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Archive for April 7th, 2012

Scripture[1]

I believe that the Bible presents an overwhelming case for sola Scriptura—not only because it has a strong history to back it up, but also it provides a strong case because it is the only book that can claim all of the following characteristics: accuracy in prophecy, influence upon the lives of humans, the unity of the books in describing the drama of creation and eternity, indestructibility against the attacks of those who tried/tries to destroy the Bible, Divine inspiration, the power to set people free from the slavery of sin, popularity, and reliability.[2]  All of these characteristics are addressed in Scripture.

The power of sola Scriptura is revealed in Romans 10:17 when it comes to the authority of faith.  When it comes to authority of faith, Romans 10:1 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”[3]  Also when it comes to the power of prophecy, no other books can predict the future like the Bible.[4]  Psalm 119:60 says, ” The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”  2 Peter 1:19-21 says, “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

We are also told to examine Scripture and be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11).  They used Scripture to verify the truthfulness of one’s teaching.  According to the catechism of the Catholic Church, Roman Catholics are told to listen to the pope and the magisterium.[5]  But if we leave humans to mediate, we open the doors for ourselves to be deceived.[6]  1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,…”  Scripture does not give power to a select group of men (magisterium) to interpret to every man.[7]  For example 2 Corinthians 4:2 says, “… but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”  The magisterium distorts the Word of God by teaching unbiblical doctrines contrary to Scripture such as papal infallibility.

The Catholic Church claims to get its authority from Peter.  It claims that Peter was the chief apostle and the rock that Jesus build His church upon.[8]  This teaching is a result of a misinterpretation of Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said, “You are Peter (petros-stone) and on this rock (petra-mass of rock) I will build my church.”  But upon analyzing this phrase, the Greek word “petra” is feminine and it is not normal to use it in reference to masculine Peter.[9]  It is clear that Jesus was not referring to Peter as the mass rock because Peter was referring to Jesus as the “rock.”[10]  Instead, he was the small rock.  The mass rock is referring to Peter’s confession of faith, which he confessed after Jesus asked him, “Who do you say that I am?”[11]  Moreover, the Catholic Church makes a big deal that Peter is the rock because he was the one that was in control of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:13,19).[12]  But upon looking at Acts 15:13, 19, it was James that was presiding over the council.

This is why the foundation cannot be found with Peter or the magisterium.  The sole authority is Jesus Christ Himself.  He is the head of the church.  1 Corinthians 3:11 says, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  Also Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:20 says that Christ is the chief cornerstone.

Another powerful claim that Scripture possess is the power of the Gospel.  In other words, any born-again Christian possesses the keys to heaven.  However, the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus gave Peter and His successors authority over the church when Jesus offered Peter and His successors the keys to the kingdom in Matthew 16:19.  The church believes that Peter first opened heaven by proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 15:7, 14)[13]  This is a distortion of truth.  Only by believing the Gospel can a person be loosed from his or her sins.  And those who reject the Gospel will be bound to his or her sins.[14]  Here is what Apostle Paul says about the Gospel, Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  And John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

The Catholic Church makes another big claim when it comes to the pope being infallible in his teaching.  But when you look to Scripture, their supposed chief pope, who is Peter was not infallible.[15]  For example, Paul used the Gospel to show how Peter was wrong in Galatians 2:11-14, ” But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.”  Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:23, “The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.”

The Catholic Church also makes much about the hierarchy or the magisterium.  What we see in the Catholic Church is an enormous structure of monsignors, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and a pope that is ruling the people.[16]  But here is what Scripture says in Matthew 20:25-26, “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,…'”  Here is what Psalm 118:8 has to say about those who trust in the teachings of men rather than God, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord Than to trust in man.”  Psalm 146:3-5 teaches that man is nothing compared to God.  Man decays and dies, but God does not.  That is why it is better to trust God first.

The Catholic Church also makes much of tradition.  They teach that the Scripture cannot be without the aid of the traditions. In their mind, Scripture can only be accurately interpreted if tradition is used.  First, in response, they must understand that the Bible teaches about traditions, but it does not mean the same thing as what the Roman Catholic teaches concerning tradition.  The traditions that the apostles spoke about were in accordance with Scripture.[17]  But the Roman Catholic concept of tradition is basically a separate source of revelation independent of Scripture and contradicts many doctrines in the Bible.[18]  Their exalted view of tradition has led to the contamination of the Gospel.  They teach a perverted Gospel message.  Here is what Colossians 2:8 has to say when it comes to traditions, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition ofmen, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Another notorious claim is the idea that the Catholic Church sees themselves as the “one true church” and states that there is no salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church (CCC, para. 846).[19]  But Scripture define the true church differently.  1 Cor. 1:2 says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours…”  Hebrews 12:23 says, …”to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…”

Also the Catholic Church has made other crimes against God.  Since their presupposition is rooted in tradition, the church has added other apocryphal books that are at odds with Scripture.[20]  Roman Catholic Church needs to understand that the apocryphal books were not entrusted with the oracles of God.  The oracles of God were entrusted to the Jews (Romans 3:1-2).[21]  And since their presupposition is rooted in their tradition, the Vatican divided the tenth commandment into two in order to replace the one they removed.[22]  They deleted the second commandment.  Deuteronomy 4:2 says this about those who delete His words given to Moses, “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”  Since the Catholic Church is rooted deeply in tradition, they have adulterated the Gospel because they have allowed tradition to misinterpret the Gospel.  This is dangerous because it affects the souls of men.

While discussing sola Scriptura, some Catholics bring up the issue of canonicity.  They believe sola Scriptura is inseparable in this discussion.  The outcry or the objection is that the 66 books are based on the Protestant councils and Catholic Church objects to the idea that there are only 66 books.  As a result, since they claim that Protestants have no authority to say that the 66 books are inspired, sola Scriptura too, is not taught in the Bible.

