Is it EWTN or is it Jesus who
didn't get it right? You decide.
The Eternal Word Television Network claims to teach the Roman Catholic faith, and if that claim is true, there is no wonder that Roman Catholics who know anything about the Bible must seriously question and reject certain church teachings. Click here to get a taste of the conflict between church teaching and the Bible or read some of the examples below.
"If Christ saved the world and merited salvation for us, why are Christians required to do good works in order to be saved?" --someone asked EWTN
That was the question that a television viewer had for one of the most sincere Roman Catholic men that you'll ever meet. They call him Fr. Benedict Groeschel and his answer (below) to the question is proof that, no matter how sincere you are, you can be sincerely mistaken about Christ if you do not understand his word. Though, admittedly Groeschel, a monk and priest from New York, appeals to the Bible more often then most Catholic ministers, he also gives us a perfect example of "Catholic doubletalk" as well as how to take verses out of context as he answers the above question. This doubletalk is a product of trying to force the church's teachings to fit Scripture, which is further proof that the teachings are not based on God's word.
Again, the question is: "If Christ saved the world and merited salvation for us, why are Christians required to do good works in order to be saved?"
After reading the verse, Groeschel adds with a louder voice, "BECAUSE HE KEEPS THE COMMANDMENTS." Groeschel continues, "And, so the keeping of the commandments and, and Christ gives all the parables about keeping the commandments. He's very direct about keeping the commandments and he warns that without good works, people are lost."
(Groeschel continues:) "In the beautiful section of St. Matthew, Matthew 25, 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was hungry and you did not give me to eat.' What happens to the people who did not give him to eat? 'Depart into the everlasting flames prepared for the devil and his angels.' That's rather clear, that you can lose your soul by not doing kindly deeds, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and doing the things that Christ describes. So, the good works do not earn our salvation but they make us followers of Christ and obedient to his word and if we don't do them, we endanger our salvation. They don't cause our salvation but we can't be saved without them, unless there is a reason we can't do good works. For instance, infants, infants who died with baptism can't do good works but they have the saving grace of Christ. The Catholic Church absolutely believes this, that your infant is saved by Christ, completely without good works. What about small children? Well, small children can do little good things. I don't think people think small children can be lost for doing bad things because they don't understand evil. At least, I don't think they can be lost."
In short, Groeschel's answer is that: Christ alone saves us, yet because Christ also commands us to do good works, we can't be saved without good works as well. As Groeschel himself puts it "They (good works) don't cause our salvation but we can't be saved without them." He claims that Catholics believe that Christ alone saves them, then adds, but not without our good works. Which is it Groeschel? Did Christ alone save you or do your good works help him save you? You can't use the word "alone" unless you really mean "alone" and you obviously don't mean it. Sadly, this is what passes for the "Gospel truth" among many Roman Catholics.
This is a very good example of the "doubletalk" or "doublespeak" they hear that makes them just throw up their hands and say "whatever" and go on their way hoping they've done whatever is necessary to be saved (go to Mass, receive Holy Communion, even go to confession from time to time, whatever!). Other Catholics, who are a bit more concerned about the details, simply learn to live with the dread that they could die at any moment with a mortal sin on their souls and go straight to hell!
It is because he foresaw this very undue misrery that Christ commanded that his Gospel be preached to all nations, so that true Christians could have peace of mind and soul while on this earth: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Sady, most Roman Catholics have never heard how these words of comfort from Christ could possibly apply to the Gospel because they are not hearing the Gospel preached. No one is telling them that Christ died to absolutely secure the salvation of all who believe in Him as Lord and Savior as God in the flesh. And they are not alone, as Groeschel prepared to answering the question, he offered a little history lesson, insisting that Anglicans (Episcopalians) and Methodists also believe you can lose your salvation. Knowing the Anglican Articles of Faith, I believe he'd get an argument from some of them, but Methodists and various other Protestant denominations do believe you can lose your salvation.
Where Groeschel goes wrong
First, Groeschel calls Christ, the "unique Savior of the world." While we agree that Christ is indeed the one and only Savior, we absolutely reject the idea that Christ died to save the whole world. Why do we reject this? Because Christ himself, before dying on the cross, refused to even pray for the world! Why would he die to save the whole world if he even refused to pray for it?
