By Faith Alone
My dear Catholic friends;
There is an attitude that prevails in our culture today, and that attitude is this; if anyone speaks out against something he is both unloving and intolerant of others. This simply is not true, it is a mindset that has come from our post-modern culture, and it is a lie from the father of lies that devil Satan, who does not want anyone to hear the truth. The truth is if you love someone you must tell them the truth even though it may hurt their feelings and/or risk them not liking you anymore. You do so because of your love for them, and your concern for their well being. This past Ash Wednesday, I saw many people that I dearly love with ashes smeared across their foreheads. Now while there is nothing inherently wrong with the observance of Ash Wednesday; in fact, it can be good, causing one to reflect, and think about Christ Jesus, and what He alone has done. The problem is that it has revealed to me in a very visible way, all those whom I dearly love that are caught up in a religious system based on the traditions of men that preach a different gospel than what Paul preached. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8 NASB)
What did Paul preach? You will find it in every epistle that he wrote, and throughout all the record of his travels in Acts. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas had been beaten with rods and imprisoned in Philippi of Macedonia for preaching the gospel of Christ Jesus. While in prison Paul and Silas began praying and singing hymns of praise to God. No doubt upon hearing this, the jailer came under much convection, because when there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken, and the prison doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened; the jailer then drew his sword to kill himself, that’s when Paul and Silas stopped him. Then the jailer under much convection for his sins against God, said to Paul and Silas; “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) The answer that Paul and Silas gave is the only gospel that Paul preached throughout his entire ministry. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31 NASB) The jailer took them to his own home and washed their wounds and immediately he was baptized, he and his entire household. He was not baptized to wash away his sins; he was baptized as an outward expression of his faith in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of his sins. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”
This is not the gospel that the Catholic Church preaches. From the Catechism the Catholic Church preaches two ways of salvation.
1. Infants are baptized to have their original sins from their father Adam washed away.
2. Adults believe, have a repentant heart; then they are baptized to have their original sin and their actual sins absolved.
After these the one baptized as an infant and the one baptized as an adult both have an ongoing process throughout their life, that can only be done through the sacraments of the Catholic Church when actual sins are later committed after baptism. They are to go to a priest with a penitent heart and confess their sins to the priest. The priest then forgives or absolves their sins and gives them penance; usually in the form of certain prayers which the penitent person is to say, or certain actions he is to perform. The absolution restores the penitent person to the state of grace he had at baptism, he is nevertheless under obligation to continue the performance of his penance until it is completed in order to retain this state of grace.
This is not the gospel that Paul preached, it is contrary, and therefore a different gospel all together. It is not found in scripture at all. Scripture is the only true revelation we have from God. The gospel that Paul preached is; “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” The gospel of the Catholic Church does not free a man from the bondage of sin, but what it does is enslave him to both sin, and the Catholic Church. It does not absolve him from his sins, because he is not trusting alone in the only one who can save him; the Lord Jesus Christ, but he is instead trusting in the sacraments of the Catholic Church made up by the traditions of men. Based on the truth of scripture about the nature of man it would be safe to say that one could not even exit from the confessional without committing sin, and were does that leave him?
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NASB) “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6 NASB)
What is salvation? Most simply put, salvation is a revelation of what God has done through Christ Jesus alone. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17 NASB) This encompasses all people groups throughout the world, no matter where you are from, or who you were born to; this good news of salvation is available to everyone who believes. The good news is that you can be righteous in the sight of God by faith alone. "Faith has three parts; knowledge, belief, and trust"(C. H. Spurgeon). In order to trust you must first believe, and in order to believe you must first have knowledge. That is what I endeavor to do today, to give you knowledge of the gospel with the hope that you will believe, not only to believe but to trust in Christ Jesus alone. "But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
Nearly 2000 years ago the only righteous Man to ever live walked amongst us; a carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth, a city in the region of Galilee of Judea. He proved to be the Christ the Son of the living God by many mighty works. While He walked amongst us He promised eternal life to His sheep. His sheep are all those who hear His voice and follow Him. He promised that they would never die and that no one would snatch them out of His hand. He laid down His life for His sheep, taking their punishment for their sins against God. He was condemned, mocked, spit on, scourged, and died a gruesome death by hanging on a cross of wood. Some of His followers buried Him; then three days later demonstrating that He had the authority of God to forgive sins, and the power of God over death, He arose from the dead and was seen alive by over 500 of His sheep at one time. His chosen apostles witnessed His ascension into heaven; He sat down at the right hand of God the Father making intercession on behalf of His sheep. He is the mediator between God and man, our High Priest before the Father. He will return at a time of the Fathers choosing to judge the righteous and the unrighteousness, to separate the sheep from the goats; the sheep on His right hand and the goats on the left, His sheep will inherit the kingdom of heaven and the goats will be cast into hell.
The question is are you a sheep or are you a goat, are you righteous in the sight of God or unrighteous? The answer is dependent on where your trust is. Do you trust in Christ Jesus alone; who He is, and His finished work on the cross; or are you trusting in the works of the flesh; baptism & penance? Baptism does not cleanse you of your sins; our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ Jesus through faith in Him alone. (See Romans 3:23-26) Penance cannot do away with your sins; a human being has no authority to forgive sins done against God. God is the One offended, therefore, God is the One to forgive sins against Him; and in His righteousness He has forgiven men by His grace, through faith in Christ Jesus alone. No amount of good deeds adds to or takes away from the cross of Christ Jesus. Jesus said; “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." (John 10:11 NASB) "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:27-28 NASB) Are you living by sight or by faith? If you truly believe the words of Jesus, and what He has done through His finished work on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead you will not seek to have your sins forgiven by the works of the flesh. "But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17 NASB) “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NASB)
A slave of Jesus Christ
Suggested reading: The Gospel According to John and the Epistle to the Romans