With the impending retirement of the current Pope, Roman Catholicism has been prominently brought into the global spotlight. One of the sad realities of this high profile is that many unbelievers in the world look to the Pope as the worldwide representative of Christianity. But the differences between biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism remain as stark as they ever have. So what are the vital differences? There are many, but for the sake of space I will point out some of the major ones.
One of my classmates recently said to me that "all roads lead to Rome... except for the one that goes to heaven." This statement rings so true in the light of church history. A true study of history will reveal, however, that the Church of Rome grew out of a continual slide into apostasy over many centuries (I recommend the book "The Church of Rome at the Bar of History"). The Reformation of the 1500s was a necessary recovery of the Gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. And nothing has really changed in this 500 year old stand off with regards to the doctrine of Justification by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Neither has the central issue over Christ (and not the Pope) being the Head of His Church!
Before I continue I must state two disclaimers. First, when I use the word "Catholic" I am referring to the Roman Catholic religion, not to be confused with "catholic" when used in it's universal sense such as "catholic church" when it means universal church. Secondly, this article does not suggest that every person attending a Catholic congregation is not a Christian. I believe there are true Christians attending Catholic churches - but this is in spite of, not by virtue of, true Catholic doctrine. Hence the title "Only Bad Catholics can go to Heaven" because, as you will see, the only way someone could find true salvation in a Roman Catholic church is by seriously violating their own belief system. (I must thank Matt Slick at CARM [Christian Apologetics Resource Ministry] for much of this information).
For by grace you have been saved athrough faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Roman Catholic doctrine denies justification by faith alone and says:
If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).
Anathema, according to Catholic theology, means excommunication, the exclusion of a sinner from the society of the faithful. Roman Catholic theology therefore pronounces a curse of excommunication, of being outside the camp of Christ, if you believe that you are saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus.
When the Roman Catholic church negates justification by faith alone, it necessarily implies that we must do something for justification, for if it is not by faith alone, then it must be by faith and something.
Catholicism teaches that certain things must be done by people in order to be justified and to keep that justification. Of these acts, baptism is the first requirement. Consider these quotes:
Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that we too might walk in newness of life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 977).
Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted to us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God's mercy (CCC, par. 2020).
According to Roman Catholicism, baptism is only the first sacrament of forgiveness. Good works, according to Roman Catholicism, are also required and are rewarded with going to heaven:
We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere to the end and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God' eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ (CCC, par. 1821).
The above quote clearly states that heaven is the eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. Catholic theology asserts that works are a predecessor to justification in direct contradiction to God's Word which states that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Rom. 3:28).
In the CCC, par. 2010, it says:
Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification.
How does anyone merit for himself the undeserved kindness of God's grace? Grace is by definition unmerited favor. This is an utterly false teaching. So how does the Catholic church get around this apparent dilemma that grace is unmerited but it is obtained through our merits? It states:
Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify (CCC, par. 2023).
This is the crux of the problem. Roman Catholic theology asserts that God's grace is granted through baptism and infused into a person by the Holy Spirit. This then enables him or her to do good works which then are rewarded with heaven. Basically, this is no different from the theology of the cults which maintain that justification is by grace through faith and your works, whether it be baptism, going to the true church, keeping certain laws, receiving the sacraments, or anything else you are required to do.
Maintaining Your Justification
Because the Catholic view of justification is a cooperative effort between God and man, this justification can be lost by man's failure to maintain sufficient grace through meritorious works. Roman Catholicism teaches that works are necessary for attainment of justification. According to Catholic theology, penance is a sacrament where a person, through a Catholic priest (CCC, par. 987), receives forgiveness of the sins committed after baptism. The penitent person must confess his sins to a priest. The priest pronounces absolution and imposes acts of penance to be performed.
Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as the second plank (of salvation) after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace (CCC, par. 1446).
Acts of penance vary, but some of them are prayer, saying the rosary, reading the Scripture, saying a number of Our Father or Hail Mary prayers, doing good works, fasting, and other such things. Is it by doing these acts of penance that the Catholic is able to regain his justified state before God? In essence it is earning one's salvation. Think about it. If you do not have it and you get it by saying prayers, fasting, and/or doing good works, then you are guilty of works righteousness salvation, which is condemned by the Bible.
