Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Lesson on Typology

“A type is a person, thing, or event in the Old Testament that foreshadows something to come later in time, either later in the Old Testament itself or in the New Testament. It is like a taste or hint of something that will be fulfilled or realized. Types are like pictures that come alive in a new and exciting way when seen through the eyes of Christ’s revelation.” The type is always lesser than the anti-type. The anti-type (New Testament event) is always greater than its type (shadow of an event in the Old Testament). And both are independent of each other.

For example, the Egyptian Exodus told in Hosea 11:1 is quoted exactly in Matt 2:15 when speaking of Jesus’ return to Israel from Egypt: “where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son.”

What Matthew has done here is he took an historical event and interpreted it as a shadow of something greater to come in the future, which he sees as ‘fulfilled’ in the person of Jesus the Messiah.

Here are other examples of type/antitype pairs from throughout the Bible:

A) Jonah in the belly of the of whale is a type of Christ in the tomb. For Jonah stayed in the belly for three days as did Christ stay buried for three days until His resurrection.

B) The manna in the desert, Ex 16:31, is the bread of life compared to its antitype the living bread of life, that is Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, Matt 26:26

C) God created man in His image, Gen 1:27, and God was born in the image of man, Luke 2:7.

D) The tree of the forbidden fruit in Eden, Gen 3:6, which brought death to us all, and the tree of the cross which brought eternal life to us all, Acts 5:30.

E) Isaac carried the wood of the sacrifice on his back, Gen 22:6, and Jesus carried His cross on His back, John 19:17

We can see from these examples that the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament writers wrote and used these kinds of connections to show the greatness of God…through His imagery, and interconnections woven throughout Scripture.

If we continue with this, maybe we can find other connections of New Testament anti-types inside of the Old Testament. It is said that the Old Testament is discovered in the New and the New Testament is hidden in the Old. Let’s see if we can find a new antitype that fits-in with the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant type.

The Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandment tablets, a golden pot containing some of the manna that fell from the sky during the 40 years of wandering the deserts, and the rod of Aaron.

Now, when we look for another container holding something similar yet greater than these objects, we can’t help but notice how Mary, the mother of Jesus, fits that description very well.

The Ark contained the Ten Commandments, the Word of God written by the finger of God on stone tablets. In Mary contained the Word of God made flesh, God incarnate.

The Ark also contained a pot of the miraculous bread that fell from the sky to sustain the wandering Jews after their liberation. In Mary contained the bread of life giving us spiritual life instead of merely physical sustenance.

And lastly, the Ark contained the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood. In Mary’s womb is the true priest.

The Early Church Fathers saw these correlations and for that reason many called Mary the Ark of the New Covenant. By the way, so did John when he wrote the book of Revelation. He said:
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm. A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head… She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”
(Rev 11:19, 12:1,5)

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Baptism. What's it good for?

What is baptism?  Is it needed?  What does it do exactly?  I would like to address these questions in this leaflet by studying Scripture, both the Old AND the New Testament, and determine what does baptism actually do to the one receiving it through faith.

Since we see that in 2 Tim 3:16, which states, that “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness” we can, and should look to the Old Testament for a kind of foreshadowing of the things to come.  So that we may see what the Old Testament has to say to help our ‘training in righteousness’.

Let’s start with Ezekiel 36:25-27 which states:
I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. …I will put my spirit within you.

“I will sprinkle clean water” – And so with this outward sign using water we see that God gives us His spirit.  He also promises us that through this sprinkling we will be cleansed of all our impurities.  Is this prophecy truly made alive in the New Testament through the sacrament of Baptism?  Let’s compare what God said through Ezekiel to what God said through Peter at Pentecost.
Peter (said) to them, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 2:38).

It seems quite undeniable that Ezekiel’s prophecy is perfectly fulfilled in the sacrament of Baptism.  Because of His promise from Ezekiel we now know that the Grace of God comes during the sacrament of Baptism but what else does baptism do?

We know through Scripture that baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ.   For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:13)

Baptism brings us in communion with each other by becoming members of the One Body of Christ: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal 3:27)

We are brought into the Body of Christ, the Church: “And he is the head of the body, the church” (Col 1:18)

Since we are baptized into the one body of Christ and we now know that Christ’s Body is the Church means that baptism brings us into the Church.  And this is why there is no salvation outside the Church because there is no salvation outside of Christ.

Baptism is the New Covenant fulfillment of the Old Covenant symbol of circumcision.  As the Hebrews circumcised those for entrance into God’s Covenant with Israel, so too does the New Covenant fulfillment of circumcision bring entrance into the New Covenant of God to His Church through baptism.

“In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God.” (Col 2:11-12)

If eight-day old children could enter the Old Covenant through circumcision via the faith of their parents how much more so can infants become adopted children of God through the New Covenant circumcision, ie through baptism?  The New Covenant is much more inclusive than the Old seeing as the New can include the gentiles as opposed to those only of the line of Abraham.

What else is baptism for?  Well, is baptism necessary for salvation?  The answer, very plainly is YES.  “…eight in all, were saved through water.  This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.” (1 Pet 3:20-21).  Pretty simple.  As plain as it can get.  Jesus taught this also in the Gospel of John

Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again." Nicodemus doesn’t understand and so Jesus repeats himself, He says "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”  (John 3:3-6)                             

One is born again through baptism, and that through baptism one can enter the kingdom of God, the Church…

And so we see that baptism brings Graces from God (Acts 2:38), washes away sins (Acts 2:38), we enter into a covenant with God through baptism (Col 2:11-12), we become Christians through baptism (1 Cor 12:13) by becoming members of the Church as through a door (Eph 4:4).  And baptism is instituted by Jesus Christ when He sent out the disciples to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mat 28:19)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Symbolic or Real?

Real or Symbolic?

We find in the writings of the early Christians, people throughout history who believed in the actual presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  This belief is a continuous belief from the very first generation of Christians to today.  Those writings where they speak of others who do not believe in the True Presence are the beliefs of those who no one from today would even consider being actual Christians.  For 1500 years, until the Reformation, all Christians believed in the True Presence.  Here are a few quotes for your consideration…

A quote from St Ignatius of Antioch who heard the Apostle John speak and was the second successor of the Apostle Peter at Antioch.  He wrote in c.110 AD:

Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us.  They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty.  They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness raised from the dead.” (Letter to the Ephesians, par. 20)

Here is a second quote from Ignatius:

I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life.  I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood which is love that cannot be destroyed.”

St Justin Martyr was born a pagan but converted to Christianity after studying philosophy.  Tradition has it that he was taught by St. Polycarp himself who was taught by John the Apostle sometime between 163 and 167 A.D.  He said:

This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us.  For we do not receive these things as common bread and common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from Him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.”(First Apology, Ch. 66, c. 150 AD)

I could go on but in the interest of time I will give you one last quote from an early Christian considered a saint and hero by many in the Protestant community.  St Augustine lived in the late fourth century at a time where great discussions were under way in determining which books actually belonged in our Bible.  He had no small part in cementing the canon of Books for the whole Christian community.  What he said on how he understood the words of our Lord at the Last Supper when He said “This is my Body” is my favorite quote on the Eucharist by an Early Church Father.  He said: “And was carried in His own hands: ‘how was He carried in his own hands’?  Because when He commended His own Body and Blood, He took into His hands that which the faithful know; and in a manner carried Himself, when He said: ‘This is my Body’” (Augustine, on the Psalms, 33:1, c. 400 AD)

These early Christians understood the words of the Apostle John just as the Catholic Church believes today.  Jesus spoke literally when he said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.

They understood Jesus to be speaking of His literal body because Jesus says that He is the living bread.  We are to eat this bread.  This bread that He gives for us to eat is the flesh that He will give for the life of the world.    If the bread is symbolically His flesh then the flesh that He gives for the life of the world must be symbolic as well.  That’s how Jesus describes it.  Was the flesh on the cross symbolic? Or real?  If the flesh on the cross is real then the bread that we are to eat is that same flesh.  It is literally His Flesh and Blood because He said so.

Early Christians can be wrong because as individuals all are imperfect and yet we find a single understanding of the Eucharist as truly being the Body and Blood of Jesus in a continuous fashion throughout Christian history.  This continuous belief, beginning with the apostles and all the way down to today’s Catholics is proof of its divine origin.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Faith Alone?

Salvation Through Faith Alone, Works Alone, or Both?

A few Sundays ago I was listening to an evangelist speak on the television.  At one point he said that we are saved not just by faith but by “faith alone”.  And so I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the ‘doctrine’ to let you know what the Catholic Church teaches about this and why She does so.

The Scripture verse that most closely comes to stating that one is ‘saved’ by faith alone is found in Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9.  It says: “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

We can plainly see that faith is definitely needed for salvation.  It makes sense then to understand Eph 2 to mean that if one receives faith, through the Grace of God, and immediately dies then that one will reach heaven.   Typically though we don’t die immediately following reception of faith.  And so the question comes up, what must we do, if we need to do anything, once we have faith?  It seems to me that we do indeed need to do something since the very next verse in Ephesians 2, verse 10 states that: “10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

It seems rather obvious to me that God’s Will is for us to do those good works that He’s prepared in advance for us.  And what happens if we don’t do the Will of God by avoiding those good works?  Jesus tells us only the ones who do the Will of the Father will enter heaven (Mat 7:21).

In fact there are many verses that clearly point out the necessity of good works as a condition for entrance into heaven.  When asked what good works one must do to do the works of God that He requires of us, Jesus answers: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.  (John 6:29) To believe in Jesus is a work of God.  We are to believe Him when He says that we must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood if we are to have eternal life (John 6:54), we are to believe Him when He says we are to follow the commandments (Matt 19:17) and so on.

Another clear-cut example can be found in Paul’s letter to Timothy. He says:  8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  (1 Tim 5:8)  To have denied the faith means that one was already in possession of it therefore not to provide for their relatives, even after having faith in Him, are worse than an unbeliever.  Is an unbeliever ‘saved’?  No, faith is required but as you can see, the works of God prepared in advance for us to do are also necessary to be done for ones salvation.

So don’t let anyone tell you that you are saved by faith alone and that no works are necessary.  Yes, if one has faith and does not have the possibility of doing the works of God because of an early death (like the one of the good thief on the cross) is saved, but beyond the initial acceptance of faith we are to DO something because of our faith.

In fact, there is only one instance where ‘faith’ and ‘alone’ are found together and it is to DENY that we are saved/justified by faith alone.  James 2:24 says: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”  In fact, to make the point absolutely clear James goes on to say that “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.”   Just like we need both a body and a spirit for physical life, so too do we need both faith AND works for eternal life.

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