Since I cannot read hearts, I am in no position to judge who is a true Christian and who is not. However, I am sure that one who believes he is a Christian simply because he belongs to a particular church, whether it’s my church or The Roman Catholic Church, or any other church, is deceiving himself and is still lost in his sins.
Though I am in no position to judge hearts and determine who is saved and who is not; I do have the ability and responsibility to discern what is biblical and what is not biblical. Christ charges preachers in his Word with the responsibility of preaching the truth and exposing error. Romans 16:17-18 I Timothy 4. II Timothy 3-4. Paul. in Romans 12:9, teaches us to be discerning “Let love be without dissimulation or hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good.” That is, we are to love the Truth and hate that which is false.
One thing is certain. One who is saved and on his way to Heaven; though not perfect, hates sin and turns from it. Paul wrote in II Timothy 2:19 ” Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal. The Lord knoweth them that are His. Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
In the first century false religion was infecting the Church and Paul warned of it, charging pastors of the early churches to deal with it by exposing it and by building up the people in God’s Word so they would recognize the Truth from the counterfeit . Even Jesus had warned of coming false teachers in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7.
I encourage you to read and study my series on DECEPTION on this web site.
In the following messages in this series I want to deal with some of the major tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, exposing them to the light of God’s Word. Though I love Catholic people, counting them my friends, I am charged by God’s Word to expose and warn of error.
Is the Roman Catholic Church the one true church founded by Christ on the Rock, Simon Peter?
The True Church actually is the spiritual Body of Christ, composed of people of all races, nationalities and denominations, who have received Christ as Saviour and have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into His Body.
We accept the Bible, both Old and New Testament, to be the only inspired, infallible Word of God.
We believe that Jesus is Jehovah God, our Creator and Sustainer of life, who, born of the Virgin Mary, came to earth as the sinless, holy Son of God in a human body to die and shed His blood as the full and perfect atonement for our sins. He rose again from the dead, proving His deity; so that we who trust Him have His righteousness imputed to us and are made fit to dwell with Him in Heaven. Read John 1 Romans 1:1-4, Colossians 1 Hebrews 1 Revelation 1 for clear statements concerning the deity of Jesus.
Though members of the true Church differ widely in many area of Biblical interpretation, we are united on the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and on the doctrine of Christ and His blood atonement. Because we are but mere men and not God, none of us has a corner on the truth. We all have a veiled understanding of Scripture and that veil will not be removed until we stand glorified in His presence.
How arrogant of us to claim we have a complete, accurate understanding of Scripture and claim we alone have the correct view of doctrine and church polity, and that those who disagree with us are wrong.
The Corinthian church evidenced this attitude and Paul in his first epistle to them shamed them for their spiritual immaturity, pride and divisiveness. Beware of any church that claims that it alone is the true church having the correct understanding of Scripture and that all other churches are false. Not only is that an arrogant claim, but it is a primary distinguishing mark of a false cult.
The unity of believers, regardless of denominational differences, is an organic unity; just as a human body, composed of many members, is one organic body.
The Church of Anti-Christ is that Satanic counterfeit of the true church whose unity is merely one of organization. Members of this false church are found in all religions and denominations and cults who are trusting in their works or in what they believe their churches can do for them. Such are lost and hell bound.They lack that spiritual, organic unity that comes by being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, the baptism that Paul writes about in I Corinthians 12:13. In place of that spiritual unity, they try to achieve an ecumenical unity of organization between denominations.
This united church of Anti-christ is described in Revelation 17. In that chapter we learn of the fall and destruction of this church. In Revelation 18:1-4 we are warned to separate ourselves from that church to avoid the plagues God will send on her.
How do you find the right church?
It is essential that we seek God’s will concerning our church home and that we study and become grounded in the Bible so that we, as the Berean Christians in Acts 17:11, are able to recognize and differentiate truth from error.
Though we will never find a perfect church in this world, we can seek a church that helps us know God’s Word and grow in our knowledge of Christ.
As spiritual darkness descends upon our world, and the masses lose an appetite for God’s Word and churches give people the fluff and the fast food, and the positive sound-bites they want to hear; solid Bible preaching churches are becoming rare. Amos prophesied of it in Amos 8:11-13 “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the Words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.” God bless you, God bless
America and God bless our world with His Word and with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ and with faithful men who will courageously preach it.
UPON THIS ROCK I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH
What is this rock upon which Jesus is building His church? Some say it is Peter. Let’s take a closer look. The story is told in Matthew 16:13-23. Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He asks them to give Him some feedback from the people. “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” They answered that some thought Jesus was a reincarnation of John the Baptist who had just been beheaded by Herod. Other thought He was one of the Old Testament prophets.