What is even more frightening is that this post only scratches the surface of this wicked works righteous system. We could also discuss the Catholic denial of Jesus as our only mediator between God and man (contrary to 1 Timothy 2:5) by teaching people to pray to Mary as their mediator. Then there is also the issue of the blasphemous Catholic teaching that during every mass the priest has the power to call Jesus Christ down to die on the cross again (contrary to Hebrews 7:27). On and on it goes. Only bad Catholics can go to heaven because the only way for a Catholic to find true salvation is by completely ignoring the teaching of a religious system that has no saving power and trusting the Bible instead.
The Tilbage Til Bibelen (Back to Scripture) network of Denmark is pleased to present Reformation Resurrection 2013 with keynote speaker Dr Voddie Baucham - an outstanding reformed preacher and cultural apologist (bio below). Reformation Resurrection 2013 is a four day conference in the Danish countryside devoted to the furtherance of the Gospel in Europe and around the world. There is a lot of talk today about "new reformations" with new solutions to new problems. But we face the same problem today that we did 500 years ago - the pulpits of Europe have abandoned the Gospel.
Reformation Resurrection 2013 is a rallying cry to the same solution that the reformers risked their lives to proclaim. That sinful men can be justified before a Holy God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. And that this truth is faithfully proclaimed in God's Word alone, and to God's glory alone. The reformation isn't over - it just needs new life breathed into old truth. Men and women who are not ashamed of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, the power of God unto salvation. Will you forsake the silence to join with us and be a voice in resurrecting the Reformation?
Tuesday July 23rd to Friday July 26th 2013.
Skroedstrup Boarding School
Dr. Voddie Baucham's main subject will be "Preaching Christ from all of Scripture". Dr. Baucham's teaching on this subject has been so powerful and compelling that we could not go past it for our 2013 theme. There will also be extensive question and answer sessions where you will be welcome to throw your toughest questions at the keynote speaker. Evening meetings will be open to the general public.
The meetings will have Danish translation. The question and answer sessions will be in English only.
Because Reformation Resurrection 2013 is a family camp, there will be teaching and activities for the children.
For further information and travel advice please e-mail:
Carsten Jorgensen - firstname.lastname@example.org
Europe has an amazing heritage of godly men who thunderously and fearlessly preached the Gospel. Thus it is entirely appropriate that this years guest speaker is a man cut from the same die (those of you who have not had the chance to sit under the teaching of Dr. Baucham will be able to do so by viewing the sermon video we have posted below). Voddie Baucham (www.voddiebaucham.org) wears many hats. He is a husband, father, pastor, author, professor, conference speaker and church planter. He currently serves as Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX. He has served as an adjunct professor at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston, TX, and Union University in Jackson, TN. He has also lectured at Southern Seminary.
Voddie’s area of emphasis is Cultural Apologetics. Whether teaching on classical apologetic issues like the validity and historicity of the Bible, or the resurrection of Christ; or teaching on biblical manhood/ womanhood, marriage and family, he helps ordinary people understand the significance of thinking and living biblically in every area of life.
Voddie Baucham holds degrees from Houston Baptist University (BA in Christianity/BA in Sociology), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.), an honorary degree from Southern California Seminary (D.D.), and additional post-graduate study at the University of Oxford, England (Regent’s Park College).
Voddie and his wife, Bridget have been married since 1989. They have seven children, Jasmine, Trey (Voddie, III), Elijah, Asher, Judah, Micah and Safya. They are committed home educators.
Voddie Baucham has written numerous books including The Ever Loving Truth, Family Driven Faith, The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, What He Must Be, and Family Shepherds.
For those of you who like to feast on great preaching here is an entire sermon preached at a pastors conference where Voddie Baucham took it upon himself to respond to the man centered and moralistic preaching by the previous speaker. This is a sermon that every church goer in Denmark needs to watch. It will also give you a great feel for the privilege we are in for at our next conference:
I make no secret of the fact that Christless Christianity, by Michael Horton, is one of the most influential books I have read over the last five years. What I love about this book is that Horton reveals the works righteous gospel as something that runs far deeper than I ever realized. It is a plague that is evident in liberalism, fundamentalism, and many in between. Horton calls it the religion of "moralistic therapeutic deism" and there is a decent chance that you might be a subscriber to this religion.
