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The word of the cross is the power of God

At the 2003 Ligonier Conference, John MacArthur spoke on “The Myth of Influence”. His assigned topic was to speak on the myth that the Gospel advances on the back of public favor. In other words, that we can somehow influence people into the Kingdom of God if we hide the more unpalatable aspects of the Gospel, if we as a church try to look like the world, if we can stylize our churches in order to minimize resistance, if we make the church going experience comfortable for the non-believer, if we try to be cool they will see that Jesus is cool and then repent. There is only one way to enter the kingdom and it is through the gate of the Gospel.

The Gospel doesn’t advance on the back of public favor, it advances on the back of the Holy Spirit despite public hostility.

Of course this is a myth.

At the beginning his two-par message, Dr MacArthur said that he had endured many battles in his decades as a pastor and teacher. He’s defended the inerrancy of the Bible, battled over the authority of the word of God, battled over the deity of Jesus Christ, battles over the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, battled over paradigms over sanctification. Those were to be expected in the life of a pastor-teacher.

He said,

What I didn’t expect was to spend most of my ministry life battling to rescue the Gospel from evangelicals. That has really been a shock to me. It’s seemingly getting worse all the time as the Gospel sinks below the radar.

Serious worship disappears along with the public ordinances. Biblical, theological exposition of scripture vanishes. Transcendence and profundity are exchanged for mimicking shallow, worldly worship styles. Church discipline disappears, holiness is non-existent, and sin is normalized. The myth is that somehow this is going to get people into the kingdom.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Think about that deeply for a moment. The word of the cross IS the power of God. For those of us being saved, the word of the cross is THE POWER OF GOD. Alternately, for those who are perishing, it is folly. Of course the Gospel will be rejected, condemned, dismissed. It is folly to those who are perishing. But for those whom God has ordained salvation, it is power.

Gill’s Exposition makes a distinction between the doctrine of the Christian’s cross, which we are to pick up and follow, and the cross here intended. It is —

of the cross of Christ, the doctrine of salvation by a crucified Christ; or the doctrine of peace and reconciliation by the blood of his cross, and of righteousness, pardon, atonement, and satisfaction by the offering up of himself upon it as a sacrifice for sin,

It is interesting to read Acts 28:22, where we see that even in Christianity’s heyday, the Christian message was reviled. Paul had appealed to Rome to hear his case, and the local leaders were gathered to hear Paul’s argument. They opened the proceedings by saying:

But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.

There is always refreshment to get bask to the original doctrines, to ponder the power and grace of the atonement, to meditate upon the unique Person of Jesus Christ. I pray you and I be not ashamed of this word of the cross today.

If you would care to listen to the entire message, here it is. There’s a part two as well.

Was part of the cross of Jesus found?

It seems like there have been a slew of archaeological finds related to the bible or Jesus lately. Here is another.

Piece Of Jesus’ Cross Found? Archaeologists Discover ‘Holy Thing’ In Balatlar Church In Turkey
Archaeologists working in Turkey believe they have found a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on. While excavating the ancient Balatlar Church, a seventh-century building in Sinop, Turkey, on the shores of the Black Sea, they uncovered a stone chest that contained objects that may be directly connected with Jesus Christ. Excavation head Professor Gülgün Köroğlu definitively stated:

We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified]. This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far.

The stone chest has been taken to a laboratory for further testing. However, the appearance of the chest suggests that it was a repository for the relics of a holy person, according to the team, who showed reporters at the site a stone with crosses carved into it. Many churches claim to possess relics of the so-called “true cross,” though the authenticity of the items is not fully accepted by scholars and scientists. Protestant theologian John Calvin noted that, “if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load,” referring specifically to the cross.

“Ship-load.” Yup. That’s about the size of it. When I traveled through Italy, there was a relic in every church. “Here is a piece of John the Baptist’s finger!” Or “Here is a part of Jesus’ garment!” Or “Look at this shard of the goblet at the last supper!” Or “here is a bone from Saint Peter!” I admit the body parts floating in reliquaries was ghoulish in the extreme.

Turkey is a Muslim state. We often forget that it is the cradle of Christianity. The seven churches were there. Some believe that western Turkey was the location of the Garden of Eden

It is believed that agriculture began in Turkey. Earliest man grew things there. Perhaps Cain? (Genesis 4:2-3).

Two days ago, the site at Laodikeia was added to the UNESCO historical sites

This link has a list of other recent discoveries

This is from last week-
Israeli Archaeologists Claim to Have Found a Palace of King David

We revere the Man-God who was hung on the cross, and we remember the cross, but we do not revere the cross itself. It is a wooden piece, passing away and decomposing, but Jesus will never pass away nor will His word pass away. (Matthew 24:37). Can you imagine the frenzy to “test” this piece of wood for DNA? To “test” it to prove or disprove Christianity?

Our faith rests not on relics but on the living Jesus and His sterling word. The cross won’t be in heaven, but Jesus will be. And that is all that matters. We long to be where He is, resurrected and ruling in perfection and justice.

The latest Christian fad- Is wearing a sideways (horizontal) cross good, or bad?

Kelly Ripa has one. Taylor Jacobson, Rachel Zoe’s assistant has one. Jessica Biel wears it too. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Jennifer Lopez, Kourtney Kardashian, Jillian Michaels…all sport one. (And if you know who those people are, more power to you.) It has been described as “wildly popular”, “the hottest trend,” “totally cute”, and the “in fashion.” What is it? The sideways cross necklace.

Any time there is innovation related to anything in Christianity, we perk up. Our first question should be “What does it mean?” Why do we ask this first? We must be reverent–

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,” (Hebrews 12:28)

“And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” (Revelation 19:5).

Fads are nothing new. They affect Christianity just as they affect the world. Most often, fads are related to doctrine, movements, or worldwide phenomena in the ecclesiology department, affecting preaching. As Phil Johnson says of fads,

“In the past two decades we have seen a relentless parade of phony miraculous phenomena, and literally millions of Christians have jumped on this bandwagon, running from one charismatic fad to another, desperately trying to get in on the latest display of divine power.”

But there are Christian merchandising fads, too. Love Dare diaries from Fireproof, Courageous Decree, WWJD bracelets, prayer blankets… fads, fads, fads. As Phil Johnson asked in 2005 of the merchandising fads, “Shall we sell our birthright for a mess of faddage?

“So why has the recent culture of American evangelicalism—a movement supposedly based on a commitment to timeless truths—been so susceptible to fads? Why are evangelical churches so keen to jump on every bandwagon? Why do our people so eagerly rush to buy the latest book, CD, or cheap bit of knockoff merchandise concocted by the marketing geniuses who have taken over the Christian publishing industry?”

Some of the beginner-level fads have seemed harmless enough—evangelical kitsch like Kinkade paintings, Precious Moments® collectibles, singing songbooks, moralizing vegetables, bumper stickers, Naugahyde® Bible covers, and whatnot. Such fads themselves, taken individually, may not seem worth complaining about at all. But collectively, they have created an appetite for “the ugly and the superficial.” They have spawned more and more fads. Somewhere along the line, evangelicals got the notion that all the fads were good, because the relentless parade of bandwagons gave the illusion that evangelicals were gaining significant influence and visibility. No bandwagon was too weird to get in the parade. And the bigger, the better.

Johnson goes on to say that somewhere along the line bandwagons become Trojan horses. I recommend Pastor Johnson’s essay in its entirety. He sure can write. (His retirement from blogging left a huge hole! Wah!)

Is it bad to wear a sideways necklace? I’d written a few days ago about hair, clothes and jewelry, here: “Adorned in Christ, how should we dress for Holy Week?” In that essay I’d mentioned, ” 1 Timothy 2:9 says “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” and went through the historical reasons for that admonition and the one in 1 Peter 3:3.

So we ask again, is it bad or wrong to wear a sideways cross necklace? is it respectable apparel?

I looked for a definitive interpretation of the horizontal cross, and though a definitive one was lacking, I found the following in most places I looked:

One interpretation holds that wearing the cross sideways means that “humanity is positioned right in the middle of heaven and hell. This makes it a neutral symbol.”

This seems like an innocuous and even a pleasant notion. But, no, there is no neutrality. There is no middle road. In fact this is an insidious teaching that is contrary to what the bible teaches. Either you believe and you’re saved as a son of God, or you do not believe and you are condemned already as a child of hell. (John 3:18, Matthew 23:15, Hebrews 3:19). Humanity is already in either heaven or hell.

Another interpretation holds that: “Because of this meaning, some people say that wearing a sideways cross necklace means that you are aware of your place in this existence; And that you are grounded here on earth.”

Again this is contrary to what the bible teaches. Christians who believe by faith in the Gospel have a home in heaven. This earth is not our home. (Hebrews 13:14). We are not to love the world or anything in the world. (1 John 2:15). If you are a Christian wearing a sideways necklace to show you are grounded here on earth, either you have a flawed idea of what Christianity is or you have no clue about the glory that awaits.

“There are also people who believe that the sideways orientation of a necklace symbolizes Jesus Christ carrying the cross, this is one of my favorite interpretations.”

But He is not still carrying the cross. He died and rose again from an upright cross, declaring that it is finished. (John 19:30). That trumps the Savior’s carrying of it.

“It has also been based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The horizontal orientation of the necklace connotes that Jesus Christ has actually risen and that the cross has already been laid down to signify that humanity has been saved.”

This is also a false notion. It sounds Christian-y but it is actually untrue. First, He didn’t lay down the cross. And nether are we commanded to lay it down, we are to take it up (Mark 8:34).

Secondly, humanity has not been saved, only those who are in Christ are saved. For the unsaved billions, a sideways cross would be a futile symbol. What about them?

No, more to the point, if you’re going to symbolize things, ‘Lay down your arms” means it is being dispensed with. It is over. Done. Fighting is stopped. You accede, acquiesce, quit, surrender.
 
Yet Christians are called to pick up our cross, not lay it down. (Luke 9:23). We are called to arm ourselves and fight, taking up the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). Wearing a sideways, laying down cross seems antithetical to what we are called to do in scripture.

And how many times are we called to stand? We are not standing in our own strength, either, but stand in Jesus. (Romans 14:4). His cross is still standing! Why would we ever signal that we are laying down our Christianity?

If you are not all that into symbolical interpretations of these things, and just want to wear a horizontal cross without all the hoo-haa, then before wearing sideways cross jewelry, ask yourself these questions:

Does it make you, the wearer, consumed with how the jewelry makes you look? (1 Peter 3:3).

It’s trendy, but should we join hands with the world and monkey with the 2000 year old symbol of our faith just to be “in”?

Would you be offended if your church laid the cross at the church altar on its side?

Is it a silent statement against Christianity, a jewelry wearer’s rebellion?

Is it making a commodity out of the Gospel by monkeying with its traditionality for the sake of fashion and money? Remember, Nadab and Abihu innovated a sacrificial service, and were killed for it. (Leviticus 10:1-2). Not that I am saying you will be killed by God if you wear a sideways cross, certainly, but is innovation proper? God gave us our faith, the holy bible, and its symbols. The most important one is the cross. God didn’t have Jesus die on a guillotine, or by the sword. He died on a cross, and that was for a specific, holy, perfect reason. Do you really want to innovate that, when God set it forth in perfection in the first place?

If there is this much confusion about its meaning, can it be good?

Does it exalt Jesus? Or bring confusion to the symbol and its universally understood meaning for the past 2000 years?

Are you succumbing to a merchandising fad? “That is the culture the evangelical movement deliberately created when it accepted the notion that religion is something to be peddled and sold to consumers like a commodity. That was a major philosophical shift that created an environment where unspiritual and unscrupulous men could easily make merchandise of the gospel.” ~Phil Johnson

The bible says that there will be fads and they come on the backs of greedy teachers bringing false words- “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:3).

Here is the most compelling reason not to wear a sideways cross!

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,” 
John 3:14, Numbers 21:9

BBC Easter show to compare practicing homosexuals to Jesus on the cross

When I listened to John MacArthur’s monumental and devastating sermon in September which was a response to the Democratic Party platform, I thought the culture could not get any lower. (Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality). Even though I know in my head it can always go lower, I literally could not envision in my heart how it could. But we know that it always does, and indeed, it has.

In that sermon, which was at the time a low point for the global culture, MacArthur said-

“Isaiah knew sodomy was all around them, a part of life in Assyria, a part of life in Babylon, a part of life in Egypt. In fact there was much about homosexuality among the pharaohs. It took a while, it took about 150 years, but all of this kind of seeped in and what destroyed Sodom would destroy Judah. And later it would destroy Greece, and later it would destroy Rome. This is always a deadly sin, and always a defining sin, and always a damning sin.”

It can be seen as a low point because Romans 1:25-32 is a benchmark of progression of how a culture departs from God and what God does when that culture departs from Him. Rebellion against Him always takes the form of sin. A most damnable sin, and the only sin that IS a judgment, is homosexuality.

