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Saint Augustine

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Did not Christ himself say, “For many I tell you will seek to enter and will not be able”(Luke 13:23) and “many are called but few are chosen.”(Matthew 22:14).

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Pagan or Holy? Catholic Syncretism

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“In every religious system, except that of the New Testament, the doctrine of purgatory after death and prayers for the dead have always found a place. In ancient and modern times, we find that paganism leaves hope after death for sinners, who, at the time of their departure, are unrepentant, and consciously unfit for heaven. For this purpose a “middle state” was invented in which guilt could be removed in the future world by means of purgatorial pains.  In Greece the doctrine of a purgatory was taught by the very chief of the philosophers. Thus Plato, speaking of the future judgment of the dead, holds out the hope of final deliverance for all, but maintains that, of “those who are judged,” some must first “proceed to a subterranean place of judgment, where they shall sustain the punishment they have deserved.” In pagan Rome, purgatory was also held up before the minds of men. Virgil, celebrated poet of pagan Rome, described its different tortures”(Pagan Origin of Purgatory, Alexander Hyslop, Two Babylons)

So many things have been added by the Church such as Purgatory, Indulgences, Bank of Merit, prayers for the dead, and veneration of saints!  Most of these can be traced back to the pagan religions of Rome and Greece.  [Will Durant, The story of Civilization, Caesar and Christ, p.58]  The syncretism of Rome knew no bounds.  Catholicism would morph itself and become all things to all people over the next 2000 years.  With the introduction of pagan religions by Pope John Paul II and the tide of eccumenical inclusion that has infected the Church since then, it is no wonder why God would  remove his providential blessing from the Catholic Church?  Now the Church is compromising the Gospel, and trying to include the whole world into this new universalist gospel.  This is a different gospel!

Today there are 968 million Catholics in the world.  With its headquarters  in Rome, Italy, it is it’s own country-Vatican city.   The Roman Church seems to have come into being in 312 AD. after the Roman Emperor Constantine had a miraculous conversion to Christianity.  Christianity was not made the official  religion until 380-381 AD.  under Theodosius I.  Constantine was responsible for the simultaneous building of both Christian churches and pagan temples, while slowly turning over the leadership of the pagan priesthood to the Bishop of Rome.  The  Roman Emperors would soon bare the title of “Pontifex Maximus” that came from the pagan priesthood. The Popes would also carry the title of the Emperor, “Vicar of Christ and Bishop of Bishops” held by Constantine as the self appointed head of the church.

Christianity was persecuted before the time of Constantine’s conversion.  Then, there would be a new found emphasis on making Christianity palatable to the heathens of the Empire, and the Christianization of the pagan gods were incorporated into so-called “christian” worship.  “Christianized” Rome had become the legitimate  successor of Pagan Rome.

“1. Source of Authority. With respect to the Bible, Catholics accept the apocryphal books in addition to the 66 books of the Protestant Bible. They also accept tradition and the teaching of the Catholic Church as authoritative and at least equal to that of the Bible (cf. Mk. 7:8,9,13; Matt. 15:3,6,9; Col. 2:8). With respect to papal infallibility, Catholics believe that ecumenical councils of bishops and the pope are immune from error when speaking ex cathedra about faith and morals (i.e., “from the chair” — by sole virtue of position or the exercise of an office). (And by “infallible,” Catholics mean much more than merely a simple, de facto absence of error — it is positive perfection, ruling out the possibility of error.  In actuality, Roman Catholicism places itself above Scripture; i.e., it teaches that the Roman Catholic Church produced the Bible and that the pope is Christ’s vicar on earth.  Catholics also maintain the belief in sacerdotalism — that an ordained Catholic priest has the power to forgive sins (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5).   This of course is a false teaching because no one can forgive sin other then God Himself (Mark 2:7).  The Word of God is the ONLY true source of truth, not church tradition.