The following discussion between Horton and RC Sproul is well worth watching to hear two great modern Christian thinkers discuss this issue of eternal consequence:
I was born on July 3rd 1969. It was a monumental year in human history, something for which my birth had no connection. Nonetheless I can recall a childhood where my mother liked to tell people that the day I returned from the hospital was the day that Neil Armstrong first set foot on the surface of the moon. Any human with access to a television had his eyes fixed on that television on that day, oblivious to the fact that yours truly took up residence in a little house in the small Australian town of Chinchilla at the very same time.
The recent death of Neil Armstrong has been a sobering reminder that the mightiest of men are still but dust. Time waits for no man and Neil Armstrong was no exception . . . and neither am I.
Several years ago I was asked to name the five people I would most want to meet. Neil Armstrong was on that list. Not only because of his fame, but also because of his subsequent obscurity. As one reporter said back in 2009:
He could have raked in millions through endorsements and personal appearances. Courted by kings, praised by politicians, he could have signed book and film deals telling of his amazing story.
Instead, he became a virtual recluse who uses a fake name to receive his mail and refuses to talk about his incredible life.
This is Neil Armstrong, who first walked on the Moon and uttered one of the world's best-known phrases: "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."
Armstrong returned 40 years ago this month from his Apollo 11 mission to a hero's welcome and offers to cash in on his fame.
But today, even among locals in the small town of Indian Hill, Ohio, few know him as the man who made history by taking the first steps on another world.
The 78-year-old leads a fiercely secretive existence.
Local hairdresser Marx Sizemore claimed he was warned not to bother Armstrong with questions when he became a customer.
"He's a very withdrawn individual. I cut his hair for five years and he never even mentioned that he was Neil Armstrong," he said.
"I knew who he was, though, because the salon owner had told me. I was warned that he doesn't like to talk about it.
The only time we ever spoke about the Moon landing was when I asked him about it once. I had to initiate the conversation. I was born a week after he walked on the Moon so I told him that to see if he would start talking.
But he barely reacted and just looked down." "He was more interested in talking about golf. I think he's a private person who can't stand to be the centre of attention."
Neil Armstrong has now left this earth for the final time as somewhat of an enigma. I remain intrigued as to how his unique experiences affected him. I sometimes wonder if Paul's words to the church in Rome were echoed as he travelled into the surrounding cosmos:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)
I do not know how Neil Armstrong reacted to an encounter with God's glorious creation on a far more profound level than most men ever will. But I am greatly encouraged by a little known fact concerning the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969 that may surprise you . . .
Racism is an ugly scourge in all societies that goes all the way back to the tower of Babel. Governments are foolish enough to believe that they can legislate it out of society while people remain in their sin. One of the most prominent ways that sin manifests itself is in our selfishness. And selfish people don't like people who are different. Is it really any surprise that racism exists?
Yet, at the core of all of this lies two shocking truths that escape almost everybody. Firstly, that God is a racist and secondly that there is only one race - the human race. We all descend from Adam and that is why we are all sinners.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
All sinners are alienated from God and excluded from His Kingdom - the ultimate form of racial segregation! Furthermore, God's segregation is right and just! He is holy and we are not. He would be a corrupt judge if he were to ignore the sinful deeds of every member of Adamic race! God's justice demands that He must separate, segregate, and reprobate every member of the Adamic race! Unless . . . certain members of the Adamic race were to be reconciled to this Holy God via the wrath bearing work of a sinless substitute in their place! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only solution to deal with all forms of racism - God's alienation from man and man's alienation from each other.
Last week, John Macarthur and Steve Lawson poured themselves into the lives of the 80 new students at The Master's Seminary. It is not well advertised or well known that these videos are now available on Youtube. I have already posted the first session with Dr. John Macarthur and it was so good - especially when he talks about "big boy church" - that today I am posting the rest of the sessions (many thanks to Joshua Crooch for uploading these and making them available).
Fundamentals of Expository Preaching: Lecture 2 with Dr. John Macarthur
Fundamentals of Expository Preaching: Lecture 3 with Dr. John Macarthur
Fundamentals of Expository Preaching: Lecture 4 with Dr. Steve Lawson
Fundamentals of Expository Preaching: Lecture 5 with Dr. Steve Lawson
Fundamentals of Expository Preaching: Lecture 6 with Dr. Steve Lawson
Fundamentals of Expository Preaching: Lecture 7 with Dr. Steve Lawson