On June, 20, 2016, Pope Francis tweeted: “We are all on a journey to the common house of heaven where we will be able to admire with joyful wonder the mystery of the universe.”
The Christian journey is based on what I will call the “coordinates of truth.” In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Then in John 17:17, He prayed to the Father, saying, “Your word is truth.” First John 5:6 also says: “It is the Spirit who bears witness [to Jesus Christ] because the Spirit is truth.” In essence, Jesus is the truth, God’s Word – the Bible – is the truth and the Spirit is truth. Any doctrine, no matter how dogmatic, that is not true to Jesus, the Bible and the witness of the Holy Spirit, is a deception.
In a certain Catholic article titled “The Protty Jesus,” the writer stated that the Catholic and Protestant Jesus “are not really related, beyond the most basic things.” Consequently, we “do not worship the same Jesus as Catholics do.” He’s right. One of the key areas where we differ greatly is on the sufficiency of Christ – Solo Christos. And the best way to demonstrate this is by comparing what the Bible teaches with what Roman Catholicism teaches.
The visceral response of the Catholic is to say “we teach and read the Bible too!” Yes, that’s true, but there is a big difference between reading the Bible to learn what God has said in it and reading some contrived ideas into it. It’s self-deception for one to think he is saved or looking forward to heaven if one believes untruths about Jesus who is the only Way to Heaven. The stakes are too high and eternity is too real to allow sentiments or rigidity cloud this issue. Here are some examples:
Salvation by Christ or a Church?
“The Second Vatican Council decree on ecumenism explains: For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone which is the universal help towards salvation that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained” (Catechism #816, p 215)
Looking at God’s Word on the subject of salvation, you will not find a single verse requiring one to go through a church to be saved. What did Jesus Himself say?
“For what my Father wants is that all who see the Son and believe in him should have eternal life” (Jn. 6:40).
He says “those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life … [they] have already passed from death to life” (Jn. 5:24). He says again “he who believes has eternal life” (Jn. 6:47). Salvation from eternal condemnation is received by believing in Christ “but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn. 3:18). If the Catholic church was necessary for salvation, then Jesus was lying.
Apostle Paul wrote: “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Nothing is said about a church here (Rom. 10:9-10). Paul defines the Gospel as how Christ died for our sins and His resurrection and says “you are saved by the gospel if you hold firmly to it.” (1 Cor. 15:2). He says the Gospel “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16)
If salvation is obtained by joining the Catholic church, then Paul was lying and the Holy Spirit inspiring him was also lying.
Apostle John wrote: “Some, however, did receive him and believed in him, so he gave them the rights to become God’s children” (Jn. 1:12). That’s the only condition to be saved and become a child of God. Therefore, if the Catholic church is the only visible and universal sacrament of salvation, then apostle John was lying, so was the Holy Spirit.
But Jesus is truth, the Bible is truth and the Holy Spirit is truth. The key to salvation is believing in Jesus, not joining a church – whether Catholic or Protestant. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul “what must I do to be saved?” did Paul say “you must come to the Catholic Church?” No. He said “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 16:31) The moment one believes the Gospel, which is about the death and resurrection of Christ offering us forgiveness and eternal life, he is saved.
No church can offer salvation because the church is simply a community of the saved. The church is not the Saviour. No one in the New Testament looked up to a church for salvation and why would they, when it’s clear that Jesus alone is the Saviour. If the Catholic church is right about this, then the Bible was wrong and Jesus was mistaken.
The Sufficiency of Christ’s Mediation
“For, taken up to heaven, she [Mary] did not lay aside this saving role, but by her manifold acts of intercession continues to win for us gifts of eternal salvation.” (The Documents of Vatican II, p. 91)
Not a single verse of the Bible assigns a saving or interceding role to Mary. Jesus said about His sheep: “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish” (Jn. 10:28). He “is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him because he lives forever to plead with God for them” (Heb. 7:25). He has the power to “keep [us] from stumbling and to present [us] before his glorious presence without fault.” (Jude 1:24)
Why would the Bible emphatically declare that “there is no salvation through anyone else” and no “other name under heaven given to the human race” if Mary also dispenses salvation as Rome says? (Acts 4:12) Both the Bible and Catholicism do not agree.
