Readers Question / Comment - Is Salvation only in the Mass?
First, thank you very much for your hard work. I have learned so much going through your bible studies. I have a question as a former Catholic and have this discussion with my mom frequently (She prays for me daily since I have become Protestant). When Jesus says that you must eat his body and drink his blood to gain salvation in John 6, my mom laments that only taking communion in the Catholic mass can I gain salvation. What is your take and how can I reassure her that she is not doomed to not reach Heaven since her son no longer practices the Catholic faith?
thanks for the email. Firstly, eating His body and drinking His blood is firstly not something physical (it is partaking of Christ in a spiritual sense for He is what we need spiritually just as food and drink is what we need physically.) And secondly it was available to the hearers of Jesus in John 6 so it was available before communion (or mass as the Catholics would say) which was instigated by Jesus at the last supper. Have a read of the following link to help more with this:
In terms of your beliefs affecting your Mum or hers yours, God has children, not grandchildren. That is, each person stands or falls by their own faith in the Lord Jesus, not the faith of someone else (even someone close like a mother/son). No one gets to heaven on the basis of someone else’s faith and no one fails to get there due to sins or a lack of faith of someone else. EACH person MUST repent and believe in the work of the Lord Jesus for themselves. Good works are not good enough (even what the Catholic church would prescribe) when it comes to salvation. The person must accept God's provision of salvation as a free gift, by grace, and received through faith.
Even in the Old Testament God was clear that a person stands and falls on his/her own doing - not someone else’s. The law of God was clear:
Deuteronomy 24:16 Fathers
shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their
fathers; each is to die for his own sin.
Another such scripture (and you could read most of Ezek 18) is:
Ezekiel 18:19-21 Yet you
ask, 'Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?' Since the
son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees,
he will surely live. (20) The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will
not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the
son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the
wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. (21) But if a wicked man
turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does
what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die.
Hope this helps and all the best.
A comment/question about the mass from a Catholic
I'm doing a Bible study with a website called Beliefchangers. The study is called "Discovering Jesus in the Scriptures". I googled one of the key passages, Exodus 17:1-7 and found your site. It was helpful in explaining that Moses represented the law striking the rock which is Jesus Christ's death on the cross.
Just as a little background on myself, I'm a born again Catholic Christian. I was saved some time in elementary school. I don't have an exact date that I said the "sinners prayer," but I've always put my faith in Jesus Christ. As an adult I used to attend a non-denominational church. I wasn't all that inspired or helped by the pastor's way of doing things. I started searching, learning about the Catholic faith and embraced it. I'm a confirmed Catholic now. I won't go into apologetics (reasoned defence) of the Catholic faith unless you wish to discuss it. Neither do I want to be talked out of my faith. So with that in mind, I have a bit of a problem with footnote #5 in that bible study. I just copied it below:
 Unfortunately many, such as the official teachings of the Catholic Church concerning its unholy ‘Mass’, still try to strike Christ multiple times not knowing that the rock is only ever to be struck once. Jesus paid the entire price for sin when He was crucified, and it is never to be repeated (Heb 7:27; 9:28; 10:10). We now speak to the rock for the water that we need for He is alive and seated at the right hand of God!
I mean really? Where did you get the information about the "official teachings of the Catholic Church"? Have you read it in the Catechism? What paragraphs? Why do you claim the Mass is "unholy"?How does the mass "try to strike Christ multiple times"? Where are the sources for these statement?
I realize that since the Reformation Protestant preachers have claimed that the Mass re-kills Jesus every Sunday and various other false notions about the Catholic faith. I've read the objections and strong apologetic answers to counter them. I could refer you to several organizations and lay Catholic teachers for more information. My concern with the above footnote is that the claims aren't backed up with anything. If I were writing a Bible study online and I found a good insight from the study notes in a John Macarthur study Bible (for example) I’d cite that it came from John Macarthur. To not do so is plagiarism. If you make a (false) statement about another denomination/faith tradition, back it up with someone else's authority. Or at least acknowledge you're stating your own opinion.
I have no intention of attacking the Jesus Plus Nothing website or it's authors. I'd love a reply to discuss things more.
thanks for the email. Glad you found "part" of the study helpful. : ) In regards to quoting people/references etc you would have seen from footnote 6 & 7 in that same study that I do make reference to people/sources in the footnotes when quoting what someone else believes/has said. If I haven't referenced someone then you can assume that the point I'm making is my own belief. I could of course, as you suggested, write 'In my opinion' or 'It is my belief' at the start of all the points I make but that would be rather redundant and tedious for the reader don't you think? Especially seeing that I am the one writing the study.
In terms of the footnote 5 you mentioned, I wasn't quoting anyone. What I stated is my belief based on what I have read (both from books on the topic, official Catholic sources and from history) and from the experience of those who were in the Catholic Church (some for many decades, including a couple who are now on the leadership team of our church and have come to my home group for the last 10 years - the wife was a confirmed practising Catholic from age 5 to 35) before finding the truth and leaving. I don't write this to offend you. I don't know you and I don't know exactly what you believe. I wish you all the best in your walk with God. But it is fair to say that with a website called 'Jesus Plus Nothing' I'm no fan of religions that add extra things onto the 'once and for all' sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Which I believe is exactly what the Catholic Church does. It doesn't matter whether it is its emphasis on Mary, or it's teaching concerning purgatory, or its re-sacrifice of Jesus in the mass, or indulgences, or its teaching concerning 'priests' when there is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Himself... its all ultimately based on power and control of a hierarchy over the people and is not the true gospel. The true Gospel sets people free. Catholicism keeps them in fear and bondage to man made rules.
We shouldn't make light of these things, think them to be trivial or just a little misunderstanding. People who understood what was at stake were willing to give up their lives in days gone by instead of accept such things as the Catholic Mass. And from the Catholic side they obviously thought it was serious enough to put such people who wouldn't 'recant' to death.
In terms of the message of Moses repeatedly striking the rock and it's relevance to Mass and Catholicism, I believe it is definitely applicable. I've been to the Vatican. Every crucifix has Jesus still on the cross. But the cross is empty! He is risen from the dead! The Mass has Jesus as a 'victim' offered up time and time again on an 'altar' in an unbloody sacrifice. It strikes Jesus repeatedly just as Moses did. What does it know about there only being one sacrifice for all time by which those who believe HAVE ALREADY been made 'PERFECT FOREVER'? (Heb 10:14) Please remember that Moses was not allowed into the Promised Land due to such an error.
In terms of a lack of 'official' quotes etc in the footnote, I was only writing a quick side point. But please have a read of the following article/testimony of someone who was in the Catholic Church for over 30 years. It includes some if interested. But it is also useful as a general testimony of someone who knows Catholicism well. I read this a few months back and found it interesting. (Though this particular article has no bearing on what I wrote in the Exodus 17 study as that was written in the early to mid 2000's).
Again, please don't be offended - the above is not directed at you personally. I hate these Catholic doctrines, but not the people. The common Catholic desires to know God and be true to His ways and that is great. It's just that the true good news is so wonderful that it is so wrong to see it covered and clouded by all these 'additions' and 'works' that leave the people unsure of their eternal standing and position in Christ based on faith alone, as taught in God's precious word the Bible.
May God Bless and all the best