Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Religion Cannot Save Anyone
As we evangelize Roman Catholics, many of them reject the Gospel because of their strong religious faith. Ultimately, they are trusting their religion to get them to heaven. Many of them display their stubborn-hearted loyalty to an empty religion by saying, "I was born a Catholic and I will die a Catholic." Their unchanging commitment to an apostate Christian religion is because they are convinced the Roman Catholic Church is the church Jesus founded.
Tragically, Catholics have been indoctrinated with a fatal flaw. They have been taught that salvation is dispensed through the sacraments by an installment method. Instead of passing from spiritual death to life, their salvation is said to be received piecemeal, a little at a time. This is why they are utterly dependent upon their priests for salvation. They have been taught that their priest administers baptism for regeneration and justification; he hears confession to absolve sin; he offers the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist; he imparts the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation; he gives Last Rites for those who are dying; and he offers Mass for Catholic souls suffering in purgatory.
By the supreme authority of God's Word, we can see that all of these teachings are completely false. Salvation from the power and punishment of sin is instantaneous, unconditional, and eternal. It occurs at the moment our sovereign God brings to life those who were dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1-5). He graciously grants repentance and gives the gift of faith to those who humbly receive and believe Christ and His Word (John 1:12-13; 2 Tim. 2:25; Jas. 4:6-8). The Lord Jesus calls those who are heavily burdened by legalistic rituals to come to Him for rest. To everyone who embraces Him with empty hands of faith, He offers an eternal relationship in exchange for their empty religion.
When God opened the apostle Paul's eyes to the light of the Gospel, he quickly realized that religion could not save him. Clearly, no one had more reason to boast about his religious activities than Paul. His stellar resume is presented in Philippians 3:4-9. He was "a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless." However, by God's grace he "counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus" as Lord. For Christ's sake Paul suffered the loss of all things and counted them as rubbish, in order that he may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of his own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. Paul exchanged his religion for a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He exchanged his futile attempts to become righteous with the gift of Christ's righteousness that comes by faith (Rom. 5:17). He exchanged everything he was doing for what Christ had done!
May the truth of God's Word instruct those who are held captive by a religion that cannot save them, to exchange it for a relationship with the only One who can!
Mike Gendron, Proclaiming the Gospel e-mail, 1 October 2016