(Continued from page 297)The Bible is not the sole authority in matters of faith?
Catholicism was present from New Testament times?
You write: 'Another important way Catholics follow the Bible and Fundamentalists don't is in their beliefs in God-given authority. Nowhere does the Bible say that it is the sole authority in matters of faith, but that is what Fundamentalists believe. The Bible clearly teaches that authority resides in the leaders of the Church (Matthew. 16:16-19 and 18:18; Luke 10:16; John 20:21-23; Acts 20:28; Hebrews. 13:7, 17 among others), and that is what Catholics believe.'
TCE: Let us examine your claims and the Scriptures you quote.
Regarding Matthew. 16:16-19:
18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
And Matthew 18:18:
'I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'
we have already proven that these verses do not prove authority of the kind you claim is exhibited by the popes and you have failed to come up with any kind of argument or reasoning to disprove our exegesis.
Luke 10:16; 'He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.'
Reception or rejection of Christ's messengers shows one's attitude to the Lord himself (cf. Christ's identification of himself with the 'least' of his 'brothers' in Matthew 25:31-46). In the parable of the vineyard, both son and servants were rejected (Luke 20:9-17). Moreover, whoever rejects Christ also rejects Moses (John 5:45-47). As with the previous two passages of Scripture, the meaning is, literally, that the words of the gospel come from the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Word and this is who listeners hear when His disciples speak - and who they reject when they reject His disciples - unless, like Papal Rome, we bring another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).
John 20:21-23; '21 Again Jesus said, 'Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'
This is a similar expression to Jesus' commission to Peter: 'Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven' (Matthew 16:19). In both statements the Greek verb of the second clause is a periphrastic future perfect (estai dedemenon, 'will be bound'; estai lelumenon, 'will be loosed'), a rare form in koine Greek. Generally it is explained as an alternative for the simple future passive, having lost its original force. Apparently, however, in this instance it may retain the meaning of the future perfect, which implies that its action precedes that of the first verb of each sentence. As in English today, the future perfect was a dying tense that ultimately disappeared from common usage. The appearance of the form is therefore all the more significant. The delegation of power to the disciples to forgive or to retain the guilt of sin thus depends on the previous forgiveness by God. This gift of the Holy Spirit (v22) is connected with the action of forgiving or retaining sins. It was not the work of the disciples to forgive sins, but the work of the Holy Spirit through the disciples as they fulfilled the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Under the leadership of the Spirit, the church proclaims salvation and the accompanying forgiveness; in that sense, the church performs by gospel proclamation the import of this verse (cf. Matthew 16:18-19). The commission to forgive sins is phrased in an unusual construction. Literally, it is: 'Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven.' The first verbs in the two clauses are aorists, which imply the action of an instant; the second verbs are perfects, which imply an abiding state that began before the action of the first verbs. God does not forgive men's sins because we decide to do so nor withhold forgiveness because we will not grant it. We announce it; we do not create it. This is the essence of salvation. And all who proclaim the gospel are in effect forgiving or not forgiving sins, depending on whether the hearer accepts or rejects the Lord Jesus as the Sin-Bearer - as in the previous passages. This concept underlies Paul's verdict on the man in the church at Corinth who was guilty of gross immorality and seemed unrepentant (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). J.R. Mantey ('The Mistranslation of the Perfect Tense in John 20:23, Matt 10:19, and Matt 18:18' in JBL 58 (1939): 243-49) points out that the Greek fathers never quoted this passage in support of absolution. In the Matthean passages the future perfect is translated as a simple future passive but, properly, the distinction of completed action should have been retained. The distinction between the periphrastic and the non-periphrastic use is that, in the periphrastic, the participles and auxiliary have nothing between them except post-positives: note, e.g., the non-periphrastic instances in Genesis 41:36 (LXX); Exodus 12:6 (LXX); Luke 12:52; and the periphrastic instances in Matthew 10:22; John 6:31; 16:24; 19:19; Ephesians 5:5; and James 5:15.
Acts 20:28: 25 'Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. 28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32 'Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: `It is more blessed to give than to receive.' '
We quote a larger section from this revealing passage dealing with Paul's farewell to the church at Ephesus because of the many damaging statements to the Papal Roman Catholic Church cause found in these verses:
in verse 27 he declares: 'I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.' So there was nothing to add by tradition or great future revelation - Paul had given them everything they needed (other versions state 'all the counsel of God' or 'the whole purpose of God') for the whole of their fellowship for the rest of the church's life until eternity!
he warned them to watch out for deceivers in verse 28 and detailed (v30) the way these 'savage wolves' would work: 'from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them'.
The leaders were to be called elders (v17) and (v28) overseers (other places 'bishops') - there were no Popes, Archbishops - or Magisterium!
he did 'not covet[ed] anyone's silver or gold or clothing'- how different this is from the corrupting finery of Papal Rome!
he worked hard (v34) among them (he was making tents in Corinth - Acts 18:3) and following the perfect example of his Saviour - as opposed to the obscene leisure of the popes - so that his testimony was: 35 'In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: `It is more blessed to give than to receive.''
So these verses, again, do not support the Papal Roman view of authority in the slightest.
Hebrews. 13:7, 17: 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. :9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Again - the leaders 'spoke the word of God' and, when Christian pastors are faithful to the Word believers 'Obey ... leaders and submit to their authority'. Unfortunately, Papal Roman Catholics have no absolutes to know when they are being deceived, since they reject the absolute authority of the Word of God found only in the Bible, and are subsequently blown 'here and there by the winds of doctrine' (Ephesians 4:14).
Unfortunately you have been duped into believing that Papal Roman Catholic Church bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. According to the Second Vatican Council, the bishops 'have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ.'
It seems to have escaped you that, in claiming to be infallible when speaking on matters of faith and morals, the pope claims for himself something that even the apostles did not. We have already given Paul as an example and you attempt to smear him rather than face the evidence and admit the truth. In the book of Galatians, Paul warned against the danger of a false gospel and proclaimed, 'Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!' (Galatians 1:8). The gospel Paul preached is permanently recorded in written form in his epistles and, if anything conflicts with that written Scripture (even if it came from him) it is to be rejected. As we have proven, Scripture alone is infallible and hence authoritative (John 10:35).
The truth is that the popes are finite human beings, prone to mistakes as all other human beings are. Only God has infinite understanding and makes no mistakes. That is why His Word is infallible (John 10:35) - it comes straight from Him (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture never promised there would be successors to Peter who would be divinely protected from error when speaking ex-cathedra. This is a man-made doctrine and the existence of some 35 anti-popes in the history of the Church proves the foolishness of the claim. When there are two popes 'on the chair' at the same time, which pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth? Which one is the fraud? Which one makes infallible statements on morals and faith when he speaks ex-cathedra?' This is another question that you - and all Papists - cannot answer.
You write: 'Catholics also believe in Bible teaching regarding justification. We are justified by a faith that works through charity (Galatians. 5:6; 1 Corinthians. 13:2 and Jas. 2). Fundamentalists believe Martin Luther's teaching of justification by faith alone, which is soundly contradicted by James 2. So I don't think that the Bible opposes Catholicism; I think the better choice is to say that in these highly important matters of doctrine I have just mentioned, Fundamentalism opposes the Bible.'
TCE: Unfortunately you have quoted portions of Scripture while ignoring even the verses surrounding them - verses which tell the full story! It is deceptively easy to quote only verses that you think support your view - while ignoring those that are detrimental to your cause. Galatians 5:1-7 reads:
1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. 7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Paul answers his questions in other Scriptures and, for the Papal Roman Catholic, they are found in these answers:
v1. You have submitted again to the yoke of Rome;
v3. Rome has put you back under the law which means you are bound to keep the whole law (which is impossible for any man!);
v4. You have been severed from Christ and have fallen away from grace;
v5. You have rejected the Spirit who leads you to righteousness through faith in Christ alone - yes, faith working in love. The first part of v6 occurs again in 6:15 and in 1 Corinthians 7:19 and, in these verses, the second part may be found to parallel the phrase: 'faith expressing itself through love.' The phrase is therefore more or less synonymous with 'a new creation' (6:15) and 'keeping God's commands' (1 Corinthians 7:19). The verb energoumenë (energoumene, often translated 'expressing itself') has been the subject of substantial debate within Papal Catholicism, and particularly between Catholic theologians and orthodox Christian theologians. If the verb is passive, as Catholics try to maintain, then the phrase means that faith is inspired by love; that is, love comes first, faith stemming from it. This, while linguistically possible, is not Paul's meaning. If the verb is in the middle voice, as it seems to be elsewhere in the New Testament, then the thought is as translated in the New International Version ('The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love'). This links up with two of Paul's basic thoughts expressed elsewhere: first, that love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10), and second, that faith leads to the development of the fruit of the Spirit in which love is prominent (Galatians 5:22). It is through love that faith reveals and proves itself, as the Epistle of James indicates.
5. Many, like the Galatians, were running well but have been hindered by Papal Rome!
1 Corinthians 13:2 reads: 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Love is the most excellent way for a Christian to use his spiritual gifts and the word agape ('love') is used in 1 Corinthians 13, and in the New Testament, of the deep and abiding affection of God and Christ for each other (John 15:10; 17:26) and for us (1 John 4:9). It is also used of Christians in their relationship with one another (e.g., John 13:34, 35). Often more intense and deeper in meaning than philos ('having affection for,' Matthew 10:37; Luke 7:5, et al), it is quite distinct from eros, sensual or sexual love. Christians are to love, because they belong to God, and 'God is love' (1 John 4:8). The New Testament combines the two Old Testament commandments of love to God (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12) and of love to one's neighbour (Leviticus 19:18) into a double commandment (Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 22:37 ff.; cf. Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8). It sees them embodied together in Him. Christ awakens love for Him in all the bruised and miserable men He draws to Himself through the Holy Spirit. His call to 'Go and do likewise' demands action which is capable of awakening love for my neighbour. This is the meaning given by the gospel to the popular concept of love for one's neighbour. Christ opens my heart with His love for the other person, whether he is brother or my 'enemy', a well-known neighbour or a complete stranger. He gives me His love and fills me with it, so that it flows over to the other person. This moves love for my neighbour out of the region of legalism, religious bigotry, or proud charity, and puts it under the power of God's long-suffering love, which takes all of our angry moralism, pride, and ignorant ranting - but gives and gives - infinitely! It opens up a wide sphere of Christian action (Ephesians 4:25 ff.) and creates new fellowship and new service for God (Mark 12:28 ff.; cf. Hosea 6:6). The King James Version translates agape in this passage as 'charity' - an inaccurate translation!
James has much to say about love expressing itself through works. James 2:5-11 reads:
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
In verse 8 James proceeds to his moral argument in refutation of the practice of showing favoritism (v8-11). Here it is not a question of mere incongruity but of the rightness or wrongness of showing partiality. The commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18) is not described as 'the royal law' simply because of its lofty character. Numerous commentators agree that it is called 'royal' because it is the supreme law to which all other laws governing human relationships are subordinate. It is the summation of all such laws (Matthew 22:36-40). The one who keeps this supreme law is 'doing right.' The New International Version has translated kalos ('well') as 'right,' since it seems to be contrasted with committing sin in v9. The right course of action is to show favour to everyone, whether he is rich or poor. Love overlooks such superficial distinctions as wealth and quality of clothing. It shows kindness to a person in spite of any distasteful qualities he may have. Whereas v8 depicts the positive example of one who fully keeps the law, v9 sets forth the negative example of one who breaks it. To 'show favoritism' is not merely to be guilty of an insignificant fault or social impropriety; it is sin. Such a conclusion is based on solid legal ground rather than mere human opinion. Those engaging in partiality 'are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.' Some understand this as a reference to the law in general; others assert that the law referred to is stated in Leviticus 19:15 or Deuteronomy 16:19. James, however, has already cited the law he is referring to. It is the 'royal law' quoted in v9. Anyone who shows favoritism breaks the supreme law of love for his neighbour, the law that comprehends all laws governing one's relationships to one's fellow-man.
A cursory reading of the Book of James may cause you to join cults such as the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses in thinking that James 2:20-23 teaches salvation by works:
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:20)
Verse 26 likewise states:
'Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.'
Many who teach this doctrine maintain that, though a person has faith in Jesus Christ, he must work to gain or keep salvation. They don't realize that James is talking about the conduct of the Christian. Works are a result of faith, a life lived out of love for God. Many only see Christ through the life of a Christian. There must be something to see, some fruit of the life within us. If we profess a Holy Christ, we must live holy lives and our daily actions must demonstrate the living God within. Thus the truth is that works are a result of Christ's salvation given us, not something we do to gain the free gift of salvation.
If anyone had a reason to glory because of his works, it was Abraham, yet Romans 4:2 states:
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. (italics added)
Obviously some may argue that this seems to contradict James 2:21:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
It is important to bear in mind the context of every Biblical passage and the problem each of these writers were inspired to address. Paul was attacking Phariseeism. While the Pharisees were self-righteous and pointed to their outward appearance as a standard of righteousness, James addresses Antinomianism, which literally means 'against law'. Antinomians held that if a person's beliefs were correct, obeying a moral code was unnecessary. To the Pharisees, Paul warned that works would profit little apart from a true faith. James tells the Antinomians that a true faith should produce good works. These two thoughts go hand in hand. Because Abraham had a true faith, his works naturally followed. He believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness. His faith was turned into action.
However, James in this passage is basically answering the question, 'How can we tell whether or not a person has true faith?' All that follows in chapter 2 answers this question. James begins by asking, 'What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?' (2:14). Notice the oft-neglected little word 'says'. Some people have genuine faith; others have an empty profession of faith that is not real. The first group of people who have genuine faith have works to back up the fact that their faith is genuine. Those who make an empty profession of faith show their lack of true faith by the absence of works. So, James answers his question by pointing out that you can tell whether a person has true faith by the test of works. This is another way the 'Once Saved Always Saved' doctrine is refuted.
Martin Luther was right when he concluded that James 2 is not teaching that a person is saved by works or by personal merit. Rather a person is 'justified' (declared righteous before God) by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. In other words, genuine faith will always result in or be accompanied by good works in the saved person's life. We should also keep in mind that James was writing to Jewish Christians ('to the twelve tribes' - James 1:1) who were in danger of giving nothing but lip-service to Jesus. His intent, therefore, was to distinguish true faith from false faith. He shows that true faith results in works, which become visible evidences of faith's invisible presence. In other words, good works are the 'vital signs' indicating that faith is alive. Apparently some of these Jewish Christians had made a false claim of faith. It is this spurious boast of faith that James was condemning. Merely claiming to have faith is insufficient. Genuine faith is evidenced by works. Indeed, as someone wrote:
Workless faith is worthless faith; it is unproductive, sterile, barren, dead! Great claims may be made about a corpse that is supposed to have come to life, but if it does not move, if there are no vital signs, no heartbeat, no perceptible pulse, it is still dead. The false claims are silenced by the evidence.
Apart from the spirit, the body is dead; it is a lifeless corpse. By analogy, apart from the evidence of good works, faith is dead. It is lifeless and non-productive. That is what James is teaching in James 2:17,26. His focus is on the nature of faith, not on the reward of works. Galatians and Romans make it clear that works play absolutely no part in our salvation - our justification - although they are a good guide to the degree of sanctification of a believer!
We find in 1 Peter 1:5 that we are kept by the power of God through faith, not works:
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
And Ephesians 3:17 informs us:
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.
To those who try and maintain that salvation is gained by following laws and ordinances the apostle Paul makes it clear that following the law never saved anyone. No one can keep the whole law! To fail in one point is to fail in all. To those who pile on the laws and commandments as the Pharisees did in Jesus' day (e.g. Papal Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc.) we issue the challenge to try and recite every one of the laws connected with their religion, let alone claim they are capable of keeping them to the nth degree.
This is what Paul has to say about laws and ordinances:
For He [Christ] is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace. (Ephesians 2:14-15)
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. (Colossians 2:14)
Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20; italics added)
The law has no power to save from sin, it merely points out man's imperfection, and his need for salvation. To those who insist that you must work for your exaltation Paul asks the questions:
Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (Romans 3:27)
Paul questions why the Galatians, who 'began in faith' now thought they could be exalted because of their works? He tells them clearly: Don't be foolish. Works bring boasting. The law of faith excludes it.
Because orthodox Christians accept the clear Biblical fact that salvation comes by faith alone (but, salvation which comes through faith alone will not remain alone!) the cults (Papal Roman Catholics, Mormons etc.) think those outside their group believe all they have to do is say they believe and they can just go and have a good time, sinning as much as they wish and they will be alright for Jesus has taken care of everything. Of course there are some lunatics masquerading in Christian circles (e.g. Dr R.T. Kendall) who make out that this is the case - he even wrote a book called 'Once Saved, Always Saved' (which we have high-lighted at ) which opens with an example of such thinking. But this is not the case, because the Lord says in John 14:15, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments.'
What are His commandments?:
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (1 John 3:23)
The true Christian keeps the commandments of the Lord, not to earn or keep his salvation, but because he loves the Lord who first loved him. The Christian also loves and cares for the lost, and for this reason will seek to live a holy life. He will refrain from doing anything that might hinder another from coming to Christ. Because we are no longer under the law does not mean that we continue in sin.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:15)
The salvation of those who believe in salvation through works can be likened to the father who says to his son, 'Son, if you wash the car, I will take you to the park.' The orthodox Christian's salvation can be likened to the father who says to his son, 'Son, tomorrow I am going to take you the park.' Out of love and appreciation for his father, the son washes the car without being asked. He is not doing it to gain a trip to the park, because that was already promised, and he believes his father will take him. Love and appreciation for what his heavenly Father has done for him results in a Christian's performance of good works. To turn full circle we return to one of the Scriptures (Ephesians 2:8-9) which sums it up:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
How much clearer does it need to be? It is 'not from yourselves' and it is 'not by works'!
And another passage (used in the earlier answer to your claim that 'Baptism is required for Salvation' section) also makes this clear:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5)
There is no logical way the works-righteousness doctrines of salvation of the cults can fit into these passages. Grace is bestowed upon no one until they put their faith in Christ. The fact that Jesus died on the cross does not, in and of itself, save. His death is not effectual to the individual until he believes and accepts Christ's substitutional death for himself. Jesus was without sin; He did not pay the penalty for His own sin, which is death, but the penalty of our sins. Romans 3:23 is clear:
All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Man's condition made the sacrifice necessary, and Christ's death is enough reason for man to give control of his life to Christ and trust Him fully for salvation. Matthew 7:21 warns:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
What is the will of the Father?
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40; italics added)
After the miracle of feeding the 5,000, Jesus was still sought by the people, but He had walked across the water to join his disciples so that we read (John 6:25-29):
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, 'Rabbi, when did you get here?' 26 Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.' 28 Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?' 29 Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'
What could be clearer?
Another Scripture widely quoted by those claiming that we must work for our salvation is stated in Philippians 2:12:
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Notice - it does not say work for your salvation, but work out your salvation. Undoubtedly, there is work to do in the Christian walk. It takes effort to set time aside to study the Word of God and to spend time in prayer and Intercession. It takes discipline to rebuke negative and evil thoughts the devil might throw at us. Every Christian has his own set of problems and difficulties with which he must learn to cope and work out to maintain his testimony. But in spite of what we may face, it is only through faith in the true and living God that these things can be accomplished!
You write: 'Fundamentalists always try to prove that Catholicism was not present in New Testament times, but again, to deny that is to deny the cold hard facts of History. I love the argument that Peter was not invested with any special authority by Jesus. Jesus did not speak Greek; He spoke Aramaic, and in that tongue, 'rock' is not a feminine noun. Simon's name was changed to Cephas (in Aramaic, Kepha), meaning 'rock.' It was upon Kepha that Jesus would build His Church, and not on Peter's confession of faith. If Peter's role were not significant, then why would Jesus give him the keys to Heaven?'
