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The Fourth Day of Apostasy: Free Grace Salvation

January 22, 2015

The Fourth Day of Apostasy

I submit that the book of James is critically important for those who wish to discern the errors of our time. James focuses our attention to the various causes and symptoms of “false faith.” He asks “Can that faith save you?” Click here for Day 1 (Liberal Theology), here for Day 2 (Prosperity Gospel) and here for Day 3 (Liberation Theology).

[Please note that I am NOT making any claim that particular Christians who are part of these movements are unsaved! Further, many truths may be taught and practiced by those who hold to these teachings. What I am suggesting is that the abuses found in the movements promote apostasy]. The links to the opinions of others may differ from those of my own.
Strike up the music:
On the fourth day of apostasy, James is warning me… of FREE GRACE SALVATION, Liberation Theology, Prosperity Gospel, and of Lib-er-al Theolo-gy.

 

Apostasy #4 – Free Grace Salvation

Keyword(s) from James: Faith without works (James 2:14)

Teaching: The Carnal Christian Gospel

Beginnings: Antinomian Controversy, John Cotton, Anne Hutchinson

Motto: “Lordship may come later, but it is not necessary”

Influencers: Charles Ryrie, Zane Hodges

Mouthpiece: Grace Evangelical Society

Effects: False assurance; sowing of tares in the church

Cultural icon: Elmer Gantry

Adherents: Dallas Theological Seminary, many evangelicals

Interesting reading: MacArthur on Lordship Salvation (link)

 

Click here for: A Message for Free Grace Teachers

 

I. No evidence. What use is it, brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? Show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:14,18. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil. 1 John 3:7-8.

 

II. One can receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and exhibit no obedience or holiness of living. They can live a carnal lifestyle, bearing little or no fruit (showing no evidence of the new birth), and still be saved from hell. Even those who go on to repudiate the faith are saved, since they met the requirement for salvation when they previously believed in Jesus as their Savior. Free Grace theologians see James’ admonition (can that faith save you?) as being rescued from the temporal consequences of sin. So, a fruitless faith may lead to illness and death, but will not result in eternal damnation in hell.

This theology is totally contrary to Scripture. Faith is always tied to repentance in the Bible. Only one kind of faith saves: a repentant faith. Sorrow for sin, ongoing repentance, and the “fruits of repentance” are marks of true Christians. For an excellent rebuttal of Free Grace Theology (a/k/a “No-Lordship Salvation”), click here. PLEASE READ THIS ARTICLE!

 

III. Confusion as to the interaction of faith and works as regards to salvation is not new. It has been the center of controversy from time immemorial. In America, the battle began in 1636 with the so-called Antinomian Controversy. The Puritans who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony were Christians, many of whom fled England due to religious persecution. The founders of the colony were also the founders of the church in the New World. Certain preachers began teaching that true Christians were united with the Holy Spirit when they first believed, and that assurance of salvation came only through union with the Spirit. Assurance was never to be sought by inspecting the fruit of the Christian’s life. Those who taught the doctrine of sanctification as necessary fruit of the Christian were condemned by these teachers as holding “a covenant of works” rather than the “covenant of grace.” John Cotton and Anne Hutchinson were involved in spreading the “antinomian” teaching. The churches in Boston favored the new theology. Those of the surrounding towns were solidly opposed. Eventually the leading “antinomians” were charged with sedition.

 

IV. Christ as Savior, but not Lord. Free Grace theologian Bob Wilkin writes:

“the sole condition of eternal life is trusting in Christ as one’s Savior. None of the following are conditions of eternal life: turning from sins, being willing to turn from sins, committing one’s life to Christ, baptism, doing good works, or persevering in the faith.”

What does it mean to “trust in Christ?” Those who oppose Free Grace (holding to so-called “Lordship salvation”) see repentance as an integral part of true faith. Jesus preached, “Repent and believe the good news.” Repentance itself is a gift of God — a gift that results in Godly sorrow and “fruit in keeping with repentance.”

 

V. Charles Ryrie (1925- ) and Zane Hodges (1932-2008) were two Dallas Theological Seminary professors who are/were defenders of Free Grace theology.

Hodges wrote Absolutely Free: A Biblical Response to Lordship Salvation. The book is a response to a critique of No-Lordship salvation by John MacArthur. He argues that if one believes the bare facts about Jesus, then he has true saving faith. He holds that repentance is not necessary, since the word “repentance” is not used in the Gospel of John. He teaches that God’s grace does not necessarily result in a changed life.

Ryrie wrote So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ. In the book, he claims that repentance is only a change of mind about Jesus Christ. Repentance does not include a repulsion for or turning away from one’s sin. He claims that one can be a saved Christian but not be a disciple of Christ. “Confessing Jesus as Lord” (Rom. 10:9) is defined only as believing in His deity.

 

VI. The Grace Evangelical Society (GES) (www.faithalone.org), founded in 1986 by Bob Wilkin, promotes Free Grace salvation. It publishes a semi-annual journal, and has an annual conference. One of the five solas of the Reformation is sola gratia – grace alone. The Reformers held that all of salvation – including regeneration, effectual calling, repentance and faith, justification, sanctification, and glorification – are by God’s grace alone. GES effectively denies the fullness of God’s grace.
VII. Free Grace Salvation critically distorts the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In attempting to protect sola fide, these theologians make a mistake similar to Roman Catholicism. They confuse cause with effect. Martin Luther wrote, “”Works are necessary for salvation but they do not cause salvation; for faith alone gives life.” When people are taught that works are not a necessary fruit of salvation, they receive a diluted gospel that gives them false assurance of salvation. Jesus said that the way of salvation is narrow, and that few find it. Can one live like the devil (who also “believes” in Christ) and still be a Christian? Their doctrine brings shame to the cause of Christ and results in false professors becoming influential in the Church.

 

VIII. Elmer Gantry (1927) is a best-selling book by Sinclair Lewis, and also a movie starring Burt Lancaster in 1960. It is a satire on evangelical life in America. It is all about hypocrisy. Mr. Gantry is an unethical womanizer who is ordained as a Baptist minister. I choose this as the cultural icon because it relates to the common reaction many unbelievers have to Christianity: we are a bunch of hypocrites. When churches are dominated by false professors, “lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved….” (Mt. 24:12)

 

IX. The influence of Dallas Theological Seminary is seen in regards to dispensationalism as it relates to Free Grace salvation. Dispensationalists hold to a future literal 1,000 year earthly reign of Christ. Applying the teaching of Free Grace to the millennium, some teach that those who do not “accept Christ as Lord” and who evidence no fruit of salvation are cast outside the city, where they will weep and mourn. Thus, a kind of purgatory is created for those who “believed” in Jesus but did not accept Him as Lord. Only those who receive Him as Lord are allowed to reign with Him for a thousand years. This is similar to the Mormon teaching of the celestial versus terrestrial heavens, and to the Jehovah’s Witness teaching on the anointed 144,000 who get to live in heaven while the rest inhabit the earth.

Apostasy #3: Liberation Theology

January 12, 2015

 

The Third Day of Apostasy

 

The book of James is critically important for those who wish to discern the errors of our time. James focuses our attention to the various causes and symptoms of “false faith.” He asks “Can that faith save you?” This is the third of a series of twelve apostasies.

[Please note that I am NOT making any claim that particular Christians who are part of these movements are unsaved! Further, many truths may be taught and practiced by those who hold to these teachings. What I am suggesting is that the abuses found in the movements promote apostasy]. The links to the opinions of others may differ from those of my own.

 

Strike up the music:

 

On the third day of apostasy, James is warning me… of LIBERATION THEOLOGY, Prosperity Gospel, and of Lib-er-al Theolo-gy.

 

Keyword(s) from James: Anger does not achieve righteousness(James 1:20)

Teaching: The Gospel of the Oppressed

Beginnings: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Gustavo Gutierrez

Motto: “Preferential option for the poor”

Influencers: James Cone, Marxism

Mouthpiece: Trinity United Church of Christ

Effects: Politicizing of theology to transform society; violence may be necessary to overthrow oppressive structures

Cultural Icons: The Raised Fist; Occupy Wall Street

Adherents: Some Black Churches, Latin Base Communities

Interesting reading: Ron Rhodes: Liberation Theology; Black Theology (links)

 

Click here for: A Message to Rich and Poor

 

I. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:20.

One of the difficult ideals of Christianity is the theology of persecution. We are told to “turn the other cheek” and to pray for our enemies. We are to be longsuffering when wronged. In this way, we are salt and light to the world. Retaliation for past offenses may not be an appropriate Christian response. What should one do to “achieve the righteousness of God”? James answers: “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” James 1:21.

 

II. There is much to be approved in teaching that has concern for the poor, the oppressed, and those who suffer injustice. It is a mark of true Christianity to be generous and to provide for the needs of the widow, the orphan, the alien and the poor. But the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is threatened when concern for the oppressed becomes the gospel. Was it the purpose of Jesus to come and die to save the poor from political oppression? Was this not the incorrect assumption of the disciples? They asked “When would Jesus make Israel free from her Roman oppressors?”

The political zealots of Israel were waiting for a political messiah.  It turns out that Messiah came to save us from the deadly oppression of sin. That is the gospel message.
III. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor who was executed by the Nazis taught that it is unacceptable to see a distinction between the earthly and heavenly kingdoms. He promoted situational ethics. In his Letters and Papers from Prison he wrote:

“God is teaching us that we must live as men who can get along very well without Him. The God who is with us is the God who forsakes us.”

He also wrote that “the Christian is identified not by his beliefs, but by actions, by his participation in the suffering of God in the life of the world.” He denied the deity of Christ, believing instead that he is not a real person but rather a “corporate presence.”

Gustavo Gutierrez is a Catholic theologian who coined the phrase “Liberation Theology” in his 1971 influential work A Theology of Liberation. While much of Gutierrez’s teachings align with Catholic Social Teaching (link), the Catholic Church until recently has suppressed the Liberation theologians due to a concern about its tendency toward Marxism and to violence that it has spawned in several Catholic-dominated countries (e.g. Nicaragua). Gutierrez calls for the radical transformation of capitalist societies that misappropriate wealth to the disadvantage of the poor.

 

IV. One motto of Liberation Theology is “Preferential Option for the Poor.” The focus of this theology is the injustice done to the poor by the wealthy. Since God is concerned with the poor, and since we see so much poverty in the world, Liberation theologians call for changes to political systems to favor the poor.

 

V. The Theology of Liberation has been especially influential in black churches. One of the original advocates for black Liberation Theology was theologian James Cone. Cone teaches that “white Christianity” has corrupted the truth of Jesus Christ – the Savior of the oppressed. Theology is not seen as universal, but must rather be interpreted according to its social context. Cone writes:

“Either God is identified with the oppressed to the point that their experience becomes God’s experience, or God is a God of racism…. The blackness of God means that God has made the oppressed condition God’s own condition. This is the essence of the Biblical revelation. By electing Israelite slaves as the people of God and by becoming the Oppressed One in Jesus Christ, the human race is made to understand that God is known where human beings experience humiliation and suffering….Liberation is not an afterthought, but the very essence of divine activity.” A Black Theology of Liberation pp. 63-64.

Marxism is a philosophy that encourages public ownership of the means of distribution of goods and services, in contrast to Capitalism in which private ownership controls much of the means of distribution and is characterized by free competitive markets.

 

VI. Perhaps the most recognized church that promotes Black Liberation theology is Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. The church came into the headlines during the 2008 presidential election and the controversy over inflammatory statements made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. President Obama, a long time church member, addressed the controversy in his speech A More Perfect Union (link). The President also denounced (link) the divisive statements of Wright during his campaign.

 

VII. There are valid arguments for Christians to engage in politics to bring about change consistent with biblical principles. Unfortunately, Liberation Theology focuses so extremely on the reaction to injustice that it effectively replaces the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is great danger to society when the focus is entirely on the temporal well-being of humanity at the expense of eternal realities. The gospel transcends political affiliations.

Where the gospel is neglected, violence often becomes the mode for attempting change. This year is the 50th anniversary of the riots in Rochester, NY. My mother’s family lived within a mile of the burning businesses. Ten years later I would take the bus from my college campus to visit my relatives. The bus route passed by the area of the riots, and was an urban wasteland. Now fifty years later there is Ferguson. Violence begets hatred, mistrust and sometimes increased oppression.

 

VIII. There was a game show several years ago called 1 vs. 100. After the global financial crisis and the bailouts of financial institutions in 2008, the one vs. the ninety-nine came into vogue. Disgust for perceived injustice that favors “the one-percenters” led to protests such as the occupation of Wall Street. Click here to see how much you must earn to be among the 1% of the world’s highest earners. I think you will be surprised.

