From Catholicism to Christianity Part 4: The Beautiful Simplicity of Grace


Biblical doctrine of grace and salvation:

According to the Bible, justification is not earned; it is simply given as a gift “by His grace” (Romans 3:24). If God does something by grace, then “it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6). That is why God does not ask sinners to work for salvation but to simply believe. God emphasizes this thought repeatedly in His Word to stress its importance and truth.

Ephesians 2:8-9  (NKJV)  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Romans 6:23  (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

James McCarthy in his best-seller, The Gospel According to Rome, provides a beautiful definition of Biblical grace:

[Grace] is a mindset on the part of God, a decision to bless. Grace is by definition free and unmerited. It is the undeserved, unearned favor of God.

As sinners we deserve condemnation, yet by His grace, He welcomes us into Heaven. Such is the love of God. By the blood sacrifice of His Son, the Father’s justice is satisfied. By His love and grace salvation (eternal life) is freely given as the most precious, costly gift One has ever given to another. It is as simple as that.

RCC thoughts on grace and salvation:

The RCC (Roman Catholic Church) on the other hand, maintains that justification by faith without works is heresy:

If anyone says that the faith which 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 (cursed, damned). Council of Trent, session 6, Decree on Justification, canon 12. The Gospel According to Rome, James G. McCarthy, Harvest House Publisher’s, Eugene Oregon 1995

Catholic salvation, i.e., qualifying for heaven, is a lifelong, never-ending process. It begins with the sacrament of Baptism. Nearly all of one billion Catholics are baptized as infants. Catholics refer to their baptism as the sacrament through which they are “born again.” However, this is a rather incongruous concept considering that an infant is not able to make a conscious decision of accepting Jesus. Baptism is also the sacrament through which Catholics first receive “sanctifying grace.” This “grace” is necessary in order to be eligible to earn salvation, which is why Catholics claim to be “saved by grace alone.” Yet, through their lives, Catholics will lose that sanctifying grace when they sin, then have to confess their sins to a priest to receive absolution. After that absolution they return to a place of sanctifying grace until they sin the next time…then they confess their sins to the priest, ask for absolution, return to a place of sanctifying grace until…and on and on it goes.

The sacraments of Penance (Reconciliation), Holy Eucharist (Communion), and Confirmation are crucial to staying and growing in the state of sanctifying grace. Also contributing to this salvation process are a host of extra-biblical teachings and practices (liturgies, indulgences, good works, sufferings, penances, rituals, rosaries, Holy Days of Obligations, etc.) which are said to bolster one in grace. All that, however, can be lost by committing a “mortal sin,” which eradicates the sanctifying grace required to get to heaven. If a Catholic dies without being in a state of sanctifying grace, he or she is condemned to hell for eternity. Their only hope is confession and a priest’s absolution of their sins. Only then are Catholics restored to a state of sanctifying grace and re-justified. A Catholic’s life is a slippery slope –  one goes in and out of sanctifying grace and one never has one’s feet solidly and perpetually planted on the solid Rock of Jesus Christ.

Upon their death they enter purgatory where they must be purified from all their temporal sins through suffering its purging flames. It is noteworthy that the Word of God consistently affirms that sins are expiated (cleansed) by blood not by fire. Biblically, the fires of purgatory cannot purge or atone for sin.

Notice also that the Catholic sinner is perpetually tied to the Catholic Church and — so the RCC states — is truly condemned without it because the Catholic church alone, in the form of the priests, is erroneously said to contain the instruments of God’s grace wherein the sinner is restored to full grace. The sacraments are also stated as necessary for salvation. Thus salvation is an on-going, complicated process in the Catholic Church not the free gift of the Bible. The Catholic sinner is more tied to the priest for forgiveness of sin than to Jesus. This truth was visibly shown to me through a skit I viewed at a Catholic school where the sinner went to the priest for confession of her sins instead of going to the cross of Christ that was also present on the stage. She had obviously not been taught the truth of 1John 1:9:

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Notice the phrase “ to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Biblically, Jesus not only forgives but totally cleanses us of all sins. There is no need of a place like purgatory. How different is the beautiful simplicity of  the “free grace” given by Jesus than the never-ending, never-rewarding treadmill of Catholic “salvation” which exhausts its people and will ultimately lead them not to Heaven but to hell for all eternity as a “reward” for all the work they have done. Catholicism is a cruel master, is it not? Its people try so hard and are led to believe that their efforts will result in Heaven, but sadly they, like I, have never been told the truth.

What then is the beautiful simplicity of grace? I have heard it defined as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Yes, God’s infinite, costliest riches at the expense of the blood of His Son. Not because we’ve deserved it or earned it. Simply because His love wanted to give it to us as a gift.

Work Cited:

Annotated bracketed references to Catholic doctrine were obtained from the current official Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Austin Flannery edition of Vatican Council II: The Concilar and Post Concilar Documents.

McCarthy, James G. The Gospel According to Rome. Harvest House, 2007.

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