Questions for Roman Catholics about Jesus and forgiveness

by Matt Slick

Catholics have the confessional, priests, penance, the sacraments, the saints, and Mary that all in one way or another affect the forgiveness of sins.  In the Confessional, the Catholic confesses sins to a priest who then absolves the person and prescribes penance--a necessary means of forgiveness (CCC 980) "by which sins committed after baptism are forgiven," (The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, Vol. 1, 1969, p. 141).   Sacraments are a means of grace (needed to resist and be forgiven of sins).  Catholics can pray to the saints, and especially Mary, to ask for their intercession.  In fact, it is Mary who "will deliver our souls from death" (CCC 966), brings gifts of eternal salvation (CCC 969), and is second only to Jesus (Vatican Council II, p. 421).  So the Catholic is thoroughly entwined in the ecclesiastical process of salvation and the forgiveness of sins found in the Roman Catholic Church but what about Jesus?

About Jesus

Jesus, who is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14; Col. 2:9), has all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-21).  Jesus is prayed to (Acts 7:55-60; 1 Cor. 1:2 with Psalm 116:4).  He said to ask him (pray), and he would do what you ask (John 14:14)--according to God's will, that is (1 John 5:14).  So, since Jesus is greater than Mary, greater than the Saints, the creator of the universe (John 1:3; Col. 1:16-17), the Lord who forgives sins (Matt. 9:2; Luke 5:20), I have a question.  Can you pray and ask Jesus to forgive you of all your sins?  If not, why not?  Are you refusing to trust in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of all your sins?  If so, how is Jesus not sufficient to forgive you of all your sins?

Questions for Roman Catholics

  1. Can Jesus forgive you for all of your sins?
  2. If Jesus is God and forgives sins, then can you pray and ask Jesus to forgive you for all of your sins and put all your trust and hope in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of your sins?
  3. If you do, would you then be forgiven of all your sins?
  4. If you do ask Jesus to forgive you for all of your sins, do you need to confess your sins to a priest?
  5. If you are not able to ask Jesus to forgive you for all of your sins, then why do you not trust in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice to save you from all your sins?

No false religion trusts in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins.  No false religious people pray to Jesus and trust him to forgive them of their sins.  None!  True Christians can trust in Christ--as the Bible says.  True Christians hear the voice of Christ and follow him (John 10:27-28), and they go to him (Matt. 11:28).  They trust Jesus and his complete work on the cross that cleanses us of our sins (1 Pet. 2:24; Col. 2:14).  They don't trust in their works.

God says

  1. Rom. 3:28-30, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one."
  2. Rom. 4:3, "For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
  3. Rom. 4:5, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,"

So, Roman Catholic, can you pray to Jesus and trust him alone and ask him alone to forgive you of your sins?  If not . . . well . . . then you're saying that his sacrifice isn't sufficient, that seeking him alone isn't enough, and that you must do something else to be forgiven.

"You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:1-3).

If you cannot pray to Jesus and ask him to forgive you of all of your sins, then you must be trusting in something else in addition to Jesus and are trying to be perfected in the flesh.  You must be trusting, in part, in your own ability to go through ceremonies, ritualistic prayers, ordinances, confessionals, sacraments, so that you can hope to be faithful enough to be saved. You can never rest in Christ when you don't trust completely in Christ.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28).



About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.