Catholic Sacraments: A Ruthless Trafficking in Human Souls

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By Richard Bennett and Stuart Quint

 

Before a general audience in Rome in 2013, Pope Francis declared:

“First of all, the communion of the Sacraments. The Sacraments express and realize an effective and profound communion among us, for in them we encounter Christ the Saviour and, through him, our brothers and sisters in faith. The Sacraments are not mere appearances, they are not rituals; they are the power of Christ; Jesus Christ is present in the Sacraments. When we celebrate the Eucharist it is the living Jesus who brings us together, forms us into a community, allows us to adore the Father. Each one of us, in fact, through Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, is incorporated into Christ and united to the entire community of believers. Therefore, if on the one hand it is the Church that ‘makes’ the Sacraments, on the other, it is the Sacraments that ‘make’ the Church, that build her up, by generating new children, by gathering them into the holy people of God, by strengthening their membership.”[1]

Note the brazen claim of the Pope: “The Sacraments express and realize an effective and profound communion among us.”

The truth is that “effective and profound communion” comes only through Jesus Christ alone.  Communion with Christ does not come through any ritual or Sacrament!  Scripture states, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”[2] True believers believe on Jesus Christ alone; “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”[3] True believers “of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.”[4]  Such fullness of grace derives from Jesus Christ alone, not from any Church or any mechanical ceremony of any Church!

Rome’s Sacramental Monopoly on Men’s Souls Upheld by Pope Francis

Pope Francis echoes the official Catholic teaching regarding the Sacraments in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Code of Canon Law.[5]

“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.  ‘Sacramental grace’ is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament.” [6]

Do not miss the point: Rome teaches that sacraments are “necessary for salvation”.  Francis continues Rome’s historical dogma: Whoever does not partake of Rome’s sacraments in a Catholic Church is damned forever!

Official Catholic Teaching; Rebirth by Baptism

Rome teaches baptism as “the basis of the whole Christian life” and “the door which gives access to the other sacraments”:

“Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the [Catholic] Church and made sharers in her mission.”[7]

“By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.” [8]

Rome Distorts the Lord’s Command to Believe and Be Baptized

What does Christ command for a person to find salvation in Him?  “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.”[9]

Notice the stark contrast between Christ and Roman Catholic teaching. Christ commands us first to “believe”, to trust and lay our hope in Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross through God’s grace alone as our sole hope for salvation.

Conversely, the chief sin that damns a person in unbelief, a lack of trust in Christ.  Proof of this fact is found in the fact of the omission in the second half of the verse.  It is NOT “he that is not baptized shall be damned,” but rather “he that believes not.”

Even if a person were baptized yet believes not, that person will be damned.  We sinners deserve the wrath of God not merely because of our sin nature, but because of our own personal sin.  Nothing can placate the Lord God’s justice except our reliance on Christ’s one-time sacrifice to wash away our sin.  “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.[10]

Rome Exalts Its Sacraments Above Christ’s Gospel

The sacramental “power promises” of the Roman Church deceive people into a false sense of security.  They also mock the holiness and mercy of the Lord God.

Clearly, the official teaching of the Vatican on baptism is a spurious counterfeit in place of true saving faith.  Believing on Christ Jesus is life and salvation.  Faith in Christ’s atonement is necessary for salvation. Christ taught, “he that hears my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” [11]

Baptism, while important, does not infuse salvation.  The Lord commanded baptism.[12]  It testifies to saving faith and is a public declaration of the finished work of Christ applied to an individual soul.

The Tension between Biblical Forgiveness and Roman Catholic Confession

God forgives sins of people who repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins.”[13]

When a person rests on the finished work of the Lord Christ Jesus, God guarantees absolute forgiveness and imputes His righteousness: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”[14]  Thus the Gospel is the power of God to salvation as the Apostle Paul proclaimed.  When a believer sins, that person confesses his or her sin directly to God, who Alone can pardon.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[15]

In the sacrament of confession, the Roman Catholic Church teaches a method of forgiveness of sins contrary and foreign to God’s Word:

“One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he remembers after having carefully examined his conscience.” [16]

The Catholic priest grants “absolution”, or forgiveness, with these words: “I absolve you from your sins/in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In other words, the priest takes the place of God in granting forgiveness!

Rome distorts Christ’s teaching to defend the baseless practice of absolution by a priest:

“‘On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,’ Jesus showed himself to his apostles.  ‘He breathed on them, and said to them: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ (John 20:19, 22-23).[17]

A Biblical Response to the Error of Catholic Confession

A study of the actual words of John 20:23, “Whose sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose sins you retain, they are retained,” shows Jesus defines forgiveness as that proclaimed through the Gospel.  Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church misquotes John 20:23, which does not have an “if” clause.

Here the Lord has declared the Gospel in a few words.  The Lord gave authority to his disciples to declare forgiveness to those whom God had already forgiven.  The commission given in this passage in John is parallel to similar passages such as Luke 24:47, Matthew 28:18-20, and Mark 16:15-16.  This is the way the apostles understood and obeyed the Great Commission, as evidenced throughout the Acts of the Apostles.

Christ Jesus did not appoint confessors to probe intimately into every sin of people’s lives.  Rather He commissioned preachers of His Gospel.  Christ will cause people to hear the preachers’ message.  The Holy Spirit seals on the hearts of believers the grace of the atonement obtained through Christ alone.

Scripture teaches that God forgives sins on the proclamation of the Gospel, not the whispering of sins committed into the ear of some man in a confession box!

The Mass Rejects Christ’s Complete and One-Time Sacrifice!

The Church of Rome portrays the dying Christ as “the sacred victim” in their Eucharist.  The center of their worship is the ritual of the Mass.  All the Catholic people, under pain of mortal sin, are required to attend.  The Roman Church dramatizes its bold claim that the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of her Eucharist are one single sacrifice.

The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: ‘The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.’  ‘In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.’”[18]

Through the Mass, the Eucharist is central to Catholicism, Bible believers ought to have real compassion for Catholics who are taught this demonic doctrine.  Striving to appease God with an ongoing sacrifice de facto denies the all-sufficiency of Christ’s once and finished work on the cross!

The Lord Jesus is the sole sacrificial Priest of the New Testament.  He finished the work of our salvation by one sole offering.  The Scriptures repeatedly establish this truth.  The substance of this is found in the Lord’s declaration from the Cross, “It is finished.”[19] The unique nature of Christ’s sacrifice consists of this very fact. It was one offering.

The truth of the excellence of Christ’s sacrifice is highlighted by the word “once”, as for example when the Scripture declares, “For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God.[20] and “Who needs not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.[21]

The Church of Rome goes beyond a mere claim of possessing Christ’s sacrifice for herself.  Rome also teaches that in her “blessed sacrament”, the white wafer contains the physical Christ and His soul and divinity.

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’”[22]

Catholics are thus taught that in the bread “the whole Christ” is present.  Rome deceives Catholics look to this Christ, “substantially contained” in the bread.  This is flagrantly deceitful and causes Catholics to engage in idolatry with the physical bread!

Rome also claims the physical bread and wine cause God to make that person holy:

Holy Communion separates us from sin.  By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins.[23]

Rome teaches the physical “Eucharist” unites a person to Christ and consequently “separates” him from sin.

Such teachings as these come under the eternal curse of perverting the Gospel of Christ.  Christ’s words are spirit and life, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth.[24]  To propose an oral ingesting of Christ’s flesh is bad enough, what is asserted is much more.  Rome holds that “the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins.[25]

These are enticing words of human philosophy teaching are the age-old pagan tradition of looking to a physical substance to gain life.  What makes the doctrine all the more repulsive is that this very teaching mocks the justice of the All Holy God: “Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law.[26]

The Lord’s Supper as Remembrance, Not Catholic “Hocus Pocus”[27]

The remembrance of Christ at the Lord’s Table is that spiritual communion with God and with His people that is celebrated.  In the New Jerusalem this communion will be face to face as outlined by the Apostle John, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be:  but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.[28]

For now, the reality of our fellowship with the Lord is celebrated in signs, and not face-to-face. “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”[29]

The New Testament observance is intimate spiritual communion with Him, done in remembrance of Christ the Lord, not by ingesting physical substances that were never intended to render spiritual transformation themselves.

Conclusion: Trust in Christ, Not in False Roman Catholic Sacraments

Biblically, the believer’s salvation is founded on Christ and His righteousness alone.  An individual’s faith begins and ends in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and not in the ordinances that He has given.

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper bear witness to the Lord’s finished work of salvation.  However, these ordinances are neither the Lord Himself nor His power.

As an individual believes on “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,”[30] he knows that “of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.[31]  Only God possess full grace.  It is not delegated to any church or any ceremony of a church.

The Roman Catholic Church’s teaching of physical signs as necessary for salvation is a futile exchange of her sacraments for Him, the Lord and giver of life.  It is a blasphemous denial of Him and His perfect finished sacrifice.

Calling “sacramental grace” as “the grace of the Holy Spirit” separates a person’s soul from God and earns eternal condemnation.  It is also sacrilege against the All Holy God.

Scripture proclaims God’s grace to consist of His righteousness directly imputed to the believer in Jesus Christ alone, not rituals or physical sacraments.  This is justification, necessary for salvation in God’s plan and purpose. Because God is a Spirit, so worship of Him, including the Lord’s two ordinances, must be in spirit and in truth.  “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.[32]

The merchandise of Rome in her sacramental system is of a most serious matter on two counts.  Firstly “our God is a consuming fire”.[33]  Secondly, Catholic sacraments traffic in the souls of men.  The Holiness of God demanded the perfect satisfaction of Christ Jesus in His absolute faithfulness and His perfect blood sacrifice.  The Gospel in which finished work of the Lord is proclaimed is such as not to be spoken against without dreadful consequences.

Both Christ’s perfect sacrifice and His Gospel are manifestly and blasphemously denied in Papal Rome’s teaching and practice.  His Divine Person is denigrated in Papal Rome’s purporting to offer His sacrifice daily.

In Rome’s ritually usurping His place and sacrifice, she has become His greatest adversary.  The supreme enemy of Christ and His Gospel is not the materialism, lust, and pride of men, but spiritual apostasy that pretends to stand in His place.

Let our dear Catholic reader hear the clear command of Christ recorded in Scripture; “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.[34]

Christ Jesus Himself has graciously declared, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.[35] He came to free His people from the yoke of works and religion that can never satisfy God’s holiness or make a person truly free from sin.  That glorious display of Christ’s greatness is seen only in this invitation.  It is the duty and interest of weary and heavy-laden sinners to come to Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is the answer to the essential problem that we all face, how can we, as unholy sinners, be right before the all Holy God.  In the first chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul says: “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written. The just shall live by faith.[36]  Only Christ Jesus can answer your problem. No earthly ritual can. ¨


[1] https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20131106_udienza-generale.html  accessed on December 18, 2017.

[2] Romans 5:2. Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptural quotes come from the King James Version.

[3] John 1:14

[4] John 1:16

[5] http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_INDEX.HTM  accessed on December 18, 2017.

[6] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Para 1129. Author’s emphasis.  See http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM  accessed on December 18, 2017.

[7] Catechism, Para. 1213.

[8] Catechism, Para. 1263.

[9] Mark 16:15. Authors’ emphasis.

[10] Ephesians 2:8-9

[11] John 5:24

[12] Matthew 28:19

[13] Acts 13:38

[14] Ephesians 1:7

[15] 1 John 1:9

[16] Catechism, Para. 1493.  Author’s emphasis.

[17] Catechism, Para. 1485.  Author’s emphasis.

[18] Catechism, Para. 1367

[19] John 19:30

[20] Romans 6:10. Authors’ emphasis.

[21] Hebrews 7:27. Authors’ emphasis.

[22] Catechism, Para. 1374.  Authors’ emphasis.

[23] Catechism, Para. 1395.  Authors’ emphasis.

[24] John 6:63

[25] Catechism, Para. 1395.  Authors’ emphasis.

[26] Hebrews 10:8

[27] “Hocus Pocus” derives from the Latin words spoken by the priest during the Mass in pre-Reformation times: “Hoc est corpus meum.”  (“This is my body.”)

[28] 1 John 3:2

[29] Luke 22:20

[30] John 1:14

[31] John 1:16

[32] John 4:24

[33] Hebrews 12:29

[34] 2 Corinthians 6:17

[35] Matthew 11:28

[36] Romans 1:16-7