Maybe. It depends on the person.
In my case, the answer would have been no. I did not come to know the truth of the gospel, the truth of Jesus Christ, until I left the Catholic church.
I think I could have been saved during my 20 years as a Catholic; not because of what was taught, but because of what was SUNG. This story illustrates what I mean . . .
After I became a believer, I moved to Southern California to attend Bible College. One of the students was an adorable blonde surfer-type-girl who had a Volkswagen van with flowers and Bible verses painted all over. What stood out the most to me were the words of the Lord Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Those words are from John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.'”
Those words — I am the resurrection and the life — were the most prominent; they took up an entire side of her van and were painted in huge colorful letters.
I wondered why she made that choice. Why did she choose those words? What did they mean, anyway?
I had no idea.
Of course, I knew that Jesus had resurrected from the dead, but still . . . that sentence that Jesus spoke – I am the resurrection and the life – I didn’t really understand it.
At this time in my life, I had been saved two years. And although I never once read the Bible growing up (like most Roman Catholic families, our Bible was not for reading, it was displayed on a special table on a special stand in the formal living room), the funny thing was, I knew the words well.
Though Catholics hold the Bible at arm’s length, the songs they sing at Mass are often direct quotes of Bible verses. Growing up, I often sang these words, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will never die. I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live a new life.”
Singing that song every Sunday offered me the opportunity to know the truth. If I had cared, I could have searched and discovered the truth.
That song preaches the gospel!
So that is why my answer is maybe. A Roman Catholic MAY know the truth if they are a person who cares to know the truth. God can reveal the truth to anyone.
And, by the way, I understand the importance of that Bible verse now (John 11:25). I understand why that girl painted those words on her VW van. The resurrection is everything to a Christian. Without the resurrection we are still in our sins. If Jesus Christ had only died on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins, well, we would be forgiven dead people. It is the resurrection that gives us life, that saves us.
He had to take care of the sin problem first, but once that was accomplished, He could then rise from the dead, ascend to heaven, and make the restoration of LIFE available to all who will believe and receive Him. The Holy Spirit of God is now available to anyone who will receive the message of truth . . . even to Roman Catholics. 🙂
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10)