2. Jesus Christ. Catholicism teaches that Christ is God, but they, nevertheless, do not believe that Christ’s death paid the full penalty for sin; i.e., they believe that those who qualify for heaven must still spend time in purgatory to atone for sin (cf. John. 19: 30; Hebrews 10:11,12).  There is nothing taught in the Bible about purgatory.  Catholics diminish Christ’s deity (as do other cults), but in a different manner; instead of bringing Christ low by denying his deity, Catholics elevate Mary high in an attempt to make her equal with Christ, this is heresy.

3. Mary.  The Catholic Church gives honor and adoration (even though they call it veneration, in practice it looks like worship) to Mary that the Scriptures do not; she is readily referred to as “holy,” the “Mother of God,” and has been dubbed the “Co-Redemptrix,” thereby making her an object of idolatrous worship (e.g., the rosary has ten prayers to Mary for each two directed to God). In 1923, Pope Pius XI sanctioned Pope Benedict XV’s (1914-1922) pronouncement that Mary suffered with Christ, and that with Him, she redeemed the human race. And Pope Pius XII officially designated Mary the “Queen of Heaven” and “Queen of the World.” Catholics claim not only that Mary was perfectly sinless from conception, even as Jesus was (doctrine of Immaculate Conception, proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854), but that the reason she never sinned at any time during her life was because she was unable to sin (cf. Luke 1:46,47; Rom. 3:10,23; 5:12; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 1:8,10). Catholics also believe that Mary was a perpetual virgin (cf. Ps. 69:8; Matt. 1:24,25; 13:54-56; Mk. 6:3; John 7:5), and that she was assumed, body and soul, into heaven (doctrine of Assumption of Mary, declared ex cathedra by Pope Pius XII in November of 1950 — that Mary was raised from the dead on the third day after her death, and anyone who refuses to believe this has committed a mortal sin).  The consequence of all this veneration of Mary, in effect, establishes her authority above Christ’s — Rome says, “He came to us through Mary and we must go to Him through her.”  All this is so obviously idolatrous, one wonders why Catholics take offense when their religious affections are called cultic.   Exodus 20:4,5 (the Ten Commandments) strictly forbids bowing down to any likeness of anything in heaven (this includes Mary).  It’s the 2nd command, read it for yourself!  It’s the same Scripture found in the Catholic Bible, so why do they disobey God?

4. Salvation. Catholics teach that a person is saved through the Roman Catholic Church and its sacraments, especially through baptism; they do not believe that salvation can be obtained by grace through faith in Christ alone, but that baptism is essential to salvation.  Catholics believe that no one outside the Catholic Church can be saved (Unum Sanctum) (cf. John 5:24; Ephesians 2: 8,9; Galatians 2:21; Romans 3:22,23).  They also believe that one’s own suffering can expiate the sin’s of himself and of others, so that what Christ’s suffering was not able to achieve, one can achieve by his own works and the works of others (Vatican II).  These are all lies of the Catholic church!  The thief on the cross was never baptized.  The Apostle Paul said Jesus had not sent him to baptize, but to preach the gospel (1st Corinthians 1:17).  Jesus didn’t baptize (John 4:2).

5. Sacraments.
 Catholics have seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist (mass), penance/reconciliation (indulgences), extreme unction (last rights), marriage, and orders (ordination). Although not even formally decreed until the Council of Florence in 1439, the Council of Trent later declared all to be anathema whom do not hold Rome’s position that it was Christ Himself who instituted these seven sacraments! (The idea behind the sacraments is that the shedding of Christ’s Blood in His death upon the cross is of no value unless it is somehow dispensed and applied “sacramentally” by the Catholic priesthood.) Although Catholics believe that the first five sacraments are indispensable for salvation (because without any one of them, a mortal sin has been committed), baptism is considered the most important. Catholics believe that a person enters into the spiritual life of the Church through baptism; i.e., baptismal regeneration — that a person can be saved through baptism (actually, ‘on the road to salvation,’ because Catholics never know exactly when they are saved). They practice infant baptism because they believe baptism erases original sin (cf. John 3:18).  Titus 3:5 makes clear that we cannot be saved by works, “Not by works of righteousness. Nothing is essential for our salvation other than simple child-like faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour to forgive our sins.

