Sunday, November 27, 2011

Overview of Scientology

Scientology, a religion that we clearly know is not a Christian one.  It is not fast growing religion, but it is a popular one, especially amongst the VIPs of Hollywood.  The reality of Scientology is that it is really just a 20th century remake of the pagans of India in days gone by.

They boast around 15 million members and their meeting places are opulent.  So where did it come from?

A.) History/ Origin

It was founded by a man named L. Ron Hubbard.  Hubbard had been a leader of several anthropological expeditions among primitive people groups.  He was in the US Navy during WWII and was an imaginative science fiction novelist.

During his travels and studies he began exploring a theory that he called Dianetics.  Dianetics means “discursive reasoning” or in other words, “pertaining to reason”.  It is a type of reasoning that is built on the reason of man to fix his own past and man’s reasoning to determine his own future.

He wrote expounded on his theory and put it together in his book “Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health” in 1948.  This book was and is used as a founding source in the Church of Scientology.  Dianetics is the method of pulling out engrams from the Reactive Mind. 

Hubbard was born in 1911 in Manhattan.  Primarily raised by his mother and grandfather, he also had friendships with the Blackfoot medicine men and was eventually accepted into their tribe as a blood brother.

In 1920, he traveled to China to begin investigating the meaning of life and purpose.  Very adventurous and very involved in high risk expeditions as he visited these various cultures he would adapt some their beliefs into his own claiming that no one group could hold the only possible true answers.

He believed in reincarnation and so as we will see, much of his views in Scientology centered around that.  The first Church of Scientology was opened in June of 1955 in Washington D.C of all places.  Prior to that the practice was simply known as Dianetics and its adherents were not organized into an actual religion.  Originally, those who followed Dianetics were not part of a religion, but as money was given and donate, the eyes of the IRS were raised… so it becomes the Church of Scientology and uses religious language so as to escape taxation from the government.

It brings in around $70million per year!  And these are not gifts primarily, they are fees.  We’ll look at those in a bit.

B.) What does Scientology teach?

Well, the goal of Scientology is for its adherents to uncover and eradicate prenatal problems, compulsions, and inhibitions that have accumulated in the soul during past lives.  Hubbard’s theory was that all humans have ‘engrams’ received by the embryo in the womb.

An ‘engram’ is a lasting trace left in an organism by psychic experience.  In other words, you are born with the psychic experiences that are left over from your past lives.  Remember I told you that Hubbard’s belief in reincarnation was going to be an important part of this.

You see, Scientology teaches that “man is basically good” and that “his spiritual salvation depends on himself, his fellows, and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe”.  (

In it not a “dogmatic religion” where you “believe by faith”.  It is a religion in which “one discovers for oneself that the principles of Scientology are true by applying its principles and observing or experiencing the results.” (

“The ultimate goal of the Scientologist is to attain true spiritual enlightenment and freedom for all.” (

The reason that the goal is to eradicate the “engrams” you are born with is because they believe those engrams to be self-defeating behaviors that are inappropriate.  In other words, the sins (although they wouldn’t call it sin) in your life is not because you are a wretched vile sinner who needs saving by a perfect Savior, no you are basically good, according to Scientology, and your “self-defeating, inappropriate behaviors” are just leftover traces of a former life.

So it isn’t YOUR fault, it’s your ‘you’ in a past life’s fault.  Further, you don’t need a Savior to atone for your sins in Scientology, you just need to search out the ‘engrams’ you have and on your own, figure out how to get rid of them so that with each engrams removal you become closer and closer to perfection.

In the end, hopefully, you will release the essential, spiritual self or soul called the ‘thetan’.  The ‘thetan’ comes from the Greek word “theta”.  The thetan is the immortal spirit, which can have existed for up to 74 million years.  It combines the Gnostic idea of aeons (eternal beings) and the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation. 

The difference in the teachings of Hindu teachings of karma verses Scientology is that karma and reincarnation teach that you progressively seek to be better in each life so that eventually you reach perfection.  Scientology, on the other hand, teaches that you can go back and get the “engrams” of past lives so that you reach perfection, potentially, in this life.

This is Hinduism modified and re-packaged for the American, consumer driven culture.  By dealing with the left over wrongs the soul becomes “clear”, free to go on to better things, with no harmful restraints.

Scientology is very tightly organized.  It has “ministers” who perform rites and administer sacraments, but their main function is counseling.

There is a tight-knit inner circle and many highly committed adherents.  Some celebrity names that you might recognize who are Scientologists.

- Tom Cruise
- John Travolta
- Katie Holmes
- Kirstie Alley
- Jason Lee
- Greta Van Sustern
- Sonny Bono

So you say, ‘Where does God come into play?’.  Well, you remember I said that the goal was to release the “essential spiritual self” called the thetan?  Well, Scientology considers the belief in a God or gods as something personal and therefore is subject to each individual’s belief.

The nature of the “Supreme Being”, as they call it, is “revealed personally through each individual as he/she becomes more conscious and spiritually aware.  The life force of the theta exists in us all and beyond us all.”

Life, existence, is a manifestation of the universal spirit of “theta” which exists in us all.  So who becomes god?  You do.  You are your own god.

Scientology operates on 3 basic tenets.

- Man is an immortal being.
- His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime
- His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized.

The goal of Scientology is to maximize man’s estimation of himself.

C.) Practicing Scientology

Let’s see then how their beliefs flesh out in practice.  It is ironic to me that the overall goal of Scientology is self-realization and determining truth on your own so that you release the eternal spirit in you… however, in order to realize this “thetan” spirit yourself you have to be counseled by an ordained counselor from the Church of Scientology.

If I do it on my own, why the counselors?  You’ll see that this was a BRILLIANT money making scheme on the part of L. Ron Hubbard.

How do I get into Scientology?  Well, there are 8 dynamics (stages) of Dianetics and you, as a “seeker” must work your way up on your journey to find freedom.

Those stages are:

1.) Self-dynamic
2.) Sexual
3.) Group
4.) Mankind
5.) Animal
6.) Universe
7.) Spiritual
8.) Infinity (god)

If you were to begin venturing into Scientology you would be considered a “seeker” and you would start your counseling sessions as what is known as a “Pre-Clear”.

The Pre-Clear is a beginning Scientologist.  According to their procedures, the Pre-Clear meets with an approved Auditor from the Church in a private session.

They sit with a device called an E-Meter between them. The E-Meter is used to determine how many engrams that person has and a reading is taken each session to get an idea of how the person is progressing on their journey.

They call it a “religious artifact” and say that it helps measure readouts of the “spirit and soul”.  The Pre-Clear holds the two can-like cylinders while the Auditor asks personal and probing questions and the Auditor will make notes on the readings and adjust as needed.

