I recently attended a Roman Catholic Confirmation, and was extremely unsettled by the things I seen and heard. Walking in I see to my right a statue of the virgin Mary with candles, and a place to kneel to pray before her. Behind the statue was a picture of people kneeling before her, and praying to her. What was further unsettling was the overall message from the Bishop about baptism, confession, how a Christian becomes born again.
If Mary was here today among us she would never allow anyone to kneel before her, and certainly point to Christ not herself. This is made ever so clear in the Gospel.
“And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown me these things. 9But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God! ~ Rev 22:9”
We certainly shouldn’t be praying to Mary. She can’t save us, or convince Jesus to. We should praying directly to Jesus.
During the ceremony the Bishop explained to the congregation that we are born again when we were baptized as infants. He at least pointed out that when we are infants we can’t make the conscious decision to accept Christ, but somehow justified this by saying that our parents did it for us. This simply is not what the gospel teaches us my friends. In Romans 10:8-10 Paul teaches us how we become born again.
“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved ~ Romans 10:8-10”
The truth is that until you confess to Jesus personally (no one else can do this for you) will you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and be born again. This is not done with literal water, through a religious ceremony, and it is certainly not done through another person confessing with their lips on your behalf. It is with YOUR heart, and with YOUR mouth. Not someone else’s heart or someone else’s mouth.
The Bishop then talked about confession. Confession via a Catholic Priest to be exact. He said “I don’t where I’d be today without confession.” I’m not sure exactly what that meant but it seems to me he was implying that in order to maintain our salvation it requires a continued life-long process of confessing our sins and it must be done through a Catholic Priest. That we could be forgiven for one sin, commit another sin before our head hits the pillow at night and lose our salvation.
Jesus said “It is finished” when he gave up his Spirit. Jesus made the once for all sacrifice on the cross. He carried the full weight of all sins for all time – past, present, and future. What this means is that all of your sins that you have and will ever commit in your entire life are forgiven to those who believe. Jesus didn’t die for “some” of your sins, he didn’t die for “only the sins you confess to a Catholic Priest.” He didn’t die saying “I’ll get you started, forgive sins in baptism, make you born again, then it’s up to you to take it from there.”
The overwhelming message of the Gospel is trust and believe believe believe! You must believe and accept Jesus as your savior in order to gain eternal life. Because of this you will be justified to the Father and enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus took the full wrath of God for you. There is no partial forgiveness, or temporal punishment to clean the remainder of our sins.
It is not a “works” based salvation. When we stand before the Father someday (and we all will) will you be saved because of how many times you went to confession, how many times you went to mass, how many times you prayed to Mary and the saints, or how much money you gave to charity?
Or are you saved because of what Jesus did on the cross on your behalf? The truth is we are made righteous by faith in Christ. Nothing else.
“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10”
If you do not know God, then you are under the law. If you are under the law then you will be judged by the law. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; ~ Romans 3:10”
If there is no one righteous; not even one and you are trying to work your way into heaven then you have misunderstood the message of the Gospel.
In summary, many of my friends and family are devout Catholics. Please understand it isn’t my desire to offend you but to do as our Lord commands and speak the truth in Love.
Mary has nothing to do with our salvation, even she would acknowledge this if she were walking among us today. She would point to Christ, not say I’ll calm him down, and talk him into saving you. Rather, she would tell you exactly what the Bible says to believe in Him who knew no sin and became sin on our behalf and you will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
We are not born again through the profession of others mouths and hearts. We become born again when we truly accept Jesus Christ into our hearts and acknowledge him as Lord and savior.
Confessing our sins to each other, and before God is essential to our sanctification and spiritual growth. But it is not how we are saved. God is present everywhere and is not limited to only a special elite group of people that He works through to forgive our sins. Confess your sins to him, and to each other, and you will grow spiritually and experience the blessings of God. If you have put your faith and trust in him then your sins are already forgiven. They were nailed to the cross!
If you are a Catholic reading this I implore you – do not take my word for it. Go to the Lord in prayer, and read the Bible. If you believe we are not saved fully, completely, and totally 100% by putting your faith in Jesus, then you are under the law. And if we are under the law, we’re doomed because there are none righteous. Not one. You cannot save yourself, no matter how hard you try, and no matter how good you are.