6. The Mass. Unknown in the early church, the mass did not become an official doctrine until pronounced by the Lateran Council of 1215 under the direction of Pope Innocent III, and reaffirmed by the Council of Trent. The Church of Rome holds that the mass is a continuation of the sacrifice that Christ made on Calvary — in effect a re-crucifixion of Christ over and over again in an unbloody manner (cf. Hebrews 9:22; 1 John 1:7).  They believe that by this means Christ offers Himself again and again as a sacrifice for sin (cf. Hebrews 7:27; 9:12,25,26; 10:10,12,14,18), and that this sacrifice is just as efficacious to take away sin as was the true sacrifice on Calvary.  Catholics thus teach the doctrine of transubstantiation (meaning a change of substance) — that the bread and wine (at communion) actually become the body and blood of Christ, which is then worshiped as God Himself! Indeed, the sacrifice of the mass is the central point of Catholic worship, as evidenced by the fact that those abstaining from attending mass are considered to have committed a mortal sin.  Of course, holy communion is not taught in the Bible.  The Bible teaches the “Lord’s supper” which was one of two sacraments which Christ initiated for believers to do in remembrance. Nothing changes into anything.  It is simply a time to remember Christ in as an official church community.  Jesus is NOT dying again.  The book of Hebrews tells us repeatedly that Jesus died “once” for all.

7. Purgatory. Of pagan origin, the Roman Church proclaimed purgatory as an article of faith in 1439 at the Council of Florence, and it was confirmed by Trent in 1548.  The Catholic Church teaches that even those “who die in the state of grace” (i.e., saved and sins forgiven) must still spend an indefinite time being purged/purified (i.e., expiated of sins/cleansed for heaven).  Technically, this “purging” can occur in this life rather than in purgatory itself, but as a practical matter, purgatory is the best the average Catholic can hope for. Some Catholics will admit that the doctrine of purgatory is not based on the Bible, but on Catholic tradition (which, by Catholic standards, is equally authoritative) (cf. John 5:24; Luke 23:43; 1 John 1:7,9; Phil. 1:23). (Others teach that it is based upon the interpretation of several Scriptural texts — 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Peter 1:7; 3:19; Matt. 12:31.) They teach that those in purgatory can be helped by the prayers and good works of those on earth (which would include the “purchase” of masses and/or other indulgences), but they are not certain how these prayers and works are applied (cf. 2 Peter 1:9; Hebrews 1:3; John 3:18; 19:30; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

8. The Church Councils. There have been three major Roman Catholic Councils: Council of Trent (1545-1563), Vatican I (1869-1870), and Vatican II (1962-1965). The last Council, Vatican II, offered no new doctrines nor repudiated any essential teaching of the Roman Church; it referred to Trent dozens and dozens of times, quoted Trent’s proclamations as authority, and reaffirmed Trent on every hand. Even the New Catholic Catechism (1992/1994) cites Trent no less than 99 times!  There is not the slightest hint that the proclamations of the Council of Trent have been abrogated by Rome.  At the opening of the Second Vatican council, Pope John XXIII stated, “I do accept entirely all that has been decided and declared at the Council of Trent,” and all of the Catholic leaders who attended Vatican II signed a document containing this statement. (The current pope, Pope John Paul II, has even cited the Council of Trent as authority for his blasphemous position on Mary.):”[ Jesus-is-savior.com, Roman Catholicism Christian or Pagan?]

This is the sad origin of the Roman Catholic Church.

Amen.

Baptismal Regeneration???

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“The sacraments instituted by Christ are not only badges or tokens of the profession
of Christians but are also sure witnesses and effectual signs of God’s grace and good will towards us. Through them he works invisibly within us, both bringing to life and also strengthening and confirming our faith in him.  There are two sacraments instituted by Christ our Lord in the Gospel – baptism and
the Lord’s Supper.”(39 Articles of Religion #25)
In this quote from the Anglican prayer book we lean about the sacrament of Baptism.  Some would read into this an illusion to baptismal regeneration, “Through them( the sacraments) he works invisibly within us, both bringing to life and also strengthening and confirming out faith in him.” But this “bringing to life” is just another way of saying our faith is strengthened and made a more lively faith.  Since the reformers, including John Calvin, did not support the view of baptismal regeneration, we should look at this position as a speculative “high-view” of the sacraments only held by Roman Catholics and High Church Anglicans.
This view being expoused seems to be a reactionary position in response to the “low-view” of the sacraments held by some Evangelicals who only call it a remembrance or a memorial of the Lord’s Supper, and downgrade baptism to a mere obedience.  Calvin, in opposition, would have believed in more of a “middle-view,”perceiving in the sacraments an “Baptismal Efficacy.”  In other words: for Calvin, baptism is a means of grace. According to the Reformers there were three means of grace in the church: Word, sacrament, and prayer. And these three means become effectual in a qualified sense. And that qualified sense is this: they are efficacious only in the lives of the elect when they are received by faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit.[Calvin and Baptism,Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals)
This high view of the sacrament of baptism seems to lead us an ex opere operato approach to sacramental efficacy.  This position was condemned by the reformers, and the teaching of scripture on this subject is held to be that salvation is immediately dependent on “Grace through faith which is a gift of God”(Ephesians 2:8,9).   By joining the act of baptism to the miracle of regeneration, which originates with God,  we convolute the issue and make it a requirement that one has to be baptized to be saved.  This would, in a sense, make baptism a work and midigate against the principle of Sola Fide or faith alone!
We need clear and concise doctrine,  not pseudo-intellectualism.
Amen!

Interpretation of Scripture

“The Laws of Hermeneutics. The interpretation of Scripture (called hermeneutics) is built on three preliminary laws. The first is this: Scripture interprets Scripture, called “the rule of analogy.” The second law of hermeneutics is this: The plain meaning of Scripture is usually the true meaning. The third rule is this: Simple passages of Scripture help explain complex passages of Scripture-the simple informs the complicated.”(Is Purgatory a Biblical Concept? CRI)

Catholic View

“The senses of Scripture
115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.
116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: “All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal.”83
117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.
1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.84
2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.85
3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.86
118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:
The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.87
119 “It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God.”(CCC)

Reformed View

“1. Consider the Author – who wrote the book? – what was his background, language, culture, vocation, concerns, education, circumstance, what stage of life?
2. Consider the Audience (why was the book written? who was the audience? what would these words have meant to its original recipients?)

3. The Meaning of Words (this has become a lot easier in our day with all the information and technology at our disposal. The computer program Bibleworks 8 is especially recommended).

4. Historical Setting (avoid anachronism – trying to understand the past while viewing it wearing 21st century glasses – will not help toward understanding the original meaning of the author).

5. Grammar – (how things are being expressed – imperative is a command, a subjunctive would be “would you like to do this?” – two quite different meanings result)

6. Textual Issues – (are there any questions about the earliest or most authoritative manuscripts in comparison with others of a later date – and how does this influence our understanding of what was originally written?)

7. Syntax – this refers to words and their relationship with one another. For example, Romans 5:1 says “Having been justified (a past tense action) by faith, we have peace with God.” It would be incorrect to think that we have to gain peace with God before justification takes place. The syntax is clear that it is a result of first being justified that peace ensues. Correct syntax is a vital component of sound interpretation.

8. Form of Literature (we should interpret the Bible literally, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize that parables are parables, and that to interpret them correctly, we interpret them as literal parables! Historical narrative is historical narrative, nouns are nouns, verbs are verbs, analogies are analogies)

9. Immediate Context (a text out of context becomes a pretext. It can be made to say something not intended by the author). Always check the immediate context of a verse or passage to determine the correct interpretation.

10. Document Context (For instance, in Romans, there is a certain argument Paul is pursuing, and when we recognize this, it helps us to determine what is meant in isolated verses when we know the purpose for what is being written. Always keep the author’s broad purpose in mind when looking in detail at the meaning of texts). This, like the others, is a very helpful rule.

11. Author’s Context (this refers to looking at all of a person’s writings – John’s writings, Paul’s writings, Luke’s writings, etc.).

12. Biblical Context (the broadest context possible, the entire Bible; allowing us to ask if our interpretation is consistent with the whole of Scripture. Scripture is never contradictory to itself).

13. Understand the difference between prescriptive and descriptive statements in the Bible. Is the verse telling us to do something, or does it describe an action someone does?

Matthew 24:13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
Question: Is this verse prescriptive or descriptive?

If prescriptive, (if it is telling us something to do) then no one can be sure of their salvation, for the simple reason that no one presently reading or hearing the statement has, as yet, endured until the very end. If prescriptive, it would negate the wonderful assurance of salvation that the Holy Spirit wishes us to know (1 John 5:13).

Certainly, this is a descriptive statement – as it describes the actions of a truly saved person – such a one will endure, for the nature of the kind of faith God gives to His people is one that endures to the end. A saved person is one who endures to the end – a principle made clear in other passages such as 1 John 2:19 – “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”

14. Build all doctrine on necessary rather than possible inferences. A necessary inference is something that is definitely taught by the text. The conclusion is unavoidable. It is necessary. A possible inference is something that could or might be true, but not something actually stated by the text.

15. Interpret the unclear passages in Scripture in light of the clear. Though all Scripture is God breathed, every passage is not equally clear (easy to understand). Even the Apostle Peter struggled with Paul’s writings at times, as he found some of it “hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16)

When determining what the Bible teaches on a particular topic, find the passages which CLEARLY address the issue at hand and make this the starting point of your doctrine, rather than an obscure (or less than clear) passage. Once that which is clear is firmly grasped and understood, then proceed to study the passages which at first seem to be unclear, using the above rules.

16. Think for yourself but not by yourself. We are not at all wise when we isolate ourselves. God has gifted others with tremendous insights, not only in our own day, but throughout the history of the Church. These teachers are Christ’s gifts to His people (Ephesians 4:8-12). Use their help.

Here are four insightful quotes in this regard:

“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.” – Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?”
“Tradition is the fruit of the Spirit’s teaching activity from the ages as God’s people have sought understanding of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.” – J.I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today.”

“Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. If upon reading a particular passage you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two-thousand years, or has been championed by universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation.” – R. C. Sproul

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.” – C. H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries”(Reformation Theology, 16 Rules for Biblical Interpretation)

What is The Universal Church?

small-town-churchCatholicism and Protestantism have a lot still dividing them.  First of all the Catholics need to get rid of all the heretical universalist theology and return to the teachings of Saint Augustine and Aquinas!  After Vatican II these liberals crept into the Church and into places of powerful position in the Church hierarchy.   I personally think it is God’s judgement on the rank and file apathy I see in the laity, who have drifted away from a genuine faith.  The pedophilia scandal and false teachers, I see, are just a symptom of a bigger problem.  Rome has lost her first love, Jesus Christ; and until she repents it will just continue.

Protestantism has its own problems. They have compromised the Church and its true worship of God by bringing in a man centered, worldly form of worship that does nothing but marginalize the true believers and creates these so called mega-churches that are full of carnal Christians-a fools paradise! This is not to mention the serious doctrinal issues of Justification and Papal authority, among others. The true universal Church is more than a man-made organization, but a church of unity of mind, will, and truth.