Jesus’ intercession is based on His Mediatorship. If Mary is also interceeding for mankind, it means Jesus’ mediation is grossly insufficient. But God came down as Man to graciously establish His covenant with us. Jesus, as the “mediator of the new covenant” (Heb. 9:15) intervenes between God and man. He represents God before mankind and represents mankind before God. As the God-Man, He has “given us a ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). This ultimately disqualifies Mary or anyone else.
Jesus came to earth to save sinners. He kept inviting them “Come to Me” – not to Mary or a church for salvation (Mt. 11:28). At no point do we find a sinner being afraid to go to Jesus asking Mary to approach Him on his/her behalf. We find examples of Nicodemus, Zaccheus, the woman at Bethany, the penitent thief on the cross and many others who came to Christ. They all approached Him directly without going through Mary. He showed them love and care more than Mary ever did, so, to suggest that He has lost that superior and divine love and mercy for sinners, that we are now to go to Him through Mary is utterly blasphemous. It denies a central truth: “there is one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
The sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice
“Each time the Mass is offered, the Sacrifice of Christ is repeated. A new sacrifice is not offered, but by divine power, one and the same sacrifice is repeated … In the Mass, Christ continues to offer Himself to the Father as He did on the Cross.” (The New Saint Joseph Catechism, #2, 171)
But the Bible clearly teaches that Christ’s sacrifice must not (and cannot) be repeated. He “does not need to offer sacrifices every day” (Heb. 7:27) because He “was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many.” (Heb. 9:28) The offering of His body was “made once and for all” (10:10) and “By the virtue of that one single offering he has achieved the eternal perfection of all who are sanctified” (10:14). Why would God persistently tell us Jesus’ one sacrifice is sufficient if it needs to be repeated?
After presenting these facts to a Catholic years ago, he paused briefly, then said “The original Greek couldn’t have said these. The English Bibles have been distorted!” When I asked him to prove this, he couldn’t. That was a lame excuse. Jesus said “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). The Greek word there is tetelestai which literally means completely complete. Jesus has offered a perfect and complete sacrifice to God by His infinite power. To deny this is a blasphemous reduction of Jesus into a perpetual sacrificial victim in the hands of men.
The sufficiency of His blood
“From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners … [by] the prayers and good works of holy people … the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed…” (Vatican II, Vol. 1, 65)
On the contrary, redemption (or salvation) was accomplished by Christ in His sacrifice upon the cross and is received by faith: “Christ entered once and for all into the Most Holy Place … [with] his own blood and obtained eternal salvation for us” (Heb. 9:12). None of man’s efforts can add to it. “For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven” (Eph. 1:7). There is no way our own good works can cleanse our sins or redeem us. The penalty of sin is infinite and only God could pay it. To reject this one-way redemption provided by the blood of Christ is to remain in sin and eternal condemnation.
Romans 5:9 says “By his blood we are now put right with God…” The present tense used means that once a person repents and believes the Gospel, he is justified and receives eternal life that moment. He doesn’t have to merit it with good works, sacraments or rites. “The gift of God is eternal life through Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). We don’t work for a gift, we only receive it by faith in Christ. Salvation is received here and now and Jesus saves completely (Jn. 3:16, 1Cor. 1:21, 2Tim. 1:9, Tit. 3:5).
It matters little how much lip service Catholicism pays to solo Christo, its doctrines explicitly deny it, and a truth-seeking Catholic has a choice to make: to take sides against Jesus, the Bible and the Holy Spirit to follow a religion or agree with God’s truth and reject the lies of men. One thing is clear: every false religion tries to take the glory away from Christ and diminish His work and place it on a human figure, false god or religious organization.