Then Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. Peter, blurted out,
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
Jesus responded to Peter, whose original name was Simon, son of Jona.
“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven. And I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.”
Peter did not come to understand this through human reasoning. God Himself had revealed this great truth to Peter. Nor will you or I ever understand who Jesus is until the Spirit of God enlightens our minds. To the world the name of Jesus is just used in profanity. The world mocks and hates Jesus and those who belong to Him. But one who is born again by the Spirit of God, loves Jesus. He is precious to the believer.
Upon Peter’s confession of Christ, Jesus explained to His disciples and to us the foundation upon which His Church would be built. The key to understanding this is found in two Greek words. Petros– meaning a stone and Petra– meaning bed rock.
Let me paraphrase. He said to Simon.Barjona, “Simon, from now on I am calling you Peter. You are a rock. But the confession you have just made that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God is the bed rock upon which I am going to build my church.” Jesus, not Peter, is the bedrock foundation of His Church.
Paul in Ephesians 2:20 declares that Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the church and that His Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.
What does he mean by that? It’s not that the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church, but the doctrine prophesied by the Old Testament prophets and the teachings and doctrine Jesus gave to the Apostles is the doctrine upon which the Church is established. In Acts 2:42 we learn that the early church continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s Doctrine. This doctrine, basically the doctrine of Christ that Peter confessed, is the foundational doctrine upon which the church is built. It is so essential that it remain pure that if anyone tampers with it and tries to change it, Paul says they are to be recognized as cursed by God. Galatians 1:6-9.
The doctrine of Christ is so essential to the Christian Faith that if someone perverts it, we are warned by John in II John 7-11 to have no Christian fellowship with the false teacher. With such a person there is no common ground on which we can work together in doing God’s work. Paul gives the same warning to us in Romans 16:17-18. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them (identify them) which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
Then in I Corinthians 3:9-11 Paul declares that Jesus is the foundation of the Church.
Thank God that Peter, nor any other sinful human being, is the foundation of Christ’s Church.
Although Peter later under the control of the Holy Spirit became a powerful preacher and although he was given the privilege of using the Keys of the Kingdom, to preach the Gospel and open the door of salvation to the Jews in Acts 2, to the Samaritans in Acts 8 and to the Gentiles in Acts 10; Peter by nature was a weak, cowardly, hypocritical, vacillating person.
Jesus called him a Rock as He looked ahead to what He was going to make of him. But Peter, by nature, was anything but a rock. Three times he shamefully showed his cowardice at Jesus trial by denying that he even knew Christ.
Later as a preacher he manifested cowardice and hypocrisy when under pressure. Paul writes about it in Galatians 2:11-18. Peter had been eating and having fellowship with Gentile believers in Antioch, as a good Christian should. But when Jewish believers came from Jerusalem, Peter immediately distanced himself from the Gentile believers because he feared what the Jewish believers would think of him.
Paul immediately took action. He confronted Peter concerning his duplicity and hypocrisy and taught him that Gentile believers were just as much a part of the church as Jewish believers. You can read the entire conversation in Galatians 2.
How would you feel if some preacher, such as Paul, approached you this way in front of all the others? Would you grow bitter and resentful? Thank God, Peter accepted Paul’s correction humbly. Later on in II Peter 3:15 Peter refers to Paul as his beloved brother. Thank God that Peter did not hold a grudge. He was growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ and in verse 18 of that chapter he urges all of us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
Peter is not the Rock upon which Jesus built His Church, nor was he the first Bishop of Rome. There is no historical record of Peter ever being in Rome, nor is there any Scriptural record.
In Romans 16 Paul greets by name a list of Christians in Rome and Peter is not found in the list. In Acts 28 Paul tells of his arrival in Rome, and Peter is not mentioned. Rather, Peter writes to the scattered Christians from Babylon. I Peter 1:1 and 5:13.
Peter never claimed any authority over the Apostles nor over Christ’s Church.
According to Acts 15 the Apostle James was the leading pastor over the first Church in Jerusalem. He made decisions after discussing and praying with the other Apostles. In I Peter 5:1-4 Peter refers to himself as an elder or a pastor in the church. In that passage, as one of the twelve Apostles of Christ and as one of the elder/pastors, he instructs us to feed the flock God has entrusted to us. He makes a special point of warning us not to lord it over our churches, but we are to be examples to them of the truths we teach.
Peter never accepted the worship and homage of people.