TCE: Again, your reference, without backing, to 'cold hard facts of History'! You use the word 'Catholicism' and 'Catholic' throughout your e-mail without defining what you mean by the term. We have therefore clarified the situation by using the full term: Papal Roman Catholicism. 'Catholicism', which simply means 'general' or 'universal', was first used in the first and second centuries to represent orthodox Christianity, in the sense that all who have access to the whole truth as found in the Word of God and expounded by the apostles will believe in the 'universal' truth, but was claimed exclusively by Papal Rome after the Reformation and, despite a dispute with Anglicanism who desired to apply it to themselves, has largely been surrendered to Papists.
But the facts concerning the actual origination of the Papal system through Constantine from 324 A.D. are irrefutable. Where Papal Rome has denied access to the Word, people have fallen into darkness, as can easily be seen by examining history prior to the Reformation and as observed in every country Papal Rome dominated. If Papal Rome is such a force for good, why are the countries she has dominated to this day found to be exceptionally weak and corrupt? It is clear that you have no 'cold, hard facts of history' to quote - if you did you would quote them!
Again, you resort to another juvenile ploy - the 'I love the argument ...' line! This is used by all who foolishly believe that they have an irrefutable argument that is going to floor the opposition. That 'Peter was not invested with any special authority by Jesus' has already been proven earlier and our interpretation is also supported by the fact that the context of Matthew 16:13-20 is all about Jesus, not Peter, and the key issue of discussion is Jesus' identity. Jesus asked the disciples who the people said He was (verse 13) and Peter declared correctly that Jesus was the Christ (verse 16). Then, in verse 20, to prevent a premature disclosure of His identity, Jesus warned them not to tell anyone that He was the Christ. Throughout this entire passage Jesus is the theme, not Peter. Your 'explanation' that Jesus would have spoken these words to Peter in the Aramaic language - 'You are Kepha, and upon this kepha I will build my church' - is pure conjecture. Nobody but God knows what Jesus might have said in the Aramaic, but Greek New Testament manuscripts use the two distinct words - petros and petra. Since Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the exact words God wanted in Matthew 16:18 were chosen by God. It is no surprise that you chose the usual Papal Roman Catholic Church preference to lean towards human reasoning and tradition over inspired writing! Don't forget that we have already proven that Sixtus V and John Paul II resorted to the trademark of all cultists - 'wresting Scripture' (2 Peter 3:16) to try and support his false interpretation!
The Greek words that the Holy Spirit led Matthew to use: 'Thou art petros [a stone], and upon this rock [petra - a large rock] I will build My church' are clear in their meaning. Jesus had given Simon the new name of Peter (John 1:42) which means 'a stone.' The Aramaic form is Cephas, which also means 'a stone' and everyone who believes in Jesus Christ and confesses Him as the Son and God and Saviour, is a 'living stone' (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus Christ is the foundation rock on which the church is built:
The Old Testament prophets said so (Isaiah. 28:16; Psalm. 118:22).
Jesus Himself said this (Matthew 21:42),
So did Peter and the other apostles (Acts 4:10-12).
Paul also stated that the foundation for the church is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians. 3:11).
This foundation was therefore laid by the apostles and prophets as they preached Christ to the lost (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 2:1-2; 3:11).
In other words, when the evidence is examined, the total teaching of Scripture is that the church, God's temple (Ephesians. 2:19-22), is built on Jesus Christ - not on Peter. How could God build His church on a fallible man like Peter? Later, the same Peter who confessed Christ became an adversary and entertained Satan's thoughts (16:22ff.). Some might try and argue that this was before Peter was filled with the Spirit - but then consider Peter's doctrinal errors (despite your assertions to the contrary!) recorded in Galatians 2. These errors had to be dealt with by Paul - and all you can do is insult an apostle of God in typical cultist fashion! This event occurred after Peter was filled with the Spirit.
To try and strain, as Papal Roman Catholics must do, to place Peter in an exalted position that Scripture never attributes to him is a very dangerous, foolish, and illogical practice. Examine the facts - metaphors are commonly used variously, till they become stereotyped, and sometimes even then:
Matthew 16:18 Jesus builds his church;
in 1 Corinthians 3:10, Paul is 'an expert builder.'
