Wednesday, August 17, 2016

MATTHEW 16 - HAVE THE GATES OF HELL PREVAILED?



Matthew 16

v. 13) When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His Disciples, saying, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?”

v. 14) And they said, “Some say that you are John the Baptist: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the Prophets.”

v. 15) He said unto them, “But whom say you that I am?”

v. 16) And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

v. 17) And Jesus answered and said unto him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood have not revealed it unto you, by My Father which is in Heaven.”

v. 18) And I say also unto you, “That you are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”

v. 19) “And I will give unto you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.”

Introduction

This will be the first article in a series dealing with Matthew 16.  This wonderful passage above contains great encouragement for the church of Jesus Christ.  However, the Catholic Church claims that this passage  is “proof” that they are the church that Jesus has established from the beginning.  Here, they believe that Christ singled out Peter the apostle and made him the first of many popes.  They also see in this passage a special gift given to Peter alone, and they believe this somehow points specifically to the Catholic Church.  They derive some of their foundational doctrines by misreading these verses.  But these Catholic doctrines are founded on shifting sand (Matthew 7:24-27).

The Tactic

When someone accuses the Catholic Church of teaching false doctrine, the Catholic will often say, “Oh, no!  If the Catholic church would fall into error, then this would mean that Jesus’ words to Peter (“the gates of hell will not prevail against it”) would be false.  You wouldn’t want to call Jesus a liar, would you?!!  Therefore, the Catholic church cannot possibly teach error.  It is indefectible.  It is infallible.”

Or so they say.

The Gift of Indefectibility?

In last month’s article, we mentioned that the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia stated:

“The gift of indefectibility is expressly promised to the Church by Christ, in the words in which He declares that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” 

Well, the Catholic Church is not indefectible by any means, and this supposed gift of indefectibility was not at all “expressly promised” to them, or to anyone else, for that matter.  This is a misinterpretation of the passage.  See this article:


The Gift of Infallibility?

And neither is the church infallible.  “Infallible” means, in part, that one cannot teach error.  Since Peter was an apostle and since he wrote two infallible books of Scripture (1 and 2 Peter), he did have access to infallibility when teaching or writing under the inspiration of God.  But there is nothing whatsoever in the above passage that would suggest that Peter’s successors would be infallible or teach infallibly.  The Catholic Church reads into this passage a special privilege for themselves that no one else can claim.  After all, according to them, they are the true church of Jesus Christ.  But every article on this blog is a testimony to the fact that the Catholic Church is NOT the church that Jesus Christ built.

The Gates of Hell Will Not Prevail

Jesus promised the true church that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.  There are several arguments over what exactly this means, but basically, we know that Jesus is saying that the true church will endure to the end and succeed in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and His saving work on the cross, and winning souls, keeping those souls from going to hell.  This is how the gates of hell will not prevail.  It has nothing to do with a particular group “never teaching error.”

Error in the Church

Again, the Catholic Church believes that this is a “can’t-teach-error” passage, and that it only applies to THEM.  But if “hell prevailing” means that error was taught, then hell did indeed prevail, because there were all sorts of error in the early church.  That’s the very reason why the great majority of the epistles in the New Testament were written in the first place.  They were written to correct FALSE TEACHING within the church!  Although the church did not experience a complete apostasy, error was present in different degrees and at different times, even in the early church.  See these examples:  Acts 20:17, 28-30; Galatians 3:1-3; 2 Thess. 2:3, 10-11; 1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:3-4;  2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 3-4; Revelation chapters 2 and 3.

Therefore, Matthew 16:18 must have a different meaning than what they think it means.  It is not about an office of a “pope” with successors who could not possibly teach error.  It is not about indefectibility or infallibility for a particular denomination.  It is about the gospel, the good news of the salvation of Jesus Christ, the True Messiah, Who is the head of the church, and Whose gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  THIS is the foundation on which the church is built, and it has nothing to do with Catholicism.

