CATHOLICISM

"I am a Catholic, why should I consider becoming a Christian?"

First, please understand that we intend no offense in the wording of this question. We genuinely receive questions, from Catholics, along the lines of: “What is the difference between Catholics and Christians?” In face-to-face conversations with Catholics, we have literally heard, “I am not a Christian, I am Catholic.” To many Catholics, the terms “Christian” and “Protestant” are synonymous. With all that said, the intent of this article is that Catholics would study what the Bible says about being a Christian, and would perhaps consider that the Catholic faith is not the best representation of what the Bible describes. A key distinction between Catholics and Christians is the view of the Bible. Catholics view the Bible as having equal authority with the Church and tradition. Christians view the Bible as the supreme authority for faith and practice. The question is, how does the Bible present itself? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Scripture, of itself, is sufficient for the Christian to be thoroughly equipped for every good work. This text tells us that Scripture is not “just the beginning,” or “just the basics,” or the “foundation for a more complete church tradition.” On the contrary, Scripture is perfectly and fully sufficient for everything in the Christian life. Scripture can teach us, rebuke us, correct us, train us, and equip us. Bible Christians do not deny the value of church tradition. Rather, Christians uphold that for a church tradition to be valid, it must be based on the clear teaching of Scripture, and must be in full agreement with Scripture. Catholic friend, study the Word of God for yourself. In God’s Word you will find God’s description of, and intention for, His Church. 2 Timothy 2:15 declares, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

A second key difference between Catholics and “Bible Christians” is the understanding of how we can approach God. Catholics tend to approach God through intermediaries, such as Mary or the saints. Christians approach God directly, offering prayers to no one other than God Himself. The Bible proclaims that we ourselves can approach God’s throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:16). The Bible is perfectly clear that God desires us to pray to Him, to have communication with Him, to ask Him for the things we need (Philippians 4:6; Matthew 7:7-8; 1 John 5:14-15). There is no need for mediators or intermediaries, as Christ is our one and only mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), and both Christ and the Holy Spirit are already interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27; Hebrews 7:25). Catholic friend, God loves you intimately and has provided an open door to direct communication through Jesus.

The most crucial difference between Catholics and “Bible Christians” is on the issue of salvation. Catholics view salvation almost entirely as a process, while Christians view salvation as both a completed status and a process. Catholics see themselves as “being saved,” while Christians view themselves as “having been saved.” 1 Corinthians 1:2 tells us, “…to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…” The words “sanctified” and “holy” come from the same Greek root. This verse is declaring that Christians are both sanctified and called to be sanctified. The Bible presents salvation as a gift that is received the moment a person places faith in Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16). When a person receives Christ as Savior, he/she is justified (declared righteous – Romans 5:9), redeemed (rescued from slavery to sin – 1 Peter 1:18), reconciled (achieving peace with God – Romans 5:1), sanctified (set apart for God’s purposes – 1 Corinthians 6:11), and born again as a new creation (1 Peter 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Each of these are accomplished facts that are fully received at the moment of salvation. Christians are then called to live, practically (called to be holy), what is already true, positionally (sanctified).

The Catholic viewpoint is that salvation is received by faith, but then must be “maintained” by good works and participation in the Sacraments. Bible Christians do not deny the importance of good works or that Christ calls us to observe the ordinances in remembrance of Him and in obedience to Him. The difference is that Christians view these things as the result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation, or a means of maintaining salvation. Salvation is an accomplished work, purchased by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:2). God offers us salvation and assurance of salvation because Jesus’ sacrifice was fully, completely, and perfectly sufficient. If we receive God’s precious gift of salvation, we can know that we are saved. 1 John 5:13 declares, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

We can know that we have eternal life and we can have assurance of our salvation because of the greatness of Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice does not need to be re-offered or re-presented. Hebrews 7:27 says, “He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself.” Hebrews 10:10 declares, “…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” 1 Peter 3:18 exclaims, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God…” Christ’s once for all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient. Jesus declared on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus’ atoning sacrifice was the full payment for all of our sins (1 John 2:2). As a result, all of our sins are forgiven and we are promised eternal life in Heaven the moment we receive the gift God offers us – salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

Catholic friend, do you desire this “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:6)? If so, all you must do is receive it (John 1:12), through faith (Romans 5:1). God loves us and offers us salvation as a gift (John 3:16). If we receive His grace, by faith, we have salvation as our eternal possession (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once saved, nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can remove us from His hand (John 10:28-29). If you desire this salvation, if you desire to have all your sins forgiven, if you desire to have assurance of salvation, if you desire direct access to the God who loves you – receive it and it is yours. This is the salvation that Jesus died to provide and that God offers as a gift.

"What is the origin of the Catholic Church?"

The Roman Catholic Church contends that its origin is the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ in approximately 30 A.D. The Catholic Church proclaims itself to be the Church that Jesus Christ died for, the Church that was established and built by the Apostles. Is that the true origin of the Catholic Church? On the contrary. Even a cursory reading of the New Testament will reveal that the Catholic Church does not have its origin in the teachings of Jesus, or His apostles. In the New Testament, there is no mention of the papacy, worship / adoration of Mary (or the immaculate conception of Mary, the perpetual virginity of Mary, the assumption of Mary, or Mary as co-redemptrix and mediatrix), petitioning saints in Heaven for their prayers, apostolic succession, the ordinances of the church functioning as sacraments, infant baptism, confession of sin to a priest, purgatory, indulgences, or the equal authority of church tradition and Scripture. So, if the origin of the Catholic Church is not in the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, what is the true origin of the Catholic Church?

For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman empire, and Christians were terribly persecuted. This changed after the “conversion” of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine “legalized” Christianity at the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313. Later, in A.D. 325, Constantine called together the Council of Nicea, in an attempt to unify Christianity. Constantine envisioned Christianity as a religion that could unite the Roman Empire, which at that time was beginning to fragment and divide. While this may have seemed to be a positive development for the Christian church, the results were anything but positive. Just as Constantine refused to fully embrace the Christian faith, but continued many of his pagan beliefs and practices, so the Christian church that Constantine promoted was a mixture of true Christianity and Roman paganism.

Constantine found that with the Roman Empire being so vast, expansive, and diverse – not everyone would agree to forsake their religious beliefs and instead embrace Christianity. So, Constantine allowed, and even promoted, the “Christianization” of pagan beliefs. Completely pagan and utterly unbiblical beliefs were given new “Christian” identities. Some clear examples of this are as follows:

The Cult of Isis, an Egyptian mother-goddess religion, was absorbed into Christianity by replacing Isis with Mary. Many of the titles that were used for Isis, such as “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God,” and “theotokos” (God-bearer) were attached to Mary. Mary was given an exalted role in the Christian faith, far beyond what the Bible ascribes to her, in order to attract Isis worshippers to a faith they would not otherwise embrace. Many temples to Isis were, in fact, converted into temples dedicated to Mary. The first clear hints of Catholic Mariology occur in the writings of Origen, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, which happened to be the focal point of Isis worship.

Mithraism was a religion in the Roman Empire in the 1st through 5th centuries A.D. It was very popular among the Romans, especially among Roman soldiers, and was possibly the religion of several Roman emperors. While Mithraism was never given “official” status in the Roman empire, it was the de-facto official religion until Constantine and succeeding Roman emperors replaced Mithraism with Christianity. One of the key features of Mithraism was a sacrificial meal, which involved eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a bull. Mithras, the god of Mithraism, was “present” in the flesh and blood of the bull, and when consumed, granted salvation to those who partook of the sacrificial meal (theophagy, the eating of one’s god). Mithraism also had seven “sacraments,” making the similarities between Mithraism and Roman Catholicism too many to ignore. Constantine and his successors found an easy substitute for the sacrificial meal of Mithraism in concept of the Lord’s Supper / Christian Communion. Sadly, some early Christians had already begun to attach mysticism to the Lord’s Supper, rejecting the Biblical concept of a simple and worshipful remembrance of Christ’s death and shed blood. The Romanization of the Lord’s Supper made the transition to a sacrificial consumption of Jesus Christ, now known as the Catholic Mass / Eucharist, complete.

Most Roman emperors (and citizens) were henotheists. A henotheist is one who believes in the existence of many gods, but focuses primary on one particular god, or considers one particular god supreme over the other gods. For example, the Roman god Jupiter was supreme over the Roman pantheon of gods. Roman sailors were often worshippers of Neptune, the god of the oceans. When the Catholic Church absorbed Roman paganism, it simply replaced the pantheon of gods with the saints. Just as the Roman pantheon of gods had a god of love, a god of peace, a god of war, a god of strength, a god of wisdom, etc., so the Catholic Church has a saint who is “in charge” over each of these, and many other categories. Just as many Roman cities had a god specific to the city, so the Catholic Church provided “patron saints” for the cities.

The supremacy of the Roman bishop (the papacy) was created with the support of the Roman emperors. With the city of Rome being the center of government for the Roman empire, and with the Roman emperors living in Rome, the city of Rome rose to prominence in all facets of life. Constantine, and his successors, gave their support to the bishop of Rome as the supreme ruler of the church. Of course it is best for the unity of the Roman empire that the government and state religion be centered in the same location. While most other bishops (and Christians) resisted the idea of the Roman bishop being supreme, the Roman bishop eventually rose to supremacy, due to the power and influence of the Roman emperors. When the Roman empire collapsed, the popes took on the title that had previously belonged to the Roman emperors – Pontificus Maximus.

Many more examples could be given. These four should suffice in demonstrating the true origin of the Catholic Church. Of course the Roman Catholic Church denies the pagan origin of its beliefs and practices. The Catholic Church disguises its pagan beliefs under layers of complicated theology. The Catholic Church excuses and denies its pagan origin beneath the mask of “church tradition.” Recognizing that many of its beliefs and practices are utterly foreign to Scripture, the Catholic Church is forced to deny the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

The origin of the Catholic Church is the tragic compromise of Christianity with the pagan religions that surrounded it. Instead of proclaiming the Gospel and converting the pagans, the Catholic Church “Christianized” the pagan religions, and “paganized” Christianity. By blurring the differences and erasing the distinctions, yes, the Catholic Church made itself attractive to the people of the Roman empire. One result was the Catholic Church becoming the supreme religion in the “Roman world” for centuries. However, another result was the most dominant form of Christianity apostatizing from the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and the true proclamation of God’s Word.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 declares, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

"What does the Bible say about confession of sin to a priest?"

The concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in Scripture. First, the New Testament does not teach that there are to be priests in the New Covenant. Instead, the New Testament teaches that all believers are priests. 1 Peter 2:5-9 describes believers as a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood.” Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 both describe believers as “a kingdom and priests.” In the Old Covenant, the faithful had to approach God through the priests. The priests were mediators between the people and God. The priests offered sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. That is no longer necessary. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can now approach God’s throne with boldness (Hebrews 4:16). The temple veil tearing in two at Jesus’ death was symbolic of the dividing wall between God and humanity being destroyed. We can approach God directly, ourselves, without the use of a human mediator. Why? Because Jesus Christ is our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-15; 10:21), and the only mediator between us and God (1 Timothy 2:15). The New Testament teaches that there are to be elders (1 Timothy 3), deacons (1 Timothy 3), bishops (Titus 1:6-9), and pastors (Ephesians 4:11) – but not priests.

When it comes to confession of sin, believers are told in 1 John 1:9 to confess their sins to God. God is faithful and just to forgive our sins as we confess them to Him. James 5:16 speaks of confessing our trespasses “to one another,” but this is not the same as confessing sins to a priest as the Roman Catholic Church teaches. Priests / church leaders are nowhere mentioned in the context of James 5:16. Further, James 5:16 does not link forgiveness of sins with the confession of sins “to one another.”

The Roman Catholic Church bases their practice of confession to a priest primarily on Catholic tradition. Catholic do point to John 20:23, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." From this verse, Catholics claim that God gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins, and that authority was passed on to the successors of the apostles, e.g. the bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church. There are several problems with this interpretation. (1) John 20:23 nowhere mentions confession of sin. (2) John 20:23 nowhere promises, or even hints, that the authority to forgive sins would be passed on to the successors of the apostles. Jesus’ promise was specifically directed to the apostles. (3) The New Testament nowhere states that the apostles would even have successors to their apostolic authority. Similarly, Catholics point to Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 (binding and loosing) as evidence for the Catholic Church’s authority to forgive sins. The same three above points apply equally to these Scriptures.

Again, the concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in Scripture. We are to confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9). As New Covenant believers, we do not need mediators between us and God. We can go to God directly because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

"Is Catholicism a false religion? Are Catholics saved?"