In Acts 3 we have an account of Peter and John going to the temple to pray. At the gate was a lame man asking alms, who had never walked from birth. Peter announced healing in the name of Jesus Christ and instantly the man was able to stand up, walk and leap. When the crowds attempted to give homage and glory to Peter and John, they rejected it and turned the people’s attention to Jesus, preaching the Gospel to them. On the other hand, King Herod in Acts 12 accepted the worship of the people who claimed he was a god and not a man. Almighty God immediately caused him to be eaten up of worms and die.
In Acts 10:25-26 when Cornelius bowed down to worship Peter, Peter rejected the worship and commanded Cornelius, “Stand up! I myself am a man!”
In Acts 14 there is an interesting story of Paul and Barnabas being used of God to heal a crippled man. When the people attempted to worship them as gods, they rejected the worship and proclaimed to them the true God. .
As for Apostolic Succession, it is not taught in the Bible.
There were twelve Apostles. Paul also was a special Apostle to the Gentiles. These men were hand picked by Christ and called to the special work of passing on the teachings of Christ and the Gospel message to the church. These teachings are found throughout the New Testament and they are in harmony with the teaching of the Old Testament prophets. As Ephesians 2:20 teaches, these Prophets and Apostles laid down the doctrinal foundation of the Church. Once the Bible was written, the work of the Apostles was finished and they died.
Throughout the Church Age these past 2000 years the work of the church has been carried on under the leadership of God-called, God-ordained pastors and teachers. It’s true that we pass on to the next generation the truths of Scripture that were passed down to us. That is God’s way of continuing the ongoing ministry from generation to generation. II Timothy 2:2 And it’s true that when men are ordained to the ministry, hands are laid on them. I Timothy 4:14 But this is in no way Apostolic Succession. It is simply men confirming God-called men who have been examined for doctrinal purity to the ministry.
Preachers are not infallible and the books they write are not infallible.
I read books and listen to preachers, but I do not swallow everything I hear or read. I test everything by the standards of God’s Holy Word. If it does not square with God’s Word, I reject it as spurious. So should you as you read my articles and as you read books and listen to preachers.
Only God’s Word, the Bible is infallible. The church is not infallible. Through the centuries Satan has raised up false prophets and false movements that often appear genuine. We are warned to test by the Bible everything that claims to be true. Matthew 7:13-23; Matthew 24:4-5,:23-24; Acts 20:27-32; Romans 16:17-19; II Corinthians 6:14-18; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 5:1-12; Philippians 3:2; Philippians 3:17-19; Colossians 2:8-18; I Thessalonians 1:9-10; II Thessalonians 2; I Timothy 1; 4,
II Timothy 2,3 Titus 1; II Peter 2,3; I John 4:1-3; II John 7-11; Jude, Revelations 2:14-15. These are just some of the warnings to beware of false doctrine..
Peter is not the Chief Shepherd, but Jesus is.
Peter makes this clear in I Peter 5:4-5. When Jesus returns for us He will reward His faithful servants with unfading crowns of glory. But in this age, no Christian has any business wearing a religious crown or accepting the homage of others. Verse 5 teaches all of us to submit ourselves in humility to one another. In Christ’s church there are to be no “big shots” who run the church. Sadly, that is not the case in many churches where the glory of God has departed. The Apostle John wrote in his third Epistle about Diotrephes who sought preeminence and control in the church.
One more thing we must note before we leave this topic.
The whole idea that priests and preachers should not marry is a false doctrine.
Peter was married. Matthew 8:14. It is a sin and unwise for God’s servants to be denied the privilege and blessing of being married. I Timothy 4:1-5; I Corinthians 7. In I Corinthians 9 Paul teaches that preachers have the right to be married if God leads. In Paul’s case, as an itinerant preacher who faced tremendous persecution and difficulties throughout his ministry, he felt it best not to be married so he could devote himself fully to his special calling. Though not in every case, generally it is best that a pastor be married. See the qualifications for pastors (bishops), elders and deacons. I Timothy 3:1-13 Titus 1:4-9.
I encourage you to be like the Berean Christians in Acts 17:10-11 who received the preaching of God’s Word with open minds and hearts, but then tested what they heard by searching the Scriptures.
