Catholics believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church started by Jesus. They believe that Peter was the first pope because of Matt 16:18-19, that Mary was the mother of God because of Lk 1:43, that the priesthood was started by Jesus in Jn 20:23, that the Eucharist is the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ because of Jn 6:54-56 and Matt 26:26-28, and that salvation is by water baptism because of Rom 6:3-5 and Acts 2:38, and also by faith in Jesus plus keeping the commandments because of Rev 12:17 and Rev 14:12.
They believe that the woman in Rev 12 is Mary and that the man-child is Jesus. They believe that Mary was conceived without sin and lived a sinless life and remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus. They believe that people who don’t believe these things are wrong and need to get right by becoming Catholics so that they can be a part of Jesus’ church. Furthermore, they believe that the King James Bible is a bad bible because it doesn’t contain 7 books that are in the Catholic Bible. They also believe that anyone who believes “sola scriptura” (that doctrine comes from the Bible only and not from tradition) is violating 2 Thes 3:6 and 2 Thes 2:15.
Now what are we to say to these things? The only way to handle these claims is to go to the scripture and see what it says regarding each of these statements. After looking at the scripture we should be able to see clearly which church is Jesus’ church.
There are several reasons why Peter was not the first pope and why Jesus never instituted the office of pope. The rock in Matt 16:18 is not Peter; rather it is “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” (Matt 16:16). This is seen clearly in the cross-references: the rock is Jesus who is God (1 Cor 10:4, Deut 32:4, 18, 31); Jesus is the foundation (1 Cor 3:11); Jesus is the chief cornerstone (1 Pet 2:6-8). Peter is not a rock; he is a stone (Jn 1:42), like the rest of us (1 Pet 2:5). Jesus had to rebuke Peter within five verses of giving him the keys to the kingdom of heaven. He “said unto Peter, Get thee behind me Satan,” (Matt 16:23).
The statement, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” (Matt 16:18) is not a reference to the church; it is a reference to the rock. The gates of hell didn’t prevail against the rock when Jesus spent 3 days and 3 nights in hell before his resurrection (Acts 2:27, 31). The gates of hell couldn’t hold him. Peter wouldn’t allow a man to bow before him or to kiss his ring like the popes do (Acts 10:25-26). Peter was married with children (1 Cor 9:5; 1 Pet 5:13). Peter was the elder in Babylon, not Rome (1 Pet 5:13). The presiding elder in the church council was not Peter; it was James (Acts 15:13; Gal 2:11-12).
The Mother of God
In Lk 1:43, Elisabeth addressed Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” According to Catholics, this is supposed to be translated, “the mother of my God.” Mary cannot be the mother of God. God is everlasting (Ps 90:2; Jn 1:1); he has no beginning. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am,” (Jn 8:58). So, Jesus’ existence predates his birth. Jesus obtained his flesh from Mary (Heb 2:14), but she gave him neither his deity, nor his blood (Acts 20:28).
Catholics believe in confessing sins to a priest based upon Jn 20:23. That verse has absolutely nothing to do with absolution (the priest’s ability to forgive sins). Forgiveness of sins comes directly from the Lord in confession to him individually (1 Jn 1:9, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins [not the priest]; Eph 4:32, “God [not the priest] for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”). Dealing with sin is between an individual and God alone (Ps 51:1-4; 1 Cor 11:31; 2 Cor 7:1).
Jn 20:23 granted to the apostles the ability to remit and retain sins (but not in a confessional). For instance, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 was retained, as were the sins of Simon (Acts 8:18-22), Elymas (Acts 13:8-11), Diotrophes (3 Jn 9-10), Alexander (2 Tim 4:14), Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:20), etc. The sins of the fornicator in 1 Cor 5 were remitted (2 Cor 2, 7), as was the sin of Mark (Acts 13:13; 15:38; 2 Tim 4:11).
The priesthood is not something that is reserved to unmarried men ordained in the Roman Catholic Church. The priesthood is granted to each individual believer in Christ (1 Pet 2:5, 9). In the millennial reign of Jesus, Christians will be kings and priests with him (Rev 1:6; Rev 5:9-10). The office of the priesthood in the Catholic Church is the office of the Nicolaitans (Rev 2:6, 15), which God hates.
The priest is supposed to have the power to change the bread and wine at communion into the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ to fulfill Jn 6:54-56. This is called transubstantiation. However, no one ever ate the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The disciples never ate any part of his body and they never drank a drop of his blood. If they had, they would have violated scripture in at least 3 places (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:10; Acts 15:20).
You ask, “Didn’t they drink his blood and eat his flesh in Matt 26 at the last supper?” No. They ate bread and drank the fruit of the vine (Matt 26:26-29). When Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is my body” he was holding the bread of the Passover. Thus, he showed the Passover leading up to his crucifixion was a testimony to the ultimate death of the Lamb and the shedding of his blood for their sins (Ex 12:5-8, 13-14, 46; 1 Cor 5:7; Jn 1:29; Jn 19:36). He broke the Passover bread, but his body was not broken. The Jews haven’t sacrificed Passover lambs in nearly 2000 years.
Look at Matt 26 carefully. After the “fruit of the vine” was supposedly transubstantiated into his “blood” in verse 28, Jesus called the contents of the cup “this fruit of the vine” in verse 29. Do you know why he called it the “fruit of the vine?” He called it the fruit of the vine because that’s what it was; it was not blood. Look in 1 Cor 11:23-27. Paul does the same thing Jesus did. After the supposed transubstantiation, Paul called the bread “bread”. He didn’t call it the body of Christ, because it is not his body, it is bread. And the communion is a memorial (1 Cor 11:25; Ex 12:14) not a sacrifice or an offering as in the mass (Heb 10:10-14).
Baptismal regeneration is the belief that water baptism washes away original sin and saves you. Catholics believe in the baptismal regeneration of infants, followed later by confirmation at which they confirm their faith in Jesus Christ and live thereafter keeping the commandments.
Water baptism cannot save. The baptism that saves is the baptism by the Holy Spirit that puts a child of God into the body of Christ and spiritually circumcises him (1 Cor 12:13; Col 2:11-12). Notice that a priest does not perform this baptism. The Spirit himself performs this baptism “without hands” as an “operation of God.” This happens the moment anyone receives Jesus Christ as his Savior. Look closely at Rom 6:3-5. This is the spiritual baptism that puts a born again believer into the literal death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is not water baptism.
Now, following spiritual regeneration at the new birth (Tit 3:5), a saint is to be baptized in water (Matt 28:19-20). This water baptism is by immersion, not by sprinkling as the priests do (Matt 3:16; Acts 8:38). Furthermore, water baptism follows faith in Jesus Christ; it doesn’t precede it (Acts 11:15-17; 10:48) as in the Catholic Church.
Concerning keeping the commandments of God for salvation, Rev 12:17 and 14:12 are tribulation passages. In the church age, justification is by faith in Christ (Rom 4:2-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Keeping the commandments of God cannot justify anyone (Gal 2:16, 3:10-13, 3:24-25; Jas 2:10).
The Woman of Rev 12
The woman of Revelation 12 is not a description of Mary at the birth of Jesus Christ, because the events recorded in the book of Revelation follow the ascension of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, Rev 12 is still future. The woman is Israel (Gen 37:9-10) travailing in birth to bring forth the regenerated nation of Israel pictured by the man child (Is 66:7-10), who will rule all nations (Is 60:11-12). The rod of iron shows that Jesus is with them ruling the world (Ps 2:7-10; Rev 20:15; Zech 14:16-19; Zech 8:22-23).
The Immaculate Conception
This is the belief that Mary was sinless, conceived without sin. Catholics believe that in order for Jesus to have been sinless, Mary had to be sinless, too. But Mary’s own confession and her own actions show that she was not sinless. In Lk 2:22-24, Mary offered a sacrifice according to the law. This law is found in Lev 12. Lev 12:8 states plainly that the sacrifice is a “sin offering.” When Mary offered this offering, the priest made “an atonement for her.” She would not have needed this atonement if she were sinless.
When Mary met Elisabeth in Lk 1:47, Mary confessed, “my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” Mary had no need of a Savior if she were sinless.
The Perpetual Virginity
Catholics believe that Mary maintained her virginity after the birth of Jesus Christ. However, the Bible shows that Mary had at least 6 other children after the birth of Jesus. Her male children were named James, Joses, Juda and Simon and she had at least two daughters (Mk 6:3). Catholics believe that these were Jesus’ cousins, not his siblings, in spite of Ps 69:8-9 and Jn 2:17. Paul even stated that he had seen James, the Lord’s brother, in Jerusalem (Gal 1:19).
The King James Bible
Catholics reject the King James Bible because it doesn’t contain the Apocrypha, the seven additional books found in the Catholic Bible. The term Apocrypha means “non-canonical”, that is these books had never been a part of the Hebrew Scriptures. Jerome, who translated what became known as Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, was one of the first to use the term Apocrypha because he recognized that these seven books didn’t belong in the canon of scripture, though he included them in his translation. Augustine later agreed with Jerome as did Pope Gregory the Great, Cardinal Ximenes and Cardinal Cajetan. Profoundly, none of the New Testament authors ever quoted from any one of these seven books, though they quote the Old Testament frequently. Nevertheless, Catholics adopted Jerome’s Latin Vulgate with the apocrypha as the official bible of the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in 1546. In the decrees of the Council of Trent all those who do not accept the seven additional books as a part of the canon of scripture are cursed.
As you can see from a Biblical analysis of the foregoing claims by the Catholic Church, adopting their tradition would be absolutely contrary to scripture. That’s why they despise the belief in the King James Bible as the Final Authority. They use 2 Thes 2:15 and 3:6 to justify the addition of traditions contrary to the Bible. However, Paul’s traditions were never contrary to the words of God and they were incorporated in his epistles (2 Thes 2:15). For example, the tradition of 2 Thes 3:6 is found in the context, “if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Paul’s traditions never included things like bringing statues into the church, venerating Mary, praying the rosary, wearing scapulars, canonizing saints, burning candles, preaching purgatory, offering incense at a mass, teaching the assumption of Mary, observing Lent, electing Popes, and on and on. Paul warned specifically in Col 2:8 to beware of the traditions of men.
The True Church
Jesus’ church is his body of which he is the head (Col 1:18). It is made up of all born again believers (1 Cor 12:13). These believers have received Jesus Christ and are the sons of God (Jn 1:12-13). They have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and put into the body of Christ (Jn 3:3-7; Eph 5:30-32). His church is a living organism (Eph 4:13-16; 1 Pet 2:5) not an organization run by men through a hierarchy of priests, bishops, cardinals and a pope. Local churches are autonomous organizations with only two scriptural offices: pastors (also called bishops or elders) and deacons (1 Tim 3:1, 8).
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder