Ok… sorry about the title but after reading a recent secular “study” on individuals who left various sects of Christianity and thus found more enjoyment in their sex lives I feel the great need to write on something that is very near and dear to my heart (I am still a newlywed after all)- the powerful truth about sex and Christian sexuality.
In my years of enjoying sermons, songs, and theology I have encountered many uses of scripture that have been taken out of context and twisted to mean something else. When something is take out of context the surrounding scriptures are ignored, surrounding stories are not mentioned, history is overlooked, and cross references are conveniently not used.
It’s like renting a movie you’ve never seen and only watching 5 minutes of it in the middle of the movie. You then claim to know the entire plot from just seeing 5 minutes of the movie! This is the leading cause of error in the Church.
“Calls those things which do not exist as though they did” – Romans 4:17
This scripture is used often by followers of the “Word of faith movement” when they instruct believers to speak things in to existence, declare and it will be done for you.
Rom 4:17- (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations” ) in the presence of Him whom he believed God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;
With this scripture you don’t even have to read contextual scriptures to figure it out: it’s speaking about God, not the believer. We as God’s creations have no creative power, only He does. When we are in right relationship with God we can ask things of Him and He may do them but that is not what most Word of Faith or “Name it Claim it” teachings propose. We don’t convince God to follow our will, we follow His will. He originally gave man dominion and stewardship over the Earth but this does not mean that believers can speak money, cars, or health in to being. We put our faith in the Father, not in our faith.
“New Wine in New Wine Skins” – Matthew 9:16-17
This scripture has been used to back “new moves of God” or some new revolutionary thing that God is supposedly doing.
Mat 9:16 – “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.
Mat 9:17 – “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
However, the message of new wine in old wineskins and new cloth on an old garment signifies the complete newness of the New Covenant. The context reveals Jesus’s reason for why His followers did not need to fast while He was present. Fasting was connected to the law heavily and the pharisees expected Jesus and His followers to follow the Law if He was truly from God. The New Covenant isn’t the Old Covenant plus Jesus and the cross it’s a whole new deal. The Old Testament was completely finished by Christ’s life death and resurrection, not partially finished as some thought who mixed Jesus’s teachings with their Judaism.
So the “new wine” (or the New Covenant) was poured in to the “new wine skin” once and for all time back at the crucifixion, not every time a local church thinks they have something new and fresh from God.
“When you have shut your door, pray to the Father” – Matthew 6:5-6
I actually had this one used against me after sharing the Gospel with a student outside of U.T. in Austin. He said “Jesus said when you pray to go in your closet and close the door and pray to God, your religion is between you and God. It’s not a public thing”.
This post is concerning the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of saints in heaven praying to the Father for us upon our request. I want to start this article by explaining the differences between saints on Earth and our responsibility to pray to the Father and the saints who are in heaven with the Father. I believe there is a change of roles once you go to heaven and I’ll out line that later. I also see it as dangerous to attempt contact with anyone deceased whether they are in heaven or in hell. Another problem is how this teaching downplays the weight that your faith backed prayers hold, as long as you have faith your prayer is on equal value as Mary’s faith backed prayers where. God has no favorites. The biggest problem of all is that there is no scriptural foundation for this teaching. Please open your mind and Bible as we look into this subject.
“The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom,41 especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were “put in charge of many things.”42 Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.”
Roman Catholic Catechism # 2683
Saints Alive and Dead
First, I want to point out that saints who are in heaven are much more alive than we are now on Earth, they are in their resurrected bodies (1Cor 15) and are enjoying God’s fullness. However to lessen the confusion in this post I will refer to those saints in heaven as dead saints, they died, were judged, and passed because they were saved by Christ. We however (assuming you are a Christian) are living saints. As I studied this subject on various Catholic sites I discovered an interesting mind set among all of them: Catholic doctrine teaches that dead saints carry the same responsibilities, abilities, and duties as us living saints. This, however I do not agree with. Once Christians die and are in heaven they enjoy God’s fullness and await the Second Coming of Christ where they will return with Him in their resurrected bodies to enter in to yet a third set of responsibilities and duties as they dwell in the New Jerusalem during the millennial reign. However, Catholics uphold that because the New Testament encourages the living saints to pray for other living saints that saints who have passed on to heaven should continue to do the same. This is something I find no where in the Bible.
In the Bible I have yet to find any example of
- a saint in heaven praying to God
- a living saint asking a dead saint to pray for them or with them
- an Apostle or author encouraging their audience to speak to a dead saint
The actual activity of saints in heaven is not very detailed in the Bible so to interject ones own opinions (aka the Catechism) is dangerous. A common error is considering that the angels of God and saints of God (in heaven) do the same stuff. I found many scriptures of angelic activity being mentioned as proof for the Catholic teachings of praying to or through the saints. This simple cannot be done, angels and dead saints have different roles and cannot be held at the same level. Angels are used to deliver messages to man and to report to God, they even travel from heaven to Earth often. However heavenly saints are not ever recorded as having these same duties or abilities. Angels in heaven are active servants of God unto the saints (Heb1:14), however heavenly saints are not. The few mentions in the Bible of contact with the dead are connected to the sin of witchcraft and divination. The one time that a dead saint was reached was when Saul and a witch did a seance, however Samuel who was contacted was in Sheol (not heaven) and he was not happy about what Saul had done (1 Samuel 28:7-19). This contact was a sin in God’s eyes.
After a discussion with my wife about how many denominations there are and how it seems that the body of Christ has been sliced in to tiny pieces I decided to study where the main Christian groups got their roots from. To me this is a very interesting study looking at the reasons behind groups splitting but it’s also very sad to consider how 12 apostles of the 1st century church have become over 1,200 official denominations most of which have more problems with the others than they do unity and love.
