Bible verses about the Catholic Church
Theology does not save us. However, bad theology can hinder us from seeing, knowing, and experiencing the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church claims to be the only true church established 2000 years ago by Jesus Christ.
This claim however was rejected by the Reformers of the sixteenth century due to a number of differences between the Bible and Catholic doctrine. Why is this topic so important? What are the disagreements between Protestants and the Catholic Church? These are the questions that I will attempt to answer in this article.
- “It is entirely by the intervention of Christ’s righteousness that we obtain justification before God. This is equivalent to saying that man is not just in himself, but that the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation, while he is strictly deserving of punishment.” – John Calvin
- “We are justified, not by giving anything to God, – what we do, – but by receiving from God, what Christ hath done for us.” – William Gurnall
- Charles Spurgeon – “Christ did not redeem His church with His blood so the pope could come in and steal away the glory. He never came from heaven to earth and poured out His very heart that He might purchase His people so that a poor sinner, a mere man, should be set upon high to be admired by all the nations and to call himself God’s representative on earth! Christ has always been the head of His church.”
- Westminster Confession of Faith – “There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.”
- “Saving faith is an immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, resting upon Him alone, for justification, sanctification, and eternal life by virtue of God’s grace.” – Charles Spurgeon
What does the Roman Catholic Church believe about justification?
In Christian theology, the most important questions that we will ever have to answer are those regarding salvation and justification. These are not mere disagreements that we can overlook and unify in. The core of Christianity is salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Anything other than this is a distortion of the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul knew the severity of preaching a false gospel.
In Galatians 1 Paul said, “if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” In Christ there is true forgiveness. In Christ there is liberation. I want everyone to truly experience the all-surpassing awesomeness of Jesus Christ. Is it enough to have faith in Christ or do we need faith along with works? Let’s take a moment to examine Scripture and multiple paragraphs of the Catechism.
Canon 9 – “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; let him be damned.”
Cannon 14. “If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.”
CCC 846 – “Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation.”
CCC 2068 – “The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them. All men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments.”
CCC 2010 – “Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.”
CCC 2036 – “The authority of the Magisterium extends also to the specific precepts of the natural law, because their observance, demanded by the Creator, is necessary for salvation. In recalling the prescriptions of the natural law, the Magisterium of the Church exercises an essential part of its prophetic office of proclaiming to men what they truly are and reminding them of what they should be before God.”
Canon 9 teaches that those who believe in salvation by faith alone will be damned. This is a direct contradiction to Romans 3:28 which teaches that salvation is by faith apart from works. In fact, Romans 3:20 says, “that by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”
CCC 2068 teaches that salvation is obtained through faith, baptism, and obeying the Commandments. Romans 11:6 differs and says, “it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 4:5 says, “To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”
CCC 2010 says that “we can merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our salvation.” However, this clashes with Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Romans 3:24 teaches that we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Grace is unmerited favor. Scripture is clear that grace is not something that can be worked for. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be grace. Faith is a gift from the Lord. Salvation is all by God’s amazing grace. A works-based salvation lessens the value of the blood of Christ and it leads to enslavement. Humanity will never be able to live out all that God requires. This is why we have to trust in the perfection of Christ on our behalf. We’re not good enough to maintain our salvation. Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” There is so much joy and freedom in knowing that my salvation is not dependent on me. In Christ there is no striving to maintain our salvation. His blood is enough. In Galatians 3:10 Paul addressed those who thought that their faith along with their works could make them right before the Lord. He said, “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
In Galatians 3:10, Paul is teaching us that if we’re trying to maintain our salvation by our works, then we will experience the curse of the Law. Why is that? We will receive the curse of the Law because God demands perfection and we are unable to meet the requirements of God. Isaiah 64:6 teaches us that our good works are filthy rags. Check out this beautiful section that greatly impacted my soul from the Valley of Vision devotional.
“I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness; I am always standing clothed in filthy garments, and by grace am always receiving change of raiment, for you always justify the ungodly.”
Our repentance is tainted by sin. Even our greatest deeds are tainted by sin. Our inability to perfectly do all that is required is why we rely upon the atoning work of Christ.
What does it mean that faith without works is dead?
This question derives from James 2. James 2 is sometimes taken out of context to teach a system of works-righteousness. By no means is James contradicting Paul in Romans. It is dangerous to try to create doctrine out of a single verse. Let’s examine the passage in context.