Qualifiers

Yet, the Catholic Church continues to teach that this passage is about an infallible church.  But they will “qualify” (limit or restrict) the scope of this “gift of infallibility” by saying things like, “But this ONLY applies to OFFICIAL teachings of the Church.  For example, the Catholic Church’s gift of infallibility only applies when the pope is making an official pronouncement; and it’s got to be directed to the whole Church.  It’s not just when a pope offers his opinion or some unofficial comments about a teaching, nor for ‘disciplinary decisions,’ but it has to be when he is formally declaring something.  Furthermore, it is only a ‘negative protection’ for the Church.  This means that although the pope doesn’t necessarily always teach what he needs to teach, this gift simply prevents him from teaching error as truth, so it’s only used in a negative sense.”

But this is all special pleading.  The Catholic Church conveniently tailors this “gift” with ridiculous qualifiers to suit the needs (and ego) of the Church.  There is so much read into these verses that the original meaning of the passage is unrecognizable!  Their interpretation of the passage is a fantasy… and it is a perversion of the Scriptures.

And using “supporting” verses like 1 Timothy 3:15 (“the church is the pillar and foundation of truth”) doesn’t help, either.  Here, Paul’s instruction to Timothy was basically, “You need to be a pillar,” not “You are guaranteed to be an infallible pillar.”  See here:


And they also try to support their interpretation of Matthew 16 with verses like Luke 10:16 (“he that hears you hears Me”), but this was spoken by Jesus to the seventy, not to the apostles.  So, when ANY believer shares the truth of the gospel, Jesus is saying to that believer, “He that hears you hears Me.  So, these verses do not at all support the Catholic Church’s twisting of Matthew 16 and their claim of an infallible papacy.

Conclusion
Two things we know for sure:  1) “The gates of hell have not prevailed against the church” is a true statement, but NOT for the same reason that the Catholic Church says.  It is not because the church cannot teach error.  It is because of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) of spreading the gospel, which is the power of Jesus Christ for every believer.  And 2) The Catholic Church is NOT exempt from error, even in its official statements.  There are far too many contradictions between what the Bible says and what they teach.

We will continue addressing Matthew 16 and the Catholic Church’s view of it in our next article.

15 comments:

  1. Hi Russell,

    There are only contradictions between what God Teaches and what you teach. The Catholic Church Teaches the Wisdom of God.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria

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  2. Hello Russell,

    What made you dubious about the teachings of Romanism? In other words, I am asking what led you to questioning the truthfulness of its teachings. How did you feel when you left the Roman Catholic Church? Did you feel any sort of relief or were you upset about the changes that you had to make in your daily life? Did you ever have secondary thoughts about returning to the Church? Have you ever re-examined your beliefs to make sure that they were in perfect alignment with scriptural instruction? When did you leave Catholicism? Where did you learn all of this important stuff about doctrine? I am inquisitive.

    I apologize for asking questions that are irrelevant to the materials posted in this article. Russell, I don't expect you to answer any of these if you feel too uncomfortable or saturnine about your past experiences. All that we can really do is just keep sharing the truth of the gospel to the people who are in need and pray that they experience genuine conversion.

    Thanks for your time,
    Jesse

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    Replies
    1. Hey Russell,

      Long time, no post!

      Could you PLEASE (pretty please) answer some of Jesse's questions!?

      Jonathon

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  3. Hello Jesse,(Part 1)

    As you may know, I was born and raised Catholic for about twenty years or so. I had never read the Bible up to this point, but every now and then I would wonder about some of the teachings of the Catholic Church. But one day a new guy got hired at work who was a Christian. I didn’t like him at first, but he shared the gospel with me and I ended up getting saved through his witness. We also became great friends. He was really the first one who helped me see the errors of the Catholic Church. But it would be years before I would have an intense interest in collecting Bible verses and putting something together to share with Catholics.

    I guess some of the first teachings that I really questioned were things like Purgatory, Mary’s role in the Bible, praying for the dead, the rosary, calling priests “Father,” etc. Even back then, I felt that there were far too many contradictions between Catholicism and Scripture for Catholics to be right. My wife and I still attended a Catholic Church for a short time after we got saved, but I soon realized that we had to leave.

