Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox Churches, and Salvation

This is another email I sent in response to questions that were asked.

In addition to the email I was responding to, I have had several recent emails from supporters of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Most are unable to even consider a thought outside their little boxes, and false beliefs about their “grand” heritage puff them up so they can’t imagine that they have to consider anything except their point of view.

This is why I dismiss their claims …

The Fall of the Church

I generally stick to the fathers from before Nicea because I think that after Nicea the church was basically destroyed. In A.D. 300, perhaps 10% of the empire called themselves Christian, but in A.D. 350 it would have been closer to 90%. That number jumped because the emperor “embraced” Christianity, not because the Gospel actually converted 80% of Roman citizens in 50 years.

Christianity Before the Fall

Before Nicea, I find the agreement among Christian writers remarkable. They have a view of the Trinity that is slightly different from ours, but they completely agree among themselves, and the Nicene Creed expresses their view, not ours. Their description of the basics of the faith is consistent, and their understanding of the church, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper are consistent.

Church leadership changed over that time. Their church meetings got larger, and so they got more organized, more often, and more centered on leaders.

The Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Trees Bearing Fruit

The problem with the Orthodox and Catholics boils down to one Biblical issue. Jesus said that we would know those who spoke for God by their fruit. The Orthodox and Catholics have not had good fruit for centuries, and at times the fruit of the RCC has been as evil as it is possible to be. Even today, almost all Catholics and Orthodox are Christian in name and ritual only. Their faith really doesn’t affect their behavior, and most of them have no idea what it is like to have the Spirit of God living inside of you.

If the fruit is bad, the tree is bad.

Salvation Outside the Church

Yes, both teach that there is no salvation outside the church. How I wish we could still teach that!!!

In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, there was only one church. All churches that held that the apostles had taught the one true Gospel were united. They were holy, they were empowered by God, and they were separate from the world. They were an excellent testimony for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To willingly choose not to be a part of those churches, which constituted the one church and one mother of us all, was clearly a divisive and thus evil act.

Alas, we no longer have such a situation. To choose to be a part of the Catholic or Orthodox church will do you no good at all. If you are holy in their churches, it is because you learned to be holy somewhere else–whether from the Bible or from a Christian that has the Spirit of God. You will not learn to be holy from Catholic or Orthodox teaching.

Thus, they are in no position to say there’s no salvation outside their churches. The fact is, there is very little salvation inside their churches.

Salvation That Is "Revealed"
(Can Be Seen)

Paul said that he was not ashamed of the Gospel because it was the power of God to salvation, producing a justification that was revealed when people believed (Rom. 1:16-17). The RC and Orthodox Gospel produces no such justification.

Words vs. Power

Modern Christians are way too busy throwing words around. The life of Christ is not about words, it is about power. There’s a lot of talk among RC and Orthodox churches, but almost no power. Among Protestants, power to save and justify is found here and there, but you have a lot better shot than among the RC and Orthodox.

Finding People

My advice is always to look for the people who preach a Gospel that saves and that can be seen to save. You will know the good tree by its fruit, not by its empty words.

Hang with those people, and you will learn the doctrines that God cares about.

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25 Responses to Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox Churches, and Salvation

  1. John Michael says:

    Cont'd:

    Amos, the Prophet who wrote the first book of actual prophecies, went from country to country giving God's warnings, for a number of years. 30 or 40 years later they were proved to be from God, so that we would know God's patience.

    People needed time to repent. We need time to grow and show them the true message from God, as the first apostolic churches did. That is people who love one another and others, by the Spirit of Christ, not religionists and other superstitious people.

    As a favorite singer of mine says,"Love Takes Time." Even for superstitious people. We are friends with many people who are currently in denominations of one sort or another, and with sinners, just as Jesus spoke to all. We are not better, in one sense, just further along in walking together, looking to the day that all who are walking with God are made more perfect, in walking together, as He clearly wishes and taught.

  2. John Michael says:

    On unity and fruit:

    While you can pick up your copy of the Bible and read through centuries in a few moments, it really happened very slowly.

    We are not a sect, but a local church who, like our father in heaven, isn't looking to exclude people, but love them into more of the truth.

    Many modern church people apparently think that God is religious, rather than practical, and have all sorts of strange ideas about God that scripture doesn't bear out.

    He says that love fulfills all the law and prophets, and is patient, first of all, and then longsuffering, as well.

    If an individual prophet had a message from God, would everyone instantly listen, even if it was totally true?

  3. John Michael says:

    Paul said his gospel was powerful to change lives and that love was the greatest thing of all, and I actually experience more of the love of God, and his changing power, than anywhere I've ever been. If you find true disciples we want to be in unity with them, and hope you will introduce us. But most of all, I hope you become part of a people who love our father with all their heart. There is nothing like it. We are not meant to live this life alone.

  4. John Michael says:

    Shammah has a saying: "The best way to win most of your arguements is to change to the winning side when you lose", and we care more about what's true, than being right. As of yet, however, you've offered nothing but conjecture, not people of powerfully changed lives. The people here love God and are true disciples, like I've not experienced before, and I don't believe our father is unwilling or unable to impart his spirit to those who are willing to give everything to follow him. Cont'd…

  5. John Michael says:

    I don't think we're the only ones. In fact , I'm pretty certain we're not. And if someone has real power of changed lives, and more of the revelation of our father, I long to receive it. I've known Shammah, Paul, for over 12 years now, and he would likely beat me to it, and has, indeed, searched all over for the testimony of Christ in the earth. there wasn't only falsehood before we came together, but here in America, and in most of the world that we know of, the truth has been mingled with alot of falsehood, and we long for the day when the kngdom of our father reigns in the earth. Cont'd.

  6. Bernard LaPinard says:

    I not only talk with so many different groups I was apart of one (International Church of Christ) and all speak as if before them there was only falsehood. If there wasn’t only falsehood, what was your need to develop your own sect? Why not just join the ones that are saved? If, like some say, you are the one true church, y is it your origin don’t link back to the early years?

    My point? Where’s the unity? Paul, you’re traveling, teaching, as you if guys alone have the truth. See what im saying? it doesn’t add up. Is there no other church u can send them too who has the Spirit? been there, done that.

    U don’t have to believe me. Thats a burden i don’t want to have but take everything in scripture with a childlike heart. Jesus made many general statements cuz his promises are truly for all but His prayer in John 17 and the apostles clearly show that they held the keys. They were clear about the truth being handed down. Disciples making disciples of all nations.

    Im done guys. I appreciate everything. Peace

  7. Bernard LaPinard says:

    …So if you initially did not have the Spirit, meaning you did not belong to God, how did you receive it? Did you yourself follow your line to make sure whoever initiated your path was blessed by a holy man? That scripture in Romans shows you can’t originate on your own.

    The next scripture leads me to ask; What unity did your conversion or the organizing of your group produce with those who are already saved seeing how thats what Jesus prayed for? If what you’re doing is truth, surely, there was somebody doing it before your group started or were everybody condemned til you figured it out?

    Truth should produce unity, not individual sects all across the world. The ancient church broke down because the Truth got lost by some and all these post-reformation churches are its fruit, division after division.

    Paul warns far too much against division for me to ignore it. Jer 32:39 shows that God produces singleness of heart AND action amongst all Believers.

    Im not scared 2 say Im wrong. R U?

    I want Truth

  8. Bernard LaPinard says:

    John, I went thru the same thing U did in RCC. Completed all “sacraments” ‘cept marriage. You guys keep harping on the RCC. Makes me think that you haven’t checked the other ancient churches. Im in the process of doin just what u’ve asked me.

    These are different times when people who don’t even believe in Jesus are doing alot of things to benefit others. His principles are well known across the world so some apply them, mix ’em into their cultures, still worshipping their gods… Many do the same thing under the name of Christianity, worshipping their description of God, as if forging their own salvation. I wish you well in what u have going on but eventually every group face trials that will make ’em question their path. Truth will tell.

    Ro 8:9 And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

    When Jesus prayed for all believers he said “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one.” Jn 17:20,21

    continuing…

  9. John Michael says:

    Bernard, what godly spirit-filled man with his perfect, unbroken baptismal pedigree baptized you? Did he give it to you in writing: Jesus baptized Peter, Peter baptized…etc.? Did you thoroughly research the history of every link, to make sure it was unbroken, ie. that all the men were spiritual and not carnal, since a single break, by your logic, would make God unable to give you his spirit?
    And if you aren't speaking according to the spirit, how do you know what God may do? Why should anyone listen to you, at all, except in the hope of helping you, if you have, by your own reasoning, disqualified yourself by your lack of pedigree? If you're not sure of that, what can you be sure of? If you were mistaken, could you admit it?

  10. Bernard LaPinard says:

    Paul, please don’t twist my words. I said they had to be baptized by a disciple who accepted the teachings of Christ and the apostles. Please read my statements over as when I mentioned the Jews I spoke of the time before Christ came thru mary, when Gentiles had no salvation.

    Melchizedek was the leader of Jerusalem, in which he was shown respect by Abraham as we are to give to ceaser what belongs to him. God establishes the leaders, that doesnt make them saved(i.e, constantine). Ruth and the others either assisted faithful jews and or obeyed a direct word from God or a disciple approached them.

    You’re hang-up with the RCC is telling. The reformers that came from the catholics were in error already as they never received the truth. they tried fixing errors only to produce more error. They all were in the wrong. Instead of starting their own heresy they should’ve joined an obedient sect of the original church.

    Lastly, there are other sects of the ancient church still existing! Non RCC & non EOC.

    • John Michael says:

      Please read my earlier response, so I don't have to reiterate about "baptism lineage". Are you really open to the truth? If God was here working, would you be able to accept it? How do you know by whom any of those people were baptized, those who you claim stiil exist? The only test you have is fruit, and the original teaching of the apostlic churches, which was consistent for 300 years. Paul said that if anyone, including angels, or himself, taught anything other than what he and the rest of the early church was teaching, not to listen. I don't know of one of them that passes the test. When you find one, please let us know. Meanwhile I guess we'll just have to do our best to be obedient to our father, being together in love, and learning to die to ourselves daily that the love of God might flow through us to the rest of the world.

    • shammahbn says:

      I don't think I ever saw this comment, so here I am replying 11 weeks later, sadly.

      I didn't twist your words. Here you are saying that at "the time before Christ came through Mary, the Gentiles had no salvation." That's a quote, and that's what I was disagreeing with. I gave reasons, so I'm not sure what you're talking about when you say I twisted your words.

      I do have a hangup with the RCC. They killed people for translating the Bible into a language the people could read because that led to them escaping from the ignorance and superstition that the priests were teaching them. You can present whatever arguments you want, but I can guarantee you that God has no regard for any succession that includes a church like that.

      If he was going to spew the lukewarm Laodiceans out of his mouth, how much more would he spew the evil medieval Roman Catholic Church out of his mouth!

  11. Bernard LaPinard says:

    Paul,

    Origin is always the test of truth. Tell me, in your church, when did your founder receive the Spirit.

    “God doesn’t listen to sinners.” therefore, a man already with the Spirit has to pray for you. Only such a person, if in accordance with God, can give u what they have (speaking of the Spirit). This is why u can’t originate of yourself. This is why you can’t pray God into your heart. You can’t will the Spirit into you. Godly men were always sent to assist the lost.

    Samuel to Saul.

    Samuel to David.

    Aaron and Joshua learned under Moses.

    All those before Moses was taught/sent by Christ Himself.

    All the prophets sent by Christ.

    Apostles were sent by Christ.

    The 72 elders were ordained by apostles and the body.

    Peter was sent by Christ to the gentiles.

    Paul sent Timothy and Titus.

    That is the consistant example/tradition throughout the scriptures. So please explain how can one become a disciple simply because he/she wholeheartedly desires it. I don’t mind your fervor but truth is truth.

    • John Michael says:

      This is an old post, but, as it appeared as one of those with the most comments, I thought I would take a minute to give a clear answer as to origin.

      You answered it yourself when you said several times that people were sent by Christ, including the prophets.

      In that "tradition" the Holy Spirit descended on Cornelius, not through the laying on of hands, or water baptism, nor through preaching or exhortation, but by the will of God, who spoke at another time through John the Baptist, saying, " I can raise up followers from these stones" to the Jews, who claimed lineage and tradition from Moses.

      Unfortunately God wasn't the least bit interested in their tradition. It was the vain tradition of religious men who left God out of their tradition, were bearing bad fruit, and were, in this same passage (Matthew 3: 8-12) being told that bad trees and chaff like them were going to be burned.

      God was not trying to exclude them, but get them to repent and turn from their traditions to God, Himself.

    • John Michael says:

      Certain traditions are from God to serve a purpose. If they are not serving the intended purpose in any particular instance, it is useless for the persons who, following the letter, have missed the Spirit.

      Therefore, God, who is interested in his purpose, rather than the means, is free to do away with them and/ or replace them at his whim. HE IS GOD, after all.Other traditions, that are today's orthodoxy, were yesterday's heresy, and really originated with men, and God was never interested in them.

      Therefore, traditions from God, leading to God, himself, are good, and the rest is useless.

      George MacDonald said that, in his day, the greatest heresy was a lack of belief in the Spirit of God actually being real, really there, and really active in changing people's lives.

      It is still largely true today. People (I have been one of them) rely on scriptures and traditions that were supposed to help them find God, and largely miss him.

  12. Bernard LaPinard says:

    Look, I’m not a member of any group right now. I’m researching and visiting the ancient churches to see which one has stood the test of time. As I stated above, noone can originate on his/her own and claim to be Spirit filled.

    The teaching was this, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all things, and surely I will be with you always.” Mt 28:18-20

    The tradition of this command is lived out throughout the Acts of the Apostles. U become a disciple of Christ by accepting the message of the apostles (the message of Christ) and being baptized by someone who is a disciple. That has been the teaching/tradition of God, always. Salvation came from the Jews so in that time you would’ve had to be circumcised by the Jews. All other nations were “outside,” without salvation. Same was the promise for those who accepted the apostle’s message.

    Even after Jesus revealed himself to Paul, He sent him to be baptized by a disciple.

    • shammahbn says:

      Hi Bernard,

      I don't think God agrees with you when you say that those that weren't Jews couldn't be saved. He sent a vision to Peter that Peter interpreted to mean that God accepts all those of any nation who fear God and work righteousness (Acts 10).

      Paul agrees with this. He said that the Gentiles who don't have a law will have their conscience as a law, and their conscience can either excuse or condemn them (Rom. 2).

      Jesus did send Paul to be baptized by a disciple. That's an event I quote all the time to Evangelicals.

      However, if you are now saying that "baptized by someone who is a disciple" is enough, then you can't reject the Reformers. All of them were baptized by Roman Catholics. None of them left the church they were a part of. They all stayed in their churches. They simply rejected the pope as leader over those churches.

      Of course, I don't believe any of the Reformers were baptized by disciples. They were very likely all baptized by worldly, ignorant, and corrupt Catholic priests. The fact that *most* priests were like that in their day is the very reason there was a Reformation.

      I doubt seriously any pope in almost 1700 years has been baptized by a Spirit-filled person.

      So if the issue is to be baptized by a disciple, and you have to trace a string of disciples back to Jesus, we're all in trouble!

      But then, God has never felt himself bound by that kind of religious superstition. He has constantly gone outside of the status quo to raise up his own disciples using people like Rahab, Ruth, Cornelius, Melchizedek, and whoever else he's wanted to use.

      Paul explained why. It's not the children of the flesh who are Jews, but it is those who share the faith of Abraham.

  13. Bernard LaPinard says:

    to John:

    1. truth is, both scripture and the fathers teach that there is Tradition and there is tradition. Tradition, being the “teachings” (as translated in the newer bibles) of Christ as passed down verbally and written and there is the tradition of men, which is to be neglected if it nullifies the Word of God.

    2. The RCC & the EOC are not the only existing ancient churches.

    3. There are some ancient churches as those two who’s sins led to total expulsion as you explained and there are some existing ancient churches who are simply weak, needing repentance & some possibly luke warm.

    4. What example or teaching do you have at all confirming you can originate on your own, invoke the Spirit without the help of someone who has the Spirit? The protestant movement, the anabaptist, all these other groups outside of the ancient church has NOT one founder who can say he was baptized by one who already had the Spirit.

    They originated on their own; against all teaches of scripture and the fathers.

    • John Michael says:

      This is a foolish answer, but for your sake I'll become a fool. Have you been baptized by these "ancient churches"? I have. I grew up Roman Catholic: baptized as an infant, received "the sacraments" of confession, communion, and was confirmed at the age of accountabilty. I served at the altar as a boy. I rode my bicycle to church, catechism, and altar boy meetings, while my parents only attended on holidays, if at all. As a child, I strongly considered being a priest. I hungered and thirsted to know the truth, so I said my prayers, read the scriptures, and asked questions.
      Were the persons I was baptized by full of the spirit? I don't know. Do you know if those currently in the "ancient churches" have been baptized by persons who are full of full of the spirit? Do you even know if the line of baptism from the apostles to these people has remained unbroken? (Continued…)

    • John Michael says:

      (Continued): By your own arguement, both Shammah and myself have as much right to be considered disciples in the line from the apostles as anyone in the ancient churches. and more, because we actually care enough about what the our Lord and the apostles taught that we continue after 48 years (that would be me) and 49 years (Shammah), we continue to seek to know and understand everything they and the early church fathers really taught, so we can not only be obedient to the commands of Christ, but learn to live out every day and moment pleasing to the heart of our father.
      The problem is, that it became clear to us that the RCC as a whole was not obedient, didn't care about the truth, was wordly, arrogant, was unloving, unkind, not in unity in any sense that mattered, and we therefore had to find something true and better. Cont'd…

    • John Michael says:

      Cont'd… For that matter, you nor I know who these men who had started these various groups had at one time had been baptized by (do you?) but we have Jesus' clear teaching for prophets in Matthew 7, Where he tells us that you know a tree by it's fruit, that good trees bear good fruit, bad trees bear bad fruit, and that every tree that bears bad fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire. Come and taste and see, that the fruit here, where people live to do the will of the father, is good, not by the power of men, but by God, in response to yielded lives.

  14. Bernard LaPinard says:

    So because they’re in sin, u take it upon yourself to teach something opposite of the father’s? Unless u have a command from God saying that when the church is in sin, go elsewhere, u cannot go outside and find a “church.” U sound smarter than God cuz He could’ve done that instead of sending prophet after prophet to a rebellious Israel. Paul called the struggling churches to repentance. Jesus in Revelations called the churches to repentance. The father’s called the struggling churches to repentance. Many reading this likely don’t know the father’s writings, you should be very careful in giving directions as facts.

    No man can invoke the Spirit unto himself and the whole prostestant movement was initiated by a man in complete sin. His fruit? A multitude of churhes with different doctrines all claiming to have the Spirit. Some fruit. Some unity.

    I understand it looks dim amongst the RCC & EOC but God only needs one man willing to die for Truth to make some changes, not run away in their own wisdom.

    • John Michael says:

      What is the teaching to which you are referring? If you knew the writings of the early fathers, you'd know they clearly taught that, as stated, the teaching of the apostles was what made a church from God, not tradition. The book of Revelation (Apocalypse, to you?) begins with Jesus himself warning churches they WILL be cut off if they don't repent. How many hundreds and thousands of years do you have to be totally disobedient and substitute traditions of men for the truth of God before you get cut off? How many people do you have to torture, kill, mislead and turn from God before He has mercy on your victims and gives them something better? (Continued…)

    • John Michael says:

      (Cont'd) Jesus told certain Jews that they were sons of Satan. Paul taught that the Jews that didn't follow God were branches that had been cut off the tree of Isreal and that those gentiles that believed and followed the truth were grafted in their place, but should continue so that they would not be cut off, as well. Paul, an apostle, even stated that he thought that he could be cut off, if he failed to continue to follow God accordingly. (He was not in "apostolic succession", but an apostle, himself!) There are clear pictures of the Apostolic churches in the ante-nicene fathers. The RCC & EOC neither look like them or speak like them. Maybe because they are not them?

    • shammahbn says:

      1. When you say "something opposite of the fathers," you are saying nothing more than "something opposite of what I believe," unless you can give some reference to what the fathers taught.

      2. Whether or not the Protestant movement was initiated by a man in complete sin is irrelevant to my post.

      3. Whether or not the Protestant churches are divided, worldly, or have good fruit is irrelevant to my post.

      4. It not only looks dim among the RCC and EOC, but their claim to be "the church" is based on the flawed idea that Jesus Christ founded an organization. The hierarchy of the RCC and EOC were unknown to Scripture or early church history. Thus, they not only are not the church, but they can't be the church.

      The church is the family of those spiritually connected in Jesus Christ in a local area, where they can actually speak to and help one another. That's what it was in Acts, that's what it was in early church history. and that's all it will ever be able to be if you want good fruit.

      Calling hierarchies that cannot ever be the church to repentance is a waste of time unless it's a call for them to forsake their positions and disband their hierarchy.

      And I am calling for that :-D. Everywhere I'm able!

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