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Refuting the Doctrine That Priests Save Souls

The Roman Catholic teaching is that, "Priests save souls." Here's what's being taught by Catholic priests. How are these priests said to save souls? To understand the heresy that "priests save souls" is to understand the connection between the sacraments and the priesthood. Only the priest can administer the sacraments which Roman Catholics are taught would be necessary for salvation. This is different than the born again Christian view that the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper are there for the sanctification of the believer. Salvation precedes sanctification not the other way around (Ephesians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 9:11, Titus 2:11-14).

Here's what "Salvation and the Sacraments" from Berean Beacon has to say which I quote in part. I encourage you to read the whole article for further understanding:
Quite a number of people have become Roman Catholics because of the appeal of the Catholic Sacraments. It is necessary therefore to see just what is attractive in these seven signs of Catholicism and to analyze the same in the light of Biblical truth. 
The most important difference between Biblical faith and Roman Catholicism is the issue of what is necessary for an individual's salvation before God. Right through the Scriptures justification is seen to be necessary for salvation and in the New Testament it is the major theme of the Apostles. The Church of Rome proclaims her seven sacraments as necessary for salvation and that justification before God is given through the sacrament of Baptism. 

The idea that priests save souls adds works to the finished work of Jesus Christ

The sacraments are administered by the priests. While Roman Catholics believe they do need Jesus for their salvation but the deception kicks in when they believe that it's Jesus plus other stuff. It's Jesus plus priests, Jesus plus sacraments, Jesus plus good works which obviously violates this verse in the Bible which I'll be quoting from the Good News Translation (GNT) for this whole entry:
Romans 11:6  
His choice is based on His grace, not on what they have done. For if God's choice were based on what people do, then his grace would not be real grace. 
Ephesians 2:8-10

For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it. God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do. 

They may quote how the GNT says Philippians 2:12-13 to justify adding works to salvation but here's the context:
Philippians 2:12-13 
So then, dear friends, as you always obeyed me when I was with you, it is even more important that you obey me now while I am away from you. Keep on working with fear and trembling to complete your salvation, because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey His own purpose

What they're ignoring is that to complete your salvation is not about losing it. Rather, have they read this verse?
Philippians 1:6 
And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.

Working out with fear and trembling is because it's God that works in the believer. True salvation results to sanctification. You got saved from the penalty of sin, you're still being saved from sin and one day you'll be completely saved from sin. That's what it means to work with fear and trembling to complete one's salvation.

What does binding and loosing mean?

There's the system of "You better do as we say or you're going to lose your souls." This is the idea that the priest can withhold salvation from anyone who disobeys them. While it's understandable the people who have backslid aren't allowed to enter the Lord's supper (1 Corinthians 11:27-32) but the Roman Catholic doctrine has made sanctification as a mandate to keep one's self saved rather than as inevitable proof one is truly saved. By adding sanctification to salvation means one has the right to brag that he or she has kept their salvation by their efforts.

To try and justify this one they misquote Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18-19 which they may have purposely failed to mention verses 15-17 of the same passage. What does the whole loosing or binding or as they call it prohibiting? Did Jesus give Peter some God-like authority? That's not the case. To understand what loosing and binding mean? Here's a good answer from Got Questions:
The concept of "binding and loosing" is taught in the Bible in Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In this verse, Jesus is speaking directly to the apostle Peter and indirectly to the other apostles. Jesus' words meant that Peter would have the right to enter the kingdom himself, that he would have general authority symbolized by the possession of the keys, and that preaching the gospel would be the means of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers and shutting it against unbelievers. The book of Acts shows us this process at work. By his sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), Peter opened the door of the kingdom for the first time. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed. 
Peter and the other disciples were to continue Christ’s work on earth in preaching the gospel and declaring God's will to men, and they were armed with the same authority as He possessed. In Matthew 18:18, there is also a definite reference to the binding and loosing in the context of church discipline. The apostles do not usurp Christ's lordship and authority over individual believers and their eternal destiny, but they do exercise the authority to discipline and, if necessary, excommunicate disobedient church members. 
Christ in heaven ratifies what is done in His name and in obedience to His Word on earth. In both Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, the syntax of the Greek text makes the meaning clear. What you bind on earth will have already been bound in heaven. What you loose on earth will have already been loosed in heaven. In other words, Jesus in heaven looses the authority of His Word as it goes forth on earth for the fulfillment of its purpose.

In short, it was the commission to preach the Gospel. Peter was given authority to preach. He's there to merely warn others and he has no authority whatosever to save the soul of the person. The message of salvation is something that is preached and people either believe it or they don't.

Challenging infant baptism for salvation

The Roman Catholic institution teaches that babies must be baptized in order to enter the glory of Heaven. This is really not in the Bible. Babies go to Heaven when they die because they have not yet committed their first sin. However, the Roman Catholic institution says that babies must be baptized in order to be saved and enter Heaven.

This is the very first act that Roman Catholics say that priests save souls. The priest alone performs the baptism. This is very different from some Protestant Christian denominations that have a very different idea of infant baptism. Prebysterian Christians practice infant baptism but they don't teach it as a sacrament for salvation. This is more or less like an infant dedication ceremony done by Christian denominations that don't practice infant baptism. They don't teach that the infant needed to be baptized for salvation.

They quote Acts 2:38 out of context without realizing Acts 2:41. This is all about first you believe then you are baptized. Acts 2:38 seems to add baptism to salvation but it doesn't. Instead, it means that first you must "turn away from your sins" which is an inward turn which results to an outward turn. To turn from sin means to turn to God for forgiveness and salvation from sin. They have to believe first before they were baptized. Infant baptism is neither commanded nor condemned in the Scriptures. But the standard has always been believer's baptism.

