The Real Versus the Un-real | Real Salvation

Roman Catholic Claim

Best of all, the promise of eternal life is a gift, freely offered to us by God (CCC 1727). Our initial forgiveness and justification are not things we "earn" (CCC 2010). Jesus is the mediator who bridged the gap of sin that separates us from God (1 Tim. 2:5); he bridged it by dying for us. He has chosen to make us partners in the plan of salvation (1 Cor. 3:9).

The Catholic Church teaches what the apostles taught and what the Bible teaches: We are saved by grace alone, but not by faith alone (which is what "Bible Christians" teach; see (Jas 2:24)
Christian Response

We notice that the Roman Catholic defender says that "the promise of eternal life is a free gift." This is Roman Catholic doublespeak. Rome gives the impression that salvation is a free gift. But it is not so in Rome. The "promise of eternal life" is a gift of God but eternal life itself is contingent upon works of merit in Rome.

What exactly is meant by "the promise of eternal life is a gift freely offered to us by God"? It means that to get the gift of eternal life there are strings attached. Rome believes that a gift is free if you can attain it. Christians believe that a gift is free. Christians believe that for a gift to be a gift it must be free of charge. Rome believes that a gift can still be a gift if it is earned.

This brings us to the eternal chasm that separates Christians from Roman Catholics. Roman Catholics are taught that salvation is free and all of grace because God invented it. Roman Catholics are taught that the free gift of salvation centers in the origination of a plan of salvation in the mind of God. The "gift" aspect of the Roman Catholic gospel is the sending of Jesus Christ to die on the cross and put in motion a plan of salvation. Since man could not conjure up a plan of salvation, Rome insists that the plan is the "gift" of salvation from God. The words "gift" of God and "grace" of God begin and end with the conceptualization and implementation of a plan of salvation. Of course Rome is adamant that she alone understands the plan of salvation and builds her religion around it.

To illustrate let us suppose that Thor, the Norse god of thunder, wanted to save a colony of ants. The ants have no way of coming up with a plan of eternal life that would land them in a heavenly colony with Thor. So, in his grace, Thor sets up a plan. It is his plan. It will be his gift to give eternal life to a colony of ants. Whatever conditions Thor puts upon an ant to achieve eternal life will still be of 'grace' and a 'gift.' If Thor says the ants must march through fire, sacrifice themselves in water, starve themselves to death or achieve extraordinary success within the colony to be saved it is still of 'grace' and a 'gift.' Why? Because the entire plan of salvation was thought up by Thor. No ant could achieve salvation by his own plan. No ant could conjure up such a deal. Thor did it and it is of grace and a gift because Thor brought it down to the ants. If Thor says that ants must satisfy Thor for their sins by punishments it is still 'of grace' and salvation is still a 'gift.' The ants did not invent it. The ants are only carrying out the plan of salvation.

This is not a far fetched illustration. Listen to the words of Rome.
"The council teaches furthermore that the liberality of the divine munificence [kindness or generosity] is so great that we are able through Jesus Christ to make satisfaction to God the Father not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken by ourselves to atone for sins, or by those imposed by the judgment of priests according to the measure of our offense, but also, and this is the greatest proof of love, by temporal afflictions imposed by God and borne patiently by us." Council of Trent Fourteenth Session
Essentially, Roman Catholics are taught that God in His magnificent grace has given freely the gift of salvation to all those who follow His plan. Rome claims to have the plan. The plan is to get the gift by earning it. Once one sees that the gift is the right to earn the right to be worthy of the gift then Romanism becomes very clear. Rome sees no contradiction between a true gift and a gift of earning the gift. In Rome, it is the grace of God and His wonderful free gift that allows man to warrant his own salvation. Or, in other words, the gift of grace in Rome is the gift of striving to attain it.

Rome also believes that the offer of salvation is a gift because they baptize passive babies with the claim that baptism washes away original sin. Hence, in Rome, babies experience their first justification passively as a free gift of God in the waters of baptism. This then qualifies salvation as being initially free but later earned as babies grow up to sin and are in need of second, third, fourth and so on justifications.

Christians believe the exact opposite. Both cannot be right. Christians believe that salvation, not only the promise of salvation, but salvation itself is of the grace of God and is a real gift of God. Christians understand that the plan of salvation is all of God and hence a gift of His eternal grace. But Christians also believe that the plan of salvation is to give eternal life freely based only upon the condition of faith. Furthermore, this faith condition is fully satisfied by God Himself Who freely gives faith that we might believe. So then even though faith is the demand and condition of salvation, it too is freely satisfied by God Who grants faith where there is only unbelief. Now this is real grace and it is a real gift.

Let us set forth a Bible passage and see the dramatic difference between Roman Catholicism and Christianity in the interpretation and application of this one important verse.
EPH 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

EPH 2:9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
Rome would agree with the apostle Paul using her own understanding of faith and grace. When the apostle says, "For by grace you have been saved", Rome understands God's grace as the giving of the plan of salvation. This plan includes the getting of God's grace in infant baptism and through the rest of the sacraments. To be saved by grace in Rome is to acknowledge the plan of salvation as being all of God's doing and the getting of grace through the sacraments as a part of God's plan. When enough grace is gotten then one is saved. Hence Rome cries "salvation by grace!"

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