The political process at the Democratic Party adopted a platform that uplifted everything God hates and they denied God himself by removing His name from any and all affirmations included in the platform.

Ken Ham of the ministry Answers in Genesis wrote this weekend that the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) is going to present a show on Easter that compares Jesus Christ to homosexuals. Ham writes,

“Yes, you read that title correctly: the British Broadcasting Company will be airing a radio Easter message that compares the treatment of practicing homosexuals to the Crucifixion of Christ. (Read more about the announcement at this link.) The host of the program will be Benjamin Cohen, the founder of the gay UK publisher PinkNews.

Now, Cohen has written an article titled “Like Jesus on the cross, the gay community know what it is to be abandoned.” He explains his view of the Crucifixion and how he believes it relates to the gay agenda. As you’ll see, his reasoning shows a complete lack of understanding of the Bible’s atonement message and why Christ came to earth as a man:

The story of Jesus is one that is inextricably tied up with the notion of him being an outcast and being both abandoned and rejected by his own people, the Jews. Jesus was abandoned because of something he said he couldn’t help, being born the son of God, the messianic figure for the redemption of the Jewish people and ultimately of mankind. Yet he was persecuted for it, treated as a traitor and ultimately executed.

One of the problems with Cohen’s statement is that the gospel accounts of Christ’s earthly ministry don’t center on rejection and abandonment. They are concerned with Christ’s purpose for coming to earth—to offer salvation to sinful man through living a perfect life, dying in our place, and rising again three days later.

What’s more, Christ and His disciples called people to repent and believe. You see, Scripture tells us that homosexual behavior is sinful—so Cohen’s comparison isn’t remotely valid. “

Please go to the link at Ham’s website to read the rest of his essay.

If anything, this shows the persistence of satan. If anything this shows us that sin always has another depth to sink to. This is why the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins to pay the debt of God’s wrath over them had to be Jesus- because He is eternal. His infinite Goodness and Holiness paid the infinite and unholy debt of the depth of the world’s sin.

Aren’t we glad that in one way, when we see sin sinking so low, we can also see Jesus as so high and lifted up?

In the year of the death of king Uzziah, I saw also the Lord sitting upon an high throne, and lifted up, and the lower parts thereof filled the Temple. The Seraphims stood upon it, every one had six wings: with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole world is full of his glory. And the lintels of the door cheeks moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, Woe is me: for I am undone, because I am a man of polluted lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of polluted lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, and Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the Seraphims unto me with an hot coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with the tongs: And he touched my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? and who shall go for us? Then I said, Here am I, send me. (Isaiah 6:1-8)

He is seated on the throne, powerful King of all the universe, having paid the debt of even these people who compare Holy God to polluted sin. That is why we worship Jesus, He is beautiful in His holiness and purity.

MacArthur concludes the sermon series from last fall by saying:

“What’s wrong with our world? Rejected God; same thing that’s always been wrong. What are the solutions to all of the things that come from that? The only solution is to worship God by honoring His Son, the only Savior, the only hope. People talk about hope and change. There’s only one hope–that’s Christ. There’s only one change–that’s regeneration. Otherwise nothing changes and there’s no hope.”

Harlem Shake is dead but at least questioning the atonement is still cool

It’s a little rough but gets the point across:

The Harlem Shake is the latest “craze” to sweep churches that preach an emergent, soft, different Gospel. Those churches engage in social justice on weekdays and re-gather on Sundays to have rock concerts, share what dreams and revelations Jesus sent them whilst sipping cappuccino and admiring the gauge in their nose. You get the idea. There is more here from CNN about the Harlem Shake from a secular point of view, but make no mistake, the shake is sweeping churches. They have to stay relevant you know.

What was encouraging was that the Node ‘Last Shake’ video was posted to Facebook by 19-year old friend of mine. Not all youths are under the sway of the cool pastors in skinny jeans! Hallelujah!

At the blog A Twisted Crown of Thorns this is posted: “These relentless overtures to make the church more hip or more culturally savvy are in themselves a danger to any church. They downgrade the gospel, make people seek excitements as vehicles for their silliness and pander after entertainment instead of seeking Christ as a Savior for their sins. These excitements are a judgement to any church. Believers come seeking for bread and to be fed and you offer them stones! Oh brood of vipers, and you call yourselves Christ-ian (Christ-like)!”

I’m studying for the Sunday School lesson, it is from John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ.” Pretty inspiring stuff. The cross never gets old, ya know?

Except when it does. I believe the study contained in our Sunday School quarterly is timely. The cross and Jesus as the substitutionary atonement, punished by taking the wrath of God for our sins, shedding His blood, is a doctrine that’s increasingly being denied.

Just last week Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye) denied the atonement in his book “Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I’ve Crossed” following up his doubt about the atonement in an interview with The Christian Post. When CP asked him to clarify, Bakker said, “Yes I am definitely questioning the atonement.” (And yes, that thing on his lip is a honkin’ lip ring.)

One would think that there would be SOME hard and fast doctrines that people would not mess with. Like, Jesus as God. Or the Virgin Birth. Or, the Atonement. But these are exactly the ones that are under attack in the last few years. The atonement is being questioned and denied with increasing momentum. Besides Bakker, other notable people who question or deny the atonement these last 5 years have been people such as Reverend Jeffrey John, a Bishop of the Church of England, who called the doctrine “repulsive.” (Rev. John is gay, by the way).  Giles Fraser, a priest of the Church of England in London,  quickly followed up on John’s assertion by saying, “No, Jesus is not a blood sacrifice to appease a vicious God.”

On this side of the pond, in 2011 Rob Bell denied the atonement in his book “Love Wins,” itself a denial of hell. In case you are wont to say ‘Oh that’s just Rob Bell, some guy who doesn’t affect me,’ think again. Time magazine named him to its annual list of 100 most influential people in the world, after making him the cover story in April 2011. Bell founded Mars Hill church in Michigan and it was considered one of the fastest growing churches in America.

William P. Young denies the atonement. Who is he, you ask? He wrote “The Shack,” a book which spent two years on the NY Times bestseller list AND was given the Diamond Award of sales over 10 million copies by the Evangelical Christian Publisher’s Association!

Still think that the doctrine of the atonement is solid at your church? The influence of these men who deny it is pervasive. Did you read The Shack? You were affected by the denial of the atonement. Think on how many people you knew were reading it, offered it to you, or commented about how good it was. Another influence on denying the atonement. Think you’re unaffected by the likes of Bell or Bakker?  They have large congregations, who are media savvy and have or produce their own television shows. They spawn other men who become pastors. They have congregants who go out into the community and speak of the these ideas. They have members who move and take these ideas with them. They and their ideas are poison chaff, blowing in the wind and landing at your threshold.

Be warned: the doctrine of the atonement is being chipped away at from all compass points and no doubt in your sphere too.

Speaking of Bakker, he announced last week he is leaving Revolution Church NYC “to pursue other opportunities.” And in other exciting news, he wrote a book that is being published this week. He wrote on his website-

“In the coming months, after 6 years in Brooklyn, I will be moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have some exciting opportunities there and decided it was time for a fresh start. … [Sad that after only 6 years he feels stale…] My co-pastor, Vince Anderson, will remain on staff in his role as pastoral care minister and will continue to serve as a resource to the online community. He will be meeting with the local members here in Brooklyn, to determine how they would like to proceed. We believe that this time of transition will make for a more dynamic Revolution Church, and will help us focus and expand our scope and mission. Through this time, we ask for your continued support. Donations can be sent to our Brooklyn office, or online through Paypal. To support Revolution Church click HERE. On another note, my new book, “Faith, Doubt and Other Lines I’ve Crossed” is now out.”

I’ll sum it up: ‘I am restless, bored, and moving on, need time to tour for my book and make merchandise of you, don’t worry, the online stuff is still there because we have diluted worship to the point where ‘connecting’ in Jesus’ name means ‘liking’ the podcast, and don’t forget to DONATE DONATE DONATE. See ya, bye.’

He is going to start a Revolution church in MN. In case you don’t think that Revolution church, with its gay marriage affirming, atonement denying, liberal teachings is a big deal, there is a Revolution Church in Tuscon, Long Beach, Wilmington NC, Gainesville GA, Atlanta GA, NYC, Canton GA, Oakland TN…and the list goes on.

Anyway, the cross. The cross is central. Stott wrote, “Yet the enemies of the Gospel neither did nor do share this perspective. There is no greater cleavage between faith and unbelief than in their respective attitudes to the cross. … Why do we ‘cling to the old rugged cross’ and insist on its centrality, refusing to let it be pushed to the circumference of our message? Why must we proclaim the scandalous, and glory in the shameful? The answer lies in the single word integrity.  Christian integrity consists partly in a resolve to unmask the caricatures, but mostly in a personal loyalty to Jesus in whose mind the saving cross was central.”