Dear Roman Catholic friend, let me take you for a walk through the tenth chapter of Hebrews. First, I recommend you read it alone, without my comments. Now having read it, let's take a closer look.
vs 1. The writer of Hebrews speaks of the Old Testament ceremonial law with its Levitical priesthood, as a shadow or type of good things to come.
vs. 2-3 The ceremonial law with its animal sacrifices did not make the worshippers perfect, or it never would have been discontinued. We would still be offering the blood of animals for our sins today.
vs. 4 Though the blood of animal sacrifices temporarily atoned for the sins of the worshippers, it was not possible for those animal sacrifices to change hearts and solve the sin problem. The sinful worshipper went on sinning and continued offering the same sacrifices repeatedly. His heart was not changed.
vs. 5-6 This verse reminds us of a prophecy concerning Jesus back in Psalm 40:6-8 that explains how God the Creator, was given a human body through the womb of the virgin Mary. This body was not normally conceived by sexual relations with a man. God the Holy Spirit brought about the conception. See Luke 1:35. Hebrews 10:5 tells us that the reason for the coming of Jesus was to do for us what no animal sacrifice could ever do. Jesus had to die for our sins because animals sacrifices were not accomplishing the heart change in our lives.
vs. 7-9 In these verses we read of the glad response of Jesus to do His Father's will by coming as the perfect and complete sacrifice for our sins.Read again Psalm 40:6-8.
vs. 10-14 As you read this passage note the repeated reference to the ONE sacrifice for sin forever. Christ offered His Body ONCE on Calvary's cross two thousand years ago. Three days later He rose from the dead. The cross is empty. Jesus no longer hangs there. The sacrifice is NEVER to be repeated. Yet in the Roman Catholic Church the sacrifice is repeated constantly in every MASS.
Note the contrast in verses 11-12. The Levitical priest could not take away sin with their animal sacrifices. On the other hand, Jesus' sacrifice of His own body took care of sins forever. Jesus cried out on the cross, "IT IS FINISHED!" Because the sacrifice is complete, Jesus presently sits on the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
Again in verses 14 and 18 we are reminded that Jesus' one offering of Himself is all that is needed. The sacrifice is complete. There is no need for any more offerings for sins. There is no need for the offering of The MASS.
In verse 16 and 17 we read of the New Covenant that was sealed with the blood of Christ. The Christian has God's Law written in his heart. Because, we have put our trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross, our sins and iniquities are remembered no more. God has blotted them out. Isaiah 44:22 They are buried in the depths of the Sea. Micah 7:19
The rest of the 10th chapter of Hebrews invites us to enter into the presence of God, forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Christ. Even our evil conscience has been cleansed by His blood.
Friend, read I Timothy 2:5-6. When you have Jesus as your Mediator and Saviour from sin, you need no other mediator; you need no other rites or sacrifices to come boldly before the throne of God. Jesus is your Saviour. He is your Life. Rejoice and worship Him today.
Salvation has three tenses: past, present and future.
II Corinthians 1:10 outlines these three tenses.
Past “Who delivered us from so great a death,
Present and doth deliver us,
Future in whom we trust He will yet deliver us.”
In this and the following articles on salvation we will emphasize these three tenses as we consider the three major doctrines of salvation: Justification, Sanctification and Glorification.
First, consider Justification.
Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the best place to find a clear explanation of justification.. The theme of Romans is the Righteousness of God.
Our Desperate Need of God’s Righteousness
In Romans 1:18 through 3:20 we have the first truth that needs to be understood and that is our desperate need of God’s righteousness. Without it, no one can live in God’s presence. The problem is that no one is good enough or righteous enough to live in God’s presence in Heaven. We are all born sinners, hopeless and helpless to do right. Romans 5:6,12-19, 3:23 Ephesians 2:12. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He demands in Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” If that does not strike despair and hopelessness to your heart, I don’t know what will. We desperately need God’s righteousness.
God Counts Us Righteous
The second section of Romans deals with how God counts us righteous and fit for Heaven through His gracious act of justification. That’s the theme of Romans 3:21 through 5:21 Justification is God’s gracious work of counting me righteous through the merits of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who died and rose again to pay the full penalty of all my sins. When I put my faith in Christ, God puts His righteousness to my account and makes me fit for Heaven. I do not go to Heaven because I am good enough or because I live a righteous life. No one lives the Christian life perfectly. I go to Heaven because Jesus is my righteousness. I Corinthians 1:30 Philippians 3:7-9
As a wealthy man deposits a million dollars in the account of a poor man and makes him rich, so God deposits Jesus’ righteousness to my account and makes me fit to dwell in His presence. II Corinthians 5:21 makes it so clear, Read the verse and let’s go through it together. “He (God) hath made Him, (Jesus) to be sin for us ( He bore my sins on the cross even though He was totally sinless) that we (sinners) might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus). If you are still unsure of your salvation, I urge you to keep reading this verse and ask God to open your spiritual eyesight to understand it. When you understand it and receive Jesus as your only righteousness, you will be born again and fit to dwell with God in Heaven. It’s not a difficult verse to understand. As a nine year old boy I was confronted with this truth and put my faith in Christ. My life was changed from that moment on.