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  4. (Part 2)

    A strange event happened once after I had read an article in a local Catholic newspaper. I decided that I HAD to write to let them know how I felt about this short article being unscriptural. My letter was written to the local Catholic bishop. A year or so later, I was speaking to a local priest with whom we were on friendly terms. And out of the blue, he asked me one day if I had written a letter to that same bishop earlier. He took me aside and kind of rebuked me for causing “division in the body.” But I wasn’t even Catholic at that time. Anyway, I was astonished that he would have known about the letter at all. The only thing that I could think of was that this letter of mine may have ruffled some feathers and the letter was obviously kept on file with my name. I had to wonder, what kind of other information could they have? Do they keep a list of “trouble-makers”?

    Anyway, my leaving had nothing at all to do with changes that I had to make. I often hear of people leaving the Catholic Church because the Church wouldn’t let them live together (unmarried), or they didn’t like the Church’s stance on contraception, etc., etc. No, we left the Catholic Church for doctrinal reasons.

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  5. (Part 3)

    As far as having secondary thoughts about returning to the Catholic Church, I sort of did two or three times. But these were times in which I was intensely struggling with some teachings that slick Catholic apologists would defend with great, eloquent arguments, and it just seemed that I could not answer these arguments. Jesse, I wanted to be honest with myself and with God, so I had to pray, “Lord, I don’t know how to answer this argument. But if this Catholic argument is indeed correct, show me from your God-breathed Word, and if it is, and if You show me that they are on the right path, then I will go back to Catholicism. I want to be absolutely honest and truthful, WHEREVER the truth leads, Lord.” But God was faithful and always showed me that these seemingly “unanswerable” Catholic arguments were either ultimately unscriptural, not logical, or somehow deceptively presented. I am not saying that I have all the answers, but I know that Jesus is the answer and His Word (or at least the principles therein) can help us to answer life’s issues, theological or otherwise.

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  6. (Part 4)

    I have to confess that James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries was a major help in these times of confusion and intense struggle and debate with Catholics. I know that a lot of people hate him, but he is an excellent debater when it comes to Catholicism. I don’t agree with his Calvinism, but he has really good answers when dealing with Catholics. I thank God for his help and many of his reformed associates, as well. There were also many other people who helped me greatly in my journey. Thank God for them all.

    Jesse, I’m sorry for being so long-winded, and I hope it wasn’t too personal for your taste, but that’s kinda my story. As you mentioned, I don’t usually like to stray off topic too far, so please forgive me for that.

    One more thing. Many people who read this blog may doubt this, but I really do love Catholics. I was one of them. There are many, many good Catholics who are lovely people who would give you the shirt off their back. It is a tragedy that these good people are trapped in this deadly system. I am well aware of their system of bondage. That’s why I share the gospel with them (and Protestants also). God bless, Jesse.

    In His Name,
    Russell

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  7. Hello Russell,

    You confused my name with Jonathon's. But's that a bit comical and okay with me! It looks as if our buddy was just about as curious as I was about your conversion to non-denominational Christianity.

    I am really impressed with your determination to discover the Truth and remain in it. You really do have a strong spiritual resistance to the evils in this world. Hopefully God continues to bless you as you continue to share the gospel with those who need it. Let it lead the world to salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) so that it can be saved through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus (1 John 2:1-2). And I'm glad that you spoke in a personal manner.

    I was once a Baptist Christian. Then, I was enrolled into a Catholic school and was practically conquered by the indoctrination. I really did consider converting to Romanism about four years ago. One day, I realized that I needed to return to my senses and stop depending on my fallible emotions. My confusion led me to start conducting research on doctrine and I picked up my Bible to discover what was true. Boy, the road to Hell is paved with all sorts of good intentions (Proverbs 14:12)! Catholicism only sounds true to the ignorant people (like I was).

    I tell you, those Catholics seem to almost always be able to "explain away" at the evidence clearly refuting their dogma. What really keeps them poor souls in that system of bondage is the allegedly infallible church. Do you have any suggestions to help Catholics see past that evil trap? Any tips regarding evangelization?

    I have been non-denominational since then.

    Thanks for your witness,
    Jesse

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  8. are your articles infallible so that i can believe them? if they are not there is a high chance that you are deceiving me. how can the Church that Paul calls the pillar and bulwark of the Truth lack infallibility if it has to have those marks? what do you understand by Extraordinary, Ordinary and Authentic Magesterium? do you understand the Tradition and traditions of the Catholic Church? Jesus and the Church are one, how can the Head be infallible and Indefectible yet the Body does not have those gifts? how can it be possible for one can confirm that the Pharisees were to be listened to everything they said Matthew 23 because they sat on Moses 's Seat and when He builds His Church, He just leaves it with no one we can confirm truth from? the Protestant mess of differing opinions and everyone being infallible and not agreeing on opinions of verses is this what God intended for the Church? where the Apostles divided? what about those who leant from the Apostles what did they say about the infallibility of the Church?