The raised fist (link) is the symbol of resistance against oppression. Another symbol is the “tea party.” One man’s oppressor is another man’s oppressed. I am a CPA, and know many wealthy people. I have clients who work 80 hours in a typical week and make six figure incomes. They go home from work, take their children to multiple activities, and then collapse in front of the TV for a few hours before starting the routine all over the next day. They feel oppressed by a government that takes up to 50% of their earnings while they struggle to afford the $50,000 per year that they pay to send their children to college, as well as pay for their creature comforts. Idolatry knows no class distinctions. Neither does anger, as you can see by watching MSNBC and Fox News.

 

IX. The history of slavery and oppression of blacks in the U.S. is appalling. Blacks in America were brutalized and marginalized by White authorities. Historically, the Christian churches were part of the problem rather than the solution. The history of discrimination against people of color is a large part of the ongoing problems experienced in black communities. But the effect of a deformed gospel on the black community is another cause, especially of the disintegration of black families. Please take the time to read the article by Ron Rhodes on Black Theology.

It is sad that Christ’s church is perhaps the most segregated institution in America. Whites and blacks must come to understand that racism (going both ways) is not a “Black and White Issue.” This is true with regards to Black Theology and its emphasis on liberation for this life only, and that with the focus only on the oppressors. Liberation Theology fails to look inward (at personal sin and its consequences). It also fails to look outward – in a way that promotes biblical reconciliation.

 

The Second Day of Apostasy: Prosperity Gospel

January 3, 2015

The book of James is critically important for those who wish to discern the errors of our time. James focuses our attention to the various causes and symptoms of “false faith.” He asks “Can that faith save you?” This is the second of a series of twelve apostasies. Click here for Day 1 (Liberal Theology).

[Please note that I am NOT making any claim that particular Christians who are part of these movements are unsaved! Further, many truths may be taught and practiced by those who hold to these teachings. What I am suggesting is that the abuses found in the movements promote apostasy]. The links to the opinions of others may differ from those of my own.

 

Strike up the music:

  

On the second day of apostasy, James is warning me… of the PROSPERITY GOSPEL, and of Lib-er-al Theology.

Apostasy #2 – Prosperity Gospel

 Keyword(s) from James: Ask wrongly (James 4:3)

Teaching: The Prosperity Gospel

Beginnings: New Thought Movement

Motto: “Name it and claim it”

Influencers: Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts

Mouthpiece: Televangelism, Trinity Broadcasting Network

Effects: Fleecing the sheep; disillusionment

Cultural Icon: Tammy Faye Bakker

Adherents: Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, one in eight African Christians

Interesting reading: The Power of Positive Thinking (link)

Click here for: A Message to the Positive Thinkers

I. Wrong motives. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. Gen. 3:6.

We are naturally self-centered and seek our own comfort and happiness. The prosperity gospel feeds these self-centered tendencies.

II. Because God is loving, he will graciously pour out financial and material blessings on those who demonstrate their faith. Positive speech and positive thinking, combined with donations to Christian ministries, will bring an increase in wealth, success and happiness. Some hold that Jesus and the disciples were men of means.

III. The New Thought Movement. Beginning in the 1830’s, the New Thought Movement taught that the mind had great power to heal. Philosopher William James labeled the movement “the religion of healthy-mindedness.” Obviously, there is great appeal to the belief that we can control our circumstances – that we can be like God. Here is a representative list of the best selling books of all time:

  • Think and Grow Rich (1937 – 70 million)

  • The Alchemist (1988 – 65 million)

  • You Can Heal Your Life (1984 – 35 million)

  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970 – 40 million)

  • The Power of Positive Thinking (1952 – 20 million)

  • The Purpose Driven Life (2002 – 30 million)

  • The Secret (2006 – 20 million)

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936 – 15 million)

  • Your Erroneous Zones (1976 – 35 million)

  • The Hite Report (1976 – 50 million)

As you can see, we are desperately seeking the quick fix that will guarantee our comfort and well being.

IV. Motto: Name it and claim it. I use this motto that describes the teaching of the “Word-Faith Movement.” Second place rhyme: health and wealth. This describes the teachings of those who treat God as a vending machine of their success and comfort.

 

V. Oral Roberts (1918-2009) “discovered” the prosperity gospel when he randomly opened his Bible one morning to 3 John 2. The verse: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. He shared the verse excitedly with his wife, and thus was born a worldwide ministry. Roberts taught the seed-faith message: that contributions to his ministry would be like seeds that would grow to material blessings to the donor. Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003) was convinced that comfort and blessing were promised by Jesus to those who have faith: Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mk. 11:24. Hagin stresses the importance of your words – that you can speak your reality into existence. He claimed to have visited heaven and hell, and that Jesus had come to him in visions.

VI. The heyday of televangelism began in earnest in the 1970’s with the founding of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) by Paul and Jan Crouch and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. In 2011, the “nonprofit ministry” received $95 million in contributions, $62 million in program revenues, and $17 million in investment income. Its assets totaled $845 million versus liabilities of $18 million. The ministry is described as a “church whose primary purpose is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world through its television based ministry.” Popular televangelists that have aired on the network include Creflo Dollar, Bishop Eddie Long, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, and John Hagee. In 2012, TBN was accused (link) by their whistle-blowing former CFO, Crouch’s granddaughter Brittany Koper, of financial misappropriation, including the purchase of side-by-side mansions, private jets, and a $100,000 mobile home for their dogs.

VII. The people getting rich from their “faith” are the prosperity teachers. They do so at the expense of their students. The cause of Christ is polluted by the lavish lifestyles (link) of many of these false shepherds.

VIII. Tammy Faye Bakker and PTL. The co-host of the PTL Club with her husband, Jim Bakker. Here is a vintage video of the program. I visited PTL’s water park at Heritage USA (Fort Mill, SC) back in 1987 with my family. I didn’t have the nerve to attempt the waterslide (link). Dr. Jerry Falwell took the plunge, though (in return for $22 million in donations to resurrect the PTL complex). Is that what is meant by “backsliding?”

IX. Some prosperity teachers. Click for links to videos (one for first name, one for last). Benny Hinn. Kenneth CopelandCreflo Dollar. Be blessed?

Coming next:

The third day of apostasy.

In Christ,

Dale

The Twelve Days of Apostasy, Day One: Liberal Theology

December 23, 2014

The Twelve Days of Apostasy

Martin Luther, in his battles with Rome over the doctrine of justification by faith alone, questioned the canonicity of the Book of James. In his preface to James, he famously called it an “epistle of straw.” [Later Luther regretted his comment, and removed it from future editions of his preface to the book]. 

I submit that the book of James is critically important for those who wish to discern the errors of our time. James focuses our attention to the various causes and symptoms of “false faith.” He asks “Can that faith save you?” Investigation of the current ecumenical mindset has led me to see a strong connection between the warnings by James and the many varieties of “fallings away from the faith.” 