James 2:14-26 “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
The first question is, who is James writing to? James is writing to Jewish Christians who have found freedom through faith in Christ. He is talking to people who have been emancipated from works righteousness. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” James taught that if someone fails in the Law at one point they are guilty of breaking all of it. James agreed with Paul that no one is justified by the works of the Law. James is directing his letter to Jewish believers who were set free from the bondage of the Law, but started thinking that works don’t matter. James is not teaching the doctrine of justification by the merit of good works. James is saying that saving faith will be accompanied by good works. He is teaching the evidence of genuine faith in Christ alone.
Let’s examine verses 14-16, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” Immediately we notice that James is concerned about a counterfeit faith that doesn’t generate love. In James 2:14 he says, “can that faith save him?” He is referring to a counterfeit faith. In James 2:15-17 he gives us a demonstration of a dead empty faith. James then goes on and uses Abraham and Rahab as two examples of people who demonstrated their faith by their actions. James is differentiating two types of faith. He is examining a false faith vs a genuine faith. James has a desire for men and women to have saving faith and he is teaching that saving faith produces a loving heart. In James we are taught that you can have an intellectual knowledge of the gospel, but still have death faith. Our assurance comes from Christ. Genuine faith in Him will transform your life and bring forth good fruit as evidence of that transformation, not assurance of salvation. Salvation is a supernatural work of God where God changes a man and God works in him to produce fruit. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that those in Christ are new creatures with new desires for Him.
Paul insisted that we are not saved by works, but by faith alone. However, Paul taught us in Romans 6:1-2 that believers are dead to sin and grace is not a license to sin. Believers have desires to please Christ, not because obedience saves us, but because we have been saved by His grace. One glimpse of the magnificent beauty of Christ compels us to live for Him.
James wasn’t contradicting Paul. James was complimenting Paul’s teaching on justification by faith. In fact, notice that in James 2:23 James was quoting Paul in Romans 4:3. “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.”
Our works are not a contributing factor to our salvation. The reason faith without works is dead is because it emanates from an unregenerate heart.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Colossians 2:14. Colossians 2:14 says, “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
What is this passage teaching us? It teaches us that Christ has canceled our sin debt. When was our debt canceled? It was canceled on the cross. The greek word for “debts” is ὀφειλήματα. The meaning of ofὀφειλήματα is, that which is owed, that which is justly or legally due, a debt. Sin is a legal debt to God that we have to pay. The beauty of Colossians 2:14 is that it reveals that Christ has canceled out our certificate of debt. This means that we have no more debt to pay. The debt has been paid in full by His blood on the cross. Praise be to God.
In regard to Colossians 2 the famous biblical scholar F.F. Bruce said this, “It might even be said that he took the document, ordinances and all, and nailed it to his cross as an act of triumphant defiance in the face of those blackmailing powers that were holding it over men and women in order to command their allegiance. There is perhaps an allusion here to the fact that our Lord’s own accusation was fixed to His cross. Jesus nailed the accusation against His people to the cross, just as His own accusation had been nailed there. Thus His victorious passion liberates them from their bankruptcy and bondage.”
Christian theology teaches that salvation is not something that we can work to obtain or maintain. Salvation is a gift from God. From reading various paragraphs of the Catechism and the Canons on Justification, it is clear that Catholic theology teaches that salvation is a process that includes faith, good works, baptism, participation in the sacraments, keeping the Ten Commandments, etc. A works-based salvation is heretical and damnable. This opposes Christian theology and the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you’re Catholic or you were raised in a Catholic household I encourage you to consider these words. I encourage you to examine them and diligently pray about them. There is so much joy in resting in Christ and knowing that your salvation has been fully paid for.
1. Ephesians 2:7-9 “To demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.“
2. Acts 16:30-31 “Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
3. Romans 3:28 “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”
4. Romans 4:4-5 “Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.”
5. Galatians 2:16 “Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”
6. Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
7. Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”
8. Galatians 3:24 “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”
The Catholic Church and baptism
Catholic theology teaches that baptism is a necessary element for salvation and it is performed after someone believes the gospel. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation (CCC 1257). In paragraph 977 of the Catechism we learn that it is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins. Baptism expunges original sin (CCC 405) and through baptism all sins are forgiven (CCC 1263). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also teaches that justification is conferred in baptism. Through baptism we are freed from sin (1213).
