What the priest doesn't tell you...he doesn't know

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I was a Roman Catholic for more than 40 years and once I began to really read the Bible, I was almost outraged.  All those men I had loved and respected for so long, all those parish priests, never told me about the true Jesus--the one found in the Bible!  However, the more I began to study the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the more I understood that these men simply could not share with me those things about Christ that they themselves had never heard or never learned.

Nevertheless, I was still astounded when, based on the Bible, I came to the conclusion that these fine men, who had dedicated their lives to ministry, simply did not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How, I thought, could they be such "good men" in my mind, and not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  How could they spend years in seminary and not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How could they preach to me week after week and not know the Gospel?

It took awhile to answer those questions, but by comparing the Bible with the Roman Catholic Catechism and marking the distinct differences between the two (click here for some details), it became real clear. The Gospel or Good News of Jesus in the Bible was not the same "gospel" revealed in the the Roman Catholic Catechism.

Suddenly it began to make sense. Despite the fact that these "fine and sincere men" had week after week preached to me from their pulpits, they were preaching only what they had learned, what they had thought was the Gospel.

Yes, they were masters when it came to sharing with me the story that Christ had died for me. But I came to understand, only by the grace of God, that one of the things they had never told me with any accuracy was what exactly Christ's death meant for me. To hear them, what his death really meant was no more than "an opportunity" a "chance" for me to do the things that Christ would have me do, so that I could be with him in heaven someday. They were urging me to do "works" that would help Christ get me to heaven.

Of course, they warned me that I would have many pitfalls to maneuver that could result in my damnation, being sent to hell for all eternity. However, if I was careful, and took full advantage of the sacraments that the "true" Church had to offer, I could do those things that would give me the chance to take full advantage of the "opportunity" for heaven that Christ's death had provided. In other words, with the Roman Catholic Church, I had no more than a fighting chance!

Sadly, that is what the Gospel used to be for me. Combined with all the graces the church claimed it had to offer through the sacraments, it represented no more than a "fighting chance," a "shot," an "opportunity" to muster what faith I had and add to it good works to get to heaven someday. Christ died to give me a "chance" to give me some "hope" for an eternity in heaven with him and nothing more.

Ultimately, my Roman Catholic teachers admitted, my best chance at heaven was to shoot for a place called "Purgatory." They said I could get there as long as I made sure that I died without a serious sin on my soul. That's why older Roman Catholics often pray for a peaceful death, attended by a priest who can give them absolution, that is, pronounce forgiveness of their serious sins, before death.

Once in Purgatory, I could suffer the punishment that the church teaches I am still due for my smaller earthly or temporal sins. Once I suffered long enough, however long that might be, I would eventually be "purged" of all sin, made holy and allowed into heaven. Even in death, according to the Roman Catholic Church, it was all about me and my suffering that really counts in order to secure my salvation.

This teaching can be commonly heard today on the Roman Catholic TV Network called EWTN or the Eternal Word Television Network. Time and again the network's teachers, including its founder Mother Angelica, will tell you they will gladly settle for Purgatory because, to end up there, means you will eventually go to heaven. They will remind you that this is why the priest prays for the dead at each Mass--to help "release" or "shorten" the time a soul spends in Purgatory before going on to eternal life. All the credit that Christ's receives through this whole sorted scenario is the simple credit for doing what was necessary to give you a chance, through the sacraments of the church, to get to Purgatory.

Before we turn to the Good News, let's review the above that Roman Catholics have been taught to believe is the "good news" Christ came to give us. However, anyone who has given the Bible a good read knows that this is not good news but instead very bad news for it tells us of a savior who cannot save us without our help. It tells us of a god who is less than the true God. While they call him "almighty" they do not believe that. In essence, this false gospel insists that it is us and not God who are in control of our destiny. In this sense, it differs from the pagan philosophy of the Greeks only in degree. Ultimately, it urges us to see ourselves as our own god--as the center of our universe--as able to determine our destiny by our works--good works in this life and "holy suffering" in the next. It is no gospel. It is instead an abomination and it is everywhere because even many who call themselves "evangelical" have adopted parts of it. You can usually identify them because they teach, like their Roman brethren, that you can lose your salvation.

As I was to learn much later in my life, after more than 40 years as a Roman Catholic, Christ's death actually provided much more than a "chance" or an "outside shot" at heaven. Instead, what Christ had done for me on the cross was no less than an absolutely guarantee of my salvation and the salvation of all who came to believe in him! He came to earth to save his chosen people and he did just that. His chosen people are all those who believe in him as Lord and Savior as God in the flesh. What he had done for me by dying on the cross absolutely secured my salvation and the salvation of all who believe in him!

