What Catholics Don't Know
Mike Gendron

I often say that anyone who grows old today has to successfully navigate through a minefield. Some of the hazards to avoid include drunk drivers, cancer, violent weather, earthquakes, accidents, and war. Each day we are faced with many unknown dangers that could end our lives and bring us face to face with our creator. Those who have a lack of knowledge or awareness of God and His Gospel are in a most dangerous position. What could be more precarious than to be one heart beat from eternity and be unaware you are under Godís condemnation? What could be more devastating than to leave this world believing you were destined for heaven, only to find out you were misguided and misinformed? I am often amazed at how many people have little or no concern about their eternal destiny. We can be wrong about a lot of things in this life and still survive, but if we are wrong about Godís Gospel, we will pay for that mistake forever.

The Bible tells us there is no excuse for those who are ignorant of God (Rom. 1:20). A lack of knowledge about God is indicative of a lack of desire to read His word. Indifference, laziness or a preoccupation with the things of this world is what keeps people from reading the Bible. Still there are people who are zealous for God but lack knowledge about His Gospel. We see an example in Romans 10:1-4. Paul said, "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about Godís righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." Paul recognized their lost condition and prayed for their salvation.

Many Roman Catholics also have a zeal for God but it is not based on biblical knowledge. Since they do not know the righteousness of God, they seek to establish their own. If they knew that Godís righteousness requires perfect righteousness they would give up trying to appease Him and gain His acceptance through good works. They would recognize their own righteousness appears as filthy rags before a holy God. Roman Catholics need to go to the Bibleóthe divine source for the truth about God and His Gospel.

What Catholics Donít Know About Salvation

They do not know the meaning and relationship of justification, sanctification and glorification in salvation. In Roman Catholic theology, justification and sanctification are not distinct but have similar meanings and thus interchangeable. Both are part of a process of becoming holy. For a Roman Catholic this process begins at water baptism and extends through purgatory. According to The Pocket Catholic Dictionary, justification "is the supernatural sanctification and renewal of a person who thus becomes holy and pleasing to God and an heir of heaven." "Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy" (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 1992). It is a process whereby good works are necessary to gain and maintain a right standing before God. "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification...let him be anathema" (Canon 9 of the Council of Trent). The Catholic Church states that the grace of justification comes, not through faith but through the sacraments, beginning with baptism. The sacraments conform Catholics to the righteousness of God. Catholics are taught they can then merit the graces needed for the attainment of eternal life through the sacraments, good works and obeying the law (CCC, 2027). Catholics commit a sin if they presume they can be glorified without merit (2091, 2092).

Catholics donít know that justification, sanctification and glorification are three distinct elements of the saving grace of God. Salvation is the saving of man from sinóthe punishment, the power and the presence of sin. When God justifies, He saves the sinner from the punishment of sin because sin has been imputed to Christ. As God sanctifies those He justifies, he saves them from the power of sin through the indwelling Holy Spiritís omnipotence. Ultimately when God glorifies those He justifies, He saves them from the presence of sin by taking them to heaven where sin cannot exist (Rev. 21:27).

For a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ salvation is past, present and pending. Justification is past, sanctification is present and glorification is still pending. All born-again Christians (alive today) have been justified, are being sanctified and will be glorified. This is why the Bible reveals that Christians have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved.

Justification for a believer occurs at the moment of faith in Jesus Christ. Christians know they were saved (past tense) from the penalty of sin when God justified them. "For by grace you have been saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8). "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).

Sanctification is the process whereby a Christian overcomes the power of sin, through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Sanctification cannot begin until one is justified and receives the Holy Spirit. Paul exhorts believers to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12-13). Again Paul speaks of the process of being saved: "For the message of the crossÖto us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

Glorification ultimately removes the Christian from the presence of sin. "ChristÖwill appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:28). God promises to glorify all whom He justifies (Rom. 8:30). Therefore "salvation is nearer to us than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11).

What Catholics Donít Know About Godís Attributes

God alone is holy. "Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy" (Rev. 15:4). The pope is not holy nor should he be addressed as "Holy Father."

God alone is infallible. "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless (Psalm 18:30). The pope is not infallible. Pope John Paul II has a history of making pronouncements that violate the truth of Godís word:

"If God is the one true God, He must save all people. The conviction that God is preparing all people for salvation is the foundation of inter-religious dialogue" (Vatican Information Service [VIS], 4/21/99).

"Hell is not a punishment imposed by God" (Detroit News, 7/28/99).

"Today, new knowledge leads us to recognize the theory of evolution is more than a hypothesis" (VIS, 10/23/96).

"The plenary indulgence [remission of punishment for sin] can be gained...[by] abstaining for at least one whole day from unnecessary consumption [of tobacco or alcohol] and donating a proportionate sum of money to the poor" (VIS, 9/29/99).

As head of the Roman Catholic Church, the pope declares the Muslims are part of Godís plan of salvation thus justifying the wicked (CCC, paragraph 841). The pope also condemns the righteous by imposing over 100 anathemas on justified believers (Trent and Vatican Council II). Catholics donít know that: "He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteousÖare an abomination to the Lord" (Prov. 17:15).

What Catholics Donít Know About Jesus

Jesus is not and never was a victim. The Lord said: "I lay down My lifeÖI lay it down on My own initiative" (John 10:17-18). Numerous references to Christ as the victim are found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: The victim is one and the same" (CCC, 1367).

Jesus does not appear every day in the form of a wafer to be worshipped and re-presented as a sacrifice. "This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). "He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12).

Jesus is sufficient to save sinners completely and forever. "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him" (Hebrews 7:25). Catholics reject the sufficiency of Christís atoning work by believing their good works and indulgences play a part in their salvation.

Jesus alone purifies sin. Purgatory does not exist. The teaching of it denies the cross work of Christ. Yet Rome dares to declare that purgatory is necessary because Jesus was unable to do what His word proclaimsóto purify for Himself a people for His own possession (Titus 2:14). "When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3). Fire has no effect on sin. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

In conclusion, it is clear that Roman Catholics donít know about God and His Gospel because they have not gone to the primary source for these truths. They must realize that the Bible is what God has revealed and religion is what man says God has declared. Anytime people go to a secondary source for truth they leave themselves open to deception. Sinners might be able to navigate through the minefield of life on earth but should take this warning to heart. The Lord Jesus said, "Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mat. 10:28).

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