"I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou has given me; for they are thine." (John 17:9)
Christ prayed that verse in direct reference to his apostles and disciples and specifically told God the Father that he does not pray for the whole world. Later in the same chapter, Christ prays for all whom God has given him and specifically identifies them as those who believe in him:
"Neither pray I for these alone (the apostles), but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." (John 17:20)
So those, like Groeschel, who profess Christianity, yet believe that Christ died for all people do not know the true Gospel. Groeschel also insists that it is our obedience that makes us followers of Christ. Christ repeatedly tells us throughout the Scriptures that he died for a people that were specifically chosen. It is Christ and not our obedience that makes us his followers:
John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
John 15:16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…
John 6:64 No one can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father.
Luke 10:22 ...no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 17:2 Thou has given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou has given him.
Ephesians 1:11 In him, we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
Ephesians 1:4-6 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves.
John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
Acts 13:48 All who were destined for eternal life came to believe.
Psalms 65:4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in they courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.
Clearly, Christ died for his chosen people and readily identified them as those who believe in him. In Matthew 24, Christ calls them his "elect" and tells us that they will not be fooled by the Antichrist. Again and again in the Gospel of John Christ identifies believers as those who have everlasting life with him in heaven:
John 6:47 He
who believes in me has everlasting life.
John 5:24 Truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:14,15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
John 11:25-26 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.
Is Christ lying or is Groeschel simply horribly mistaken?
Even before we've taken the time to look up the verses Groeschel uses to make his churches' case, we find that, as sincere about his beliefs as he is, Groeschel and his Church are terribly wrong. Either that, or Christ, the very Son of God, was lying to us when he made all those promises listed above.
Christ clearly tells us that, if we believe in him, as who he says he is, God in the flesh, who has indeed won heaven for us, then we believe the Gospel truth. On top of that, Christ promises that we can never lose the salvation he has won for us:
John 10:27-30 "My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. The Father and I are one."
While Christ tell us that those who put their trust in him cannot be plucked from his hand, Groeschel tells us our salvation can be lost as he puts it: "That's rather clear, that you can lose your soul by not doing kindly deeds." He claims to start proving that by using a verse in John 14. "He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me and he who loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love him."
Christ indeed urges us to keep his commandments, but Groeschel tries to connect this verse with our salvation without telling us how he manages to do that. He tells us that he takes this verse to mean that Jesus is telling us we can only go to heaven "BECAUSE WE KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS."
Then he jumps to Matthew 25, as most Catholic apologists do, and "finishes us off" by telling us, there! Christ sent all who did not clothe and feed others to hell!
If you'll read John 14 and Matthew 25, you will quickly see that both of these verses were taken out of context by the dearly beloved padre. In John 14 Christ starts by reassuring believers that those who believe in him should not let there hearts be troubled. "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." How beautiful and comforting are these words to those who believe. Jesus promises he is preparing a place for them in heaven!
But Groeschel would have us believe that that wonderful place in heaven Christ promises us is lost, if we do not obey the Ten Commandments! No matter what Christ assures! What Christ really says in John 14 is most clearly found in verse 14: "If you love me, keep my commandments." But Groeschel and his Church would have us believe that Christ was not urging us but offering us an ultimatum. "Keep my commandments or go to hell."
He proves this to be his interpretation by telling us to go to Matthew 25 and insisting that it says just that there. Groeschel paraphrases several verses to suggest, as many before him, that Christ is telling those who have not fed and clothed others (done good works) that they're going to hell.
This part of Matthew 25 begins at verse 31 and Christ clearly sets the context for the rest of the chapter in verse 34, where Christ says: "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
In this verse, Christ tells us he is coming for those he has chosen to inherit the kingdom from before the world began! It is in this context that he prefaces all that he is about to say about sheep (saints) and goats (the wicked). In fact, those he has chosen for everlasting life ask him, "when" did we feed and clothe you?
Contrary to Groeschel and the Church's assessment of God's word, Christians do not do good works to assist them in anyway to get to heaven. Christ accomplished all that will ever be needed for them to go to heaven on the cross. Instead Christians do everything they do that is good only in thanksgiving for what Christ has done for them. They do what they do to glorify the God who alone has saved them, through his only Son! As Christ commanded:
Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 7:14 Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.
Luke 17:10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do you should say, We are but unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.
You see? Christ puts our works in clear perspective in his word, we don't have to rely on Groeschel.
John 6:28-29 Then, they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
As for my favorite Groeschel, I ask you to repent, believe and begin preaching the Gospel, the cornerstone of which is Christ who says: "He who believes in me has everlasting life."
My warning is not my own, but comes from St. Paul, as inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak the word of God:
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than that which you have accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8-9)
- Bro. Jim