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Friday, February 23, 2018

The Pope's visit to the White House: Did Francis speak for God?

Posted by Gary on September 23, 2015

Pope Francis has arrived and the country is swooning. You can watch his speech here:

The Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ and Successor of Peter spoke at the White House today and in so doing, addressed our President and the entire nation. What would Christ’s Apostle say to us? What would God’s spokesman preach to a nation that has evicted God and Christ from its public life, slaughtered 50 million babies made in God’s image and embraced sodomy? Would he preach? WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Justified now, forgiven now, saved now, saved with a certainty (The Bible’s condemnation of the Roman Catholic view of Justification)

Posted by Gary on May 17, 2012

John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

John 10:28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

I spent some time today reading the sixth section of The Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation. The sixth section outlines Rome’s position on “Justification” or what the layman might call, “forgiveness”. I was formerly a Catholic and have many family and friends who are. I love them and believe that some of them have a genuine faith in the Lord Jesus. But if they are saved it must be said that it is in spite of what Rome has taught them, not because of it.

The Bible teaches us that at the moment a person receives Christ as their Savior with genuine repentance and faith, their sins are forgiven and they have eternal life never to perish. Jesus has said it above in John 5:24, please notice the tense… “has eternal life” and “has passed out of death into life”. Not, “might have eternal life” or “can hope he has eternal life”. Notice also, not, “will have eternal life” or, “will pass out of death into life”. But, “has”, now!

On what does Jesus make these wonderful assurances contingent? Believing. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me”…But Rome says something different:

Section 6: Canon 12.
If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone that justifies us, let him be anathema.

Section 6: Canon 14.
If anyone says that man is absolved from his sins and justified because he firmly believes that he is absolved and justified, or that no one is truly justified except him who believes himself justified, and that by this faith alone absolution and justification are effected, let him be anathema.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Yes, that’s the book for me

Posted by Gary on November 1, 2010

1 Peter 1:23 “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”

MP9004001381_thumb9For most people yesterday was important because it was Halloween but for those of us who have been born again through the living and enduring Word of God yesterday was Reformation Sunday and our focus on this day is not death and evil (for what else do fallen creatures have to focus on or want to focus on?) but for us, life, eternal life which God has given us through His Word.

The verse quoted at the head of this post makes clear that salvation comes through hearing, understanding and believing the Word of God. Without the word there is no salvation. Are you reading the Bible?

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »


Posted by Gary on September 14, 2010

World Day of PrayerI spent some moments recently in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I came across this statement at paragraph #841:

The Church’s relationship with the Muslims: “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

After reading this all I could do was ask, “really?” Do Christians and Muslims really adore the one, merciful God?” If there is only one God (and there is) and both adore Him then the catechism is claiming that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Is the God of Muslims the God of the Bible? It would seem according to this statement there is no real need to evangelize the Muslims. This is error and dishonesty plain and simple. The God of the Christian faith and the god of Islam are not the same God.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »


Posted by Gary on December 16, 2009

Colossians 2:23 “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”

10' Morgan Blacksnake (ca. 2001) - Handle Area by AldoZL.

It has been reported recently that Pope John Paul II engaged in the practice of self-flagellation, that is, whipping himself as a response to sin.

The report comes as the Roman Catholic Church continues its consideration of John Paul’s sainthood. It would appear that the revelation of the pope beating himself is an argument on behalf of his sainthood. (See this article on becoming a saint in Roman Catholicism).

How tragic this all is. Perhaps if John Paul had understood that sainthood is not achieved but received by the suffering and merits of Christ he would not have made himself suffer and misled the many who looked to him for truth.

Perhaps you think this all unkind but let me remind us that John Paul was the proclaimed bishop, teacher and shepherd of a billion souls and what message do we find in his actions? Punishment for his sins? This according to bishop Emory Kabongo:

“He would punish himself and in particular just before he ordained bishops and priests,”

Is this the message of the gospel, that my sins need to be punished further since Christ died for them? Was it not really finished when Jesus said, “It is finished?” (John 19:30). This practice is a tremendous revealer of the doctrine of Catholicism which at its root is human striving in addition to Christ’s work on the cross for salvation. 

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

I wonder as I wonder

Posted by Gary on December 27, 2007

Late Christmas Eve as my children lay on the floor in front of me under our Christmas tree I scanned some news and came across the headline that Pope Benedict XVI had conducted midnight mass and had addressed the Roman Catholic faithful and the world. Before proceeding I would emphasize the world… while Benedict began his statements at this service with the words “brothers and sisters” mankind in general was referenced in his message and there is no question that when the pope speaks, his words travel throughout the world, even gaining top page, headline status at the Drudge Report.

Being a former Catholic and now protestant minister I had more than one reason to be interested in what Benedict would have to say as the world listened. I think that above all, the fact that the pope has the world’s ear made me especially interested to hear what he would say. Think of the opportunity, the ears of perhaps billions of people, what will the world’s religious leader say? I regret to say, nothing.

Here again, hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of people will hear or read what the pope will say this night and did we hear the gospel? No, we did not. Yes, Jesus was mentioned, God was mentioned, man was mentioned but never in all that was said on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day when Benedict made an appeal to the leaders of the world for peace (here) did Benedict ever lay out plainly the cause of man’s problems or why Christ’s birth was necessary.

Granted the word “cross” appears I think twice and the words “sin” and “sinner” are each used once but never with elaboration, never with an even abbreviated explanation of the gospel message which is God coming to earth to save us from our sin.

One might argue that this homily was offered to the faithful and that the faithful would see in these buzz words a references to the gospel. But again I argue, that one must recognize that whenever the pope speaks it is to the world and his obligation on this night perhaps above all others would be to preach the gospel. Even if it were addressed to the faithful alone do the faithful not need to hear the plain, detailed gospel?

There was a willingness to speak of oppression, the poor and even man’s treatment of the world (environmental concerns). I read and thought, “Ok man, tell us why we are in the predicament we are in, speak plainly about the effects of the fall and sin. Tell us that our greatest problem is that we are on our way to an eternity separated from Christ. Tell us that God’s intention in sending His Son was to send Him to the cross where He would punish Him in our place as our substitute and that our response now is to repent of our sin and turn in faith to Christ but this was not said.

Benedict urged man to make room in his heart for God, he might just as well have urged man to sprout wings and fly. Man doesn’t want to make room in his heart for God. This is what sin has done to us:


Our hearts do not open to God until He first breaks them open and He does this by showing us the truth about ourselves in our lost condition. Benedict wants man to open his heart but then does not preach the heart rending Word of God that will open man’s heart.

I will put it this way, if an unsaved person were to have heard or would later read Benedict’s Christmas message would he come away from it understanding that he is lost in his sin and on his way to stand before the holy God? Would he know the way of salvation? Would he know that Christ’s birth was ultimately about going to the cross to pay the price of sin committed and that simply by looking to Christ he could be saved?

The truth is that the gospel of Rome is not looking to Christ alone for salvation, it is Christ plus my religious works and faithfulness that work together to accomplish salvation. I am ultimately convinced that Benedict’s message Christmas Eve is a revealer of the false gospel of Catholicism. Benedict’s message boiled down was open your heart to God and do the things you are supposed to. But Benedict never told us that we can’t do these things apart from Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection. What a tragedy, the ears of the world, an opportunity to preach gospel of Christ and nothing.

I fear that many who are Roman Catholic will not see in my thoughts anything more than a mean spirited attack and I suppose this is what is most tragic of all, the bulk of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics have not been taught the Biblical gospel and therefore are unable to discern when they have not heard it. It is not my intention to be mean. How I would rejoice to write a post that could confirm that the pope preached the gospel on Christmas Eve, but he didn’t and I can’t. An exalted position, vestments, incense, religious talk but no gospel.

May God lead us to His Word which leads us to His Son, then and only then will we have hope.

I’m confused

Posted by Gary on July 24, 2007

Recently Pope Benedict XVI approved a declaration that asserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church and asserted that only Catholicism provides the true path to salvation. Orthodox churches are recognized as churches but suffer a “defect” because they do not recognize the primacy of the pope. Protestant churches are considered “ecclesial communities” but cannot be considered churches nor do they have the “means of salvation”. (See full article here).

For my part, I am glad that this long held position has been brought to the fore through the publication of this document. Enough of the “Whatever works for you” mindset of the last 75 years. Not everything can be true. In particular, doctrines that directly contradict one another cannot both be true no matter how sincere the adherents of each doctrine are.

It was with a sense of wonder though that I read another article about a particular element of the Latin Mass that will soon be reinstituted in the Catholic Church. Traditionally on Good Friday a prayer for the conversion of the Jews has been offered. Many Jewish groups have communicated their displeasure at the prospect of the revival of this prayer. While planning to move ahead, the Vatican has suggested that a study could be conducted and held forth the possibility that the prayer could be removed, “This could be decided and this would resolve all the problems,” said Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is the most senior official in the Vatican after the pope. (See full article here).

If Catholicism alone teaches the true path of salvation how can it do anything other than pray for the conversion of those outside the church? In particular, how can you refuse to pray for the conversion of individuals who reject Jesus as the Messiah Jesus who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but through Me”? The thought that dropping this prayer would even be considered is a marvel.

As a Protestant I do not agree with the declaration from the Vatican in any way except that I do believe there is one, true, church. The one, true, church is not visible but invisible and is made up of those who have received forgiveness of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel of the Catholic Church and the gospel preached by Protestant churches are not the same gospel. Rome holds forth salvation via combination, a combination of God’s work and human effort. The gospel of Scripture is that we are saved by grace, through faith; not of works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). I am glad to have these eternal differences brought before us again but must admit that when I hear that the Catholic church might be willing to drop the prayer for the conversion of the Jews that I am left to wonder if they believe what they have asserted. How can you believe that salvation is found in your church alone and yet refuse to pray for the conversion of those outside it?

Interesting things, interesting times. May God use them to startle us out of our slumber of salvation by sincerity, just be sincere about what you believe, that’s all that matters.

