You know I wrote this over the years (added in a comment from a friend and admin here –Preston Greene) . I never posted it nor realized it was still in my files until today. So please if you find error (there is always some to fix) let me know.
When I found this article, I felt it might be right to post it in light of a friend trusting in Mary’s mercy to save him. Please dear friend, if you are reading this, just read prayerfully and humbly to Him, it doesn’t matter what I think personally, but only what is truth.
Most of this is by Ray Stanford as noted below, but lived out by Gilbert’s life as raised in Roman Catholicism, but subsequent turn to belief in Jesus Christ alone as His Savior.
My husband of almost twenty years (Gilbert) was raised a Roman Catholic, but he died a believer in Jesus Christ alone (11-2-2009). Although I grew up in a heavily populated Jewish and Catholic neighborhood, I didn’t know much about their beliefs regarding salvation except for Fish Fridays and when they gave up things for ‘Lent’. Sometimes they’d show me their medals with pictures of what looked like little Roman gods in their flowing gowns.
I came to learn some basic things about how they prayed to saints and to Mary — but even as a young girl, I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t pray directly to God. Jesus is our mediator, He is our High priest, He ever lives to make intercession for us. They couldn’t really tell me why either (except that they believed she was the ‘mother of God’), but back then I didn’t realize the difference between what they were taught they must do to be saved, and what the Bible says one must do in order to be saved.
I realize it’s not that simple for some who may even make their living in Catholic apologetics or who were raised entirely in that religion. I suggest you be willing to try with strictly the Word of God in context — lose all extra-biblical material (1 Cor 4:6).
When I met my husband Gilbert in 1990, he had just come out of Roman Catholicism and one of his friends was fervently trying to ‘save’ him from this error (May the Lord bless that friend and his family with the truth please).
But Gilbert knew back then (in the very beginning of his walk), that he had finally stumbled onto truth (Christ the Rock, the only foundation), and he possessed the free gift of eternal life simply by believing upon Jesus vs. the church. Gilbert had a book from his (I’m sure sincere) friend Mark, sitting on his dash on our first date. How baffling that the friend provided a Roman Catholic apologetic vs. the Word of God to ‘convert’ him back from the truth. Friends, shouldn’t we stand on His Word alone? Do you want to be right in your sight, your church or priest’s sight, or His? Right in the sight of men or God? Do we seek to please men or God?
Gilbert shared with me all the things he had been taught (and questioned) over the years growing up. The many questions he had asked the priests (that they could not satisfactorily answer or would not) — this troubled him (and actually angered him he said). He shared that he grew more bitter and angry over the years and didn’t know why. He shared about the uncertainty he had about death, limbo, purgatory and more — and he was finally starting to have answers through the truth of the gospel, and through being in the Word of God. Going to church or mass, or being a good Catholic would never save him, but believing on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior — crucified for his sins and risen again would (and did).
I remember Gilbert challenging another Roman Catholic friend with “how do you know where you will go when you die?” She got so angry at his prodding (I was trying to pacify the situation thinking he was pushing too hard, or maybe too direct) that she snapped at him. How foolish I was, and how right he was, how bold. This was her very life at stake. She evidently was unsettled enough by the questions to go seek the truth herself, and she eventually came to know Christ was the only way to the Father. She believed upon Christ and Him crucified for her sins, once for all — all her trespasses forgiven at the cross. Gilbert was just a man with plenty of flesh left (as I do) but he shared the truth with her, and she believed, and she now possesses eternal life.
Gilbert was right, it’s a matter of life and death. Do you know where you will go if you die today? (Another question he asked another set of friends).
Do you want to gamble your eternal destination for your religion? You want to end up in hell with no second chances? (There is no purgatory in God’s Word). Being religious will not save you, Gilbert was the first to share how human he was even though saved from eternal fire. It was no good works He had done, but by the perfect and finished work of Christ on the Cross. God has a way of humbling us, softening us up (one way or another) though.
My friend Preston Greene (facebook page) had this to share awhile back (I don’t know when – sorry Preston):
The crux of the problem from the “religious”.
Believe means “to put confidence in; to trust”.
Religion gets people to trust—
- the law
- good works
- church affiliation
How many “professing Christians” are actually trusting (believing) in Jesus for their salvation? Unfortunately it is very few. Most seem to be trusting in how good they are. Why? because that is what is being preached in the pulpits today and it “feeds” the sinful ego. EQ
What must I do to be saved?
One (just one) of the works one must do in order to be saved (in the RC church among others), is water baptism — infant baptism.
My husband’s mom was worried for the children, because we hadn’t had them water baptized in the Catholic Church (I think she snuck a few over when they were little to the church next door), it had no power over them. I know the (kind) of baptism )for the free gift of eternal life seen in God’s Word) has nothing to do with water, although believers do get water baptized as an outward confession of faith after we have placed our faith in Christ. This is a public act before men, commanded in Acts 10:48 for those who have already been baptized by the Holy Spirit upon belief.
The cleansing spoken (baptism in the name of the Lord), not the cleansing of the flesh (1 Pet 3:20), is the one we get when a believer is baptized into the body of Christ (John 7:37-39; 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:4-6; Rom 8:9).
Jesus didn’t tell the thief on the cross, “surely you’ll be with Me in purgatory today”. No, the thief would be WITH JESUS, absent from the body, present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6-8).
John the Baptist baptized with water, but he said the One that came after him (Jesus Christ) would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
by Ray Stanford
“The Lord Jesus Christ never baptized anyone with water the whole time He was on earth. If water baptism were necessary for salvation, then Christ would have been withholding salvation from everyone He dealt with.”
Ephesians 4:5 says that there is “one baptism” which God recognizes today. And I Corinthians 12: 13 describes it clearly: “For by one SPIRIT are we all (no believers excluded) baptized into one body . . . and have been all made to drink into one SPIRIT.” Notice that the “one Spirit” and “one baptism” of Ephesians 4: 4, 5 parallel perfectly with the “one Spirit” and “one body” of I Corinthians 12:13. THIS is the baptism (or cleansing) necessary for salvation. This baptism is performed by God, not by man.
HOW AND WHEN THE BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT IS RECEIVED
For you to be a child of God you must have the Holy Spirit for God says, “. . . Now if any man have NOT the Spirit of Christ, HE IS NONE OF HIS” (Romans 8:9). John 1:12, 13 tells us we become children of God, born of Him, WHEN we receive Christ by faith. And WHEN we receive Christ, we also receive the Spirit.
“And in Him you Gentiles also, after listening to the message of the truth, the good news of your salvation- having believed in Him-were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit . . .” (Eph. 1:13, Weymouth trans., 3rd ed.).
Jesus said in John 7:39, “But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive….” The Holy Spirit is given to believers at the moment of salvation, and He indwells them forever.
“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (I Cor. 6:19)
The letter of I Corinthians was written to ALL believers (1:2), so then, ALL BELIEVERS are indwelt by the Spirit and have received His baptism or cleansing.
PASSAGES SOME PEOPLE THINK TEACH WATER BAPTISM FOR SALVATION
Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
You will discover what this verse means if you keep these important things clear in your mind:
- To be “baptized” means to be “cleansed.”
- These unbelieving Jews were pricked in their hearts when Peter reminded them that they had a part in crucifying Jesus. And Peter tells them to be CLEANSED of this sin “IN the NAME of Jesus Christ”-the very One they helped crucify.
- Peter said to be “baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ.” Some assume that Peter meant for these people to be baptized in water, and as they were being baptized, Peter would say over them, “I baptize you in the Name of Jesus Christ.” However, this is not what God has recorded. It is what men have added. GOD says these people were cleansed in CHRIST’S NAME. Remember, His Name means “God who saves, keeps, satisfies,” etc. There is cleansing power in His Name!
- Notice, when these people were cleansed in Christ, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this is another verse showing that the baptism or cleansing that accompanies salvation is of the Spirit -not of water.
- Notice, it says the GIFT of the Holy Spirit. If you needed water baptism for salvation or to receive the Holy Spirit, neither salvation nor the Holy Spirit would be a GIFT of God, but of the works of men.
When “baptism” refers to water, it means to be made fully wet; when it refers to salvation, it means to be fully or completely cleansed by the Spirit. Acts 2:41 records that 3,000 trusted Christ as the result of Peter’s message. If the baptism here were referring to WATER baptism, where could Peter baptize 3,000 people? He and all the people were in the Temple area, and there was NO WATER THERE except for a small laver in which the priests washed their hands and feet before entering into the Holy Place. But verse 41 says that these 3,000 souls were added to the disciples that “same day.” In the entire passage water is not mentioned even once.
Literally translated, Acts 2: 3 8 could read, “Then Peter said unto them, Change your mind, and be CLEANSED every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Please notice four things about this verse:
( 1 ) Only unbelief condemns. Being water baptized or not being water baptized has nothing to do with it.
- The baptism here is Spirit baptism, not water
- He that believeth and is cleansed shall be saved. We do the believing, and God does the cleansing. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed; but ye are sanctified; but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11 ).
The passage in Mark 16, “from verse 9 to the end (of the chapter) is not found in the two most ancient manuscripts, the Sinaitic and Vatican, and others have it with partial omissions and variations. But it is quoted by Irenaeus and Hippolytus in the second or third century” (Scofield’s note 1, by Mark 16:9) .
John 3:5, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Some people think this verse is referring to water baptism because it says you must be “born of water.” But let me ask you a question. Are BIRTH and BAPTISM the same thing? Of course not! If Christ wanted to say, “You must be baptized of water,” He would have said so. But He said, “born of water,” and Jesus knew the difference between the two.
Consider the context. The first time Jesus told Nicodemus of the new birth, He said, “Except a man be BORN again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (verse 3). Nicodemus thought Christ’s statement was referring to another physical birth. In fact, he asked, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (verse 4)
We KNOW that the BIRTH OF WATER in John 3:5 cannot mean water baptism. There are at least three things this could mean within the context and without contradicting other parts of the Word of God:
( 1 ) Some Bible scholars believe that being “born of water” refers to physical birth. Notice Christ’s reply to Nicodemus that a man has to be BORN (the subject throughout is BIRTH, not baptism) of water and the Spirit. Christ was saying, “Nicodemus, you must be born of water (physical birth) and the Spirit (new birth).” Why is it said that being “born of water” refers to physical birth? Because of Christ’s clear explanation in the very next verse, “That which is born of the FLESH is flesh; and that which is born of the SPIRIT is Spirit” ( v.6). Jesus then said, “Marvel not ( don’t be surprised ) that I said unto thee, “Ye must be BORN again.”
( 2 ) Other Bible scholars believe that being “born of water” refers to the Holy Spirit. Throughout the Gospel of John water is used as an illustration to point to Christ as the giver of “living water,” as in John 4:6-14. Christ asked the woman at Jacob’s well for a drink of water and also told the woman that He could give her water as well…. But the water He gives is not “H20”…. The water that He gives is a “well of water springing up into everlasting life” (v. 14). In John 7:39 Christ gave this explanation of “living water”: “But this spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive….”
The Greek word for “and” in John 3:5 is “kai.” Quoting from Strong’s Concordance, #2532, we find that this word is a “primitive participle, having a copulative ( joining together) and sometimes also a cumulative force.” Besides being translated “and” it is also translated “indeed, likewise, moreover,” etc.
To paraphrase John 3:5, then, it could read, “. . . except a man be born of water (the living water Christ gives), indeed, by the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
(3) Still other Bible scholars believe the birth of water in John 3:5 is speaking of the “washing of the Word” as is mentioned in Ephesians 5:26 and Titus 3:5.
The important thing for us to know is that salvation is always and only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and this passage in John 3:5 in no way suggests water baptism for salvation.
For someone to conclude that John 3:5 is referring to WATER BAPTISM, he would have to ignore completely the entire context of the third chapter.
I Peter 3:21, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
This verse isn’t even speaking of salvation of a person’s soul, but of being saved or delivered from a guilty conscience of not obeying God. (In this case, obeying God by being water baptized AFTER salvation!)
However, those who believe water baptism is essential for salvation often use this verse, so we will go into some detail on its explanation. (But in all the times this verse has been used, I have never yet had a single person quote more than the first part of the verse-”The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us….”)
It is as if Satan has put blinders on these people, for they fail to see that the verse goes on to state clearly that this salvation is not a salvation which in any way puts “away the sins of the flesh.” Notice how emphatic the Lord is: “NOT the putting away of the filth of the flesh….” Yet time and time again when I have pointed this out to those who think this verse teaches baptismal regeneration, they act as if they had never seen the last part of the verse before. But the Lord put it there to keep us from being confused.
But someone will say, “The verse does say ‘baptism doth also now save us.’ “ Yes, it does, and the Word of God tells us what it saves us from.
The verse itself, with the context, answers the question, “what does baptism save us from?” Verse 20 says that “eight souls (Noah and his family) were saved by water.” The word “by” literally should read “through” the water. You can check this yourself in any number of other good translations-American Standard Version, Williams, Weymouth, New English Bible, etc.
It is certainly clear when you read of the flood in Genesis, chapter seven, that people were not saved BY the water. They were condemned and killed BY the water. But the eight believers who were in the ARK (a type of being in CHRIST) were saved THROUGH the water, by the ark. Literally, verse 20 reads “eight souls were saved through the water.”
When verse 21 says, “baptism doth also now save us,” we need to understand that there are different kinds of “salvation” just as there are different kinds of “baptisms.”
Some examples of different kinds of salvation in Scripture are:
James 5:15, “the prayer of faith shall save (protect, deliver) the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up….”
Here it is not speaking of salvation of the soul, but deliverance from physical illness.
Acts 27:31, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.”
Saved from what? Saved from drowning. Suppose I began a new cult. I might call it the “Shipites,” and I could use this verse as my divinely given authority that people had to live in ships to be saved. But how many people do you think would be saved if you had to live in ships for salvation?
Hebrews 5:7 mentions that the Father was able to save (or deliver) Jesus from physical death.
But Jesus gave His life voluntarily (John 10:18), and even though He knew He would suffer in the flesh, He endured the cross for the joy of seeing souls saved through His payment for their sin.
The Greek word in I Peter 3:21, and elsewhere in the Bible, translated “save” is “sozo” and means “to be saved, protected, or delivered.” You must always read the context to see what kind of protection, or deliverance, or salvation is being spoken of.
I Peter 3:21 is clear as to what kind of salvation and deliverance is meant here. Notice the words carefully: “baptism doth also now save (protect, deliver) us (NOT the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)….” As children of God by faith, we should follow Christ’s command to be water baptized after we are saved, and when we obey this command we have a clear conscience. We are delivered from a conscience which condemns us (Matt. 28:19; Acts 8:36-38; Acts 10: 47, 48).
In I Cor. 1:17 Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel….”
If water baptism were necessary for salvation, then Paul, in effect, would be saying, “For Christ sent me not to see that people were saved, but to preach the gospel….” Anyone can see how ludicrous this would be. In I Cor. 1:14 Paul would have been saying, “I thank God that none of you were saved, but Crispus and Gaius.” This would completely nullify the entire purpose of Paul’s whole ministry.
Water baptism NEVER cleanses or washes away sin. ONLY CHRIST’S BLOOD can do that (Ephesians 1:7). Salvation comes through our faith.
The ordinance of communion is a type of our salvation by the death of Christ. The ordinance of baptism is a type of our service by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Service comes through our obedience, and as believers we should obey God’s Word, following His commands to the best of our ability. In this obedience, water baptism should certainly be included. It is a testimony to others that we are now walking in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
HOW TO WITNESS TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN WATER BAPTISM FOR SALVATION
- As is true in most witnessing situations, the issue is “grace versus works” (water baptism). Use Ephesians 2: 8, 9 or Romans 4:5.
- Instead of arguing over “baptism” passages, give the plan of salvation, emphasizing clear salvation verses like John 6:47. It is necessary to interpret unclear verses by clear verses, and never the other way around.
- Ask questions about the salvation verses so the meaning will become crystal clear to the person.
- For instance: “Who has everlasting life, according to John 6:47?” Answer: “He who BELIEVES on Christ.” Question: “Well, if you HAVE everlasting life by trusting in Christ as your Saviour, what more do you need?” Answer: “Nothing!”
Water baptism doesn’t help you to get saved. It has nothing to do with your salvation.
Often people who believe in water baptism for salvation also think other “works” are necessary for salvation as well. They say there are other conditions for salvation besides belief, and you have to read the entire Bible to find out what they are. To answer this type of objection, simply turn to Bible examples where unbelievers were told exactly what to do to be saved: Christ told Nicodemus just to believe and receive everlasting life (John 3:16-18). Paul told the Philippian jailor just to believe and be saved (Acts 16:30, 31). Paul told the Jews just to believe and receive forgiveness of all sin (Acts 13:26, 38, 39).
None of these people mentioned above had the whole Bible to go through. They wanted to be saved then and there (especially the Philippian jailor who was about to commit suicide). Do you think Paul or Jesus told them only PART of what they had to do to be saved? Half a truth, in this case especially, would certainly be a lie! Would you, yourself, be that careless and heartless? What could be more clear than “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou SHALT BE SAVED!”
The thief on the cross didn’t come down and get water baptized, but he went to heaven. (Heaven and paradise are the same place according to II Cor. 12:1-4). Paul thanked God that he didn’t baptize very many people (I Cor. 1:11 21). If water baptism were necessary for salvation, then Paul would be thanking God he didn’t see that many were saved! Unthinkable!
Not only that, but Christ never baptized anyone with water. If water baptism were necessary for salvation, then Christ withheld from those He dealt with, salvation. But He came to “seek and to SAVE!” (that which was lost),
FROM HOLLY: I know many good Catholics. Many hard working, moral and kind Catholics. None of us are good enough to face God though. Me certainly. Please don’t count on your works to save you, the people in Matthew 7 counted on all their ‘wonderful works’ and Christ said He never knew them. Does He know you?
As with anyone who is ever quoted by any person, please ‘prove all things’ (1 Thess 5:21) by holding fast to that good, and search the Scriptures as you should (Acts 17:11).
God bless any who read here, may the truth only go forth, may He alone be glorified, because He is the only one who is worthy of glory or praise.
I am the Lord: that is my name:
and my glory will I not give to another,
neither my praise to graven images. Isaiah 42:8