Are Roman Catholics Saved?


Are Roman Catholics saved? If you asked them, just about all Roman Catholics would tell you quite bluntly that they certainly are NOT saved, but that they are trying, with the help of their church’s sacraments, to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church laws in order to remain in a mortal-sinless “state of grace” so as to be able to merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics talk about “grace” and “faith,” but how they understand those terms is completely different than how Bible Christians understand them. Christians are saved, not by anything we have done, but by the imputed perfect righteousness of our Savior, Jesus Christ. After we have repented of our sins and accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone, we then strive to follow Him in obedience as Lord, albeit imperfectly.

Two weeks ago, I posted the excellent short video, “What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants?,” from the evangelical apologetics ministry, Got Questions. See here. Today, I’m posting another excellent, short 7-minute video, “Are Roman Catholics Saved?,” from the evangelical apologetics ministry, CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry). I hope you are blessed by this video.



Living Biblically
CBS, Monday Nights, 9:30 EST
Episode #4, Thou Shalt Not Steal, March 19th

Last night, I was able to watch episode #4 of the new CBS comedy, “Living Biblically,” via on-demand. Remember, the premise of this show is that Chip, a Roman Catholic and a self-confessed “good person,” desires to be an even better person by strictly adhering to Biblical precepts. In this episode, “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” Chip starts off, just like in previous installments, by being judgmental about others. But with the help of his “god squad” advisors (a priest and rabbi who pontificate at the neighborhood saloon), Chip confronts his own routine acts of thievery such as cable theft (so he and his wife can watch “Game of Thrones”) and stealing office supplies from his workplace. Chip decides to return every item he’s ever stolen and manages to annoy his wife and co-workers with his scrupulosity. The rabbi counsels the frustrated Chip, telling him, “Maybe the reason people are so upset is because, in trying to live YOUR life by the Bible, you keep futzing with theirs.” No Gospel here, folks.

By the way, here’s a relevant article on the extremely popular, “Game of Thrones,” from Kevin DeYoung.


What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants?


Just what are the differences between Catholics and Bible Christians? Some people may not want to wade through a 400-page book on the topic, but here’s an excellent 8-minute video from the folks at Got Questions that briefly touches on four of the major differences listed below:

  • Authority
  • The pope
  • How a person is saved
  • Purgatory

Newsflash: Six-year-old slam dunks her granddad in debate!

Our six-year-old granddaughter spent the night this past Saturday. Part of the festivities included a trip to the movie theater to see “Peter Rabbit.” In today’s children’s movies, they usually slip in enough “color” to keep the adults chuckling, so I actually stayed awake for the entire 90-minutes. After the movie ended, we drove around looking for a bite to eat. Being Saturday evening, every restaurant was packed with a line winding out the door. We eventually passed a submarine sandwich shop that I will call “Cahill’s” for the purpose of this story. But first we need to go back in time a bit for a few important details.

Our oldest son is a junk food connoisseur and knows every hamburger stand and pizza joint in the county. About a year ago, he came over to visit and told us about the great toasted sub he had at Cahill’s, which he incorrectly pronounced as “kuh-HILLS.” The sub shop has been a local institution since I was ten years old so I’m VERY familiar with it. I gently corrected my son and said the name should be pronounced as “KAY-hills.” He doubted me and ended up phoning the sub shop to settle the disagreement. As no surprise, they confirmed the correct pronunciation is “KAY-hills.”

Okay. Back to Saturday night. We’re driving past Cahill’s and our granddaughter says, “Look, there’s ‘kuh-HILLS.’ We could eat there.” Obviously, her Daddy continues to mispronounce the name in her company. For some reason, this ongoing error bothers me. Here’s the ensuing dialogue:

Grandpa: It’s not “kuh-HILLS,” honey, it’s pronounced “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandpa: Your Daddy and I have talked about this and he knows he was mistaken and that it should be pronounced as “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandpa: [turning around and making eye contact] I’m not joking around. I’m being serious with you now. The name of the restaurant is pronounced “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandma: [interjecting] Okay, okay. It doesn’t matter. Let’s all just have a good time!

Grandpa: [mumbling audibly] My, things have certainly changed.

Yes, I agree that a six-year-old boldly defying her grandfather over how to pronounce a word is hardly comparable to some of the drama experienced by families today, but I thought it was a (semi) humorous example of how kids today have fewer and fewer boundaries.

I was brought up in the 1960s and my parents were very strict when it came to us children showing proper courtesy and respect to adults, especially to someone like a grandparent. I wouldn’t have dreamed of talking back to one of my grandparents like that. We raised our two boys the same way. But these days, that’s all gone out the window. Most young children are raised in environments quite different from the “Leave It To Beaver” situation I grew up in. Homes, make that MANY homes, are broken, often with little structure. Children are allowed and often encouraged to speak to adults as peers. They don’t respect adult family members or their teachers the way we were trained. We see this kind of behavior not only in our other grandchildren, but in a lot/most of the children we encounter. Maybe it’s a good thing for children to speak up a little more than the way we were raised, but it’s gone to the extreme.

God’s Word speaks about children having proper respect for elders, parents, and grandparents. This is a fallen world. Society is moving farther and farther away from God’s standards. The traditional family has been under attack for decades. We pray for our granddaughter’s salvation and we will be telling her about Jesus often. The only time she will hear the name, Jesus Christ, within her home will be as a curse word.

“Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” – Proverbs 23:22

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” – Job 12:12

The well-spoken man: An allegory of Billy Graham

Yesterday afternoon, I was under the impression that I had posted all of my thoughts regarding Billy Graham (see here and here), until the short allegory below came to mind. Thank you for your interest. I won’t be posting anything more about Billy Graham.

Imagine yourself being on a large ship, the Queen Mary, in the middle of the ocean. It’s a warm, sunny day and you’re relaxing on deck, enjoying the ocean breeze, but suddenly the big ship shudders violently as it hits a reef. You scramble as you get into the Lifeboat* and warn your fellow passengers to do likewise. But a well-spoken man appears on deck and counsels the frazzled passengers with his confident and soothing voice to stay on the ship, telling them that it remains seaworthy and dependable. The passengers let out a collective sigh of relief and express their gratitude to the well-spoken man for allaying their fears. The ship’s captain also extends his enthusiastic thanks. Everyone returns to the ship’s interior. You yell from the Lifeboat, “What are you doing? The ship is sinking! Get into the Lifeboat!” The well-spoken man looks back for a quick second and gives you a wink and a smile. From your Lifeboat, you watch the ship sink into the ocean and all passengers appear to be lost.

*In this allegory, the Lifeboat has room for “whosoever will.”

“I certainly don’t need to be saved. I’m a good person.”

Have you ever shared the Gospel with a religious unbeliever and they shot back with something along the lines of, “I don’t need to be saved! I think I’m a relatively good person”? An unbeliever, whether religious or not, just does not see their depraved, sinful state and their desperate need of the Savior.

I’ve been slowly reading through Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.” It’s page after page of blessed teaching on the Lord’s great sermon that many people misunderstand. In the section I read last night, Lloyd-Jones compared the thoughts of the unbeliever with the attitude of a Christian. Here’s just a short excerpt:

“The natural man’s attitude towards morality is generally negative. His concern is that he should not do certain things. He does not want to be dishonest, unjust, or immoral. The Christian’s attitude towards morality is always positive; he hungers and thirsts after a positive righteousness like that of God Himself.

Or again, consider it in terms of sin. The natural man always thinks of sin in terms of actions, things that are done or not done. The Christian is interested in the heart. Did not our Lord emphasize that in this Sermon, when He said, in effect: ‘As long as you are not guilty of physical adultery you think you are all right. But I ask, What about your heart? What about your thoughts?’ That is the view of the Christian man. Not actions only, he goes beyond that to the heart.