An example question: Have you ever done anything your mother would be ashamed of?  The reality is that the E-Meter is really just a crude lie detector.  But what they say is that through these questions they are really probing back through your past lives to determine the greatest areas of need so that you can remove these engrams yourself.

It may take as much as 20 hours for the Pre-Clear to begin moving upward through the 8 stages hoping to reach the status of Clear.  A “Clear” is one who has cleared themselves of problems, difficulties, and engrams.

When, in the counseling sessions, the engrams are revealed by the E-Meter, and they are confessed, they are automatically erased.  They no longer harass your inner thetan.

Only 1/50th of 1% who have attempted this process have ever made it through all 8 stages to level “Clear”.  The cost of all this is very expensive.  Your counseling sessions begin at $15 and can be up to $35 with total fees for all 8 stages of progression costing between $7,000-$20,000.

Where did L. Ron Hubbard spend most of his time after reaching “Clear” status?  Well, because he received 10% of all fees collected by the Scientology centers, he spent most of his time in international waters, sailing in his 3,000 ton, 320’ yacht complete with blue-uniformed crew of 200 sailors and students.

Scientology teaches in their “Code of Honor”, that you should

- Never fear to hurt anyone in a just cause
- Punish to the fullest extent of (your) power anyone misusing or degrading Scientology to harmful ends.
- Set your own values and counsel your own decisions.

Hubbard said “Man is caught in a high and complex Labyrinth.  To get out of it requires that he follow the closely taped path of Scientology.”

That is of course if you can afford it!

D.) How do we witness to a Scientologist?

Folks, man is not caught in a “labyrinth”.  They are dead in sin and trespasses.  Scientology teaches that man is not sinful and that man has no need for God… in fact they teach that man is god of himself.

Your sins aren’t your fault, they are someone else’s… a you from a past life and you, on your own effort, can eliminate those until you perfect youself.

How we approach them with the Gospel is that they must be shown that Scripture is clear.  God is the only God, man is not God (Isaiah 45:5; Genesis 1:1) and He has been God from all eternity (Psalm 90:2).  He knit them together in their mother’s womb! (Psalm 139:13-14). 

But they have sinned against the very God who gave them life. (Romans 5:12-14; Ephesians 2:1-3; Exodus 20:1-17; James 2:10)  They must see that because of their sin they have a grave need for forgiveness.  A forgiveness that they cannot obtain on their own (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

There sin is their own fault, and not a trace of a past life.  God has appointed a day in which He will end their physical life and He will judge their sin (Hebrews 9:27).  But God, being rich in mercy and great in love, sent His Son Jesus Christ to die in their place.  To take God’s wrath in their place.  So that they can be forgiven! (Ephesians 2:4-7; Romans 3:25; 1 John 4:10)  God punished Christ, and Christ willingly took it, for their sin! (2 Corinthians 5:21)

If they refuse to repent they will perish and suffer God’s wrath for their sin for all eternity. (Romans 6:23; John 3:36).  Jesus who is God in the flesh (John 1:1; 14) is the only Savior and only hope for salvation for any one (John 14:6).  If they will turn from their works and “self absolution” and look to Christ (Isaiah 45:22), He will forgive them and grant them eternal life. (John 3:16)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving an offering in the Old Testament

After my last series of posts on tithing I received a number of comments on facebook and emails complaining that I didn't handle the subject fairly.  "Tithing didn't go away just because of Jesus." "Jesus tithed." "You are teaching a demonic thing that will rob God of what is properly His"

So I decided to revisit the issue.  As I pointed out before, in Christ, we don't give a tithe to the church.  Now I realize that most churches call it tithing.  Most Christians call it tithing.  But even though that is what they call it, that isn't what they are doing.  I also know that many Christians who could give more, don't, because they feel that 10% is what God has prescribed.  By the same token, some Christians struggle to get by with their most basic needs because their "pastors" have yoked and shamed them into giving 10% which for some may be really difficult.

Did tithing go away with the new covenant of Christ?  I would submit yes, see previous posts for explanation.  So is there a Biblical precedent for something that would equate to the type of giving we do today when we give an offering to our church?  Yes, yes there is.

Bibles open to Exodus 25:1-9.

The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. 3 And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, 5 tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, 6 oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

God instructs Moses to deliver a message from Him to Israel.  The word was to:  Take a contribution (an offering) up from Israel to be given to the Lord.  The guidelines:
- The contribution given should be "from every man whose heart moves him"
- It could be gold, silver, bronze, blue and purple scarlet yarns, fine twined linen, goat's hair, tanned rams' skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps of the Tabernacle, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, or stones for setting the ephod and breastplate.

So what each man purposed in his heart to give he could do so and it could be any of the following.  Now, let's set this passage up so that we know the context.  God is instructing Israel on how He wants the Temple constructed.  The reason that He gives such specific detail as to WHAT can be given was because God had a very intentional design and reason in all that He used to make the Tabernacle.  That's a whole other blog post.

But what was the contribution being given to?  The tabernacle, the temple, the place of worship.  What would we call such a place today?  Perhaps, the church.  That being the church in the physical building sense of course.

Where as the tithe that God did require from Israel was used for the running of a Nation that was under a theocracy, here we see God calling for a contribution to come from the heart.  Whatever anyone wants to give, however they want to give, and only if they want to give.

Sounds a lot like the principle that Paul gave for lays out for giving in 2 Corinthians 9:7 doesn't it?

God encourages, and some commentators even have said that here God commands, that the people give, but what does He not do?  He does not set a specific amount.

So what happens?  Exodus 35:1-36:7

Moses relays this message from the Lord to the people.  He tells them that God has said for everyone who is of a "generous heart" (Exodus 35:5), let them bring the Lord's contribution.  No yoke of a percentage fixed to be given.  Now, what did the people do with this information?

Scripture says, that the people "left the presence of Moses" (Exodus 35:20) and "everyone whose heart stirred him" whose "spirit moved him" brought the Lord's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments (Exodus 35:21).  Exodus 35:22 says that every one who came brought an "offering" of gold to the Lord (Exodus 35:22).  Verse 30 calls what they were bringing a "freewill offering" (Exodus 35:30).  Everyone who "could" bring a contribution, did so (Exodus 35:24).

Are we noticing a trend here?  We should be!  In recording this account Moses goes to great length to record that all the contributions were to be given as a free will offering.

Exodus 35:5, 21-29 - Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze;  21 And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the Lord. 23 And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. 24 Everyone who couldwhose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the Lord.
God called for an offering, not a tithe.  The people, in kind, responded by giving freely of their own desire.  The money and other items they gave was given, not to the running of the Nation of Israel, but to the construction of the sanctuary.  The place of worship.

They gave because they wanted to. 

Immediately you may be thinking, but what if they don't want to give at all.  Well, to that I would say there is probably a deeper heart problem at play than simply an unwillingness to give.

I was once told by a Pastor that he knows that the 10% tithe was an Old Covenant practice but he teaches it as a New Covenant one so that people will give and keep the church running and his salary coming in.  Shameful.  Shameful.  Sinful.  Pastors, please here me.  There is no reason to not trust God to provide! 

So the people gave freely, and what happened?  Well, the Bible says that they were giving so much that God had to tell Moses to ask them to STOP!  (Exodus 36:3-7)  What a great problem to have!  Can you imagine your Pastor standing before you and saying, "Folks, we appreciate your faithful giving around here as it obviously helps us accomplish our God-given mission as a church, but for the time we have far more than we need so please stop giving for a time and redirect your funds elsewhere."  I don't think I can even picture that happening!

Now, I don't want to make something where there is nothing here so let me be clear that I am not saying that teaching rightly about giving will bring about the same exact results... Nope, we should teach rightly because it honors the Lord to do so (2 Timothy 2:15).

Folks, as a member of your church you should be giving and giving faithfully.  But you should not think that the Bible says to you that you MUST give 10% or else your money is cursed.  Nor should you entertain the superstitious notion that giving makes your money "more blessed".   What you should do is trust that God knows your needs.  He knows and He cares for you (Psalm 55:22, Luke 12:4-7, 1 Peter 5:7).  He will provide.  Follow after Christ and trust Him (Luke 9:23-27).  Seek first GOD and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS and trust all else to His sure and strong Right Hand (Matthew 6:25-34)

Regardless of what He ordains for your life, wealth or poverty, etc... trust in Him.

The following are examples of how NOT to teach on giving in the church!

We are to give: 1) Generously - (2 Cor 9:6) But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. We need to walk the way Jesus walked (1 John 2:6) and that would be giving generously as He did (John 3:16). All our money belongs to God anyway and our giving shows the level of trust we have in God to supply all our needs. But what about if you don’t have much to give? The Bible teaches that we are to give according to our ability (Acts 11:29) but it also models sacrificial giving such as the widow who gave her last two mites (Mark 12:41-43; 2 Sam. 24:24; 2 Cor. 8:1-3). God gave sacrificially through Christ and true love is always displayed in it’s sacrificial nature.

2) Cheerfully - (2 Cor 9:7) So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. Did you know the word for “cheerful” in this verse is from the Greek word “hilaros” from where we get our English word “hilarious”? That means when we drop that check in the plate or send that special offering to that missionary, we are to do it not grudgingly or by compulsion but with joy in the Lord!

I pray this has been helpful to you and that these principles guide you as you seek the grace of God to be good stewards of what He's provided you with (money, talents, etc) (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why All-American Muslim is NOT a helpful show...

Recently TLC decided to start a new reality show, one that is supposed to "push the envelope" further than ever.  The show?  All-American Muslim.  It is a show about one of America's largest Muslim communities located in Dearborn, Michigan.

The show seeks to show all the similarities between Muslims and everyone else.  I would suspect that the idea has been birthed in a post 9/11 world that looks very suspiciously at anyone that even remotely looks like what we think a Muslim looks like...

Now, let me state from the beginning that there is never any excuse for hate towards anyone.  Period.

That said, let's look at this show.  Should we trust what they portray the American Muslim as?

Well, to begin with, they've not chosen the most devout Muslims in the area.  In reality, the show (at least in this first episode) had less to do with Muslim/ American differences and more to do with Arab & American differences.  I have no problems with a person of Arab ethnicity.  Not every Arab is a Muslim.  Muslims, however, are not a ethnic group, they are a religious/political group.  Further, TLC has chosen the more liberal Muslims who are like many of America's backslidden Christians... they follow Islam in name and a few traditional practices.  But they, by their own statements on episode 1 of the show, "don't follow everything in the Qur'an".

And that's really the issue, they don't follow everything in the Qur'an.  (See this previous post for Muslim beliefs).  Now, not every Muslim is a terrorist, that is true.  BUT every good Muslim IS.  Why?  Because every good Muslim is following the teachings of Muhammad who taught terrorism but called it Jihad.  Justified by calling it a "holy war".

A good Muslim is a terrorist (or at least supports it) just like a good Christian is an evangelist who seeks to share the Gospel with everyone they can.

I can see the direction they are headed with this.  They are going to show our similarities and talk about the belief differences that won't raise any eyebrows.  Oh, it might get the NOW gals in a twist over "women's rights" but other than that... no one will say much about most of the cultural differences that will be revealed.

Let me give you an example.  There was a very famous person who loved lamb and rice.  In fact, lamb and rice was one of his favorite meals and he had it at least two times a week.  Now, if you like lamb and rice then this would be a commonality between you and this guy.  Maybe that is enough to say that you are just alike!

Well, this person's name was...... Joseph Stalin.  Still think you have a lot in common with him?  Not so much I would imagine.

The point is not to compare these Muslims to Joseph Stalin, the point is that just because we have some common interests it doesn't mean we share the same belief systems. 

I'm sure I like many things that these folks do.  We probably have similar food tastes, movie tastes, music tastes... etc... but that doesn't address the issue of what Islam teaches.

And furthermore, I must ask, how can we even know if we can believe what they are saying?  One of the integral doctrines of Islam is the doctrine of al-Taqiyya.  Which literally means to conceal one's beliefs.  Not to abandon the beliefs, but to conceal them for the purpose of advancing Islam.

What better way to practice al-Taqiyya than by having a reality show that depicts all Muslims as your average American?  The Muslims who are terrorists are not extremists... they are good Muslims because they are following their holy book.  The ones who aren't supporting terrorism or practicing it themselves are merely backslidden Muslims.

For your consideration, here's a side of Dearborn, Michigan you won't like see on TLC this season.

Here's the reality folks, Islam is NOT a religion of peace.  There are peaceful Muslims it's true, but they aren't peaceful because Islam teaches them to be peaceful, they are peaceful because they aren't devout Muslims.  If a Muslim does not want to be associated with a hate filled religion, they should leave it.  If Islam as a whole wants to be seen as just another world religion and not a terror-bent organization then it should repudiate the Qur'an.  All this show will do is deceive some about what Islam teaches and increase the hate and violence towards Christians and others who try to spread the truth about the deception and hate of Islam.

Regardless, Muslims need Jesus Christ.  Not "Isa", but the Biblical Jesus Christ.  Because, though they've turned their back on Him and worshiped a false God, He offers forgiveness for EVEN the sin of unbelief!

If you are a Muslim and you are reading this page, then please go to

p.s. - this article was posted to the TLC Fan Page for the show, it was on their wall approximately 3 minutes before it was promptly deleted.  So much for being open-minded to all views eh?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I have been greatly encouraged to see how wide-spread the 180 Movie has become so quickly!  At the time of writing this blog, the online version of the film on YouTube had just over 1.5 million views!  Incredible!

