Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #105

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

First of all, I want to welcome all the folks from our “Downloaders” database who are now receiving this newsletter. And, I want to give all of you one more chance to decline to receive this newsletter. If you would like to “Unsubcribe,” simply click on the following link and then type in your email address and you will be removed from our database: $RemovalHTML$

With the addition of our Downloaders, I believe we now have some 20,000+ folks subscribed to our Apologetics for the Masses e-newsletter…onward and upward!

Second of all, I’ve had a number of you over the last couple of years ask me to write a book on apologetics. Problem is, though, I’ve just never been able to set aside the time necessary for such a project. But, over the long holiday weekend it finally hit me how I could find the time to write this book.

What I plan on doing, probably starting the first of the year, is to start writing my book – chapter by chapter – in this newsletter. And, I would like you guys to be my editors. Let me know if you find misspelled words, or if you think something could be worded better, or if there is a Scripture verse that you think I should have used when covering a particular topic, and so on. I’ll look at all of the feedback and make corrections to the text as needed.

Then, maybe sometime in the late Spring or early Summer, I’ll hopefully be in a position to send it off to a publisher. Or, I may just find a good printer and have it nicely bound and then start offering it through my website. I’ll decide on exactly how to publish it once I’ve gotten the thing written.

The tentative title is “Apologetics for the Scripturally-Challenged,” and it will be, in essence, the written version of my audio materials. Each talk being essentially one chapter of the book. It will, however, be updated with new materials and will incorporate one or more of the 4 apologetics strategies I teach – 1) The Ignorant Catholic; 2) Being Offensive (Aw-fensive) Without Being Offensive (Uh-fensive); 3) It’s the Principle of the Thing; and 4) But That’s MY Interpretation! – into each chapter. And, with your help, maybe I can put in some end of chapter study questions or some such thing to make it useful not just as a book, but as an apologetics study guide or maybe even a homeschooling textbook or some such thing. I’m open to suggestions.

So, that’s the plan. I won’t necessarily do a chapter of the book every week – I’ll still be carrying on some exchanges with non-Catholics and doing some Q&A’s and such – but hopefully I can have most of it, if not all of it, completed by the end of Spring. That’s the plan anyway.


Now, to this week’s topic. Ever been asked the question: “If you were to die tonight do you have absolute assurance that you will go to Heaven?”

That’s a question that many Evangelicals use when approaching Catholics to try and start the process of pulling them out of the Catholic Church. I recently attended a seminar at Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA), which is one of the largest – if not the largest – Protestant churches in the Birmingham area. They were holding a series of classes over a several week period on various non-Christian belief systems. They had one on Atheism, on Islam, on Jehovah’s Witnesses, on Mormonism, and then guess which non-Christian faith tradition they covered after Mormonism? You got it! Roman Catholicism! (And please read “Roman Catholicism” with a sort of deep and sinister tone in your head.)

Well, I didn’t attend the other classes, but I did go to this one. And, one of the pieces of literature they handed out was on how to approach Catholics so as to witness to them about Jesus Christ. Below is first the text of the “approach” they suggested, and then my comments follow.


"A Simple Approach in Witnessing [to Roman Catholics]"

1. Don’t attack Roman Catholicism!!!

2. Ask them the question, "Are you a Christian?" (They will probably answer, "Yes, I’m a Catholic.")

3. Respond by saying, "Great, then do you believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior?" (They will probably answer, "Yes".)

4. Ask, "If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you have eternal life, that you will go to heaven and be with the Lord?"  (They will probably respond that they hope so or they are trying, or how is it possible to know that.)

5. If they indicate that they don’t know for sure then ask: "What is it that separates us from God?"  (The answer you want is sin: Rom 3:32, 6:23.)

6. Then ask, "Which sin of ours doesn’t Christ fully atone for?"   (The answer should be none – He died for all our sins.  1 Pet 3:18; Heb 10:10-12; Rom 8:1; Rom 5:1.)

7. State: "To truly receive Christ as your Savior, you must trust in Him alone, that He took all of our sins on the cross that we might know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13)." 


My Response:

Well, we’re good up until Question #4. The first thing I do whenever someone asks me this question is to immediately ask them: "Where is that question in the Bible?"  Where does Jesus, or Paul, or Peter, or James, or anyone else ask someone, "If you died tonight do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven?"  Ask them to give you book, chapter, and verse.  They can’t do it, because that question is not in the Bible.  In other words, these "Bible-only" Christians have made up some sort of salvation test that is nowhere found in the Bible…it is a man-made invention.

Now, of course they’ll come up with some sort of reply to your question, and then get back to asking you to answer their question.  So, when asked if you "know" that you would go to Heaven should you "die tonight," go ahead and answer the question like this: "I do not judge myself.  I am not aware of anything against myself, but that does not mean I am acquitted.  It is the Lord Who judges me."  