Matthew 7:21
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…”


Posted by Gary on June 9, 2007

The press today accused President Bush of committing a “holy gaffe” in his visit with Pope Benedict XVI (article here). According to the article, some onlookers gasped as Bush referred to the pope as, “sir” instead of by his papal title, “His Holiness.” Was this a gaffe? Perhaps if by gaffe you mean that Bush forgot protocol. Spiritually, we cannot call Bush’s statement a gaffe, but appropriate. When I think of this title being ascribed to another human I shudder. Can this title be ascribed to anyone but God alone?

Revelation 15:4
“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy;”

Is it proper in any sense to speak of men being holy? Elisha is referred to as a “holy man” by the Shunammite woman:

2 Kings 4:9
“She said to her husband, “Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually.”

Scripture also refers to John the Baptist as a “holy man”:

Mark 6:20
“for Herod was afraid of John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man…”

Every born again believer can be referred to as holy, the title “saint” ascribed to all believers literally means, “holy one”. How is it that Christians can be referred to as holy? First, because we are counted holy before God through the holiness of our Savior Jesus. It is not our own holiness, for we are sinful and depraved because of the fall, but in Christ we are considered holy by God. Christians can also be referred to as holy because God through His Spirit progressively makes us more and more like His Son, “sanctifying” us or making us more and more holy. Again, this is not holiness we possess apart from God and His grace, this holiness comes to us from God who alone is holy.

“His Holiness” is unlike what has just been referenced, it is a title, a title that belongs to God alone. Thinking about these things makes me consider other aspects of acknowledging the pope, such as bowing in his presence or kissing his ring. Do we see the Apostles (the claim of Catholicism is that the pope is an apostle) encouraging or accepting such homage from other men? I think of Peter (who is claimed by Roman Catholics as the first pope) at the house of Cornelius:

Acts 10:24-26
“On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.””

I remember vividly hearing a sermon some years ago about the status of God’s servants taken from 1 Corinthians 4:

1 Corinthians 4:9-13
“For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.”

The pastor who preached this sermon was driving home the point that God’s servants are always at the last of the line, they are held in contempt by the world, their position and status is low and that they are never to seek to appear lofty in the eyes of men. One statement in particular is etched in my memory: “God never has His servants dressed up in fine clothes and carried around on a chair.”

I am a little curious…was Bush’s statement, “sir” a gaffe or might it have been a reflection of his Protestant/Evangelical beliefs which would prevent him from referring to any man by this title? I don’t know but I wonder.

From time to time I post on issues concerning Catholicism. I do so as a former Catholic and never with the intention of being unloving to those who belong to the Church of Rome. Loving and respecting those who are Catholic I am compelled to challenge them to examine their doctrine and practices in light of God’ Word the Bible. It was reading the Bible that caused me to understand that many vital doctrines of Catholicism contradicted the Word of God and that I could no longer remain Catholic. It is my hope that perhaps through a loving witness and challenging dialogue that others might realize the error of Catholicism and come to understand and embrace “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

Do not go beyond what is written

Posted by Gary on January 2, 2007

1 Corinthians 4:6 “I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written…”

In preparation for messages I would bring during Christmas week a passage of Scripture caught my attention, I found it especially interesting in light of my Roman Catholic upbringing:

Matthew 1:24-25 “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”

What especially interested me in this verse was the word, “until”. When I read this verse taking words at their face value I am told that Joseph did not have marital relations with Mary “until” she gave birth to her Son, Jesus. The meaning of this statement should not cause difficulty, while Mary was carrying Jesus in her womb, Joseph did not have intercourse with her and what is more than implied is that after she gave birth to Jesus, he did.

Those of you who are familiar with Roman Catholic doctrine know that the perpetual virginity of Mary is a pillar of Catholicism. The all-important question of course is can this doctrine bear the scrutiny of Scripture. The verse from Matthew listed above gives us great reason to believe that Mary did not remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus. Interestingly, Catholic teaching is that Mary’s virginity remained intact even through delivery:

“The deepening of faith in virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Profession of Faith, section 2, #499)

If the Bible would have us believe that Mary was a virgin perpetually, why does it not read, “But kept her a virgin perpetually” or even, “But kept her a virgin”?

While reading apologists for Mary’s perpetual virginity I find some saying that the word “until” can mean “not anymore” or “forever”. They quote Genesis 8:7: “And he (Noah) sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.” (Until meaning here that the raven did not return anymore Catholic apologists point out). Another passage mentioned by perpetual virginity apologists is Psalm 110:1: “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” (Argument: Are protestants saying that God will only allow Christ to sit at His right hand until His enemies are defeated and not after?)

How are we to respond to these defenses? Well, we admit that “until” can mean “not anymore” or “forever”, but what is “until’s” common usage? It is a marker of shift in action, someting was not happening, now it is. To summon Psalm 110 is to refuse to think about the passage at hand. “Until” in Psalm 110 is communicating that God the Father has taken up the work of retribution on behalf of His Son against His enemies which will culminate at a certain point when they are defeated forever. The emphasis in this passage is not how long Christ will sit, it is the defeat of His enemies. However, in Matthew 1:25 the emphasis is on how long Mary was a virgin. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »