Sunday, May 15, 2016

DOES EXODUS 19:6 SUPPORT A CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD?



And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6)

In the Bible, some things carry over from the Old Testament into the New.  Some things don’t.  Certain laws were specifically for the Old Testament Jews and for a specific limited time in history.  For example, grain and animal sacrifices… certain ceremonial, clothing and dietary laws… and the tabernacle and its furnishings are all only types and shadows of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10:1).  Those things were just for the Old Testament Jews to follow and they don’t carry over into the New Testament.  They were fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4).  Another practice that is not intended for the New Testament is the “ministerial” priesthood, where only certain “ordained” men using certain ceremonies and rituals could mediate between man and God.

But the Catholic Church will insist that there is indeed a New Testament ministerial priesthood (like in the Old Testament) and one Catholic argument that they use to try and prove this is the “three-fold priesthood.”  This brief article is to specifically address this (and only this) three-fold argument.  The Catholic reasoning goes something like this:

1) In the Old Testament, the Jews had a high priest (Leviticus 21:10).
2) In the Old Testament, the Jews had ministerial priests (Exodus 19:22).   
3) In the Old Testament, the Jews also had a universal priesthood [one that makes every believer a priest] (Exodus 19:6).
4) Conclusion:  Therefore, since the New Testament also has a High Priest like the Old Testament does, and it also has universal priests like the Old Testament does, it would make sense if all three of these same positions would carry over into the New Testament.  If the Old Testament has three types of priest, so should the New Testament.

We could possibly agree with our Catholic friends if, AND ONLY IF, the premises were all correct.  Now, we agree with the first two premises, but not the third.  Therefore, we don’t reach the same conclusion, either. 
 
Many who read Exodus 19:6 still don’t realize that the Old Testament did NOT have a universal priesthood.  Why would we say this after reading that verse?  Well, a universal priesthood was indeed promised by God to the Jews, but it was a CONDITIONAL promise (i.e., it was dependent on the Jews’ obedience).  Read it in context.  Just one verse before, God said:

Exodus 19:5 - “Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine:” 

Please notice the “IF ye will obey My voice” part.  Catholics seem to always miss this point - that the Jews first needed to be fully obedient to God’s covenant in order to obtain such a special priesthood.  But we all know of Israel’s failure (as a nation) to obey God’s voice in the Old Testament.  They were clearly and willfully disobedient over and over again.  Therefore, the Jews never got to enjoy this status of being a universal priesthood.
 
For the Old Testament Jews, the promise of a universal priesthood was dependent on THEIR obedience to the Law.  For New Testament believers (both Jew and Gentile), the promise of a universal priesthood is dependent on our faith in JESUS’ obedience to the Law, and on HIS work on the cross.

Exodus 19:6 is still a valid promise to the Jews and they will indeed enjoy that privilege one day (Isaiah chapter 61).  There are many, many promises to the Jews not yet fulfilled, and Exodus 19:6 is only one of them.
 
So, the bottom line in this priesthood debate is this:  There were only two functioning priesthoods in the Old Testament – a high priesthood (Leviticus 21:10) and a ministerial one (Exodus 19:22).  And there are only two in the New Testament, as well - the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1), and a universal priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6).  No other Christian office of priest is mentioned in the New Testament.  Since there are only two in each Testament, and since the high priesthood is common to both, it follows that our New Testament universal priesthood has taken the place of the Old Testament ministerial-type priesthood.
 
Therefore, Catholics can’t use this “three-fold argument” to support the Catholic priesthood.  Not only does this apply to Catholics, but this also applies to the Orthodox Church and certain Protestant groups, as well.  It affects any group who claims to have such a “sacramental” or ministerial-type priesthood for today.

As stated earlier, this article was written specifically to address this one Catholic argument.  For a fuller treatment of the priesthood issue, see here:



Thursday, April 28, 2016

THE INFLUENCE OF MOTHER TERESA



Few people would recognize the name of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.  But Agnes came to be known as “Mother Teresa of Calcutta” and this title was a name recognized worldwide by the time of her death in 1997.  Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun who also actually won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.  She spent a great part of her life caring for the sick and dying, the “poorest of the poor,” in the slums of India. 
 
