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Question 90

Q: I view the difference between Roman Catholics and Christian non-Catholics this way:

It involves how we are to make ourselves presentable before God to be admitted into Heaven. Is this right?

Asked by: Richard, Florida

A: Richard, I want to thank you so much for your question because we have many Catholics and non-Catholics that listen to our broadcasts and come to our website.

We welcome both, and as a matter of fact, we welcome those who are of other religions. We’re so glad that God has given us such a diverse audience, and we thank God for each of them.

But in relationship to Catholicism versus Protestantism on the issue of salvation, if I could put it simply, in Roman Catholic theology, grace is received through the sacraments, and if you received grace through the sacraments, and you receive enough grace, and you combine that with your own efforts and good works, hopefully you will have enough righteousness to enter into heaven. If you don’t, you will go to purgatory, where you’ll be purged until you’ll be righteous enough to enter into heaven.

On the other hand, what Protestants believe the Bible teaches is that when Jesus Christ died on the cross, His death was so sufficient and so complete that when we trust Jesus as our Savior, God gives us the righteousness that we need to enter heaven as a gift through faith. This means that we are saved on the basis of what Jesus did for us—we’re saved on the basis of His merit—and if our faith is in Christ, when we die, we are welcomed into heaven as if we are Jesus, because we are indeed saved totally on the basis of what He did.

What that means is, it is possible to have assurance of salvation now, this very minute, because it’s not a matter of me helping the Lord reach the standard that’s necessary to reach, that standard is given to us as a free gift from Christ alone.

So that’s the difference, and I commend to you the wonderful promises of Scripture that tell us that the righteousness of God is a gift through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Scripture references

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