Frequent Asked Questions
Jesus used the demonstrative "this" (taute), which grammatically points to Peter's confession, "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God" as the rock. Jesus said, "Thou are Peter (petros), ("masculine" meaning a "stone" ) on this rock (petra, (femine) meaning a huge rock foundation. Jesus said that Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ is the foundation upon which He would build His assembly). Grammatically the statement does not promise that Jesus would build His church ("assembly" - ekklesia) upon Peter but upon Peter's confession. Grammatically both the noun "Peter" and the noun "rock" would have to be the same gender in order for this sentence to support the idea of the Peter being the "rock." The word "rock" is femine not masculine and therefore the rock cannot be referring to Peter. Therefore, grammatically the word "rock" is identified with Peter's statement, not Peter himself.
Jesus would not have trusted such a precious possession as His "ekklesia" to the leadership of even one fallible man much less a whole succession of them. Jesus Christ Himself built the institution of the local assembly (church) and He is its Head directing it by His Word (John 1:1).
The pope of Rome is called by the Roman Catholic Church "the Vicar of the Son of God" (Vicarius Filii Dei) meaning Jesus Christ's representative on earth. However, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit, not a pope, was sent to take the place of Jesus on earth. God the Holy Spirit indwells individual believers when they receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. The Holy Spirit was given to guide us into all truth (John 16:7-15) and the Scriptures were given for teaching, for reproving, for correction, and for instruction (II Timothy 3:16). Christ did not leave His assembled followers to human leadership. Jesus Himself is still the Head of His Church. He speaks to us through His infallible Word, the Holy Scriptures, by His ever present and infallible indwelling Holy Spirit. Men or churches have no authority to add to or to change in any way the clear instructions of the New Testament as to what is an "ekklesia" (local assembly of believers).
This passage does not support the papacy and in fact rebukes the false teachings of the Roman Catholic church and it is dishonest for the Roman church to use it to justify its unbiblical papacy.
As far as to whether Catholics are saved.... If they are trusting in their works, church membership, baptism, rituals, confessions, and sacraments to save them. . . then they are lost in their sins and headed for hell. Sadly, that is what I think most of them are doing. They do not think that Christ's atonement for sin was sufficient to forgive all their sins. His death only paid for their sin nature inherited from Adam which they call "original sin." Their everyday sins, referred to as "venal" and "mortal" sin, must be paid for by their confession, doing good works and the sacraments. That is the reason for Purgatory. If they do not do enough works to pay for their sins done while they lived, then they are tormented in this imaginary place called Purgatory to paid for these sins. There is no place called Purgatory and when a person dies, he goes to heaven or hell based on whether he believed in Jesus Christ alone for his salvation or rejected Him. In the Roman Catholic Church, membership is received by confirmation and baptism which they believe is the means by which one receives the grace of God to forgive one's original sin which is inherited from Adam.
If that is what they are trusting in....their good works, baptism, confession, church membership, etc to save them...then sadly they are lost and will be judged by the Lord Jesus at the Great White Throne Judgment according to their works and then cast into the eternal lake of fire.(Rev. 20:11-15)
The word "Ash" comes from the practice in this pagan ritual of a priest or lay person putting their finger in ash and making the sign of a cross on the forehead of the participant. The day before Ash Wednesday is popularly known as Mardi Gras (or "Fat Tuesday"). The Lenten is suppose to be a time of self examination and confession of sin. However, to show the true attitude of those who practice this, the day before they party and carouse (sexual activity), which is exemplified by the extravagant celebration in New Orleans. In other words they eat, drink and be merry, which means sinning the day before they begin lent. because in lent they have to avoid these practices. For them it is okay though, because the next day they go to "confession" and get the priest's absolution for they sins. True Christians are to live godly lives and resist sin, not indulge which is the basis of this pagan ritual. Biblical Christian understand that Jesus had to suffer for all our sins and thus we "discern" (1 Cor. 11:29) the body of Christ and resist sin which would have caused Jesus Christ suffering 2000 years ago.
Ash Wednesday was actually taken from Roman paganism, which took it from Vedic India. Ashes were called the seed of the fire god Agni, with power to forgive sins. Ashes were said to were a symbol for the purifying blood of Shiva, in which, one could bathe away sins. During Rome's New Year Feast of Atonement in March, people wore sackcloth and bathed in ashes to atone for their sins. As the dying god of March, Mars took his worshipers sins with him into death. The carnival fell on dies martis, the Day of Mars. In English, this was Tuesday, because Mars was identified with the Saxon god Tiw.
Roman Catholicism is a pagan religion which tries to mimic biblical Christianity. It is a false religion based on pagan practices whose base in meriting one's salvation or earning it with good deed or works. The state they believe in Jesus Christ and His atonement for sin, but that is not true as evidences by their mass, sacraments, Purgatory, worship of Mary and pagan unbiblical practices.
Protestant churches have never truly held to biblical teaching. They have their origins and false beliefs and practices in the Roman Catholic church. The Reformation, in which the Protestant churches was born was more about ending the political power of Rome over Europe than about following biblical teachings. Protestantism never really abandoned the paganism of the Roman church and today they are all gone into apostasy which is evidenced by their moving back to Catholicism and keeping its rituals, which includes their "works plus grace" teaching of salvation.