Catholic Teaching

Apologetics - Part Three

How do you respond to two or three well dressed people, carrying Bibles, who ask you: “Are you saved?”

If you continue the conversation with them, be aware that they came to your house in an attempt to convert you. You should be prepared to answer their questions politely, but at all times keeping the teaching of the Catholic Church uppermost in your mind. One of these teachings is that we are to be evangelists ourselves. You should be prepared to show them that all Catholic teaching has a Biblical foundation, not a man-made foundation.

Their initial question: “Are you saved” usually identifies them as members of a fundamentalist denomination, many of whom believe that once you have accepted Jesus as your Savior you are automatically saved, no matter what your life-style is. They believe that Jesus places all sins under a cloak when you accept Him, and your salvation is therefore guaranteed.

They will quote the Bible in order to show the basis for this assumption. Some of the references are Rom, 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. Therefore, all that is necessary to obtain an absolute assurance of salvation in Heaven is for a person to simply accept Christ as his or her personal Lord and Savior.

They will also mention Eph, 2:8-9 where St. Paul tells us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that is not from you, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.” They will most likely tell you that the Sacraments were invented by the Catholic Church as a means to work one’s way to Heaven.

Martin Luther is the father of Protestantism. He made a statement one time that: “Christians are like dung-hills, covered with snow.” Luther believed that Christians could never be inwardly spiritually pure, but are only externally coated with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which would make them passable before the Father on Judgment Day.

One of the strongest replies to these Biblical references by born again Fundamentalists is found in the letter of James. This is the reason why Martin Luther rejected the letter of James as part of canonical writing, claiming it was not Divinely inspired, just as he rejected other books in the Catholic Bible which did not support his theory of faith alone. Many of the original Protestant Bibles did contain the books, while others printed the books, but denied their Divine inspiration. We will discuss this in the future when we speak about Purgatory and other subjects.

We read in James, 2:14, “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but has not works? Can his faith save him?” In verse 19 of James 2 is a very strong refutation of faith alone when he writes: “You believe that God is one, you do well. Even the demons believe and shudder!” In verse 20, he continues with: “Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from your works is barren? Was not Abraham our father, justified by works when he offered his son, Isaac, upon the altar?”

Rahab, a prostitute in the Book of Joshua, was, I believe, about the first person to be mentioned as saved by works. She hid two spies in her attic so they could report on the strength of the enemy in Jericho, before the Jewish armies attacked it. She expressed her belief in the true God, and requested that she be saved when Jericho fell. (Joshua, 2:1 and 6:17-25) This event is mentioned again in Hebrews, 11:31 and James, 2:35.

Revelations, 19:7-8 refers to the Bride of Christ, the Church, when it states: “Let us rejoice and exult and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure, for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the Saints.”

Martin Luther might have denied the inspiration of the letter of James, but he did not deny Revelations. This should be very clear to one who claims that faith alone is all that is required for salvation!

Fred Pascall


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