So there you are being confronted by a Protestant, who asks you some simple bible questions about your personal salvation and the Catholic Church getting in the way of it. With what do you answer back? There is a way to turn the tables on these well-meaning Christians and to put them on the defensive for a change. You can defend the Catholic Church with Scripture. Read on!
Are You Saved?
Most of us have been asked this question before, as if being saved is a one-time experience in the past. However, salvation is not a single event, but rather, it is a life-long journey. The bible even tells us that:
PAST TENSE – Romans 8:24: “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?”
In one sense, we were all saved when Christ died for us. But we still have the free will to reject His love.
PRESENT TENSE – Philippians 2:12: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
This verse indicates that we are not to be smug and self-assured about our salvation, because we could always commit a mortal sin in the future and die without final repentance.
FUTURE TENSE – Matthew 24:13: “But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
This verse indicates that we must remain in the state of grace throughout our lifespan, or everything we did for Jesus in the past will be wasted. The devil is going to keep on trying to drag us to hell until we die, so we must always be on our guard against him.
Think of salvation like having gone on a long airplane trip. You got on the plane (baptism), the plane took off (you are enduring the trials of life with the help of sacramental grace), and then the plane landed at your destination (you die and are judged by Christ).
Is ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ in Scripture?
This false philosophy can be easily refuted by both St. Paul and St. Peter:
ST. PAUL: Hebrews 10:26-29: “For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?”
ST. PETER: 2 Peter 2:20-21: “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.”
The two verses above both indicate that it is possible for true believers to backslide into the abyss through sin. This can happen because we meet someone who leads us astray, through a death in the family, or through a personal tragedy like losing a limb. After all, no one knows anything about what will happen twenty years in the future, so claiming that we will be in the state of grace whenever we die is the sin of presumption.
Does Scripture teach: Saved by Faith Alone?
This invention of Luther five hundred years ago is certainly not biblical. The words “Ye are saved by faith alone” are nowhere to be found in the King James Bible, or any bible for that matter. Let’s see what the bible does say on being saved:
SAVED BY BELIEF AND BAPTISM: Mark 16:16: He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
SAVED BY GRACE: Ephesians 2:4-5: “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”
SAVED BY GRACE, FAITH, AND GOOD WORKS: Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
SAVED BY FAITH AND GOOD 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.”
SAVED BY CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD: Acts 2:21: “And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
SAVED BY BAPTISM: 1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”
All of the above verses indicate a multitude of things that have to occur before salvation can happen – First baptism, then grace, then faith, and then good works. Just like a car needs a battery, pistons, gasoline, and a transmission to operate, the Christian needs to be fully equipped with grace, baptism, faith, AND good works. And of course, true repentance and atonement for our sins, along with the Divine Mercy of Christ, are necessary as well. Adding the word “alone” to any of the above is NOT taking the whole bible into account, which Catholics must do.
Does Scripture teach: Communion Is Only Symbolic?
This heresy was not around until about a thousand years after Christ, when Benengarius of Tours, a priest, denied transubstantiation, which is a term used to describe the transformation of the former bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ, spiritually AND physically. Five hundred years later, Martin Luther came up with his term of consubstantiation, which says that Jesus is in the bread somehow, but the bread does not actually become 100% Jesus. Through the years, this has morphed into a “symbolic” presence in Communion for a lot of Christians. But the Bible is clear that the Eucharist is supernatural food and leads to eternal life:
John 6:27: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.”
John 6:48-58: I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”
How any of the above words of Christ can be said to be symbolic is a mystery. Some people take
John 6:63: “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
to mean that the the Eucharist is only symbolic, as if this one verse negates John 6:48-58. But in John 6:63, Jesus is talking about human flesh. The word “spirit” has never meant “symbolic” in the bible. In contrast, in John 6:48-58 Jesus always says MY flesh (divine flesh), rather than THE flesh (human flesh). The fact that he said His words are “spirit and life” means that the Eucharist is a spirit-filled sacrament, which gives us grace and supernatural life. We know that the Old Testament manna from heaven was supernatural food. Therefore, the new manna from heaven must be greater than the old manna, because New Testament fulfillments of Old Testament types are always greater.
Call No Man Father?
Protestants like to pull biblical texts out of context, especially Matthew 23:9:
“And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.”
This has to be the use of hyperbole from Jesus, because one of the 10 Commandments is to “Honor Thy FATHER and thy Mother.” Is God somehow confused on this issue? St. Paul calls himself “your Father”:
1 Corinthians 4:15: “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
In John 8:56, Jesus calls Abraham, Father: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.”
No Statues Allowed?
One of the things that keeps Protestants away from the Catholic Church is all of the statues we have. Are these forbidden by the bible? NO. But Exodus 20: 4 says to make no graven images! How can this be? Well, it is only forbidden to worship them as false idols, like the golden calf was. The Israelites actually believed that the golden calf was a god, and they worshiped it with their lustful liturgy. Catholics are smart enough to know that plaster and paint do not make a god!
The Ark of the Covenant, designed by God and built by Moses, had two angel statues on top of it:
Exodus 25:22: There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.
Solomon’s temple, built on the directions of God, had statues of angels and oxen in it:
1 Kings 6:23: In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high.
1 Kings 7:25: It stood upon twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east; the sea was set upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.
God Himself told Moses to build a snake statue that also had healing properties:
Numbers 21:8: And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
The bottom line is that the Catholic Church is the most biblical of all Christian churches. The Catholic Church takes into account the entire bible, and does not rip scripture verses out of context to debate.