QUESTION: My friends say all Roman Catholics will go to hell. Is this true?
ANSWER: According to the Bible, no one is going to hell based upon membership in any church. God’s Word recognizes only one Church: that Church which, in Matthew 16:18, the Lord Jesus Christ said He would build. It began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the 120 followers of the Lord Jesus who were gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem. It is termed “the Church of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” in 1 Timothy 3:15.
According to God’s Word, salvation is based upon personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The jailer at Philippi was told, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Earlier, speaking of Jesus, Peter said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Never is anyone told to join a certain church for salvation; such a concept is not found in Scripture, which teaches only the fact of God adding people to the Church.
While it claims that apart from it there is no salvation, sadly, the Roman Catholic Church neither teaches nor holds the eternal security of the believer in Christ. Down through the ages, however, many Catholics have rested their faith only in the Lord Jesus and His finished work upon the cross. They have loved and trusted Him solely for their salvation. All these have been and are being saved – but only through faith in Him, not through anything their church can do.
By contrast, many Roman Catholics trust and have trusted their baptism, their church membership, their good works, their prayers, the sacraments, the Virgin Mary or certain saints to save them. Sadly, those who do so will be lost, not for being Catholic, but for rejecting or neglecting God’s only way of salvation – trusting in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus.
Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org