In the spirit of the season I have decided to document twelve movements that exhibit “falling away” tendencies, one for each of the “twelve days of Christmas.” Click on “The Message” link for a prescription for the apostasy. 

[Please note that I am NOT making any claim that particular Christians who are part of these movements are unsaved! Further, many truths may be taught and practiced by those who hold to these teachings. What I am suggesting is that the abuses found in the movements promote apostasy]. The links to the opinions of others may differ from those of my own.

The purpose of this series is to warn the wayward and to encourage evangelism. James concludes his letter: Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19. 

Strike up the music:

 On the first day of apostasy, James is warning me… of LIB-ER-AL THEOLO-GY.

 

Apostasy #1 – Liberal Theology 

Keyword(s) from James: Doubting (James 1:6)

Teaching: The Social Gospel

Beginnings: Enlightenment, Modernity

Motto:Homo Mensura (Man the Measure)”

Early Influencers: Schleiermacher, von Harnack

Mouthpiece: World Council of Churches

Effects: Social Engineering

Cultural Icon: Scopes Monkey Trial

Adherents: U.S. Mainline Churches, Western European State Churches

Interesting reading: A Humanist Manifesto (link) 

 

Click Here for A Message to “Liberals”

 

 I. Doubting. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed about by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord for he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6b-8. Without faith it is impossible to please God… Heb. 11:6. Many liberal theologians doubt: 

  • the Bible is the word of God (it is only a witness)
  • the deity of Christ
  • the historicity of Adam and Eve
  • original sin
  • fulfilled prophecy
  • miracles
  • the resurrection of Jesus
  • the virgin birth
  • the existence of Satan and demons

II. Liberal theologians employ a method of interpreting the Bible known as higher criticism. In liberal theology, higher criticism begins with an attitude of doubt rather than a loving appreciation of the Scriptures. Since it starts from doubt, it creates theories that deny that books of the Bible are what they seem to be. The Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but rather is a compilation of four different sources (J, E, P, D). The book of Daniel is given a second century B.C. date to deny its prophetic nature. The words attributed to Jesus in the book of John were not taught by Him, but were attributable to disciples who never knew Jesus. The Christian religion evolved into something that was contrary to the historical Jesus. (link to the Jesus Seminar). 

Jesus is deemed to be a wise teacher, an ethical example to follow. Liberal theologians stress the social teachings of the gospels. The penal substitution of the cross as a propitiatory sacrifice is denied. 

III. Beginnings. The Age of Enlightenment refers to the period beginning in the 18th century when advances in science and technology led many to develop a philosophy of rationalism. All problems could be solved solely through the use of human reason. Society only needed more education to bring about a utopian state. Human aspirations should not be focused on the next life, but solely on the improvement of this one. 

IV. Motto: Man is the Measure of All Things: of the things that are, that they are; of the things that are not, that they are not. This is a statement from the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Protagoras. I use this as the motto of liberal theology because of its man-centered reliance on human wisdom. Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Cor. 1:20). The cross is foolishness to the worldly mind. 

V. German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) is known as the father of liberal theology. He taught that the Bible was not the revelation of God, but rather a record of human religious experiences. Doctrine and dogma were downplayed and the experience of “god-consciousness” was stressed. Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930) was a Lutheran theologian who wrote the influential book Essays on the Social Gospel. He denied the historicity of the Gospel of John and the miracles of the Bible. He rejected the resurrection and the virgin birth. 

VI. World Council of Churches. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, this organization of inclusivism was formed in 1948 to promote “Christian” unity. It is a conglomeration of 349 global, national, regional and local church assemblies. It promotes a false movement of peace and unity through social activism. 

VII. Social Engineering. The human problems of our planet need to be solved using scientific methods on a worldwide scale. The programs are promoted primarily through centralized governments. 

VIII. Scopes Monkey Trial. A 1925 legal case concerning the illegal teaching of evolution in Tennessee. Williams Jennings Bryant argued for the prosecution; Clarence Darrow represented Scopes. The teacher was found guilty and fined $100. The case was appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which upheld the ruling. The case was a watershed moment in the differing worldviews of biblical Christianity and secular humanism. 

IX. Mainline Protestant Churches were once the majority of Christians in the U.S. Over the last fifty years these churches have lost considerable membership. The mainline churches include the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church, the American Baptist Churches, the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ. In 1999, the Lutheran World Federation entered into a theological agreement with the Roman Catholic Church on the doctrine of justification.

 

Coming tomorrow:  

The second day of apostasy.

 

In Christ,

 

Dale

Holy Day of Obligation: The Assumption of Mary

August 12, 2014

Is Attendance Mandatory? What are the rules?

Friday, August 15 2014 is a Holy Day of Obligation for certain Catholics. Here are the rules:

1) The first precept of the Church states that attendance at mass is mandatory on all Holy Days of Obligation.

2) Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. (Catechism section 2180)

3) The faithful are bound …to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede worship (Catechism section 2193 and the fourth precept of the Church)

4) In the following countries the Feast of the Assumption is NOT a holy day of obligation:

Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, The Netherlands.

5) The State of Hawaii has received an indult that voids the required obligation.  For the other 49 United States, the day is a required Holy Day.

6) The following rules apply if you are traveling:

If you are traveling FROM your home country that has a required Holy Day TO a country that does not, no attendance is required, and

If you are traveling TO a country that has a required Holy Day FROM your home country that does not, no attendance is required. (Can. 13.2)

Background on the Feast of the Assumption:

The Feast of the Assumption was first celebrated in the 6th century.  The Assumption of Mary is the only ex cathedra infallible pronouncement of a pope. Pope Pius XII declared it an infallible truth on 11/1/1950. It is a cardinal dogma that Mary was taken body and spirit into heaven, where she reigns as Queen.

The feast day may originally have been based on a 4th century document “The Account of St. John the Theologian of the Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God.” It is assumed (sorry) that Mary died during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, around the year 35 AD. According to the writing, all the apostles were miraculously transported to Bethlehem to witness the Assumption: Peter from Rome, Paul from Tiberia, James from Jerusalem. Paul stated he was snatched away while preaching “no great distance from Rome, in the country of Tiberia.” This is problematical, since Paul did not visit Rome until his imprisonment there in 61 AD. In fact, his conversion on the road to Damascus likely occurred in 37 AD. You can read the account of the Assumption here.

 

 

Catholicism’s “Marvelous” Unity; and Blowing Up Bridges

June 12, 2014
When I Saw Her, I Marveled Greatly
 
Christian unity is a persuasive argument used to convert  evangelicals to Catholicism. Here is testimony of former evangelical Russell Stutler, at whyimcatholic.com:
 
“What happens when Christians reject the authority of Peter’s successor? Today there are over 30,000 Protestant denominations and independent churches, each with its own interpretation of the Bible, and the number keeps growing…I finally realized that I had to end my own church hopping and submit to the teaching authority of the one church that Jesus built on a rock, with the direct successors to Peter and the apostles still leading it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Rome claims to be the one, true church. “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.”[1]  Rome claims a unity in the one faith received from the apostles; she claims unity of divine worship, through the sacraments; and she claims historical unity (based on apostolic succession) with one head, the Pope. There is also a uniformity of liturgy that promotes solidarity. When you eat at McDonald’s, you know what to expect. Similarly, wherever you attend mass you can expect the same liturgy to occur.

 

Is Christian unity to be found in Roman Catholicism? What does Catholic unity look like? We shall explore nine marks that distinguish the unity of Catholicism. Then, we will answer the charge of Evangelical disunity. 

 

Mark #1: It is an Adulterous Unity

 

According to Rome, every sincere person alive in the world today belongs, however imperfectly, to the Roman Catholic Church. 

 

“All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God…And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind…Those who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church…The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims…Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart…who try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience — those too may achieve eternal salvation.” [2]

 

Jesus says that we must enter through the narrow way – by trusting in Him alone. Catholicism promotes her broad way, either through ceremonial water baptism or in the case of unbelievers, a “baptism of desire.” It is a mystery how Muslims and unbelievers are part of the Body of Christ. Nevertheless, Rome claims that it is so. Rome commits “spiritual adultery” when she incorporates unbelievers into her fold. An example of her flirtatious behavior occurred in 1986 at the World Day of Prayer in Assisi: video here. So, Rome’s unity is inclusive and adulterous. True unity is exclusive and chaste.

 

Mark #2: It is an Impure Unity

 

How do you bind together an inclusive “church?” The unity of Roman Catholicism is not an organic unity of like-minded believers in Jesus, who is our Vine. Rather, it is a syncretistic union that exists by the permissiveness of Rome. J.A. Wiley writes, “As a corporation, having its head at Rome, and stretching it limbs to the extremities of the earth, she is of gigantic bulk and imposing appearance; but, closely examined, she is seen to be an assemblage of heterogeneous materials, held together simply by the compression of force. It is a coercive power from without, not an attractive influence from within that gives her being and form… It is combination, not incorporation; union, not unity, that characterizes the Church of Rome.”[3]

 

The entry (overnight) of countless unconverted pagans into the Church at the time of Constantine; the inclusion of unconverted Africans and Native Americans, who practice animism mixed with Catholicism; Dominicans opposing Franciscans; Jesuits battling Benedictines. Liberation theologians. Sedevacantists. What are all these various orders and branches, if not the result of Rome’s laissez faire attitude toward impurity? As long as each group is willing to remain within the huge tent of Rome, under the infallible papa, there is no compelling reason for family discipline. Catholicism, post Vatican II, is an extremely ambiguous religion. A Georgetown University survey in 2008 found that: 43% of Catholics do not believe that Jesus is really present in the eucharist; 88% of Catholics do not attend mass on Holy Days of Obligation; and 74% of Catholics do not go to Confession at least once a year, the minimum required by the Church! Clearly the majority of Catholics are RINO – Romish in Name Only. Catholic unity is an impure mirage.

 

Mark #3: It is a Lying Unity

 

In order to appear credible and desirable, Catholicism must have a veneer of truth. So the basic fundamentals of Christianity are found in Her. There is a growing movement toward unity based on the idea of “mere Christianity.” Since both Protestants and Catholics agree on the historic creeds, godly separation based on truth is deemed “scandalous.” Division is now considered to be the sinful wounding of the Body of Christ. Rome has the same “cast of characters” as revealed in God’s word (a self-existent and eternal Jehovah; a trinity of the Godhead; a mankind made in God’s image; a fall of Adam; a redemption of mankind by the incarnate Jesus; His death, resurrection and ascension; and His bodily return at the Last Day). But the interpretations and applications of these realities are diametrically opposed to true Christianity. Catholicism’s truth claims are superseded by layer upon layer of error. Rome claims that the Bible is the revelation of God, but contradicts the Word by adding a second source of divine revelation, Sacred Tradition. She usurps Christ’s authority with her popes, priests and wafers. Rome claims to control the Holy Spirit, calling Him down during baptisms and confirmations. The reality is that Catholicism holds sacred truths only to further her idolatrous lies.

 

There are many means that Rome has used to spread counterfeit unity. A recent tactic, quite powerful, is to enter into ecumenical agreements that are written deceptively. Then the agreements are used to further her aim of global religious and secular dominion. There is a lying spirit sent into the world, claiming to be the Queen of Heaven, that promotes Catholicism. And Rome uses her political power to entice evangelical organizations to join with her to fight the “culture wars.” The Catholic Church is utilitarian. The end justifies the means. The end is the promotion of a false, compromising,  and wicked unity under the papacy. The means are “whatever works” in the furtherance of her megalomania. Historically, Rome used forged documents to support her claim of apostolic succession (False Decretals) and her temporal dominion (Donation of Constantine). Many of the writings of the so-called “Church Fathers,” used to support extra-biblical doctrines, have been found to be forged or taken out of context. In short, she exhibits unity only through lies and counterfeits.

 

Mark #4: It is a Degrading Unity

 

God gave us our intellects to enable us to pursue the light of His truth. How can Rome assure the least controversy within the fold of her religion? She has declared herself to be infallible in all matters touching faith and morals. All discussion is over: Rome has spoken! The Pope, by virtue of his office, is infallible. He has “full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power that he can always exercise unhindered.” [4] The teaching of the Church (her Magisterium) is also infallible. As a result of this infallibility, faithful Catholics everywhere are taught to submit entirely to the religious hierarchy.  “Religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act.”[5]  Priests must submit their minds and wills to their bishops by a vow of obedience. Bishops must submit their minds and wills in obedience to their superiors, on up to the pope. In such a manner, unity is promoted. But at what cost?

