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Roman Catholics and Protestants: What is the Big Deal? (PDF)

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Are the issues that divided the 16th century church still relevant today? The difference between Roman Catholics and the descendants of the Protestant Reformation is over what the true, universal church of Christ should believe and practice.

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Rev. Robert D. McCurley

Are you a Roman Catholic? You may attend Mass every week, or you may have been baptized as a Catholic and now just attend on special occasions. Perhaps you have friends who are evangelical Protestants. Like many others, you may have asked the question, “What is the big deal?” In a world full of hurt and growing corruption shouldn’t we see these two groups on the same team fighting against the problems in the world? After all, isn’t the split between these two groups just a matter of the past? Shouldn’t the lapse of time enable us to move beyond these differences to work together in a common cause? Some in our day have given a hearty “Yes” to these questions.

The question I am asking is, “What is the big deal?” Are those issues that separated the men of the 16th century still relevant today? What exactly are those issues? The word “catholic” means universal—a reference to the universal church of Christ. The difference between Roman Catholics and the descendants of the Protestant Reformation is over what the true, universal church of Christ believes. Please consider the following:

1. The true Church believes in the doctrine of Scripture alone. God gave the Bible as the primary means through which He speaks to the world (2 Tim. 3:16-17). He said that we are not to believe anything that contradicts that message, even if an angel were to teach us (Gal. 1:6-10). What we are taught must be clearly based upon the authority of Scripture alone and not the traditions of man or the church (2. Cor. 11:1-4).

2. The true Church believes in the doctrine of Christ alone.
Jesus Christ is the only Head of His church (Col. 1:18). He alone has authority to direct and rule His church (Col. 2:18-19). Mary and the saints are not permitted to share His position as Lord and Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). The only vicar of Christ on earth is the Holy Spirit, not the Pope, and the Spirit’s work is to magnify the Son of God (John 16:5-15).

3. The true Church believes in the doctrine of Grace alone. 
Man is by nature a sinner (Rom. 3:23). As such, he is incapable of any spiritual good and is justly under God’s wrath (Rom. 3:10ff). The only way to escape this deserved punishment is through God’s free gift of grace in Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23). Christ’s final sacrifice for sin is never repeated in the Mass or anywhere else (Heb. 10:11-18).

4. The true Church believes in the doctrine of Faith alone.
 Our sinful hearts pollute all attempts at good deeds (Isa. 64:6). Salvation from sin cannot be obtained by earning it through penance, the sacraments, purgatory, or any other works (Eph. 2:8-9). God’s remedy for sin is received by believing in Christ—not faith plus good works (John 3:16). No other priest than Christ can grant the forgiveness of sin (Acts 10:43, John 14:6).

5. The true church believes in the doctrine of the glory of God alone. Since the way of salvation is entirely a gift from God, all of the glory goes to Him alone (Rev. 5:11-14). There is no place for human pride or credit (John 1:12-13). True religion humbles man and magnifies God (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

The Roman Catholic church denies these important doctrines. At stake in our present church connection is our future, eternal destiny.

The question, “How are we saved from our sins?” is the most important question in the world. Christ’s true Church has always answered that question with the Gospel. God did for sinners what sinners could never do for themselves by providing a perfect salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ. Christ took His people’s sin upon Himself—satisfying the Father’s wrath for sin and paying for the guilt of sin in His death on the cross. In exchange, He provides His perfect righteousness to be credited to their account before God. Thus, God remains Just and a Justifier of those who believe (Rom. 3:26). This salvation from sin can only be received by putting our trust in Jesus Christ and resting in His redemptive work.

The reason that evangelical Protestants initially left the Roman Catholic church and have continued to remain separate is because these vital truths are denied by Rome. Leaving a church we have loved is difficult and comes with a great cost, but is there anything more costly than the price of our eternal souls? Concern for our souls and those of our family and friends should motivate us to look away from everything else except Jesus Christ. Love for Christ means love for all that is His—His Word, His Gospel, and His Church. That includes affirming the differences between true Christianity and all other substitutes as a very big deal indeed!

Reviews 3

3 reviews for Roman Catholics and Protestants: What is the Big Deal? (PDF)

  1. Jimmy John Hall

    Thank you again.

  2. Andrew (verified owner)

    Thank you for this helpful tract. We print these off and to distribute to Papists we meet when we are out evangelizing. May the Lord be pleased to use His truth to open blind eyes to the errors of Rome.

  3. Dawn M Hoffmeister

    Joyful truths

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