CCC 977 – “Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification.”
CCC 1257 – “Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed.”
CCC 1213 – “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”
CCC 1263 “By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.”
CCC 2020 “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God’s mercy.”
CCC 405 “Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.”
CCC 1992 “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. 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. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.”
CCC 1999 “The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification: Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.”
The Bible teaches us that faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ is what saves not baptism (1 Corinthians 1:14–18). In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians of the gospel that saved them. Paul says that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The gospel is what saves and baptism is not included in the gospel. Baptism is a public declaration of a believer’s faith. Baptism is the outward sign of what has been done to all believers (Titus 3:5).
Baptism is a symbol of being buried with Christ unto death and being resurrected with Christ in newness of life. Baptism is an act of obedience that we do after salvation, but it does not save us. Water baptism is a work of man. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Throughout the New Testament we are taught that salvation is by faith and not works. Also, in the NT we notice that a person is baptized after saving faith in Christ. Let’s take a moment to delve into some passages that may seem contradictory to Christian theology.
1 Peter 3:21 “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Baptism in the Bible means to immerse and it’s not always in water. Baptism in this passage is referring to immersion in Christ. Notice that Peter emphasized, “not the removal of dirt from the flesh.” By saying this he is allowing us to know that he is not talking about water baptism. He then goes on to tell us what saves us. He says, “but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 3:21 is dealing with an appeal to God. Water baptism does not save a person and it doesn’t absolve from sin. It is only by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that a person is cleansed from their sins. The baptism that saves us is spiritual baptism, immersion into Christ. Immersion into Christ and not water is also seen in Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-28; 1 Corinthians 12:13; and Ephesians 4:5.
Abbott’s commentary on 1 Peter 3:20-22
“The like figure whereunto; that is, the antitype whereunto. The meaning is, that believers are now saved through baptism, in a manner somewhat analogous to that in which Noah and his family were saved in the ark. Of course, baptism is, in this case, regarded as the indication and pledge of the inward spiritual change, in which alone all its meaning and efficacy consists.–Filth of the flesh; uncleanness of the flesh; that is, ceremonial uncleanness, like that provided against in the Mosaic law. The meaning is, that baptism has no ceremonial efficacy. Its power and value depend upon there being a good conscience toward God within, corresponding to the outward symbol.”
9. 1 Corinthians 1:14-18 “I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
10. Ephesians 1:13 “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”
11. 1 Corinthians 12:13 “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
12. Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
The Catholic Church teaching on purgatory
The doctrine of purgatory is defined in the Catholic Encyclopedia as “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”
In short, purgatory is a place of temporary punishment after death that believers go to for the cleansing of sin.
The Trentine Creed, of Pius IV, A.D. 1564 – “I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls therein detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.”
CCC 1030 “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.”
CCC 1031 – “The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire.”
There are several issues with the idea of purgatory. First, purgatory is not found in Scripture. The problem with purgatory is that it denies the sufficiency of Christ’s blood. Purgatory downplays the severity of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1 teaches that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. However, purgatory teaches us that there is a period of condemnation for the purification of sins. On the cross Jesus said, “it is finished (John:19:30).” Jesus acknowledged that He accomplished what was required by God to atone for sin. Jesus is declaring that His work has been completed. His finished work on the cross is enough for the purification of sins.
The idea of purgatory implies that Christ’s righteousness is not enough and it doesn’t cleanse from all sin. Purgatory teaches that mankind needs something else. We need to add onto His perfect work. There is so much comfort in what the Bible says. 1 John 1:7 says, “the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 2:2 teaches us that Christ is the propitiation for our sins. There is so much beauty in the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. Substitutionary atonement refers to Jesus taking our place and dying as a substitute for sinners. Jesus took the punishment and suffering that we deserve so that we could be delivered. By the wounds of Christ, we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). 2 Corinthians 5:21 reminds us that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
1 Corinthians 3:15 and purgatory
The primary passage that is used to support the idea of purgatory is 1 Corinthians 3:15.
1 Corinthians 3:15 “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
Let’s take a look at the context of this passage
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
Notice that the passage is referring to a believer’s works being judged. It’s not the believer that passes through the fire. It’s the works of the believer that passes through the fire. A believer’s work is what is being tested. This passage is not referring to purgatory. This passage is referring to rewards in Heaven. This passage is referring to the Judgment Seat of Christ. Good works will survive the fire, but false works will be consumed.
The truths of 2 Corinthians 5 gives Christians so much hope. 2 Corinthians 5:6–8 “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Purgatory contradicts what the Bible teaches. There is liberation and beauty in the atonement of Jesus Christ and any doctrine that tries to minimize what Christ has done should be rejected.
13. Hebrews 7:27 “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”
14. Hebrews 9:28 “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
15. Hebrews 1:3 “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
16. 1 John 2:2 “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
17. John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
18. John 19:30 “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
19. Philippians 1:23 “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”
20. 1 Peter 2:24 “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
Praying to saints and Mary worship
Praying to dead saints is something that Catholics differ on. Some actually pray to saints and some ask saints or Mary to pray for them. There is nowhere in Scripture where praying to dead saints or having them pray for you is instructed. Believers are taught in Scripture to pray to God alone. The exaltation of Mary is very alarming and it puts her into a Christ-like position of authority. While Mary was mightily used by God, she herself was in need of a Savior. She is not to be exalted, which deprives Christ of the glory and adoration that rightfully belongs to Him.
Worship is not restricted to anyone other than God and praying to someone is an act of worship. It’s tremendously arduous to see how rubbing rosary beads, bowing down, kissing, praying to, and lighting candles before a statue of a saint is not idolatry. In fact, notice how we are told not to do these things. Exodus 20:4–5 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.”
In Luke 11:27 a woman came up to Jesus and said, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” This would have been the perfect opportunity for Christ to honor Mary. However, notice what He says in verse 28. “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
CCC 2679 – Mary is the perfect Orans (pray-er), a figure of the Church. When we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus’ mother into our homes, for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.
CCC 2677 – “By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the ‘Mother of Mercy,’ the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender ‘the hour of our death’ wholly to her care.”
CCC 721 – “Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time.”
Pope Pius IX in 1854 “Let all the children of the Catholic Church … Proceed to worship, invoke, and pray to the most blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God.”
The Salve Regina – “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope……Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us.”
“Together we lift our confident and sorrowful petition to you.”
“Hear the cry of the pain of victims of war and so many forms of violence that bloody the Earth.”
“Clear away the darkness of sorrow and worry, of hate and vengeance.”
“Open up our minds and hearts to faith and forgiveness!” Prayer of Pope John Paul II
“I pray with each one of you in front of the Grotto as it were to offer to the Immaculate Virgin the gift of the whole spiritual journey completed in this Marian month: every resolution, every concern, every need of the Church and of the world. May the Blessed Virgin hear your every prayer. Message of Pope John Paul II read by H.E. Msgr. Francesco Marchisano.
“Aschandius, my father, dearly beloved of my heart, with my sweet mother and my brethren, remember your Pectorius in the peace of the Fish [Christ]” (Epitaph of Pectorius [A.D. 375]).
Scripture teaches us that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). This leaves no room for other mediators such as Mary or other saints. Also, if we can go to Christ, why would we run to another? Hebrews 7:25 reminds us that Jesus always lives to make intercession for us. Another concern that I have in regard to praying to dead saints is this. Not only is it not instructed in Scripture, but in Scripture, praying to and communicating to the dead is always in reference to witchcraft.
Prayer is a form of worship. In Revelation 19:10 John fell at the feet of an angel to worship him. The angel immediately rebuked John and said, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God.” The angel was telling John not to worship him because he himself is a creature as well. Since prayer is a form of worship, we should not be praying to created things. Prayer should only be offered to the Lord alone. Hebrews 4:16 reminds us to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.
21. 1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
22. Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
23. Revelation 22:8-9 “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
24. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you.
25. Romans 1:25 “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
26. Exodus 20:3-5 “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.”
Penance / Confession to a priest
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia “Penance is a sacrament of the New Law instituted by Christ in which forgiveness of sins committed after baptism is granted through the priest’s absolution to those who with true sorrow confess their sins and promise to satisfy for the same.”
Penance teaches men and women to perform a series of works in order to make restitution for their sins, including confessing their sins to a priest.
CCC 980 – “It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church: Penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers “a laborious kind of baptism.” This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.”
CCC 1446 – “Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as “the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.”
CCC 1468 “The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship.” Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation.” Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.”
CCC 1424 “It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man. It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent “pardon and peace.” It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles: “Be reconciled to God.” He who lives by God’s merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord’s call: “Go; first be reconciled to your brother.”