Do you see it, Friend? When I admit I am a sinner and understand I am deserving of Hell and I turn to Jesus to save me; He takes my sins and gives me His righteousness as a free gift. Justification has nothing to do with my works. It has nothing to do with what the church can do for me. It has nothing to do with my faithfulness as a Christian. It is all the work of God’s grace and it is received by my simple faith alone.
Isn’t that good news? That is why it is called The Gospel. That is the meaning of Justification. When I see myself as a sinner and deserving of Hell and cry to God for His mercy and put my faith in Jesus who died and rose again for my sins; God takes my sins and puts them to Jesus’ account. He takes the perfect righteousness of Jesus and put it to my account, making me fit to live with Him in Heaven.
When Jesus died on the cross it became dark and God the Father turned His back on His Son. Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” God gave Him no answer nor comfort.. He totally forsook Him in His death for our sins for, you see, He was bearing the sins of the world. He was bearing the full penalty for my sins.
Thank God that because of His great sacrifice for me, I am now a child of God through faith alone in Christ as my own personal Saviour from sin. Not the church, not baptism, not sacraments, but Christ alone saves. Through faith in Him alone, I am brought into fellowship with God and will dwell forever in His presence.
If you see yourself as a sinner, will you right now bow before God and admit to Him that you are a sinner and unworthy of being in His presence and that you are helpless to save yourself? Will you look by faith to Jesus who died on the cross some 2000 years ago and rose again the third day to be your Saviour? Will you ask Him to be your Saviour? He will save you now. Romans 10:9-11 He will justify you from all your sins and count you as righteous as Christ Himself. The perfection demanded in Matthew 5:48 is the righteousness of Christ Himself, imputed to your account.
Now continue in this study and discover what it is to be a saint. Learn what God has started to do in your life if you are a believer and what He is going to continue to do until you arrive in Heaven.
The Roman Catholic Church canonizes decesased men and women they consider worthy of sainthood. As saints, because of their holiness, they are said to have special access to God. In times of special need, Catholics pray to the saints as mediators.
What does the Bible say about saints? Lots! The New Testament is full of information about saints.
Who are the saints?
Every sinner who puts his trust in Christ is saved and born again as a child of God and is a saint. Saints are holy, set apart people of God. All of the New Testament Epistles were written to born again members of local churches and they are all addressed as saints. For a small sampling of this truth read some of Paul’s salutations to the churches. Romans 1:7 I Corinthians 1:2 II Corinthians 1:1 Ephesians 1:1 Philippians 1:1 Colossians 1:2
Are saints always saintly?
None of us are very saintly. Learning to live as a saint is a life long process. The son of a king is born a prince, but he seldom acts like a prince. He has much to learn. Tutors and governesses are used to train him to live as a prince.
So we who put our trust in Christ are born again into God’s family as saints. However, it takes a lifetime of being in God’s Word and being surrendered to the indwelling Holy Spirit for us to learn to BECOME Godly saints.
In Ephesians 4:1 Paul beseeches the saints in
Ephesus to walk worthy of their calling as saints. That process is known as SANCTIFICATION. Read more about that in my next article in this series on the topic.
Are you a saint?
If you are the typical failing Christian you may cower in shame and humility and say, “I’m no saint!” But the fact of the matter is, if you are a Christian, you ARE a saint. In Heaven you will rejoice in the perfection Christ has given you. See the song of the saints in Revelation 5:8-10
Now if you are a Christian, get into the Word and start learning how to live as the saint, which you are.
God does not save us simply to give us a free ticket to Heaven. It’s true, salvation is free. It’s a gift of God’s grace; Ephesians 2:8-9 Titus 3:5-6 but God’s purpose in saving us is to make us like Jesus. This brings glory to God. This doctrine is called Sanctification and it is God’s ongoing purpose and work to make us Saints.
No church can declare or make us saints. We are declared Saints the moment we are born again just as an infant son born to the king and queen is born a prince. But the little prince needs to be trained to live and act as the prince that he is. So God works in us to make us saintly. Most of the New Testament Epistles are given to us for that express purpose; to teach us to be saintly. Ephesians 1:11-14; 2:10; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:15-16; I Peter 2:9-10. Note that the Epistles are addressed to saints and even the unsaintly, carnal Corinthians are referred to as saints. Thank God for His faithfulness to us in this great undertaking. I Corinthians 1:9
How does God take a redeemed sinner and make Him a saint? First, understand that we are qualified to be saints only through faith in Christ’s blood sacrifice for us. Hebrews 10:10; 13:12 What then are the tools God uses to make us saintly?
1. God begins His work of sanctification in us through the use of His Word, the Bible. The more we read it, study it and submit ourselves to it; the more saintly we become. II Timothy 3:16-17; John 15:3 God gives pastors and teachers to help perfect saints through the preaching of His Word. Ephesians 4:11-15 Because there are many voices that claim to be preaching the Word, it is important that we follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11 who searched the Scriptures to determine whether they were hearing the truth.
2. God also gives His Holy Spirit to come and live in our hearts. The Holy Sprit is the third Person of the Trinity. When Jesus left this earth to return to Heaven, He promised He would send His Holy Spirit to live in us. John 14:16-17. The Holy Spirit has a part in our sanctification as He convicts us of sin. He guides us into all truth. John 16:13-14 He indwells the believer. I Corinthians 3:16-17 II Corinthians 6:14-18. If the Spirit of God is not living in us, then according to Romans 8:9 we are not Christians.
Every Christian is commanded to be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 When we are filled with the Spirit, we do not lose self control. Galatians 5:22-25 Rather the Holy Spirit so controls us that we have self control. He puts a song in our hearts. Ephesians 5:19 He enables us to be thankful in every situation. Ephesians 5:20 He enables us to submit ourselves to others Ephesians 5:21. We don’t insist on having our own way; rather we live and work in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ. A Church business meeting where all the saints are controlled by the Spirit is a thing of beauty to behold. Christ also beautifies marriages when husbands and wives are living under the control of the Spirit. Ephesians 5:21-33.
3. God uses the trials and difficulties of life to sanctify us and make us more saintly. I Peter 5:10 Job is a prime example of one of God’s children who became more saintly through the sufferings God allowed. It is interesting as we look at the life of Job to see that God even uses Satan to help sanctify Job. Of course, Satan intended to cause Job to dishonor God, but God turned it around and brought glory to His name through the victory that He gave Job.
God is at work in every believer’s life to bring us to spiritual maturity as His saints. Praise God, that whatever He begins, He completes. Philippians 1:6 Let me caution you. Don’t ever think that you have arrived and have attained perfection in this life. If you do, you are deceiving yourself. I John 1:8,10 Paul in Philippians 3 gives his testimony. In verses 10-15 he makes it clear that he has not arrived at perfection, but he longs to know Christ intimately and live in consistent victory over sin. This is the thinking of a mature saint. He knows he has not achieved perfection, but he desires it. If you claim you are saved because you put your trust in Christ, but you have no hatred of sin and no love for Christ and no desire to live a holy life, you are deceiving yourself. James 2. Examine yourself and make sure you are genuinely saved. II Corinthians 13:5 Only as Christ is doing His sanctifying work in your life can you be sure that He has already Justified you.
Salvation begins in our lives, when God justifies us by His grace through faith in Christ. Salvation continues through our lives as God uses His Word and His indwelling Holy Spirit and the testings and sufferings of life to bring us to maturity as His saints.
But there is more!
Thank God that He does not stop with what He does for us in this life. God will not be satisfied and we will not be satisfied until we are in His very presence, sinlessly perfect. David, the Psalmist, even back in Old Testament times understood something about this. He speaks of His longing for perfection in the presence of God in Psalms 17:15.
Paul in Philippians 3:20-21 wrote of that wonderful moment when we meet Christ and are changed into His perfect image. He also spoke of that wonderful day in I Corinthians 15:50-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
In I John 3:1-3 the Apostle John wrote of all three phases of our salvation, as we discuss them in a mini-series under the category SALVATION. In verse 1 he rejoices in God’s love in saving him and making him a Son of God. In verse 2 John looks forward to the time when he will be glorified and sinless just like Jesus. In verse 3, in the light of this glorious truth concerning our futures, he speaks of our responsibility to surrender daily to the Holy Spirit’s present, sanctifying work in our lives.
We can know for sure!
Dear Friend, Have you been saved ? Do you know it for sure? I John 5:11-13 tells us we can know for sure. If you have been saved, are you allowing God to conform you to the image of His Son? Are you experiencing daily victory over sin? God saved you to live in sinless glory with Him throughout eternity.
Don’t you think it’s about time you got started living the life you are going to enjoy with Him in eternity?
“Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the Heavens. He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not. They have ears, but they hear not. Noses have they but they smell not. They have hands, but they handle not. Feet have they but they walk not; neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them and so is everyone that trusteth in them.”Psalm 115:2-8
What does the Bible say about idols and idolatry?
Take a Bible concordance and look up the words idol, idols, idolater, idolatry, image, images. You’ll find almost 200 references to them in the Bible. God has nothing good to say about idolatry. Rather He condemns those who worship idols and images. Here are a few examples.
The first of the ten commandments says, “I am the Lord thy God which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:2-6
“Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:4
“Then said I unto them, Cast away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourself with the idols of
Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:7
“Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: and the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not. And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols He shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty when He arises to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” Isaiah 2:8-9, 17-21 Read more about this coming event in Revelation 6:12-17
Should we trust the presence of idols in our homes and in our cars to keep us safe?
“What profiteth the graven image that the maker of it hath graven it; the molten image, the teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein to make dumb idols? Woe unto them that saith to the wood, ‘Awake’; to the dumb stone, ‘Arise, it shall teach!’ Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:18-20
“As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.” I Corinthians 8:4-6
“Little children, keep yourself from idols.” I John 5:21
Certainly, idolatry is not limited to bowing down to idols of wood, stone, plastic, silver and gold. We are idolatrous when we put any person before God. We are guilty of idolatry when we put money, our work, sports, hobbies, or any other interest or passion before God.
Worshipping creatures; including the sun, moon, stars, mountains, or anything else God has created rather than the Creator is heathenism and God will judge it. Romans 1:20-25 God must be first in our lives. We make Him first by spending time in His Word and by praying to Him and seeking to please Him in all that we do.
Anything that distracts or hinders us from our worship of God is idolatry.
How can we worship the invisible God without the aid of visible idols?
Do you need help in focusing your attention on God? Turn from idolatry and spend time reading and meditating on God’s Word. There you will discover who Jesus is. In Colossians 1:15 Paul speaks of Jesus as “the image of the invisible God”. In I Timothy 2:5 we read that Jesus is the one and only mediator we need to know and worship God.
When you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, God’s Spirit will come to live within you and He will teach you spiritual truth and draw you into fellowship with Christ Himself. Christ will become more real and precious to you than anything tangible that you could hold in your hands or see with your eyes.
Read what Paul told the idolatrous Athenians in Acts 17:22-31. If you are serious about seeking the truth about idolatry, DON’T MISS READING THIS PASSAGE! May God enable you this day to repent of your idolatry and turn to Christ Himself. Then as you read the Psalms and other Scriptures, you will be enabled to worship God in Spirit and in Truth without the aid or distraction of idols and images that are so abominable to Him.
Mary is without question the most blessed of all women. Of all the women on the face of the earth, God chose this pure young virgin of the little town of Nazereth to be the mother of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We honor her as a wonderful role model, especially to young ladies.
Her amazing story it told in Luke 1:26-56. Betrothed to her beloved husband, Joseph; the announcement of the angel Gabriel that she would have a baby who would be conceived by the Holy Ghost was difficult and frightening news for her to comprehend; but in humility and obedience to God, she gave her permission. She replied, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to Thy Word.”
In Matthew 1:18-25 the story picks up with Joseph discovering she is pregnant. How devastated he must have been! Then the angel explained how she had become pregnant by the Holy Ghost and Joseph was comforted and submissive to God’s plan.
Going back again to Luke 1:46-55 Mary breaks forth into her Magnificat, a song of praise to God for what He was accomplishing through her life. She understood that she, as a child of Adam, was a sinner like everyone else. She rejoiced in God her Saviour. In Luke 2 we have the wonderful Christmas story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. You can read more about this in my CHRISTMAS series on this web site, as well as the vital doctrine of the VIRGIN BIRTH.
In Luke 11:27-28 and in Matthew 12:46-50 there are parallel stories of Mary and some of her other sons (No, Mary was not a perpetual virgin.) coming on the scene and interrupting Jesus while He was teaching. A woman, noting Mary’s arrival, drew the attention of the people from Jesus to Mary by announcing, “Blessed is the womb that bare Thee and the paps which Thou hast sucked.” Jesus corrects this interruption by countering, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.”
In the Matthew 12 account, Mary and some of Jesus’ brothers interrupted Jesus as He was teaching, desiring to talk to Him. Jesus took the occasion to teach another lesson. He asked the question, “Who is my mother and who are my brethren?” Then He stretched out His hands to those listening to Him and said, “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.” What He is saying here is that as close as blood ties are, there are even closer ties in the family of God.
