The pope has once again publicly contradicted Scripture – specifically the Gospel. Today he approved a document that reiterated several perpetual Catholic errors. (See the full story here.) In particular, he wanted to emphasize that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is the only true church and that all others are not true churches and therefore are not channels of salvation.
The only exception? The Greek Orthodox church. Why? Because they have apostolic succession and enjoyed “many elements of sanctification and of truth” – even though they have a “wound” that harms them, namely that they fail to recognize the primacy of the pope. All other churches are merely ecclesiastical communities because they do not have the “means of salvation.”
(Interpretation: Salvation is gained only by partaking of the sacraments of the Catholic church. You must be confirmed, be baptized, take communion, do penance, be married in the Catholic church, undergo holy orders (ordination), and have last rites (extreme unction) to have completed all seven steps in the Catholic “means of salvation” and thereby be assured entry into heaven. It’s salvation by works.)
Once again, the pope demonstrates his blindness to Scripture and history. Catholic authorities have been asserting the primacy of the bishop of Rome as the successor of Peter for centuries. They claim that this primacy goes back to the very earliest days of the Church.
What’s their proof? Letters ascribed to a bishop of Rome in the first century affirming, “The Holy Roman and Apostolic Church obtained the primacy not from the apostles but from our Lord and Savior himself, and it enjoys pre-eminence of power above all of the churches and the whole flock of Christian people…The sacerdotal order commenced in the period of the New Testament directly after our Lord Christ, when to Peter was committed the pontificate previously exercised in the Church by Christ himself.”
But Luther himself repudiated these letters and demanded the RCC come to grips with the reality of history. He said: “I impugn these decretals. No one will ever persuade me that the holy pope and martyr said that.”
Guess what? Luther was right. Those letters are universally recognized by Catholic authorities as belonging to spurious Isodorian decretals. They were fakes. Yet the Catholic church continues to cling to their own primacy – despite Scriptural or historical proof – and to the false notion that salvation only comes through the Church – it alone holds the “means of salvation.” Whereas, no other group does. Especially not those born of the Reformation.
The truth is that the RCC doesn’t have a clue what the “means of salvation” are. The means to being saved are clearly expressed in the “solas” of the Reformation: Sinners are saved by faith alone, through grace alone, by Christ alone, through the Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone. (sola fide, sola gratia, sola Christus, sola Scriptura, soli deo gloria – respectively). Those are the “means” of salvation. And they are accessible by any person on earth in whom the Holy Spirit works His saving grace.
The Roman Catholic Church or any other church does not possess exclusive access to salvation in Christ. In fact, the RCC and those churches that fail to understand the Gospel correctly and proclaim it clearly are the ones who do not have the “means of salvation.”
Instead, they deny them! And thereby mislead millions upon millions of people into eternal perdition through their Gospel-denying teaching and practices. May the true Gospel be proclaimed more widely by the true Church – every born-again believer. The Gospel is the good news that Christ has accomplished for us what we could never accomplish on our own merits. Take a moment to thank Him that that’s true!