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Jesus and the Catholics

 

 

Mary, the merits of the saints, the works of atonement, and the sacraments have supplanted Jesus in the Catholic Church. Therefore, most lack salvation and certainty

 

Foreword

 

Below, we examine the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, so that its members might find the grace of God. The fact is that there are many Roman Catholics who do not yet know Christ. Many of them may, indeed, be quite religious, but they have not yet received Christ into their lives. These people may also regard the Roman Catholic Church as being, "the only right church", or may think that there is no salvation except that inside the Roman Catholic Church, but they still do not understand how they can be saved.
   The problem with the Catholic Church is that its rituals and doctrines do not lead people toward knowing the grace and salvation in Christ. Instead, they lead to something else. Over the centuries, this church has been more and more affected by heresies, and nowadays many people are led rather badly astray. Among other examples of errant teachings are Mary, the merits of the saints, compensation acts, sacraments, and purgatory. You, the reader, may not hold the same opinion, or think about everything in the same way we do. The most important thing for you is to receive the eternal life given to us by God.

 

 


1. The status of Mary
2. Mass and Holy Communion
3. Papacy and priesthood
4. Purgatory
5. How can we be saved?
 

 

 

1. The status of Mary

 

As we start to examine some doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, we should start with the saints and Mary, who have a significant status in this church. Mary, especially, has reached such elevated status that she is clearly more important than other saints, and is regarded as being equal to Christ; in practice she may be even more important. Across time, some people have also received revelations during which “Mary” tried to get them to confirm her own special status.

   This elevated status of Mary appears in the Roman Catholic prayer book, which refers to her lack of sin, how she is an eternal virgin and the Queen of Heaven, how she was taken into Heaven and how people must turn to her at their hour of death. If these are really true, she must have been a really significant person, equal to Jesus:

 

"To the Mother of our Savior, the Virgin Mary, God has allowed a larger amount of holiness than to anybody else created. That was required by the high task to which Mary was called: to be the mother of mankind’s Redeemer. God preserved her from the original sin, equipped her with the grace of sanctification from the first moment of her life. (...) There is not even the smallest sin in her, her will was always in harmony with the will of God, (…) She is the most perfect Virgin and at the same time the real Mother of the Son of God, Virgin before and after, perpetual Virgin. (...) She is the Queen of Heaven, taken to the residence of the brightness with her soul and body already before the general resurrection (…) Therefore let us seek safety, humble and trustful, in the recommendation prayer of Mary, especially at our hour of death, so that we will be able, purified from sin, to move from time to blessed eternity.”

 

The next description also refers to the special status of Mary in the Roman Catholic Church. It is from a Catholic leaflet in which a medallion capable of miracles is advertised. In it we can see how Mary is believed, for example, to have crushed the head of the serpent (actually, this was written about Jesus; Col 2:15. Hebr 2:14, 1 John 3:8) and to have even participated in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Roman Catholic dogma gives to Mary the role that belongs only to Jesus:

 

 MEDALLION CAPABLE OF MIRACLES

 

Mary has opened her hands to help. The rays coming from her hands describe her good acts. She stands on the globe; she wants to help all people. She crushes with her foot the head of the serpent, which means that she defeats the devil as was prophesized in the Fall. ("…it shall bruise your head," Gen 3:15.) There is a short prayer around her picture: "Oh Mary, born without original sin, pray for us, who put our trust in you." Mary promised to holy Catharina Labourél in Paris in 1830 that she would help anyone who carries this medallion and by trusting her utters this prayer.

   On the other side of the medallion there is the cross of Jesus rising from the letter M. Jesus was born of Mary; and Mary stood by the cross. She suffered and prayed with Jesus, thereby assisting with His redemptive works. Below, there are two hearts. One is the heart of Jesus. (Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. John 19:34.) The thorns surrounding the heart are caused by our sins that pain her. The heart of Mary is beside the heart of Jesus. It is pierced by a sword, as Simon prophesied (Luke 2:35). Mary greatly suffered for us. The images are surrounded by twelve stars – the twelve apostles -- the foundation of the Church. The Church takes this good news to everyone around the world.

 

How does the Mary of the Roman Catholic Church differ from the Biblical Mary? Mary is important in the Roman Catholic Church; there is no denying that. However, a whole different issue is whether the view of Mary held by the church is correct. It is interesting to observe that when we compare the attitude toward Mary as maintained by the Roman Catholic Church to the attitude toward her as described in the Bible, we might as well be reading materials written about two different persons. In the Bible, Mary is not described as being any different from the next person, and she is only briefly mentioned. But the Mary as portrayed by the Roman Catholic Church is a highly-esteemed queen-like figure who acts as an intercessor, mediator and deliverer. The Mary of the Roman Catholic Church is a person whose life on earth was different from others -- she is portrayed as "an immaculate Virgin," a person who never sinned.

   We should study these differences between the Mary as regarded by the Roman Catholic Church, and the Mary as described in the Bible. The following differences can be seen:

 

1. Mary, way to salvation. The significance of Mary as a medium of salvation in the Catholic Church appears perhaps best in a book by Alfonso Mary Liquori (1697–1787), Le glorie di Mary (1784, The Glory of Mary). In the book, a person who after his death was promoted to the position of teacher and saint of the church describes the status of Mary as a savior. Mary has been made a mediator between God and people, savior, intercessor, the only hope of sinners and the only way to salvation. This kind of a viewpoint is nowadays quite ordinary both in the teachings of Popes and elsewhere:

 

When Mary receives this grace for sinners, she will arouse them back to life by her intercessions (p.54).

   She has really been made a mediator of peace (p.56) between sinners and God.

   Only Mary has been given the gift of salvation by her powerful intercession (p.101).

 She is the hope of the wrongdoers (...) the only hope for sinners (p.102).

   The Holy Church teaches us, her children that we must attentively and confidentially keep putting our trust in this loving protector. Because of that, the church determines Mary her own special worship (p.106).

   Mary is called the gate of heaven, because nobody can step into the blessed kingdom without passing her (p.134).

   Were we to doubt to ask her to save us, when the way of salvation is not open otherwise than through Mary (p.143).

   How could she be anything else than full of grace, when she has been made for the ladder of paradise, the gate of heaven, the very realest mediator between God and people, (p.128).

   A person whom Mary protects, will be saved; who does not have this protection, goes to damnation (p.144)

 Often we get what we peg for faster by calling the name of Mary than calling the name of Jesus (p.228).

   Mary is our life, because she gets us pardon for our sins (p.54).

   For she (...) is our salvation, our life, our hope, our advice, our protection and our assistance (p.230). (1)

 

The doctrine that salvation is available only in Mary appears, in addition to the previous statements, also in a statement of Pope Pius  lX, who was the pope in the 1800s (1846–1878). This Pope also defined the doctrine about the Immaculate Conception of Mary. According to him, by Mary it is possible to get hope, grace and salvation:

 

God has entrusted to Mary the treasury of good things, so that everyone would know that by way of her all hope, all grace and all salvation is available. (2) 

 

So, Mary has been presented as a way to salvation and it has been said that she would be the "mediator" and "defender" for us and the "fellow-Redeemer”, who, together with Jesus, suffered his crucifixion, etc. It may also be directly presented that Mary is "the mother of atonement" and that the way to heaven is possible only through her.

   What is remarkable is that when we study some references to Mary in the Bible, we do not find anything about her task as a mediator or her being a fellow-Redeemer together with Jesus or the only hope of the sinners. Instead, it is indicated that these many issues are connected with Jesus alone, who is the only hope of people in salvation and also the only way to heaven. This can be seen, for example, in the next passages of the Bible. We can understand that the statements of Jesus and His disciples are certainly more important than these statements, which now, hundreds of years later, may be presented:

 

 - (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

 

- (John 10:9) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

 

- (Acts 4:11,12) This is the stone which was set at nothing of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

 

- (1 Cor 3:11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

 

The status as mediator. Secondly, it has been attempted to raise the status of Mary so that she would be the mediator between God and people. This viewpoint appears, for example, in a revelation that occurred in Medjugore, and in which a person called "Mary" appeared and spoke. (Of course, it was not “the real Mary” but only an evil spirit appearing as Mary, for example, Isa 8:19). Millions of sincere Roman Catholics have made a pilgrimage to this place. In the revelation it is said:

 

Today I called you, so that you would get an answer to your question as to why I am with you for so long. I am the mediator between you and God. (Marija, Medjugore, Croatia, 17 July 1986)

 

If we think about the status of Mary as mediator, however, we might ask ”Can a sinner act as a mediator for sinners?” In the Gospel of Luke (16:24), when a rich man prayed to Abraham, Abraham was not able to help him, even though Abraham was called God’s friend. (James 2:23). If Abraham was not able to help, how can Mary help us? 

   The only possibility is that we are provided with a perfect mediator -- such as Jesus Christ alone was and is -- because He was sinless when He lived on the Earth (John 8:46: "Which of you convinces me of sin?...”). The Bible also tells that there is only one mediator between God and people. If there is only one mediator, then there cannot be two. It is, therefore, impossible for Mary to be the mediator in our relationship with God:

 

- (1 Tim 2:5,6) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

- (Hebr 9:15) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

 

Status as defender and intercessor. Mary's task as mediator also includes that she is believed to be a defender and an intercessor.

   When Jesus is seen in the Roman Catholic Church as a harsh judge and difficult to approach, Mary is seen as a defender and an intercessor full of understanding and pity as a mother, who then – high in the heaven – prays for her son to forgive and to pity those Roman Catholics who turn to Mary. It has also been suggested that Mary does not need to do anything more than show to her Son the "breasts which he has sucked", for His anger to immediately abate (This was taught, for example, by Alfonso Mary Liquori, [1696–1787], who was called the teacher of the Roman Catholic Church.).

   Another problem with this teaching is that we cannot find in the Bible a single reference to Mary or any other "saints" acting as our defender and intercessor in heaven. Instead, Biblical references identify Jesus as defender, intercessor and merciful high priest, and advise all those who are weary and heavily burdened to turn to Him. If Jesus is the perfect Defender and Intercessor, why would we turn to others who cannot help us before God? Consider:

 

- (1 John 2:1,2) My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

- (Rom 8:34) Who is he that comdemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

 

- (Hebr 7:25) Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

 

 - (Hebr 2:17,18) Why in all things it behooved him to be made like to his brothers, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself has suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

 

- (Matt 11:28) Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

Receiving grace. The fact that Mary’s elevated position has lessened the role of Jesus as the Savior in the Roman Catholic Church also is evidenced in how she has been made, "the distributor of all grace” to this world through her bearing of Jesus, and in the way that she intercedes for people and distributes grace. Many Catholics believe that all of God’s grace and favor toward mankind is only accessible through Mary. A good illustration of this belief comes from Pope Leo Xlll (1878 1903), who said in his time:

 

It can be confirmed as the truth that of God’s will from that enormous treasury of all grace that God has reserved, nothing comes to us except through Mary (...) how huge is the wisdom and grace that has been informed in this plan of God (...) Mary is our excellent mediator, she is the powerful Mother of the Almighty God… (3)

 

This Pope, also, has read his Bible sloppily: If we look at the Bible, it very clearly indicates that grace has come and comes through faith in Jesus, not through Mary. Placing Mary into this subject is futile, and only confuses matters. The importance of Jesus as the mediator of grace is reflected in many passages, such as the following words written by the apostle John in his Gospel, and Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. They wrote that the grace of God was given to people expressly by Jesus. We only must believe, and reject false teachings:

 

- (John 1:14,16,17) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

16 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

 

- (1 Cor 1:4) I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

 

A conversation regarding the status of Jesus and Mary. In order to understand that salvation can only come through Jesus, read the dialogue below. We will see a clear picture of the status of Jesus as our Savior, a role for which Mary is not in the least bit suited. This dialogue is taken from a book called Fifty Years in the Church of Rome (Charles Chiniquy). Mr. Chiniquy was a priest in the Catholic Church, and in this dialogue is talking with his superior, the bishop, about some doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church that he finds troubling.

 

- Esteemed bishop, who has saved you and me on the cross?

- Jesus Christ.

- Who has paid by his blood for our sins, Jesus or Mary?

- Jesus Christ.

- When Jesus was on earth, who loved sinners more: Jesus or Mary?

- Jesus.

- Did any sinner ever come to Mary asking for salvation?

- No, they all came to Jesus.

- Did Jesus ever command those sinners who came to Him to go to His mother, for example?

- No. Jesus received them all.

- Do you remember from the Bible that Jesus has ever said, "Go to Mary and she will save you?"

- No, I don’t.

- Do you remember that Jesus has said to miserable sinners, "Come to me and I will never drive you away?”

- Yes, I remember.

- Has Jesus ever – as far as the teachings of the Bible are concerned – said to us that His above-mentioned words would no longer be valid?

- The words of Jesus are valid.

- Who then is the most powerful and marvelous Redeemer of the sinners, Jesus or Mary?

- Jesus, of course.

- Esteemed bishop, why would we then not go to Jesus and to Him alone for salvation of our soul? Why do we priests call miserable sinners to Mary, when – in accordance with our own confession – Mary is nothing like the Savior?

   No answer.

- Jesus and Mary are both in heaven. According to the doctrine of the Church, Mary has even been bodily taken to heaven. Where is the word, that came from heaven, and by which the way to Jesus goes by Mary. (...) Can we find any biblical truth to confirm even a little the Roman Catholic dogma about the status of Mary?

   The bishop wasn’t able to answer. (4)

 

2. ”Immaculate virgin". The fact that Mary is dear to Roman Catholics can be seen from the numerous names she has been given. She may be called, for instance,  “the Queen of Heaven,” “the empress of the angels,” “the gate of Paradise,” "the Mother of God," "the Ark of the Covenant," and countless other names. Whether or not there is any biblical foundation for these names is a different issue altogether.

   If we further list the names given to Mary, we will see that one of them --  "Immaculate Virgin," -- reflects the belief that Mary committed no sins while living on the Earth and that she was untouched by mankind’s original sin.

   This viewpoint, which became a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in 1854 under the leadership of Pope Pius lX, is very clearly expressed in publications, such as a book published by the Catholic Information Centre of Finland (Katolisen uskon perusteet or The Fundamentals of Catholic Faith, Helsinki 1992, p. 115) (Above, we mentioned the Roman Catholic prayer book, in which was written that "not even the smallest sin can access her," and that God preserved her completely from the original sin.) In The Fundamentals of Catholic Faith is written:

 

"... the Church believes that God also preserved her [Mary] from sin until the end of her life and took her after her death, with her body and her soul to heaven." 

 

The Finnish Catholic Catechism (1953, p. 25) refers to the same matter. It, too, very clearly shows how deeply Catholics have been rooted in the doctrine of the sinless life of Mary. It is said there that Mary was preserved from the stains of original sin for the sake of the merits of Jesus:

 

Who alone has been preserved from original sin?

The most blessed, the Virgin Mary has, because of the special grace, for the sake of the merits of Jesus, been preserved from all stain of the original sin. (The celebration of Mary's Immaculate Conception).

 

However, if we look at the Bible, we have no grounds to believe that Mary was sinless. The Bible does not support this idea in any way, and neither does it support other Roman Catholic beliefs regarding Mary. Paul, who wrote to Romans, said, for example, that "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23) and "…for that all have sinned" (Rom 5:12).

   In the same way, when we read the Gospels, we can read how Mary rejoiced in God, her Savior. If Mary rejoiced in her Savior, this implies that she had also sinned – she was not sinless – and she needed to be freed from her sins as did everyone else:

 

- (Luke1:46,47) And Mary said, My soul does magnify the Lord,

47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

 

3. MARY’s Ascension TO heaven. One of the beliefs connected with Mary is that she ascended to heaven in a bodily form, so that her body was not permitted to disappear. This is another experience that the Bible attributes to Jesus alone. It is described in the first chapter of the Acts, for example. Some effort has been made to equate Mary with Jesus in this regard.  

   This doctrine can be seen very well in the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church (published in English in 1994), passage 966. It describes the status of Mary as " the Queen of Heaven," which is one belief concerning her. The same passage also refers to how Mary lived without sin.

 

The Lord took the immaculate Virgin, who had been preserved free from the stains of original sin, when her earthly life came to an end, up to the heavenly brightness with her body and soul, and raised her as the Queen of All, so that she would be just like her Son, who is the Lord of Lords and the winner of sin and death. The Blessed Virgin’s ascension means that she has a special part in the resurrection of her Son and it heralds the resurrection of other Christians.

 

However, we must note again that in the same way it was difficult to find proof for Mary being sinless, it is difficult to find evidence in the Bible that Mary ascended to heaven. The last reference to Mary is when she was praying together with others, (Act 1:14).  After that nothing is said about her. We can assume that if she really did ascend to heaven, it would certainly have been mentioned in the Bible. Why is this not mentioned anywhere in the Bible? Is that not a clear indication that Mary's ascension to heaven never really took place?

   Instead, it is mentioned as the words of Jesus that no-one has ever gone to heaven except Him – this excludes Mary's ascension to heaven. Certainly, the words of Jesus are more important than people’s opinions about this issue.

 

 - (John 3:13) And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

 

4. ”A Permanent and everlasting Virgin". As we study more beliefs about Mary, we must not forget one of the most common among them: that Mary is a "permanent and everlasting virgin." It has been said that when Mary gave birth, she remained a virgin, and that she did not have more children after Jesus. One example of this special doctrine is, for instance, a position that Pope Martinus I confirmed in 649: Mary is an everlasting virgin:

 

"Blessed eternally virginal and immaculate Mary is the mother of God, because she bore him (Jesus) without loosing her virginity and after his birth preserved her virginity as holy."

 

It is actually no wonder that no evidence for the permanent virginity of Mary can be found in the Bible. Even though many sincere Roman Catholics would gladly believe in this, it is difficult to find confirmation for it in the Bible. Instead, several verses of the Bible refer to the fact that Mary was an ordinary Jewish girl and later on quite an ordinary mother. Her privileged status was restricted only to the fact that she was virgin when the Holy Spirit came on her, and that she got to bring Jesus into this world; otherwise, she experienced the ordinary life of a mother. The following issues, for example, reflect the family life of Mary:

 

Joseph, Mary’s husband. The Gospel of Matthew, for example, very clearly states that Mary had a husband by the name of Joseph. The Gospel says that Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, and that she was called his wife. Also, they had sexual intercourse after the birth of Jesus, because Joseph is said to have had no union with Mary until after Jesus’ birth. How can Mary be the "Permanent Virgin", if she also had normal sexual intercourse with her husband after Jesus’ birth?

 

- (Matt 1:18-20) Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take to you Mary your wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

 

- (Matt 1:24,25) Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took to him his wife:

25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

 

Jesus’ brothers. The second good example of the ordinary family life and marriage of Mary and her connection with her husband are the brothers and sisters of Jesus. They are mentioned several times in the Bible and some of their names are provided. Mary and Joseph had other children, so Mary cannot be the Everlasting Virgin. What is special is that these siblings did not believe in Jesus at first, but already in the Acts of the Apostles they are mentioned praying together with other believers:

 

- (Luke 8:19-21) Then came to him his mother and his brothers, and could not come at him for the press.

20 And it was told him by certain which said, Your mother and your brothers stand without, desiring to see you.

21 And he answered and said to them, My mother and my brothers are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

 

 - (Mark 6:3) Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

 

- (John 7:3-5) His brothers therefore said to him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that your disciples also may see the works that you do.

4 For there is no man that does any thing in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.

5 For neither did his brothers believe in him.

 

- (Acts 1:14) These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

 

- (1 Cor 9:5) Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

 

- (Gal 1:19) But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

 

5. Praying TO and worship of Mary. Prayer to and worship of Mary is one of the main points of Catholic belief. In the Roman Catholic Church, people really pray to Mary and turn to her like they would to God. They can pray to and worship Mary just like God, and this is not deemed strange. People are even advised to give their life to Mary — to dedicate themselves to her as they would to Jesus (Jesus said, for example: “Follow me…” - Matt 4:19). Mary may also be regarded as “the Queen of Heaven," "the Mother of God," who from heaven regulates the events of the world; the change from an ordinary Jewish mother to her current status in the minds of people is dramatic.

   In order to get a good view of the current interest in Mary, let’s consider some examples. The familiar "Hail Mary,” which dates back to the thirteenth century, serves well:

 

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death.”

 

Also, the Roman Catholic catechism (Finnish catechism,1953) brings out the same issue. It includes, for instance, the following passages about turning to Mary and other saints:

 

Which saint must we especially respect and ask for help?

We must especially respect and ask for help from the most blessed Virgin and the Mother of God, Mary. (p. 71)

 

Why must we especially honor Mary and ask for help from her?

We must especially honor and ask for help from Mary,

 1) Because she is the Mother of God;

 2) Because she in grace and holiness defeats all angels and saints;

 3) Because her prayers most benefits us with God. (p. 71,72)

 

As far as the Bible is concerned, we must note that no such references can be found. Nothing is written about praying to Mary (or other saints) or worshipping her. Neither is it mentioned that Mary in heaven would in some way take prayers and requests to Jesus or to God.

   The only reference that in any way could refer to worship of Mary – albeit negatively -- is found in the Gospel of Luke. On this occasion, one woman referred to the bliss of Mary, because she had been allowed to be the mother of Jesus. However, Jesus immediately directed her attention to hearing and keeping the word of God. -- a lesson for us in modern times to apply to our lives, as well:

 

- (Luke 11:27,28) And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts which you have sucked.

28 But he said, Yes rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

 

Further, as regards to praying, Jesus clearly told us what to do in order for our prayers to be heard. According to Him, people must either pray directly to Him or to turn to the Father in the name of Jesus – Jesus said nothing about Mary and the saints. If Jesus Himself, the Son of God, has given us instructions on how we must act, why would we disobey?

 

- (John 14:13,14) And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

 

- (John 16:23,24) And in that day you shall ask me nothing. Truly, truly, I say to you, Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

24 Till now have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

 

- (John 16:26) At that day you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you, that I will pray the Father for you:

 

The next conversation also refers to how we must pray. If we pray to saints God does not hear us, because He answers only those prayers that have been presented in the name of Jesus:

 

- Is it very bad, Raul? Probably it is better to pray something than not to pray at all!

- No, mother, this is not true. If you do not pray to God by Jesus, you don't, as a matter of fact, pray at all. Those "saints" are not in any way more important than you to God!

- Raul! Do not say that! Mother frowned and seemed doubtful. - The saints of the church are significant people – not ordinary people like me!

- Mother, the Bible says that we all are holy! Mother held already her forehead, terrified. I had to laugh at her shock. She could not imagine herself as a saint. Not to mention to imagine me one!

   I snatched the Bible from the shelf and searched the letter to the Ephesians from the New Testament. - Listen, mother. ”Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus" Do you know, what the word "saint" means? It means "set apart, devout, blameless, sanctified." And we will all be that when Jesus forgives our sins and saves us.

- But the church has chosen the saints, because they have performed miracles... Mother looked at me with suspicion. – Shouldn’t we honor them for that reason?

- We are all able to do miracles, mother. Even you could raise people from the dead, if God wanted you to do that. I could too. We could all see visions. We could all heal the sick. We could all change the history of the mankind – with the help of the power of God that lives inside us.

   Mother sipped her tea and looked out the window. She had difficulties digesting my words. I annulled everything she had ever learned, but she still had a feeling that there was a hidden truth in my words. Finally, she said:

- Now I see what you mean. Now I won’t pray the saints any longer. - That is most important! The Bible says that there is only one person who can speak to God for us – and that person is Jesus. He is said to be our "Mediator." If we pray someone else, we displace Jesus from the place which belongs to Him. (...) (5)

 

Spiritualism. Worshipping Mary and the saints has one danger for the Roman Catholics: when they turn to worshipping saints, they are actually practicing an ancient form of spiritualism; they are turning to the worship of deceased humans and familiar spirits, and the Bible absolutely forbids such activities. Thus, even though they sincerely think so, people are not connecting with saints, but are actually turning to worship spirits of the deceased -- to evil spirits. The Bible teaches us to avoid turning to such spirits. Consider the following example:

 

- (Lev 19:31) Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.

 

- (Lev 20:6) And the soul that turns after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

 

- (18:10-12 There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.

11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

12 For all that do these things are an abomination to the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD your God does drive them out from before you.

 

Author and evangelist Nicky Cruz described how people can even do healing work with help from these "saints." The event he described occurred in his home; these “saints”, or spirits of the deceased, were what the Bible describes as familiar spirits, or demons who seek to bind our lives. If you are bound by these spirits you can be freed through faith in Jesus Christ, who defeated them once and for all Col 2:15.

 

Everybody believed that mother and father didn’t only speak to the dead, but also did healing work with the help of the deceased – especially with the help of the very holiest saints of the Bible.

   Now I know that the word of God says that we live only once. Then He will condemn us before we continue into heaven or into everlasting punishment – and from both places there is not return. Well, what supernatural power then pretended to be my grandfather that evening? A demon. Some evil spirit, a fellow-worker of Satan.

   I believe that our beautiful jungle home was full of such devilish beings. When mother went into a trance, she allowed these evil, lying spirits to come into her and to speak through her – demons who have an ability to pretend that they are our loved ones sending messages from the grave. (6) 

 

Another point to be mentioned here are the numerous revelations of “Mary and the saints", experienced for instance in Fatima of Portugal, (1917; these revelations "of Mary" are significant in that at least six Popes have given their support to them), in Medjugore of Croatia and in numerous other places around the world, to which places millions of devoted Catholics also have made pilgrimages.

   We can understand that these revelations did not originate from these deceased saints – Mary, or holy Teresa, for example – but that they were caused by misleading spirits pretending to be these persons (2 Cor 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.) They – the lying spirits – can imitate our dear deceased, because they know very much about our love ones’ lives on earth (for example, Acts 19:15). Many people who see these revelations, such as ordinary mediums, have gone astray, because they did not know what they were dealing with and from whom they received their revelations.

   In order to make this very clear, we only need to study these revelations. If the person speaking really is the Mary of the Bible, would it not be fair to expect that she would not at least raise herself as the way to salvation or something else that is not mentioned in the Bible? Should she not raise Jesus alone as the way to salvation, because this was clearly what the early church taught, too? However, we can see in these revelations quite a different message. It is certainly not the Mary of the Bible. Instead, we can see that these revelations are teachings of evil spirits and doctrines of demons, about which Paul warned us:

 

- (1 Tim 4:1) Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

 

 - (Gal 1:8,9) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be accursed.

 

Examples of these revelations are mentioned in the cases below. These revelations clearly show how "the Mary of Revelations" raises doctrines that were quite unfamiliar to the early church: 

 

Jesus wants you to serve Him, so that people would know and love me. He wants to start everywhere in the world a belief in my Immaculate Heart. To all those who want to join in this belief, I promise salvation. Their souls are dear to God as the flowers that I set to decorate His throne. (Lucia Santos, Fatima, 13 June 1917)

 

I promise to be with everybody at the time of their death and bring to them the grace they need to be saved, if they confess their sins on the first Saturday of five months, receive my holy Eucharist, pray the prayers of the rosary and will be with me for 15 minutes thinking about the miracles of the rosary and thus easing my condition. (Lucia Santos, Portugal, 10 December 1925)

 

I love you with maternal love and ask you to open perfectly to me, so that I by each of you could convert and save the world, in which there is much sin and immorality. (Marjana, Medjugore, Croatia, 25 August 1992)

 

Today I called you, so that you would get an answer to your question as to why I am with you for so long. I am the mediator between you and God. (Marija, Medjugore, Croatia, 17 July 1986) 

 

All the children in the world will soon know that I am the mediator of all grace. (Julia Kim, Naju, South Korea, 26 November 1991) 

 

I want to blow my spirit into those children of mine who do not know me, and to allow (my) light (to) shine from them as a flow. But how can they understand my words, if they keep their heart closed? (Julia Kim, Naju, South Korea, 21 October 1986)

 

Those who do not acknowledge me as the Queen of Heaven and the Earth, will see God’s greatness and their pride and stubbornness will be broken. They will see the truth and know that God has not become smaller, even though He has given honor to a humble creature. On the contrary, He has been glorified through my virtues and obedience. (Cyndi Cain, Bella Vista, Arkansas, USA, 8 January 1992)

 

Mary as the Queen of Heaven and mother goddess. In Roman Catholicism, Mary has been raised to the status of the Queen of Heaven and a mother goddess. This is just like the earlier pagan customs. For this cult of the Queen of Heaven and mother goddess is not of Christian origin, but its origin is in pagan religions that appeared in the Mediterranean countries during the times of Jesus, and several centuries afterwards  – the last temples of the goddesses were destroyed in the 6th century.

   At that time, the pagans prayed and worshipped their mother goddess and turned to her; the only difference was that in those times, the name of the mother goddess was not Mary, but the most well-known were, for example, Semiramis, Astarte, Isis and Artemis. These "queens of heaven" of those times were also normally described mother figures, who were full of pity and grace – as was Mary – and promised their help and grace to people; in other words, the similarities to the current cult of Mary are apparent.

   Paavo Hiltunen has described well the similarity of worshipping Isis and the current worship of Mary. This cult was the most widespread of the mother cults in Rome in the 4th and 5th century:

 

When we compare this message of Isis to her faithful supporter and what "Mary" says to her successors in the so-called revelations of Mary in different parts of the globe, the expressions are surprisingly similar. Did the same spirit speak through Isis that now appears as Mary?

   Isis was to her successors the same as Mary is to hers: savior, lover, donor of gifts, protector, helper. Her power reached even the kingdom of death. As Mary, Isis had an ability to help hopeless cases. She healed the blinds, paralyzed and those who were rejected by doctors. Writings and pictures, onto which those who believed in her, have drawn their thanks, are similar to that in Lourdes.

   Even the titles of Isis bear a surprising resemblance to the titles of the Christian mother of God: dear mistress, loving mother, the Queen of Heaven, goddess risen onto the throne, the queen of the sea, the distributor of grace, savior, immaculate, holy queen (Sancta Regina). (7)

 

The following quote illustrates how, in the Mediterranean region of that time, worship of goddesses later was transferred to worship of Mary. The second quote also clearly shows how Mary, to whom Catholics now pray and worship, is in fact the goddess Isis who has taken on the form of Mary.  Paganism has not been destroyed; instead, Isis has only assumed the new form of Mary:

 

""There were several popular mystery cults with a mother goddess as the main figure in Rome during the time when Jesus was born. These included the cults of Caereen, Cybele (Magna Mater), Artemis, Astarte and Isis, whose evidence can be found up to the beginning of the fifth century. All the properties and epithets connected with these divinities can be found later connected to Mary, such as the Morning Star, the star of the sea, the mother of believers and the Queen of Heaven." (8)

 

“Mary became an instrument to fill the need of the semi-pagan people who joined the church for their goddesses. In fact, the mother of Jesus did not become the Queen of Heaven, but that status was taken by the goddess of antiquity who was worshipped in all countries around the Mediterranean. It was a disastrous legacy." (9)

 

In order to gain yet another perspective, we are going to study Mary worship in the light of several other examples and in the light of Biblical instruction. We are going to look at Asia, for example, where similar worship of the goddess mother is seen nowadays. These examples well illustrate that current worship of the "Queen of Heaven" is nothing new, and that it appears similarly in other countries. God was, and is, angered by this idol worship:

 

1. References in the Bible to the Queen of Heaven

 

 - (Jer 7:17-19) See you not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

19 Do they provoke me to anger? said the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?

 

- (Acts 19:27,28) So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nothing; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worships.

28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

 

2. The worship of the Queen of Heaven in modern Asia

 

"The third month of the moon calendar is the month of Matsu. The goddess of the Sea, the Queen of Heaven, the Holy Mother of Heaven, the Concubine of the Emperor of Heaven is the object of worship in hundreds of thousands of homes and approximately in four hundreds temples. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims go to the fishing center of the western coast, to the town of Peikang, where the largest pai-pai of Matsu’s birthday is concentrated.

   (... ) Over time, the Goddess of the Sea has become a mild, immortal helper who is present everywhere. The fishermen pray for protection at sea, the farmers rain on theirs fields, the young mothers boy babies, the sick healing. An amulet from the temple of Matsu may be suspended on the neck of a young man going to the army. (...) Everybody accepts the assistance of the Holy Mother of Heaven."  (Matleena Pinola, Pai-pai, p. 58-60)

 

"However, Buddhism had to go through a powerful process of change before it was ready as a religion of the Chinese. The doctrines that came from the outside had to be adapted to the Chinese way of thinking. (...) The goddess of grace, Kwum Yum, who is very popular among the Buddhist, got a competitor, the Taoist Queen of Heaven or Tin Hau. These competing divinities can be found nowadays in many temples side by side on the same altar, in perfect harmony."  (Olavi Vuori, Hyvät henget ja pahat, p. 35)

 

What about the pictures of Mary and saints? Mary has held a high position in the Roman Catholic Church. This worship is expressed in many forms, such as the pictures and statues of her that are found in almost every Catholic Church; people can pray and worship before them. These pictures portray Jesus, as well, but usually only as a small child. The composition of these pictures usually stresses the commanding, adult Mary, and then there is small Jesus who Mary carries on her arms. Mary, who Roman Catholics regard as the Queen of Heaven, is shown in this regard as having an advantage over Jesus.

   What is special is that to support the worship of Mary and the saints, the Church has even removed the second Commandment from the Ten Commandments: the second Commandment forbids making and worshipping of idols. Instead, this Commandment has been replaced by dividing the tenth one into two parts – like this, the number of the Commandments has remained the same.

   The next comparison of the Finnish Catholic catechism (1953, p. 4) and the Bible also show this matter. We can see how the Commandments have changed:

 

Catholic catechism:

         

1. “I am the LORD your God. (…) You shall have no other gods before me.

2. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God. (…)

3. Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy (…)

4. Honor your father and your mother

5. You shall not murder.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

10. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s things.”

 

The Bible (Deut 5:6-21):

 

1. I am the LORD your God...  You shall have none other gods before me.

2. You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them

3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain

4. Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it

5. Honor your father and your mother

6. You shall not kill

7. Neither shall you commit adultery

8. Neither shall you steal

9. Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor

10. Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s wife, neither shall you covet your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is your neighbor’s

 

The support of the Roman Catholic Church to worshipping idols can also be seen in a decision made in the Synod of Trento (session 25), for example. This decision strongly supports respecting and worshipping of idols. It is said:

 

“The pictures of Christ and the Virgin Mary, mother of God, such as other pictures of saints must be kept in the Church, and people shall respect and worship them."

 

Even though the Catholic Church accepts worshipping of pictures, the Bible teaches that this is not God’s will by any means. Several verses of the Bible indicate that God does not want people to make any idols, pictures of neither a man nor a woman. It is also said that he does not want people to make any statues, which he hates. The following list also includes a passage of how apostle Paul was angry, when he saw how the city of Athens was full of idols:

 

 - (Lev 26:1) You shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither raise you up a standing image, neither shall you set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down to it: for I am the LORD your God.

 

- (Deut 4:15,16) Take you therefore good heed to yourselves; for you saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spoke to you in Horeb out of the middle of the fire:

16 Lest you corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

 

- (Deut 27:15) Cursed be the man that makes any graven or molten image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and puts it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.

 

- (Deut 16:22) Neither shall you set you up any image; which the LORD your God hates.

 

- (Isa 44:15-19) Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yes, he kindles it, and bakes bread; yes, he makes a god, and worships it; he makes it a graven image, and falls down thereto.

16 He burns part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eats flesh; he roasts roast, and is satisfied: yes, he warms himself, and said, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:

17 And the residue thereof he makes a god, even his graven image: he falls down to it, and worships it, and prays to it, and said, Deliver me; for you are my god.

18 They have not known nor understood: for he has shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

19 And none considers in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yes, also I have baked bread on the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?

 

- (Acts 17:16) Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

 

Sometimes, Roman Catholics may, in spite of all, justify their idols by saying that they are only reminiscing about these people and establishing a contact through them with God.

   To this, one can respond that God certainly does not need to make a connection with us through images that He has forbidden. He certainly does not need images in order to communicate with His people, because He has provided us with the one and only direct connection: His Son (John 14:6). Why would we not use the connection that is already there?

   The second good question is,  “Why should anyone remember others – the deceased – when wishing to speak to God?” Would not the worship of other people and things only remove us from the worship of God, and distract our thoughts from Him? Why do we need to rely on props, whose use is futile and from which we cannot benefit? The next conversation illustrates the futility of using such props:

 

When mother told me about her disappointment with the church, it started to trouble me. I thought about how she displayed statues in her home. She tried so hard to do what is right. But she did not have a real relationship. One afternoon, I drove to her home just for fun. I walked in through the front door and said, “These idols must be taken down, mother!” She was horrified. “But Raul, they are not idols. I do not pray to them.”… Her voice became faint when she tried to explain powerlessly that the images “were only a reminder.”

“What do you mean you don’t pray to them? Why are there candles, then?  You can’t keep all these things around you. It prevents you from knowing Jesus.” Then I started to tell her what the Bible says about idols and about who Jesus really is. (10)

 

 

 

2. Mass and Holy Communion

 

When Jesus was at the final phase of his earthly life, He wanted once more to have a meal together with His disciples. When He ate with them, He also taught His disciples about the meaning of the bread and the wine and how they represented His crucifixion and His death. We call this the Lord’s Supper (the Holy Communion). He started this custom a little before His death – or perhaps earlier – and the custom was handed down to the early Christian church.

   To Roman Catholics, the Holy Communion and Mass are also important. They are symbols in the Catholic Church. Just as the meaning of many other symbols has changed from the times of the early church, so has the Holy Communion been given new form and meaning in the Roman Catholic Church. These meanings did not initially belong to Holy Communion, and change it into quite a different kind of thing. Below, we will study some of these changes:

 

The doctrine of changing bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood is one issue that has changed. According to this doctrine, when the priests during the Mass read a blessing, bread and wine are no longer bread and wine, but they literally change into Christ, into His body and blood; in other words, into God. The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that only priests are authorized to read the blessing that can bring about this change. This was put into the form of a regulation some centuries ago during the Synod of Trento (2nd canon of Trento):

 

"Who says that bread and wine remain in the Holy Communion as bread and wine (...) will be cursed."

 

The doctrine of change has been confirmed in the Catholic Catechism as well (Finnish Catechism 1953). It is stated how bread and wine really should change into Christ’s body and blood:

 

What happened to the bread and wine, when Jesus pronounced over them the words: "This is my body – this is my blood?”

The bread and wine changed into Jesus Christ’s actual body and blood; only the forms were left over. (p. 123)

 

So what is on the altar after this change?

After the change, there are on the altar, in the form of bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus Christ, surely, really and essentially present. (p. 124)

 

However, this doctrine of change (transubstantiation) presents some problems that should be discussed, such as these:

 

A symbol. When the Catholic Church tried to justify the changing of bread and wine, it used as its support mainly the words of Jesus in connection with the Holy Communion: "This is my body (...) this is my blood..." (Matt 26:26-28).

   However, to this we can say that Jesus certainly did not mean this literally, but symbolically. For He did not say "touto gignetal" ("this has changed"), but "touto esti" ("this describes"). This means that the Holy Communion was only a metaphor of how Jesus later on the cross gave His life for us. Then He shed his blood and gave His body surely and really for us. These kinds of symbols that Jesus used to describe Himself also appear elsewhere in the Bible. We must see that these matters must be just symbols, because otherwise Jesus would also be a door, a wine tree, a way, a rock, a morning star, etc.:

 

- (John 10:9) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

 

- (John 6:35) And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.

 

- (John 15:5) I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.

 

- (John 8:12) Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

 

 - (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

 

- (Matt 21:42-45) Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?

43 Therefore say I to you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

44 And whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke of them.

 

- (Rev 1:17) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last

 

- (Rev 22:16) I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

 

Jesus himself ate. One fact that makes the doctrine of transubstantiation impossible is that Jesus Himself was there enjoying bread and wine. He certainly did not eat Himself and did not change into some kind of liquid and bread, but He was bone and flesh all the time and blood flowed in His body. The physical presence of Jesus should be the clearest evidence against transubstantiation.

 

Why can we not see this change each time? If bread and wine have really literally been changed by the words of a priest into the body and blood of Christ, should this not be seen at every single Mass? Why can we not see this? Why can no change be seen in any mass, even though communions are carried out in every Catholic Church and have been carried out thousands of times? Is this not a clear piece of evidence against the whole doctrine of transubstantiation?

 

Literal offering that is repeated. Another special feature of the Roman Catholic Mass is that during each mass, there should be a new offering of Christ, and the priests have the authority to repeat it for the sins of people. In the Roman Catholic Church, it is really taught that priests have the authority to fetch Christ down from the Heaven and perform the same offering for the sins of people as Jesus made 2,000 years ago. In other words, they are taught that the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross was not perfect and sufficient, but that it must be continuously repeated at Mass for the sins of people. They say that the only difference between Jesus on the cross 2,000 years ago and now is that the current offering is bloodless.

   This is revealed in the Catholic Catechism (Finnish Catechism 1953), which refers to this subject several times. There it is explained:

 

"When Christ died, did all the offering have to stop? No; that offering that Christ once carried out on the cross, had to repeat everywhere and all the time." (p. 126)

 

"What is the offering in the Holy Mass? The Holy Mass offering is a continuous offering of the New Covenant, in which our Lord Jesus Christ, in the form of bread and wine, by the hands of a priest, in a bloodless way, sacrifices himself to His heavenly Father." (p. 126)

 

"The offering at the Holy Mass is the same offering that happened on the cross. Because in both, our Lord Christ sacrifices and is sacrificed." (p. 127)

 

Why is the offering of the Holy Mass the highest? The Holy Mass offering is the highest offering, because it is

1) The most valuable offering.

2) To God, the most pleasing thank-offering.

3) The most effective prayer offering.

4) The most powerful atonement offering. (p. 129).

 

But does the Bible teach that in the Holy Communion or at Mass, Christ again sacrifices Himself because of the words of a priest? Does the Bible teach that his offering was not at all sufficient, but it must continually be repeated at Mass for the sins of people?

   The answer to this is that we cannot find such teachings from the Bible. The Bible indicates very clearly that Christ’s atonement was a once-in-a-lifetime event and took place only once in history. The Bible also indicates that His atonement was perfect, so that other offerings are not needed; they are no longer needed, neither can they help people seeking salvation.

   There are several references to this important matter and to the sufficiency of Jesus’ atonement, and we are going to study some. These verses indicate very well how His work was a one-time thing and perfect, so that there is no need to repeat it any more:

 

 - (John 19:30) When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

 

 - (Hebr 7:27) Who needs not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

 

- (Hebr 9:12) Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

 

- (Hebr 9:25-28) Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27 And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation.

 

- (Hebr 10:12,14) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

14 For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

 

- (Hebr 10:17,18) And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

 

In remembrance. The second point that contradicts the notion that Christ’s sacrifice must be repeatedly offered at the Mass is the simple fact that we are told by witnesses, as recorded in the Bible, that Holy Communion was a meal expressly devoted to the remembrance of the Lord’s sacrificial death and redemption of sinners. If it is a matter of remembrance, it can never encompass the very essence of the event. The essence of the event, Christ’s redemptive act, took place 2,000 years ago:

 

 - (1 Cor 11:23-25) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

24 And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

 

- (1 Cor 11:26) For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.

 

The worship of Holy Communion’s elements has also been a part of the Roman Catholic tradition. This tradition got its beginning when it was believed that the materials of the Holy Communion change into Christ and God, so the natural consequence was that these elements were worshipped. The Holy Communion’s bread may really have been regarded literally as God in the Roman Catholic Church, because "Christ is in it physically present", and to show respect and praise for it. For example, in the Synod of Trento this was regulated (6th canon):

 

"If someone says that Christ, the only Son of God, should not be worshipped in the sacrament of the Holy Communion (...) and be respected by special ceremonies and the Holy Communion bread be carried in a ceremonious procession, according to the global and praised customs and ceremonies of our Holy Church, and that He should not be set for public worshipping in front of people, and that His worshippers are idolaters, he will be accursed!"

 

The same thing also appears in the next newspaper article describing the life of a convent. This article (newspaper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, 1 November 2003, p. 22) indicates very well that similar worship appears also nowadays, and it was not left in the dark of the Middle Ages:

 

"At 11:30 a.m. there is the prayer of the middle of the day, but before that there is a half an hour of adoration in front of the Holy Communion bread. The Holy Communion bread is preserved in a tabernacle, a decorative cupboard. The Holy Communion bread is an object of the worship, because Jesus is believed to be present in this bread."

 

But what does the Bible say about the Holy Communion bread being God and worshipping of the bread? There is no direct reference. Jesus did not give any command to do this and neither are there any references to this in the letters of the New Testament.

   Instead, regarding a piece of bread as divine is certainly idol worshipping, even though in the Synod of Trento it was regulated to the contrary. When you do that, you bow before the work of people, in other words bow in front of a piece of bread someone has made, as, for example, the Book of Isaiah says:

 

- (Isa 2:8) Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:

 

If we use the same argument, we could worship any believer or thing, because Christ can be present in some substance, or can live in a believer because he is the temple of the Spirit of God. However, we understand that this does not make any sense.  The fact that Christ lives in someone through His Spirit does not make anybody divine. He continues to be the same person:

 

 - (Col 1:27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

 

- (1 Cor 3:16) Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

 

The Holy Communion and salvation. Attempts have also been made to use Holy Communion to gain God’s salvation. Instead, its purpose is mainly to affirm faith in the forgiveness of sins, and recall the redemptive work of Christ (1 Cor 11:23-25), and to proclaim His completed work of redemption (1 Cor 11:26). Salvation can always be received through faith and through the Word, as we have noted in the previous chapters. During the early church, when people enjoyed the Holy Communion, they always first received the Word and were saved. The Holy Communion was a consequence of this:

 

- (Acts 2:41,42) Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

 

 

 

3. Papacy and priesthood

 

A part of the special heritage of the Roman Catholic Church is the papacy and priesthood that gained an important role in this church. The Pope has even been called the substitute of Christ on the Earth, which proves his great status among Catholics. It is thought that the papacy began in the first century after Peter’s death, and that since then there has been an unbroken chain of popes until today.

   But what should we think of the pope and his position in the Catholic Church, in general? Does the Bible teach anything about this? Can it be justified by text found in the Bible? We will consider these questions and also take a look at the priesthood in the Catholic Church in light of the following considerations:

 

1. Did Peter enjoy a special status among the other disciples?

2. Beginning and passing on of papacy

3. Was Peter Christ’s a substitute?

4. Did Peter and Paul establish the Church of Rome?

5. The celibacy of priests

 

1. Did Peter ENJOY a special status among the other disciples? As regards the foundation of papacy, the Roman Catholic Church has historically taught that Peter's special status among other disciples was the beginning of the papacy. Peter, as leader of the early church, was its "first Pope," and Jesus founded His church on Peter. The Roman Catholic Catechism (Finnish Roman Catholic Catechism, 1953) includes lessons about this subject:

 

Who did Christ set as the highest head of the church?

Christ set Peter as the highest head of the church. (p. 42)

 

Is Christ himself not the head of the church?

Christ is and continues to be the invisible head of the church, Peter was his visible substitute. (p. 43)

 

Who is the visible head of the church after the death of Holy Peter?

The visible head of the church is the Holy Father, the Pope, because he is Peter's real successor on the bishopric of Rome. (p. 44)

 

But is this lesson correct? When we examine the lesson in the light of Biblical reference, no support is found for Peter's having a higher place among disciples:

  

Is Peter the foundation of the Church, and is he the only one holding the keys to the kingdom of Heaven? Peter has been called the originator of the papacy, and it has been taught that Jesus himself appointed Peter to this position, that the church is built on him, and that Peter received the keys to the kingdom of Heaven with the power to bind and release. The following verses in the Gospel of Matthew refer to this:

 

 - (Matt 16:16,18,19) And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

18 And I say also to you, That you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 

However, regarding the above interpretation that the church is built on the foundation of Peter, we should consider the fact that in the words of Jesus above, the Greek word "petros" (Peter) means the same as ”a small stone” or ”a block.” The word ‘rock’ in Greek is ‘petra’. Jesus never said that He would build His church on the foundation of “a little stone,” on the foundation of a man, which would have been too weak a foundation. He said that He would build the church on ”this rock,” -- Jesus Himself is this rock (e.g., 1 Cor 3:11: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.). Another indication of this reference’s meaning is found in the admission that Peter uttered concerning Him. This verse, as the similar verse John 1:42, might be translated from its original text as:

 

 - (Matt 16:16,18) And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

18 And I say also to you, That you are a stone (Petros), and on this rock (Petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

 

- (John 1:42) And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, You are Simon the son of Jona: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone (Petros).

 

Regarding who is holding the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, it is pretty hard to restrict ownership to one person, as the Roman Catholic Church teaches. It is wrong to say that only Peter is qualified. The Bible clearly indicates that the other Apostles also received keys to the kingdom. They did not receive those keys because they were special in some way, but simply because they preached the Gospel of the kingdom and led people to salvation. They opened the "door to Heaven" with their preaching. Likewise, the power to bind or release was given to each disciple:

 

 - (Matt 10:7,8) And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give.

 

- (Luke 9:1,2) Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

 

- (Matt 18:18) Truly I say to you, Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

 

No mentions. If Peter possessed a special position or authority over the other disciples, it surely would have been mentioned in the Bible. However, nothing indicating this can be found in the Bible. We see only that Peter was one disciple among others. He practiced his leadership together with the other Apostles, but not above them; he did not have any leading position among them. So he did not have the position of Pope, and the whole concept of papacy is not found in the Bible.

   The only thing that made Peter different from the other disciples was that he was by nature more impulsive and talkative than the others. He also made mistakes: he denied his Lord, for example. How does this go with the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope, which was declared in 1870? Peter was not infallible: Jesus, and later Paul, reprimanded Peter’s improper behavior. Jesus reprimanded him right after he spoke about the keys to the kingdom of Heaven:

 

 - (Matt 16:21-23) From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from you, Lord: this shall not be to you.

23 But he turned, and said to Peter, Get you behind me, Satan: you are an offense to me: for you mind not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

 

 - (Gal 2:11-14) But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; so that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, If you, being a Jew, live after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compel you the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

 

Opinion of outsiders. The way outsiders reacted towards the church in the first century proves that Peter did not have a special status among Apostles. Chapter 24 of the book of Acts shows that outsiders did not regard Peter as the most significant person in the church; rather, it was the Apostle Paul who was commonly regarded the ringleader of the Nazarene sect. What makes the following statement important is that it was delivered in Israel, the same place of Peter’s influence:

 

- (Acts 24:4,5) Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious to you, I pray you that you would hear us of your clemency a few words.

5 For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:

 

Jacob and John. Peter’s having a special position above the others’ is not supported in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, either. Paul indicates in this letter that in addition to Peter, James and John were also commonly regarded as leading figures in the early church. It is significant that of these three, James is mentioned first. This shows that Peter was only one Apostle among others:

 

- (Gal 2:9) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go to the heathen, and they to the circumcision.

 

The only right church?

 

As regards Peter and his presumed papal successors, there is one characteristic attributed to them: infallibility, especially in matters of faith, morality and doctrine. This declaration of the infallibility of the Pope was delivered in 1870 by Pope Pius IX.

   A similar attitude of "infallibility" has been attached to the Roman Catholic Church itself, as being the only “right” church, and in the calling of "lost brothers" to return to it. The following widely-distributed declaration was made in the autumn in 2000:

 

The Vatican:

Catholic Church Is the Only Right Church

 

Vatican declared on Tuesday that it is in a supreme position over all other Christian churches. The Vatican rejected the idea according to which all churches are equal. It is feared that this declaration of the Vatican will upset the cooperation endeavors of the Christian churches.

   In the opinion of the Vatican, the Catholic Church is the only real church of Christ. Other Christian denominations, such as the Protestants, are not real churches from Vatican's point of view.

   The Vatican's view was made known in a document called “Dominus Jesus”, which was signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the leader of the successor institution of the Inquisition. Pope John II was said to have accepted this document.

   According to the document, those who have been baptized somewhere else than in the Catholic Church are "somehow connected to the church, but in an imperfect way".

   "There is only one church of Christ, the Catholic Church, which is led by the successor of Peter and the bishops together with him," the declaration states.

  The Anglican Church of England immediately rejected the declaration of the Vatican on Tuesday. Archbishop George Carey of the Anglican Church said that this declaration of the Vatican does not do justice to the ecumenical work, which has continued for over 30 years, and which aims to integrate those gaps that have been born over the centuries between the Protestants and the Catholics. (Newspaper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, 6 September 2000)

 

The fact that some church is regarded as the only true church is actually a form of heresy. Salvation is by no means connected to any church, but it is available in the person of Jesus Christ, which we should understand. Therefore, the criminal on the cross, for example, was not saved and did not go to paradise because of a church or by joining a church: he was saved by turning to Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church was not even known at the time; it did not yet exist.

   Putting some church denomination in the place of Jesus Christ actually displaces Jesus. This does not apply only to the Roman Catholic Church, but also to other institutions. Jehovah's Witnesses think along the same lines, for example. If we place some church denomination as, or choose a person (Mary, for example) to be, our mediator then we are no longer Christians but pagans. People are pagans because they deny Christ in practice though their words may respect him. Such people have no "Father" even though they may claim they have one in Jesus. (How does this suit the so-called building of Christian contact that is sometimes practiced between the churches and referred to in the newspaper article above? Would it not be better if God first gets to save these people, so they are not pagans trying to build Christian fellowship without Christ?)

 

 - (1 John 2:23) Whoever denies the Son, the same has not the Father: he that acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

 

2. THE beginning AND PASSING ON of papacy. As for the beginning of the papacy, many devoted Roman Catholics believe that it began in the first century with the Apostle Peter. They believe that from then until now, the papal chain has been unbroken.  

   But as we noted above, there is no reason to believe that Peter was the first Pope. We find no clear evidence concerning this matter; papacy is not even mentioned in the New Testament. Peter was only one of several Apostles, and he did not have a special status over the others.

   Most historians disagree about the date of the beginning of the papacy. It is known that no Pope or Roman Bishop in the Synod of Nicea (325 A.D.) demanded to be the first above others. Most church historians credit Leo the Great as being the first Pope. His reign was around 440 - 461 A.D. He had to be satisfied while ruling the Synod of Calcedon (451 A.D.) that the bishop of Constantinople held the same position as himself. No one was yet the leader, because leadership was just being formed – it was formed, more or less, at the same time as the state church.

   We find no references in the Holy Bible to the passing on of papal authority. The Bible does not teach us about Peter’s papacy; neither does it instruct us about his successors. We can understand that there simply could not have been a continuous chain of successors during the first few centuries because the pope’s authority did not rise until some centuries later.

 

 3. Was Peter Christ's SUBSTITUTE? Another statement made regarding Peter and his alleged successors -- popes -- is that they are the substitutes of Christ on the Earth. This statement was made during the Synod of Florence in the 1400s and became part of church doctrine. It was described as follows: 

 

"The Pope of Rome is the real substitute of Christ, the head of the whole church and father and teacher of all Christians, and our Lord Jesus Christ has given to him in blessed Peter complete power to shepherd, rule and lead the whole church." (Florence synod, 6th session [1439] [DS 1307])

 

However, we can find no references in the Bible to Peter or some of his alleged successors being Christ's only substitutes on the Earth. Neither can we find anything about Christ being "put out of office" and Peter or someone else stepping in to act in His place. We might find it in the way that the devil exalted himself so as to be equal with God [Isa 14:12-14]. So, when many popes have exalted themselves to be equal with God they have followed in the devil’s footsteps. In fact, they are from their "father the devil," as Jesus said to the religious people of His time (John 8:44).

   To the contrary, the Bible states that Christ is still the head of the Church and that all power rests with Him, as the following verses show. So, how does the doctrine of the Pope being Christ's substitute fit in anywhere?

 

 - (Eph 1:22) And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

 

 - (Matt 28:18) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.

 

On the other hand, if the Pope really was the substitute of Christ then his life should also be similar to that of Christ. Peter certainly was such a follower of Christ. But is it not a fact that many popes have totally abandoned Christ even though they pose as His representatives and substitutes? At least, in the history of the church we can find countless popes who acted immorally and even killed millions of people. Maybe this prediction of Paul’s, in which he refers to savage wolves, is better applied to these popes:

 

- (Acts 20:29-32) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

32 And now, brothers, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

 

The following account of a former Roman Catholic priest (Emmett McLough, Crime and Immorality in the Catholic Church) describes how many popes and their successors actually completely gave up Christ even though they appeared as His representatives or as His substitutes. We can see that these kinds of persons do not have anything to do with Christ and God, even though they claimed otherwise (or as Paul said in Titus 1:16, They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.):

 

Thirteen years ago, when I had intensely studied the history of the Roman Catholic Church for twenty-one years and after I had been one of its "learned" priests for fifteen years, I began to see some of its history little by little. I gathered thousands of dollars worth of history books, many of which had not been printed for years. I scavenged through the country's libraries for rare texts that had been saved from the censorship of Rome.

   I felt a little like a member of a proud, princely, famous, and respected family, who suddenly find their actual family tree in the attic. Sitting on almost every branch there were murderers, liars, cheaters, robbers, blackmailers, bastards, white-slavers, prostitutes, and all kinds of wrongdoers.

   I felt like I had stepped into a Museum of Crime History, and I wandered from room to room, from century to century in this ecclesiastical wax museum, and everywhere I saw new varieties of crimes, vices, and moral decline, so that the pagan Rome and Greece seemed almost angelic.

   I outline this past in short just to prove that the present criminal record of the Roman Catholic Church is genuine heritage. We can find such from every century in history. (…)

 

4. Did Peter and Paul establish the church of Rome? If we continue to study Peter, who is so dear to the Roman Catholics, we find that many people believe that he was also the leader of the church in Rome. People think that Peter was a priest there for up to 20 years, and that Peter and Paul were the founders of that church.

    This belief is mentioned in, among other texts, a book by Jan Aarts, Paavi (The Pope, p. 6). In this book, Aarts described the belief that Peter and Paul were the founders of the Church of Rome:

 

This is how he was remembered also after the time of the Apostles and this status moved on to the Church of Rome and bishopric because Peter had stayed and suffered his martyrdom there. The Church of Rome was valued greatly in the first centuries because it was established by Peter and Paul, confirmed by their teaching and sanctified by their blood.  

 

But is this true? Were Peter and Paul really the founders of the Church of Rome? It becomes difficult to prove, at least if we examine the Bible in the light of the following points:

 

The church was in Rome before Paul visited there. The belief that Peter and Paul founded the Church of Rome together does not fit in with Paul’s letter to the Romans. When Paul wrote this letter in the year 57 or 58, there must have already been a church there for a long time; otherwise he would not have written in the following way and mentioned his desire to see these people:

 

 - (Rom 1:8-10) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

10 Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come to you.

 

- (Rom 1:13-15) Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that oftentimes I purposed to come to you, (but was let till now,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.

15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

 

- (Rom 15:23) But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you

 

No regards to Peter. Another observation that can be made from Paul’s letter to the Romans is that when Paul sent his regards to the members of the Church of Rome (Romans 16:1-15), he did not say anything about Peter. Certainly, he would have also sent regards to Peter if he had been in Rome (It has been said that Peter was the founder of the Church of Rome and that he lived there for 20 years). So, the fact that Paul did not mention Peter in his letter is a clear indication that Peter was not in Rome at that time.

 

The letters Paul sent from Rome. After Paul went to Rome as a captive – not to establish a new church – he sent three letters from Rome. It should be noted that in these letters he does not even mention Peter. Certainly he would have done this if Peter was in Rome at that time, especially if Peter and he had established the Church of Rome together. The fact that Paul does not mention him also suggests that Peter was not currently in Rome.

 

No reference in the Acts. In the Acts of the Apostles that describes activities up until the year 62 A.D. there is no mention of Peter staying in Rome. It is only mentioned that Paul lived in Rome for two years.

   This is significant because Peter was one of the central figures in the Book of Acts, and the church in Rome existed before the end of the book (i.e., the year 62 A.D.) Peter could not have founded this church. If he had briefly – or for 20 years – resided in Rome, then certainly the Bible would have mentioned it because it relates many "lesser" events concerning Peter. Why is nothing said about this? Is that not clear evidence that Peter had nothing to do with the founding of the Church of Rome?

 

Peter worked among his own nation. The different tasks undertaken by Paul and Peter do not support the claim that Peter founded the Church of Rome. Paul was called to be an Apostle of the Gentiles, but Peter worked mostly among his own people. Paul wrote about their different tasks in the following way:

 

 - (Gal 2:6-9) But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatever they were, it makes no matter to me: God accepts no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed to me, as the gospel of the circumcision was to Peter;

8 For he that worked effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:

9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go to the heathen, and they to the circumcision.

 

Does the Church of Rome have a special status? We brought up the idea that Peter and Paul together founded this church, and that it has been suggested that this particular church was already held in special regard at the time of the Apostles.

   However, we can say that this church did not have a special status any more than any other church. It was one church among many others, and its only claim of superiority was based on its location in one of the great cities of that time. Jan Aarts addressed this subject (Paavi, The Pope, p. 46). Aarts states that political factors began to affect church life to a great extent in the 4rd century.

 

Rome was the capital of the empire and, therefore, its political and administrative center. It was also an international center of culture and a meeting place. These issues naturally had an impact on the significance of the Church of Rome, but nothing in the first centuries indicates that they would have given the Church of Rome a special status over other local churches. Only when Christianity became popular (in 313 A.D.) and the official religion of the state (in 380 A.D.) did political matters start to greatly affect the life of the church. However, they did not really affect the position of Rome, but the position of Constantinople, which became the new capital in the year 330.

 

5. Celibacy of priests. One peculiarity of the Roman Catholic Church is the celibacy of the Pope and priests and nuns, which was prescribed by Pope Bonifatius VII in 1079. (Perhaps this too is based on the virginity of Mary as created by the church?) All of the three groups mentioned above are obliged by the Roman Catholic Church to remain celibate, and each of them must take a vow of celibacy, without which no sacraments can come into effect; if they get married, their holy tasks cannot be properly completed.

   However, does the Bible teach anything about the celibacy of priests? We are going to look at this matter in the light of the following verses:

 

Avoiding the sin of fornication. If we look at the general teachings of the Bible concerning the sexuality of man and woman, we clearly see that men and women should have a spouse. This is not meant to be compulsory but marriage is expressly meant to avoid the sin of fornication and also to satisfy our sexual needs. Paul brings up this teaching very clearly in his letter to the Corinthians, for example:

 

- (1 Cor 7:1,2) Now concerning the things whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

 

- (1 Cor 7:8,9) I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

 

What is the consequence of the Catholic Church’s not obeying this above-mentioned advice of the Bible? The following quote from a newspaper article illustrates this well (Helsingin Sanomat 10 April 1995, Jyrki Palo, Seksiskandaalit koettelevat katolista kirkkoa, “Sex Scandals Testing Catholic Church”). The article shows how the celibacy of the priests has led to sexual abuse and extramarital affairs. Therefore, it has created a path to immorality and by no means led priests into a purer life:

 

 (...) The Catholic Church requires of its priests absolute celibacy, i.e., it forbids all sexual relationships. Some married priests estimate that over half of their former colleagues actually live with a woman as if they were married.

   (...) Jeremiah Eisenbauer, a priest in the Austrian monastery of Melk, is one of those who deem celibacy inhuman. "It's high time to fight against such a system that almost unavoidably leads to (sexual) abuse,” he says in a letter to magazine Profil.

   Mr. Eisenbauer also heavily criticizes the hierarchy of central church authority "where ambitious persons can rise to leading positions to control others".

 

Doctrines of devils. In the verses above, Paul says that it is good to marry in order to avoid immoral sins, and elsewhere he says that the forbidding of marriage is one of the doctrines of devils. So compulsory celibacy is not the will of God, as the Catholic Church teaches; it is just the opposite: something taught by demons, just as Paul said.

   So when the Catholic Church forbids marriage, is this not the fulfillment of what Paul said? Or has any other organization forbidden marriage of its own employees as widely as the Catholic Church? We can honestly say that these words of Paul address the matter best:

 

 - (1 Tim 4:1-3) Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

 

Peter was married. An amazing fact is that Peter, whom many Catholics regard as the rock and the first Pope of the church, was himself married. He really was married, since some Bible passages speak about his mother-in-law and elsewhere Paul says right out that Peter, i.e. Cephas, had a wife. So a good question is why popes, who regard themselves followers of Peter, do not take heed of this advice? Should they not, as Peter's followers, also have a wife?

 

- (Matt 8:14,15) And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.

15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered to them.

 

- (Mark 1:30) But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and immediately they tell him of her.

 

- (1 Cor 9:5) Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

 

The husband of one wife. One verse where the Bible refers to the characteristics of a shepherd of a congregation also implies that they should have a wife. Paul speaks very clearly about this in 1 Timothy, and he indicates that the shepherd of a church should usually be the husband of one wife and able to manage his household. A good question is why has this advice not been obeyed and why has marriage been forbidden even though this Bible passage, for example, proves it to be favorable in the cases of the shepherds of the church?

 

- (1 Tim 3:2-5) A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4 One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

5 For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

 

Problem with the Catholic Church

 

Previously, we discussed the celibacy of priests, Peter as the substitute of Christ, the position of the Pope and Mary as mediators, and we noted that none of these are mentioned in the Bible. The Bible does not refer to these in any way; they are later inventions of the Catholic Church.

   This constitutes the greatest problem with the Catholic Church. When the doctrines are not supported by the Bible, it is possible for new, foreign doctrines to flow into the church. These have been coming ever more frequently and nowadays, the Church is pretty far astray. These new doctrines that have been gathered over the years have become regular "traditions", which have in fact replaced the Word of God.

   It is peculiar that the Catholic Church has officially confirmed the importance of traditions. This appears from the publications of the Catholic Church, such as the Finnish Catholic Catechism (1953) and a book describing the foundation of the Catholic faith, Katolisen uskon perusteet (Katolinen tiedotuskeskus, Helsinki, 1992). These publications give traditions a strong foothold: 

 

Is it enough that we believe what is in the Holy Bible?

No; we should also believe in tradition because tradition is an unwritten Bible. (Finnish Catechism, p. 9)

 

So what must Christians generally believe in?

Christians must believe everything that God has informed and what the Catholic Church urges us to believe, whether it was written in the Holy Bible or not. (Finnish Catechism, p. 10)

 

 (...) The Catholic Church emphasizes the connection between the Bible and tradition (...) (Katolisen uskon perusteet, p. 157)

 

  (...) The Catholic Church demands a right to accept some interpretation of the Bible as correct or to reject an interpretation, which distorts inherited belief. (Katolisen uskon perusteet, p. 83)

 

The fact that the Catholic Church sets tradition alongside the Word of God, or in practice to replace it, is a great tragedy. This is tragic because these new traditions displace the position of Jesus, the Son of God, as the only Savior, as He Himself said (in, e.g., John 14:6 and John 10:9) and replace Him with things that lead men astray and into damnation. So it is actually remarkable that even though the Catholics can respect Jesus as the Son of God and the Apostles as saints, they do not respect the written word that has come through them. They replace them with their later traditions.

    The appreciation of the Catholic Church for these traditions is in fact the same as was the appreciation of the Pharisees in Jesus' time for the same reason. These people who lived at the same time as Jesus, and who actually were the greatest opponents of the Gospel and Jesus, were guilty of setting their traditions and their human ordinances in the place of the Word of God. However, Jesus reprimanded these hypocrites for their offences:

 

 - (Matt 15:1-3 6-9) Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

2 Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

3 But he answered and said to them, Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

6 And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have you made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

7 You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

8 This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

 

 

 

4. Purgatory

 

The fact that Jesus has been pushed aside into a dark corner in the Roman Catholic Church becomes apparent from its doctrine of Purgatory. The sufficiency of Jesus' atoning work has not been taught; instead, the Church has relied on other things when attempting to replace Jesus and earn salvation. These other things include, for example, the mass, works, penance, and the doctrine of Purgatory.  

   As regards Purgatory, the Catholic Church also teaches that even though the death of Jesus made it possible for us to be freed from guilt and receive forgiveness of sins, it does not annul all punishment for sins. So, a sinner will not go straight to Heaven when he dies but he must first suffer a certain amount of punishment in Purgatory before he can step into eternity. However, some few souls, like the "saints", can go straight into Heaven. The most devoted Catholics think that they must spend at least some time in Purgatory in order to be cleansed from their sins and finally arrive in Heaven.

    This doctrine of Purgatory can be seen in the Catholic catechism, which teaches the following points, for example. One of them also mentions the typical activity of the Catholic Church, i.e., prayers and masses for those in Purgatory.

 

(Finnish catechism 1953)

Where does the soul go straight after the personal judgment ?

The soul will go either to Heaven, Hell, or the Purgatory.  (p. 57)

 

Which souls go to the Purgatory?

Those devout souls go to the Purgatory who have either departed from life in forgivable sins or who have to suffer timely punishment for their sins.  (p. 57, 58)

 

How long will the souls remain in the Purgatory?

The souls will remain in the Purgatory until they are perfectly clean and worthy to behold God. (p. 58)

 

What is our connection to those in the Purgatory?

We help them with prayers, alms and other good works, especially with the offering of the Holy Mass (the day of all souls).  (p. 55)

 

Purgatory was also mentioned in the Synod of Trento. They also deemed impossible the comforting teaching of the Bible concerning man’s everlasting punishment being wiped off already here on Earth:

 

If someone is to say that after receiving the gift of justification, every penitent sinner is forgiven, and the well-earned everlasting punishment is wiped away so that the debt to temporal punishment is not to be paid in this world or in Purgatory before entry to the kingdom of the heavens: let him be banned."  (Synod of Trento, ruling Tridentinum 22, C, 2)

 

What does the Bible say? Looking in the Bible, we can find no clear evidence supporting Purgatory. This teaching cannot be found in the Bible and the word is never mentioned there. Among others, the following passages teach that there is no Purgatory.

 

The thief went directly to paradise. An indication that the doctrine of Purgatory is not true is found in the story about the thief who died at the same time as Jesus. This thief who is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke did not arrive in Purgatory; he arrived in paradise on the very same day. We might ask, if Purgatory exists why did this thief not end up there because of the sins on his conscience? Why is this not mentioned in the Bible?

 

- (Luke 23:43) And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, To day shall you be with me in paradise.

 

Directly home to the Lord. Paul stated the same truth. He wrote that if we are children of God we will go directly to the Lord after we die; we will leave this body and enter into His presence. Paul did not mention anything about Purgatory or some kind of an interstitial existence:

 

 - (2 Cor 5:8) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

 

 - (Phil 1:23) For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

 

1 Cor 3:8-15. Verses that have been used to try to justify the doctrine of Purgatory include 1 Corinthians: "If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

  However, one must note that these verses do not refer to Purgatory; they just refer to our works, i.e., the reward that a believer can lose before the judgment seat of God. So if we have built on the foundation of Christ "from gold, silver and jewel", we will get our reward; if our building is only "tree, grass or straw" we cannot receive that reward, but we will be saved nevertheless. This is Paul's instruction regarding the matter in short; it contains nothing about Purgatory.

 

After death there will be the Judgment, not Purgatory. The doctrine teaching the existence of Purgatory includes the idea that one can atone for one’s sins even after death and make an impact on one’s own salvation, but this is impossible. According to the Bible, there is only judgment after death. So, if our name is not in the Book of Life now then we will absolutely not go to Purgatory after death. Instead, we will be eternally damned. Consider: 

 

- (Hebr 9:27) And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:

 

 - (Rev 20:12-15) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

Another matter worthy of consideration is the fact that if we have not made the decision to turn to Jesus and God in our lifetime then we cannot be helped by the prayers of other people such as our relatives once we cross the border. It is customary in the Catholic Church to conduct masses and prayers – generally subject to a fee – on behalf of the dead, but we must see that these masses and prayers can no longer help us beyond the border. Only if we turn to Jesus in our lifetime can we be spared judgment, because He eliminates it:

 

 - (Rom 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

- (John 3:17,18) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

- (John 5:24) Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.

 

Everything is already fulfilled.  A problem with the doctrine of Purgatory is that it annuls the atoning work of Christ. It claims that the redemptive work of Jesus is not sufficient and that we additionally need redemption after death, i.e., in Purgatory.

    But if we will look at the Bible, we see that it indicates that we enter into relationship with God through the atonement of Jesus, and that he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him. (Hebr 7:25)" So if God has already prepared everything, why do we need these doctrines of Purgatory and other special teachings? They are just futile traditions of men that benefit no-one; they only confuse people or lead them to support a vain idea that they can atone for their sins later on. If everything has already been paid for us, why should we mix things up by adding something new?

 

 - (Rom 5:10,11) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

 

 - (2 Cor 5:19,20) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God.

 

 - (Col 1:19-21) For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled

 

- (1 John 2:2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

 - (John 19:30) When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

 

 - (Hebr 7:25) Why he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

 

 - (Luke 14:17) And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

 

All sins forgiven. The Bible teaches that our redemption through Jesus is perfect and that if we turn to Him we will be forgiven all of our sins, not just some of them.

    So if all our sins – the whole lot – are forgiven and we are cleansed of them as the Bible says, then we do not need any other cleansing processes after death. They are futile and useless, and not even mentioned in the Bible:

 

 - (Col 2:13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

 

- (Hebr 10:17,18) And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

 

- (1 John 1:7,9) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

 

5. How can we be saved?

 

It is important that we have the correct teachings and idea of salvation. It is important because if we put our trust in issues that cannot save us, one day we may find ourselves in damnation. We may find ourselves in damnation because we have relied on things that do not hold fast on the other side of the border.

   Below, we are going to study salvation so that it might be clear to all. We will study it so that you who have not yet received eternal life can get it.

 

Can the church save? Many Roman Catholics regard their church as a "mother" and that people must be members of the church in order to be saved. They may also regard it as "the only right church", and believe that nobody can be saved outside of it. The Roman Catholic Catechism illustrates this position:

 

What is the significance of the Roman Catholic Church being the only church with the four distinctive marks of a Church of Christ?

It means that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the right Church of Christ. (p. 50)

 

What do we call the Catholic Church because it has received from Christ the power and means to lead people to eternal salvation? (p. 53)

For that reason, we call the Catholic Church the only church of salvation. (p 53)

 

Since the Catholic Church is the only church that saves, what is the responsibility of every man?

Everyone who knows that the Catholic Church is the right Church of Christ is obliged to be a member, to believe its doctrines, to enjoy its sacraments, and to be subject to its authority or lose eternal life. (p. 53)

 

However, the Bible contains no references to the church’s role in salvation. The Bible does not instruct people to join some special church in order to gain salvation.

   Instead, the Bible very clearly states that salvation is found in Jesus alone. He is the way to God the Father and to Heaven, not a church organization. Why would we not turn to him, since eternal life is in Him alone?

 

- (John 5:40) And you will not come to me, that you might have life.

 

 - (John 6:68,69) Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life.

69 And we believe and are sure that you are that Christ, the Son of the living God.

 

- (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.

 

- (John 8:24) I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.

 

- (Acts 4:11,12) This is the stone which was set at nothing of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

 

The conversation below illustrates what we are talking about: we cannot let a religious system blind our spiritual eyes so that we can not see the most essential issue. The people in this story (the description is from Vihasta vapauteen [From Fury to Freedom], Raul Ries, p. 127) were Roman Catholics who formerly were not able to distinguish essential from non-essential:

 

He seemed a bit relieved.

- Uh-huh, so it was. And yes, I needed that change. Sometimes it is very difficult to admit that religion that has always been in the family is by no means as good as we imagined. Or at least it hasn't worked very well. It is difficult when one has always been a Catholic...

   Father's voice faded away when he became lost in his thoughts. I could not help but feel compassion when I knew his conflicting feelings. Of course, Jesus was a very important part of the Catholic faith. He was the Savior, who died on the cross for all our sins. He was raised from the dead and now He is in Heaven. Those points were quite valuable to Catholicism and as also to me. And yet...

- Dad, the problem is that we cannot receive forgiveness through a religious system. We have to get forgiveness from Jesus. There are too many traditions and works of man in Catholicism that many people miss the main point. Those people will never know God. And even more common is that they will never know that God really loves them!

- Yep, he gave a laugh, - I was never sure about the existence of God… Not to mention a God who loves me.

   I laughed too.

 

THE sacraments or FAITH? Another consideration is the reliance of many people upon the Roman Catholic sacraments. In the Roman Catholic Church there are seven sacraments (baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, extreme unction, ordination and marriage) and it is commonly believed that God's saving grace is transmitted through them. These sacraments – except for the last two – are mandatory and if a man neglects to use the sacraments he may lose God's grace. The Catholic catechism also very clearly illustrates their importance. In that catechism are found the following instructions about sacraments:

 

How can the sanctifying grace be increased?

The sanctifying grace can be increased

1) by enjoying the sacraments,

2) by works performed in the condition of grace (p. 110)

 

What is a sacrament?

A sacrament is an external sign set by Jesus Christ, where God dispenses internal grace to us. (p. 112)

 

What grace do the sacraments give?

1) The sacraments give the grace of sanctification or increase what has already been received

 2) Each sacrament gives those gifts that correspond to its special purpose. (p. 113)

 

Through what are the gifts of redemption distributed?

The gifts of redemption are mainly distributed through the offering of the Holy Mass and by giving the holy sacraments. (p. 52)

 

We must note that the sacraments alone cannot save anyone. No ceremonies can themselves bring us God’s grace. It is essential that we believe in Jesus as the only source of our salvation; we receive this salvation simply by believing, by placing our trust in Him. When we believe in Jesus as Saviour, we no longer rely on other things, such as the sacraments or something in ourselves; we place all our trust in Him. Only in this way can we be saved:

 

- (John 3:14,15) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15 That whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

 

- (John 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

- (John 6:40) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

 

- (Acts 10:43) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins.

 

- (Acts 16:30,31) And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house. 

 

- (Gal 3:22) But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

 

- (Eph 3:11,12) According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

 

- (1 John 5:13) These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.

 

Confession – can a man FORGIVE SINS? The third thing that Roman Catholics trust for salvation is confession and the absolution of their sins, as delivered by a priest. They think that when they confess their sins to a priest, that priest really does possess the power to forgive these sins.

  Doctor Zachello, who was a priest in the Catholic Church, described how he faced this matter when he was in the confessional:

 

I was troubled mostly by suspicions in the confessional. People came to me, kneeled before me, and confessed their sins to me. And I promised with the mark of the cross that I had the power to forgive them their sins. I, a sinner, took the place of God. The people had broken God’s laws, not mine. Hence, they also should have confessed their sins to God, and pray for forgiveness from God alone. (11)

 

But it is good to note that no absolution given by man can replace the forgiveness and salvation that can be received from God alone. For, "Who can forgive sins but God only?" (Mark 2:7); and "Salvation to our God which sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Rev 7:10).

   So we can receive forgiveness for our sins from God alone. We receive it by accepting Jesus into our lives and turning to Him. The forgiveness promised by God is in Jesus alone, and not in the formulas for absolution given by the priests:

 

- (Acts 10:43) To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins.

 

- (Acts 13:38,39) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

 

- (Eph 1:7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

 

- (Col 1:14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

 

- (1 John 2:12) I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.

 

Doing ONE’S best. Some people may put their trust in doing their best. They think that when they do their best to fulfill the will of God, God finally gives His grace and acceptance to them. Luther explained this, "in the clarification of the letter to the Galatians" (Finnish text, p. 214):

 

The correct way to receive righteousness isn’t that you do what you can; this phrase is used by sophists and scholastics. They say that if a man does what he can then God will definitely give His grace to him. This saying is one of the most important of the sophists and quite fitting to the article of faith.

 

We must note, however, that doing your best is not enough in the eyes of God. The Bible tells us that, "Yet none of you keeps the law," and for that reason, we are under a curse. We are under a curse, and we can never be shown acceptable before God by our own works:

 

- (John 7:19) …and yet none of you keeps the law

 

- (Gal 3:10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

 

Our only hope of becoming acceptable before God is through Jesus. He fulfilled for us what we could not fulfill ourselves. He fulfilled the law for us, that is, he bridged the gap between God and man: He became a Mediator for us:

 

- (Gal 4:4,5) But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

 

- (Rom 8:3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

 

 - (Matt 5:17) Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

 

- (1 Tim 2:5,6) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

- (Hebr 9:15) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

 

THE ACTS OF Compensation and penance ordered by the priests are also included in confession. Those can include such tasks as reciting the Hail Mary, the Lord's Prayer or other prayers ten times, fasting, giving money, doing different kinds of good works, refraining from amusements, and/or other activities as ordered by the priest.

  The Catholic Almanac describes the significance of penance in the following way:

 

Penance is a necessary precondition for salvation (...) and Christ set it for the forgiveness of sins. (Finnish text, p.269, 559)

 

But can acts of compensation or penance remove our sins or save anyone? The answer is that they certainly can not. The following three points prove this:

 

Salvation is a gift. The first point that contradicts this notion that we can effect our own salvation through acts of compensation or penance as ordered by a priest is the fact that salvation is a gift. If we had to pay even a little bit, or somehow earn it, salvation would no longer be a gift but won on our own merits. Therefore, the gift must either be received or lost. The Bible states this very clearly:

 

- (Eph 2:8) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

 

- (Rom 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

 

- (Rom 6:23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

- (Rev 21:6) And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.

 

- (Rev 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

 

Not by works. The second point contradicting the notion that man can effect his own salvation through acts of compensation or penance is the fact that our salvation is not gained through works. It is significant that it was the Apostle Paul who said this; Paul wrote about himself, "I labored more abundantly than they all." (1 Cor 15:10). So, if Paul deemed his works insufficient to gain salvation how can we put our trust in our own works? Our own works can never take us to Heaven, and they can not deliver salvation to anyone else:

 

- (Rom 3:20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

 

- (Rom 4:6) Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man, to whom God imputes righteousness without works,

 

- (Gal 2:16) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

 

- (Gal 3:10) For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

 

- (Eph 2:8,9) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

 

- (2 Tim 1:9) Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

 

 - (Titus 3:5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

 

Actually, our actions ought to spring from salvation. We should not be doing things to earn salvation; instead, we ought to be doing things because we are saved. The following conversation illustrates this point:

 

- No, not so much in that but in what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

- Why do you think Christ suffered on the cross?

- Oh, I know that now. He hung there for my sins. He fulfilled what cannot be accomplished by any human power...

- But what will happen now to your acts of compensation and penance and your fasts and all your good works over these many years?

- Oh, don't speak about them. We can't add anything to that lovely redemption and atonement that Christ carried out. After all, you read me about His death on the cross because of my sins. There is nothing left for me to do...

   - How strange! If I understand you correctly, it seems to me as if you Protestants believe that we must confess our sins, and that we must have someone pray for us; you even seem to think that we must practice good works but only when we have been saved, not as tools to gain salvation, and you pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ and not in the name of the virgin Mary. (12)

 

Jesus' work for us. The third point that negates people's acts of compensation or other acts to gain salvation, is the fact that Jesus died for us, in our place. If he has already done everything for us, how can anyone’s actions work for their own salvation? It is almost 2,000 years too late for that:

 

- (Rom 5:6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

 

- (Rom 5:8) But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

- (Rom 8:32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

 

- (Gal 2:20)  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

 

- (Gal 3:13) Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree

 

- (1 Thess 5:10) Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

 

- (Tit 2:14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

 

- (1 John 3:16) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

 

- (1 Tim 2:6) Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

- (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

 

- (Hebr 6:20) Where the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

 

- (Isa 53:5-6) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

 

- (Rom 4:25) Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

 

Pope's view on salvation

 

Although many verses in the Bible indicate that the basis of salvation is Jesus' work on our behalf and that we are not saved through our acts, several popes have failed to understand this point.

   For example, Pope John Paul did not understand this. Instead, he replaced it with his own doctrine about salvation. His recommendations included giving up tobacco and alcohol, for example. He thought that people can receive forgiveness of sins through these things (which, of course, we should avoid.) This statement made by the Pope in which we find a conflict with the verses above appears in the following newspaper article published a couple of years ago.  When the Pope taught forgiveness of sins through giving up smoking, he was actually rejecting the work of Jesus and deeming it insignificant. Unfortunately, the Pope also led other people astray and to damnation, when he taught them to trust in actions that can never save them. His view was certainly caused by the fact that the Gospel had not become clear to him yet:

 

Giving up Smoking Brings Heaven Closer

 

Now the church has announced it – in the Vatican and from the mouth of the Pope himself: he who stops smoking collects valuable bonus points for redeeming his place in heaven.

   In an official letter or a bulla, published for the 2000th anniversary of Christianity, Pope John Paul lists the good works that can enable people to get absolution for themselves and relief for their loved ones in purgatory in the year 2000.

   Even by stopping smoking for one day, one can be forgiven many sins. The longer you are without smoking, the closer your place in heaven will be.

   The Pope's list of penances also includes giving up alcohol. When you don’t drink alcohol, you are again closer to paradise.

   The money saved by giving up these vices must, of course, be offered to charity.

   (...) Buying a remembrance mass for a dear departed is also regarded as a good deed. There is not an actual price for this mass, but everybody can pay what he wants. Usually, at least FIM 150 is donated to the church.

   People already in the spiritual realm can be helped in this way and their time in purgatory will be shortened.

  (...) Next year, you can shorten the list of your sins by making significant donations to the church or to social activity, by confessing, and by taking part in the communion.

   Good Catholics often go to church and pray expressly for the issues presented by the Pope that also include a long life for the Pope himself. (...) (13)

 

BEComing holy. One peculiarity of the Catholic Church is "canonization". The Catholic Church has a practice in which dead people are canonized: it is believed that these people were somehow special and chosen by God. For example, Pope John Paul ll canonized almost 500 people. (Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat 6 October 2003), more than all those canonized by his predecessors since the 1500s.

   However, everyone can be holy and righteous – not by oneself but through Jesus. The following points are associated with this topic and we will study them in more detail:

 

1. God justifies the wicked      

2. Not a goal achieved little by little

3. The foundation is Christ's obedience  

4. No difference between people

 

1. God justifies the wicked. Many Roman Catholics and religious people generally believe that a man must first be good enough before God can justify him. They may think that a man must first have enough merits and good deeds, and only then will he be found acceptable and righteous before God. They regard changing oneself and becoming good to be a precondition for the fulfillment of God’s justification.

   However, this viewpoint is quite incorrect. God does not justify our life and works, but us ourselves, without considering our merits. The Bible even states that God justifies the wicked and the ungodly: that is, persons who have no merits. This does not mean that good deeds should be undermined. They may and they should be a consequence of salvation, but by themselves, good deeds save nobody. Salvation takes place at the moment we turn to God through faith in Jesus:

 

- (Rom 5:6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

 

- (Rom 4:5) But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

 

- (Rom 4:6) Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man, to whom God imputes righteousness without works, 

 

- (Rom 3:28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

 

- (Rom 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

 

2. Not a goal achieved little by little. Righteousness and becoming holy is not a process. It does not mean that man first "by the influence of the sanctifying grace" (generally, the religious people also say that even the best life is of the grace of God) does enough good deeds and bears such fruit of the Spirit that God finally justifies him.

   Instead, we become holy and righteous before God in one moment -- that moment in which we turn to Jesus. The verses below explain that people already have righteousness, not that they get it little by little. Even though members of the church in Corinth, for example, were very imperfect they were still held as righteous, holy, and saints before God:

 

- (Rom 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

 

- (Rom 5:9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

 

- (1 Cor 6:11) And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

 

- (1 Cor 1:2)  To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s:

 

- (1 Cor 3:16,17) Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

 

3. The foundation is Christ's obedience. Many religious people may stress their religious achievements and compare themselves to others, by considering themselves better than other people.

   However, it does not make any difference if we are better than others when it comes to justification. The only possibility for anyone to become righteous is in the fact that Christ Himself was obedient before the law. Only when we understand that the foundation of our salvation and righteousness is outside of us, that it is in Christ who Himself was obedient before the law, can we really gain salvation:

 

- (Rom 5:19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

 

- (Rom 4:25) Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.

 

4. No differences between people. When we receive Jesus Christ into our life, one consequence is that we receive righteousness. Then, we are actually as acceptable before God as He Himself is, and this is why we can pray with confidence. This righteousness does not change daily as the tide, but it abides in us all the time, unless we ourselves give up to God, because it is not a question of our own righteousness, but the righteousness we get through Christ. The following verses are a few of the many references to this topic in the Bible:

 

- (1 Cor 1:30) But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

 

 - (Rom 3:22,24,26) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe: for there is no difference:

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.

 

- (Acts 13:38,39) Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

 

Also, when we receive the righteousness of Christ, there is no difference between us and the Apostle Paul; Elijah, the great hero of faith, was no more righteous than any one of us. Through the righteousness we gain through faith in Jesus Christ, we are all equal:  

 

- (James 5:16,17) Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

 

He THAT has the Son has life. We addressed how people can base their salvation on the wrong foundation. It is not correct to think that trusting in one’s own acts, the sacraments, or trusting in the help of Mary and the saints will produce salvation.

   We need only to do one thing to get eternal life and salvation: receive Jesus, the Son of God, into our life. No one is saved through actions, but only through faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. If we do not allow Him to enter our lives then we do not yet have eternal life. It is so simple:

 

- (1 John 5:12) He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.

 

However, if you want to have eternal life, you can get it in an instant. Take these steps:

 

1. Turn to God and give your life to him. The first step is to receive God and Jesus Christ. Confess that you are a sinner who needs salvation and say that you want God's plan to come true in your life. You do not need to try to become better first, just turn with all your defects toward God.

 

2. Receive Jesus. Eternal life is received as a gift from the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and receive Him into your life. You can repeat these words:  "Lord Jesus, come into my life.” The Bible teaches us that Jesus is  already standing at the door of our heart and is waiting for a chance to step into our lives: 

 

- (Rev 3:20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

 

If you do this, then – according to the Scripture – you are a child of God and you have eternal life. You have this eternal life, no matter how you feel at the moment. Do not base your assurance of salvation on your ever-changing emotions, but rest in the word of the Bible and on Jesus Christ, just like the anchor of a ship is never thrown inside the ship but always outside.

 

- (John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

 

- (1 John 5:11-13) And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12 He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.

13 These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.

 

THE PRAYER OF SALVATION. Lord Jesus, I turn to You. I confess that I have sinned against You and I have not lived according to Your will. However, I want to turn from my sins and follow You with all my heart. I believe that my sins have been forgiven by Your atonement work and I have received eternal life through You. I thank You for the salvation You have given me. Amen.

 

 

                                                               

References:

 

1. Quote from Marian kolmet kasvot by Paavo Hiltunen, p. 110, 111.

2. Pius lX, Ubi Primum, sit. Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary. The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion. Queenship Publishing Co., Santa Barbara 1993

3. Leo Xlll, Octori mense, Quote Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary. The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion. Queenship Publishing Co., Santa Barbara 1993

4.Quote from Vatikaani profetiassa by Leo Meller, p. 53,54.

5. Ries Raul, Vihasta vapauteen (From Fury to Freedom), p. 125, 126

6. Cruz Nicky, Juokse henkesi edestä (Devil on the Run), p. 19

7. Hiltunen Paavo, Marian kolmet kasvot, p. 82

8. Setälä Päivi, Keskiajan nainen, p. 42

9. Holmqvist Hjalmar, Kyrkohistoria 1, p. 152

10. Ries Raul, Vihasta vapauteen (From Fury to Freedom), p. 108

11. Berry Harold J. and Loraine Boettner, Roman Catholicism, p. 203

12. Bird Cyril Mrs, Missä vietät iäisyytesi?, p. 43,44.

13. Article in newspaper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, approximately in the year 2000 by Leena Sirkiä

 

 

Sources:

 

Paavo Hiltunen: Marian kolmet kasvot

Leo Meller: Vatikaani profetiassa

Jan Aarts: Paavi

Oswald J. Smith: Kutsu elämään [The Challenge of Life]

Raul Ries: Vihasta vapauteen [From Fury to Freedom]

Alberto R. Rivera: Alberto

 

More on this topic:

Theoretical belief. Many have faith in God, having outward forms of Christianity, and some are even church workers, but they still do not know the matter of salvation

Religiousness or faith? What is the difference between religiosity and saving faith in Jesus and God? They are not the same thing

Are you a foolish virgin? It is possible to be a member of the church and attend church, but still be a foolish virgin, or unsaved person. What are the characteristics of such religiosity?

About salvation. How do Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses understand salvation, and how their teaching differs from traditional Christian and biblical teaching?

Jesus and the Catholics. Mary, the merits of the saints, the works of atonement, and the sacraments have supplanted Jesus in the Catholic Church. Therefore, most lack salvation and certainty

Church leaders and God; that is, how many priests and bishops have drifted beyond the Christian faith

Misled priests; that is, how modern priests have created their own religion based on the basic assumptions of atheism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life

 

 

  

 

Grap to eternal life!

 

More on this topic:

Theoretical belief. Many have faith in God, having outward forms of Christianity, and some are even church workers, but they still do not know the matter of salvation

Religiousness or faith? What is the difference between religiosity and saving faith in Jesus and God? They are not the same thing

Are you a foolish virgin? It is possible to be a member of the church and attend church, but still be a foolish virgin, or unsaved person. What are the characteristics of such religiosity?

About salvation. How do Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses understand salvation, and how their teaching differs from traditional Christian and biblical teaching?

Jesus and the Catholics. Mary, the merits of the saints, the works of atonement, and the sacraments have supplanted Jesus in the Catholic Church. Therefore, most lack salvation and certainty

Church leaders and God; that is, how many priests and bishops have drifted beyond the Christian faith

Misled priests; that is, how modern priests have created their own religion based on the basic assumptions of atheism