Mother Teresa is an icon in the Catholic Church and has influenced multitudes, causing many to want to be like her.  It has been said of her that:


  •    She “spent her life with the Lord”

  •  [Upon her death] “The world has lost a saint on earth, but gained an extraordinary powerful intercessor in heaven”

  • “I am convinced that she is already in glory”

  •  “Mother Teresa imitated Christ and her life was a lesson in love”

  •  She was “an extraordinary missionary”

  •  “She was in every sense a woman of the Gospel”

  • “She is the United Nations.  She is peace in the world”

  • She has “opened for mankind the portals of heaven and shown us the Heart of God”

These are just a few of the things said about her by archbishops, cardinals, fellow nuns, and a former U.N. secretary-general.  See the quotes on the Catholic EWTN link here:


But Mother Teresa has made some comments that should be disturbing to any true Christian.  According to an EWTN article, Mother Teresa is quoted as saying:

“There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God.  I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.”  See here:


On another website devoted specifically to Mother Teresa, a priest who knew her states:

“Here is a short testimony of someone who was closely associated with Mother Teresa for 23 years:  ‘I am a Hindu and I never saw the slightest evidence in all my 23 years of knowing Mother Teresa in the Missionaries of Charity, of converting [other people to Christianity]…’”

And also:

“When I asked her whether she converted, she answered, ‘Yes, I convert.  I convert you to be a better Hindu, or a better Muslim, or a better Protestant, or a better Catholic, or a better Parsee, or a better Sikh, or a better Buddhist.  And after you have found God, it is for you to do what God wants you to do.’  She wanted people to come closer to God (however they understood Him)…”  See here:


So Mother Teresa was concerned about making you a better “whatever you are.”  Really?  And if you were a Satanist, would she have helped you to become a better Satanist, as well?  Is it an act of Christian love to cause someone to be more deeply entrenched in false doctrine than he is already?  It seems so, according to Mother Teresa.  But this is not love at all and this is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The truth of the gospel will help a person to remove himself from that false doctrine, not embrace it (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
      
In encouraging them to be a better Hindu / Muslim / Sikh, etc., she absolutely ignored the fact that Jesus said that He is the only way to God (John 14:6).

To make matters worse, many of those whom she steered more deeply into their false religions were on their deathbeds, desperate for one last chance at the hope of eternal life.  Herein was a small window of opportunity for real hope and real help for those dying souls, and she held back the truth of the gospel from them! 
 
She could have attempted to turn them away from their error.  But what began as an incredible opportunity for salvation in a place of deep spiritual darkness, ended up being a wasted opportunity.  Those poor heathen souls in India had great physical needs, but their greatest need, salvation, was not met by Mother Teresa’s message.  What they needed was the simple, biblical gospel of Jesus Christ, which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).

We have seen attempts by Catholics to justify Mother Teresa’s method, but no argument and no amount of damage control can justify this clearly unbiblical behavior.  This is not how a Christian should share the gospel or convert the lost.  Instead of having “profound respect for all religions,” she should have presented Jesus Christ alone as the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).

Not only was Mother Teresa a voluntary victim of the Catholic Church’s unbiblical works-based system of salvation, she was also a voluntary victim of her own unbiblical universalist idea (the idea that everyone is a child of God).

Sadly, in spite of her undeniable faithfulness to the Catholic Church and her unmatched labor and continual sacrificial giving, she experienced what she called “the dark night of the soul” for many years during her ministry.  In her very personal writings to her superiors, she wrote:

“How cold – how empty – how painful is my heart – Holy Communion – Holy Mass – all the holy things of spiritual life – of the life of Christ in me – are all so empty – so cold – so unwanted.  The physical situation of my poor, left in the streets unwanted, unloved, unclaimed – are the true picture of my own spiritual life, of my love for Jesus…” [Emphasis added]  See the link below.

What an incredible statement to make by someone who claims to belong to Christ!  She wholeheartedly held to the Catholic Church’s teachings, and a more faithful follower could hardly be found.  Yet, the pitiful Mother Teresa felt miserable, alone, and desperate.  By her own admission, she never knew God’s peace during these many years, if she ever knew it at all.  Maybe – just maybe -- God intended through this to show the utter futility of salvation by works, by using someone of her caliber to reveal that truth.  If Mother Teresa (who was so totally devoted to her works) could not have peace about her salvation through good works, then how could anyone?!! (Philippians 3:2-9)

We fear that the canonization (sainthood) of Mother Teresa is inevitable.  She was so loved by so many that she will be eagerly rushed by the Catholic Church to the status of “saint.”  This makes her increased influence all the more disturbing.  Multitudes will end up in a Christless eternity (Matthew 7:13-14) because of her words.  She should have heeded and shared the simple biblical gospel (Acts 16:31), rather than her false universalist / Catholic “gospel” (Galatians 1:8-9).

Please prayerfully read the link below.  It is an article from a former priest who makes a hard-hitting, yet compassionate, case concerning Mother Teresa’s work and her pitiful plight:


Saturday, March 19, 2016

THE CHURCH’S FATAL ERROR




“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 - NASV)

“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth?  I tell you, no, but rather division.” (Luke 12:51 - NASV)

These are the words of Jesus Christ. 

Division?  But why would Jesus want us to have division?  Isn’t Christianity all about unity?  The Bible is clear that God wants the Christian church to have unity (e.g., John 17:22; Acts 2:42-44; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Peter 3:8), but it MUST be unity in the truth.  We can’t emphasize this enough.  And we get truth from His Word (John 17:17).  In the context of the opening verses above, Jesus is warning that we will have persecution when the gospel message changes our lives – and many times it’ll be within our own family.
 
Jesus said He would bring division because the pure gospel of Jesus Christ offends many.  It is very exclusive because Jesus claims to be the ONLY way to God (John 14:6).  And the gospel message should never be watered down just so we can hold hands with the people who are offended by it.  The truth of the gospel will cause division.  You can’t have light mixed with darkness, and you can’t have truth mixed with false doctrine.  There must be conflict between truth and error.

So, if Jesus came to bring such division to assure the separation of truth and error… then why did Pope Francis say in his first prayer video on “interfaith unity,” that we are ALL children of God, “regardless of [our] religious profession”?  That is simply not true.  Apparently, this was said to avoid offending people, not because it is scriptural truth.  We were all created by God, but we are certainly not all His children.   And note the deceptive phrase that the pope uses, that these groups were “meeting God in different ways.”  He seems to be implying that there are other acceptable ways to God, apart from Jesus Christ.  At least, that’s what one would think from watching the video.  See the article and video here:


By the way, each of the four people in the video (Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew) present a symbol of their faith.  But why would the Catholic priest (who is supposedly representing Christianity) present a baby as the symbol of Christianity?  Why not a cross?  It was at the cross that Jesus’ redemptive work was done, not when He was a child.  Again, it seems that this was done to avoid offending the others.  And should we be impressed by the fact that the four people in the video all profess, “I believe in God,” and then, “I believe in love”?  Are we now supposed to get a warm and fuzzy feeling about the false teachings of Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist faiths and accept them wholeheartedly?  No, if they deny the Son, they deny the Father as well (1 John 2:23).  There’s the division that Jesus was speaking about.

And why did Pope John Paul II have several “prayer meetings” in Assisi, Italy, giving a platform for a voodoo high priest, witch doctors, Hindus, and others who deny the Son of God?  They certainly don’t believe the same things that Christians do.  But most importantly, they don’t believe what Jesus said in John 14:6:

“…I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

There are no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” here.  You are either saved by Jesus Christ alone, or you are not saved at all.  There is no middle ground.  This is a crucial, absolute, God-inspired statement made by Jesus Christ, with no leeway.  You cannot join hands with these groups and, at the same time, be faithful to what He says in this verse.

Having said all this, it is not just the Catholic Church that is involved with this unholy ecumenical union.  The danger of this deception applies to the church in general, not just to any single group or denomination.  The Catholic Church (headed by the pope) is probably the most influential group that is supporting this movement.  But, sad to say, there are also many Protestant / Evangelical people (even leaders) who are deceived by this dangerous trend, as well.  Eventually, most will join this ecumenical gathering, putting aside sound doctrine in exchange for “unity.”  It is this same spirit of antichrist that we see in Revelation.  This coming together, this merging of religions, this ecumenical movement is the foundation upon which the one-world church is being built.  By the way, if you haven’t caught on yet, this “one-world church” is a bad thing.  This type of unity may seem to be the right thing to strive for (Proverbs 14:12), and it may appear to be some sort of solution to our problems, but it will only cause more confusion and apostasy – it is leading souls away from God.  This merging is voluntary now, but it will be forced under the rule of the antichrist (Revelation 13:8, 12, 15).

Dialogue with people of other faiths is fine, and even necessary.  And we should be patient and loving with them.  But we should dialogue with the intent to win them over.  We are not doing them any favors when we tell them that their religion is simply another path to God.  We need to be honest with them.  Letting them remain in false doctrine is not love.  We must tell them the truth (Ezekiel 3:18-20; 33:6).  According to John 14:6, if THEIR religious beliefs are true, then we, as Christians, are living a lie.

Sadly, many in the church today are readily accepting the fatal error of this ecumenical movement.  They are being trapped in a “feel-good” system in which “love” and “tolerance” abound, a system in which biblical doctrine is tossed aside, and man tries to solve his problems in his own way, while ignoring and rebelling against God.

In conclusion, the Catholic Church is, spiritually speaking, not a safe place to be; but neither is any other church that promotes this kind of unity.  A general rule of thumb is, if the whole world is attracted toward something, then there is probably something wrong with it.  Just because something is trendy or popular doesn’t mean it is good.  Such is the case here concerning the joining together of all the world’s religions.  Let God’s Word (the Bible) be the test for all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  Humbly and faithfully study His Word for yourself and it will not lead you astray.

“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.  “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17 - NASV)

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 - NASV)