SALVATION BY SACRAMENTS
The sacramental system uses the language of Christianity, but the means of salvation is very different. The Bible repeatedly asserts that our salvation is by faith from start to finish— “The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; for it is written, ‘the just shall live by faith”. “That we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Romans 1:17, Galatians 2:16). The Catholic religion, however, postulates that just as in the “old law” there were sacraments such as circumcision, animal sacrifices, rituals of ordination, etc., in the Christian dispensation there is a “new law” which specifies seven sacraments. They are administered by the Church, and are the means by which God dispenses His grace, and without them salvation cannot be obtained.
Although the Church insists that the sacraments have their basis in faith, an examination of the most essential, baptism, shows that the sacraments are based on the works of the priest rather than the faith of the Christian. First of all, baptism is considered to be so essential that without it no one can be saved. Until very recently, even infants or embryos with their “immortal souls”, which died without baptism were consigned to eternal hell. However, if a priest or even a layman sprinkled them with water and said the right words before they died they would have eternal life in heaven. Obviously the infant has no faith, and in fact faith on the part of the parents was not required.
In recent years there has been furious debate within the Church as it has faced harsh criticism of its stance on infant baptism. In the end the Church has conceded that infants may be given entrance to heaven without the baptismal ceremony, but this simply underscores the underlying presupposition of baptism as well as the other sacraments: that it is a ceremony performed by a priest or his representative that leads to salvation, rather than faith in what Christ has already accomplished.
Infant baptism is justified with the claim that it is the New Testament equivalent of circumcision, which was performed on the eighth day of life. However, there was an important difference between the sacraments and the Old Testament ceremonies. These were a “shadow” of what Christ would accomplish, not life-giving rituals which imparted God’s grace. Paul made this clear in Romans 4: “Faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. When was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe” (Romans 4:9-11).
 “The Council of Trent solemnly defined that there are seven sacraments of the New Law, truly and properly so called, viz., Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Orders, and Matrimony.” Catholic Encyclopedia, article “Sacraments”.
 “Hell (infernus) in theological usage is a place of punishment after death. Theologians distinguish four meanings of the term hell:… The limbo of infants (limbus parvulorum), where those who die in original sin alone, and without personal mortal sin, are confined and undergo some kind of punishment” (Catholic Encyclopedia, article “Hell”). This concept is refuted in Job 3:11-19 which teaches that those who “die at birth” are “quiet”, “asleep”, “at rest with kings and counselors of the earth” and the “stillborn child” along with “the wicked” “cease from troubling”, “are at rest” and “do not hear the voice of the oppressor”.