Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Jesus Is God

Last weeks Mass readings on Christ the King reminded me of a discussion I had with a close relative who doubted Jesus’ divinity because Jesus Himself never claimed to be God in the Scriptures.  At the time I was ill-prepared to respond but I was able to at least point to the place where Jesus said: “Before Abraham was, I am.” in the Gospel of John, Chapter 8, verse 58.  You see when Moses asked the Lord God what His name was, God answered him: I am who I am.  Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exo 3:14)  Therefore when Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I am” He was in fact calling Himself God.

In reality, many times did Jesus make it plain to his listeners that He was claiming to be God and we know this because these listeners tried to stone and kill him.  For a clear example of this see John 10:31-33 where it says: “--"I and the Father are one."  The Jews took up stones again to stone Him.  Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" The Jews answered Him, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."

If Jesus was not God then being a good Jew, Jesus would’ve stopped anyone from worshipping Him as God and yet we find the Apostle Thomas, at seeing the risen Christ in front of him and touched his wounds, said: “My Lord, and my God.” (John 20:28) with no rebuke from Jesus.

Are these verses enough evidence?  No, you say?  Well then how about we look at a few more.  We find in the Old Testament that the Lord said: “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6) and we find in the New Testament that Jesus said: “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.” (Rev 1:17-18)  We know with certainty that the one speaking here must be Jesus since he says that he was dead. And yet he calls himself by the same title as the Lord God “the first and the last”.

Still not enough?  Alright, here’s one final proof which can be found in the last two chapters of the book of Revelation.  According to Revelation 21:6-7, the Almighty God reveals himself in plain terms: “And he said to me, ‘It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment.  He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.’”

But then, in Revelation 22:6, 13, 16, we find Jesus revealing himself to be “the Alpha and the Omega . . . the beginning and the end.”:

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true.  And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place . . . I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end . . . I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches.  I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”


Therefore Jesus Is God.
God Bless

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Works Part of Salvation Process?

Are we justified by faith alone, works alone or a combination of the two?  What do the Holy Scriptures alone have to say about the subject?  This idea that all truths of Christian right-living is found in Scripture through a plain reading of the text, a Protestant Christian doctrine of Sola Scriptura, will be used in this endeavor.  Plain texts of Scriptures will be used to support the idea of justification(salvation) by faith or by works.

Let’s look at a few verses supporting the idea of salvation by faith alone…
Gal 3:11 “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”

Gal 3:24 “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.”

Rom 3:28 “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”

Acts 16:30-31 “He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Eph 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

There are quite a few more verses I could bring to your attention but these are a good sampling of verses pointing to faith for salvation.  And yet, did you notice anything curious?  Not one verse mentions salvation or justification by faith alone.  In fact there is not one verse in all of Scripture that states that salvation is found in faith alone.  Faith is definitely required but nowhere can we find a verse of Scripture stating that faith ALONE is required for salvation.  In fact whenever we find the criteria of salvation when we are judged we find that we will be judged by our WORKS, not on whether or not we had faith.  Here are some examples of this…

Rom 2:6-8 “God "will give to each person according to what he has done."To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

James 2:12-13 “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

Rev 20:13 “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

1 Tim 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

And of course Matthew 25 where faith is only assumed and ones final destiny is determined by what we did or failed to do.

“‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ […] ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Mat 25:34-41)

Knowing that all of Scripture is inerrant we must find a way to merge the two ideas together.  From the first set of Scriptures we know that faith is required for salvation.  We also know from the second set of Scriptures that we will be judged to be worth salvation or damnation by what we do or have failed to do (works).  Therefore we can rightly assume that salvation is NOT found through faith alone but through faith AND works.  In fact there is only one place in all of Scripture where we find the words ‘faith’ and ‘alone’ together and it is to negate it (James 2:24) and just a few verses later we find that faith, if it is alone (ie without works) it is dead.  Does a dead faith save?  Defining or explaining how this relationship between faith and works mesh together goes beyond the scope of this paper.  What we have found is that salvation is dependent on BOTH our faith and our willingness to carry our cross daily (works) because of that faith.  And so we find that Scripture clearly teaches that salvation through faith alone is most definitly unscriptural.

God Bless

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What do you say about loving Jesus but not Religion?

What do you say to someone who says that it doesn't really matter what church he goes to so long as he has faith in Jesus? I guess my answer would be that Jesus would strongly disagree with that statement.
The idea that Jesus came to abolish religion is ludicrous. He didn't come to abolish, He came to fulfill. He didn't come here to "abolish the Law or the Prophets." (Matt 5:17) What is the Law and the Prohets? Judaims. What's Judaism? A religion. Jesus specifically says that He has NOT come to abolish religion.
Jesus makes this evident through His actions and commands by instituting rituals (the Last Supper, baptism, etc.) and by giving certain men some specific authority (to forgive sins, to bind and loose concerning doctrine, etc).

Jesus came to establish a Church. He established a Church with rituals, priests and sacraments. A list of rules to follow is not what the Christian religion is about. If its is just a set of rules and not a love affair, it is dead. But the idea that following rules is inherently contradictory to loving Christ flies in the face not of religion, but of Christ. He says, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Love of Christ requires obedience to his commands. You cannot have one without the other.

You say you love the Bible? That's interesting. Did Christ hand out Bibles before He ascended into Heaven? No. The Bible is a product of a religion. A religion called Catholicism.

This hating-religion-loving-Jesus thing is the logical consequence of Protestantism. For the 21st-century Protestant looking at a thousand-something churches, I imagine there is an immense temptation to say "It's all a wash. I'll follow Christ, not a religion," and be done with it. I can empathize: There is either one, true religion or there is no religion at all.

God gave us a church to aid us on the journey, so that we might be one (John 17:22-23). To love Jesus and hate religion is equivalent to calling upon a doctor and smashing all his instruments when he arrives.

Realize that the challenge is not whether Jesus came to abolish religion but to find, and hold on to, the religion Jesus fulfilled.

Text adapted from:

God Bless

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Reflecting on Fr Kyle’s homily last Sunday, I thought I’d say a few words on Purgatory.  Recall that last Sunday was November second, the feast of All Souls Day, the Commemoration for all the faithful departed.  The day before we celebrated the feast of All Saints Day, celebrating all those faithful servants that have “attained the victory of Heaven.”

What’s the difference between ‘All Souls Day’ and ‘All Saints Day’ you say?  The fundamental difference is that the Saints we are celebrating on Nov 1st are in heaven and therefore when we pray to them we are celebrating their accomplishment and asking them to pray for us and with us to Jesus.  On Nov 2nd though, we are celebrating those souls that are destined for heaven but may be in the final process of being sanctified, ie Purgatory.  We pray to God for their early release and/or to ease their suffering.

Paul said: “11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.(1 Cor 3:11-15)

You’ll notice that Paul is speaking of the Day of one’s particular judgment where his works will be tested through fire on the day of his death, the Day.   Paul is describing the method of purifying gold and precious metals and tying it to burning impure works and leaving behind the true works of God.   There is a lot of other metals and impurities in raw gold.  To remove these impurities we heat the nugget and its impurities so that the impurities burn away leaving behind pure gold.  Paul describes the removal impurities from our works.  This process is a painful one since the one who goes through this “will suffer loss.”  This state of being cannot be Heaven since this process is painful and there is no pain and suffering in Heaven.  This state of being cannot be Hell either since we know that he “is saved”.  This process is neither Heaven nor Hell, it is what we call Purgatory.  It is how we become clean from all our sins and attachment to sins.  This is how we are ‘purged’ from our impurities and become worthy of heaven (Rev 21:27).
God Bless