Sunday, January 9, 2011

SACRAMENTS (God's Grace for Sale)

Today we will take a look at the concept of sacraments. The word “sacrament” comes from the Latin “sacramentum”, signifying something sacred, namely, an oath. It also denotes a “mystery.” Sacraments may be used differently by various groups and can be found in the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and even in some Protestant churches. But since they are most prominent in the Catholic Church, we will deal with the Catholic view of sacraments.


Portrait of a Sacrament

So what are Catholic sacraments, and how important are they?

There are many descriptions of them, e.g., sacraments are said to be visible signs of an invisible reality… visible signs instituted by Christ to give grace… signs that really effect what they symbolize… outward signs of inward grace… signs that accomplish what they signify… vehicles of grace… signs that cause us to be united to Christ in the deepest and greatest possible way... etc., etc.

Here are some statements from Catholic sources concerning their importance:

The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1113)

By His power He [Christ] is present in the sacraments… (Pope Paul VI, “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” a Constitution of the Second Vatican Council, Paragraph 7)

His purpose also was that they might accomplish the work of salvation which they had proclaimed, by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves. (Ibid., Paragraph 6)

Sacraments are "powers that come forth" from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church. They are "the masterworks of God" in the new and everlasting covenant. (CCC #1116)

The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. (CCC #1129)

Therefore, sacraments are extremely important to the Catholic Church. They are foundational to its existence and welfare, since they are “necessary for salvation.”

So, according to the Catholic Church, how does a sacrament actually work?

Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. (CCC #1127)

The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions. (CCC #1131)

What the Catechism is saying is that sacraments are symbols that have the power to “confer” / furnish / supply grace and to actually do what they symbolize (e.g., baptism actually washes away sin, and the Eucharist actually becomes Jesus’ flesh and blood, etc.)


Warning

Finally, what happens if one does not believe it?

The Council of Trent declares:

If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify; or, that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith, and certain marks of the Christian profession, whereby believers are distinguished amongst men from unbelievers; let him be anathema. (Session 7, Canon VI)

If any one saith, that by the said sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred through the act performed, but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices for the obtaining of grace; let him be anathema. (Session 7, Canon VIII)

So, we see here that if one does not believe what the Catholic Church teaches about the sacraments, he is declared “anathema” by the Catholic Church. An anathema is the gravest (most severe) form of excommunication, where one is eternally condemned to Hell unless and until he does penance to the Church’s satisfaction (see the online New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia – under the topic, “anathema”).


Symbol or Reality?

There is a confusing problem with the Catholic idea of sacraments. In the Eucharist, for example, Catholics believe that Christ is somehow present in a “sacramental” way (whatever that means). But if sacraments “accomplish what they signify”, if they actually do what they symbolize, then why do they need to symbolize at all? Catholics believe the Eucharist is not JUST a symbol, but is both “the real thing” (i.e., Christ’s actual body and blood) and at the same time, a SYMBOL of the “real thing.” But a certain object cannot be BOTH a symbol of something else AND its reality. It is either one or the other. If it is a symbol of a particular thing, then it is not that particular thing. If it is literally the “real thing,” then there is no need for it to be a “symbol of itself.” You can’t have it both ways. This is simply equivocation. No such thing exists in Scripture, nor in the modern world that we live in.


A Biblical Concept?

The concept of sacraments with “special powers” that can earn (or control the amount of) grace given to someone is certainly not biblical. How can a person “control grace” by rituals, objects and ceremonies? How can grace be dependent on works (especially grace for salvation)? It isn’t. But this is a typical example of the works-based salvation of the Catholic Church.

But grace is not something you can buy through the performance of a ritual. By its very definition, grace excludes works. Grace is usually defined as “the UNMERITED favor of God.” It cannot be earned or bought.

Then how do we get grace, according to the Bible? Grace is received by FAITH, not by works, ceremonies or “sacraments.” (Romans 4:16; 5:2; 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9) See also our three-part series on “Faith Alone” and our “Sola Fide Revisited” article, elsewhere on this blog.


Conclusion

Some may accuse us of being “anti-sacramental,” and automatically assume that we believe that “matter is evil.” But this is ridiculous and does not necessarily follow. We don’t think that matter is “evil,” nor do we make it a “spirit versus matter” issue.