As Christians and saints in the church, we have a responsibility to seek a priority of worship in our congregations.  The worship of the church should be tailored to the saved not the unbelieving of the world.  Many in the so called evangelical churches today have no clue as to the requirement that God places on his people to approach him with reverence and awe!  They have no idea that they are conforming to the standards of this world (the city if man) instead of that of the holy God in which they claim to serve.

We need reform in our churches today!  More now than at the time of the reformation.  the church is seeking a emotional centered, experience driven, and self seeking form of worship.  Others have criticized the transcendent form of worship practiced by Roman Catholics, but I see more reverence there than in the non-denominational/evangelical churches today.  Some say it is made too tangible and visual, but I think it brings more honor to God to add a little pageantry and reverence to the sacred service.  Some balance here is demanded, for if we pay too much attention to the formalism of it all, and forget the substance, we can grow cold and loose focus.  We also need a balancing of the Word of God proclaimed from the pulpit; these two should share in the time and attention of the modern church setting.

Some of our more reformed brothers still believe in something called the regulative principle of worship, where you are limited to only what is presented in the Bible concerning worship.  This seems a little restrictive to me.  Why take all the mystery and majesty out of the worship of God?  The balance seems to have swung too far to the extreme and it becomes all about the analysis of the written word; not that this is bad,  but it’s a question of focus.

we have lots of competing views on what worship is supposed to be.  As long as it is God centered worship; not about the band, or the most contemporary praise song, or what the world thinks is cool.  Some of the older hymns are more theologically correct.  Unlike the new style where you sing the same line over and over again.  Tradition can be good, as long as it does not become a stumbling block. Balance in all things, and in all things let us acknowledge him and he will direct our paths.

“This Unity is not conformity, where everybody is exactly alike. It is not organizational, where everyone must be forced into the same denomination. The worst times in the history of the church have been when everyone has been part of one large organization. It is not that kind of unity. The unity for which Jesus prayed is a unity patterned on the unity of the father and the son. That is, it is a unity of mind, will, love, and purpose.  That unity is what the church should experience and what the church seemed to have achieved in these early days.”(James Montgomery Boice, Acts Commentary, p.92)

If the early church was of one heart and mind, then we can use this as a test to find the true universal church that was founded by Christ.  As we see, the other two points: Sharing everything they had; and Testifying of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  These points seem to be describing all Christian churches, but if we examine the first point of “Unity if Mind” or Unity of Soul as it says in the Greek, we find that they had a unity of truth-they were all on the same page, so to speak.  This would denote a shared theology.

The eccumenical movement of today seems to be willing to unite at all costs; even the cost of truth.  As Boice says, unity is not conformity.  It cannot be organizational, where we are all forced into the same denomination.  This seems to be an artificial, man-made solution to what Saint Augustine has already given an answer.  Instead of a visible church, that has to have a continuous physical presence, I think Augustine’s approach of an invisible body of believers mix in with other false converts and scattered throughout the world makes more sense.  But truth of doctrine must be at the center.  They must share, at least on the essentials, a unity of truth, a shared mind that transcends all  denominational boundaries.

Finally, we must not be afraid to stand on the principles found in the word of God!  The Catholic church seems to be willing to give themselves over to any pagan myth or fable, as long as they can prove from tradition that people have been believing it long enough.  Some of these myths go back to the Roman and Greek  pagan religions, or seem to have been made up in the medieval Church to keep the common folk in line( ie. purgatory, bank of Merit, Indulgences, and the invocation of Saints).  Augustine was the father of the literal historical method of biblical interpretation that we should return to.  The spiritual sense of interpreting scripture has been greatly abused.

The Word of God must be taken seriously!

Amen.

True Faith or False Assurance?

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What is true faith?  “True faith is not only a sure knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in his Word, but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.”(Heidelberg Catechism, Question 21)

Catholicism is full of false assurance and is a works based system of merit.  Pope Francis  is saying we as Christians should apologize to persons who are gay.  No Pope has ever come close to apologizing to the LGBT community.  It is being said that no group in the church today feels more marginalized that the LGBT.  How about the Conservative Catholics? Even in Israel the Lord preserved his remnant, and I see a small marginalized group within the Church who are genuine believers.  I would say to them-FLEE!

