One of the problems of Roman Catholicism is its doctrine of salvation. It denies justification by faith alone and requires works done through the Roman Catholic sacramental system in order for a person to be justified before God. Justification, of course, is the legal declaration by God where he proclaims the sinner righteous in his sight. The Bible clearly teaches that this justification is by faith and denounces any addition of works to it.
- 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."
- 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,"
- Rom. 5:1, "therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"
- Rom. 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."
- Rom. 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
- Rom. 11:6, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace."
- Gal. 2:16, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
- Gal. 2:21, "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
- Gal. 3:24, "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith."
- Eph 1:13, "In Him, you also, by listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,"
- Eph. 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
- Phil. 3:9, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith."
In spite of the obvious teaching of scripture, Roman Catholicism teaches to the contrary. Please note the proclamations of The Council of Trent, 1545 to 1563.
- CANON I--If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or, that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema."
- CANON IV--If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;--though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.
- CANON VIII--If any one saith, that by the said sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred through the act performed, but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices for the obtaining of grace; let him be anathema.
Reparation means to make amends, something done as a compensation, to repair something that has been damaged. It is certainly biblical to make amends (reparation) for wrongs done when we have offended another person. But it is not possible for us to make reparation to God for our sins. This is because we are sinners, and we are not able to keep the law of God perfectly. Therefore, all that we do, all of our righteous deeds, are but filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6) and to seek in anyway to make reparations to God for our sins--other than appealing to the sacrifice of Christ alone--is essentially teaching a false gospel and is in violation of scripture. Gal. 2:16 says, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
Pope Pius XI (1857-1939)
Following are quotes from an encyclical (a letter written from the pope addressed to the bishops) from Pope Pius XI where he advocates reparation for sins committed against the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Please note in the quotes below that the Pope urges that this principle of reparation be taught to the Catholic Church at large.
The original document is full of many unscriptural teachings, but we will focus on only some of them. Nevertheless, the quote is a bit long, but it is necessary to exemplify the unbiblical teaching. (The original document is numbered by paragraph, and the quotes that are cited here reflect those same numbered paragraphs). To see the text in its entirety, go to www.vatican.va.
"1 . . . it is our pleasure, Venerable Brethren, to speak to you for a little while concerning the duty of honorable satisfaction which we all owe to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with the intent that you may, each of you, carefully teach your own flocks those things which we set before you, and stir them up to put the same in practice. 3 . . . to promote the worship of the Divine Heart are everywhere erected . . . 6 . . . we mean that duty of honorable satisfaction or reparation which must be rendered to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For if the first and foremost thing in Consecration is this, that the creature's love should be given in return for the love of the Creator, another thing follows from this at once, namely that to the same uncreated Love, if so be it has been neglected by forgetfulness or violated by offense, some sort of compensation must be rendered for the injury, and this debt is commonly called by the name of reparation. 7 . . . Now though in both these matters we are impelled by quite the same motives, none the less we are holden to the duty of reparation and expiation by a certain more valid title of justice and of love, of justice indeed, in order that the offense offered to God by our sins may be expiated and that the violated order may be repaired by penance. . . . but besides this we must need make satisfaction to God the just avenger, "for our numberless sins and offenses and negligences." 8 . . . Moreover this duty of expiation is laid upon the whole race of men . . . And indeed, even from the beginning, men in a manner acknowledged this common debt of expiation and, led by a certain natural instinct, they endeavored to appease God by public sacrifices. 9 . . . and being made partakers of His eternal priesthood we are to offer up "gifts and sacrifices for sins" (Hebrews v, 1). . . . but the whole Christian people rightly called by the Prince of the Apostles "a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood" (1 Peter ii, 9), ought to offer for sins both for itself and for all mankind (Cf. Hebrews v, 3), in much the same manner as every priest and pontiff "taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God" (Hebrews v, 1).12 . . . In order that these faults might be washed away, He [Jesus] then recommended several things to be done, and in particular the following as most pleasing to Himself, namely that men should approach the Altar with this purpose of expiating sin, making what is called a Communion of Reparation,--and that they should likewise make expiatory supplications and prayers, prolonged for a whole hour,--which is rightly called the "Holy Hour." These pious exercises have been approved by the Church and have also been enriched with copious indulgences.
For anyone familiar with the biblical doctrine of justification by faith (see verses above), the teachings of Pope Pius XI should be very disturbing. There is no way that we are ever able to please God through our works. This is why Jesus, who is God in flesh, became one of us so that he might bear our sins on the cross. Because He did it, we don't need to expiate, repair damage done, or appease God in any way. To infer that we need to is to deny the sufficiency of Christ's atoning sacrifice. Jesus said on the cross "It is finished!" (John 19:30). That statement was commonly used during that time in legal documents to signify a debt that had been paid in full. Since it is paid in full, there is nothing we can do to please God so as to make things right with God. To imply that there is is sinful.
Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). It was Jesus who became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21) and did it all. It was necessary that Jesus do what we could not. Pope Pius XI contradicts the biblical teaching of salvation by grace through faith. If it was necessary for us to make amends or reparations or expiations in order for some sort of cleansing of our sins, then why did Jesus have to come and die on the cross? Gal. 2:21 says, "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."
Also, in paragraph 9 as quoted above, Pope Pius XI takes Heb. 5:1 out of context. It is not we who offer up the gifts and sacrifices for sins as his quote implies. Instead, the passage speaks about the high priest doing this: "For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;" (Heb. 5:1). He has misapplied the very word of God. He should know better.
The truth is that what is taught here is consistent with other teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that oppose the biblical doctrine that we are made right with God completely and totally through the cross of Christ, and that we can do nothing to gain or maintain that rightness with God. Pope Pius XI contradicts Scripture as does much of Roman Catholic teaching.
- "We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere 'to the end' and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ," (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), par. 1821).
- "Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification," (CCC, 2010).
- "As a means of regaining grace and justice, penance was at all times necessary for those who had defiled their souls with any mortal sin. . . . (The Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, c. i)
Pope Pius XI did not offer anything new. But he did reiterate the incorrect teaching in the Roman Catholic Church that our righteousness before God can be helped through our works. This is a false doctrine and is one of the main reasons that the Protestant Reformation happened. The excesses and false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly in the area of salvation, mean the Roman Catholic Church is not Christian.