I am thankful for all those who have viewed the film in its entirety.  Even those who have rejected the messages contained within it.  Abortion is an epidemic in this country.  It is an epidemic in this world.  For some reason we turn a blind eye to the intentional genocide of the human race through the practice of abortion.

Of course it is likely that most ignore it because they just don't want to think about the horrors of it.  It's the same reason we turn away from the television commercials about starving and homeless children.  We just don't want to admit to the reality of the horror we allow to go on in our own backyard known as abortion.  Maybe we figure if it is out of sight it is out of mind.

It is no secret how I feel about it.  There have been several posts prior to this one about this issue.

You may feel that you can't do anything on your own to chance things.  But that's not entirely true.  God often works through those the world considers nobodies to accomplish His purpose.  That fact is evidenced by the 1.5 million views and the thousands more than have viewed it as a result of having been handed a DVD copy or shown the movie at a church.

Abortion is murder.  Let me say that again clearly.  Abortion is murder.  It is a vile practice and it is a sad indictment against any community who places such a low value on the sanctity of human life.

Please, my Christian brethren, I'm calling on you to give a voice to the thousands of humans murdered every day in this country in the name of "choice".  Speak out about abortion.  The 180 Movie is a fantastic resource.  Compelling, honest, and easy to spread to others.  Ray and his team don't seek to force anyone to change their mind about abortion, but they do set out to accomplish two things.  1.) Educate people on the reality of abortion by factual evidence and a sobering comparison  2.) to spread the eternal life giving Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Both purposes are overwhelmingly accomplished in this film.

Please, spread the word... please view this important documentary.  And do it now!

Previous posts:
Modern Day Molech Worship
God's grace in saving a life
Showing 180 to our church

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Overview of Roman Catholicism

Few religions are more confused with true Christianity than Roman Catholicism.  The reason for that?  Well originally, the word Catholic referred to the Christian church in general.  The word Catholic actually just means “universal”.  It was derived from the Greek word, katholikos, and the meaning of it was to identify the true church.  The universal body of Christ. 

In other words, the 1st century Christians would have been Catholic simply because the term was meant to identify all those who were truly born again.

The Nicene Creed, written in the 4th century to lay out essential doctrines of the church uses the phrase “one holy catholic church”.  What the authors means was that there is only one God, one saving faith, one Christ, and those who are joined truly to the Biblical Jesus are a part of the true church.

Now, at this time Catholicism in part was still a fairly sound religion.  It wasn’t until the 3rd century or so that it began to drift away into legalism and tradition.  By the 4th century the Roman Emperor Constantine began to succumb to the desires of pagan influences and attempted to force the unification and acceptance of all religions into Christianity.

He declared himself to be the Vicar of Christ.  These newly accepted pagans were given positions of authority… they brought their pagan practices in with them and in time as they would ordain church councils to settle matters of doctrine and practice these councils began to elevate traditions over the plain truth of Scripture.

They would condemn anyone who opposed them and deem them heretics and in that day they usually had them burned at the stake.  Many devout men were persecuted and even martyred for defending Scripture. 

By the 12th century the Roman Catholic Church had become the world’s most powerful groups, using its power to control governments.  By this time it had effectively added works to salvation and elevated tradition over Scriptural truth. In addition, they had adopted a myriad of heresies which disqualified them as Christianity.

Throughout the history of the true church, many men spoke out against the heresies of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church and they left the Roman Catholic church in protest over what they determined were essential differences.

Those who left the Roman Catholic Church were commonly called Protestants.  A Protestant was someone who protested against not just Roman Catholicism, but against anyone who asserted their interpretation and beliefs over the authority of Scripture.

In that respect, we ought to consider ourselves Protestants as well.  In the early 1500’s, through the study of Scripture God began to work in a young German Monk named… Martin Luther.

You see, Martin became disturbed at the Roman Catholic teachings of justification by grace + works.  And so he wrote a list, now known as the ’95 Theses’ and nailed them to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

It was his public challenge to the Roman Catholic church for a debate about these things.  A challenge against the papacy.  Ultimately it caused him to be excommunicated from the church BUT what he suffered birthed what we call, the Protestant Reformation.

In fact, October 31 is known as Reformation Day because it was on that day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his theses to that door which ushered in a time of revival for the true church as more and more believers pulled out of the deceptive Roman Catholic Church.
One of these days we’ll get around to studying the effects of the Reformation and what not, but that’s not the main focus tonight… incidentally though, Reformation Day is a nationally observed holiday still in Germany.

The Roman Catholic Church claims it was birthed in the 1st century and that Peter was the 1st Pope.  Where do they get that?  Well, they get it from a gross misunderstanding of Matthew 16.

Matthew16:13-20 - Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Now, they say that what Christ meant was that Peter was the rock that Jesus would build His church on.  However, that doesn’t fit when we look at the context.  Christ has just asked them to declare who He was.  Peter declares emphatically that Jesus is the Christ, in other words, Peter declares the Divinity and Authenticity of Jesus as fully God and the promised Messiah.

Christ responds to Peter by saying “you are Peter”.  In Greek, the word for Peter is petras.  It means stone, we get the word petrified from there.  Jesus affirms Peter’s statement saying ‘you are correct! And your doctrine is sound, it is like stone. 

So, “on this rock” on this truth… rather on Himself Christ, will the church of Christ be built.  Peter never saw himself as some sort of Pope.  In fact, he affirmed that he fully understood Christ’s words in his 1st epistle.

1 Peter 2:6-8 - For it stands in Scripture:   “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,   and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,   “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and   “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”

Who is the cornerstone upon whom those who believe won’t be put to shame?  Well, it is Jesus Christ!  Not Peter!  He was just a man!

A.) The Bible

Roman Catholics use the same Bible we do with the addition of what is known as the Apocrypha.  Their Bible is based on a translation known as the Greek-Septuagint, which included the Apocryphal books.

The Apocrypha is a group of 15 late-Jewish writings composed between 400 BC and the time of Christ.  They are:
- 1 & 2 Esdras
- Tobit
- Judith
- the Rest of Esther
- The Wisdom of Solomon
- Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus)
- Baruch
- The Letter of Jeremiah
- Song of the Three Young Men
- Susanna
- Bel and the Dragon
- Additions to Daniel
- The Prayer of Manasseh
- 1 & 2 Maccabees

Though most of these books are Jewish writings, they are written in Greek, except for Ecclesiasticus.  They do contain factual historical data at times, but they are not Scripture.  The Apocryphal books were always known about, they weren’t “new” information, Jesus would have had knowledge of these writing, as would the Disciples yet they NEVER quote them whatsoever.

