Open Discussion on Justification

JustificationByFaithThis post is for the purpose of discussing the topic of justification on the request of Nick from Nick’s Catholic Blog. I invite Nick to begin the discussion.


386 Responses to Open Discussion on Justification

  1. Mike says:

    Hi Bryan –

    What I’m saying is that it’s pretty hard to disagree with the plain teaching in Scripture that we’re justified by grace and the work of Christ alone – so the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t attempt to do that. Your church agrees that we’re justified by the work of Christ and this is reflected in the Roman Catholic Catechism. But at the same time, your church teaches that our salvation must be replenished over time, because it’s effectively lost due to sin. This is taught nowhere in the Bible. In effect, Roman Catholic justification and subsequent salvation is not a one time event fully satisfied through the redemptive work of Christ, but is a transitory effect that must be maintained by the believer. In effect Christ’s work means little, because we have control. In reality, this makes the work of Christ of no effect as a completed work, but rather just a work that opened the door and transfers the work to keep the door open to you. This is not the finished work Christ spoke of with His dying breath on the cross.

    The problem of course is that none of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church such as the taking of the sacraments to receive grace, the need for baptism to be saved, etc, are from the Bible. Not just that, they are counter to the Bible. When asked how we’re saved, Paul did not say “become baptized,’ or “take the sacraments to ensure you have enough grace.” No, Paul said:

    “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” Acts: 16:31

    To believe we must do anything, or participate in any ritual or rituals to be saved other than to truly and honestly turn and ask forgiveness from Christ and His free gift of salvation is against what the apostles taught.

    Also, we’re not just talking about “teaching better.” We’re talking about false doctrine. For Paul to teach you need only believe, and then for your churches to teach you need Actual Grace, Faith, Good Works, Baptism, Participation in the Sacraments, Penance, Indulgences, and keeping the Commandments, and all at the highest level, is a false gospel. It’s the same thing the Jewish leadership did back in Christ’s time, and what he condemned as being over-burdensome. Jesus said – “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30. There’s nothing light or easy about the salvation requirements of the Roman Catholic Church, at least not compared to the true Christian concept of salvation.

    I don’t agree with many of the teachings of your Catholic Church. I believe many are misleading, and they’ve led many people away from Christ. At the same time, much of what your church teaches is true. This is why it’s such a dangerous religion, and when carried out fully, has the power to separate otherwise well meaning people away from Christ by denying His power, glory, and redemptive gift.



  2. Bryan says:


    I am trying to respond to your recent posting point by point. In your first paragraph above you write:

    “But at the same time, your church teaches that our salvation must be replenished over time, because it’s effectively lost due to sin. This is taught nowhere in the Bible.”

    So you are saying that once a person is a true believer and has accepted Jesus to a certain degree, his personal sin can, in no way, affected his eternal salvation, is that right?

    That means someone like David Korash , Jim Jones, etc that might have truly met your particular standard of acceptance at one time in their life, could never lose his salvation, regardless of any sin they committed. Even if that includes breaking God’s commandments, they will be saved.

    If that is the case why did God make the Commandments in the first place? When Jesus said he didn’t come to destroy the Law but to perfect it, what does that mean? If personal sin has no bearing on our salvation then why on the very day Jesus rose from the dead tells the apostles “whose sin you forgive is forgiven, whose sin you retain is retained”? Who’s sin was he talking about???
    That seems to contradict your thinking, doesn’t it?

    From a purely logical point of view I can’t understand that thinking. Besides Jesus died for sin. Was that only for personal sin of those people that lived up until the time of his death?


  3. Mike says:

    Bryan….to your first question….correct. True salvation can’t be lost do to what you do or don’t do to lose it, because you did nothing to attain it. It’s a free gift, and true gifts are not taken back by the just and perfect gift giver…God. This was made clear by the scriptures I gave earlier.