    And using “supporting” verses like 1 Timothy 3:15 (“the church is the pillar and foundation of truth”) doesn’t help, either. Here, Paul’s instruction to Timothy was basically, “You need to be a pillar,” not “You are guaranteed to be an infallible pillar.”
    i will use your interpretation of the verse above to give an example of the Confusion you are in:
    1. yourself you are infallible
    2. your interpretation of that same verse is different to mine, because you simply want to avoid the Catholic position you found means to run away, in a foolish way by ignoring the obvious. i do not know why you are getting the "you need to be the Pillar" when the verse says " The pillar and bulwark of the Truth", the verse is saying that IT IS THE PILLAR AND BULWARK OF THE TRUTH not it needs to be.

    now we have a problem its now my interpretation against yours? who is correct? non of us is infallible, if you claim that yours is correct you are actually infallibility which you deny when it is applied to the Catholic Church and apply it to yourself thats interesting hey. you can even go further to attack any Church with their interpretation and claim yours is the correct one. its just a seed for confusion.
    good luck in your Sola Scriptula

    the keys given to Peter confirm the infallibility because God cannot bind that which is error or loose that which is error?
    the Pope normally makes infallible teachings when there is dispute over certain teaching in the church and then it expressly teaches what is truth from Error, a good example is on the Arian Heresy, the Church was protected from Error as it confirmed what had always been taught always and everywhere from the time of the Apostles, when he bound alone or along with all bishops that was infallibility there is no room for error there its different when he is making teaching on technology because its a matter of opinion and it does affect the teachings received once and for all from the apostles.
    2. Jesus prayed that Peter will be the strength of his brethren luke 22:31-33, it means that he shall confirm/strengthen them in truth when time need be like in the example i gave on the arian heresy, actually the word confirm is used in other versions of the bible.
    3. our Lord promised that He shall be with us until the end of the world? so He is in us and protects us from errors

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  9. Hello Anonymous,

    Thanks for your interest and your comments.

    I just want to ask you one two-part question before I fully address the things you said:

    How do you know that the church is the bulwark of the truth and how do you know that the Catholic Church is the true church?

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    Replies
    1. The Bible says it is the Pillar and Bulwalk of the Truth read 1 Timothy 3:15 in your comfusion she can actually help you.
      How do i know that it is the true Church, well thats simple, It was founded by Jesus and it was the only Church from Jesus until the schism and the Reformation(deformation), it is Apostolic that you can trace its teachings to the apostles and those taught by the Apostles.

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  10. Anonymous,

    You are telling me to read 1 Timothy 3:15 and giving me your thoughts on it, but you just said above that none of us is infallible, right? So, how do you know that you are correctly interpreting that verse if none of us is infallible?

    And you are telling me that you know that the Catholic Church is the true Church because it was founded by Jesus. But aren’t you getting that from the Bible (Matthew 16, etc.)? Why is your interpretation better than mine if we are both fallible? Why is fallibility an issue AT ALL?

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  11. hie Russell

    we know that the Church was founded by Christ not only because of the Bible, History records that. Matthew was written about 10 years after the Church had already started. even if you are to read Acts it shows things which had already happened. so my basis is on the fact that the Church pre-exists the writings.

    fallibility is an issue, a big one actually. if you are not infallible then then there is no reason to listen to whatever you claim to be true.

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    Replies
    1. Perfect,

      But what does the age of the church have to do with the authority of the Scriptures? How does "being there first" make something have more authority than another object? It could possibly be the other way around, you know. You really did a great job of presenting a false dichotomy!

      Fallibility is only a big issue to your brain because you do not want your Church to be wrong! One does not need to be infallible in order to understand something correctly.

      You really need to think twice about your arguments before you present them. Look at your last statement. Since you are not infallible either, there is "no reason to listen to whatever YOU claim to be true." You are defeating yourself!

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