Ultimately, penance is a works-based solution of obtaining forgiveness from the Lord. Repentance is not something that can be earned.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”
Repentance is an undeserved gift from the Lord. In Scripture, we are told repeatedly that we are cleansed by the blood of Christ alone.
Hebrews 9:14 “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
We are made right with God not by what we can do, but by what He has done through His Perfect Son. Penance contradicts what Scripture teaches us. Romans 11:6 “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
In Mark 2:7 we are reminded that only God can forgive sins. “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” John 20:23 is sometimes used in support of Catholic priests forgiving sins. However, let’s take a closer look at the verse in context.
John 20:20-23 “After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Nowhere does it mention confession of sin. Jesus said that only God can forgive sins. Nowhere in the New Testament did the apostles forgive anyone’s sins or act like they could forgive sins. What Jesus was teaching in this passage was that the apostles could declare that those who genuinely repent and believe the Good News will have their sins forgiven by God. Those who do not repent and believe the Good News will not be forgiven and are already condemned.
If Jesus forgives us of all of our sins, then why confess our sins to a priest? Nowhere are we told to confess our sins to priests. Instead, we are told in Hebrews 4 to approach God’s throne with confidence. 1 John 1:9 teaches us to confess our sins to God.
27. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The sufficiency of Scripture
Scriptural sufficiency is an important doctrine. Catholicism teaches that oral tradition is needed to know the doctrines of Christianity that are not included in Scripture. Catholicism also teaches that the Roman Catholic Church is needed to interpret the Bible for a clearer understanding of it. This brings us to the question, are the Scriptures sufficient?
CCC 82 “As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”
“It was the Catholic Church and no other which selected and listed the inspired books of both the Old Testament and the New Testament…If you can accept the Bible or any part of it as inspired Word of God, you can do so only because the Catholic Church says it is.” (The Bible is a Catholic Book, p. 4).
Colossians 2:8 and Jude 1:3 teach us that when we wage war against the sufficiency of Scripture, we run into a number of problems. The Bible is not man-breathed. The Bible is God-breathed. Human authority or institutions do not have equal authority as the inspired Word of God, nor is it granted in Scripture. If Scripture is not sufficient and clear, then that means that God is not sufficient and clear.
God’s inspired Word declares that it is sufficient. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul also teaches us that those who study the Bible can be thoroughly equipped for “every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16–17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In 1 Corinthians 4:6 we are taught not to exceed what is written. The Magisterium of Roman Catholicism and sacred tradition, however, does exceed what is written. It’s a strenuous task to see how Roman Catholic theology does not contradict the Bible in a plethora of ways. Scripture alone is our final authority and the church is under the authority of Scripture.
In 1 Corinthians 14:38, Paul made it abundantly clear that the authority of those in the church must always give an account to the Scriptures, not themselves.
John 5:39 “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
Notice that the Pharisees were condemned for a plethora of religious practices. However, they were not condemned for searching the Scriptures. In fact, in the KJV it reads as a command. In the King James Version John 5:39 reads, “Search the Scriptures.”
28. 1 Corinthians 4:6 “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.”
29. Mark 7:7-9 “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. And he said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!”
Holy Eucharist / Catholic Mass / Transubstantiation
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mass is the re-presentation of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Transubstantiation is the Roman Catholic teaching that during Mass when the priest blesses the bread and wine and does routine rituals, these items supernaturally transform into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, even though they look and taste the same.
CCC 1376 “The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”
Pope Pius XI, Encyclical on the Priesthood – “The priest is indeed another Christ, or in some way he is himself a continuation of Christ.”
The Lone Star Catholic, March 1, 1959 – “The priest is not just the cross, he is Christ Himself.”
CCC 1366 – “The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit.”
CCC 1068 “For it is in the liturgy, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, that “the work of our redemption is accomplished,” and it is through the liturgy especially that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.”
The Faith of Millions, John O’Brien (priest) – “When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man……………. The priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows His head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.”
CCC 1327 – “In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.”
Canon 8 – “If anyone says that Christ received in the Eucharist is received spiritually only and not also sacramentally and really, let him be anathema.”