    To your point on evil men like Koresh, it’s not my standard, but God’s standard that counts. Men like that were never saved. If they had been, they could never have done what they did. In addition, God can’t be fooled. His thoughts are not limited by time, so He can’t be fooled into giving one saving grace, and then later have that person pull a fast one and turn into an unrepentant killer, doing something God never saw coming. However I will say that even men like that, should they truly repent, and truly come to God, can still be saved. As for breaking God’s commandments, we have all done that, even you Bryan. According to the law, you break one law, you’ve broken them all. So in that regard, you and I are no better than men like Koresh, or Jones, and that’s exactly why we have no hope if we rely in any way on our own merits to be saved.

    God created the commandments under the old covenant of the law. Christ came under the new covenant of grace, which saves us in spite of ourselves. The law has not been abolished,but is fulfilled in the grace and person on Jesus Christ. This again is why Christians know better then to ask God to judge us on how well we have acted and obeyed the commandments. To be judged that way, on our own merits for salvation, is certain death! The commandments and the law were created to give us a measure of right and wrong. We are to see the impossibility of living up to the law, and abandon ourselves to Christ and His finished work of grace. We cannot save ourselves.

    There are many good helps on the Scripture you ask about above. Do some research and let me know what you come up with.

    Good questions Bryan!



  4. Bryan says:

    Mike – you bring up some interesting points to consider. Your point about true salvation can’t be lost because we didn’t do anything to attain it has some logic. I never thought about that from that perspective, and that is a good point.

    However you didn’t really answer one particular question. John 20:21-23 how do you interpret that verse? Specifically, Jesus had died to forgive sin, so when he tells the Apostles “if YOU forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If YOU retain the sins of any they are retained”.

    I don’t understand whose sins those 12 men are supposed to forgive. What are your thoughts?

    Thank you

    ybi Christ,



  5. Mike says:

    Hi Bryan –

    This is a difficult verse and theologians have struggled with it for centuries., but the problem for the Roman Catholic is that when they read this, since fall victim to their preconceived world view of apostolic succession, and the power of the priest to forgive sins. The Roman Catholic Church uses it to give themselves authority. However, this interpretation does not fit with other Scriptures, or the core message of Christianity.

    The heart of the gospel message is the evident truth that the way someone has their sins forgiven is by having faith in Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, not the church. We see this clearly in Acts 10:43-44, when Peter was sharing the gospel. Peter said:

    “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

    “Thorough His name” – not “Through His church or appointed messengers.”

    John tells us in 1 John 5:1-5 only he who believes in Jesus will overcome the world. Luke affirms the forgiving power of belief in Jesus when in Luke 5:20 he says, “When Jesus saw their faith, He said ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’” Colossians 2:13-14 says Jesus forgave all our sins. All these passages confirm that Jesus is the one who forgives sin, and He forgives all of our sins. If we have had genuine faith in Him, someone else cannot later decide we are not forgiven one sin or another. So, your question as to what is the meaning of in John 20:23 is understandable, since it appears Jesus gives this sin forgiving power to the Apostles.

    But there’s a problem with that interpretation.

    Only God can forgive sins, and Christ, being God, has the power to do so as well, but He never communicated any such power to His disciples, nor did they ever assume any such power to themselves. The key to understanding the meaning of John 20:23 lies in the previous two verses: “Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” He sent them, as He is sending us, to bring the good news of the way to salvation and heaven to the whole world. Jesus was leaving the earth physically but promised God would be with them in the person of the Holy Spirit living in them. As they proclaimed the gospel, they could honestly tell people who believed in that message that their sins were forgiven, and they could honestly tell people that did not believe in the message that their sins were not forgiven and that they stand condemned in God’s eyes. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).

    Now think about this for a second. It makes perfect sense. If Jesus were to come down today to send me out personally, face to face, to tell others their sins are forgiven, I would be stunned. In addition, knowing what that means, that I would be going out to tell others their sins are forgiven, I’d be taking on a HUGE responsibility. After a short time, I’d wonder, are the sins of this person that I’m forgiving REALLY forgiven? Jesus knew the Apostles would think this, begin to doubt, and then might feel the urge to stop telling everyone they are forgiven. In their time that was blasphemy! They needed reassurance that what they were saying to people was in fact TRUE. They knew that many would say “Only God can forgive sins” – just like they did to Jesus, as this was plain teaching from the Scriptures. They knew they weren’t God. They needed validation that those sins were ALREADY forgiven in heaven, and Jesus gave them this through the Holy Spirit as He “breathed” out the Holy Spirit upon them to assure them they were correct in telling those who were forgiven and saved, they were truly forgiven and saved. None of what Jesus said implies they were given God’s power of forgiveness to go around forgiving people. It tells us they were to spread the Gospel that Jesus forgives sins, and belief in him gets your sins forgiven, not a wave of the hand from a priest. This agrees with Paul’s declaration in Acts 16 that I gave you:

    They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”

    What’s interesting is that those who believe in Christ today have the same mission! I’m not going to tell anyone I have the power to forgive sins, are you? But yet we have the same commission the Apostles did. We’ve been instructed to spread the gospel, and have the same obligation they did. We are to go about that mission with the Holy Spirit living inside us, guiding us as we share His truth. We are obligated to tell people the only way to be forgiven is through faith. Jesus said in John 8:24, “If you do not believe that I am (God), you will indeed die in your sins.” This is the very core of the gospel message and the very heart of what we are to explain to the world. It was Jesus’ last command to His followers before He physically left the earth—carry forward the message of hope and save as many as will believe in Him.

    So, the answer is that it was not the Apostles who were forgiving sins, but it was the Apostles who were told that Jesus forgives sins, and they had the commission and duty to tell others their sins were indeed forgiven through belief in Christ; not because they did it, but because to those they were telling they were forgiven the Apostles could be sure that those decisions were already made in heaven.

    I know I’m correct in my interpretation, because the Bible tells us only God can forgive sins, not men. Jesus was killed by the Jews in part because they believed He was lying against the Scriptures in saying He could forgive sins. Jesus did not give his Godly power to the Apostles – He, through the Holy Spirit, gave them the assurance that what they were to tell others was true, and was already ordained in heaven.



  6. Mike says:

    Bryan – one more point I forgot to make. I said this above:

    It tells us they were to spread the Gospel that Jesus forgives sins, and belief in him gets your sins forgiven, not a wave of the hand from a priest.

    You should know the Roman Catholic Church agrees with me on this point. It realized the Bible teaches that only God and Christ can forgive sins, but at the same time it wanted priests to hold great power over the laity. This is why it declares that each priest IS CHRIST ON EARTH. It teaches that each priest is actually Christ Himself when acting in the capacity of forgiving sin. Incredible!

    “The priest is, indeed, another Christ, or in some way, he is himself a continuation of Christ.” (Pope Pius XI, Encylical on the Priesthood)

    This is the can of worms that is opened once the Scriptures are misinterpreted or skewed.



  7. Bryan says:

    Mike – again you insist on misleading people by stating that ” RCC declares that “each priest IS CHRIST ON Earth”.

    I already pointed out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is available online. If anyone that reads this blog is truly interested in the truth read it for yourself.

    What I can share on this with 100% certitude is that the Catechism of the Catholic Church -in the section on
    Penance and Reconciliation, under the heading of
    ONLY GOD FORGIVES SIN, paragraph #1441 states:

    “only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven” Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise IN HIS NAME”

    Guest what??? the biblical reference for paragraph #1441 is???

    John 20:21-23

    Thank you

    ybi Christ,


    BTW – if anyone wants to know the blessing that the Catholic priest prays during the sacrament of Reconciliation it is this:

    God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    Decide for yourself if that sounds like the priest’s intent is to hold great power of Catholics. Or is it really the manifestation of John 20: 21-23


  8. Bryan says:

    Mike – I see that one of my previous post has been deleted. A couple of days ago one of my post included a YouTube video of Dr. Peter Kreeft’s conversion to Catholicism. I don’t see that post anywhere on the blog. I checked all of the recent posts.

    I see that there are other Catholic YouTube videos that you have on your blog that you comment against.

    Obviously, you must have rules on which Catholic YouTube videos can be posted and which can not. Perhaps you can share them with everyone. Or was there something in Peter Kreeft’s person conversion story that was too dangerous to have on your blog?

    “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21″But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”


  9. Nothing has been deleted.


  10. The comment with the YouTube video was made to me on March 11 on the article, “Response to Martignoni’s Biblical Evidence for the Mass Part One”. It’s still there.


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