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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Reformation Day!

So many, today, are unaware of the great significance of October 31st. Greater than Halloween (or Pumpkin Day), for it was on October 31st, 1517 that God used a timid young monk to begin one of the greatest revivals in history: The Reformation. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Apostle Paul wrote, in Romans 1:16-17,

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed,
a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:
"The righteous will live by faith."

When he read these words, nearly 500 years ago, they stunned the young monk who's name happened to be Martin. Up to that point, he’d been taught by his Church that salvation came as a result of his own efforts to be righteous by doing good and trying his hardest to keep the commands of the Law laid down by the priests and bishops. And try, he did – as hard as any man could. He fasted. He prayed. He wept. He confessed his sins. Yet still he was plagued by doubts and tormented by the guilt of his sins. It nearly drove him mad!

How could he, sinner that he knew he was, ever hope to be righteous in the eyes of God! That was his problem. He knew his sin. He knew God was holy. He understood that even if he did manage to purge the sin from his life (as impossible as that was!) and even if he did come to the place where he could believe he was righteous 98% of the time, with only 2% sin remaining, still he knew he would fall short of God’s perfect standards. What could he do? When told by his superiors that he must simply “Love God”, in the agony of his soul he cried out,”Love God? Sometimes I think I hate Him!”

But God had mercy upon young Martin. He was assigned the task, by one of his superiors, of teaching the New Testament. And there, in the book of Romans, God opened his eyes and let him see the simple, life-giving truth of the Gospel – that God gives the righteousness He requires freely, as a gift, to all who put their faith in Christ alone to save them. Not by works! Not by religion! Not by morality! Not by ritual! But by grace alone through faith in Christ, sinners may be saved!

That realization changed everything for Martin, who’s last name was Luther. He began to share the good news with others, thinking it would find as welcome a home in their hearts as it did in his. It was that drive to let others know what he had found that drove Luther, on that cool October day, to post his 95 Theses (95 points of debate he wished to raise about the religious system of his day). He thought his publication would lead to a lively debate among scholars and perhaps even a return to the truths of Scripture for some. Instead, it touched off a firestorm that would erupt into the Protestant Reformation. Europe would never be the same. Millions who came to faith through his preaching and the preaching of those who followed him would never be the same. And now 500 years later I, as an heir of the Reformation, can never be the same.

The message that God used to open the eyes of a terrified monk, has come home to me as well. By faith in Christ I know that my sins are forgiven, and I have been accepted by God as righteous, not because of any good thing I have done, but because of the finished work of Christ received by faith! It is my hope that this same message will come home to you as well. There is hope for every sinner, who by faith will repent of his sin and trust in Jesus, God's Son, by Grace, through faith alone.

Oh! What a rich mercy!

Pastor Scott Lee

17 comments:

Michael Gormley said...

Not Saved by Faith Only

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:24)

It cannot get any clearer than the verse in James that good works are necessary for Christians to truly have the life that Jesus promises.

Common objections...

James is not speaking of salvation. But notice that the verse immediately preceding refers to Abraham's saving faith...

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:23)

The book of James is hard to understand and therefore this verse should be ignored. In fact, Martin Luther wanted to remove this book from the Bible.

But the verse is actually easy to understand for those who accept Catholic teaching.

Shame on those Protestants...interpreting the Bible as their sole authority with preconceived doctrines.

Open your Bible to Acts 5:29-32... But Peter and the Apostles answered and said, "We must obey GOD rather than men...(32) and we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom GOD has given to all who obey him."

Those verses are unmistakable that we have to do our part by obeying the commandments of GOD.

Then there is the dreaded (by Protestants) James 2:14-26 which starts with (14) "What will it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but does not have Works?

Can the faith save him?...(17) So faith too, unless it has Works, is dead in itself...(20) Faith without Works is useless...(21)

Was not Abraham our father justified by Works when he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? (22) Do you not see that Faith worked along with his Works, and by the Works the faith was made perfect?...(24)

You see that by Works a man is justified, and not by faith only....(26) For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so, Faith also without Works is Dead." 'Subjective Salvation' in action, is shown for that whole section written by St. James.

I could go on and on with verses like this, and could ask questions such as, why is there a need for the ten commandments, since we are 'automatically saved'? I think you get the message from what I have shown.

Read Matthew 25:31:46. It is all about doing good works in this life. Then there is Revelation 14:13, "And I heard a voice from Heaven saying, 'Write: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth. Yes, says the Spirit, let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them.'"

Is that clear enough that works are needed in addition to faith? Still not convinced? Then how about another crystal clear verse? Revelation 22:12, "Behold, I come quickly! And My reward is with Me, to render to each one according to his works."

I must call it to your attention that the Bible mentions Faith Only, once and only once, in one verse, and in that verse it says NOT by Faith Only. (James 2:24)

Scott said...

Dear Michael,

I must point out that you entirely misunderstand Luther and the Scriptures. Paul, for instance, writing in
Romans 3:27-28 says, "Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law."

Notice, this is by faith apart from works of the Law. Here Paul is clearly talking about justification -- how a person is counted righteous by God. We are justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (ie counted for us) when we trust him by faith alone.

We see the same thing again in Galatians 2:16 "Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified."

Our works play no role in our justification (our being counted as righteous by God). That comes as a gift by faith alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

James, on the other hand is not speaking of salvation by works, but of the works which God gives that are the confirmation of salvation. Paul speaks of these confirming works in the very next verse after Eph 2:8-9 mentioned above, when he says, v10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

This is why biblical protestants (as opposed to many who misuse the name today) have always held that "Faith alone justifies, but not a faith that is alone." A true saving faith will always bring with it, works of righteousness. This is what James is making clear. Those who talk about their faith, but have not works (which are the evidence of true faith) are fooling themselves. Without such works, there is no real faith. But such works do not in any way earn us credit with God. Christ has provided a full and complete salvation to those who trust in him alone!

And so the order, biblically, is:
1. The Gospel is Preached
2. The sinner believes the Gospel, putting faith in Christ and is justified freely and completely -- counted righteous by faith.
3. The believer shows the reality of his faith by the works that then flow from his renewed life.

This is the Gospel preached by Paul and the Apostles and the earliest church -- Faith, Justification, then Works.
Not Faith, Works then Justification.

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Scott,

Some Christians claim, "The Bible is all I need," but this notion is not taught in the Bible itself. In fact, the Bible teaches the contrary idea (2 Peter 1:20–21, 3:15–16). The "Bible alone" theory was not believed by anyone in the early Church.

It is new, having arisen only in the 1500s during the Protestant Reformation. The theory is a "tradition of men" that nullifies the Word of God, distorts the true role of the Bible, and undermines the authority of the Church Jesus established (Mark 7:1–8).

Although popular with many "Bible Christian" churches, the "Bible alone" theory simply does not work in practice. Historical experience disproves it. Each year we see additional splintering among "Bible-believing" religions.

Today there are tens of thousands of competing denominations, each insisting its interpretation of the Bible is the correct one. The resulting divisions have caused untold confusion among millions of sincere but misled Christians.

Just open up the Yellow Pages of your telephone book and see how many different denominations are listed, each claiming to go by the "Bible alone," but no two of them agreeing on exactly what the Bible means.

We know this for sure: The Holy Spirit cannot be the author of this confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). God cannot lead people to contradictory beliefs because his truth is one. The conclusion? The "Bible alone" theory must be false.

Scott said...

Michael,

Respectfully, you are again in error. It is the God-breathed Scriptures that are profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16), not councils and Popes. As Luther rightly pointed out, "Councils and Popes do ere and have erred." While I would agree with you that "Sola Scriptura" is improperly applied by many so-called "Bible People" today (often in shocking and zany ways) that does not nullify the Biblical Principle. It is through the Scriptures that God speaks, not through some mythological "tradition" handed down apart from Scripture.

Having said that, though, it is clear -- as the Reformers would have affirmed -- that the practice today of individuals reading and interpreting the Bible apart from the faith community, as if it were solely a word given to me as an individual that I am then free to twist any direction I want, is also an error.

No, the Scriptures say what they say, and they say it plainly and sufficiently. Jesus Himself said, "Thy Word is Truth" (John 17:3. Thus we don't need to be told what Scripture says by magisterial officials. But we do need to labor to understand what Scripture says as written by Paul and Peter, etc.

This, by the way, is what you'll find was taught by those who followed after the apostles, if you read them carefully. Saint Augustine himself said, “When Scripture speaks, God speaks. What Scripture says, God says. The voice of Scripture is the voice of God."

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Scott,

Private interpretation of Scriptures can be exceedingly harmful to self and others. This has divided Christianity into hundreds if not tens of thousands of segments.

Too many individuals claim their position is right and are unwilling to freely discuss the position taken or to be submissive to moral authorities.

Holding to a personal position, or one of heretical source, places one's eternal soul in jeopardy. Such people often become instruments that lead others to perdition.

The Catholic Church Stands Alone!

Scott said...

Yes, certainly "private interpretation" is a problem. The isolated individual sitting alone in a room coming up with his own unique "spin" on Scripture, totally cut off from the long history of great minds wrestling with these same truths, seeking to be led by the Holy Spirit in understanding what He has said. But that is not what you have with an historic Protestant approach to Scripture. I would agree that such is the bane of a great deal of modern evangelicalism.

But that is not the issue here. One of the things that is striking as you read the original Protestant leaders, is how clear they were that what they were recovering was (and is) the historic teaching of the earliest church. What they were rejecting was not authority in general, but the pseudo-authority of an authoritarian medieval church that had drifted far, far from its foundation in Scripture, inventing such novelties as indulgences, papal supremacy, purgatory, the veneration of Mary, oracular confession, a sacerdotal priesthood, priestly celibacy, the treasury of merit etc, etc. In so doing the organization called the Catholic Church had departed from the "faith once for all delivered to the saints."

The Protestant goal, originally, was not to leave the Catholic Church, but to Reform it, to call it back to it's Scriptural roots. Only when it's leaders refused to hear, and turned against them with the power of the Sword were Protestants forced to take their lonely stand.

I bear no animosity toward the Roman Church, nor toward its adherents. But I grieve for the loss of Scriptural truth -- especially for it's failure to preach the Gospel of salvation by the free grace of God received by faith in Christ. It is to a fresh look at that biblical Gospel -- stripped clean of man-made layers of tradition -- that I would call you to consider.

Praying all is well for you and those you care about.

Grace and Peace,
SSL

Michael Gormley said...

Dear Scott,

The New Testament speaks of a rock that followed the Israelites in the desert (1 Corinthians 10:4), “Moses’ seat” (Matthew 23:2), Jannes and Jambres opposing Moses (2 Timothy 3:8), the prophecy that the savior shall be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:23), and the dispute over Moses’ body (Jude 1:9).

Please show me in the Old Testament where these things are. If you can’t, then these things are an example of Tradition being used in the New Testament.

The New Testament also says that The Church is the pillar and bulwark of Truth, not scripture alone (1Timothy 3:15). Paul says to hold fast to the Traditions he taught, either in writing or by word of mouth (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

The Bible says that Christ is The Head of His Church (Ephesians 5:23), so by attacking His Church, just like Saul did, you are attacking Jesus Himself (Acts 9:4).

If Sacred Tradition (what all generations of the Church have taught) is ignored, then the alternative is that heretical popular doctrines of the day, like homosexual marriage, cloning, abortion on demand, embryonic stem cell research, etc., will start to be accepted by pastors and churches who want to be called modernistic, and who don't want to offend the popular culture. This can currently be seen in the Anglican and Episcopalean Churches, as well as some other protestant churches.

These formerly evil things become part of their church doctrine by a simple majority vote of the delegates to their conventions. Vice should never become virtue by popular vote. Isaiah 5:20 says "woe to them who call evil good and good evil."

When Tradition is not present in a church, this is exactly what happens, and is happening now before our very eyes.

Michael Gormley said...

PURGATORY

"The genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

In Matthew 12:31, Jesus told the parable about blaspheming the Holy Spirit (not believing that the Holy Spirit can save you, no matter what – the sin of despair), and said that anyone who does blaspheme the Holy Spirit "will not be forgiven in this age or the age to come" (Matthew 12:32).

Since sins aren't forgiven in Hell, and those in Heaven are already forgiven for their sins, then this one statement indicates another place after death where sins can indeed be forgiven.

In the First Book of Peter 3:19 and 4:6, Peter says that after the crucifixion and death of Jesus, that Jesus "went to speak to the spirits in prison", which means that there is a place people go to after they die that is a prison and not heaven nor hell.

When Jesus told the parable of the man beating up others who owed him money, after he himself had been forgiven his debts (Matthew 18:23-34), He said “And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart" (Matthew 18:34-35).

Since there is no release program in Hell, and no one wants to ever leave Heaven, this also indicates that there is another temporary place of torment where saved sinners go who have been forgiven their sins, but who have not paid all of their debt, down to the last penny, for their sins.

In fact, in Matthew 5: 25-26, Jesus says “Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”

Isaiah was caught up into heaven and had to have his unclean tongue cleansed with a burning coal by a seraphim (the angels closest to God, who’s very name means burning one (Isaiah 6:5-7).

The Bible also says here that Isaiah’s guilt was taken away. Why purgatory? It is a blessing because of what the bible says in Revelation 21:27 – “Nothing unclean shall enter heaven”.

So unless you are perfect with God when you die, you have no chance to get into heaven, unless you are purged of your sinfulness first. And besides all of that, there is 1Corinthians 3:11-15: For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Michael Gormley said...

Catholics do not worship the very much alive (Matthew 22:32) Mary, but we do ask for her very powerful intercessory prayers (1 Timothy 2:1, James 5:16) alongside of us and Jesus, not between us and Jesus.

After all, if we are to imitate Jesus who honored his mother and father, shouldn't we do the same? And if we want Jesus to be our brother, doesn't that automatically make...Mary...our...Mother?

And besides all that, we know from Luke 6:43 that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. In Luke 1:42 , we learn that Jesus is the fruit of Mary's womb, so if Jesus is pure and holy, then so must Mary be, although she is not a goddess. Luke 1:30 says that Mary had found favor with God BEFORE conceiving Jesus in her womb.

In Luke 1:28 Gabriel calls her "full of grace" before the incarnation; one cannot be full of grace and have any sin, otherwise she would not be full of grace.

There is a huge difference between the veneration due to Mary and the saints and the worship to God alone, just like there is a huge difference between the honor you must give your earthly mother and father and the worship due to God alone.

Michael Gormley said...

The Diocese of Mainz, where Luther was, offered indulgences (the easing of punishment after the guilt of sin is taken away through Confession) for people who donated money for the Vatican.

Almsgiving is recommended by the bible in many places (Tobit 12:9, Sirach 3:30, Luke 12:33, Acts 10:4) for the atonement of sin.

There is nothing wrong with almsgiving. The appearance of impropriety, however, where Luther saw all of this as the "selling of indulgences", is what precipitated his reformation. This perceived abuse was only in the diocese of Mainz, however, and was not widespread.

All one has to do today to see the same kind of abuse is to listen to protestant TV preachers asking for a "faith offering, if this show has been a blessing to you", in other words, "give me money for the blessing I have just given you through my preaching".

And besides that, they tell their viewers that if they do give a sacrificial offering to them, then that is a seed that will help them become wealthy in this life, something that is NOT in the New Testament, anywhere.

Real Christians know that the New Testament preaches against riches (James 1:11, James 5:1, Revelation 3:17), and only promises rewards in the next life (James 2:5, Luke 18:22).

Michael Gormley said...

Christ refers to the sinner who "will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" (Matt. 12:32), suggesting that one can be freed after death of the consequences of one’s sins.

Similarly, Paul tells us that, when we are judged, each man’s work will be tried. And what happens if a righteous man’s work fails the test?

"He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15). Now this loss, this penalty, can’t refer to consignment to hell, since no one is saved there; and heaven can’t be meant, since there is no suffering ("fire") there. The Catholic doctrine of purgatory alone explains this passage.

Then, of course, there is the Bible’s approval of prayers for the dead: "In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the dead to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin" (2 Maccabees 12:43–45).

Prayers are not needed by those in heaven, and no one can help those in hell. That means some people must be in a third condition, at least temporarily.

This verse so clearly illustrates the existence of purgatory that, at the time of the Reformation, Protestants had to cut the books of the Maccabees out of their Bibles in order to avoid accepting the doctrine.

Scott said...

Michael,

Your contention that these New Testament references are somehow a validation of the Catholic exaltation of tradition on a part (or in reality above) Scripture is really quite a stretch, but I'll bite.

The Rock that followed them refers to the Rock that was stuck by Moses and from which water flowed in Ex 17 and again in Num 20); Moses "seat" is a figurative way to speak of his teaching authority; Jannes and Jambres are the traditional names of the magicians who assisted Pharaoh in Exodus; the story of the dispute about Moses body is a reference to an apocryphal work, a story familiar to the Jews which Jude quotes by way of illustration.

That traditions exist and can even be informative is not in dispute. But this is very different form the Roman Catholic practice of exalting traditions above Scripture and using them as the basis for new doctrines ("new" in the fact that the do not derive from the New Testament but were developed afterwards). None of the examples you have given are traditions upon which New Testament Doctrine is built. But the Catholic church uses it's traditions for the purpose of establishing doctrine -- doctrines that are often in contradiction to the plain teaching of Scripture (examples which I have given earlier.)

As to your quotation of 1 Tim 3:15, you do so with the assumption that you have properly understood this text. You haven't. It is not saying that the church determines what the truth will be, but that the church (God's people) must live out the inerrant truth of Scripture in a way that is consistent, because we are those who hold out that truth to the world. The truth is displayed and held up to others through us.

It is this same Paul who then writes in 2 Tim 3:16 that it is the God-breathed Scriptures that are profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Yes, Christ is the head of the Church. But the word church is not synonymous with Roman Catholicism (a very human organization). The church refers to the redeemed -- those saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. And though I am not "attacking" the RCC, I am free to point out it's errors -- in fact, I must as a faithful steward of the truths she has maligned by adding such human traditions to her teaching so as to obscure the truth of the Gospel of Christ's finished work from those who follow her.

An authoritative "sacred tradition" held by an authoritative church is not required to stand against the heresies you mention. Scripture alone is sufficient. The false churches you mention are false, not because they've abandoned some mystical tradition, but because they have rejected the clear teaching of Scripture. We are very likely agreed as to our assessment of such teachers.

Liberalism is not a form of Christianity, it is a completely different religion.

Scott said...

Michael,

You stack up assumption after assumption. I'm sure you have been taught to read these passages this way, but you did not get these views from the Bible itself. You have imported them from your traditions and imposed them upon the text.

Having spent a good portion of my day in the ER today, I am limited as to time and will try to make a very brief response.

Certainly our faith will be tried "as though" by fire. But that is in this life, not some mythological purgatory (which is found no where in Scripture). Notice again that it is "as though" by fire.

Matthew 12:31, Jesus is making the point of the eternality of this condemnation, not holding out the possibility of forgiveness past death for some.

In 1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6, Peter is looking back on the fact that the Gospel truth of God was preached to those (while they were alive) who are now held "in prison" awaiting the final judgment. It was preached to them while they were living, but now they are dead. Their opportunity of repentance is past. That Peter is certainly not implying some further place where sins might be purged after death is seen very clearly in the very passage you quote in part. Let's look at the fuller passage, I Pet 3:18-20

18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,
20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.

Notice (1) Christ's death as the righteous one in the place of us (the unrighteousness) was "once for all" and all that is required to "bring you to God".

And then notice (2) the ones that he preached to were those who were alive in the days of Noah, but now are dead. It was "in the spirit" through Noah's preaching that Christ preached to them.

Michael, the thing your theology completely misses here is the complete remission of sins that comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. When Jesus died on the cross he said "it is finished" (John 19:30) He provides a complete salvation.

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 9:11-12
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;
12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

I could go on and on in Hebrews alone! Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

All these passages have one thing in common. Christ by one completed sacrifice has provided a finished salvation. I am perfectly righteous before God. Not in my own righteousness, but "clothed in his righteousness alone" as an old hymn says.

This was Luther's great re-discovery from Romans 1 (and Romans 3 and 5). That the righteousness we need to stand before God is given as a gift when by faith we lay hold of Christ alone.

"Nothing unclean shall enter" Amen, but I am already clean (just as Christ said to Peter in John 15:3) because of the marvelous gift of Christ's righteousness. Romans 8:1 "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

What a wonderful truth. I pray you come to see it!

Scott said...

Concerning Mary:

That fine tooth comb you use to distinguish between "veneration" and "adoration" or worship is a little to subtle for most people, I'm afraid. I have been to Mexico and other places in the world and have seen Catholics fully engaged in what could only be called worship -- in violation of the first and second commandments.

But even setting that aside, I am at a complete loss to even guess what 1 Timothy 2:1 and James 5:16 have to do with Mary's supposed intercession. It simply is not there (nor anywhere else in Scripture). I fear this is pure mythology.

Mary is in glory, certainly. Not because of her own merit but because she, like anyone else who is there, has a Savior in Jesus. Was she particular blessed to be the mother of Christ, of course. But she plays no part (active or passive) in our salvation or our daily well being. She needed a Savior just as surely as we.

If that were not so, then why is there not a single clear passage in Scripture urging us to pray to her, appeal to her or address her in any way. There are none, because she simply does not fill this role.

Yes, she found favor with God (the word means "grace"). God was kind to her. The focus is on the wonderful grace and mercy of God to be brought through her, not her own exaltation.

Again, Scripture is completely silent where this myth is concerned. It is a distraction from truth and therefore error not a help to those in need of truth.

You read way too much assumption into an angel's greeting. Mary was a righteous Jew. A godly woman. But a sinner none the less (Rm 3:23) whom God took hold of and used to bring His perfect Son into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the testimony of Scripture.

Scott said...

I would agree fully that the selling of indulgences is the same error we see in these wicked TV evangelists who use their position to enrich themselves. But I believe you are in error when you say this practice was limited to the Dioses of Mainz. It seems to have been far more widespread at the time of the Reformation than that -- although what Luther witnessed was probably the worst of abuse.

Let us not forget, though, that at the time of the Reformation (and indeed, for hundreds of years before that, the Papacy was a regal, earthly kingdom that had enriched itself on the backs of it's adherents. This is simple, historic fact. Thankfully, the reformation provoked some changes within the catholic church itself to mitigate some of these abuses.

Paul indeed warned against those who "suppose godliness is a means of financial gain" (1 Tim 6:5), saying that such men are "deprived of the truth." This would be true both for catholic and evangelical abusers.

For the genuine Christian, God owns all that we are and all that we have. We give generously and freely for the purpose of advancing his Kingdom, and to help the poor. But our giving does not earn for us merits that we can apply to "remove guilt".

Scott said...

Purgatory again:

I've already dealt with Matthew 12:32. It only suggests purgatory if you've already assumed such a place must exist. And yet, there is no such place to be found anywhere in the pages of Scripture. Instead, we are told in Hebrew 9:27 "it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment." Notice that it is, "judgment" that comes after death, not "purging." Once you die, your eternal destiny is set.

As far as Maccabees goes(or any of the books of the apocrypha). You've got your history wrong. The Roman church did not canonize these works until after the Reformation, at the Council of Trent. It was they who responded to the clear biblical expositions of the Reformers by adding works, formerly not held universally as canonical in order to buttress their position on such unbiblical practices prayers for the dead and purgatory. Previous to this, it was never considered part of the Canon, not by the Jews, not by the earliest church, and never by Protestants.

The Apocrypha is interesting reading. Even inspiring. But it is not Holy Scripture.

Scott said...

Dear Michael,

At this point, we have strayed very far from the original issue of my post concerning salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And while you seem eager to use this page as a forum to debate every doctrinal position of the Roman Catholic Church, I am not interested in doing so.

We've reached that point where we are doing little more than spinning 'round and 'round the same merry-go-found. You make an accusation, I counter, and then you move on to your next subject. If I thought you were an earnest seeker after truth, I would be glad to engage you in any discussion. But it seems clear by now your only real interest is to promote your own beliefs.

My goal in life is to proclaim Christ in the Gospel. I have no interest in endless debates about catholic doctrine, which I believe has been judged by Scripture and found wanting. I know you do not agree.

The problem is, that we have two very different sources of authority. Though you will not agree with my assessment, here it is. I believe we must go back to the God-inspired Scriptures, while you go back to the human teaching found in the traditions of an authoritarian, Medieval Church. But the Scriptures themselves are quite clear in this matter in 2 Timothy 3:14-16,

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

You'll note that it is the Scriptures that make one wise for salvation. It is the Scriptures that God has breathed out for teaching, reproof, correction and training and which equip the Christian for every good work. The Roman Catholic Church long ago stopped letting Scripture correct and reprove it. That is what the Reformation was about.

The issues you and I have been debating (or, perhaps posting at each other), have been the subject of debate for nearly 600 years now. I am firmly convinced that the clear weight of Scriptural evidence stands firmly against Roman tradition and mythology. You clearly disagree. And at this point it appears that neither of us stands much of a chance of persuading the other. If I am wrong, please tell me and we can continue. But it seems to me now that you merely wish to use this space to make your posts.

You will notice that I have not allowed your last comment to post. My reason is simple. Though I could certainly engage you in yet another back and forth, I do not see the point in doing so. The time has come to draw a line. (I did, however, find great humor in your illustration of the distorted perspective one gets when they look through the world with red colored glasses. I thought it was a perfect description of your position, having been trained to see things the way you have because of the teaching of your church. Would it make any difference to you to know that I was not brought up in the beliefs I now hold? That I came to them, not by reading Calvin or any such, but by the study of the Scriptures? Probably not).

All this to say, if your desire is to continue to rehash the same (or similar points) endlessly, then I must consider the discussion to be at an end. There are dozens of websites devoted to these things from both the Protestant and Catholic perspective. I would urge our readers -- if any there be -- to look to these.

Best Regards, I wish you well.
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