The objections they bring up are fallacious because it misrepresents the Protestant understanding of canonicity.  It is a straw man argument.  Here are a couple of reasons of how they misrepresent the Protestant understanding of canonicity.  First of all, the church does not determine the canon, but discovers the canon, the church is not the mother of the church, but is the child of God, the church is not the magistrate of the canon, but is the minister of the canon, the church is not the regulator of the canon, but the recognizer of the canon, the church is not the judge of the canon, but is the witness of the canon, the church is not the master of the canon, but the servant of the canon.[23]   At the end of the day, the Catholic Church needs to understand that Almighty God providentially guided the canonical process.  God is the One who determines the canon and Christians recognize it.

CONCLUSION

Because the Catholic Church does not believe in sola Scriptura, it ruins the Gospel of Christ in many ways.[24]  Here are some of the ways they do that: baptismal regeneration and progressive justification, confirmation, penance, transubstantiation, papal infallibility, purgatory, and marion idolatry.[25]  The Catholic Church has robed many in their understanding of God’s truth.  I would say that if Apostle Paul was alive today, he would probably be in tears because of what this church has done to many people, negatively.  Listen to the heart of Paul in Acts 20:29-31, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

May we as Christians guard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and take heed to his warnings not only what he said in Acts but also what he wrote to the church in Galatia.  Paul says in Galatians 1:6-11, ” I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.8 But 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!9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.”


[1] All Scripture is quoted from the New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update.

[2] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity (Springfield, Mo.: 21st Century Press, 2005), 10.

[3] Ibid, 11.

[4] Ibid, 11.

[5] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity (Springfield, Mo.: 21st Century Press, 2005), 12.

[6] Ibid, 12.

[7] Ibid, 13.

[8] Ibid, 13.

[9] Ibid, 13.

[10] Ibid, 13.

[11] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity, 13.

[12] Ibid, 13.

[13] Ibid, 14.

[14] Ibid, 14.

[15] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity , 14.

[16] Ibid, 15.

[17] William Webster, Roman Catholic Tradition: Claims and Contradictions (Battle Ground, WA: Christian Resources, 1999), 15.

[18] Ibid, 15.

[19] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity, 17.

[20] Mike Gendron, Preparing Catholics For Eternity , 18.

[21] Ibid, 18.

[22] Ibid, 18.

[23] David F. Farnell, “Canon of the New Testament” (lecture, The Masters’ Seminary, Sun Valley, CA, 2009).

[24] Robert Michael Zinns, “Why the Bible Alone?” A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism, http://www.cwrc-rz.org/whybiblealone.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

[25] Robert Michael Zinns, “Why the Bible Alone?” A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism, http://www.cwrc-rz.org/whybiblealone.html (accessed December 1, 2011).

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Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this biography, though the author insists throughout the work that this is really not a biography of Spurgeon per se, and was written to fill in the gaps that is often left out concerning the real Spurgeon that is contrary to the popularized image of Spurgeon according to the perception of mainstream Evangelical  and some biographies out there.  In commenting about the deficiency of some of the biographies about Spurgeon, this work notes how some of the popular biographers have not grasp or understood the significance of the theology that have driven Spurgeon.  Spurgeon in his life was a man of God that was not only a gospel preacher to the masses but also a man of God who would take a stand for the truth of God’s Word.  Throughout his lifetime, the “forgotten” Spurgeon was involved with three major controversies which the book discusses about, concerning baptismal regeneration, hyper-calvinism and the Down Grade Controversy.  A fascinating fact that I was not aware of before reading this book was the author’s observation that in the baptismal regeneration debate, Spurgeon did not expected much support from certain religious quarters which ironically did affirm and supported Spurgeon’s concern, while in the Down Grade Controversy Spurgeon expected support from certain quarters (Evangelicals) that in the end not only materialized but turned out to be against him.  Even his own brother who was a minister disagreed with him and readers might be shocked to learn of this contrary to the image of Spurgeon as always being popular.  It is the down grade controversy which most people remember of the three, but knowing what the others were about also allow readers to better situate Spurgeon in his context, and perhaps a more balance understanding of Spurgeon when it comes to controversy.  Perhaps the part of the book that I found most fascinating what the closing chapter that talked about the fate of Spurgeon’s church after his death.  It was a painful thing to hear of how those who took up the ministry after him including his son, moved away from the theology that Spurgeon has embraced.  It is probably the most sobering part of the book for me, as I think back to campus ministries that I have been involved with in the past that has been so strong biblically and numerically only to have it handed off to others that eventually would not agree with your distinctives or emphasizes (and even hostile against it, or disregard what precious truths that has motivated the first “generation”!).  It was saddening to read this last portion of the book.  I cannot help but to think of the historical lesson here as it relates to our day and age.  This is the second work that I read by Iain Murray, the first being his most recent work on John MacArthur.  I think Murray is a great biographer, and I can’t help but to think about Grace Community Church after John MacArthur, or any other famous pastor for that matter (John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, etc).  The ending of the book allow me to have some soul searching of whether or not as a young pastor, my goal should be to become a famous great preacher.  It made me think about how some people follow preachers just for the sake of the man’s fame rather than really seeing the man’s theology coming from the Scripture itself.  The real tests at times, seems to come about after a man’s death and his ministry/church carries on without him; where will the direction go?  Will the saints still be faithful to what is biblical?  Who will take over and will they be able to fill the mighty shoes left behind, while being faithful to the Word of God and have the ability to lead the body?  It makes me think much about the issue of a Christianity that is driven more by personality and charisma though those that lead are orthodox; as in the case of the Hebrews escaping Egypt in the Exodus, people have an uncanny way of making their own idols even in the midst of God’s great works.

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