How to Tactfully Get to the Issue of Salvation With Catholics
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Just about every Christian has Roman Catholic friends, relatives or work associates. And the more we study the Scriptures, the more we are concerned that they are deceived in a false religion which teaches them to trust in things other than the blood of Christ alone for their eternal salvation.
So how do we approach them with the Truth? This can be a dilemma, especially considering that Catholics believe that theirs is “the One True Church” and, by implication, this means that what we offer is only “second-best.” Remember, they receive religious instruction only from Catholic “priests,” Bishops or the Pope.
Here is a way to, non-offensively, get to the most important issue of all,
Salvation, with Catholics.
First, always approach Catholics with prayer and humility and only if your own Christian life is consistent. Then, bring God’s Word into the picture early to start a conversation. This accomplishes a few things A.) You are finding “common ground” with the Catholic as they believe the Bible is God’s Word, also. And B.) You are establishing early that any dialogue about the way of Salvation you have with them MUST include the Bible. This is not about what you or anyone thinks, it’s ultimately about what the Bible says.
A good passage to start with is 1 Peter 3:15, which speaks about giving “a reason for the hope that is in you.” Catholics consider Peter to be “The First Pope” so they are likely to give “his” words extra weight. Ask the Catholic to tell you what THEIR Hope is when they die and stand before God. This lets them feel affirmed, because you’re not just “preaching” at them but you’re giving THEM a chance to share with YOU. Listen carefully to what they say. (Then, if they’re fair, it’s your turn and you can share your Hope.)
For example, they may say “My Hope is that I keep God’s commandments and do good works.” When you share what YOUR Hope is, you will then want to emphasize Ephesians 2:8-9, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Emphasize that God showed you that we have no goodness of our own, that even our “righteous deeds are as filthy rags,” and then have Scripture to back it up.
Or, in response to the “What is your Hope” question, Catholics may answer that it’s Partaking of the Sacraments, or Following the Pope, or Prayers to Mary and the Saints, or Going to Mass, and so on. Ultimately, all of these answers point to one thing: their answer shows that they are trusting in something or someone OTHER than Christ alone. So when you share what your hope is, make sure to quote Acts 4:12, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,” along with other passages. Emphasize that the context of Acts 4:12 refers to the Lord Jesus only.
Have Scripture ready to define what YOUR Hope is, compared to what they confess THEIRS is. (Obviously, study the Scriptures and pray for wisdom before you undertake this approach.)
Now, IF the Catholic responds with “My Hope is in the Blood of Christ ALONE” you may have someone who is truly saved there. Yes, there are saved Catholics! Gently urge them to leave the darkness of Roman Catholicism for a church where the Bible is taught and preached, so that they may grow. Don’t try to push YOUR particular church on them: wait and pray for the day they ask you for a recommendation. —Chet Jelinski