The other day, some really nice young men, Baptists, came to my front door, and we had a very interesting conversation. I wish I had been better prepared, but I did present to them some Bible verses that they had not thought about before. The rest of this article goes into some of these verses, and hopefully, when they come to your door, you will be better prepared to present to them the Catholic faith as outlined in Scripture. In doing so, you will be fulfilling Peter’s request in 1 Peter 3:15: “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
The King James Bible
The Baptists told me that they used the King James Version of the Bible. I told them that it only had 66 books in it, and that I used the RSV-Catholic Edition, which has all 73 books in it. (Martin Luther removed 7 books which didn’t agree with his theology from the Bible during his Reformation.) And besides, I said, the King James Bible mentions “unicorns” 9 times, which proves that it isn’t a good translation, as there are no such animals. They then informed me that a “unicorn” was a “rhinoceros.” At this, I chuckled. The Catholic Bible uses “oxen” instead of “unicorns.”
Faith and Works
James 2:24-26: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”
Colossians 1:10: “to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Romans 2:6: “For he will render to every man according to his works…”
The Baptists kept agreeing with me that good works are great, and that they bring others to Christ, BUT, they declared, they are not really necessary for salvation. My counterpoint was that the above verses point out three things:
- First, that if you have faith with no works, your faith is dead. And dead faith is no faith at all.
- Second, good works are the fruit of our faith, and Jesus did say in Matthew 7:19 that we must bear good fruit or we will be thrown into the fire.
- Third, that Jesus will judge us (render) based on our works done as a result of our faith in Him.
I kept making the point that the good thief on the cross didn’t have time after his conversion to do any good works, but the Divine Mercy of Christ saved him anyway. Conversely, we that do believe in Christ here and now do have the time to do good works, and so we must do them, per Christ’s command in the Sermon on the Mount. The workers in God’s vineyard must do work, not just believe in the vineyard! I also told them that good works are not Jewish works of the law (eating kosher foods, ritualistic hand-washing, not touching the dead, etc.) which Paul condemns, that are now moot with the fulfillment of the law of the Old Testament in Christ. Additionally, Matthew 25:31-46 says that if we don’t do good works then we don’t get into heaven. Faith and good works are like two sides of one coin, and they must go together as one entity. In a similar way, fire gives off both heat AND light, and so similarly, “faith and works” is a case of “both-and,” not “either-or.”
“Are You Saved?”
1 Corinthians 4:3-5: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.”
1 Corinthians 9:27: “but I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.“
Matthew 24:13: “But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Protestants ask this “Are you saved?”question a lot, as an opening into their evangelization. When I was asked this the other night, I told them that I hope to be saved in the end. The above verses, again, say three things:
- First, only the Lord has the right to judge me–not even myself, and certainly not you–and only at the end of time. So asking this question is very anti-scriptural.
- Second, even St. Paul wasn’t sure about his salvation. He even advocates self-mortification (pummeling his body) to assist in his salvation.
- Third, Jesus says that we must endure to the end in order to be saved. This means that asking this question now is rather pointless, since “being saved” is a future event, not a past one. The state of our soul now may not be the same in 20 or 30 years, after all, so asking the question now is rather pointlesss. A better question would be “Do you love Christ and accept all of his teachings in your heart?”
Matthew 18:32-35: Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Revelation 21:27: “But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
1 Corinthians 3:12-15: “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw; each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.“
Nothing quite gets the blood pressure up of Protestants like the mention of purgatory does. No, the word “purgatory” is not in the Bible, just like the words “Christmas,” “Easter,” “Rapture,” and “Trinity” aren’t in the Bible either. The Baptists told me that when Jesus preached to the spirits in prison, in 1 Peter 3:19, he was preaching to the souls in hell. But I said that these spirits were in Sheol, or Hades, which was where souls went until Christ opened the doors to heaven following his death. After all, what possible good would it do to “preach to the spirits in hell?” None!
The above verses do allude to the following concerning purgatory:
- There is an afterlife prison (in the age to come, after death) where sins are dealt with and our souls purified, and it is a jail where we won’t be released until we have paid the last penny for our sins here on earth.
- Nothing unclean shall enter heaven, and none of us are perfect here on earth, thanks to sin and our unforgiving human nature, so purgatory is a blessing from God to clean us up after we die, so that we may finally enter heaven, with dazzingly white and purified souls.
- Our God is a consuming fire. Being in purgatory is therefore being in the presence of God, but in a very imperfect and lonely way. Our time in purgatory is a time where we long to be with God in a perfect and unified way, and we must wait while His purifying fire cleanses us of our many impurities.
My conversation with the Baptists ended here, and we didn’t have time to get into Mary, the Eucharist, the Communion of Saints and intercessory prayer, statues, “once saved, always saved,” being “born again,” etc. Perhaps in a future column I will address these very biblical issues as well.
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