What about the attitude of these two men towards themselves? The natural man is prepared to admit that perhaps he is not entirely perfect. He says: ‘You know I am not a complete saint, there are certain defects in my character.’ But you will never find a man who is not a Christian feeling that he is all wrong, that he is vile. He is never ‘poor in spirit,’ he never ‘mourns’ because of his sinfulness. He never sees himself as a hell-deserving sinner. He never says, ‘Were it not for the death of Christ on the cross, I would have no hope of seeing God.’ He will never say with Charles Wesley, ‘Vile and full of sin I am.’ He regards that as an insult, because he claims that he has always tried to live a good life. He therefore resents that and does not go as far as that in his self-condemnation.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones from “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,” Eerdmans Publishing, 1984, pp. 278-279

Roman Catholics and all religious unbelievers think they’re pretty good people and that they do a decent job of obeying the Ten Commandments. If you ask them, they will tell you.

“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

Am I good enough to go to heaven?

Catholicism’s religious hamster wheel

In yesterday’s post, I referred to Catholicism’s “religious hamster wheel,” so today I thought I would put words to picture.

It’s sadly comical in a way, but also deadly serious.

Catholicism talks of “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus the Savior,” but it’s actually a religion that teaches merited salvation. It’s do, do, do, do as Catholics are told they must regularly participate in the sacraments of the eucharist and confession in order to receive graces to be able to successfully obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules so as to be able to remain in an alleged mortal-sinless “state of grace” in order to “hopefully” merit Heaven at the moment of their death.

While they talk about “Jesus the Savior,” they essentially have to save themselves by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and Catholicism’s 1752 canon laws and its 2865 paragraphs in its official catechism that are chock full of rules.

Catholic friend, step out of the religious hamster wheel that leads to a Christ-less eternity and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone! If you could obey your way into Heaven (Jesus was actually the ONLY one to ever obey the Law), Christ would not have had to die on the cross for sins. Once you accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone, then you can follow Him as Lord, albeit imperfectly.

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” – Galatians 2:21

“They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” – Matthew 23:4

Getting to the correct destination is NEVER a case of “Whatever”

Isn’t it amazing how popular the phrase, “Whatever,” has become? Some suggest it took off with the 1995 movie, “Clueless.“ You could rightly say that the back-handed, dismissive term has become emblematic of our self-absorbed society. It’s as if the speaker is saying, “Don’t bother me with your viewpoint or any details. MY opinion is all that I care about.”

But for some things in life, especially some VERY important things, it’s not a case of “whatever.” Details can be important and even life saving.

On our last trip to Europe to visit our German grandson, my wife and I took a side excursion to Zurich, Switzerland. Yes, I wanted to visit the Grossmünster church where Swiss Reformer, Huldrych Zwingli, preached every Sunday. Anyway, we successfully drove the autobahn to Zurich and our hotel despite more than a few challenges. In the morning, we consulted the concierge for directions to the train station and scurried off. Not being familiar with the city or the German language, there were a few “mishaps.” At one point, the commuter train we had mistakenly boarded was headed in the opposite direction of our desired Old Town destination. My point is that some things in this life are not “whatever.” It’s very important that you get on the correct train if you want to arrive at your desired destination.

The same can be said of spiritual matters. In this era, when relativism and plurality are king, the pervasive opinion is that “whatever religious beliefs work for you is fine.” This attitude is even infecting the church. The Bible, God’s Word, is no longer the standard. Case in point is Roman Catholicism. Many evangelicals hear Catholics say they also believe in “grace,” “faith,” and “Jesus the Savior,” and conclude, “Good enough!” If you point out to those evangelicals that Catholics believe something diametrically opposed to the Gospel in regards to HOW a person is saved, the response of many is a disinterested, “Whatever.”

I’m certainly not a theologian, but it might be helpful to borrow some theological shorthand to clarify the major difference between how evangelicals and Catholics view salvation in order to see past this dangerously indifferent “whatever” attitude.