Are you loyal to Jesus? Then you are loyal to the cross. Stay that way.

(UPDATED) Pope declares he "is not coming down from the cross", said in 1969 that the Pope takes the place of the Lord

In his farewell speech today, Sky News reported that outgoing Pope Benedict said,

“Pope Benedict told the 50,000-strong crowd he was not “coming down from the Cross”, but would remain in the service of the Church through prayer.”

It is not a misprint.

The Papacy is an office whereupon the occupier of it sees himself as a substitute for Christ. That is what the name of the papal office “Vicar of Christmeans, substitute.

Lest one believe that it is a mis-translation, or that the Pope did not really mean it, let’s look at some of the Catholic Position Papers.

In the Catholic position paper titled the “Nature of the Papal Primacy” we read that

“In his chief ministry the Pope is obliged by the objective rules of faithfulness which derive from the revealed word of God, from the fundamental constitution of the Church and by Tradition.'[40] He has the necessary divine assistance to carry out his office. But this does not relieve him of a very grave responsibility before Christ whom God has appointed to judge everyone, alive or dead (Acts 10:42). It demands of the holder of the office of bishop of the Catholic Church humility, prudence and holiness and of the faithful continual prayer to God for the head of the Church on earth.”

“However, and this is important, on earth there is no external tribunal, neither in the Church nor in civil society to which one can appeal against his decisions. The Pope must look for advice, take the steps which prudence demands in the delicate function of governing the Church, listen to the opinion of his brother bishops, etc., but ‘the judgement of the apostolic See, whose authority is unsurpassed, is not subject to review by anyone, nor is anyone allowed to pass judgement on his decisions.”

“We reach here, perhaps, the nerve center of all teaching about the primacy. … ‘The relation of the primacy to Christ is not only historical-causal, but also actual-causal, for in the activity of the Pope Christ himself is audible and visible. Of the Pope it can truly be said: he acts in the person of Christ.’[42] With theological wisdom St. Catherine of Siena called the Pope the ‘gentle Christ on earth’ but at the same time, conscious of the moral responsibility of the Pope, she urged him to exercise with fortitude his ‘service of unity’ in the Church, that is to say, to be faithful to his most important mission.”

“The Pope,’ writes Cardinal Ratzinger, ‘is not just someone who speaks in the name of the bishops, a kind of mouthpiece they give themselves and which is there to do their bidding. The Pope is where he is, with a direct responsibility before God, to take the place of the Lord,”

You note the last paragraph, there is a quote by a young Cardinal Ratzinger, who we now know as Pope Benedict XVI, confirming what he said today in 2013 as he did in 1969 and as Catholic dogma states- the pope is in the place of Christ on earth. They really believe the pope is Christ audible and visible.

Over a billion Catholics are in spiritual bondage to this heinous religious system. There are many things they lack spiritually but I can think of three to address that we can point them to. First, we can point to Christ and the bible to help them overcome what it is they lack: knowledge of grace, assurance in their salvation, and trust in Jesus to fulfill all He has said.

~~~~~~GRACE~~~~~~

The simple truth at the center of a born again believer’s faith is surrounded by Grace- that Jesus descended from heaven, lived as fully man and fully God for 33 years, died on the cross as the lamb sacrifice for our sins (taking upon His shoulders the wrath of God), was buried and three days later rose again. This is the Gospel.

Any person who believes these facts, and confesses them, is saved. (Romans 10:9, Ephesians 2:8). It is a free gift of Christ due to His work on the cross.

The RCC has overlaid so much on top of these simple facts, and corrupted the Gospel so thoroughly, it is hard to untangle unless a person does one thing- looks at Christ. He is the giver of grace and it is grace through faith that you are saved. A struggling Catholic can be led to these verses and sermon on these verses.  More on Grace, defined and explained, here. Bible verses on Grace, here, and still others, here.

Romans 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

One way to help a Catholic is to point them to grace. They need to be drenched in the facts of grace to cut through the demonic noise in their spirit. Share with them essays and sermons that speak of the Grace of God.

 ~~~~~~ASSURANCE~~~~~~

A Catholic has no assurance of their salvation. First, they are taught they need to work to maintain it. Salvation in the Catholic system is something you earn “by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life and to have truly merited eternal life.” (source)

It must be spiritually disquieting, to say the least, to know that they must rely on our own selves to attain or to maintain salvation- and to never know where you stand for sure. Committing a “mortal sin” constitutes a rupture in a person’s link to God and they become unsaved. It is the worst thing to happen, but there is a chance they can go to Purgatory after death for a period of time to have the mortal sin cleansed out of them. Purgatory is another made-up doctrine that provides a safety net as a last chance effort. Either way, a Catholic is never completely assured of entering heaven. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified”. The grace of God and the work of Jesus on the cross was not enough you see. The gap is supposed to be filled by the Catholic.

We not only have assurance, Jesus IS the assurance. Hebrews 11 is a record of that very thing, the assurance we have that is in us and that IS Christ.

Faith, hope, grace… Gills Exposition says- “And were persuaded of them, and embraced them; they had a full assurance of faith, that what was promised would be fulfilled; and they took a kind of possession of them before hand, as Abraham did of the land of Canaan, by sojourning in it; as did also Isaac and Jacob; and all of them by faith embraced the Messiah, and dealt with, and laid hold upon his blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and grace, by which they were saved, as New Testament saints are.”

Here is a video on the Divine guarantee of eternal salvation

Send them to verses which speak of assurance. Here is a page listing them.

~~~~~~TRUST~~~~~~

If you put faith in a man, no matter how many assurances he gives you, man will let you down. Popes die. Popes resign. Priests sin. Bishops fall. Trusting in a religious system will become a stumbling block. The born again believer’s faith is a relationship with the One who is perfect, loving, and steadfast in His promises. He cannot fail. However, since a Catholic is taught that the atonement of Jesus was not enough, it makes it hard to fully trust a savior who did not complete the work and left it to fallible man. It is one reason that Catholic dogma states that popes are infallible. But as we can see, they are.As a matter of fact, the Catholics install Mary as co-redemptrix, needing two saviors to get the job done. No, wait, three; Mary, Christ, and pope. No wait, four, Christ, Mary, Pope, and Catholic person working toward eternal reward.

And since unregenerated man populates the halls of the Vatican and on down through Cardinals, Bishops, and priests, they sin because they are under bondage to satan. We have seen, oh, how they sin. Scratch the veneer of holiness and the corruption will come out.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27).

How earth-shaking it must be for a Catholic to put trust in a system that depends on man, and then those very men are seen to be homosexuals, pedophiles, money-launderers, and much more. If they cannot trust an altar boy with a priest, how will they trust their everlasting soul to the Pope?

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” (John 14:1 NIV)

Solomon wrote words to the wise, saying “That your trust may be in the Lord,” (Proverbs 22:19). It is wise to trust the Lord! 

Isaiah 12:2 says, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

Help a Catholic whose world is rocked by misplaced trust in unregenerate men to once again turn to the Lord and trust Him. Once they see that the Lord never lets them down they can begin to renew their trust in their regenerated brethren.

Pastor-Teacher John MacArthur is writing a blog series of the facts of the heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. This is so that as the Pope and the RCC is in the news, we can witness clearly and with understanding of why and how the RCC is a false church. Here are the blog entries so far, in order–

A Timely Critique of the Catholic Church

Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: Grace vs. Works

The Pope and the Spirit of Antichrist

Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: The Pope

Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: Mary Worship

Each entry is concise and biblical. Please take a moment to review them, and see for yourself what the egregious errors are from this longest-running false church on earth are about.

You cal also read more here at Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry’s main page on Roman Catholicism.

This moment in time is an opportunity. Never before has the Catholic Church been so prevalent in discussion and in the news. People are listening, wondering. Our opportunity is that as ambassadors of Christ, we can be His light and share the truth.  We share the truth in love, that the RCC is false, and we share the Good news, that there is a way out- the simple Gospel of Grace.

The Water of Life, became thirsty

JESUS gave of Himself so completely that while hanging on the cross, He, the Living Water, The Water of Life, said- “I thirst.”

Macha Chmakoff

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:28-30).

And now risen by the grace and power of God, Jesus springs forth those waters upon His children forever.  With a love like that, no week or day or even a moment is barren for us but is full of life and plentiful refreshment of love and grace. Jesus IS the Living Water, He brings refreshing rivers of life to those who repent!

Francesco Allegrini

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?” (John 4:10-11).

O, precious brethren, always remember the tremendous love of Jesus, who poured Himself out for you.