1 Corinthians 3:11, Jesus is the church's foundation;
in Ephesians 2:19-20, the apostles and prophets are the foundation (cf. also Revelation 21:14), and Jesus is the 'cornerstone.'
Matthew 16:19) Peter has the keys;
in Revelation 1:18; 3:7, Jesus has the keys.
In John 9:5, Jesus is 'the light of the world';
in Matthew 5:14, his disciples are 'the light of the world'.
None of these pairs threatens Jesus' uniqueness. They simply show how metaphors must be interpreted primarily with reference to their immediate contexts.
None of this requires that conservative Papal Roman Catholic views be endorsed. The text says nothing about Peter's successors, infallibility, or exclusive authority. These late interpretations entail insuperable exegetical and historical problems - e.g., after Peter's death, his 'successor' would have authority over a surviving apostle, John. What the New Testament does show is that Peter is the first to make this formal confession and that his 'prominence' continues in the earliest years of the church (Acts 1-12). But he, along with John, can be sent by other apostles (Acts 8:14); and he is held accountable for his actions by the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:1-18) and rebuked by Paul (Galatians 2:11-14). He is, in short, primus inter pares ('first among equals'); and on the foundation of such men (Ephesians 2:20), Jesus built his church. That is precisely why Jesus, toward the close of his earthly ministry, spent so much time with them. The honour was not earned but stemmed from divine revelation (v17) and Jesus' building work (v18).
Ephesians 2:20 affirms that the church is 'built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.' Two things are clear from this: first, all the apostles, not just Peter, are the foundation of the church; second, the only one who is given a place of prominence is Christ, the corner stone. Peter himself referred to Christ as 'the corner stone' of the church (1 Peter 2:7), and the rest of believers as 'living stones' in the superstructure of the church (verse 4). Colossians 1:17,18 likewise affirms that Christ alone is the head of the church. Both the immediate context of Matthew 16:18 and the broader context of all of Scripture point away from Peter being 'the rock' and we accept Scriptures clear admonition that 'no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ' (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Thus the 'keys of the kingdom' relate not to Peter's supremacy but to his privilege of preaching the gospel. In Matthew 16:19 we read Jesus' words to Peter: 'I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven'. In the New Testament a key always implies authority to open a door and give entrance to a place or realm. Jesus, for example, possesses the keys of death and Hades, implying His authority to grant or deny access to these realms (Revelation 1:18). Though you argue that Jesus' gift of the keys of the kingdom to Peter indicates supreme authority, the context relates only to witnessing and evangelism by the apostles. This verse is teaching that the apostles were given the power to grant or deny access into the kingdom of God based on how people responded to the gospel message. Those who responded favourably to the gospel were 'granted' access, while those who refuse to believe were 'denied' access to the kingdom of God. We know this to be true because the terms 'bind' and 'loose' were Jewish idioms that, in the present context, indicate that what is announced on earth has already been determined in heaven. To bind meant to forbid, refuse, or prohibit; to loose meant to permit or allow. We can announce the prohibition or allowance of certain things on earth because God has already made a pronouncement on these matters. 'Binding' in the context of Matthew 16:19 refers to prohibiting entry into God's kingdom to those who reject the apostolic witness of Jesus Christ. 'Loosing' refers to granting entry into God's kingdom to those who accept that witness (see John 20:23; Acts 2:38-41). The apostles could prohibit entry (bind) or grant entry (loose) into God's kingdom only because God had already declared that entry into the kingdom hinged on accepting their witness regarding Jesus Christ.
In the book of Acts it is clear that Peter and the other apostles did, indeed, 'grant access' into the kingdom of God to various people. But all, whether Jews (Acts 2:14-36), Samaritans (8:4-25), or Gentiles (9:32 - 10:48) were granted access to the kingdom based on their positive response to the gospel. What we do not see in the book of Acts is Peter rising to a position of supremacy and exercising authority over all others.
(Continued on page 299)