Friday, April 26, 2013

Answering a non-Catholic objection

Non-Catholic “Roger” states:
You have never proven through Scripture that the RCC has anything to do with the Church that Jesus started. All that you have given is
one assumption based upon other assumptions - that lead you to a
false conclusion.

I reply:
Other than the fact that the Catholic Church has believed in the True Presence of Christ throughout the centuries without break to today. And we have a written record of such a belief from the first generation beyond the apostles(Ignatius of Antioch, 107 AD). So, at least, the belief in the True Presence has been in existence in the same church for nearly 2000 years. Can your belief in a symbolic presence only (if that is what you truly believe) be proven the same way?

But beyond that. To prove through Scripture that the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus started, all one needs to do is look at the Nicean Creed..."I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church". The Church Christ founded is apostolic. It has its roots in the teachings of the apostles for Jesus said to His apostles "He who receives you receives Me, and he who rejects you, rejects Me and the One who sent Me." (Matt 10:1,40). Jesus freely gives His authority to the apostles in order for them to effectively convert the world.

But first let's start with Matt 28:18-20:

18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Three things to look at here in these verses. Firts, Jesus commands to make disciples of ALL nations. Jesus knew that this task was never going to be done by these 12 apostles alone. Others had to take their place once they died. Second, Jesus says that He will be with THEM to the very end of the age. How is that possible since the apostles all died before the end of the first century? That because Jesus was speaking to the twelve as the representatives of His Church. Third, Jesus sends them off with what kind of authority? With the authority of Jesus Himself. This is also confirmed in the Gospel of John, chapter 20, verse 21 which says "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

The apostles have divinely appointed authority. And this authority is transferred to others as successors through the laying on of hands. The first thing Peter does after Jesus ascends into heaven is implement apostolic succession. Matthias is ordained with full apostolic authority (Acts 1:15-16). The authority of Judas' office (his 'bishopric') is respected notwithstanding his egregious sin. The necessity to have apostolic succession in order for the Church to survive was understood by all. God never said, "I'll give you leaders with authority for about 400 years, but after the Bible is compiled, you are all on your own."

The apostles authority was to be given to successors since Jesus' command of teaching (with authority) to all nations was a command unfeasible for those twelve alone. They had to share this authority to others to fulfill Jesus' command. They gave this authority to others through the laying on of hands (Acts 6:6, 1 Tim 4:14, 2 Tim 1:1-6). And this is to go on through multiple generations as shown in 2 Tim 2:2. This verse shows God's intention is to transfer authority to successors. It goes beyond the death of the apostles.

“22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. 23 With them they sent the following letter:

The apostles and elders, your brothers, to the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia:


24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing.   (Acts 15:22-27)

Preachers of the Word must be sent by the bishops in union with the Church. We must trace this authority to the apostles. Who sent you Roger? My bishop was sent by a previous bishop who was sent by a previous one all the way back in history to one of the twelve apostles themselves. Can you claim the same of your teachers of the Word?

God Bless

Friday, April 19, 2013

Eternal Security

From what I understand of the belief of eternal security is that once one accepts Jesus Christ into their hearts and pray the ‘sinners’ prayer then there is no sin, no evil this individual can do so as to keep them from reaching heaven.  They only need to believe in Jesus (John 3:16) and they’ll be ‘saved’.  They have absolute assurance of salvation.  And since works do not gain our salvation, our works cannot contribute to our losing our salvation.  We are now “hid” with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).  There is “no condemnation” for those in Christ (Romans 8:1-2).

In fact some also bring up John 10:27 as proof that they can never lose their salvation since Jesus proclaims that “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”  And yet nowhere do we find that one cannot willingly jump out of His hands through ones own choosing.

In fact, one Protestant writes:

“However, it is not merely from the Levitical laws that we were discharged, but also from the moral ones.  God only has one law.  Does that mean we can sin freely?  No, for God hates sin, and if we love God, we will live according to His commandments.  However, it does mean that no sin will be held against us once we receive Christ, for upon receiving Christ we are discharged from the very law against which our sins would have been reckoned.”

Let’s look at the question of absolute assurance.  Is there such a teaching in Scripture?  NO, there isn’t.  Romans 8:1-2 does not say absolute assurance.

Rom 8:1-2  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

And Romans 6:15-16 says that sin leads to death.  Now, this verse is found in the SAME letter as the verse supposedly showing absolute assurance.  Decidedly, Paul does not agree with this.  We are not discharged from the moral law because there are consequences to sinning!! 

For example, what happens if a believer in Jesus cannot forgive the sins of another?  Jesus Himself says that: “…if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Mat 6:14-15)

God is infinite in His resources, He spares nothing to convince us to come to Him and remain BUT because of our free will, we are always free to refuse God's infinite help and support and in this way even lose our own salvation and therefore the Protestant doctrine of Eternal Security is unequivocally false.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Papal Authority

A great image of papal authority is the image of the Good Shepherd. This powerful image is so abundant in the Old Testament that this short article cannot begin to recount all the references. Suffice it to say that the Hebrews were a nomadic-shepherd people, and the images of the lamb and the shepherd are woven in and through their story at every glance. From the beginning God himself is seen to be the shepherd of his people.

In Genesis 48 the old man Jacob, before blessing his sons, says that the Lord God of his fathers has been his shepherd his whole life long. The prophet Micah sees the people of Israel as "sheep without a shepherd," and the shepherd King David calls the Lord his shepherd (Ps 23 et al). The prophet Isaiah says that the sovereign Lord will "tend his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young" (Is 40:11).

The theme of the Lord being the Good Shepherd reaches its Old Testament climax in the Book of Ezekiel. Earlier, Jeremiah the prophet had raged against the corrupt leadership of the people of Israel. They were wicked and abusive shepherds, but in the Book of Ezekiel God himself promises to be the shepherd of his people Israel.

So the Lord says,

As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness . . . I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. (Ez 34:12,16)

Finally, the Lord’s servant, the Son of David, will come and be the shepherd of the lost flock.

I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. (Ez 34:22-24)

One of the clearest signs, therefore, of Christ’s self-knowledge as the Son of God is when he calls himself the Good Shepherd. In story after story Jesus uses the image of the Good Shepherd to refer to his own ministry. He explicitly calls himself the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11,14) who has come to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Mt 15:24). He tells the story of the lost sheep, placing himself in the story as the divine Shepherd who fulfills Ezekiel’s prophecy (Lk 15). The author of the Letter to the Hebrews calls Christ the Great Shepherd of the Sheep (Heb 13:20). Peter calls Jesus the Shepherd and overseer of souls (1 Pt 2:25), and in the Book of Revelation, the Lamb on the throne is also the Shepherd of the lost souls (Rv 7:17).

When Jesus Christ, after his Resurrection, then solemnly instructs Peter to "feed my lambs, watch over my sheep, feed my sheep" (Jn 21:15-17), the ramifications are enormous. Throughout the Old Testament, God himself is understood to be the Good Shepherd. He promises to come and be the shepherd of his people through his servant David. When Jesus Christ, the Son of David, fulfills this prophecy, God’s promise is kept. Then before Jesus returns to heaven, he commands Peter to take charge of his pastoral ministry. Now Peter will undertake the role of Good Shepherd in Christ’s place.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Reasons to believe in the Resurrection

1. The Empty Tomb
                The starting point for proving Jesus' Resurrection is the fact that his tomb was empty. When the disciples visited it (e.g., Luke 24:12, John 20:3-9), they found it empty. This calls for an explanation.

                The explanation that they offered was that he had been raised from the dead. Before we look at why they said that, let's look at a couple of additional points that confirm that the tomb really was empty.

2. Opponents Agree
                The Jewish authorities agreed that Jesus' tomb was empty. If they had not also found the tomb empty then they would have simply pointed to the presence of Jesus' body as evidence that he had not been raised from the dead.

                They, too, needed an explanation for this fact--only one that did not imply the Resurrection. Matthew records that many first century non-Christian Jews claimed that the disciples stole the body (Matt. 28:11-15).
                This is implausible because the Jewish authorities themselves had gone to the Roman governor, Pilate, and arranged to have a guard set over the tomb to prevent precisely this (Matt. 27:62-66). Such guards would have faced severe consequences had they fallen asleep and let anyone violate what they were guarding. This is why the authorities had to give them money and promise to protect them for telling this story (Matt. 28:12, 14).

3. Women Were the First Witnesses
                All four gospels record that women were the first people to find the tomb empty (Matt. 28:5-8, Mark 16:2-8, Luke 24:1-8, John 20:1-18). This is significant because, due to the prejudices of the day, women were often regarded as unreliable witnesses.

                Consequently, if you were making up a story that you wanted people to believe, you would not make women the first witnesses to the key fact. The fact that the gospels record that women were the first witnesses to the empty tomb (and, in Mary Magdalen's case, as the first witness to the risen Christ) is therefore a mark of truth.

4. Post-Resurrection Appearances
                So far we have looked at evidence that Jesus' tomb was empty. Now we turn to why his disciples said he had been raised from the dead. Simply put: They saw him alive and interacted with him after his death (Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21).

                And it wasn't just his immediate disciples. According to St. Paul more than 500 individuals witnessed him alive after his resurrection, many of whom were still alive to be questioned about the fact (1 Cor. 15:6).

5. Jesus' Broken Heart
                One could claim that Jesus was able to appear alive after the Crucifixion if he didn't really die on the Cross. Perhaps he just appeared to die or, as some have put it, he "swooned" on the Cross.

                This is impossible because of a fact John records: When Jesus died, a Roman centurion pierced his side with a lance and blood and water flowed out (John 19:34).
                In the ancient world, they wouldn't have known the medical explanations for this phenomenon as well as we do, but to produce this kind of effect both extreme prior trauma and a deep body cavity puncture wound by the spear (likely piercing the pericardium--the sac that surrounds the heart) are required. Nobody could have survived that, particularly not in the ancient world and without even primitive medical care administered. (He was hurriedly buried, remember?)

6. You Don't Die for a Lie
                If it was really Jesus who died on the Cross, and if he had no twin, and if his disciples reported him alive afterwards then this could have been false if they were lying.

Were they?

The evidence says otherwise.
                While we don't have as much information as we would like, we do have information about where Jesus' core disciples (the apostles) went to preach after his ministry. There they faced significant persecution, as well as martyrdom for the faith.  They were already dying for their faith when the New Testament was being written, as the cases of St. James son of Zebedee (Acts 12:1-2) and St. Peter show (John 21:18-19).
                We are truly fortunate that, by God's providence, we have evidence for the Resurrection of Christ that, even 2,000 years later, is substantial enough to stand up under cross-examination.
                There have been all kinds of alternative theories proposed, but a reasoned look at the evidence reveals the problems with each one.
The case for the Resurrection is solid. And so is the basis of our faith.

Happy Easter Season, everyone!     

Taken from Jimmy Akin’s Secret Information Club at: