Monday, November 12, 2018

Catholic Answers Fails Miserably To Provide Readers Assurance Of Salvation

  • Discussion:
           -Catholic Answers published an article titled "Assurance of Salvation?", which claims that faithful adherents of Rome can know that they possess eternal salvation. As a matter of fact, the author goes as far as to claim:

           "Sometimes Fundamentalists portray Catholics as if they must every moment be in terror of losing their salvation since Catholics recognize that it is possible to lose salvation through mortal sin.”

           But the truth of the matter is that numerous Roman Catholics act as though they cannot have assurance of salvation. When asked what it takes for one to enter heaven, Catholics tend to point to their church attendance and being a good person. Christ is not the point of focus in life. This is not true in every instance, but there is still a tremendous problem that we ought not overlook. Consider also the words of Cardinal John O'Connor:

           "Church teaching is that I don't know at any given moment, what my eternal future will be," the Cardinal wrote. I can hope, pray, do my very best-but I still don't know. Pope John Paul II doesn't know absolutely that he will go to heaven, nor does Mother Teresa of Calcutta, unless either has had a special revelation."

           What is more, Catholics attend Mass on a weekly basis for the express purpose of receiving grace from God. Salvation for them is viewed as a fixed regular payment that can be depleted daily by sin. The Roman Catholic Church views grace as forgiveness plus works of obedience, which is not a biblical definition of grace at all. It is an unmerited, undeserved gift of God (Romans 5:6-10; Ephesians 2:8-9). Our good works cannot contribute to our justification.

           The Bible tells us that we can have absolute assurance of salvation (John 5:24; 1 John 5:13). If we have Jesus Christ, then we are fully justified (John 1:12; Romans 8:15-17). The salvation that He gives to believers is complete and instantaneous. We simply need to place our trust in Him (John 3:16; Acts 16:30-31). If we repent and believe on the gospel, then we are saved (Romans 10:9-10). We are saved by trusting in His work alone. Consider two quotes from Roman Catholic sources:

           "If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end, unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema." (Sixth session, Canon XVI)

           "The reason for the uncertainty of the state of grace lies in this: that without a special revelation nobody can with certainty of faith know whether or not he has fulfilled all the conditions which are necessary for achieving justification.” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 262)

           This is not meant to provide commentary on the eternal security debate. I personally believe that a person can "walk away" from his or her salvation. The point being stressed here is that Christians do not have to fear as do Roman Catholics about quickly and unexpectedly loosing fellowship with God as a result of no longer being considered worthy (knowledgeable Catholics would object to this line of reasoning by saying that Catholic dogma has been misrepresented, but justification cannot simply be a gift of God if our works contribute at all). Any discussion on "works of grace" becomes meaningless because Catholics are required to do good works in order to obtain and maintain a right standing before God. Our justification is not based on performance, but we are responsible for our eternal destiny. The question is how we respond to the gospel. We should be walking the Christian walk in humility, not doubt (which is simply a consequence of a system of works righteousness).

           We can have infallible assurance of salvation because God has promised such to us in Scripture. He is faithful and trustworthy. He can neither lie nor deceive. In Roman Catholicism, committing one mortal sin constitutes a loss of all saving grace and so requires confession to an ordained priest. Thus, one could hypothetically lose his or her salvation thousands of times in a lifetime. Moreover, nobody knows when he or she is going to commit one of those allegedly salvation forfeiting sins. What if a person dies before getting to the confessional? God is much bigger than this. Whoever calls upon His name shall be saved (Romans 10:13). The author of the article at Catholic Answers makes the following statements:

           "Are you saved?" asks the Fundamentalist. The Catholic should reply: "As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13)."

           The New Testament most certainly does use three tenses in describing salvation. The initial tense simply involves God pardoning the iniquity of the sinner. Christians are no longer under the penalty of sin. That is justification. The ongoing tense involves being conformed gradually to character of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is sanctification. The future tense involves being utterly taken away from the presence of sin in heaven. That is glorification. The author seems to have confused justification with sanctification, which is an abysmal error. In addition, James Swan has made an observation regarding the irony interwoven in the midst of this theological catastrophe:

           "Roman Catholics are always bringing up certainty, as if by being a member of the Roman Church, one of the benefits is certainty. That is, by being a Roman Catholic you can (allegedly) know with certainty which books are supposed to be in the Bible, you can know with certainty which is the church Jesus Christ established, you can know what the Bible says and means with certainty. But ironically, on a very basic (and important) fundamental human issue, you can’t have certainty of your salvation."

           If one takes the Word of God to heart, then he or she will depend wholly on Christ for salvation (Matthew 11:28-30). We cannot make reparation for our sins because doing such requires a perfect substitute (Hebrews 7:25; 10:10-14).We cannot make reparation for our sins because that has already been accomplished at the cross. The gospel nowhere demands that it be administered through some complex church hierarchy. Works are the product, not the cause, of justification. We do them out of gratitude for what God has accomplished on our behalf. We should do them because our hearts have been transformed through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

            The Apostle John wrote an epistle for the express purpose of telling us how we can have assurance of eternal life (1 John 5:13). Yet, he nowhere mentions in that context the Eucharist, confession to a priest, baptism, Marian devotion, or any other concept linked to the sacramental system of justification taught by Rome. That point in of itself speaks volumes.

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