Tag archives: Catholicism

Snapshots: Mary

Verona is a staunchly Catholic city. There are at least five shrines to Mary within a few blocks from our home. A casual study of the Bible reveals the Mary venerated by Catholics is very different from the historic Mary of scripture. For instance, The Catechism of the Catholic Church (969) states, “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation… Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” Whereas Paul wrote, “For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

The Mary statues throughout the city are constant reminders of the religious identification of the majority of the Veronesi. They also reinforce false doctrine instilled within the people from early childhood.

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The shrine above sits on a prominent corner in our neighborhood. The inscription below the statue reads “Mother of God pray for us.” The priest of the local parish will pray with people in front of it and last year he led a procession with a large statue of Mary through our neighborhood so that she might bless the residents.

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The statue above is near the hospital down the street from our home. I have seen many people genuflect and make the sign of the cross before it. As I took this picture a car passed and the driver made the sign of the cross.

I often reflect upon Christ’s words to Paul in his call to the ministry, as recorded in the Book of Acts, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). It can be a foreboding task to labor to help men see clearly the truth of the gospel through the fog of indoctrination, however I take comfort in the One who has no trouble in making blind men to see. He is my mediator and the only hope for Verona.

 

In Christ Alone

As soon as we sat down in the pizzeria my new friend asked me: “So what is the difference between your religion and mine?” Sandy and I frequent his place of business and over the months a friendship has developed. This was our first meal together and apparently a curiosity about faith was at the forefront of his mind.

Simply put one major difference between my faith and his Catholic faith hinges on the implications of a single word. In chapter 4 of the apostle Paul’s theological masterpiece to the Romans he demonstrates that salvation is by faith alone apart from any work or merit of man. That one word “alone” determines if the faith of the man rests solely in an all-sufficient Saviour or whether salvation depends upon the self-effort of the sinner. Mankind being fallible, all works produced by a man, whether moral or spiritual or physical, are flawed and imperfect. If salvation is based on some element of “trying” then it is not based on “trusting” and the faith coupled with works nullifies total dependence on God for salvation. It is faith alone which connects us to God’s grace, his unmerited favor. Faith is simply taking God at his word and allowing him to be God in any and every situation, most importantly in regards to salvation.

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5

“For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace;” Romans 4:14,16a

Roman Catholicism teaches salvation by faith, but not by faith alone. See previous blogs here and here.

Roman Catholicism teaches the value of the blood of Christ, but not in the value of his blood alone.

Roman Catholicism teaches that Jesus is a Mediator between God and man, but not that he is Mediator alone.

Roman Catholicism teaches the authority of the scriptures but not their authority alone.

One of the great failures of Catholicism lies in their low view of Christ. They present him as either an infant in Mary’s arms, or as still nailed to the cross. The Bible declares Jesus Christ to be God manifest in the flesh, who died for our sins, was buried and rose again the third day so that all who put their faith solely in him might live eternally. What can possibly be added by sinful man to the work of the Sinless One to merit salvation?

The Catholic Faith (part 6) – Finished

The past five posts have not been criticisms of Roman Catholics; although it may seem that way anytime something as personal as one’s religion is critiqued. There are many fine Catholics who read the Bible, are very moral people, and contribute to the betterment of their community. However, it is eternally important that they trust the biblical way of salvation rather than according to the traditions of the hierarchy of Rome. When we add to God’s plan of salvation by grace we nullify it. The Bible says, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace” (Rom. 11:6).

I have been asked multiple times by various teachers and students in language school what the difference is between Baptist and Catholic. (A better way to word it would be what is the difference between true Christianity and every other religion.) My reply has always been the same. There are only two religions in the world with each being described by a single word: “do” and “finished.” The former is a religious system (including Catholicism) whose central message is “what must I DO to have a connection with God and earn entrance into heaven.” The “to do” list depends on the religious system but often includes things such as water baptism, confirmation, good works, giving money, confession to a priest, sacraments, etc. The word “finished” is the true message of biblical salvation. Everything necessary to reconcile you to God and make eternal life a reality has already been FINISHED by Jesus Christ.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, He said the words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Every jot and tittle of the law, every word and deed, all that Christ had been given to do while on earth was FINISHED. When Jesus gave Himself on the cross, He fully met the righteous demands of a holy law, He paid our debt in full. It is FINISHED. Many of the Old Testament types and prophecies were now fulfilled and the once-for-all sacrifice for sin had now been completed. It is FINISHED. None of the Old Testament sacrifices could take away sins; their blood only covered sin. But the Lamb of God shed His blood, to take away the sins of the world. It is FINISHED. It is finished “once for all,” finally and forever. Further sacrifices for sins are not necessary. No “repetition” of this sacrifice accomplishes anything (Heb. 10:4,8,10-12,14). All the Catholic priests in the world performing the “sacrifice of the Mass” through eighteen centuries could never clear one sinner of sin. Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished,” so we know it cannot be Jesus who is being offered daily on Catholic altars. “There is no more offering for sin” (Heb. 10:18), Christ did it all. It is FINISHED.

The moment Christ died something amazing happened in Jerusalem (Matt. 27:50-51). In the Jewish temple, a building symbolic of the presence of God, there was a veil separating the most sacred representation of God’s presence (a room called the Holy of Holies) from the outer visible areas. When Christ died, the veil was miraculously torn in half from top to bottom and the room was open to all. Suddenly it was as if what separated God from man was now completely removed and God was inviting all humankind to come directly to Him. It was God saying to the entire human race “there’s nothing more to do. The price has been paid. The debt is forgiven. If you try to earn the connection with Me that imparts eternal life, work for it, or do something to get it, you’re wasting your time. Because of my Son, it is FINISHED.”

The conclusion of this examination into the Catholic faith is simply this: Are you trusting in the finished work of Christ and have a personal salvation in Christ alone or are you hoping to merit God’s favor by adding your personal works to His Son’s death, burial, and resurrection?

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