitment to their sacramental baptism and confirmation. Catholics who had attended Graham crusades were returned back to their churches on Sunday to hear that salvation was by sacramental grace and merit rather than by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Many would be shocked to learn that Graham also espoused religious universalism. See my earlier posts on Graham here and here for more details.

Continuing with her message, Joni repeated a regrettable myth I’ve heard many times over the years, that Graham was being kept alive by the Lord at his advanced age as a witness to the world and was a part of the Holy Spirit’s restraining of evil in these last days. Joni speculated, like many others have also done, that Graham’s death might actually trigger the moment when the Holy Spirit no longer restrains evil in the world.

We Christians are given to venerating our leaders rather than Jesus Christ. Billy Graham had his faults. Some of his faults were tragically significant in regards to the Gospel witness. Much of today’s spirit of ecumenism with religious unbelievers can be traced back to the influence of Billy Graham. I don’t idolize the man. I’m sorry his cooperation with unbelievers helped to foster today’s compromising, laissez-faire approach to the pure Gospel of grace. Rather than being a restraint against evil, I contend that the betrayal of the Gospel by Graham and other celebrated evangelical leaders was/is part of the rising tide of evil encompassing the world in these last days.

The Lord used Graham in a great way initially, but the temptations of success and popularity diverted him from the Narrow Way, which has influenced many others.

“And you know what is restraining (the man of lawlessness) now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.” 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

The “Coexist” bumper sticker

I was driving home from work today when I spotted a “Coexist” bumper sticker on theCE back of the car in front of me. You’re no doubt familiar with these stickers. In place of the letters C-o-e-x-i-s-t, the sticker substitutes symbols of various religious and humanistic belief systems. The original design was created by Polish graphic artist,  Piotr Mlodozeniec, in 2000 and has been revised by several others.

A few sources describe the symbols as follows:

  • The C with the star is the crescent moon, the symbol for Islam.
  • The O is the symbol for peace.
  • The E includes the symbols for male & female with some also saying the “e” is symbolic of science (i.e., E=mc2).
  • The X is the star of David, symbol for Judaism.
  • The I is dotted with a Wiccan pentagram.
  • The S is the symbol for the yin-yang, supposedly representing Eastern religions such as Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.
  • The T is the cross, the symbol for Christianity.

The symbols allegedly signify the capability or desire of humans to live together in peace.

Every genuine, born-again believer who sees that sticker knows better. There is only one way to ultimate peace and salvation and that’s through Jesus Christ. All other religions are idolatry. When I see a car brandishing a Coexist bumper sticker, I say to myself, that poor soul doesn’t know Jesus. We need to tell more people about the Savior. I surely try to love all people but I don’t respect their idolatrous religions.

But the leader of a 1.2 billion member “christian” denomination teaches something very similar to that bumper sticker. The Catholic pope declares that people of all religions can be saved “if they follow the light they’ve been given” and are “good.” He says EVEN atheists will be saved if they “follow their consciences” and are “good.” That message is straight from hell. Every born-again believer who embraces the Catholic church as Christian needs to turn off TBN and start reading their Bible again.

“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” – Matthew 10:34-36

For more Bible verses that teach Jesus is the only way to God see below:

“Top 5 Catholics loved by evangelicals today”

In a recent article, the managing editor of Christian Week, an interdenominationalDY internet news source, named the “Top 5 Catholics loved by evangelicals today.”

On the list are:

Henri Nouwen
Pope Francis
Saint Augustine
G. K. Chesterton
Stephen Colbert

Unfortunately, there are more than a few Evangelicals who are infatuated with Catholicism. Don’t they realize the Catholic church teaches that salvation is by sacramental grace and by perfectly obeying the Ten Commandments?

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:21

We attended an Evangelical church for a little over a year where the young pastor spoke words of admiration about Catholics such as Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, Chesterton, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Peter Kreeft. What are they teaching in Evangelical seminaries these days? How to earn your salvation?

Some other Catholics I’ve seen or heard praised by Evangelicals include Mother Teresa, St. Francis, Pope John Paul II, and Thomas Merton. I’m sure I’m missing quite a few more. Popular books by Richard Foster and others praise the contemplative “disciplines” of Catholic mystics.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!