 

Historically, Rome endeavored to keep the Scriptures out of the hands of the laity, lest they be enticed to private judgment that might contradict her teaching. The Bible for centuries was included on Rome’s Index of Forbidden Books. She is like a helicopter parent, hoping to control all her children’s actions. To further ensure no conflicts arise that might endanger unity, she set up a system to keep “heretical” writings out of the hands of her children. All Catholic religious materials are censored. They must be granted the “Good Housekeeping seal of approval”: the Nihil Obstat and the Imprimatur

 

Wylie writes: “Put out the eyes of men, and there will be only one opinion about colour; extinguish the understandings of men, and there will be but one opinion regarding religion. This is what Rome does. With her rod of infallibility she touches the intellect and the conscience, and benumbs them into torpor.”[6]  Rome claims to “sit as Queen” of the conscience and intellect. She even expects dominion over the senses, telling her followers to deny the reality “bread and wine” and believe “body, blood, soul, and divinity.” In so doing, she degrades her followers.

 

Mark #5: It is an Enforced Unity

 

Having obtained submission of intellect and will from her subjects, Rome saw only one danger to unity. This danger is the light of truth that shines out of authentic Christians who dare to ignore her infallible fulminations. An important biblical doctrine is that of the remnant. From the time of the Roman persecution by the Caesars to the great outpouring of grace at the time of the Reformation, there has been a godly people that remained separate from the infallible “Church.” The Christians hidden in the Roman catacombs; the Ambrosians of the fourth through the eighth centuries; the Paulicians of the East; followed by the Waldensians and Albigenes who were hidden in the valleys of the Alps; the Wycliffites and Lollards of England; and the Hussites of Bohemia.

 

Rome set out with a vengeance to persecute and slaughter those peoples who dared to question her authority. The slaughter of the Albigenses (see Beziers), the founding of the Medieval Inquisition, the interdiction of England, and the wars against the Bohemians were some of the ways Rome sought to extinguish the light of the gospel. At the Reformation she redoubled her efforts, slaughtering the Huguenots of France (see St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre), hunting down all Protestants that she could using her inquisitions and treachery. The Society of Jesus was founded by Ignatius of Loyola to submit to and defend the papacy using all means necessary, including political espionage and assassinations.

 

There is no denying history. Rome has been a staunch opponent to religious liberty, and has persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ.

 

Mark #6: It is a Man-Made Unity

 

Investigation of the rise of the Roman spiritual empire reveals that it has always sought a man-made unity. This is a reflection of the human urge that commenced at the fall, when Eve succumbed to the serpent’s temptation (when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God). After the flood, we see this urge in the construction of the Tower of Babel (Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves). Rome follows suit, using building materials from three great civilizations: the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans. From the Jews, Rome recreated the forms of the Jewish religion (that were meant to be only types pointing to fulfillment by Jesus). The Judaizing combination of faith and works, the physical temple, ceremonies and law-keeping, a priesthood, and a sacrificial system all descended from Israel to Rome. From the Greeks, Rome has built a philosophical system by which to amalgamate and justify her doctrines. And from Pagan Rome she has rebuilt Caesar and his pagan superstitions, from the design of miraculous medals, relics and scapulars to the intercession of dead men and women.

 

Wylie writes: “The Papacy is the most wonderful of all human systems. It stands alone, unrivalled and unapproached, throwing all former systems of error into the shade…The ancient polytheisms were comparatively simple in their plan and tolerant in their spirit. Not so the Papacy. It selects the worst passions of our nature, –the sensuality of the appetites, the idolatry of the heart, the love of wealth, the lust of dominion, pride, ambition, the desire to dictate the faith of others. It gives these passions the largest development of which they are capable; it combines and arranges them with exquisite skill, and thus enables them to act with the greatest effect. It is the most powerful organization that ever existed on the side of error and against the truth.”[7]

 

Rome is the “City of Man”; she opposes the “City of God.”

 

Mark #7: It is a Temporal Unity

 

In order to better accomplish her mission of domination, Rome has sought to combine the sacred with the secular. She has employed her armies. She has wielded authority over kings and princes since before the time of Charlemagne even to the present day. The Holy See is a religio-political entity, sending and receiving ambassadors to all nations. [The United States held out until 1984, when Ronald Reagan appointed the first ambassador to Rome]. Rome has terrorized entire nations with spiritual threats, denying her sacraments to entire nations until their leaders submitted to her authority (see interdicts). She has entered into concordats with numerous nations, seeking favorable treatment from governments in exchange for her influence. She received 1.75 billion lire through a concordat with Mussolini, and hundreds of millions of dollars arising from the concordat with Hitler. The Pope and his ambassadors travel the world, networking with politicians, and influencing foreign governments.

 

We see the strategy of combining the spiritual with the temporal in Rome’s attempts at ecumenical unity today. Two of her most ambitious projects are with Pentecostals and with politically conservative evangelicals. Both projects place the temporal over the spiritual. Pope Francis recently begged for unity with Pentecostals in a video he recorded for a Kenneth Copeland conference. He also requested prayer and asked for their blessing. “Be blessed!” bellowed Copeland and the leaders of Pentecostalism over and over in response to the pope’s request. In 1994 the notorious “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” movement was founded, which seeks unity in order to promote co-belligerence in the culture wars. This was followed in 2009 by the Manhattan Declaration, (or should it be called “City of Man”-hattan?) with similar cultural aims.

 

What does the Pope seek to get in returns for his ecumenical overtures? The compromise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the only thing standing in the way of Rome’s global supremacy.

 

It is a fundamental principal of the Papacy that the pope is Vicar of Christ on earth. Since Christ is both Head of the Church and King of Kings, the pope, as His sole representative on earth seeks both roles. By divine right he holds himself both bishop of bishops and king of kings. Wylie writes: “The object of the Papacy is, in brief, to exalt a man, or rather a class of men, to the supreme, undivided, and absolute control of the world and its affairs.”[8]

 

Mark #8: It is a Spiritually Impotent Unity

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Rom. 1:16. By the sovereign and mighty power of the Holy Spirit, men and women are born from above, die to self and are a new creation in Christ. We “like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1Pet. 2:5. Those redeemed by Jesus belong to the City of God – we are citizens of heaven. But those who belong to the City of Man are bereft of heavenly spiritual power. That is not to say that they are without power, for the Evil One, the god of this world, gives out temporal powers within his dominion.

 

The counterfeit Roman religion has “the appearance of godliness, but denies its power.” 2 Tim. 3:5. We can bear Rome witness that she “has a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” She is bereft of spiritual light. She is a religion of dead idols, that like the lifeless Dagon must fall down before the true God. 1 Sam. 5:3. Looking at the distinctive doctrines of Rome, we find that there is:

  • No power…in a baptism that doesn’t regenerate
  • No power…in praying to saints who are doubly dead
  • No power…in priests who usurp the authority of Jesus
  • No power…in a fallible pope and magisterium
  • No power…in superstitious sacramentals
  • No power…in the idolatrous wafer-god of transubstantiation
  • No power…in the intercession of the false Queen Mary
  • No power…in moldy relics
  • No power…in indulgences, masses and penances
  • No power…in last rites
  • No power…in a false gospel that condemns its adherents

There is no spiritual power in the adulterous, impure, lying, degrading, persecuting, man-made, and temporally united religion of Rome – headed by the Pope. Where does one find true spiritual power? In the chaste, holy, honest, discriminating, persecuted, God-ordained, and spiritual church – headed by Jesus Himself.

