By Oswald J. Smith, Litt.D.
This article is not an attack on anyone. It is a sincere effort to point out what the Roman Catholic Bible itself has to say, and to win both Catholics and Protestants to Christ.
This Book in my hand is a Roman Catholic Bible. Let us read now from the title page: "The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Translated from the Latin Vulgate. A Revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version, Edited by Catholic Scholars." Hence it is unquestionably authoritative. It is a beautiful, accurate translation and is true to the original. It is the accepted Bible of the Roman Church.
On page 4 we read these words, uttered by Pope Benedict XV: "The responsibility of our Apostolic office impels us to . . . promote the study of Holy Scripture in accordance with the teaching of our predecessors, Leo XIII and Pius X . . . We shall . . . never desist from urging the faithful to read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles, so as to gather thence food for their souls . . . Ignorance of the Bible means ignorance of Christ."
At the top of page 5 in the Preface, we read these encouraging words: "In her belief in the divine authority and the perfect truth of the Bible, as being the inspired Word of God, the Catholic church has never hesitated. Neither has she overlooked the fact that this message must lie sealed and silent to many of her children unless given them in their own language."
On page 763 appears this statement by Pope Pius X: "The more we read the Gospel the stronger our faith becomes." So Roman Catholics are urged to study the Word of God.
Let us now ask ten questions of paramount importance to both Catholics and Protestants, and turn to this Roman Catholic Bible for the answers. It is the authoritative Word of God. In other words, it is infallible, for it is God's Book. These are the questions:
1. Did Jesus say He would build His church on Peter?
Jesus did say, and I quote from this Roman Catholic Bible, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" (Matt. 16:18). He did not say He would build His church on Peter. The keys and the power to bind that He gave Peter in Matt. 16:19 represent the authority He gave all believers in Matt. 18:18-19.
The Greek word for Peter is petros, meaning "a little stone." The word for rock is petra. What Jesus said was, "I will build my church on the Rock." He Himself was the Rock. He never said He would build His church on Peter, "a little stone." That would be too faulty a foundation.
In I Peter 2:5-8, Peter himself speaks of believers as stones and of Jesus as a rock. So in Ephesians 2:19-21, Jesus is the corner stone, the foundation. The church, therefore, is built, not on Peter or his successors, but on Jesus Christ Himself - the Rock.
For my supreme authority I quote the great Apostle Paul. In I Cor. 3:11, in this wonderful Roman Catholic Bible, he says this: "For other foundation no one can lay, but that which has been laid, which is Christ Jesus." Paul says Jesus Christ is the foundation, the Rock. It is on that Rock the church is built.
2. Should we worship images of the saints and our Lord, and kneel before them in prayer?
The Catholic Bible has a very definite answer. It is found in Exodus 20:4-5, and in Deuteronomy 4:15-23. "Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them." Read also Isaiah 44:15-19.
Images of any kind are absolutely forbidden and worship of them condemned, while relics are not even venerated. St. Peter, whom Catholics call the first Pope, makes it plain in Acts 10:25-26 that no man (priest or pope), let alone images, is to be worshipped. Let me read it from this inspired Catholic Bible: "And as Peter entered, Cornelius met him and falling at his feet, made obeisance to him. But Peter raised him up, saying, Get up, I myself also am a man."
3. Which is authoritative, the tradition of men, or the Word of God?
When Jesus was upon earth, according to the Roman Catholic Bible, "the Pharisees and Scribes asked him, Why do not thy disciples walk according to the tradition of the ancients?" (Mark 7:5).
Now let us turn to this same Roman Catholic Bible for Jesus' answer. Here are His words, "In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men. For, letting go the commandment of God, you hold fast the tradition of men . . . Well do you nullify the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition! . . . You make void the commandment of God by your tradition" (Mark 7:7-9, 13).
So He condemns tradition and exalts the Word. This Roman Catholic Bible insists that only the commandments of God as found in His Word are authoritative.
