Thoughts about faith

Differences: Catholicism vs the Bible

I grew up Roman Catholic. My Mom was a devout Catholic so I did it all from infant baptism to first communion and confirmation plus catechism classes every Sunday until I graduated from high school.

There was a kid at my high school who was in my class but I did not know him well. He approached me in the spring of my freshman year and asked if he could share the “Four Spiritual Laws” with me (Campus Crusade for Christ pamphlet). I said he could but would not have time after school until track season ended. With about 2 weeks left in the school year we met in a classroom after school. I can still picture the room. He went through the booklet and asked me if I wanted to pray to receive Christ into my heart.

Now after all those years of Catholic education you would think I would have told him I already had Christ in my heart. After all I had been baptized and confirmed. I had committed no mortal sins. Yet I wanted to pray that prayer. I felt no pressure. It was just him and me and God. I didn’t care what this kid thought of me. I knew, by the grace of God, that I needed to give my life to him.  Those things I had done as a Catholic were just a matter of following the plan. You did those things because it was time and expected. I don’t recall the nuns ever saying confirmation, for example, was optional and we shouldn’t participate if we weren’t sure. I imagine my mom would have been perplexed had I announced I didn’t want to get confirmed and the nuns would have been talking to me… It’s not that I didn’t want to get confirmed when that time came but I did it because it was expected. I didn’t really feel like I was making a commitment or a decision. It wasn’t being done on my initiative. Now I was deciding on my initiative that I wanted to give my life to Christ. No one knew what was happening that afternoon except me, this boy, and God. So I prayed.

The heavens didn’t open and I felt no different, though I felt at peace. Yet what a change started in me! We had an over sized, soft covered, gold edged, Catholic Bible sitting on our coffee table at home collecting dust. My Mom had filled out the section at the front with birth dates and such but otherwise that Bible was never opened. No one told me to read the Bible. Not the kid at school, not the nuns or priests, not my parents. The Holy Spirit led me to pick that Bible up and start reading. I started in Genesis and over several months read to the end of Revelation. I became the first person in my family to read the entire Bible. Over the remaining three years of high school I read that Bible completely three more times. Not normal reading for most high school kids especially kids who went to the Catholic Church and had no one encouraging them to read the Scriptures. I learned so much. I quickly learned far more than I ever learned at church or in those Catechism classes. As I read, I encountered truths that did not agree with doctrine taught by the Catholic Church. Once you read the Bible for yourself, you realize it’s not that complicated or difficult to understand. A few things are, but not the Gospel and many, many other things. I didn’t need a priest to tell me what those passages meant. No priest or Pope could be a better teacher than the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God.

My faith was now in Christ. He was my mediator. Not a church, not a priest or Pope. In time I left the Catholic Church after sharing the Gospel with a priest at the church. He believed that people were leaving the Catholic Church because they wanted something nicely laid out for them in black and white whereas in the Catholic faith you had to think for yourself and wrestle with the gray. I will grant there are some Protestant churches that overstep Scripture and try to run people’s lives, but most just teach the Word of God and let us pray and decide how to respond to it. Scripture is usually pretty clear. In the Catholic Church everything has to be approved and blessed. Priests read everything when saying the Mass. Other then their homily (mini sermon) the rest is all scripted. Altar boys and girls hold open books for them to read their prayers from. That seems a lot more black and white to me.

I have Catholic friends and it always strikes me how they talk a lot in terms of their church. It’s the church this and the church that. When they have questions, they don’t turn to Scripture, they go ask a priest. I was talking to a Catholic lady friend the other night, and she shared how she went to her priest to ask him about sex before marriage because a friend had asked her and she wanted to know for her and her friend. At first I was shocked she didn’t know the answer. She’s in her 50’s and been a lifelong Catholic. How could she not know? Then I was sad because she’s probably never read the Bible because if she had she’d know the answer. I asked her what answer the priest gave her. This was an 89 yr old man who had been a priest since his 20’s. Not someone you would expect to hesitate to answer such a question. His answer was not an answer at all but merely an irrelevant observation. He said that people today have a lot more sex than they used to. I asked her if he said anything else and she said no. She then added that “he didn’t say it was wrong.” True, but really he didn’t say anything. Perhaps she made that remark because that’s the answer she was looking for? I can understand her thinking that he is an ordained priest charged with shepherding the faithful so he would be obligated to tell her if something was sin even if he knew that wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear. Therefore, it was (in her mind) reasonable to assume his lack of prohibition against premarital sex was implied permission. Sad that a supposed minister of God could not give a straight answer or quote a single Scripture. Maybe that is what my old priest meant when he said people liked these Protestant churches because they made everything so black and white. What he should have said, is that they use the Bible to answer questions, and if the Bible clearly addresses the issue then there’s the answer. My friend’s priest left her with a non-answer, total murky gray.

When we stand before God, the question won’t be “did you believe in the church and put your faith and trust in her?” No! It will be “did you believe in Jesus Christ and put your faith and trust in Him?” Yet millions of Catholics are trusting in their church for their salvation. They don’t know the Gospel. I never heard it in the Catholic Church. Yes there are some Catholics who have come to know the Gospel and accepted it. Praise God! Some say they have stayed in the church hoping to reform it. How did that workout for Martin Luther? They will never grow if they stay in a church that won’t teach the Word. If I were to ask my friend why she didn’t just open a Bible and find the answer I am sure she would say it was quicker to ask her priest as after-all he has already studied these things. If she is depending on her church to teach her all she needs to know for life and salvation then her faith is in her church and not in

the Lord. Church teaching is all well and good but we are called to be like the believers in Berea who did not just take the Apostle Paul’s word but searched the Scriptures to see if he was teaching the truth. Do Catholics think their priests or even the Pope is greater than the Apostles? If Paul commended them to search and check the Scriptures for themselves would he not say the same to us today?

I am so thankful, God is His grace, gave me faith and led me to read His Word. What a treasure so many miss out on. How can we hope to obey and serve God if we don’t even read His words to us?

15 responses

  1. You wrote about the question God would ask when we stand before Him: “did you believe in Jesus Christ and put your faith and trust in Him?”

    Unfortunately that question is nowhere to be found in the entire Scripture. What Jesus would tell us is recorded in Mat. 25:34-46. Though it will take place in the last judgment Jesus would not change His criteria for us to go to eternal life, i.e. the righteous shall go to eternal life (verse 46) because they do acts that made them righteous as defined in 1 John 3:7. You have been taught that by believing in Christ you will get His righteousness imputed on you covering your unrighteousness; so when you stand before God, instead of looking at your unrighteousness He looks at righteousness of Christ and therefore let you enter heaven. That concept does not agree with what described in Mat. 25:34-46.

    I believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, I read Bible and I am convinced that the Church established by Him is the Catholic Church.

    July 8, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    • You are being selective in your quotations of Scripture. Ephesians 1:4 4-5″For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ…” (NIV). Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast” (NIV, emphasis added). Romans 10:10 “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess faith and are saved….For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (NIV)

      So how do we reconcile these verses? Some suggest salvation is by faith and that faith a gift from God. Others say God will separate the goats from the sheep because of their works. I don’t have time to quote the many Scriptures that show us how these go together but this is the heart of it. Man is born a sinner, “none is righteous, no not one”, and on the way to hell. By God’s grace, some are given the gift of faith, and by that faith, are saved “while they were dead in their trespasses.” It is while sinners we are saved through faith alone. Once saved, we are given a new heart and start to do the good works God prepared for us before we were even created. It is then that we feed the hungry, visit those in prison, and give water to the thirsty. Non-believers do those things, but they do not do them to the glory of God. Their works don’t save them. We are saved by faith but that faith is never alone. That faith gives us a new heart and that heart loves God and does righteous deeds. We cannot please God through our works until we believe and are saved and given a new heart. So yes, believers will have works that separate them from unbelievers, but those works don’t save them. They come after salvation. You cannot see faith itself, but you can see it in action (works or fruit). Just like you cannot “see” courage but you can see the acts courage produces. God alone can see the heart. He gives us the faith and can “see” it. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Yes, God does impute the righteousness of Christ to us. Did the thief on the cross have time to do good works? No. However, his faith gave him the imputed righteousness of Christ and he stood, that very moment, righteous before God. You have to study all of what Scripture teaches. The exact words, “did you believe in Jesus Christ and put your faith and trust in Him” are not found in Scripture but the truth of those words is found all throughout Scripture. The Apostle Paul himself confessed that he was the worst of sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15 “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for THOSE WHO WOULD BELIEVE in him and receive eternal life.” (NIV, emphasis added). Paul made it clear he was saved by grace as the worst of sinners. Praise God we cannot merit or earn heaven. God’s standard is perfection and none of us can ever live perfectly. We don’t have to. Christ did and we are given his righteousness when we believe as he takes our sins and pays the price for them in his blood. What can you add to the blood of Christ? Do you really think works can save you? You could perform no works meritorious in the eyes of God, unless He first gave you saving faith. My salvation is 100% God and 0% me. Jesus did not establish a physical church but a “church” of believers in all ages. That church was built on the confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and all the implies. While commanded to fellowship together, churches do not save us and their authority derives from Scripture alone in so far as the faithfully follow it. Salvation is by the grace of God through faith. That is clear.

      July 8, 2019 at 9:51 pm

  2. I think you are the one who cherry picked verses to support your belief. You quote Ephesian 2:8 yet you ignore that 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says God saves us through sanctification. In other words faith alone salvation is not biblical!

    Catholics do not believe that our works saves us – this is common myth and caricature. We believe we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8) and through sanctification (2 Thess 2:13). Only through Christ we can do acts that makes us righteous as defined in 1 John 3:7 because part from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). According to Scripture we are indeed made sinners through Adam and we are MADE righteous through Christ (Rom. 5:19). Following Reformers you reject it and believe that by faith alone you have righteousness of Christ imputed on you covering your unrighteousness. So when you die, instead of looking at your unrighteousness, God will look at that righteousness of Christ and therefore let you enter heaven. That is why you wrote that the question asked by God when you die is “did you believe in Jesus Christ and put your faith and trust in Him?” It is nowhere to be found in Scripture! You make God say what you want Him to say!

    You refer thief on the cross who did not have to do good works to go to heaven. The reason is pretty obvious – he dies shortly after he put his faith in Christ. Most of us are not in the same situation.

    Scripture says (1 John 5:16-17) there are deadly (mortal) and non deadly (venial) sins. Using imputation concept of Christ’ righteousness what is written in 1 John 5:16-17 become meaningless as perfect righteousness of Christ should be able to cover both kinds.

    July 9, 2019 at 10:25 am

    • You are stacking Bible verses rather than harmonizing them. When Ephesians 2:8 says we are saved by grace, and not by works, then it should be clear that works have NO part in our salvation. Paul did not write that we are saved by grace and works.

      Paul contrasts the “old man” with the “new man” in his writings. The old man represents us as we were before salvation. The old man cannot obey or please God. All his works are but “filthy rags” before God. God says of the old men “None are righteous, no not one.” The new man is a believer. The one saved by faith. The new man is now given a new nature – one that can love and obey God. Not perfectly, as we still sin. Not sinless, but able to sin less. We now have the Holy Spirit residing in us to empower us to walk in the good works God has prepared for us. We are no longer slaves to sin but free to choose obedience.

      Our good works are an outcome of our salvation and evidence of it. They are not required for it. Yet a truly saved person will never be without good works. His new nature will enable him to live an increasingly righteous life. Paul wrote of Abraham, that he was justified by faith, apart from works. He believed God and that justified him. If you are justified before God, you are saved. Abraham was justified/saved before God, before he had done one good work.

      “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.“ (Galatians 3:6)

      “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and up all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3: 22-27)

      Paul repeatedly warns against the attitude that once you say the magic words, you can live a life of reckless sin and “no worries because you are saved by faith alone.” Paul doesn’t say you are saved by faith + works. His statement is that your works prove your faith. They give evidence of it. I can say I am a changed man and will no longer mistreat people as I’ve done in the past, but talk is cheap. When people see me living differently, and not mistreating people as I’ve done in the past, then they will believe my words. If my walk matches my talk, then it will prove that I truly had changed. I was being truthful when I said I was a changed man. Subsequent events proved I was truthful but the change took place *before* I proved it.

      So it is with good works and faith. We cannot perform good works until we are saved. They then serve as proof of our salvation, not an ongoing requirement to maintain our salvation. “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3) You cannot be saved by your works. Only a perfect life is “good enough” for God. It’s binary. You either get a “1” for living a perfect life or a “0” for anything else. You suggest salvation is 1 + 1 = 2. Faith + works = salvation. But 1 + 0 = 1. Unless you live a perfect life, your works count as nothing toward salvation. But we do receive the righteousness of Christ so in that sense we are perfect and justified before God but not due to our good works.

      The thief on the cross was saved because he believed and received the righteousness of Christ. Had he lived he would have done good works but he died justified. He did not need good works to be saved. He was saved without them and not just due to lack of opportunity.

      1 Corinthians 1:30

      “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,”

      Notice Christ is the subject of this sentence. It is Christ who became righteousness and sanctification and redemption for us because we are “in Christ Jesus.”

      Time does not permit the quotation of more verses. You believe we must begin in faith and continue in works (remember sanctification is not works but being set apart by God for good works). You believe we must maintain our faith by works. I do not see that taught in Scripture. Not when you understand and harmonize all that Scripture says about salvation.

      As to 1 John 5:16-17, that does not teach mortal vs venial sin. The sin that leads to death is defined in Hebrews 6:5-7:

      “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

      This is describing a non-believer who is shown the Gospel and understood and began to walk (though not truly believing) then falls away. Salvation is by faith, but the sin that leads to death is unbelief which is the sin described here.

      “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He [God] made you alive together with Him [Christ], having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)

      Christ has already forgiven us all our transgressions. He knows every sin we will ever commit and he did for those sins on the cross. If there was such a thing as a mortal sin, Christ would have to return and die again upon the cross for each mortal sin in order to save us.

      How can Paul write, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). He is not talking about condemnation right now but on judgment day. We are described as being children of God:

      “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

      17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17)

      “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

      30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

      31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

      Notice the progression. God predestines us to be forgiven, the Spirit then calls us, then we are justified, and in heave, will be glorified. There are no conditions or caveats. It is all one work of God.

      July 10, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      • Your response is standard response made by many others. Catholics do believe we are saved by grace and not by works – no problem with Eph. 2:8. You are silent on 2 Thess. 2:13 that says God saves us through sanctification because it does not agree with what you are taught. The thief on the cross did not have to undergo sanctification, not through his own fault – he died shortly after having faith in Christ. Most of us are not in his situation – we live long enough after becoming believers that we undergo sanctification process, through which God saves us (2 Thess. 2:13).

        Scriptures says that through Adam we are made sinners and through Christ we are made righteous (Rom. 5:19) – it does NOT say through Christ we are counted or declared as righteous. We indeed we become new persons, i.e. we become righteous, not counted as righteous per your belief, i.e. using righteousness of Christ covering our unrighteousness. Faith is counted or reckoned as righteousness (Rom. 4:3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 22, 23, 24; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23). Certainly, to have faith is one of acts that makes us righteous as defined in 1 John 3:7. Thus Catholics understand that Abraham was made righteous, not counted as righteous, by his faith.

        You cited Rom 3:10 that says no one is righteous but ignore many verses saying the existence of righteous persons. According to Scripture Noah, Daniel, Job (Ezekiel 14:14), Joseph (Matthew 1:19), Elizabeth and Zechariah (Luke 1:6), Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:10), Abel (Hebrews 11:4) and even Lot (2 Peter 2:7) were righteous persons. The existence of righteous persons, without naming them is shown in Psalms 5:12, 34:15, Matthew 5:45, 1 Peter 3:12 and many other verses. Scripture says the righteous shall go to eternal life (Mat. 25:46) because they did acts that make them righteous (Mat. 25:35-36, 1 John 3:7), not because they have faith in Christ alone.

        You wrote that “our good works are an outcome of our salvation and evidence of it”. Let’s say a person donates to charity $ 1,000 per year and claims he has evidence or outcome of his faith. He then can freely do other things like cheating, beating his wife, adultery etc. If you say $ 1000 yearly donation does not show evidence of faith then let me ask you: what is minimum amount/frequency of good works you must do to be considered as outcome of salvation? Whatever number you propose, makes your salvation also depends on works, not on faith alone.

        You keep on repeating that Catholics believe in salvation through faith plus works. That is NOT the teaching of the Church. Salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) and through sanctification (2 Thess. 2:13) – faith is a free gift from God sanctification is also work of God (1 Thess. 1:53). Moved and enabled by grace through Christ (John 15:5) we are able to do good works that makes us righteous as defined by 1 John 3:7. For sure we cannot do them perfectly, i.e. without failure. We do fail from time to time. Scripture says a righteous person loses his righteousness whenever he sins (Ezek. 33:12). Scripture says when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness, he will surely live (Ezekiel 18:27-28). That is why Christ gave the authority to forgive sins to the Church (John 20:22-23). Unfortunately, following Reformers you nullify His statement – if you already have perfect righteousness of Christ imputed on you then why bother to ask forgiveness of sins committed after having faith in Him? According to Scripture (1 John 5:16-17) there are deadly (mortal) and non-deadly (venial) sins. Deadly sins is NOT apostasy described in Heb. 6:5-7. To know more what Scripture defines as deadly sins, you should read Ezekiel 18:5-28. You plainly deny the existence of mortal sins when you wrote “If there was such a thing as a mortal sin, Christ would have to return and die again upon the cross for each mortal sin in order to save us”. Using Col. 2:13-14 you claimed that Christ already forgive our sins, including future sins, committed after having faith. If this is the case then what Christ said in John 20:22-23 become meaningless and so is 1 John 3:8 saying he who sins belong to the devil and Ezek. 33:12 that says a righteous person loses his righteousness whenever he sins.

        July 10, 2019 at 6:52 pm

      • >You wrote “You seem to think salvation by faith just means saying you believe and then “bingo, you’re saved.” You have to truly mean it and >submit to Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you truly do that, the Holy Spirit will come into you and you will begin to change. You are saved, but >the process of sanctification is only beginning”. If you don’t show any change or little change are you going to be saved? What is the minimum >change you must show in order to be saved? If you are required to show evidence of your faith through sanctification in order to be saved then >salvation is not through faith alone but through faith and through sanctification.

        We seem to be talking in circles. Salvation is by divine election brought about through faith, itself a gift from God. Since God choses the elect, He knows who is saved. Works, the evidence of our salvation, is not needed to be saved or to show God who to save. A saved person will evidence good works over time but they are an outcome of his/her salvation and not a requirement for it. If you or I say we are saved, but lack any evidence of it, then we should examine ourselves and make certain we truly believed but salvation is by faith alone. Sanctification necessarily follows salvation but is never a prerequisite for it.

        >Under imputation concept of Christ righteousness taught by the Reformers, believers will use righteousness of Christ, accepted by faith alone, to >cover their unrighteousness. When they die, instead of looking at their unrighteousness, God will look at prefect righteousness of Christ and >therefore let them enter heaven. If this is the case why the believers are required to show evidence of their faith, which can never be perfect and >will be covered by Christ righteousness and God would not see them? Once imputed by faith alone, then it should be permanent or one should >have assurance of salvation through his faith alone but you flatly deny this.

        Nowhere have I denied that salvation is not permanent. I have argued the opposite. I have also consistently said that sanctification is not a requirement for salvation but rather an outcome of it.

        >The entire Bible is words of God, not only selected verses like John 3:16, Rom. 3:28 etc. I am surprised you ridiculed Ezekiel 18 while at the same >time claim the entire Bible is the only and final authority. If you have problem with Ezekiel 18 then you will have problem with Psalms 137:9 who >talks about dashing babies against the rock! In Luke 10:28 Christ said: “do this [the Commandments] and you will live”. You still demand Scripture >to produce a written list? Ironically you believe in something that is NOT written in Scripture like ““Justification is an act whereby God declares us >just due to the righteousness of Christ.” – simply because it fits well with your belief.

        First, I am unable to find a consistent list of mortal sins anywhere. I see a consistent characterization of mortal sins, but not a consistent list (e.g. http://www.vcatholic.com/articles/list-mortal-sins-every-catholic-know-3/). I realize that is not an official Catholic site. Do you have a reference from an official Catholic source saying Ezekiel 18 defines the mortal sins? I do believe the Bible is the final and only source of divine revelation. We have to look at all of it though. We have to reconcile the verses that at first blush make it seem like salvation requires works and those that say it is by faith alone. It can’t be both. I have tried repeatedly to explain how faith and works come together in Scripture. You start from a different starting point than I do. You believe the teaching of the Catholic Church is equally valid to the voice of Scripture. So, if the Church says salvation requires works you agree. I say Scripture contains no contradictions. So, it’s not possible that salvation is by faith alone and salvation is by faith plus works (or sanctification as you like to put it). It can’t be both or that would be a contradiction. You keep wanting to add works to the equation. I don’t see how you can say that in light of the Bible teaching that salvation is by faith alone? I will come to justification in another post, but it is not necessary to find a verse that says “Justification is an act whereby God declares us just due to the righteousness of Christ.” Scripture teaches that but not in one simple verse. You have to look at many verses to understand what Scripture teaches about justification. The lack of one concise verse that says it all is hardly proof it does not exist in Scripture.

        >You argued that death in 1 John 5:16-17 refers to physical death. Well, nobody drops dead whenever he/she breaks any of Ten Commandments. >Whether we obey or disobey them, we will eventually be dead physically, none of us becomes immortal. Deadly sins as stated in 1 John 5:16-17 >pose serious problem to Reformers imputed concept of Christ’s righteousness. Certainly His perfect righteousness is able to cover all sins, >otherwise it is not perfect enough. The late Sproul wrote that deadly sins are teaching of Rome. I am sure he was aware of 1 John 5:16-17 but he >did not want to let his readers know. The “solution” of this problem is attributing deadly sins to non-believers – it was proposed by Luther during >Reformation and plagiarized by John Mac Arthur. If you get the idea of habitual sins from MacArthur then ask him (he is still alive) what is >“scriptural” definition of habitual sin.

        I never said you will drop dead every time you break one of the 10 Commandments. I said that God sometimes punishes believers by taking their life. Like Ananias and Sapphira. There are other references to believers “falling asleep” due to their sins. That is God’s prerogative and there are times when sins lead to physical death but it’s up to God. Again, you have to look at all of Scripture. Some verses are difficult to understand but we have to understand them in the context of all of Scripture. Once God elects you and saves you, He does not unsave you. You cannot commit a sin that cancels your salvation. God knew your ever sin you’d ever commit before He elected you. You’re not going to undo what God has done.

        >You argued that in Rom. 8:30 sanctification is combined with glorification. But glorification takes place after we die in heaven. In contrast >justification, that include sanctification, takes place when we are still alive. We are predestined long before we were born – those predestined are >called (one time event) and will undergo justification.

        I believe I wrote that sanctification takes place between justification and glorification. The fact that it is not listed in one verse does not require us to conclude it must be combined with justification or glorification. Justification is a one time act at one point in time.

        A few notes from our previous discussion:

        The word “made”, in Romans 5:19, is the Greek word kathistemi which has the meanings:

        1 to set, place, put. 1a to set one over a thing (in charge of it). 1b to appoint one to administer an office. 1c to set down as, constitute, to declare, show to be. 1d to constitute, to render, make, cause to be. 1e to conduct or bring to a certain place. 1f to show or exhibit one’s self. 1f1 come forward as.

        Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

        Among the possible meanings are “to declare.” To understand this verse, one must look at the whole context of Scripture.

        1 Corinthians 6:11 gives a list of things God has done for us and it is not certain that the order is the order in which God accomplishes these things but you also must understand that the word “sanctify” (or it’s variants) is used in two ways in Scripture. One definition means to make holy, to set apart, to consecrate, to separate. In choosing us, God does set us apart and consecrates us as His people and the justifies us. In that use of the word, sanctify is not describing a process that occurs over time as in the second meaning of the word sanctify. You seem to treat the word as though it only has one, the second, meaning. In the first sense, it makes sense that we were set apart (sanctified) before we were justified. One could illustrate this by saying that I select certain members of a group to be my deputies and then I declare them my deputies. I chose them and not due to anything they did to earn my selection, and then I declare them my deputies because I have the authority to make them deputies.

        If we apply this to 2 Thess 2:13, we can understand the verse to say “God has chosen you from the beginning (election) for salvation (what He chose us for) through sanctification (through setting us apart and consecrating us) by the Spirit (the Holy Spirit is the one who does this) and by faith in the truth (the grounds of our salvation).” We are sanctified by the blood of Christ (also rendered “purified”) which washes us of our sins and made righteous by His imputed righteousness. It is “by faith in the truth” the God does these things for us. So, if we understand that “sanctification” is being used in the sense of setting apart or consecrating, then it is not an action on our part whereby we demonstrate or earn righteousness. It is an action solely by God. That does not contradict what I have been saying.

        July 24, 2019 at 12:25 pm

  3. Your response is standard response made by many others. What you did is quoting verses that support your belief and ignore others that don’t.

    Catholics do believe we are saved by grace and not by works – no problem with Eph. 2:8. You are silent on 2 Thess. 2:13 that says God saves us through sanctification because it does not agree with what you are taught. The thief on the cross did not have to undergo sanctification, not through his own fault – he died shortly after having faith in Christ. Most of us are not in his situation – we live long enough after becoming believers that we undergo sanctification process, through which God saves us (2 Thess. 2:13).

    Scriptures says that through Adam we are made sinners and through Christ we are made righteous (Rom. 5:19) – it does NOT say through Christ we are counted or declared as righteous. We indeed we become new persons, i.e. we become righteous, not counted as righteous per your belief, i.e. using righteousness of Christ covering our unrighteousness. Faith is counted or reckoned as righteousness (Rom. 4:3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 22, 23, 24; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23). Certainly, to have faith is one of acts that makes us righteous as defined in 1 John 3:7. Thus Catholics understand that Abraham was made righteous, not counted as righteous, by his faith.

    You cited Rom 3:10 that says no one is righteous but ignore many verses saying the existence of righteous persons. According to Scripture Noah, Daniel, Job (Ezekiel 14:14), Joseph (Matthew 1:19), Elizabeth and Zechariah (Luke 1:6), Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:10), Abel (Hebrews 11:4) and even Lot (2 Peter 2:7) were righteous persons. The existence of righteous persons, without naming them is shown in Psalms 5:12, 34:15, Matthew 5:45, 1 Peter 3:12 and many other verses. Scripture says the righteous shall go to eternal life (Mat. 25:46) because they did acts that make them righteous (Mat. 25:35-36, 1 John 3:7), not because they have faith in Christ alone.

    You wrote that “our good works are an outcome of our salvation and evidence of it”. Let’s say a person donates to charity $ 1,000 per year and claims he has evidence or outcome of his faith. He then can freely do other things like cheating, beating his wife, adultery etc. If you say $ 1000 yearly donation does not show evidence of faith then let me ask you: what is minimum amount/frequency of good works you must do to be considered as outcome of salvation? Whatever number you propose, makes your salvation also depends on works, not on faith alone.

    You keep on repeating that Catholics believe in salvation through faith plus works. That is NOT the teaching of the Church. You are fully entitled to disagree with what Catholics believe but do not make your own definition. Even Catholics believe that Salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) and through sanctification (2 Thess. 2:13) – faith is a free gift from God sanctification is also work of God (1 Thess. 1:53). Moved and enabled by grace through Christ (John 15:5) we are able to do good works that makes us righteous as defined by 1 John 3:7. For sure we cannot do them perfectly, i.e. without failure. We do fail from time to time. Scripture says a righteous person loses his righteousness whenever he sins (Ezek. 33:12). Scripture says when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness, he will surely live (Ezekiel 18:27-28). That is why Christ gave the authority to forgive sins to the Church (John 20:22-23). Unfortunately, following Reformers you nullify His statement – if you already have perfect righteousness of Christ imputed on you then why bother to ask forgiveness of sins committed after having faith in Him? According to Scripture (1 John 5:16-17) there are deadly (mortal) and non-deadly (venial) sins. Deadly sin is NOT apostasy described in Heb. 6:5-7. To know more what Scripture defines as deadly sins, you should read Ezekiel 18:5-28. You plainly deny the existence of mortal sins when you wrote “If there was such a thing as a mortal sin, Christ would have to return and die again upon the cross for each mortal sin in order to save us”. Using Col. 2:13-14 you claimed that Christ already forgive our sins, including future sins, committed after having faith. If this is the case then what Christ said in John 20:22-23 become meaningless and so is 1 John 3:8 saying he who sins belong to the devil and Ezek. 33:12 that says a righteous person loses his righteousness whenever he sins.

    July 10, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    • First, this verse again shows election: “because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation.” How did God save you? By setting you apart “salvation though [in] sanctification.” By what agency? “by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” In other words, God chose us for salvation then sanctified or set apart us by His Spirit and our faith. If God set you apart, “from the beginning”, for salvation, then what need for further requirements? If you are already set apart, could you possibly lose that salvation by some failing to live out that salvation? No!

      You are confusing two types of righteousness. There is the righteousness of man, which in the case of the people you mentioned, was noteworthy. However, our righteousness can never be enough. That is why Scripture says “None are righteous, no not one.” Only Jesus lived a life that meets God’s standard for righteousness. The only righteousness that counts before God, is the righteousness of Christ. That is why it has to be imputed to us. If you want to merit heaven based on righteousness, you will need perfect righteousness which only Jesus attained.

      Sanctification necessarily follows salvation. So yes, a believer will exhibit sanctification but it is not what saves him. It is evidence but only God can see the heart and truly know. To your analogy of the $1000, while I can look at someone’s life and believe I see evidence of salvation, I cannot see everything and I am not their judge. If outwardly they appear to be producing good fruit but behind the scenes are doing evil, then I may be fooled, but God will not. Their secret sins may be evidence they never truly believed.

      You say Catholics do not believe works are required yet keep insisting on sanctification being a requirement for salvation. Yet you say sanctification is a work of God. So if faith is from God and sanctification is from God, then why would righteousness be a requirement? If it is all of God then there is NO chance someone will lack the required righteousness. Or is God’s provision of sanctification flawed because man can kill all that sanctification with a single mortal sin?

      When John writes that he who sins belongs to the devil, he is referring to those who sin habitually without repentance. Such a man, by his actions, demonstrates he does not posses saving faith. He was never righteous in the eyes of God. He loses the apparent righteousness we see with human eyes, but he never had the righteousness of Christ.

      No man (or church) has the ability to forgive sins but only to proclaim the judgment of God’s word. If you come to me and confess adultery, but refuse to repent, I can confidently proclaim you are in sin. If you repent, and show the fruit of repentance, I can confidently proclaim that sin is forgiven. When we sin, we sin against God, and only He can forgive our sin against him.

      If the person described in Ezekiel 18:5-28, possessed saving faith, they would not live such an ongoing life of sin. Yet if they do live an ongoing life of obedience shows they have saving faith.

      July 11, 2019 at 8:54 am

      • In case you are not aware, Catholics do believe in Election. Those who will go to heaven were chosen by God from eternity. His grace saves them because it moves them to believe in Christ and to obey His commandments – without grace we cannot do both of them. That is why Catholics believe in salvation by grace and NOT by works.

        Scripture clearly says God saves us through faith and through sanctification – it does NOT say God saves us through faith alone and then we will undergo sanctification where we are to show our good works as sign or outcome of faith. You wrote “a believer will exhibit sanctification but it is not what saves him”. Here you plainly deny 2 Thess. 2:13 that plainly says God saves us through sanctification or salvation is a process, not one-time event and certainly not by faith alone.

        I am not confusing righteousness. Catholics do NOT believe we can merit any righteousness as you falsely charge. Our righteousness comes from God – this is Catholic official teaching. The difference is you believe righteousness from God through Christ imputed on believers, i.e. you are righteous externally but inside you remain unrighteous. Catholics, on the other hand, believe that God’s righteousness is infused in us or it does make us righteous. That is why Scripture can name many righteous persons. Remember Scripture defines a righteous person as the one who does what is right (1 John 3:7). It is possible only by grace through Christ (John 15:5) because apart from Him we can do nothing. Scripture nowhere says we are counted as righteous as taught by Reformers but it does say we are made righteous through Christ (Rom. 5:19). It does say faith is counted as righteousness – certainly to have faith is counted as one act that leads to righteousness as defined in 1 John 3:7.

        To answer your question: sanctification is a work of God. So if faith is from God and sanctification is from God, then why would righteousness be a requirement? The answer: through faith and sanctification the righteousness of God is infused in us. We do NOT and CANNOT produce any righteousness but righteousness is gift from God through faith and through sanctification.

        To answer your question: If it is all of God then there is NO chance someone will lack the required righteousness. Or is God’s provision of sanctification flawed because man can kill all that sanctification with a single mortal sin? Answer: God gives us free-will and does not force us to take His grace. When we sin, we do it freely because of our sinful nature. When we repent from sinning as well as doing good works (righteous acts), we can do them freely after being moved by grace from God and without grace we cannot do them. This is one area where Reformers disagree with the Catholic Church – they advocate grace alone or sola gratia, our free will does not play any role. However the Greek verb sunergo (work together, from where we get English word synergy) appears five times in New Testament, one of them is: “We know that in everything God works [Greek sunergei] for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

        You wrote “When John writes that he who sins belongs to the devil, he is referring to those who sin habitually without repentance”. The verse does NOT say so, it your interpretation. My question for you is how you define habitual sin, i.e. at what frequency of committing the same sin within certain period of time, should be referred as habitual sin? Just for example: committing adultery once a year with repenting is not considered habitual, i.e. you do not belong to the devil, following your interpretation. But doing it twice or more in year without repentance will turn it into habitual sin and make you belong to the devil.

        Only God and Christ can forgive sin but they can give the authority to forgive sins as stated in John 20:22-23. For comparison, Scripture gives the title Saviour only to God and to Jesus but they can bring the salvation through us. We do not become saviour and in the same way the priests are not the ones who forgive sins, but Christ does it through them, just like Christ brings the good news of salvation through us.

        Ezek 18:5, 9 defines what a righteous person is (in agreement with 1 John 3:7) and Ezek 18:6-8 defines what acts are considered as righteous acts – they are Ten Commandments. You do them then you are righteous and you will live. You do opposite of them then you are wicked and you will die.

        Ezek 18:14 to 20 says both righteousness and wickedness are NOT hereditary – you cannot transfer them to your children.

        Ezek 18:21 -29 says that when we die what count is whether we repent from our wickedness or not – it neither depends on our righteous acts nor on our wickedness. Thus a person may do zillion righteous acts but if he dies just with one unrepented mortal sin, he will end up in hell – all his righteous works will be forgotten and will not save him (verse 24). A person may commit zillion sins (deadly and non-deadly) but if he repents before he dies, then he will live – all his past sins will be forgotten (verse 21). Again one can freely repent from sin only after being moved by grace and that is why Catholics believe we are saved by grace and NEVER believe in salvation by works.

        July 11, 2019 at 1:31 pm

      • I believe you confuse and blend sanctification and justification. Justification is an act whereby God declares us just due to the righteousness of Christ. After that beings the process of sanctification. We are never done being sanctified this side of heaven. Sanctification is not on a scale where if you achieve a certain degree of it you are now saved. You ask how much sin is necessary to qualify as habitual? I don’t have the answer nor do I need to because I am not the judge of man. Christ is and he knows our hearts and whether or not we were chosen before the foundation of time to be his child and be forgiven. We are given such instruction not to judge others but to judge ourselves. If we find ourselves in habitual sin then we should examine ourselves.

        You argue for mortal sins but where is the list? How did the Catholic church arrive at its definition of which sins are mortal and which are not? A single sin of any kind is enough to send you to hell. At the moment of our salvation, we have imputed the righteousness of Christ. We are truly unrighteous but we begin the process of sanctification whereby we start to live righteously but our salvation is not based on that sanctification. God’s standard is perfection so unless you can live a perfect sanctified life it would never be enough.

        I would refer you (or those reading) to this article which gives a nice overview of the debate (http://www.gty.org/library/articles/A194/justification-by-faith)

        I appreciate your knowledge of Scripture and zeal but I disagree. In 20 years as a Catholic I never heard the Gospel and never heard the Bible taught. The 10 minute “homily” I heard each Sunday was very superficial. I was never encouraged to read the Bible. I was encouraged to do unbiblical things like pray the Rosary, pray to Mary or the “saints”, believe communion was the actual body and blood of Christ. What we know of today as the Catholic Church did not exist until after the 4th century. I do not recognize the Pope, the Cardinals, Bishops, or Priests. I believe the Catholic Church teaches “another gospel” and I reject it. I stand with the Reformers who rightly pointed out the abuses and false teachings of the church. The money making indulgences and persecution of those who argued from Scripture. Now that same church hides pedophiles and only acted when forced to by the secular media. Yes, Protestants have had bad pastors too but nothing on the institution level of decades of child abuse covered by the Catholic Church. I am happy to be rid of that corrupt institution. I stand on Scripture. Sola Scriptura, sola fide, sola gracia. I would have happily burned at the stake to oppose the false gospel of the Catholic Church as some true saints did.

        July 11, 2019 at 9:04 pm

      • Scripture nowhere says “Justification is an act whereby God declares us just due to the righteousness of Christ.” That is the definition made by the Reformers. Scripture does not give any definition of justification but it clearly says through Christ we are made righteous (Rom. 5:19) – it does not say through Christ we are declared righteous.

        Scripture gives clear indication that sanctification is part of justification. In 1 Corinthians 6:11 Paul placed (being) justified after (being) sanctified, indicating that we are justified after being sanctified. In Romans 8:30, being sanctified is missing and the only explanation is it is part of justification as taught by the Catholic Church. Remind you again that Scripture says we are saved through faith (Eph. 2:8) and through sanctification (2 Thess. 2:13) then we should be also justified through faith and through sanctification. Sanctification is not on a scale – I never wrote that, you just caricature what Catholics believe. You wrote “our salvation is not based on that sanctification” – well, pls read again 2 Thess 2:13, what you wrote contradicts Scripture

        You still deny the existence of mortal sins despite the fact Scripture clearly says so (1 John 5:16-17). You turn blind eye to verses you don’t want to see because they don’t meet your belief! You asked for list of mortal sins. Ezekiel 18:6-9 gives us list of mortal sins.

        There are bad people and sinners together with true Christians in the Catholic Church. It is meant to be that way according to parable given by Christ in Mat. 13:24-30. If you claim you belong to a church of which all members are guaranteed heaven because they believe in salvation by faith alone, by grace alone, and rely on scripture alone, then either Christ told us a meaningless parable or your “weed free church” is not part of the kingdom of heaven.

        July 16, 2019 at 10:47 pm

      • I guess you have not been reading what I wrote. I have previously written that only Gold can see the heart and not everyone who claims to be saved is. Just saying the words does not make you a believer. So no, my church is full of tares and wheat. As a group, we believe in salvation by faith alone, but only Gold knows for sure where each individual is at in his heart. You seem to think salvation by faith just means saying you believe and then “bingo, you’re saved.” You have to truly mean it and submit to Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you truly do that, the Holy Spirit will come into you and you will begin to change. You are saved, but the process of sanctification is only beginning.

        “He does not eat at the mountain shrines
        or look to the idols of Israel.
        He does not defile his neighbor’s wife
        or have sexual relations with a woman during her period.
        7 He does not oppress anyone,
        but returns what he took in pledge for a loan.
        He does not commit robbery
        but gives his food to the hungry
        and provides clothing for the naked.
        8 He does not lend to them at interest
        or take a profit from them.
        He withholds his hand from doing wrong
        and judges fairly between two parties.
        9 He follows my decrees
        and faithfully keeps my laws.
        That man is righteous;
        he will surely live,
        declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 18:6-9)

        That is a list of mortal sins? Having sex with your wife during her menstrual period is a mortal sin? Failure to give food to the hungry or robbing are mortal sins? If you include verse 9, then any sin could be a mortal sin. I don’t see how this is a list of mortal sins.

        1 John 5:16-17 does not say all you want it to. Yes, it does say there is a sin, or type of sin, that leads to death. No definition or list is given. Secondly, you are assuming “death” means spiritual, grace killing death whereas it could mean physical death. We know, for example, the Holy Spirit put Ananias and Sapphira to death when they lied. Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning those who were abusing the Lord’s Table, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep [have died]” (1 Cor. 11:30) God sometimes punishes a sinning believer with loss of life due to serious sin.

        While we don’t know precisely what John meant, logically there are two cases. He could be referring to a non-believer who is masquerading as a believer. Here, I will quote John MacArthur:

        “First, the sin in question may be that of a non-Christian leading to eternal death. In that case it would be a final rejection of Jesus Christ, such as that committed by those who attributed His miracles to the power of Satan (Matt. 12:31–32). Such ultimate apostasy is unforgivable, as Jesus declared:

        Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matt. 12:31–32)

        Praying for the restoration of such people to the fellowship from which they have departed (1 John 2:19) is futile, because “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” (Heb. 6:6). John did not forbid prayer for such people, since it is impossible to know who they are. The apostle merely stated that prayer for them will not be answered; God has already made the final decision about their future. Supporting the view that John is referring to unbelievers is the present tense of the participle hamartanonta (“sinning”; the Greek text literally reads “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin …”); John elsewhere in this epistle uses the present tense to describe the habitual sins that characterize unbelievers (e.g., 3:4, 6, 8; 5:18).” (https://www.gty.org/library/bibleqnas-library/QA0131/the-sin-unto-death)

        The other case is a sin of a true believer in which case God is taking their life like Ananias and Sapphira. To say these verses create a clear category of sins that kill grace, is to read more into these verses than they present.

        To state the absence of sanctification, in Romans 8:30, implies it is included in justification, is an assumption. I would argue it lands between justification and glorification had it been included. I will save the larger issue of justification for a future article.

        Finally, when you say I ignore 2 Thess 2:13, I wrote extensively about that in this article. I explained why I don’t believe it means sanctification is required for salvation. You may not agree with my answer but I have addressed that verse.

        July 17, 2019 at 10:55 am

      • My responses:
        1. You wrote “You seem to think salvation by faith just means saying you believe and then “bingo, you’re saved.” You have to truly mean it and submit to Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you truly do that, the Holy Spirit will come into you and you will begin to change. You are saved, but the process of sanctification is only beginning”. If you don’t show any change or little change are you going to be saved? What is the minimum change you must show in order to be saved? If you are required to show evidence of your faith through sanctification in order to be saved then salvation is not through faith alone but through faith and through sanctification.
        2. Under imputation concept of Christ righteousness taught by the Reformers, believers will use righteousness of Christ, accepted by faith alone, to cover their unrighteousness. When they die, instead of looking at their unrighteousness, God will look at prefect righteousness of Christ and therefore let them enter heaven. If this is the case why the believers are required to show evidence of their faith, which can never be perfect and will be covered by Christ righteousness and God would not see them? Once imputed by faith alone, then it should be permanent or one should have assurance of salvation through his faith alone but you flatly deny this.
        3. The entire Bible is words of God, not only selected verses like John 3:16, Rom. 3:28 etc. I am surprised you ridiculed Ezekiel 18 while at the same time claim the entire Bible is the only and final authority. If you have problem with Ezekiel 18 then you will have problem with Psalms 137:9 who talks about dashing babies against the rock! In Luke 10:28 Christ said: “do this [the Commandments] and you will live”. You still demand Scripture to produce a written list? Ironically you believe in something that is NOT written in Scripture like ““Justification is an act whereby God declares us just due to the righteousness of Christ.” – simply because it fits well with your belief.
        4. You argued that death in 1 John 5:16-17 refers to physical death. Well, nobody drops dead whenever he/she breaks any of Ten Commandments. Whether we obey or disobey them, we will eventually be dead physically, none of us becomes immortal. Deadly sins as stated in 1 John 5:16-17 pose serious problem to Reformers imputed concept of Christ’s righteousness. Certainly His perfect righteousness is able to cover all sins, otherwise it is not perfect enough. The late Sproul wrote that deadly sins are teaching of Rome. I am sure he was aware of 1 John 5:16-17 but he did not want to let his readers know. The “solution” of this problem is attributing deadly sins to non-believers – it was proposed by Luther during Reformation and plagiarized by John Mac Arthur. If you get the idea of habitual sins from MacArthur then ask him (he is still alive) what is “scriptural” definition of habitual sin.
        5. You argued that in Rom. 8:30 sanctification is combined with glorification. But glorification takes place after we die in heaven. In contrast justification, that include sanctification, takes place when we are still alive. We are predestined long before we were born – those predestined are called (one time event) and will undergo justification.

        July 21, 2019 at 9:39 pm

  4. What a beautiful testimony! Our savior Jesus does not need a Pope or saints to save anyone. You explained the difference very well between following a ‘religion’ versus following the Lord. Praise God that you heard his voice and listened!

    September 9, 2019 at 1:57 pm

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