 

Mark #9: It is a Condemned Unity

 

Does God warn us in His Word about a wealthy, pompous, religio-political, worldwide entity, headquartered in Rome, that would arise and enter into adulterous spiritual trysts, declare herself  sovereign over all humanity, degrade her followers, with doctrines founded on truth but entirely distorted by man-made traditions which are spiritually powerless, and who persecutes the saints of God? Why, yes! There is such a woman presented in chapters 17-20 of the book of Revelation. She is the woman wearing precious jewels, adorned in purple and scarlet, described as “Mystery, Babylon” (the great city of man), who is seated on seven hills (the Holy See of Rome), yet seated on many waters (wielding worldwide political power), with whom the politicians of the earth commit sexual immorality. She makes drunk her degraded followers, invents doctrines of demons, and is drunk with the blood of the saints. Does this not describe perfectly the Church of Rome? If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Rome definitely passes the “duck test” of Revelation.

 

God will not permit this wicked woman to go unpunished. “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit…For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her…For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.” Rome, and all her false unity, is condemned by God.

 

Some evangelicals argue that there are multitudes of true born-again believers to be found within Catholicism, and say that this justifies rapprochement with Rome. There may be at any given time some Christians who are in the process of leaving Rome. But those who are truly trusting in Christ alone for salvation, and who are placing no confidence in the sacramental salvation of Rome, are not truly Catholic. God warns them, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins.” Rev. 18:4. To remain in an idolatrous worship system, after receiving knowledge of the truth, is disobedient and foolish. 

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Are You a Spiritual Terrorist?

 

Several months ago, I wrote an issue on the Charismatic Bridge to Rome. In the article, I mentioned South African “evangelical Anglican Bishop” Tony Palmer. Here is a link to another video, in which he states the following:

  • He and Pope Francis have covenanted to work for unity.
  • Francis consecrated Palmer to be a bridge to promote unity
  • It is a theological fact that we (Catholics and evangelicals) are one in Christ.
  • No denominational doctrine can destroy this fact.
  • Since 1999, the protest of Luther is over.
  • We are living in a post-Protestant era.
  • Even though our “Christian apartheid” is over, there are still many evangelicals who suffer from spiritual racism.
  • This is a sin against the cross; anything that causes division, when we elevate any doctrine, we place that above the cross.
  • The cross unites; that’s what makes us one – not doctrines.
  • Diversity is divine; it’s division that’s diabolical.
  • Christian unity is the basis of our credibility.
  • Division destroys our credibility.
  • Fear separates us; this fear is based on propaganda.
  • If there is no more protest, how can there be a Protestant Church?
  • Maybe now we are all Catholics again.
  • We now preach the same gospel.
  • We should throw more resources toward reconciliation than toward evangelism.
  • Otherwise, we are building walls without foundations.
  • I challenge you to find a bridge-builder, and back him or her.

My dear fellow Christians, I confess that I am a spiritual racist. I believe in spiritual apartheid. Not only that, I must be considered a spiritual terrorist in the eyes of the Pope, Tony Palmer, and his fellow ecumenists.

 

I lived the first ten years of my life in Buffalo, NY. In Buffalo there is a bridge to Canada called the “Peace Bridge.” The Pope, a/k/a the Pontiff or “bridge-builder” is seeking to lure unwary evangelicals across the “peace bridge” that spans the Tiber River into Rome – the “City of Man.” It is a frightful decision to abandon the evangel for the unity of Rome. It is said that “all things are possible with God.” But Heb. 6:5 says that it is impossible, in the case of those who have once tasted the heavenly gift and tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance. We need to do everything we can (with spiritual weapons) to blow up the “peace bridge” that leads to Rome. And we need to point Catholics to the “heavenly bridge” that crosses the river Jordan and leads to eternal life. That bridge is Christ, not the Roman pontiff.

 

Some of you, I’m sure, have seen the movie, Bridge on the River Kwai, the story of British POW’s forced to build a strategic bridge for the Japanese. One of the prisoners escapes, and eventually connects with a British Major in Ceylon. They return to Burma to plant dynamite and destroy the bridge. For all ex-Catholics, that should be our mission: having escaped the prison camp of Rome, we are to return and sabotage the strategic bridge leading back to the prison camp.

 

We live in the post-modern age of tolerance, where only the intolerant are not tolerated. What I have been arguing is probably considered “hate speech” in many countries. But the gospel is divisive and causes separation. The truncated gospel of “god has a wonderful plan for your life” is not the gospel. The true gospel is “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” This gospel tells people they are wrong, and if they continue in their error they are bound for hell. In fact, they are condemned already. Despite the beliefs of the Pope and Tony Palmer, the protest is not over; the war is indeed still raging. May we be found to be good soldiers, persevering until the end.  

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How can evangelicals answer the allegation of disobedient disunity? Some thoughts: 

  1. There exists a spiritual unity of all true Christians, despite appearances. This unity is based on the indwelling Spirit of Christ that binds them together.
  2. Even amid the diversity of evangelical churches, there is unity in essential matters, especially regarding justification.
  3. Even with numerous denominations, there are still marks of unity. David Murray, in the June 2014 issue of Tabletalk, lists various shades of cooperation: ecumenism, association, endorsement, and friendship. With Rome, there is an “all or nothing” attitude toward unity.
  4. The plan of God is to work through, and be glorified in, our weakness.
  5. There is no record in the NT of a super-hierarchy; there are geographical churches and even house churches.
  6. Unity in diversity is a display of God’s workmanship. God even uses separation to spread more widely His gospel.
  7. Disunity is unavoidable because of our sinful natures which are still present within us. Rome is delusional in claiming infallibility of teaching and the holiness of her adherents.
  8. Many small errors, spread out over numerous churches, is safer than one fatal error being enforced by a monolithic hierarchical structure. Sin is magnified in the Papacy.
  9. The Bible requires discernment by Christians, and calls for godly separation and church discipline.
  10. Challenges to unity promotes humility, patience and forbearance.
  11. No doctrine, no division; know doctrine, know division.
  12. “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Lk. 12:51.

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Please check out the recommended books for this month: The History of the Papacy, by J.A. Wylie; The History of Protestantism, by J.A. Wylie. A Woman Rides the Beast, by Dave Hunt.

 

He Died on a Saturday – Death and the New Birth

May 23, 2014
Michael died on a Saturday in December. Here is his story.
 
For months, he felt ill at ease. Something just wasn’t right. Although he was a successful businessman and had a beautiful family, he felt somehow empty. He was desperately seeking, trying to find the secret to a happy and fulfilling life.
 
In June of 1990, Michael attended a six-day course that promised personal transformation. What he learned at the course was this: Be a man of integrity. Keep your word. So, for the next six months Michael tried as best he could to keep this advice. But he was still struggling.
 
One day he decided to follow through on one of his commitments.  He understood that to be a Catholic of integrity, he ought to obey the rules of Catholicism. So, on December 8th Michael attended mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day of Obligation. After the mass, he learned of a seminar to be held in the fellowship hall of the church. Michael peeked into the room and saw that a friend, his son’s Scout leader, was the one leading the seminar. Michael felt a little sorry for his friend, since there were only a couple people attending. He decided to go in. 
 
Right at the beginning Michael heard something that confused him. One of the instructors exclaimed “My favorite Bible verse is John 3:3 – Truly, truly I say to you, unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of God!” The man said it with such conviction that Michael was curious as to why he was so excited about this verse. But no further explanation was forthcoming.
 
Later in the seminar, his Scouting friend stood up and spoke of how Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, expanded the meaning of the commandments to include matters of the heart. To be angry with another is murder. To look at woman lustfully is adultery. As the seminar leader continued, Michael, who thought he was a “good Catholic” was becoming more and more guilty. “Maybe I’m not as “good” as I think I am. In fact, at times I’m pretty self-centered.”
 
At the end of the seminar, the instructor said, “If any of you want us to pray with you, come to the back of the room.” Michael thought for a few seconds, and decided to ask for prayer. He rose, went to his friend and the man who loved John 3:3, and said to them, “I would like prayer. I want God to forgive my sins.” The two men said, “okay”, and anointed Michael’s head with oil. [This would prepare for Michael’s death]. They laid hands on Michael, and while praying one of them said, “Michael, let go!” Immediately, Michael was flooded with emotions. He realized that he needed a Savior, and cried out, “Yes, LORD! Save me!”
 
 Immediately Michael died. His body hit the floor with a thud.
 
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Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Do not be amazed that I said to you ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
 
Michael came to realize that the Spirit had blown his way. He was born again. The law of Christ killed him: “I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.” Col. 3:3. “I was made to die to the law, through the body of Christ.” Rom. 7:4. “Through the law, I died to the law.” Gal. 2:19. The thunderous law of God had struck Michael down; the resurrection power of Jesus Christ had raised him from the dead. He was a new creation. The “old Michael” had passed away, the “new Michael” had come. 2 Cor. 5:17.
 
Michael had repented (died) and believed the gospel (was raised).
 
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Michael was ecstatic! He had inherited eternal life in heaven and the joy of belonging to Jesus here on earth. But one thing troubled him. Why was he not told of the new birth by his religion? This question sent him on a mission. He purchased the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read it from cover to cover. He found the following concerning the new birth:
 
CCC 1265: Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker in the divine nature,” member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.”
 
The Catholic Church told Michael that he was born again as an infant when he was baptized. This flew in the face of what Michael saw as the clear testimony of Scripture and his personal experience. This became the first instance of Michael’s questioning the teaching of his Church. It was the seed that eventually grew into his leaving the Catholic religion.  

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When Michael first became a Christian, he was amazed at the glorious book that is the Bible. He also loved to sing the praises of his Savior. One of his favorite songs was “New Lives for Old” by Wayne Watson. Here are some of the lyrics:

They say he ran a carnival, used to come to town,

’til one September afternoon, he just shut it down.
They tell me something happened, some say he lost his mind,
now most September afternoons, this is what you’ll find:
An old man on the corner, where he used to sell the show,
now he shouts what sounds like foolishness, as the people come and go:
 

New lives for old!

Warm hearts for cold!
Have I got a deal for you today,
come on step right this way!
Get your… new lives for old!
 

He puts it in the paper, he goes from door to door.

The people say, “He’s such a fool to come back for more.”

Old friends are mostly puzzled, they don’t know what to say,
’cause ever since that afternoon, he’s just been that way.
It’s like the old man died, and someone came to take his place!
Now he just stands out there bellowing, smile upon his wrinkled face:

 

New lives for old!

Warm hearts for cold!
Have I got a deal for you today,
come on step right this way!
Get your… new lives for old!

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Now Michael loved his Catholic family, and was eager to share the story of his death and rebirth. He was surprised when they did not joyfully receive his testimony concerning his new life in Christ. They felt he was attacking their Catholic beliefs, and that he was wrong. His sister, thinking he had “lost his mind” even set up an appointment for him to see a psychiatrist. At first he was frustrated, but then he remembered that the Spirit blew when and where He chose; he would pray for his family. Eventually, Michael left the Catholic religion, and began attending an evangelical church that explained to him more fully the new birth that he had experienced.

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Many times since the date of his death Michael has contemplated his former religion. He has been invited by his family to participate in Catholic masses and celebrations. At first he would attend; but soon he came to understand the importance of testifying to the truth. When invited to the baptisms of his niece’s and nephew’s infant children, Michael declined, explaining his conviction that the new birth did not occur at baptism. When invited to the sacrament of Confirmation he would again decline, explaining that the Holy Spirit is not received through the hands of a Catholic bishop. All the while, he has continued to pray for his family.
 
Although Michael was sad about his unbelieving family, he discovered a new family – his brothers and sisters in Christ. This eased some of the loneliness associated with his Catholic family’s unbelief.

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“I, D. Michael Rudiger, have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. I have died to the elementary principals of religion. I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God. Christ bore my sins on His body on the cross, so that I might die to sin, and live to righteousness. For the love of Christ controls me, having concluded this, that He died for me, therefore I died; and He died for me, so that I might live no longer for myself, but for Christ who died for me and rose again for my behalf. Jesus was delivered over for my transgressions, and was raised for my justification. Having received the gift of repentance and faith to believe in Jesus, I have peace with God. I have been raised up with Christ and in my spirit I am even now seated in heaven with Christ at the right hand of God. I have experienced the first resurrection. Therefore the second death has no power over me. Halleluia! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

 
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Identified with the righteous life, death, and the resurrection of Jesus,
 

Dale (11/23/56-12/8/90; 12/8/90 to forever)

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