The Lord's supper is in for sanctification not for salvation 

Roman Catholics have misquoted John 6:51-57 without understanding what it really means. Did Jesus mean we must literally eat His flesh and blood? Understanding Jewish idiomatic expressions is necessary in any Bible study. What Jesus meant was to accept Him for who He was. The whole Lord's supper was done in remembrance of what He did. It was celebrated before His crucifixion and today it's done to remember what He did on the cross. It's not instrumental for salvation but for the believer's sanctification.

There's a lot of inconsistencies in the Roman Catholic celebration of the Lord's supper. Not only have they inserted the deadly doctrine of transubstantiation but they have also perverted the way the Lord's supper should be. The Bible commands that it must be celebrated with breaking of bread and drinking non-fermented wine. Also, it must be celebrated during the evening. But the Roman Catholic mass ends up turning it into the Lord's breakfast whenever it's a Sunday morning service.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 
For I received from the Lord the teaching that I passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you. Do this in memory of Me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup and said, "This cup is God's new covenant, sealed with My blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of Me." This means that every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

The average Roman Catholic has only "ate the flesh" but has not even "drank the blood" except in special ceremonies such as marriage.  This is already questionable in itself why is it only the priest who drinks the wine but the laity doesn't even drink it? Didn't the Bible command to eat this bread and drink from this cup? Since sharing one cup would be unsanitary there's the practice of using small plastic cups containing the grape juice where all church members participate. If the doctrine of transubstantiation were real then Roman Catholic laity don't have eternal life because they have not obeyed the command to drink the "blood" which is represented by the non-alcoholic wine.

Confess your sins to God not to the priest

Again, this is pretty much Matthew 18:18-19 misquoted out of its context. It's always been about church discipline. God has not given any authority to the priest to forgive sins. One could talk about the Old Testament (and the problem of appealing to it whenever it's convenient) practice of the priesthood where they mediated for people. Do they even remember that the veil has been torn and that the priesthood here was symbolic? It was a constant, daily remember that sin leads to death. Sin must be paid in death. The priests stood in the Old Testament. Every sin was imputed upon a clean animal without any blemish.

The confessional is that it's nowhere to be found in the New Testament. Whether or not this was a pagan practice is not so much of an issue. It's said that confessionals popped up in some places where pagan priests of certain countries got confessions from their followers. Roman Catholics are quick to say that born again Christians can't tell them were Jesus told them to be born again Christians but they can't even find any passage where the Christians are first called Catholics. Also, Acts 9:31 is not a call to be called Catholics. Instead, the word catholic in Acts 9:31 means universal. It's another synonym for universal. To have a catholic doctrine means universal doctrine.

1 John 1:9 also commands people to confess their sins to God. Nowhere in the Bible are sins ever confessed to a priest seeking forgiveness for sins. When Peter backslid, he didn't go to any apostle to ask for forgiveness. Instead, Peter confessed his sins to God. There's the confidence that you can approach Him.
Hebrews 4:16 
Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.

God doesn't forgive sins through anyone. Christians are commanded to forgive but this kind of forgiveness is between two people. I can forgive everyone who does evil to me but it won't save their souls. This forgiveness is more than just an issue between two people. This is an issue between God and sinful man.
James 5:16 
So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.

Confessing your sins to one another is not exactly that you go to a priest to do so. Instead, it's all about admitting how you've sinned against another. It's all about apologizing for our wrongdoings and apologizing to each other. When we pray for one another don't we pray to God directly for each other? That's what direct to God means. You have a need? Pray to God directly. You need to pray for someone? Pray to God directly. You need someone to join you in prayer? You and that someone should pray to God directly.

The priesthood couldn't save souls even in the Old Testament

This is the real problem. Although the Old Testament's salvation has always been by grace through faith and even if the priests were the only ones who had more direct access but they couldn't save souls.
Hebrews 10:11 
Every Jewish priest performs his services every day and offers the same sacrifices many times; but these sacrifices can never take away sins.

Why did Jesus tell the lepers to go to the priest? It was not because He is against the office of the pastor. It was because it was still the Old Testament covenant. The Old Testament law required lepers to have themselves checked to the priests for validation.

Also, it should be specified that the blood sacrifices are but symbolic. They were a symbol of things to come.
Hebrews 10:1
The Jewish Law is not a full and faithful model of the real things; it is only a faint outline of the good things to come. The same sacrifices are offered forever, year after year. How can the Law, then, by means of these sacrifices make perfect the people who come to God

The Old Testament priesthood was but a foreshadow of things to come. After that, the role of the priesthood ended as everyone who receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are now priests. They have equal access to God. There's no more Holy of Holies. Everyone can serve to mediate for each other. Everyone has this equal access.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are the chosen race, the King's priests, the holy nation, God's own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his own marvelous light.

If priests can't save souls then why are there pastors?

That would be a good question. Pastors can't save souls and neither do they claim that right. Instead, the purpose of the pastor is already written down:
Ephesians 4:11-12 
It was He who gave gifts to people; He appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. He did this to prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ.

The pastor's purpose is to prepare for the great work of sanctification. Why God wouldn't directly interact with everyone is because the Christian is not yet perfected. God told a saved man like Moses that He can't see God and live. Saved people can still perish at the sight of a holy and righteous God. The job of the pastor is to help prepare God's people for all the work in the Christian service. This is all about sanctification.

Pastors don't save souls but they're tasked to preach the soul-saving message of salvation through Jesus Christ. It's their task to equip Christians in the task of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They play no role in salvation except in preaching its message. They don't do the saving. They only tell people how to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. They're God's instruments in spreading the Gospel and helping in the job of leading and sanctifying Christians.

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