There is also a warning for us in this story. The woman who spoke in Luke 11:27 was actually distracting the people from Jesus’ message by turning their attention to Mary. Be warned that whenever we turn our attention from Jesus to someone or something else, that is sinful. As blessed as Mary is, when we turn our attention from God’s Word and from Jesus to her or to anyone else, that becomes a sinful distraction. Whenever we claim we are magnifying Jesus AND someone else, the someone else gradually becomes more important than Jesus. Don’t allow anyone or anything to distract you from Jesus and His Word
The true Church of Jesus Christ is made up of sinners who have put their trust in Christ and are pictured as the pure, spotless Bride of Christ. The righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us through faith in His shed blood. It is being imparted to us by His Holy Spirit as we live in obedience to His Word. One day in Heaven, we will be glorified with His perfection. See CHURCH link for more on the true church. On the other hand Revelation 17 describes false religion by giving us a very interesting picture of a whore riding on a ferocious, ugly beast. Who is the beast? Who is the whore? What is going on here? Let’s seek answers to these questions by letting Scripture speak for itself.
Who is the Beast?
In an article in our Prophetic series on this web site, “The Times of the Gentiles”, we outlined the history of four world powers: Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, that have had a profound impact on the nation, Israel.
In Daniel 2 is recorded King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great image made of gold, silver, brass and iron, picturing these four world empires. In Daniel 7 Daniel also has a dream of these four world empires. His dream is of four wild animals representing these world powers.
Babylon is pictured as a lion,
Persia as a bear,
Greece as a leopard and
Rome as a ferocious ugly beast with iron teeth and ten horns. All four of these empires have lain dead in the dust for centuries. However, this fourth beast is going to rise again to world power and from this revived Roman Empire will come the Anti-Christ who will rule the world for seven years during the Tribulation. This Beast is described in Revelation 13. In Revelation 17 we see this beast being ridden or controlled by a whore. In Revelation 19:11-21 you can read about the final destruction of the Anti-christ by King Jesus Himself.
Who is the Whore?
Let’s examine her in Revelation 17. In verse 1 we are told she sits on many waters. Verse 15 identifies the waters as the nations of the world.
In verse 2 we learn that the nations of the world have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. This fornication is described as her political alliances with the nations of the world.
In verse 3 we see the whore riding and controlling the Beast, the revived
Roman Empire led by the Anti-christ. In verse 4 the harlot is identified by the purple and scarlet robes she wears, by the gold chalice in her hand, by her immense wealth and by her immorality.
In verse 5 her name is given, Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.
In verse 6 we learn that she is drunken with the blood of those who have been martyred for Christ down through the centuries.
In verse 9 we learn that this harlot is associated with a city that sits on seven hills, the city of Rome.
Christ’s true Church is composed of sinners who have put their trust in Christ and have been declared saints and who are becoming saintly in character through God’s Word and through surrender to Christ.
The harlot church is a false ecumenical church of the end times, which will eventually be made up of all the world’s religions and headquartered in Rome.
What is the future for the Harlot Church?
In verses 16 -18 we see how this Harlot Church will be destroyed. The Anti-christ will suddenly at the end of the Tribulation, hate the whore and turn on her and destroy her. Yes, false religion, under the sovereignty of God will suddenly and finally be destroyed by the Anti-christ. Why will he do that? II Thessalonians 2:4 answers that question. He destroys all religion on the face of the earth so that he can reign supreme over the earth as God.
Those who love Christ are warned in Revelation 18:1-5 to flee from this false ecumenical religious system lest we receive of the plagues that are going to fall on her. For more on the need and urgency to separate from false religion, go to the link SEPARATION on this web site.
Speaking of Jesus’ total involvement in a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee F.B. Meyers writes,
“It’s easier, like the anchorite monk to be separated from the world, than like the Saviour, to be in it but not of it.
I’t easier to decline an invitation to a home than to go there and behave as the Son of God.
It’s easier to refuse the things of sense than to use them without abuse.
It’s easier to maintain a life of prayer far from the haunts of men, than to enter them maintaining constant fellowship with God in the unruffled depths of the soul.
Nothing but the grace of the Holy Spirit can suffice for this. But this is sufficient if daily and believingly sought.
The idea of the ascetic life is that every human feeling is a weakness and every natural instinct a sin. No woman’s caress, no childish voice, no tender love, none of the jewels or flowers of existence may soften the rigors of that lot.
But is not all this a libel on God’s original creation? Has He made so great a mistake in creating us that we must thwart His ideal at every step, ere we can rise to our true manhood? Must we make ourselves other than men before we can be saints?
Surely to reason thus is to dishonor the wisdom and love of God in our original creation. The incarnation teaches us, as does the presence of Jesus at the Marriage Feast of Cana, that God does not require an emasculated, but a fulfilled and purified humanity.”