and Catholics Divided
'Ecumenism!' is the keyword in the modern religious arena. 'Despite our differences, we are all
brothers and sisters in Christ!' Since Vatican II, Rome calls
Evangelicals 'separated brethren' while Evangelical leaders,
returning the compliment, acknowledge the Roman Catholic Church as
another Christian denomination.
There is a wholesome ecumenism among Christians. True ecumenism
is work of the Holy Spirit who by the Gospel brings people from
various social, cultural and national backgrounds into one family.
Christians are united because they have one Father, one Lord and one
Spirit. They believe the same Gospel, are baptized in the name of
the Triune God, and are all members of one body, the church. It is
therefore the privilege and duty of the redeemed to walk together in
unity and peace, whereas the pique and bickering that is often seen
among God's people is both shameful and a dishonour to our Lord.
On the other hand there is no unity between Christians and the
rest of the world, including those who falsely call themselves
Christians. The apostle Paul admonishes the faithful:
'Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do
righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can
light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and
Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What
agreement is there between the temple of God and idols' (2 Cor
The Lord's command to the church regarding unbelievers (those who
do not believe the true Gospel of the Bible) is twofold:
Be separate and refrain from joining hands with them (1
Preach to them the Gospel for it is their only hope of
salvation (Mark 16:15,16).
Should Evangelicals consider the Roman Catholic Church as a true
church of Jesus Christ? Rome appeals to a historical succession of
Popes that supposedly can be traced to the apostle Peter. However,
the mere lineal succession of Popes does not guarantee the purity of
the teaching of the Church of Rome. The priests and scribes of
Jesus' day were also the successors of Moses, Aaron and the
prophets. They prided themselves as children of Abraham and as
teachers of the Law. Yet they were children of the Devil because
somewhere along the line they had distorted the message of the
The true disciples are those who believe and obey the Word of
God. Jesus said: 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my
disciples.' The assemblies of these faithful people are the true
churches of Christ. The acid test of any church is the submission to
the Word of God.
Historically, Protestants (many of whom were former Roman
Catholics) declared the modern Roman church 'apostate' because human
traditions had undermined and ruined the apostolic faith that the
church of Rome originally embraced. You may think it is a legitimate
church of Christ, even perhaps the one true church. We cannot afford
to be mistaken in this vital matter. We must turn to the Scriptures
and compare Catholic doctrine with the teaching of the Bible, the
ultimate authority and judge in all spiritual disputes. We need to
test if the message of Rome agrees with the Gospel, and in
particular with the crucial doctrine of justification. How can a
sinner be justified before God? Is Rome's answer in agreement with
the Scripture or not?
Together with the apostle Paul, 'we conclude that a man is
justified by faith without the deeds of the law.' Rome teaches that
we are justified by faith insofar as 'faith is the first stage of
human salvation, the foundation and root of justification.'
According to Rome, faith produces meritorious works, including the
reception of the sacraments, which transforms the sinner into a
righteous person. Simply stated, the Vatican teaches that Faith plus
Works result in Justification.
But the Bible does not speak of a Gospel that reveals the
righteousness of God from faith to works! 'Therein is the
righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written,
the just shall live by faith.' The sinner is justified by faith
The apostle Paul clarifies the concept of saving faith in Romans
4:5. 'To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth
the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.' It is not he
who believes and works, but he who does not work but believes, who
is declared righteous by the Divine Judge. The life of a true
believer is always abounding in good works, and yet he does not
depend on his deeds for justification. The Christian rests by faith
in Christ alone.
Rome condemns this kind of child-like trust. 'If anyone says that
the faith that justifies is nothing else but trust in the divine
mercy, which pardons sins because of Christ, or that it is that
trust alone by which we are justified, let him be anathema.' What
else had the poor tax collector but trust in the divine mercy? 'God
be merciful to me the sinner,' he cried. The Council of Trent
pronounces a curse on the man but Christ blesses him: 'I tell you,
this man went down to his house justified.' Our glory is 'the divine
mercy, which pardons sins because of Christ'. Rome curses us because
of this belief. That does not disturb us as long as the Bible
declares that 'your sins are forgiven you for His Name's sake.'
We assert that we are justified by grace alone. We are 'justified
by his grace;' 'justified freely (gratis) by his grace through the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus.' We do not contribute part of
the payment for our redemption. 'Ye were not redeemed with
corruptible things, as silver and gold...but with the precious blood
of Christ.' We are justified, not because of our merit, but 'by his
Rome also teaches that we are justified by grace. However the
'grace' of Catholicism is a very strange species. The Catechism of
the Catholic Church states: 'Moved by the Holy Spirit and by
charity, we can then merit for ourselves...the graces needed...for
the attainment of eternal life.' Furthermore, the Council of Trent
declared: 'If anyone says that...the justified person by the good
deeds done by him through the grace of God...does not truly merit an
increase in grace...let him be anathema.' As every practicing
Catholic knows by experience, he has to strive to merit grace by his
good deeds (prayers, charity, attending mass, etc.).
Rome has divested grace from its biblical meaning. The apostle
Paul explains: 'to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of
grace, but of debt.' When a man is paid for the work he has
performed, that payment cannot be considered 'grace.' He deserves
and merits the payment and the employer is indebted to the worker.
Contrary to merit and reward, grace is undeserved. It is
self-contradictory to speak of "meriting grace." 'If by
grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more
grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise
work is no more work.' If we are justified by grace, as the Bible
teaches, we could not be justified by the merits of our work. Rome
effectively destroys biblical grace by the addition of meritorious
We affirm that we are saved by Jesus Christ and his blood alone.
This too is effectively denied by Roman Catholic doctrine.
Rome admits that 'all salvation comes from Christ the Head.' But
she immediately qualifies that statement by adding 'through the
Church which is his Body.' Vatican Council II states that 'it is
through Christ's Catholic church alone...that the fullness of the
means of salvation can be obtained' The Bible teaches that 'in
Christ' (not in the church) 'dwelleth all the fullness...and ye are
complete in Him.' It is not the church, but the Gospel that is 'the
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.'
Rome dispenses salvation bit by bit to her faithful through the
sacraments and the ministry of her priests. The priest is the one
who forgives them their sins in the name of God. 'Confession to a
priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance.' We follow
our Lord's teaching regarding confession. He taught us to pray: 'Our
Father which art in heaven...forgive us our debts, as we forgive out
Furthermore the Roman Catholic priest is indispensable to offer
the sacrifice of the mass. 'As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also
offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to
obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God' The Roman Catechism
defines the mass as a 'perpetual sacrifice.' But the true sacrifice
of Christ on the cross of Calvary is not a continuing offering.
Christ 'needeth not daily...to offer up sacrifice...for this he did
once, when he offered up himself.'
Roman Catholics are encouraged to seek the intercession of the
saints, and in particular of Mary, the mother of Jesus. 'Therefore
the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of
Advocate, Helper...and Mediatrix.' According to the Bible, Christ is
our Advocate; the Lord is our helper; the man Christ Jesus, the one
mediator between God and man.
And to aggravate her error, Rome pursues her faithful even beyond
the grave. 'After death they undergo purification (in Purgatory), so
as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven.'
Our purgatory is Jesus Christ: 'he had by himself purged our sins.'
He 'washed us from our sins in his own blood.'
The Bible teaches that a sinner is justified by grace alone,
through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is the only Gospel that
The 'gospel' of Rome is faith plus works, grace plus merit,
Christ plus the church, baptismal regeneration, penance, masses, the
rosary, indulgences, Mary, the pains of Purgatory, and so on. The
apostle warns those who, in addition to faith in the Lord, seek to
be justified by ritual or works of the Law, that they are alienated
from Christ, and that He could be of no avail to them.
Rome's message is a false Gospel. The church that propagates a
false gospel cannot justly be called a church of Jesus Christ. And
those who follow its teaching are deceived and in peril of eternal
To Our Catholic Friends
We appeal to you, our dear Catholic friends and implore you on
Christ's behalf to be reconciled to God. Reckon yourself an unworthy
sinner and a rebel against the Sovereign God. Plead guilty before
the Judge of the world; admit that you deserve the everlasting fire
Yet do not despair! Look to the God of all grace and mercy. Stop
trusting in yourself, your works and your merit. Salvation is of the
Lord; redemption is His work; and all the glory belongs to Him
alone. Neither should you rely on a church, or Mary, or the saints,
or a human priest, or on the 'sacrifice' of the mass, or in an
Rather, trust wholly in Christ, the Son of God, who is the only
mediator, the only high priest, who gave himself as an
all-sufficient sacrifice for the forgiveness of all the sins of his
own people. Then you will see the salvation of the Lord and be
united with all believers as a living member of his church.
To Our Evangelical Brethren
To my fellow evangelical Christians, and in particular to our
leaders, I appeal in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
to heed his command: 'Come out of her, my people.' We have no
ecumenical business with an apostate church. 'Come out from among
them and be separate, says the Lord.'
Each one of us must take his stand. You are either an
evangelical, earnestly contending for the faith that was delivered
to the saints, or an ecumenist, sacrificing Truth on the altar of a
false unity. You must choose. Do you love Catholics enough to warn
them of their peril and to proclaim to them the Gospel for their
salvation? Or would you rather mock them, calling them 'brothers and
sisters in Christ' while you escort them on their way to hell?
The choice is ours. The choice is now. The implications are