The most crucial problem with the Roman Catholic Church is its belief that faith alone in Christ is not sufficient for salvation. The Bible clearly and consistently states that receiving Jesus Christ as Savior, by grace through faith, grants salvation (John 1:12; 3:16,18,36; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10,13; Ephesians 2:8-9). The Roman Catholic Church rejects this. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that a person must believe in Jesus Christ AND be baptized AND receive the Eucharist along with the other sacraments AND obey the decrees of the Roman Catholic Church AND perform meritorious works AND not die with any mortal sins AND etc., etc., etc. Catholic divergence from the Bible on this most crucial of issues, salvation, means that yes, Catholicism is a false religion. If a person believes what the Catholic Church officially teaches, he/she will not be saved. Any claim that works or rituals must be added to faith in order for salvation to be achieved is a claim that Jesus’ death was not sufficient to fully purchase our salvation.

While salvation by faith is the most crucial issue, in comparing Roman Catholicism with the Word of God, there are many other differences and contradictions as well. The Roman Catholic Church teaches many doctrines that are in disagreement with what the Bible declares. These include apostolic succession, worship of saints or Mary, prayer to saints or Mary, the pope / papacy, infant baptism, transubstantiation, plenary indulgences, the sacramental system, and purgatory. While Catholics claim Scriptural support for these concepts, none of these teachings have any solid foundation in the clear teaching of Scripture. These concepts are based on Catholic tradition, not the Word of God. In fact, they all clearly contradict Biblical principles.

In regards to the question “Are Catholics saved?”, this is a more difficult question to answer. It is impossible to give a universal statement on the salvation of all members of any denomination of Christianity. Not ALL Baptists are saved. Not ALL Presbyterians are saved. Not ALL Lutherans are saved. Salvation is determined by personal faith in Jesus alone for salvation, not by titles or denominational identification. Despite the unbiblical beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, there are genuine believers who attend Roman Catholic churches. There are many Roman Catholics who have genuinely placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. However, these Catholic Christians are believers despite what the Catholic Church teaches, not because of what it teaches. To varying degrees, the Catholic Church teaches from the Bible and points people to Jesus Christ as the Savior. As a result, people are sometimes saved in Catholic churches. The Bible has an impact whenever it is proclaimed (Isaiah 55:11). Catholic Christians remain in the Catholic Church out of ignorance of what the Catholic Church truly stands for, out of family tradition and peer pressure, or out of a desire to reach other Catholics for Christ.

At the same time, the Catholic Church also leads many people away from a genuine faith relationship with Christ. The unbiblical beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church have often given the enemies of Christ opportunity to blaspheme. The Roman Catholic Church is not the church that Jesus Christ established. It is not a church that is based on the teachings of the Apostles (as described in the Book of Acts and the New Testament epistles). While Jesus’ words in Mark 7:9 were directed towards the Pharisees, they accurately describe the Roman Catholic Church, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

"What is the difference between Catholics and Protestants?"

There are several very important differences between Catholics and Protestants. While there have been some attempts over the last several years to find common ground between the two groups, the fact is that the differences remain, and they are just as important today as they were at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Following is brief summary of some of the more important differences.

One of the first major differences between Catholicism and Protestantism is the issue of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the sole source of God’s special revelation to mankind, and as such it teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is commonly referred to as “Sola Scriptura” and is one of the “Five Solas” (sola being Latin for “alone”) that came out of the Protestant Reformation as summaries of some of the important differences between Catholics and Protestants.

While there are many verses in the Bible that establish it’s authority and it’s sufficiency for all matters of faith and practice, one of the clearest is 2 Timothy 3:16 where we see that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Catholics on the other hand reject the doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” and do not believe that the Bible alone is sufficient. They believe that both the Bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equally binding upon the Christian. Many Roman Catholics doctrines, such as purgatory, praying to the saints, worship or veneration of Mary, etc. have little or no basis at all in Scripture, but are based solely on Roman Catholic traditions. Essentially the Roman Catholic Church’s denial of “Sola Scriptura” and their insistence that both the Bible and their “Sacred Tradition” are equal in authority undermines the sufficiency, authority and completeness of the Bible. The view of Scripture is at the root of many of, if not all, the differences between Catholics and Protestants.

Another major but closely related difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is over the office and authority of the Pope. According to Catholicism the Pope is the “Vicar of Christ” (a vicar is a substitute), and takes the place of Jesus as the visible head of the Church. As such he has the ability to speak “ex cathedra” (with authority on matters of faith and practice), and when he does so his teachings are considered infallible and binding upon all Christians. On the other hand, Protestants believe that no human being is infallible, and that Christ alone is the head of the church. Catholics rely on apostolic succession as a way of trying to establishing the Pope’s authority. But Protestants believe that the church’s authority does not come from apostolic succession, but instead is derived from the Word of God. Spiritual power and authority does not rest in the hands of a mere man, but in the very Word of God recorded in Scripture. While Catholicism teaches that only the Catholic Church can properly and correctly interpret the Bible, Protestants believe that the Bible teaches that God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all born again believers, enabling all believers to understand the message of the Bible.

This is clearly seen in passages such as John 14:16-17: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (See also John 14:26 and 1 John 2:27). While Catholicism teaches that only the Roman Catholic Church has the authority and power to interpret the Bible, Protestantism acknowledges the biblical doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, and that individual Christians can trust the Holy Spirit for guidance in reading and interpreting the Bible for themselves.

A third major difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is how one is saved. Another of the “Five Solas” of the reformation was “Sola Fide” (faith alone), which affirms the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-10). However, according to Roman Catholicism, man cannot be saved by faith alone in Christ alone. They teach that the Christian must rely on faith plus “meritorious works” in order to be saved. Essential to the Roman Catholic doctrine of salvation are the Seven Sacraments, which are: baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, anointing of the sick, Holy Orders, and matrimony. Protestants believe that on the basis of faith in Christ alone, believers are justified by God as all their sins are paid for by Christ on the cross and His righteousness is imputed to them. Catholics on the other hand believe that Christ’s righteousness is imparted to the believer by “grace through faith,” but in itself is not sufficient to justify the believer. The believer must “supplement” the righteousness of Christ imparted to him with meritorious works.

Catholics and Protestants also disagree on what it means to be justified before God. To the Catholic, justification involves being made righteous and holy. They believe that faith in Christ is only the beginning of salvation, and that the individual must build upon that with good works because “man has to merit God’s grace of justification and eternal salvation.” Of course this view of justification contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture in passages such as Romans 4:1-12; Titus 3:3-7, as well as many others. On the other hand, Protestants distinguish between the one time act of justification (when we are declared righteous and holy by God based on our faith in Christ’s atonement on the cross), and sanctification (the ongoing process of being made righteous that continues throughout our lives on earth.) While Protestants recognize that works are important, they believe they are the result or fruit of salvation, but never the means to it. Catholics blend justification and sanctification together into one ongoing process, which leads to confusion about how one is saved.

A fourth major difference between Catholics and Protestants has to do with what happens after men die. While both believe that unbelievers will spend eternity in hell, there is significant and important differences as to what happens to believers. From their church traditions and their reliance of non-canonical books, the Catholics have developed the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, is a “place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” On the other hand, Protestants believe that because we are justified by faith in Christ alone, and that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us – when we die we will go straight to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord (Corinthians 5:6-10 and Philippians 1:23).

Yet even more disturbing about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is the fact that they believe that man must or even can pay or make satisfaction for his own sins. This along with their misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches about how man is justified before God, results in a low view of the sufficiency and efficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross. Simply put, the Roman Catholic viewpoint on salvation implies that Christ’s atonement on the cross was not sufficient payment for the sins of those who believe in Him, and that even a believer must atone or pay for his own sins, either through acts of penance, or time in purgatory. Yet the Bible teaches over and over again that it is Christ’s death alone that can satisfy or propitiate God’s wrath against sinners (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). Our works of righteousness cannot add to what Christ has already accomplished.

While there are numerous other differences between what Catholics and Protestants believe, these four should be adequate to establish that there are serious differences between the two. In much the same way as the Judiziers (Jews who said that Gentile Christians had to obey the Old Testament law to be saved) that Paul wrote about in Galatians, Catholics, by making works necessary for one to be justified by God, end up with a completely different gospel. The differences between Catholicism and evangelical Protestants are important and significant.

It is our prayer that God will open up the eyes of anyone reading this article who is putting their faith or trust in the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is our hope that everyone will understand and believe that their “works of righteousness’ cannot justify them, or sanctify them (Isaiah 64:6). It is our prayer that all will instead put their faith solely in the fact that we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” (Romans 3:24-25). God saves us, “not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).