The Catholic Mass is considered the most important and sacred act of worship in the Catholic Church. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that attending Mass is necessary for salvation. There are a few alarming issues that I’ve noticed with the Catholic Mass and transubstantiation. According to Catholic.com, Mass is not a re-crucifixion of Christ. However, CCC 1068 teaches us that the Mass is a divine sacrifice. Also, the beginning of paragraph 1367 teaches that “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice.”
The ending of paragraph 1367 says, “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. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.” CCC 1414 states, “As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God.” The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches that the Mass is to be regarded as a “true and proper sacrifice.” Council of Trent (Sess. XXII, can. 1): “If any one saith that in the Mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema”
With all these teachings of the Catholic Church in mind, I want you to consider with me how then is it possible for the Catholic Mass not to be a re-crucifixion of Christ? Once again, it is to be regarded as a “true and proper sacrifice.” Therefore, we can conclude that it is a sacrifice of Christ that is repeated. If it is not a sacrifice of Christ, then we stumble into more issues. CCC 1367 tells us that “this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.” If the Mass is not a sacrifice of Christ, then it is not possible for it to be a propitiatory sacrifice. Hebrews 2:17 says “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Christ alone made propitiation for our sins. He alone is our Propitiatory Sacrifice and our Advocate.
Romans 3:25-26 says, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Jesus alone is the place of propitiation where God can meet with His people. The Mass diminishes such profound and glorious truths. The sacrifice of Christ has been made once for all, never to be repeated, but only commemorated in the Lord’s Supper.
Let’s now discuss transubstantiation.
As mentioned in the beginning of the section, transubstantiation is the belief that during the Mass, elements of the Lord’s Supper become the actual body and blood of Christ when they are blessed by an ordained priest.
One of the passages used to substantiate this doctrine is John 6:53–57.
“Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.”
Jesus spoke in spiritual terms throughout the Bible. John 6:63 says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
If we read until verse 64 we notice that this passage is meant to be read symbolically not literally. Jesus was speaking spiritual truths in this passage. Also, at the time when Jesus was speaking in John 6, communion had not yet been instituted. This would later happen at the Last Supper and the Supper was instituted before Jesus’ crucifixion. If the sacrifice of Christ did not happen yet, then that is strong evidence to believe that when Jesus gave the wine, it did not become His actual sacrificial blood.
Here is something else to consider. In Matthew 26:29 after the communion supper was instituted, Jesus said, “I will not drink wine again.” Why did He still refer to it as wine if it was His blood? Also, the Gospel in John 20:31 and in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 does not include the Eucharist. Something as important as the Eucharist would have been found in these passages if partaking in it was necessary for salvation.
If you are Catholic I encourage you to consider these things and pray about them. I encourage you to recognize that Christ’s sacrifice was once for all. His sacrifice was sufficient to pay the penalty for all of man’s sins for all eternity.
30. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
Are Catholics Christians?
This is a tough question to answer. By asking this question we are also asking, are Catholics saved and will they get into Heaven? There are so many variables to this question that we have to examine. Here is what I will say. Are there many Catholics who are genuine Christians who I would expect to see in Heaven? Yes. There are many Catholics who love Jesus and trust in Him alone for salvation. Many in the Catholic Church are oblivious to Roman Catholic doctrine.
There are also some Catholics who hold to Christ alone, but struggle in their understanding of certain doctrines. By the same token, there are many Christians who struggle with understanding certain doctrines. Now, here is a clearer question. Can someone hold to the teachings of the Catholic Church and still be saved? By this I mean someone who is holding to salvation by faith, works, baptism, penance, and more (as if they have earned God’s favor). In love, the answer to this question is no. How can someone be saved if they are not trusting in Christ for salvation?
The core of Christianity is salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Jesus says He is the only way. Our own ability and our best works to save ourselves are like filthy rags. Not only are they filthy rags, but they are tiresome. Jesus liberates our souls. No longer do I have to be enslaved. No longer do I have to maintain my righteousness because I fall flat on my face. Instead, I’m trusting in the perfect merit of Christ.
Adding works to Christ’s perfect work on the cross is similar to adding water to a cup filled with coffee. By no means does it become better. When we add to the gospel we are diluting the gospel. Notice how in the story of Cain and Abel, God was not satisfied with Cain who had more works. God was satisfied with Abel who had faith. Christ died so we could be able to experience the fullness of the relationship with the Father. If you are Catholic I encourage you to consider all that was said in this article. God finds joy in us finding joy in resting in Him. I encourage you to rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ.