Exchanging Religion for a Relationship
Mike Gendron

[Note: The numbers in parenthesis refer to paragraph numbers in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ignatius Press, 1994.]

Ever since man first sinned before our holy and righteous God, he has been trying to cover his guilt and become acceptable to God through his own effort. Adam and Eve attempted to cover their sin by sewing fig leaves together. However God demonstrated to them that sin could never be covered by the works of man. Innocent blood had to be shed. Only by the taking of another life could their sin be covered (Genesis 3:7, 21). This act of God’s mercy toward Adam and Eve foreshadowed the shedding of His Son’s blood for the forgiveness of sin for all who believe, "for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrew 9:22).

Adam and Eve’s futile attempt to become righteous before God by the works of their hands was indeed the first religious act by man. Since then, thousands of religions have sprung up, each creating their own worthless set of rules and rituals designed to gain acceptance before God nor appease His wrath against sinners. Religious work can never earn acceptance from God. Jesus said it is impossible for man to save himself (Luke 18:24-27). There is absolutely nothing man can do to make peace with God. Only when we realize our hopeless condition can we begin to understand the good news—what is impossible for man is possible with God. Sinners must cease from trusting in what they do for God and put all their confidence and trust in what God has done for them through Jesus Christ.

Jesus died as a substitute for sinners, to pay the debt that we could never pay. The debt for sin is death. Finite man can never finish paying the debt because spiritual death is eternal. The punishment for sin is the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). But what a Savior we have in Christ Jesus! "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). "He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). "By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). The work of man’s redemption is finished. It is a finished transaction. He died for sins, once for all, to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). The eternal debt for sin has been paid in full for all who will trust in Jesus Christ alone. He has forgiven all our sins (Colossians 1:14). Catholic teachings and traditions deny the perfect, sufficient and finished sacrifice of Jesus. As a result many Catholics go to their grave trusting in their religious rituals and traditions rather than Jesus Christ.

Most Catholics know that nothing impure will ever enter into heaven (Rev. 21:27). However they are taught the purification of sins takes place in the fires of purgatory. "All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven" (1030). Yet the Bible reveals Christ is our only hope because perfect righteousness is necessary for entry into God’s Kingdom. "Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes" (Rom. 10:4). He became sin for us so, in Him, we could become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Many Catholics have a zeal for God but it is not based on biblical knowledge. As a result they seek to obtain their own righteousness rather than receiving the righteousness of God that comes through faith in His Son.

The Roman Catholic teaching of purgatory is an absolute denial of what Christ accomplished on the cross—the purification of sins. The writer of the book of Hebrews speaks of Jesus when he declares "after He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven" (Hebrews 1:3). The apostle John also proclaimed that those who trust Christ are purified from all sin, by His blood (1 John 1:7). There are no residual sins that must be purged in purgatory. God will never count sins against those who have been reconciled to Him through Christ (2 Cor. 5:19). Yet Rome declares, "every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory" (1472). Catholic priests cannot tell Catholics how long they must suffer in purgatory but "through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory" (1498). "In this way they attained their own salvation and at the same time cooperated in saving their brothers in the unity of the Mystical Body" (1477). God’s Word strongly rebukes this heresy. "No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him—For the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever (Psalm 49:7-8). How disheartening it is for those who love our gracious Savior, to see His sin-purging sacrifice erased by Rome, and replaced with the deception of purgatory.

No one would be foolish enough to copy a $100 bill and trust it to have purchasing power. Yet Catholics trust in the Mass, a blasphemous copy of Calvary’s sacrifice, as a sin offering to God. Rome teaches, "The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: The victim is one and the same the same...Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner" (1367). The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who "have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified" (1371). Every time this mystery is celebrated, "the work of our redemption is carried on" (1405). Rather than trusting in the one-time, sufficient, sacrifice of Christ, Catholics continue to immolate Jesus on their altars every day. When Catholic priests offer the sacrifice of the Mass, they are acting as if Jesus really meant "It must now continue" when He said, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

Jesus appeared "to take away sins once for all" by His sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26). "Through His blood God made Him the means of expiation (of sin) for all who believe" (Romans 3:25). The very reason and purpose Christ became man and suffered such an excruciating death was to expiate sin, once and for all, by His perfect sacrifice. Yet Rome denies this by telling Catholics their sins can be expiated in purgatory (1475). What a terrible deception this is! How tragic for zealous Roman Catholics who are looking to their church for the truth! How can any church, which lifts up the name of Christ, withhold this wonderful truth from its people? Not only does the Vatican withhold the truth, it creates, in its place, numerous doctrines that deny the Savior’s finished work?

Catholics are taught that the only way to make peace with God is through a life long journey of works—receiving the sacraments, going to Mass and doing penance. Yet, the only way anyone can be reconciled to God is by faith. We must put our trust in Christ and cease from trusting in anything else. Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). Our faith must be in Christ alone because He provided the only way for sinful man to be saved (Acts 4:12). He gave His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). He gave Himself up for us as a sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2).

Those who earnestly seek the truth about salvation will listen to the words of Jesus because He testified to the truth, He is the truth and His word is truth (John 14:6, 17:17, 18:37). The reason so many people are deceived is because they trust their religious leaders rather than Christ and His word. Christ is the only mediator we can trust. Anytime we allow others to come between us and God we leave ourselves wide open to deception. Why would anyone risk spending eternity in hell by trusting man and his teachings over Christ and His Word? The Scriptures are able to give us the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15-16).

Reaching Catholics For Christ
P.O. Box 7019
Bend, OR 97708