  • Track #1 – The Catholic view: Catholics believe God literally “infuses” grace into their soul from the sacraments, actually transforming them into a better person so that they can obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and continue in a “state of grace” so as to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics say with the help of the sacraments they can become “intrinsically” righteous, i.e., actually such a good, outstanding person in and of themselves that they are able to attain Heaven through their own divinely-assisted merits.
  • Track #2 – The Biblical, evangelical view: Christians believe in the depravity of man. As the Bible says, there is none righteous, no not one. But when a person repents of their sin and accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone, the Lord “imputes” His perfect righteousness to that person. We are made righteous only by the righteousness of Christ. The Reformers used a legal term, “forensic” righteousness, to describe this glorious spiritual transaction. God the Father, the Perfect and Holy Judge, declares a repentant sinner righteous and justified based solely upon their acceptance of Christ as Savior by faith alone and the imputed perfect righteousness of His Son.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Do you understand the difference? They are actually two completely opposite paths. One is right and one is wrong. It’s not a case of “whatever.” Just as getting on the wrong train will NOT enable a person to arrive at their desired destination, following the Catholic system of infused sacramental grace and alleged subjective intrinsic righteousness will NOT lead to salvation.

Catholic friend, repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone. Evangelical friend, Roman Catholics are following a false religious system of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. Reach out to them with the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

“Roman Catholicism” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

In our current “post-modern” era, when tolerance, plurality, and relativism are, in effect, worshiped as idols, it’s considered VERY bad form to criticize anyone’s religious beliefs. This attitude has also regrettably infected the Christian church. It’s ironic but there seems to be more tolerance for false teachers and false churches these days than for those who say a critical word about them.

But it wasn’t all that long ago that Christian pastors and leaders passionately warned their flocks about false gospels like the gospel of Roman Catholicism. What happened? Why have evangelical leaders gone silent or even embraced Rome?

About eighteen months ago, I posted a sermon about Roman Catholicism given by Welsh-English pastor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). I later discovered that that version of Lloyd-Jones’ sermon had been abridged, but recently I was able to find a PDF of the complete 14-page sermon (see below). I printed out a copy for myself and had it spiral-bound at Staples because I’m sure I will refer to it periodically.

Praise the Lord for all the faithful pastors and watchmen who aren’t afraid to oppose the growing ecumenism with Rome and its false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.

“Roman Catholicism”
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Westminister Chapel, London
A Sermon published in The Westminister Record, May, 1963

Frosty Friday Potpourri

I usually have only one message each day, but today I have several, so I’m combining them all as Frosty Friday Potpourri. Take heart, I’m going to try to keep them very brief.

P.S. I hope all of you in the Northeast are managing to stay warm! It’s zero degrees here in Rochester, N.Y. today!

* The Catholic talk radio show that I usually listen to for information purposes is revamping its format to deal with all the “confusion” in the church, i.e., pope Francis, so I’ve had more time to listen to Christian programming this week. A few days ago, Ligonier Ministries featured podcasts of the eulogies for R.C. Sproul at his memorial service (see below). My heart was touched, especially by part 1, which includes comments from John MacArthur. Thank you, Lord, for R.C.! Please, we need more like him!

* Speaking of John MacArthur, I noticed J. Mac has three new books slated for 2018. Prolific writer, that J. Mac! I expect all three books will contain very solid teaching. Some believers say we should only get our teaching from God’s Word and our pastors, but your pastor is referencing solid Biblical resources all the time. Praise the Lord for John MacArthur who is one of the very few “nationally known” pastors who still takes a public stand against Roman error.

  • “Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ” (due 1/16/18). See details at Amazon here.
  • “The Gospel According to God: Rediscovering the Most Remarkable Chapter in the Old Testament” (due 3/31/18). See details at Amazon here.
  • “Christ’s Call to Reform the Church: Timeless Demands From the Lord to His People ” (due 10/2/18). See details at Amazon here.

* On the icy drive home from work yesterday, I was listening to Catholic talk radio, and the priest-host was discussing the Catholic church’s teaching that it’s not only possible to successfully obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!), but that it’s absolutely required in order to merit salvation. The priest cited pope John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical, Veritatis Splendor (“The Splendor of the Truth,” see here), which reaffirmed the church’s unchanging position that successful obedience of the Ten Commandments is a requirement for attaining salvation. Huh? God and the Catholic church disagree on this point. God says through His Word that the Law was given to show we are helpless 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…Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Romans 3:20 and 27-28.

Are you going to listen to the pope and priests and continue trying to merit your way into Heaven or are you going to agree with God that you are a helpless sinner in need of the Savior?

* When I walked away from the Lord for an extended prodigal “season,” I had to fill the void in my heart with something, so I turned to researching my Polish and German ethnic heritages. Part of that experience included becoming knowledgeable about and, yes, even enjoying, Polish American polka music!* The polka scene had its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s with performers like Li’l Wally Jagiello, Marion Lush, and Eddie Blazonczyk. Although “melting pot” assimilation has taken it’s toll on the genre over the last fifty years, there are still many good polka bands out there, you just have to know where to look.

Anyway, I was browsing through the newspaper last night and I noticed on January 12th Netflix will be premiering “The Polka King,” a movie based on Jan Lewan(dowski), one of the top polka band leaders of the 80s and 90s, who was sent to prison for five years for bilking investors in a Ponzi scheme. See website here. One generalization about Polish-Americans, they are as blindly Roman Catholic as the day is long. There may not be a European ethnic group in America that’s more firmly entrenched in its institutional Catholic religiosity.

*Want to try some polka music but don’t know where to start? The absolute best polka album is “Live Wire, Vol. 1 & 2,” featuring Dave “Scrubby” Seweryniak and the Dynatones, recorded live at the Broadway Grill in Buffalo, New York in 1982. See here.  

Stay warm my friends! The average temperature here in Rochester the past two weeks was 17 degrees, a heat wave compared to today.


Am I going to Hell?

Am I going to Hell? If you had asked me that question forty years ago, when I was a Roman Catholic, I would have had an entirely different answer than I do today.

As a Roman Catholic, I believed, as I was taught by the priests and nuns, that I needed to regularly receive the sacraments of the eucharist and penance to receive graces to help me to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules and to avoid sin. It was then up to me to “cooperate with grace,” as the priests phrased it, by doing good and avoiding evil. Like all Catholics, my hope was to be in a mortal-sinless “state of grace” at the moment of my death so that I would be able to merit Heaven. As a Catholic, I had no assurance of salvation, none, because whether I was going to Heaven or Hell depended on if I was in a “state of grace” when I took my last breath. So, like all other Catholics, I didn’t know if I was going to Heaven or Hell. In fact, my church taught that anyone who assumed they were going to Heaven committed the sin of presumption.

In 1983, the Lord graciously opened my eyes to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. When I trusted in Christ for my salvation, He imputed His perfect righteousness to me, I no longer had to rely on my own “good deeds,” to merit Heaven. They weren’t all that good anyway. In fact all of my good deeds were tainted with pride and the expectation of some kind of reciprocation. I now have assurance of eternal life through my Savior, Jesus Christ! I now gladly follow my Lord in obedience, albeit not perfectly.

Do Catholics think I’m going to Hell? After receiving five of the seven Catholic sacraments and attending Catholic parochial and high school, I left the church of my own volition. Not only did I leave the church, but I was rebaptized as an adult at an evangelical church. I even went so far as to request a formal letter of excommunication from my former parish priest, which was not forthcoming.  I have since studied extensively the differences between Catholicism and Biblical Christianity and I have witnessed to Catholic friends, family members, and acquaintances, advising them to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and to leave their church. For the last thirty months, I have posted over 800 messages here at WordPress, warning people of Roman Catholicism and pleading with them to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

So, do Catholics think I’m going to Hell? Sixty years ago, the answer would have been a resounding, “Yes!” The Catholic clergy would have been nearly unanimous in judging me an “apostate” and “heretic” headed for eternal damnation. But these days it would depend on which Catholic you asked. Conservative, EWTN-types would most definitely say I’m in spiritual hot water, but at the other end of the spectrum are liberal clergy who are too busy teaching about God’s “love and acceptance” to be concerned with doctrinal disputes. Case in point is pope Francis, who has lifted the infallible ban on communion for remarried divorcees and has said even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their conscience.

Am I going to Hell? Praise God, no! I’m going to Heaven, but ONLY because of the imputed perfect righteousness of my Savior, Jesus Christ! Catholic friend, get off of the religious treadmill that leads to eternal sorrow. When the day comes, and it definitely is coming, you WILL NOT want to be judged according to your sins and your filthy “good deeds.” Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Trust in Him alone.

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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.” – 1 John 5:12-13