How can I believe that? How can I know for certain? Have I convinced myself of this only because it sounds so wonderful? No. I am convince only because Christ himself tells me so time and again in his word, the Bible:

I tell you the truth, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (John 6:47)

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:23-24)

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:25-26)

For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, that whosever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. (John 6:39)

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; NO ONE can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30)

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 13:46)

What more evidence do the priests need? What more evidence does the pope need? What more evidence do several Protestant churches which refuse to preach the Gospel of faith alone in Christ for salvation need? How many times and in how many ways must Christ say it? "He who believes in me has everlasting life."

 

How very different in so many ways is the Roman Catholic version compared to the true Gospel, the true message of salvation:

  • The Roman Catholic gospel says: Christ died to offer the “possibility” of salvation to everyone. The biblical gospel says, Christ died to absolutely secure the salvation of those who come to believe in him--those he has chosen for everlasting life..
  • The Roman Catholic gospel teaches, each individual is given an opportunity to either accept or reject him. The biblical gospel tell us Christ chooses and has chosen those who will believe in him since before the beginning of time.
  • The Roman Catholic gospel teaches that an individual cannot know whether or not they are among Christ’s chosen or “elect” and therefore they have no certainty of their salvation. In the biblical gospel, Christ offers repeated assurances of eternal life to all who come to believe in him.
  • The Roman Catholic gospel tells individuals that, because they cannot trust in themselves or their own actions, they can lose their salvation at any moment by committing a serious sin. The biblical gospel urges us to acknowledge that we are sinners and put no trust in ourselves but in Christ alone and his righteousness alone ensures our salvation.
  • The Roman Catholic gospel teaches that individuals may contribute to their “potential salvation” by doing good works, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. In the biblical gospel, our good works, which the Spirit gives us to walk in, are performed in thanksgiving, seeking to glorify the Christ who alone has already won our salvation on the cross.

 

Perhaps, St. Paul put it best: "By grace you are saved through faith and this is not from you it is a gift from God. It is not from works, so no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

The Roman Catholic Church denies Christ's words and St. Paul's words (though the church claims to believe that both speak the word of God) by teaching that faith plus good works are necessary for salvation. Again, several Protestant churches deny Christ's words by preaching, like the Roman Church, that salvation can be lost based on our actions. But Christ tells us that if we truly believe in him, he has given us a gift that can never be lost...that no one, not even the pope, can take away.

 

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; NO ONE can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:28-30)

 

Before he ascended into heaven Christ even promised believers that he is going to prepare a place for us! (read John 14:1- 4)

So when we say we believe in Christ as Lord and Savior, we must mean that he is indeed God in the flesh and he fully accomplished our salvation when he died on the cross.  As Christ put it, "it is finished." In order to believe in the true Christ, we must believe in his person and in his fully accomplished work on our behalf. We must believe that his accomplishment was and is no less than our very salvation, our eternal life with him. This is the belief of the true Christian, this is the believe of those who have been given the gift of faith to know Christ is who he said he is and did what the Bible says he did--absolutely saved us from our sin!

If a church, whether lead by priest or pastor, does not believe that Christ indeed fully accomplished our salvation, then that church is teaching you about someone other than Christ. It is teaching you "another gospel" that is no gospel at all! And St. Paul tells us, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that those who preach this so-called "gospel", "another gospel" are headed for condemnation, an eternity in hell, unless they repent (see Galatians 1:8-9).

God's command for us in these times and about these false churches and their false gospel is absolutely clear:

And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembers her iniquities. Render to he3r just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works, in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. in the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.' Therefore her plagues will come in one day--death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, fore strong is the Lord God who judges her. (Revelation 18:4-8)

This command is especially appropriate for those who are Roman Catholic because that church teaches that none of its required-for-salvation teachings can be changed. All its teachings on salvation are "irreformable or unchangable." There is absolutely no reason to stay, and as you can tell from these Revelation verses, every reason to leave and leave now.

What are this church's required teachings, all of which go far beyond the Gospel? Click here to review them--and don't look back. Instead, look forward and count yourself among those who actually believe the Bible is the word of God. Thankfully count yourself among those who believe they have been saved by the undeserved grace (favor) of God through the gift of faith in his only Son Jesus Christ. Saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. --Bro. Jim