Now, if they try and point out that the Bible says that we can "know" – which they interpret to mean "have absolute assurance" – that we are saved and heading to Heaven and, therefore, any one who is "really" a Christian would have absolute assurance of their salvation, then simply repeat, "I do not judge myself.  I am not aware of anything against myself, but that does not mean I am acquitted.  It is the Lord Who judges me."  If they then imply, or come right out and say, that your response is faulty, or somehow wrong, or that your response indicates that you are not saved – which they will eventually do – then simply point out that your response is almost an exact quote from Paul  – 1 Cor 4:3-4.  Tell them you are simply answering their non-scriptural question with a quote from Scripture itself.  And, if they take that to somehow mean that you are not saved, then they are directly insinuating that Paul himself must not have been saved…because those are Paul’s words!

Or, another option would be to simply say, "Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed, lest he fall."  Again, this is a direct quote from Paul (1 Cor 10:12), that will throw your questioner for a loop. 

Now, if you want to get all the way through the test, rather than engaging in battle at Question #4, you could simply answer #4 with something like this: "I am not the judge of such things, God is."  Which is basically what Paul is saying, but since it’s not a direct quote from Scripture they may not recognize that you have responded with a solid scriptural principle – God is our judge, we are not. 

So, let’s say you answer #4 with, "I am not my own judge, God is," and they then interpret that as the poor little Catholic taking the bait and they move in to spring the trap with question #5, "What is it that separates us from God?"  And you, quite rightly, answer with, "Sin."  They then think they’ve sealed the deal with Question #6, "Which sin of ours doesn’t Christ fully atone for?" 

What do you do?  How do you respond?

What I would say in response to the question: "Which sin of ours doesn’t Christ fully atone for," is this: "The unrepented one."  Now, Christ did indeed atone for all of our sins, repented and unrepented; however, the atonement is not applied to the unrepented sins.  So turn around and ask your questioner this: "Does Christ forgive YOUR unrepented sins?"  Now this could present quite a problem to your questioner, because this person, based on the fact that they asked you this series of questions, undoubtedly believes not only in salvation by faith alone, but also in the dogma of once saved, always saved.  In other words, they believe that once they’ve accepted Jesus, they are going to Heaven no matter what they do after that. 

So, because they believe in once saved, always saved, they have to believe that Christ forgives their sins whether they repent of them or not.  Yet, if they answer your question with a, "Yes," Christ does indeed forgive their unrepented sins, they are flying in the face of Scripture: 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  "If," we confess our sins.  If we repent.  If we don’t, we are not forgiven.  If we are not forgiven, we are not saved.  This can also be very clearly seen in Jesus’ words to the seven churches in Rev 2 and 3.

But, if they answer in accord with Scripture and say, "No," Christ does not forgive their unrepented sins, then how can they believe in once saved, always saved?  Because once they’re saved, they could always commit a sin for which they do not repent.  God does not force us to repent.  Repentance is not automatic, even for a Christian.  And, if they have a sin for which they haven’t repented, which means it hasn’t been forgiven, which means they have lost their salvation since, as they pointed out earlier, sin separates us from Christ…then how can once saved always saved be true?

Now, as in any of these situations, they will have undoubtedly have a response…words will come out of their mouths.  But, I can guarantee you that it is not a response that will make much scriptural sense.  So, no matter what they say in response to your question, examine it very carefully because it will not be consistent either with Scripture, or with one of their earlier statements.  There will be a disconnect…an inconsistency…in what they say, guaranteed.  You just have to pay attention and just keep coming back to your question until they have given you a logically and scripturally-consistent answer.

And, if they ever get to #7, tell them that you agree with that statement 100%.  As a Catholic, we believe that we must trust in Christ and in Him alone for our salvation.  We believe that His death on the cross paid the full price for our sins that we may know that we have eternal life.  However, you don’t necessarily agree with their interpretation of the verses from Scripture that they are alluding to.  Again, they interpret the word "know" as meaning "absolute assurance," which, in fact, it does not necessarily mean, and they wring a "once saved, always saved" dogma out of the Scriptures that they are twisting in order to try and pull you out of the Church.  Yet, the dogma of once saved, always saved, flies directly in the face of Scripture. 

You can conclude by telling your questioner that you believe you were saved by God’s grace alone, but that now that you are saved, in order to run the race to the end, you need to cooperate with God’s grace in your life and produce good fruit, or you will be like the branches of the vine in John 15:1-6 that get cut off from the vine, thrown into the fire, and burned.  And ask them if they believe they will remain a branch of the vine if they do not produce good fruit.  See what they say…



In Conclusion

The guy that presented this class at Briarwood Presbyterian is a Protestant apologist who is known nationally for his work with cults – and, yes, he believes the Catholic Church is a cult. I proposed to him at the end of his class that we have a public “dialogue” at Briarwood Presbyterian so that both sides of the issue can be fairly presented. He agreed, and I’m waiting to see if he follows up. If not, I’ll soon follow up with him.

I hope all of you have a great week!

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Apologetics for the Masses