In fact, no where in all of Scripture are any of these books referred to. 

1.) Protestants and Jews both reject all these books as inspired Scripture, however, in 1546 the Roman Catholic Church officially declared 7 of those books to be a part of the Canon of Scripture.  The Apocrypha was declared Scripture by the Roman Catholics at the Council of Trent. 

Up until that time they had knowledge of those extra books but they were never considered to be of the same weight and authority as Scripture.  They were only introduced into the canon of Scripture by the Papacy as a response to the Protestant Reformation which was taking off very quickly.

You see, one of the things that the Reformers protested was against the notion that Scripture should not be taught in the language of the people.  Rome taught that Scripture should only be read and taught by the Pope and the Monks and the Priests… While men like Martin Luther and many many others held that people should have access to the scriptures in their own language.

So as the Reformers are teaching right doctrine and the Bible begins to be translated to other languages, Rome’s response was to add the Apocryphal books in as Scripture to try and reclaim their dominance over the people.

To that time, Apocryphal books were used for devotional purposes at times, but they were not considered to be inspired Scripture.  Here we are 400 years later and yet the Pope still upholds this decision.  They still hold that these extra books are scripture.  Therefore they are adding to the Bible by embracing these uninspired books as Scripture.

Why is that such a problem?  How do we know these books aren’t inspired?  WELL, to begin with, The Apocrypha contains false teachings that contradict the accepted canon of Scripture.


- Condones the use of Magic

Tobit 6:5-7 - 5 The angel said to him, “Cut open the fish and remove its gallbladder, heart, and liver and keep them with you, and throw away the guts. Its gallbladder, heart, and liver are useful medicines.” 6 So Tobias cut open the fish and gathered up the gallbladder, heart, and liver. He cooked the fish and ate it; and the remaining part of it, which he salted, he put aside. Then they both journeyed together until they approached Media. 7 Tobias asked the angel, “Brother Azariah, what medicine is there in the fish’s heart, liver, and gallbladder?” 8 And the angel, answering, said to him: If thou put a little piece of its heart upon coals, the smoke thereof driveth away all kind of devils, either from man or from woman, so that they come no more to them."

Is it true that smoke from a burning fish’s heart drives away evil spirits?  Of course not!  This is superstitious divination folks, what does the Bible say about divination?

It says that it is an abomination, Deuteronomy 18:10-12 - There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.

Further, it says that it is connected with idolatry.  Idolatry because it sets that thing up, in this case the fish’s heart, as being worthy of a form of trust against something that is evil.

2 Chronicles 33:5-6 - And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger.

Acts 19 records that the pagan converts who were involved in this practice were quick to burn all the sorcery and divination books upon conversion.

Acts 19:19 - And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.

In addition, it contains some historical inaccuracies. 

Judith 1:5 states that Nebuchadnezzar was King of the Assyrians, when the Bible makes it clear that he was the King of the Babylonians.  And possibly the most damning error that it contains is the teaching that…

- Forgiveness of sins is by human effort

Otherwise known as salvation by works.  Among other things they teach that the book of James supports their works based faith system.  The Apocrypha then teaches

Tobit 12:9 - Giving to the poor saves from death, and it washes away every sin.

We know that Scripture refutes this, in fact, the Bible teaches that only the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin!

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

The Apocrypha teaches that money is an offering for the sins of the dead.

2 Maccabees 12:43-46 - 43 After taking a collection from each man, he sent the sum of two thousand silver drachmen to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. He was acting honorably and appropriately, thinking about the resurrection. 44 If he hadn’t been looking forward to the resurrection of the dead, then it would have been unnecessary and frivolous to pray for them. 45 He was looking, however, to that best reward laid up for those who die in godliness, and so this was a pious and holy thought. Thus he made an offering of reconciliation so that the dead would be forgiven of their sin.

That is just flat out unbiblical!  Hebrews 9:27 says that after death comes judgment… but according to the Roman Catholic Church you can be judged and then later forgiven if someone pays enough money to purchase your forgiveness.  That isn’t a JUST God, but one who is fickle and prone to go against His Word by accepting a bribe.

Lastly, the Apocrypha contains no prophetic characteristics.

There are no shared characteristics between the Apocryphal writings and the accepted Canon of Scripture.  No predictive prophecy as we find fulfilled in the Bible.  In the Bible we find prophecies in the Old Testament that come to pass mostly in the New Testament and sometimes later on in Old Testament history.  The Apocrypha contains no such prophecies.  Further there is NO supernatural confirmation of the authors of these books. 
In addition to the Apocrypha, the Roman Catholic Church uses a document that is released by the Pope known as the Roman Catholic Catechism.  The RC Catechism is a series of documents that are written by the Papacy and taught by the Priests as though they hold equal authority with Scripture.

In their Catechism they do not affirm all 10 commandments as written in Scripture.  In fact, they omit commandment number 2 altogether from their catechism.

Someone, tell me what the 2nd commandment is in the Bible?  Well according to the Catholic Catechism it isn’t that we should have no idols.

From the current Vatican Website:
1.) No strange Gods before me
2.) Don’t take the Lord’s Name in Vain
3.) Keep the Sabbath Holy
4.) Honor your Father and Mother
5.) Do not kill
6.) Do not commit adultery
7.) Do not steal
8.) Do not bear false witness
9.) Do not covet your neighbor’s wife
10.) Do not covet your neighbor’s goods.

That omission is not in their Bible, but rather in their church traditions and writings that gets taught as Scripture.  You see a Roman Catholic views the Apocrypha and Church Tradition as all having equal authority.  Scripture, for them, is A source but not THE source of the knowledge of God necessary for faith and practice.

Catechism of the Catholic church, paragraph 82 states:

"Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit." "And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching." 82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”

You’ll find the 2nd Commandment in their Bible, but NOT in their Catechistic teachings.  The catechistic teachings are what is used to train their adherents.  In fact, the commandment against idolatry is repeated 7 times in the Old Testament and 3 times in the New Testament, yet the Pope refuses to recognize the error. 

Now that omission is important as we will see next week as we move into some of the traditions that they hold to.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that you must follow the Bishops the same way… that you follow Jesus. 

Catholic Catechism –
p.862 - "Just as the office which the Lord confided to Peter alone, as first of the apostles, destined to be transmitted to his successors, is a permanent one, so also endures the office, which the apostles received, of shepherding the Church, a charge destined to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops." Hence the Church teaches that "the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ."

p.883 - "The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head." As such, this college has "supreme and full authority over the universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff."

p.896 - The Good Shepherd ought to be the model and "form" of the bishop's pastoral office. Conscious of his own weaknesses, "the bishop . . . can have compassion for those who are ignorant and erring. He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children. . . . The faithful . . . should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father":

    Let all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the college of presbyters as the apostles; respect the deacons as you do God's law. Let no one do anything concerning the Church in separation from the bishop.

p.939 - Helped by the priests, their co-workers, and by the deacons, the bishops have the duty of authentically teaching the faith, celebrating divine worship, above all the Eucharist, and guiding their Churches as true pastors. Their responsibility also includes concern for all the Churches, with and under the Pope.

Furthermore, the Council of Trent declared that no one can interpret Scripture in a way that is contrary to that of the Roman Catholic Church.  (Council of Trent, Session 4, “Decree Concerning the Edition and the Use of the Sacred Books.)

In Catholicism, you are not allowed to hold a view that differs from the Pope on anything, period.  That places MAN in the driver’s seat.  The Bible teaches the authority of Scripture.  That we look to Scripture, not man’s interpretation of Scripture.

As I said, the Bible says what it says.  One interpretation.  It may have several applications, but it has one interpretation only.

Acts 17:11 indicates that ALL believers, not just the Pope and his priests, are to search out the truth of Scripture.

The salvation by works that they wrongly take from the book of James, is reinforced in their Catechism. 

p.2010 - Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

p.2068 - The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them; the Second Vatican Council confirms: "The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments."

However, here is just a small refutation of that from the New Testament.  Romans 3:28-30 - For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Romans 4:3 - For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

Romans 5:1 - Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 11:6 - But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

Galatians 2:16 - yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Ephesians 2:8-10 - For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

C.) God and Jesus Christ

So what to they teach about God the Father and Jesus Christ?  Both Christianity and Roman Catholicism agree on who they are.  The main difference here lies in the result of Christ’s work.

Catholicism teaches that Jesus died, for our sin and upon salvation was are infused with His righteousness.  You get a portion of His righteousness BUT then, you must observe the commandments and be good, in order to supplement that righteousness with your works if you want to get to Heaven.

Justification is a divine act where God declares the sinner to be innocent of his sins.  The because of Christ, God clears the sinner of His legal obligation to pay for his sins.

Isaiah 64:6 - We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.   We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Even our best efforts are like filthy rags… how then would they merit ANY grace from God?  They can’t.

Council of Trent
- CANON 9:  "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."

CANON 14: "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema."

Moreover, you must do works to get saved BUT you must also do works to maintain your salvation.  Catholic Catechism – p.1446 - Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as "the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace."

Did you catch that?  You can lose your salvation if you sin too much, but if you do something, you can re-cover your sin.  Folks, who does that make you dependent upon for the salvation of your soul?  YOU.

But Jesus said in John 19:30 that “It is finished.”  Paid in full!

John 10:27-29 - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Romans 8:28-30 - And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

My repentance is not a work that recovers me with grace nor does it uphold my justification.  Repentance is the vessel by which God works in His children to continually convict them of sin, assure them of forgiveness, and sanctify them more unto Himself.

To perform these acts of penance in the Catholic Church you may be told to do various things.  These acts are supposedly empowered to re-cover you with the needed amount of grace so that you don’t lose your salvation forever.

Some examples…
- praying (to certain Patron Saints)
     Now they would say that they don’t pray to the Saints, but rather that they ask the Saints to pray with them and for them.  In other words, they are asking the Patron Saints who have gone before (Mary, Peter, so on) to pray to God for them.  Do we have any indication in Scripture that the saints in Heaven pray for us?  Nope, absolutely none.  And if I am kneeling to ask a dead Saint a question, I’m not praying with them, but to them.  And there is a myriad of saints that you might pray to for different reasons… most common though is praying to Mary for intercession and forgiveness of sins.

- saying a set amount of Hail Mary’s.  The Catholic Church added the word Hail to Luke 1:28 to give Mary a significant position in the work of redemption and dispensing of grace.

- you might be told to read the Scripture

- do a set amount of good works

- fast

Where they are confused is in the difference between relationship and ritual.  We are joined in a relationship to God by His free grace.  We are upheld by that same free grace.  But God desires fellowship with His people which is why we pray, read the Bibles, live a life of repentance, serve, and so on.
1 Corinthians 1:9 - God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We do those things… works and prayer and Scripture reading… to KNOW the God who has saved us, not so that He continues to save us.

D.) Idols abounding! 

Remember I told you that the omission of the 2nd Commandment from their Catechism was important.  Well, that commandment deals with idols.  The Roman Catholic Church would have a hard time teaching against idols considering they hold a NUMBER of idols in their religion.

1.) Indulgences – An indulgence, according to the Catholic Church, is a means of remission of the temporal punishment for sins which have already been forgiven but are due to the Christian in this life and or purgatory.

An indulgence removes time needed to be spent in purgatory.  So there are 2 types of indulgences:  Partial and Plenary.  A partial indulgence removes part of the punishment of sins.  A plenary indulgence removes all the punishments of sins.

Granting an indulgence is done in measurement of days, weeks, years, etc.  It removes the amount of time you must spend in purgatory.

In 1969, a prayer was published by the RCC that said in the foreword that it was worth 5 years.  In other words, if you said that prayer every day for a month, you removed five years time in purgatory.

The same document taught that if you studied or taught the Catholic Catechism for 20 minutes, twice a month, then you could remove an additional three years of time in purgatory.

CCC p.1476 & 1477

We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury, which is "not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the 'treasury of the Church' is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ's merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy."

"This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body."

You see what this is?  It is their means by which they keep their people bound by a yoke of sacraments and legalism… idolatry. 

You can also get indulgences on behalf of deceased loved ones.  In 1517, a monk named Johan Tetzel wanted to raise more funds so that the re-construction of St. Peter’s Basilica could be completed and so he went about selling indulgences.  He coined a phrase, (anyone know it?), “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”

Preying on the fear of people and purgatory.  What does the Bible teach about the need for indulgences?  It doesn’t. 

Isaiah 53:4-6 - Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;   yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.  5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;   upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;   and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

2.) Mary

They consider Mary the Mother of God, they offer prayers to Mary, they believe she was sinless and proclaim her the mother of the church… they also teach that she remained a virgin even after Christ’s birth, so Jesus had no siblings by her…

Mary’s prayers for us
CCC p.966 - "Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death." The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

    In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.

Vatican Council II p.420 – Mary’s prayers “draw the faithful to her Son when she is preached about.

Handbook for Today’s Catholics – She is preparing your eternal home for you.

Now, Mary was definitely a unique and blessed figure.  But NOT because of all that they attribute to her, most of which are untrue by the way.

Luke 1:47 indicated that Mary DID need a Savior and so she wasn’t sinless.  Matthew 1:25 says that she was a virgin until Christ’s birth but it does not say that she was after.

In the book of James, James identifies himself as the brother of Jesus.  Which would mean Mary and Joseph had children after Christ’s both.

Mark 3:31035 implies that Jesus had multiple half brothers in fact.  Pertaining to Mary’s role after death.  She is not divine.  She does not pray for us and we should not pray to her.  When she died, she died the same way as we do.

The Bible says that there is ONE GOD and ONE MEDIATOR.  1 Timothy 2:5-6 - For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

What draws a person’s soul to Jesus Christ?  Is it Mary?  John 12:32 - And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Romans 2:4 - Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

And what does the Scripture say about who is preparing your eternal home?  John 14:1-3 - “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Mary, in the Roman Catholic Church, is an idol.  We’ve already shown how the Papacy and Church traditions is an idol. 

E.) Heaven and Hell

According to Roman Catholicism, after death every person will begin eternal life.  After being judged by Christ each individual will gain “entrance into the happiness of Heaven, immediately after an appropriate purification, of they will enter into the damnation of Hell.

Heaven, to them, is the place of “supreme happiness” where those there will have no need for purification” and are “gathered around Jesus and Mary, the angels and the saints.”

Those who die in mortal sin go to Hell.

Purgatory is taught and it is a holding place where Catholics go before entering Heaven to be purified for entry to Heaven.

CCC 1030 - All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

You can’t go to Heaven until sins that you didn’t pay for on earth are dealt with.  The length of time is unknown and varies so you’d better do all the works you can to hopefully reduce your time there now.

Nowhere is this taught in Scripture.  It implies that the righteousness of Christ was not sufficient to atone for all our sin.  It implies that there is something we must do to earn justification.

But Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that when we are absent from the body (Christians that is) that we are present with the Lord immediately… no purgatory.

Again, Jesus’ own words, John 19:30 “It is finished.”.  Telestai, paid in full.  The debt has been paid in full, the work needed to atone for sins has been done by Christ!  Purgatory is unbiblical and unnecessary.

Things like Purgatory are threats to keep people scared into service.  Yoked into obedience.  Purgatory makes the cross insufficient by requiring you to undergo suffering in order to be made worthy.

But the Bible teaches that Christ became sin who knew no sin, so that I could become His righteousness!  We need to take the Gospel to the Roman Catholics.  We need to use the Law to bring knowledge of sin, but also to show them the futility of trying to live a life where our good deeds outweigh our sin. It isn’t an offsetting scale.

It would take even more posts to delve into confessing to a priest fully or their beliefs on the Eucharist and transubstantiation... but again this is meant as a good overview, not an indepth handling.  It should, however, be enough to show that Roman Catholicism is NOT a Christian religion.  I don't say that to be cruel, I say that because it should concern us for the salvation of our Roman Catholic friends...

Either Catholicism is true and the Bible is false, or the Bible is true and Catholicism is false… but they aren’t both correct because they believe differently and therefore they are not the same.

They need to know that Christ died to free them from the curse of the law, not just to bring obedience and make it possible.

They need to see that Jesus fully paid for ALL their sin, not just some… they need only to turn from sin and self and trust in the finished and sufficient righteousness of Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Overview of Islam

Much has been said by this President pertaining to Islam… Muslims… and so on.  With over 1.5 billion followers, Islam is the 2nd largest religion in the world and one of the fastest growing religions in the world.

Some so-called Christian Pastors have even blurred the lines by praying to the Christian Jesus and Muslim Jesus in the same prayer as if they were the same person (I'll show in this post that they are not).  In 2008, Rick Warren made this damning error in his inaugural prayer for the incoming President Barak Obama.  To skip to the place in question, you can skip forward to time index 3:58.  He prays in the name of ISA!  That's the Muslim designation for Jesus and that is NOT the Jesus we learn of in Scripture.

What I want to do with this post is 2 fold.  I want to (A) show you the reality of their beliefs so that we see just how they differ from the teachings of Christianity… (B) show you how we need to engage them with the Gospel.

I. The origin of the Name:

Starting with its very name.  Some Muslims contend that Islam is Arabic for “peace”.  The reality is that the Arabic word for Islam is “al-Silm”, which means ‘submission’ or ‘surrender’.

Peace and submission are not the same concepts.  Islam teaches that the devastation and acts of Jihad, which we call terrorism, is in fact NOT inhumane, but rather its violence and bloodshed is necessary because its ultimate goal is to bring peace that is protected by the rule of law.

What law you might ask?  Shar’ia Law, which we will get into a little later on.

The truth is that the Quran not only calls Muslims to submit to Allah, it also commands them to subdue people of other religions until they are in a full state of submission to Islamic rule.

This taken straight from the Quran.  Surah 9:5 – And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists where you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush.

Polytheists… that’s us because we believe in a Triune God and they don’t understand that He is one God in three persons.

It goes on to say that if they will convert, then let them go, but then in Surah 9:14 says that if a convert to Islam breaks their oath to Allah, “Fight them: Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people.”

Surah 9:29 – Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given scripture, - fight until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

The jizyah is a tax levied against unbelievers who convert as a signifier of their acceptance of the Islamic rule over them.

Surah 9:30 – The Christians say, ‘The Messiah is the son of Allah.” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before them.  May Allah destroy them.

II. Where did this religion come from?

Well, approximately 1,500 years ago in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a man name Muhammad was sitting inside a cave and he was contemplating and meditating on life… so on and so forth.  During his time of contemplation he claims that an angel named Gabriel visited him.

The angel delivered certain messages to him there and continued to visit him and reveal things to him across the next 23 years.

He used these angelic revelations to form the basis of what is known today as Islam.  Although Muhammad really began the religion, he claimed that Abraham was also a Muslim and he that he wasn’t creating a religion but rather he was just calling people back to the truth.

The Abraham that we know about from the Bible book of Genesis is actually mentioned in the Koran although the details of his life and beliefs are obviously distorted.  Surah 33:67 – Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah].  And he was not of the polytheists.

They actually go so far as to teach that Adam was a Muslim and he was the 1st prophet of Allah.  In addition to that, according to Islam, Noah, Moses, David, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ were all prophets of Allah and Muhammad is the last and greatest of all the prophets.

After Muhammad died, his followers disagreed on who should be his successor, and so they divided into 2 main groups: The Sunnis and the Shi’ites.  About 85% of the Muslims in the world are Sunni Muslims and the other 15% Shi’ite.

Their aren’t just loads of differences… both hold to the teachings of the Koran and believe Islam should rule the world by any means necessary.  The major difference in views comes to their belief about a person named Mahdi (which means ‘the rightly guided one) who will appear in the end times with Jesus and Jesus will follow him.

The Shi’ites believe him to be the son of an Imam named Hasan al-Ashair and so he has come already but is hiding.  The Sunnis believe that he has not yet come because he is someone else.

The Shi’tes believe he is here not but hidden and is waiting for the proper time to spear.  Because of their differeing beliefs on who is the rightful ruler of Islam and which family lineage of Muhammad should be in rule, they sometimes have inner turmoil over recognizing and submitting to certain rulers.

The Sunnis lost controlling power at the end of WWII and saw this loss as devastating!  They were disgusted by the influence of Europe and the West (which includes America) after this loss because it began to have sway over some of their people.

The Sunni Muslims have been angered by this ever since the removal of their “dominion” style government and have been at war with the West and Europe ever since… Osama bin Laden was a Sunni Muslim.  To him, the end of “dominion” reign in the 1920’s was so devastating that in a post 9/11 video he said… “What America is tasting now is only a copy of what we have endured…”

Shi’ites are no more peaceful… they have allied with the Sunnis against the West for more than 80 years now.

III.) Who was Muhammad

So, who was Muhammad?  Is Muhammad a great peace-loving humanitarian like many try to portray him today?  Well, let’s see…

Muhammad lost both of his parents in childhood.  His father died before he was born and his mother died when he was around 3 years old.  He was raised, primarily, by his grandfather.  He was married at age 25 to his then boss, Khadija, who was a wealthy widow and who was 15 years older than he was.  She died at age 65, well after the conception of Islam having used her money to help finance the begninnign of Islam and converting to Islam herself.

Around 35 Muhammad started going outside of Mecca to Mt. Hira for meditation and contemplation.  The first time he was “visited” he was scared because he believed it to be an evil Jinn which is an evil being created by fire and that are invisible but dwell on the earth.

After that he later said that the first visit was from the angel Gabriel and not a Jinn.  That happened around 610 AD.  Sometimes he saw Gabriel and other angels, sometimes he only heard him and other times he only heart the sound of bells that he could understand as a divine language.

Muhammad was illiterate and so he was told to memorize these things told to him.  The things told to him began in 610 and lasted 23 years until his death in 632AD.

The Jews in Medina disagreed with Muhammad’s teachings and Muhammad said that the Jews and Christians had misread the Scriptures.  One day, while praying with the Jews facing Jerusalem he turned towards Mecca saying that Mecca was the true place of worship because it was built by Abraham.

After about 2 years in Medina the Muslims were not growing very quickly and financially they were strapped.  Well wasn’t it convenient for them then that Muhammad soon after had a “revelation” which directed Muslims to attack and raid passing caravans.

After that Muhammad was relatively unchallenged in any quests having up to as many as 10,000 men at one point early on.

IV.) What did Muhammad believe:

Well, we’ve already seen how he feels about other religions… so they are not the tolerant religion of peace that they claim to be…

Incidentally, the issue of the Muslim Mosques… anyone know the reason they should NOT be built in America?  Well, it is because they are more than a place of worship!    Islam is more than a religion, it is a religion and a political ideology.  They believe their religion should reign the world.  Their mosques are erected after they feel they’ve infiltrated or conquered a nation.

They worship their and they exact Shar’ia Law from there as well.  They enforce Islamic law from there… Muslims in America are already pushing to have court cases involving Muslims tried in a court of Shar’ia Law rather than in the courts of this Nation.  ***SHOW SLIDE***

V.) What else does Islam teach?

1.) Pertaining to Women:

    Women are war prizes and objects used to fulfill the sexual desire of men.  Muhammad wrote that     women are to “lower their gaze around men”. (Surah 24:31) and that you “should marry the     women of your choice, two or three or four” (Surah 4:3)

    Surah 4:24 & 33:50 teach that a man can take women who are not his wife as their sex slave and     this is encouraged for the wives in nations that they have conquered to disgrace their husbands.

    1/5 of all the spoils of war (which included women) were to be given to Muhammad.  The same     applies today only it is given to his descendants.

Among his 12 total wives, Muhammad had a bride who was 6 years old at the time that he married her named Ayesha.  Now he may have married her at 6 but he waited till she was older to have relations with her… she was the ripe old age of 9 when he consummated the marriage relationship…

12 wives plus all his slave women who were mostly Jewish women captured during his military conquests.  Muhammad said that a girl can be taken in marriage at ant age, by any age man, and that women could be married for religion (meaning to advance the spread of Islam to a foreign nation), wealth, or beauty.

There are fives basic tenets that inform the practice of Islam and these 5 tenets are to be practiced by all Muslims… they are known as the 5 Pillars of Islam.

Pillar #1 – Shahada

You must confess that there is no true god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.  Incidentally, all other

Pillar #2 – Salat

This is a prayer ritual that involves purification of the body and soul.  Prayer must be done 5 times a day.  The first is at dawn, the last at sunset.

Pillar #3 – Saum

Saum is the time of fasting that is observed during the month of Ramadan, which they are currently in right now.  It begins with a large feast where they eat their fill and then it is followed by a fast from all good and drink (except water), and absolutely no sexual activity.

Pillar #4 – Zakat

A charity given to the poor.  It benefits the poor and it helps the giver by moving him towards holiness and submission to Allah, further helping him earn Paradise.

Pillar #5 – Hajj

Hajj means ‘pilgrimage’.  All Muslims must make a pilgrimage to Mecca, if they are able, sometime in their lifetime.

Of course in the media you hear lots about how only some Muslims are terrorists… that only the “radical” Muslims who have “hijacked” the religion are the killers… and I will be the first to tell you that obviously not every Muslim is a terrorist… however, it isn’t “radical” Muslims who are committing terror acts, it is obedient ones.

Obedient Muslims that are blowing things up and killing people are obedient Muslims.  The “peaceful” Muslims are really just backslidden Muslims because they aren’t following with their own lives, the teachings they claim to believe.

On top of that, there is one more aspect to Islam that is very scary indeed.  The practice of Taqiyya.  The word "al-Taqiyya" literally means: "Concealing or disguising one's beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of imminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury."

Taqiyya teaches Muslims that at any time they may lie and it is not sinful.  They can lie if it protects their lives or if it helps to deceive the non-believers and advance the rule and power of Islam.  So the danger is, how do we know which Muslims are backslidden Muslims who aren’t being obedient by killing people, and which ones ARE terrorists who are practicing Taqiyya?

Finally, VI.) Salvation - For the Muslim to be saved they must depend on their own works to please Allah.  When they die and are judged by Allah, if they have done enough good deeds to outweigh their bad deeds and sins then they have hope that Allah MIGHT let them into paradise.  But there is no way for them to be sure.  Even if they pray for forgiveness they may or may not be forgiven.

If we are going to reach Muslims with the Gospel, we must remember to define our terms.  Jesus to them (Isa) is not the Jesus of the Bible.  We need to explain who Jesus is.  We need to use the Law to reveal their sin and show them that the Bible says that salvation is NOT of works lest no man should boast… and that the Bible says that if we confess our sin to God He is faithful to forgive us!