I wonder what Jesus would say of his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church? In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 it says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” I realize this covers a lot of us as former sinners, and we are not to judge other’s eternal state, but the Church is opening a Pandora’s box of undisciplined church goers.  The church is in a state of weak ceremonialism  where no discipline is being practiced toward the Lord’s Holy Communion, and little or no discernment is being practiced or taught from the pulpit.  If “Former-Homosexuals” who are struggling with these issues are being welcomed in to the Church, I applaud the tolerance of this.  But we know this is not the case.  The church is just opening up its undiscerning doors to as many people as possible; I call this total inclusion.

True faith is more than sacramentalism.  A genuine faith requires a personal encounter with Jesus Christ!  If we fail to preach the true Gospel, and replace it with something counterfeit, we are grieving the Lord and we are under his judgement.  Two things are required for us to fulfill the great commission; one, is we must teach that God is a Trinity. Father, son, and Holy Spirit; two, we are to teach the whole council of God, the whole Word of God -the Bible.  If we fail to do either of this essential parts, God will remove his Spirit from us and we will cease to be the “True Church.” The Catholic Church has failed on both counts!

By the introduction of pagan religions by Pope John Paul II and the tide of eccumenical inclusion that has infected the Church since then, there is no wonder why God would  remove his providential blessing from the Catholic Church.  Now the Church is compromising the Gospel, and trying to include the whole world into this new universalist gospel.  This is a different gospel than Jesus preached!

The Primacy of Scripture has been obscured by Rome’s addition of tradition and her Magisterial office of interpretation.  As Paul said, ”  making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”(Mark 7:13)  We need to get back to the basic doctrine of Sola Scriptura and a more literal interpretation of scripture, as much as possible.

So many things have been added by the Church such as Purgatory, Indulgences, Bank of Merit, prayers for the dead, and veneration of saints!  Most of these can be traced back to the pagan religions of Rome and Greece.  [Will Durant, The story of Civilization, Caesar and Christ, p.58]  The syncretism of Rome knew no bounds.  Catholicism would morph itself and become all things to all people over the next 2000 years.  Classic Catholicism taught that “Outside the Church there is no salvation.” But today’s Church seems to be saying “all will be saved!” Even the unbeliever and the those of other faiths: Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and the immoral.

In conclusion, I find the main departure of Rome from the Bible, and it’s inerrant message, to be at the root of her demise; for as the Roman Empire fell in 405 AD, so surely her offspring the Roman Catholic Church has truly fallen from grace as she has added to, and moved away from, God’s Word.

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the book of life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”(Revelation 22:18-19)

Amen. 

 

 

Scripture Alone or Prima Scriptura?

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God is the author of the Bible, and has imparted to us a gift to direct the belief and morals of the church.  What we think about God, and our conduct should be evaluated and tested by reference to the Bible.  God, through his sovereignty, has chosen to exercise his rule over us by his written word.  Scripture is God’s instrument of Christ’s lordship over the Church.  This is illustrated by the letters to the churches in Revelation(Rev. 2;3).

“The Roman Catholic view of the Bible has compromised its unique authority by combining  it with the tradition of the church.  Roman Catholics accept the Bible as God-given truth, but insist that it is incomplete without the official interpretation of the church as it is led by the spirit.  In the past, giving the church authority over the Bible has led to discouraging or prohibiting ordinary Christians from reading it.  At the present time, the Roman Catholic church encourages all Christians to read the Bible.”[The Reformation Study Bible,R.C. Sproul, P.1765]

The Bible’s inspiration is distinguished from all other books by it’s being “breathed out by God”(2 Tim. 3:16).  Historically the Protestant church accepts  the Bible as the only written revelation of God.  Scripture can be described as infallible, sufficient, and clear.  It is infallible in all it affirms; sufficient in containing all that is necessary to  know for salvation; and clear, so that a person without special preparation can understand what God requires without an interpreter.