In II Thess. 2:15, in this Roman Catholic Bible, there is no reference to tradition at all. It translates the word, "teachings." Paul was referring here to the gospel he had preached and written down in his letters, as he was also in II Thess. 3:6 and II Tim. 2.2. When Paul wrote this, there was no church tradition in existence, so he could not have referred to Roman Catholic tradition or the tradition of the Church Fathers. It came later. Once Paul's teachings were written down, all else was ruled out and a curse pronounced upon anyone who added to the written Word (Apocalypse 22:18). Nothing that the Church Fathers wrote was inspired. What Paul said and wrote was in very truth God's Word.
4. Is the sacrifice of the Mass still necessary?
Let us turn for the answer to this Roman Catholic Bible, the infallible, authoritative Word of God. Hebrews 10:11-12, 14, 18 says, "And every priest indeed stands daily ministering, and often offering the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins." So then, according to this Roman Catholic Bible, it is vain and useless to offer a daily Mass, since God says it "can never take away sins."
"But Jesus, having offered one sacrifice for sins, has taken his seat forever at the right hand of God . . . For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified . . . Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin."
Isn't it wonderful! JESUS! What did He do? He offered but "one sacrifice." What was that "one sacrifice for sins?" It was Himself. Yes, Jesus offered Himself on Calvary's cross as a sacrifice for your sins and mine, and that sacrifice will never have to be offered again. God says it is "forever." That "one offering," He says, is sufficient for the "remission of sin." Then He adds this, "There is no longer offering for sin."
Thank God, no more sacrifices are necessary. "It is finished," He cried, as He hung on the cross for your redemption and mine. The work is done, atonement made, the debt paid. Yes, He paid it all. Not another Mass is necessary according to this Roman Catholic Bible. He offered the only sacrifice that need be offered. Why add to the finished work? God says there can be "no longer offering for sin."
In the bread and the wine we remember His one supreme offering for us; we do not offer Him again.
5. Can Mary, the priest, or the saints be our mediators?
Turning to the Roman Catholic Bible, we read these significant words: "For there is one God, and ONE Mediator between God and man, himself man, Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5). Then, if there is only one, and God says there is, there cannot be two. The Roman Catholic Bible says there is only one, and that one is Jesus Christ.
In any case, how can sinners mediate for sinners? If mediation of the sinless Christ is not sufficient, how can sinful men and women help? Mary herself spoke of God as "my Saviour" (Luke 1:47).
If she had not been a sinner she would not have needed a Saviour.
The rich man in Luke 16 prayed to Abraham, one of the greatest of the Saints, but even Abraham could not help him. Why, then, go to a lesser saint? Why go to Mary or any of the saints if we can go to Christ? In Luke 11:27-28, Jesus put the Word of God before His mother and rebuked the one who praised her. In Matt. 12:46-50, He completely ignored His mother's request.
In Acts 1:14, Mary is mentioned for the last time. Why didn't Paul tell his converts that she would intercede for them? Why did he fail to mention her in any of his epistles?
Why should the letters of the New Testament ignore her? Is it conceivable that they would have if she could really influence her resurrected and glorified Son? There is not a verse in Scripture that teaches that those who leave this world can pray for us. It is in this life only that we can intercede for each other.
In I John 2:1-2, we read, "But if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just; and he is the propitiation for our sins." Who is our advocate? Mary? No! Jesus Christ. Who is our propitiation? Mary? No! Jesus Christ. Why no mention of Mary if she can intercede? That, my friends, should settle it.
6. Can the priest forgive sin?
In this Roman Catholic Bible there is a question that was once asked by the scribes. It was this: "Why does this man speak thus? He blasphemes. Who can forgive sins, but only God?" (Mark 2:5-11). Jesus accepted that question at its face value. They were right. No one but God can forgive sins, and for a mere man to claim that he can is blasphemy. Jesus answered by saying, "The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins." Hence, He was not a mere man; He was God. No man can forgive, but He did forgive, so He was God. No priests or ministers can forgive sin, because they are men. We can go directly to God through our Mediator Jesus Christ, and be forgiven.
But you ask, What about John 20:23? That, my friend, was spoken to the disciples, not just to the apostles, as the text clearly shows. The word apostle is not used.
Every believer (or disciple) is a priest, according to this Roman Catholic Bible (Apocalypse 1:6), and as such has the power (authority) to say, "Your sins are forgiven you in the name of Jesus Christ if you receive Him as your Saviour." By the same token, every believer (or disciple) has the power (authority) to say, "Your sins are retained (not forgiven) if you do not receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour."
It was the chief apostle of the Roman Church who made this clear when he stated to Cornelius, as found in this Roman Catholic Bible in Acts 10:43, "To him all the prophets bear witness, that through his name all who believe in him may receive forgiveness of sins."
7. Do we go to purgatory when we die?
We could read this Roman Catholic Bible through from the first word to the last, and we would not read one single verse about purgatory, for purgatory is nowhere even mentioned in the entire Book. There is no purgatory in the Bible. Then it must have been invented by men, for God does not speak of it. Search and see.
On the other hand, this Roman Catholic Bible tells us that if we are God's children, we go straight to be with Christ when we die. Let me read it to you: "To depart and to be with Christ . . . far the better" (Philippians 1:23). You see, when we depart this life we do not go to purgatory, for Christ is not there. We go directly into His immediate presence. We go to be with Him where He is.
"Exiled from the body . . . at home with the Lord" (II Cor. 5:8). The moment we leave the body we are in the presence of our Lord. That is the plain, unmistakable teaching of this Roman Catholic Bible, the infallible Word of God.
That means that the Christian will never have to suffer for his sin. His judgment is past. Let me read it to you from this precious Roman Catholic Bible, and may God enable you to believe it: "Amen, amen, I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has life everlasting, and does not come to judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24). Hence, there can be no such place as purgatory.
Did not the thief on the cross go directly to be with Christ? The promise of Jesus was, "Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." Not in purgatory, mark you, but in paradise. If the dying thief did not suffer for his sins when he repented and turned to Christ, why should you? NO, my friend, you will not go to purgatory, for there is no such place. If you are saved, you will go straight to heaven to be with Christ.
Jesus endured all the suffering necessary. He atoned for every sin. No suffering of yours could help in the least.
It is His blood that cleanses from sin, not your sufferings (I John 1:7). Nothing that you can pay can get your loved ones out of purgatory, for since purgatory does not exist, they are not there.
In I Cor. 3:8-15, Paul speaks of our work, not our salvation. He is talking about rewards for faithful service. These we will receive at the judgment seat of Christ. This passage does not even suggest purgatory. The Bible nowhere says that God created purgatory.
8. Do we need to be born again?
That question, too, is answered in this Roman Catholic Bible. You will find it in John 3:3,7: "Jesus answered and said to him, Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . Do not wonder that I said to thee, You must be born again." So then, unless you have been born again - born from above - you will never go to heaven at all. That is what the Bible says.
Now, please do not confuse the new birth with water baptism, for baptism has nothing whatever to do with it. The new birth is the implantation of divine life - the life of God in the heart of man - by the Spirit and the Word. Water, in John 3:5, refers to the Word. See Ephesians 5:26, James 1:18, I Peter 1:23. The thief was not baptized. Cornelius was saved before he was baptized. Baptism saves no one, nor will it save you. "You must be born again." Have you, my friend, been born again?
9. Is salvation through Christ or the church?
Many people think it is the church that saves and that there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church. They confuse the church with Christ. What say the Scriptures? How does this inspired Roman Catholic Bible answer this all-important question?
"But to as many as received him he gave the power of becoming sons of God" (John 1:12). What does it say? How do we become God's children? By receiving Him, Jesus Christ, as our Saviour. It doesn't say a word about the church, does it?
"Those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (John 3:15). How? By belonging to the church? No. By believing in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (John 3:16). Again, not a word about the church. Once more, it is Christ. All who trust Him have everlasting life.
"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; he who is unbelieving towards the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (John 3:36). It depends entirely on your relationship, not to the church, but to Christ. It is Christ who saves. The church is not mentioned.
"I am the way . . . No one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6). It was Jesus who said that. Note, if you will, He did not say, "The church is the way; no one comes to the Father, but through the church." No, my friend, He said, "I am the way." Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God.
"He who has the Son has the life. He who has not the Son has not the life" (I John 5:12). The same answer again, this time from the inspired lips of the Apostle John. Not the church, but Christ.
"Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). That is from the pen of Peter, and it is the authoritative voice of the great apostle himself. What does he say? He tells us that salvation is in Christ and in no other. "No other name," he says. Neither the name of Protestantism nor Roman Catholicism. No minister, no priest, no pope; not the virgin Mary nor any saint. "No other name under heaven," he insists. No church of any kind. Salvation, declares Peter, is through Christ and Christ alone. Then why not turn to Christ? For this wonderful Roman Catholic Bible tells us that it is Christ, and not the church, that saves.
10. Are we saved by works or by faith?
Some say by faith, works, and the sacraments. The Roman Catholic Bible says by faith. Which is right? If by works, it cannot be by faith, and if by faith, it cannot be by works. Either you save yourself by works, or else God saves you by faith. Are you going to afflict your body and count your beads in a vain effort to save your soul by works? Are you going to attempt to lay up merit in heaven by your tears and your prayers, long fastings and church observances, pilgrimages, monastic or convent living, and sacraments? Are you going to suffer all this when God, in this Roman Catholic Bible, tells us that salvation is "not by works?" How foolish! But now let me read once again from this marvelous Book.
"For we reckon that a man is justified (accounted righteous, saved) by faith independently of the works of the Law" (Romans 3:28).
"To him who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the impious, his faith is credited to him as justice" (Romans 4:5).
"God credits justice without works" (Rom. 4:6).
"Man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ . . . we also believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law; because by the works of the Law no man will be justified" (Galatians 2:16).
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not from yourselves, for it is the gift of God; not as the outcome of works, lest anyone may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"Not by reason of good works that we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us" (Titus 3:5).
That, my friend, is what the Roman Catholic Bible says. What are you going to do about it? All these verses that we have read tell you in plain, unmistakable language that you are not saved by works, but that you are saved by faith.
Then where do works come in? James answers that question. "Show me thy faith without works, and I from my works will show thee my faith," he says (James 2:18). Works will follow faith. Faith produces works. If you are saved, your life will show it. You work for God because you ARE saved, not in order to be saved. Faith without works is dead. If there is no change, if you still commit the same sins, if you have not been delivered and set free, then there is no evidence that you are saved. "If then any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the former things have passed away; behold, they are made new!" (II Corinthians 5:17).
Well, now, will you believe God's Word as recorded in this Roman Catholic Bible, or will you believe the teachings of man? It is for you to decide. Remember, there are only two religions in the entire world, man's and God's. Man's is by works - his own efforts, his fastings and prayers, his obedience to the church. That makes him his own saviour. God's is by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus paid it all. "He who is just lives by faith" (Romans 1:17). That makes Christ his Saviour.
Oh, then, my friend, turn from all reliance on yourself, your own efforts, and all your works or sacraments, and open your heart to Jesus Christ. Receive Him as your personal Saviour, rely on His shed blood, and trust Him to save your soul. "Come to me," He says, "all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Never yet has He turned anyone away. "Him who comes to me I will not cast out," He declares (John 6:37). Oh, then come to Him. Will you do it? Do it, and do it NOW!
All religious teaching outside the Bible is tradition. See what Jesus said about that (Mark 7:7-13; Colossians 2:8; I Peter 1:18; Revelation 22:18.