And we are not against symbolism. Symbols are fine. Symbols help us to understand many concepts. They are very useful and meaningful in our everyday lives and in Scripture. But they don’t save anyone. One is saved by simply trusting in the work and the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross for us, and that alone.

Not only is the Catholic concept of sacraments NOT IN SCRIPTURE, it is also AGAINST Scripture. It is a system of obtaining the priceless grace of God by works and rituals. Any system that can buy the grace of God is corrupt and anti-biblical, and anyone who believes in this view of sacraments is in serious doctrinal error, whether they claim to be Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant.

20 comments:

  1. Hello,

    I stumbled on your blog. What is it that makes you think Sacraments aren't in Scripture?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello TheDen,

    Thanks for your comment.

    It is true that certain aspects of Catholic sacraments can be found in Scripture. But I’m denying the “special powers” that they supposedly carry which “produce grace.” THAT is what we cannot find in Scripture. Grace is not something that can be bought or earned by performing a prescribed ritual.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Russell,

    I think we have different understandings of the definition.

    For a Catholic, to have faith is more than just a belief. It's our response to God (CCC 26). By faith, man completely submits his intellect and will to God. (CCC 143).

    In essence, to have faith is to be completely obedient to God per Scripture. Christ tells us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. If we love Him, we will have faith in Him and we will be obedient to Him. That's what faith is.

    So, when He says something like, "Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," (Matthew 28:19) We are obedient and baptize all disciples.

    In Baptism, we are reborn into Christ. Per John 3:5, we are reborn with water and the Spirit. We are stripped of our sinful selves and reborn clean. The grace we receive unites us to Christ and strips us of our sins.

    In Baptism, Paul tells us in Colossians that we were circumcised with a circumcision not administered by hand, stripping off our carnal body. (Colossians 2:11).

    When Paul tells us that when we were baptized, we were "baptized into His death" explaining that we were buried with Him so that we rise with Him.

    He also tells us in Romans that we were Baptized into His death so that we may rise with Him in the Resurrection. (Romans 6:3-5)

    John the Baptist explains that with Christ's baptism we will be like wheat where our sinful chaff will be separated from us by His winnowing fork (Matthew 3:11-13) where the chaff will be burned away by fire.

    And Peter tells us that Baptism is what saves us (1 Peter 3:21).

    I think it's pretty evident that Baptism is necessary and essential per Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, Peter, and Paul.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello again TheDen,

    I agree with the great majority of what you said. If one is truly saved, yes, he will want to be (and should be) water baptized and also do other good works.

    In Scripture, people are ALWAYS saved first, THEN water baptized as a (normally) public display of one’s commitment to Christ.

    Concerning John 3:5, there are other (and I believe better) interpretations of this verse than those which lead to water baptism. For example, it can certainly mean that one is saved when his heart is transformed “by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Another possible (and acceptable) interpretation of John 3:5 would be that it’s a comparison of natural birth, with its water (amniotic fluid) in the womb, versus the spiritual birth, which happens later within the heart when one turns to God.

    You also mentioned 1 Peter 3:21 as referring to water baptism being able to save. But if the Apostle Peter wanted to use an analogy to illustrate how water baptism saves a person, he certainly picked a poor example in Noah and the flood.

    This passage cannot be saying that water baptism saves. It was not the WATER that saved Noah and his family (the water was actually the threat, i.e., God’s judgment). Salvation came by entering into the ARK (which represents Jesus Christ), not entering into the water.

    Noah and his family were “baptized into” (i.e., immersed / placed into) the ark to escape God’s wrath. The same happens today; a person is saved (escapes judgment) when he places himself in the “Ark of our Salvation” by faith, i.e., trusting in Jesus’ work on the cross, and that alone.

    You see, not all references to “baptism” will mean “water baptism.” But one can still properly say that “baptism now saves you”… but only in the sense that he is referring to the person’s “ingathering,” or his being “incorporated into the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:13). But this is done by faith, not water baptism. Water baptism is simply a symbol expressing what has already happened in his heart.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Russell,

    Russell: “In Scripture, people are ALWAYS saved first, THEN water baptized as a (normally) public display of one’s commitment to Christ.”

    No, that’s not necessarily true. Baptism is what saved them. In Acts 16, they talk about the jailer and how he had his entire family baptized. Crispus in Acts 18 also has his entire family baptized. They both had their families baptized before they necessarily believed.

    Russell: “Concerning John 3:5, there are other (and I believe better) interpretations of this verse than those which lead to water baptism. For example, it can certainly mean that one is saved when his heart is transformed “by the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Another possible (and acceptable) interpretation of John 3:5 would be that it’s a comparison of natural birth, with its water (amniotic fluid) in the womb, versus the spiritual birth, which happens later within the heart when one turns to God.”

    There are too many references to Baptism to think otherwise. There is no reference to birth from the womb in John. NOTE that immediately after they meet with Nicodemus, Jesus and His disciples set up a Baptism ministry (John 3:22). John is showing the significance of what He had just said to Nicodemus.

    Russell: You also mentioned 1 Peter 3:21 as referring to water baptism being able to save. But if the Apostle Peter wanted to use an analogy to illustrate how water baptism saves a person, he certainly picked a poor example in Noah and the flood.

    I don’t think you’re understanding what Peter is talking about. He’s not talking about Noah being “baptized into the ark” but rather that they were saved through water. What this means is that God destroyed the sin of the world through water and through water, saved Noah. So now, Christ destroys the sin of the world through water and through water, we are saved, “not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

    Another reference to Baptism is shown in Titus 3:5 where Paul explains that he saved us, “by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ.”

    You can believe what you want to believe; however, the early Church Fathers are in agreement that Baptism is necessary for Salvation, Jesus instructs us to Baptize and that we must be “Born of Water and Spirit.” Forgive me for not trusting you but I think I’ll listen to the Church--and Scripture on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  6. TheDen,

    You said that the families in Acts chapter 16 and 18 were baptized before they necessarily believed.

    But this would be absurd. What would be the purpose of baptism without belief? Why would a person by baptized BEFORE he even believes? What is he baptized into? If you don’t believe yet, then what are you embracing in baptism? If one is too young to believe, then one is too young to be baptized. In Scripture, BELIEVING the gospel is the very reason FOR getting baptized.

    By the way, you emphasized that whole families were baptized, but this negates nothing that I said.

    You said that there is no reference to birth from the womb in John 3. But that’s not true. Nicodemus said, (v. 4) “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?” And Jesus answered, (v. 6) “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” In this context, Jesus was contrasting physical / natural birth with spiritual birth.

    Concerning 1 Peter 3:21, you said:

    “He’s not talking about Noah being ‘baptized into the ark’ but rather that they were saved through water. What this means is that God destroyed the sin of the world through water and through water, saved Noah. So now, Christ destroys the sin of the world through water and through water, we are saved…”

    So, (with this line of reasoning) since God isolated Noah from the arena of sinful people, and thus “saved” Noah and his family, does this also mean that if a sinner can be sufficiently isolated from bad people and their activities, that this will save him? Of course not. We can see the absurdity of this type of logic if carried out to its conclusion.

    Also, if this really is about water baptism, it seems that it would be more accurate to say that it was those who perished in the flood who were “baptized,” not Noah. It was the unrepentant multitude who “went under” the water (as one does in water baptism). So, it makes no sense to try and force the idea of water baptism into this context as that which saved Noah. The floodwaters were not the cause of salvation. Any Sunday school child knows that it was the ARK that saved Noah and his family, not the water. Why is it that some find this hard to grasp?

    It seems that those who see “water baptism saves” in the context of 1 Peter 3:21 tend to lessen or deny the role of the Ark (Jesus Christ) as the Savior.

    TheDen, I am amazed that you would even mention Titus 3:5 to support water baptism, since it totally nullifies your argument: If salvation is “Not by works of righteousness,” then this would exclude water baptism and all other sacramental rituals.

    Lastly, you mentioned the early Church Fathers being in agreement about baptism’s necessity for salvation. But see my post on the Church Fathers here:
    http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2009/12/church-fathers.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. 1. SACRAMENTS (God's Grace for Sale)

    Today we will take a look at the concept of sacraments. ....until he does penance to the Church’s satisfaction (see the online New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia – under the topic, “anathema”).


    Thanks for providing a fair presentation of the Catholic doctrine on Sacraments. Although, and without meaning any disrespect, it is obvious that you don't understand the Catholic Teaching, you have presented the Catholic Teaching from Catholic sources without marring or changing it in any way. Thanks again.

    Symbol or Reality?

    There is a confusing problem with the Catholic idea of sacraments. In the Eucharist, for example, Catholics believe that Christ is somehow present in a “sacramental” way (whatever that means).


    It means "mysterious". Above you said correctly, The word “sacrament”…. also denotes a “mystery.”

    Therefore, we believe Christ is really present in the Holy Eucharist, but we don't know how He does this. It is a mystery.

    But if sacraments “accomplish what they signify”, if they actually do what they symbolize, then why do they need to symbolize at all?

    Because the realities which they accomplish are "invisible" or "spiritual" and we can't see them with our eyes of flesh, but only with the eyes of faith.

    Catholics believe the Eucharist is not JUST a symbol, but is both “the real thing” (i.e., Christ’s actual body and blood) and at the same time, a SYMBOL of the “real thing.” But a certain object cannot be BOTH a symbol of something else AND its reality.

    Hmm? I think you've gotten a bit confused about the symbol, the Sacrament and the effect.

    1st. The Eucharist does not symbolize Christ. It is the Real Presence of Christ in the guise of Bread and Wine. Not a symbol in that respect.

    2nd. The Sacrament is not simply the Transubstantiation of the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is the communion of the people with God by consuming the Sacrifice of the New Testament.

    3rd. The Sacrament then, symbolizes the union of the faithful with God. Therefore, the Sacrament of the Eucharist is foremost the Sacrament of Union with God.

    1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.139
    1416 Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant's union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.

    I don't blame you for being confused on this matter. I think that we, Catholics, sometimes presuppose that others understand our jargon. But, by way of clarification, if we speak of the "THE" Eucharist, we are generally speaking of the HOST. Whereas if we speak of EUCHARIST, we are generally speaking of the Sacrament of Communion or of the Mass (the setting wherein Communion is celebrated). We also have a Eucharistic service, which is not the Mass, wherein we simply attend Communion. And we also bring the Eucharist (or Communion) as viaticum to those in danger of death. There are possibly other ways in which we use the terminology which are not strictly according to the Church's official definitions.

    cont'd

    ReplyDelete
  8. 2. It is either one or the other. If it is a symbol of a particular thing, then it is not that particular thing. If it is literally the “real thing,” then there is no need for it to be a “symbol of itself.” You can’t have it both ways. This is simply equivocation. No such thing exists in Scripture, nor in the modern world that we live in.

    Hm? Actually, such a "thing" does exist in Scripture and it is the most important "thing" in our lives.

    Men are the image of God and as such, signs of God's existence. But we are not God. We are creatures. However, Christ is the image of God and as such a sign of God's existence. But He is God:

    Colossians 1:15
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

    A Biblical Concept?

    The concept of sacraments with “special powers” that can earn (or control the amount of) grace given to someone is certainly not biblical.


    No. The concept of man earning and controlling grace is not Biblical.

    The concept of sacraments …is certainly not biblical.

    Yes, the concept of Sacraments, wherein one asks God for healing and receives the grace through visible signs is eminently Biblical. I'll only mention a couple, maybe three.

    1st, Jesus Christ is Himself a Sacrament, a visible sign of the invisible God through whom all grace is given to the world.

    2nd. We can go to 2 Kings 5:9-11 wherein water from the Jordan river is used to wash the body and to transfer God's healing grace to Naaman. The water itself did not cause the healing. Otherwise Naaman did not need to wash seven times nor did he need to wash in the Jordan. But God healed Naaman by the sign of the Jordan's waters which signified at one and the same time, His Presence and His Favor.

    3rd. We can jump also to the healing of the blind man where God, in the Person of Christ, did not need to use mud, but used it nonetheless, to heal the blind man (John 9:6).

    Sacramentalism, the mystery of God's working in the world, is part and parcel of the Revelation of God. It is written:

    Romans 11:33
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

    How can a person “control grace” by rituals, objects and ceremonies?

    No man can control God. God moves and works through men to accomplish His will:

    Philippians 2:13
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    But in order for God to work, we must be faithful and obedient:

    Matthew 13: 58And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

    cont'd

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  9. 3. How can grace be dependent on works (especially grace for salvation)? It isn’t. But this is a typical example of the works-based salvation of the Catholic Church.

    Hm? I think you've got the idea inverted. God is not dependent upon man. Man is dependent upon God. And man is dependent upon God to give them His grace. It behooves us therefore, to ask God for His grace through the Sacraments, just as the blind men and paralytics were used to ask Christ for His grace.

    But grace is not something you can buy through the performance of a ritual. By its very definition, grace excludes works. Grace is usually defined as “the UNMERITED favor of God.” It cannot be earned or bought.

    Protestants have a powerful misconception in that regard.
    1st. Grace is not earned. Jesus Christ, Grace incarnate, died on the Cross that ALL men might be saved.

    2nd. But the application of His saving grace is merited. If it were not merited, then the whole of the human race which ever existed, including those who have not ever repented, would be saved. Because they did not merit the grace of salvation, they did not apply it to their lives nor could they.

    God is not unjust. Those who love Him receive His grace by meriting it keeping the Commandments.

    3rd. And some men, after accepting and applying the grace to themselves, rejected it by their actions and lost their salvation.

    4th. But others, persevering in well doing (Romans 2:7), made their calling and election sure.

    Then how do we get grace, according to the Bible? Grace is received by FAITH, not by works, ceremonies or “sacraments.” (Romans 4:16; 5:2; 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-9)

    Actually, according to the Bible, grace is received by faith and works. It is those who have faith who will do the works of God and thus receive His Grace.

    See also our three-part series on “Faith Alone” and our “Sola Fide Revisited” article, elsewhere on this blog.
    Awesome! You're going to keep me busy for days!

    cont'd

    ReplyDelete
  10. 4. Conclusion

    Some may accuse us of being “anti-sacramental,” and automatically assume that we believe that “matter is evil.” But this is ridiculous and does not necessarily follow. We don’t think that matter is “evil,” nor do we make it a “spirit versus matter” issue.


    Good. Because Scripture is clear that God works through matter.

    And we are not against symbolism. Symbols are fine. Symbols help us to understand many concepts. They are very useful and meaningful in our everyday lives and in Scripture. But they don’t save anyone. One is saved by simply trusting in the work and the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross for us, and that alone.

    I believe that is Catholic Teaching. Although Scripture does say, "Baptism now seventh", the meaning as we understand it is that God saves those who believe and are Baptized.

    Not only is the Catholic concept of sacraments NOT IN SCRIPTURE, it is also AGAINST Scripture.

    I believe I have shown that it is not. I have not even needed to show the Seven Sacraments described in Scripture. Oh and frequently, Protestants are under the impression there are only Seven Sacraments, but there are many more. However, the Seven Sacraments are the ones which the Church knows Christ instituted for our salvation.

    It is a system of obtaining the priceless grace of God by works and rituals. Any system that can buy the grace of God is corrupt and anti-biblical, and anyone who believes in this view of sacraments is in serious doctrinal error, whether they claim to be Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant.

    Hm? What is the ritual known as "Altar Call"? What about the ritual known as "prayer"? And what about the ritual of "taking Christ into one's heart"? How about the ritual of reading Scripture?

    You have tons of rituals of your own, but you don't recognize them as such. But we do. And we see nothing wrong with either our rituals or yours. Whereas you have impugned yourself by your condemnation of ours.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

    ReplyDelete
  11. De Maria,

    Our beloved Lord was crucified on a cruel cross, he was forsaken of his father, he was humiliated by men, spit upon, smote, bruised and mocked. He willfully gave up his life, God raised him up from the dead and he now sits at the right hand of God NEVER again to be in the hands of men plagued of sin. Our Lord is the creator of heaven and earth the Alpha and Omega and to believe that a person can take the litteral body of our Savior in his hands and into his mouth is plain blashemy.

    Sincerely,

    De Cristo

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi De Maria,

    I had asked:

    “…if sacraments ‘accomplish what they signify’, if they actually do what they symbolize, then why do they need to symbolize at all?”

    And you said:

    “Because the realities which they accomplish are ‘invisible’ or ‘spiritual’ and we can't see them with our eyes of flesh, but only with the eyes of faith.”

    But sacraments ARE the symbols / signs of what is happening. To say that they are MORE THAN symbols is to go beyond Scripture. There is no object in Scripture which is both a symbol of something else, and at the same time, “that something else.” It is nonsense to say that something is a symbol of itself.

    When I said that the concept of sacraments is not biblical, you attempted to use some “examples” from the Bible:

    “Jesus Christ is Himself a Sacrament, a visible sign of the invisible God through whom all grace is given to the world.”

    Jesus Christ is indeed the Source through Whom all grace is given, but I was speaking of OBJECTS and RITUALS (as commonly used by Catholics) as examples of something that imparts grace for salvation. We already know that Jesus supplies grace for salvation, but He is God in the flesh – He is not an object or ritual. Calling Him a “sacrament” does nothing to legitimize this unbiblical concept of sacraments.

    Then you used 2 Kings 5:9-11 where Naaman washed seven times in the Jordan. You (rightly) claimed that the water did not cause the healing, but then you made it sound as though it did when you went on to claim that God healed Naaman “by the sign of the Jordan’s waters,” and that the Jordan River was used “to transfer God's healing grace to Naaman.”

    The water of the Jordan contributed nothing to the actual healing (as you admitted), and the Jordan had nothing to do with “transferring grace” to Naaman. God simply decided to use the Jordan River in this particular event (perhaps symbolically). Although rituals (like water baptism or the Lord’s Supper) or objects (like handkerchiefs - Acts 19:12) MAY BE involved in some notable events, His children obtain grace for healing, salvation, etc., through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10) and humility (James 4:6), not through the objects and rituals.

    Thirdly, you pointed to the healing of the blind man (John 9:6) as an example of a sacrament, when Jesus applied mud to the blind man’s eyes. Again, He uses a symbol (mud) here, but there is no power / grace in the symbol itself. Once again, God is not confined to using a particular object or a particular ritual to heal or save (as the Catholic concept of sacraments seems to suggest). But it is the channel of faith that He consistently uses.

    ReplyDelete
  13. (Part 2)

    Catholics are guilty of the same error as those who worshipped Moses’ brazen serpent (2 Kings 18:3-4). By the time Hezekiah became king, God’s people had taken a God-ordained symbol and OVER-EMPHASIZED that symbol, eventually turning it into an object of worship. Likewise, Catholics put way too much emphasis on the symbols.

    You said:

    “1st. Grace is not earned. Jesus Christ, Grace incarnate, died on the Cross that ALL men might be saved.”

    I agree 100%. But then you say:

    “2nd. But the application of His saving grace is merited. If it were not merited, then the whole of the human race which ever existed, including those who have not ever repented, would be saved. Because they did not merit the grace of salvation, they did not apply it to their lives nor could they.”

    I understand your point, and I basically agree that one has to “apply / access” this grace in order to be saved. But the term “merited” is basically the same as “earned.” The biblical position is that salvation is accessed by FAITH, e.g., the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31) and the thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43). It is by trusting and believing in the Person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, and it is not merited through works or sacraments.

    Concerning Protestant rituals, you said:

    “Hm? What is the ritual known as "Altar Call"? What about the ritual known as "prayer"? And what about the ritual of "taking Christ into one's heart"? How about the ritual of reading Scripture?

    You have tons of rituals of your own, but you don't recognize them as such. But we do. And we see nothing wrong with either our rituals or yours. Whereas you have impugned yourself by your condemnation of ours.”

    I don’t deny that Protestants have rituals. Everyone does. But the altar calls, prayer, Scripture reading and good works in general are simply the effects of the change in one’s heart when one is truly saved.

    We only condemn your rituals and sacraments because they are believed to contribute to your salvation, not just because they are rituals.

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  14. De Cristo said:

    Our beloved Lord was crucified on a cruel cross, he was forsaken of his father, he was humiliated by men, spit upon, smote, bruised and mocked. He willfully gave up his life, God raised him up from the dead and he now sits at the right hand of God NEVER again to be in the hands of men plagued of sin. Our Lord is the creator of heaven and earth the Alpha and Omega and to believe that a person can take the litteral body of our Savior in his hands and into his mouth is plain blashemy.

    What does Scripture say?
    John 6:54 (King James Version)

    54Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

    ReplyDelete
  15. Russell said:
    When I said that the concept of sacraments is not biblical, you attempted to use some “examples” from the Bible:....
    Jesus Christ is indeed the Source through Whom all grace is given, but I was speaking of OBJECTS and RITUALS


    Well, you should have been more specific Russell. Jesus Christ is indeed a sign pointing to God and God all at once since He is God and man.

    Sincerely,
    De Maria

    ReplyDelete
  16. Russell said:


    That's a much better explanation than symbol of that which " something is a symbol of itself."

    1. The Sacrament symbolizes the grace it imparts.
    2. The Sacrament symbolizes in material form, the action which God effects in our soul.

    We already know that Jesus supplies grace for
    salvation,


    He continues to do so, through the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church.


    but He is God in the flesh – He is not an object or ritual. Calling Him a “sacrament” does nothing to legitimize this unbiblical concept of sacraments.


    The unbiblical idea is that "sacraments" are unbiblical. The examples I provided are ideal samples of the mystery of God's grace moving through earthly materials. Your denial simply shows your lack of faith. As though God would be hampered by matter.

    Then you used 2 Kings 5:9-11 where Naaman washed seven times in the Jordan. You (rightly) claimed that the water did not cause the healing, but then you made it sound as though it did....

    No I didn't. That is the typical Protestant straw man. Claiming that we ascribe Divine Power to material things. It is patently ridiculous. God works through matter and is not hindered by it. Those who deny this simply show their lack of faith.

    Due to lack of time, I'll skip to the next subject.


    Russell said...
    (Part 2)

    Catholics are guilty of the same error as those who worshipped Moses’ brazen serpent (2 Kings 18:3-4).


    No we're not. We only worship God.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

    ReplyDelete
  17. Russell said:
    I understand your point, and I basically agree that one has to “apply / access” this grace in order to be saved. But the term “merited” is basically the same as “earned.” The biblical position is that salvation is accessed by FAITH, e.g., the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31) and the thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43). It is by trusting and believing in the Person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, and it is not merited through works or sacraments.

    1. It is merited by faith which is proven by works of love.
    2. God does not save those who only claim to have faith. He saves those who prove their faith by their works.
    3. You basically accuse Catholics of saving ourselves by our works. Let me ask you, do you save yourself by your faith? I suppose your answer will be no. As it should be.

    Then understand that our faith is merely a concrete faith which can be seen by our action. Therefore, we are saved by God because of our faith working in love. That is, because we keep the Commandments.

    The Sacraments are like pre-Judgement events, wherein God saves us because of our faith.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

    ReplyDelete
  18. Russell said;


    Concerning Protestant rituals, you said:

    “Hm? What is the ritual known as "Altar Call"? What about the ritual known as "prayer"? And what about the ritual of "taking Christ into one's heart"? How about the ritual of reading Scripture?

    You have tons of rituals of your own, but you don't recognize them as such. But we do. And we see nothing wrong with either our rituals or yours. Whereas you have impugned yourself by your condemnation of ours.”

    I don’t deny that Protestants have rituals. Everyone does. But the altar calls, prayer, Scripture reading and good works in general are simply the effects of the change in one’s heart when one is truly saved.

    We only condemn your rituals and sacraments because they are believed to contribute to your salvation, not just because they are rituals.


    That is simply the Protestant lack of faith speaking. As though Jesus were somehow hampered by matter. But Christ said:
    Matthew 9:5
    For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

    For Christ there are no obstacles. And if He said we are born of water and the Spirit, it is so.

    Ephesians 5:26
    That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

    ReplyDelete
  19. De Maria,

    I was wondering what you thought about the verse in John 6:58. "..he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." Do you believe it is speaking litterally?

    Thanks,

    De Cristo

    ReplyDelete
  20. De Cristo,

    It is a spiritual teaching:
    1 Corinthians 2:14
    King James Version (KJV)
    14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Those who keep the Commandments and eat the fruit of the Tree of Life which is the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, receive the right to enter Eternal Life, which is Salvation.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

    ReplyDelete