The Great Schism 1054
The division of Christianity in to two groups: Western (Latin or Roman Catholics) and Eastern (Greek or Orthodox). Pope Leo IX and the patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius excommunicated each other simultaneously which initiated the schism. However there were many long lasting aspects that lead up to the split such as political, theological, and geographical reasons.
Theological issues not agreed upon:
- Whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father only or from the Father and the Son.
- Whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist.
- The definition of original sin
- Free will vs. predestination
- Purgatory and hell
- If celibacy should be enforced on clergy
The Eastern Orthodox Church claims to be the original Apostalic church establish by Jesus Christ which began with the first church under the Apostles of Christ. The Easter Orthodox followers strive to become more like Christ in their spiritual journey of life.
Theological beliefs/Church practices include:
- Use of 10 extra books not included in the typical 66-book Canon of the Bible,
see canon comparison chart
- Original sin
- Christ was fully God and Man
- Obedience to traditional in Biblical interpretation
- Reverence to Virgin Mary as the “God-bearer” or fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant
- All believers known or unknown are saints but there are certain saints of good example
- No purgatory
- Baptism joins one with The Body of Christ and initiates membership to the church
- Regards Revelation as a mystery but some take amillennialist view
Branched off of Catholicism under Martin Luther, a German reformer.The split officially happened in 1521 at the Edict of Worms where adherents to Luthers teachings were excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church. The split was mainly over theological issues concerning grace and forgiveness. Martin Luther believed the Bible to be the true Word of God and to be the end authority on doctrine rather than ones own reasoning or personal interpretation.
Theological beliefs/Church practices include:
- Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion
- Predestination, see Divine Monergism
- Divine providence
- Good works are from God and a result of faith/salvation
- No millennial reign of Christ
This is a study on the and historical identity of Mary, the mother of Jesus. First we will look at what the Catholic catechism says. The Catechism is the universal doctrine held by all Roman Catholics, the statements contained there in are decided by and established by Popes as absolute, and theological truths. I also looked in to the accounts of approved apparitions of Mary to see what they reveal about Mary, I did this because Catholics hold that they are true and trustworthy representations of Mary. And thirdly I we will examine what the Word of God, the ultimate authority says and reveals to us about Mary.
The identity of Mary as proposed by the Roman Catholic Church has become increasingly disturbing as of late so I decided to undertake a study on who she really is. My true concern is for those Catholics who pray to or through Mary and see her as a spiritual guide in their relationship to Jesus.
As I studied the Catholic beliefs of Mary I tried to have an open mind on behalf of my many devout Catholic friends who openly accept that Mary has and can visit via “apparitions” and that she should have a major part in the daily prayers of a follower of Christ. So like I said I opened my mind but what I found in my research was continually disturbing, the things that “Mary” said and instructed were continually anti or extra Biblical. Also the many ways in which she is recorded appearing and shining, it is all very strange. But don’t take my word for it after all, what is man’s opinion compared to God’s Word right?
Who do Catholic’s say Mary is?
“With her yes, Mary opened the door of our world to God Himself; she became the living ark of the covenant in whom God took flesh, became one of us and pitched His tent among us”
(“Saved by Hope,” by Pope Benedict XVI #49).
“O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
(Miraculous Medal Prayer)
She is titled “…the mighty Mother of God “new Eve ”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church (971)&(975))
“The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection. ”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church (974))
“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin”
Pope Pius IX, December 8, 1854
In conversations with Catholic friends of mine I often discuss the relevance of Mary in their daily devotions and relationship with God. The usual response that I have received from many different Catholics is “If we want to know Jesus what better person is there to go to but His own mother? Mary simply leads us to Jesus.”
The interesting thing is that this idea of “ping-ponging” (as I call it) off of someone to get to Christ is present in Judaism and some overly religious Christians. In Judaism you could only be forgiven of sins if it was by the Priest’s sacrifice also prophets were the designated individuals that delivered the “Thus says the Lord” messages to the people of God. Many Catholics place Mary in the place that the priest held to the Jews, they need her in order to get to God/Christ, this however is what was done away with when Jesus’s death ripped the veil in the temple. In some Christians minds their relationship with Christ consists of church attendance to hear a nice sermon from the pastor and personal revelations from God seem to be reserved for only those elect or of high positions in the church. This mindset is also present in the Catholic history where the Roman Catholic Church thought it inappropriate and dangerous for the common people to read the Word of God. To prevent this they chained the Bible to the church podium and did not allow the Bible to be translated in to a common language. Only the Priests and select people could read, understand, and interpret the Word. In my mind that is why the dark ages were considered dark. We can approach God directly because of the New Covenant, and we can read the Word personally and receive correction on interpretation/general revelation from the Holy Spirit.
Thankfully under the New Covenant we can:
- Know Christ personally
- Ask and receive complete forgiveness of sins from Jesus
- Approach God because of Jesus’s atonement
- Hear God’s voice through the Holy Spirit in you
A Christian does not need a middle man, a messenger, or a representative to know God. Instead, Jesus’s work paved the path for us to approach God. It’s on Christ’s behalf that we can come to God and be in his presence unlike under the Old Covenant. The impassable valley of sin was annulled by the bridge of the cross thus we can enter in to eternal life and be one with Him now in this life.
However a problem arises when one believes they can only receive forgiveness by asking a human to ask for them, or when their only reading / revelation of scripture is from another man. This is counterproductive of the work of Christ on the cross because He died so that we can come to God. People who form doctrines that undo a personal relationship with God are in a sense mending up the veil that Jesus tore in the temple at His death.