3:37 AM The Salvific Role of the Roman Catholic Church
Since faith in Christ alone is uinsufficient for the Catholic's justification, necessary works need to be done to augment that faith. This beief is what gives the Roman church such a vital role in the salvation of her subjects. Being deemed as the sole dispenser of the works that must accompany faith, it virtually puts a stranglehold on the life of the faithful. The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains it this way:
"For it is only through Christ's Catholic Church, which is "the all-embracing means of salvation," that they can benefit fully from the means fo salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the spostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God"
This statement appears as an addendum to paragraph 816 of the 1994 Definitive Edition of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church thereby reaffirming the teaching without any doubt that going through the Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. Again in paragraph 846 of the same catechism states, "Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse to enter it, or to remain in it." Now I understand why a Catholic friend of mine told be that if I refuse to acknowledge that the Church is a way to salvation, I will lose my salvation. This is another reason why I posted this.
Works that accompany faith is primarily channeled to individuals through the Catholic sacraments. The sacrament of baptism, the mass, and penance among others are said to be the means of grace that is exclusively available only in the Roman Church. Through this teaching, Catholics are caught in the enslaving grop of the church for fear of loss of salvation. The Catholic Encyclopedia in its section entitled The Church records thus:
"The Church alone dispenses the sacraments. It alone makes know the light of revealed truth. Outside the Church these gifts cannot be obtained. From all this there is but one conclusion: Union with the Church is not merely one out of various means by which salvation may be obtained: it is the only means." (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03744a.htm)
In other words, if anyone's church membership does not read Roman CatholicChurch, he is unsaved. But the truth is that this church is neither Christian nor Catholic. In fact the name, "Roman Catholic" is a contradiction of terms. How can the word "catholic" which means "universal" or "all-encompassing" be confined to a certain locality which is Rome?
The Bible never teaches anywhere that church membership plays a part in the believer's salvation. On the contrary, Paul the Apostle tells us that salvation is only grace through faith in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8). A person without Christ is considered an alien to the commonwealth of the people of God. They are strangers to the covenants of promise and so they have no hope for they are without God in the world (Eph.2:12). In Contrast, those who are in Christ Jesus are made nigh unto God having been reconciled by the cross (Eph 2:13,16). Thus Paul concludes, "Now therefore ye are no more stranges and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph, 2:19). Plainly stated, believers are saved first before they become members of the church.
In fact the church, in the real sense of the word, is not a place but a people. The original Greek word for "church" literally means "an assembly or gathering of people." It is actually a compound of 2 words which when taken separately will mean "the called out ones." These "called out ones" are they that are set apart and chosen by God and called unto salvation in Christ Jesus. The church therefore is composed of the chosen, elected, sanctified, and saved people of God. Believers are not saved because they are members of the church. Rather, they are members of the church because they are saved. Church membership is not the cause of salvation but the result of salvation. The Roman Catholic Church has seen this biblical truth as the other way around.
Some Catholics believe they can be saved by going to church. But the bible say one can only be saved by going to a Person. The New Testament Book of Acts narrates an incident wherein a Phillippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:30-31) Quite clearly, the church has no role in the salvation of sinners. When one of the Thiefs hanging on the cross told Jesus to remember him when Jesus goes into paradise, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, Today, thou shall be with me in Paradise. The thief had never the chance to go to church, or to do any of the sacraments. Jesus did not tell the thief that he will have to go to purgatory first and be cleansed. It is so clear in God's word that we have to believe to be saved. And it is that simple.
In this light therefore, can so much as a billion Roman Catholics around the world be gravely wrong? The Bible has this answer in Matthew 7:13-14. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." A billion souls are certainly not few in number. Still we do not condemn Catholics , but we feel that the error in their beliefs may harden their hearts, and eventually make them turn from the truth.
How many ways are there to Heaven?
Aside from faith, Roman Catholics need to observe the sacraments since they are deemed necessary for one to enter into heaven. In fact the Council of Trent condemns in the strongest terms the teaching that salvation is only by faith in Christ alone with this statement:
If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without then, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; through all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema (Canon IV)
In addition to this teaching of sacramental salvation through the mass, baptism, and penance, the Roman Catholic road to salvation also includes availing of indulgences (which have ceased in a great number of countries today) the mediation of Mary, and submission to the authority of priests and popes. It is a complex route that can lead anywhere but heaven and cannot be proven from the word of God. The Bible says there is only one way to heaven and it is not through the church but through Jesus. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the light: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). Thank God , He still is and will always be the only way.
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