The Bible cannot be subject to any group or person, no matter how noble.  For it was by this principle of Sola Scriptura, that the Reformers were able to free their consciences from human traditions.  The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Reformation to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of Christianity.

The Five Solas are:

  1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
  2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
  3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
  4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century changed Christianity forever. Martin Luther and John Calvin spearheaded a movement that transformed Christianity and eventually led to the emergence of the Protestant denominations that we know today.

The Reformers were guided by the conviction that the church of their day had drifted away from the original teachings of Christianity, especially in regard to what it was teaching about salvation. The Reformation sought to reform Christianity on the original message of Jesus and the early church.

” An ancient tradition holds that the word of God, though equally authoritative in whichever form it comes, comes primarily in the form of Sacred Scripture, and thus we should seek for Sacred Doctrine primarily in the Scriptures. As Thomas Aquinas said:

…[S]acred doctrine…properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors.[2]

For this reason, some sources say that prima scriptura is the normative Catholic approach. Yves Congar referred to prima scriptura as the “normative primacy of Scripture” as he described the work of Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. “[wikipedia, Prima Scriptura]

So it seems that in traditional Catholicism, the word of God had an elevated position in the whole deposit of the faith.  Now, I am afraid, the Magisterium is, “thus making void the word of God by [their] tradition that [they] have handed down. And many such things [they] do.”(Mark 7:13)

Sola Scriptua(Scripture Alone)!

Amen

 

The Church at Worship and Work Part 2

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“Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”(Hebrews 12:28b-29 ESV)

Chapter 12 ends in this way, making reference to the immense reverence we should have when approaching the presence of God.  Gratitude and worship are our bounden duty in light of or salvation.  The acceptable form of worship was upmost on the minds of the reformers in the 1500s.  Acceptable worship takes into account God’s holiness and his role as judge; to him alone should it be given, with reverence and awe, the worship which the scriptures describe as worship when it is done in spirit and in truth.(John 4:24)

We are told by the Apostle Paul in Romans:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is you spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal  of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

As Christians and saints in the church, we have a responsibility to seek a priority of worship in our congregations.  The worship of the church should be tailored to the saved not the unbelieving of the world.  Many in the so called evangelical churches today have no clue as to the requirement that God places on his people to approach him with reverence and awe!  They have no idea that they are conforming to the standards of this world( the city if man) instead of that of the holy God in which they claim to serve.

We need reform in our churches today!  More now than at the time of the reformation.  the church is seeking a emotional centered, experience driven, and self seeking form of worship.  Others have criticized the transcendent form of worship practiced by Roman Catholics, but I see more reverence there than in the non-denominational/evangelical churches today.  Some say it is made too tangible and visual, but I think it brings more honor to God to add a little pageantry and reverence to the sacred service.  Some balance here is demanded, for if we pay too much attention to the formalism of it all, and forget the substance, we can grow cold and loose focus.  We also need a balancing of the Word of God proclaimed from the pulpit; these two should share in the time and attention of the modern church setting.

Some of our more reformed brothers still believe in something called the regulative principle of worship, where you are limited to only what is presented in the Bible concerning worship.  This seems a little restrictive to me.  Why take all the mystery and majesty out of the worship of God?  The balance seems to have swung too far to the extreme and it becomes all about the analysis of the written word; not that this is bad,  but it’s a question of focus.

we have lots of competing views on what worship is supposed to be.  As long as it is God centered worship; not about the band, or the most contemporary praise song, or what the world thinks is cool.  Some of the older hymns are more theologically correct.  Unlike the new style where you sing the same line over and over again.  Tradition can be good, as long as it does not become a stumbling block. Balance in all things, and in all things let us acknowledge him and he will direct our paths.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Amen.