Can You Be Catholic and Saved ?


Is it possible to be a born again and saved Christian and still belong to the Roman (or other variety) Catholic Church ?

Without a doubt the answer is YES !

This discourse is written to and for Catholics who know they are saved and heaven bound, and for those who hope for eternal life but are not certain. My sole aim is to lead you to absolute assurance of heaven.

Suppose you are forced to choose between:
[1] The teachings of your church (any church) and its interpretation of scripture, versus
[2] The revealed Word of God in the Bible.


There is no question that all authority belongs to the God the Supreme Creator. It can not be otherwise.
The Father has delegated all authority to His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and remind us what Jesus taught.

If these do not conflict, there is no problem. If thy do conflict, you must choose which to believe. The difference could be the difference between eternity with Christ versus eternity with Satan. This is a very serious spiritual matter.

If you read this discourse you must do so with an open mind and reserve final judgment for the end. If you find yourself being offended or feel antagonized, that should signal you to let go of that and listen. It is not meant to attack your beliefs anymore than Jeesus attacked the beliefs of the prevailing religious thinking of His day. It is meant to illuminate. The Light has come into the world and is available from the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.

A primary challenge facing Catholics results from years and years of indoctrination in the chucrh's teachings and interpretations of scripture. It has long been a practice of the church to discourage Bible study by individuals as opposed to allowing the clergy to tell you what scripture means. I've met in many groups of Catholics and former Catholics to study scripture. The ones who left the church did so because of what they saw in scripture. Those who remain in the church want to continue their fellowship, accustomed to it since childhood, but are seeking the True truth.

If you ever visit the web site Catholic Encyclopedia you will be dumfounded by the extensive content and the torturous legalistic language used to explain, justify, and rationalize the positions adopted by the church on numerous topics.

There are caveats having to do with doctrine and belief. This discourse attempts to address some of those issues as a help to those who are Catholics and either saved or conflicted about salvation. I will try to clarify the distinctions between God's word given in scripture, and teachings of the church where they conflict and coincide. This is not a screed or Jeremiad against Catholicism. My purpose is solely to empower you to live by the Spirit of Truth sent in the name of Christ, while continuing in the fellowship of other Catholics. You must know what is true and what is not.

Jesus speaking: Matthew 23:13 [Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible]
"But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter."

What or who gives me the authority to write this ?

[1] I was educated in Catholic schools with compulsory religion classes from first grade into college. In elementary school we were required to attend many weekday masses. I served on the altar as a youth, and later, after Vatican II, was a Lector and Commentator, and again occasionally served on the altar. I went through the sanctioned sacraments of Baptism, First Communion, Second Communion, Confirmation, and Holy Matrimony. So far, I have missed only Holy Orders (Ordination) and Extreme Unction (Last Rites) My point is simply that I know the traditions and teachings of the Roman Catholic church and am familiar with some of the differences with the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine varieties of Catholicism.

[2] the Holy Spirit indwells me as He has since the moment of my salvation in 1976. I remained an active Catholic for some time afterward until I found too much in church doctrine that is anti-Biblical. I visited numerous churches of Protestant denominations looking for a church to call home. Finally, I realized that all organized religious bodies are run by humans, filled with the flaws innate in humans, and for the most part are the invention of humans seeking to know and serve God. In my experience, few come even close to following the teachings of Jesus and His disciples with whom He founded HIS church.

HIS church is all the believing Christians who live or have ever lived.
Belief is what separates the saved from the condemned.

Catholics the world over who attend mass, stand and recite the Apostles' Creed (Nicene Creed).
Here it is from The Catholic Encyclopedia web site:

"We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

[Note that the word "catholic" in the creed is small 'c', not capital 'C'. The word simply means universal.

dictionary.com
cath·o·lic kath-uh-lik, kath-lik] adjective
1. broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all; broad-minded; liberal.
2. universal in extent; involving all; of interest to all.
3. pertaining to the whole Christian body or church. ]


Those Catholics who publicly recite the Nicene Creed and believe what they say, are saved.

Romans 10:8-10 (NASB)
But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" ,that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

So WHY do you need to read this ? Because you need to know the difference between what GOD has said and men have misinterpreted, or invented, to control the members in the organized body of the church. Listen to what Jesus said ...

Luke 6:39 NASB
And He also spoke a parable to them:
"A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he?
Will they not both fall into a pit?"


PRAYER

Let's begin with prayer. You've read or listened to the gospels being read in church. Again and again we learn that Jesus prayed. He prayed often and He prayed effectively. Best example that comes to mind is when He called dead Lazarus to come forth from his tomb. He thanked the Father for always hearing His prayers that others may see and believe.

We too are to pray. Personal communion in the spirit with God is the most important activity an individual can pursue. Group prayers in services are certainly valid, to a point, but personal prayer is the only way to stay close to God.
How are we to pray ?
His disciples had the same question.

Luke 11:1-4 [NKJV]

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." So He said to them,

"When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one."

[Some translations do not include the final line "But deliver us from evil or the evil one."]

If you believe Jesus, you have just read His explicit instructions on how and to whom His disciples, meaning us, are to pray.

He said to pray to the Father. He did not say we could pray
Hail Mary
Dear Saint Joseph
Saint Jude [for lost causes]
Saints Peter & Paul
or any other person, thing or entity, living or dead. Yes, but ... what's wrong with praying to those who have died and gone to heaven ? They can intercede for us.

First of all, we do not know who is in heaven. Just because the church has labeled some departed as saints does not mean the designation is correct. Furthermore, the saved departed are said in scripture to be "asleep in Christ" until the last day. They do not hear prayers.

Hebrews 7:25 [NIV]
Therefore he [Christ] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Hebrews 4:14 [NASB]
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

Hebrews 7:28 [NASB]
For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

No one can intercede except Jesus. Praying to anyone other than God the Father is surely a violation of the first commandment in the Law given to Moses. It includes the words, "No strange gods before me." Praying to a "saint" is no different from praying to an idol.

If you pray a Rosary, you pray to the deceased natural mother of the body of Jesus in which the Son was incarnated. You will have prayed to an idol fifty (50) times in one session. She is dead. HE is ALIVE and at the right hand of the Father. Such prayer does not take away your salvation but it is nevertheless an act of belief in someone other than God Himself. The second stanza of the rote prayer begins, "Holy Mary, mother of God". To me this is an absolute heresy. God has no mother or father. HE is YHWH (Yahveh) who WAS, IS and will always BE.


The PAPACY

The first thing of which to be aware is the title "Pope", which means "Papa". The papacy has other titles such as "Holy See", "Prelate", "Pontiff" and whatever else the church uses to heap importance on the office and person. Papa is number one on the objections list.

Matthew 23:9 [KJV]
Jesus speaking: "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."

Galatians 4:6 [NASB]
Paul speaking: 'Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" '

Dictionary.com
Ab·ba [ab-uh]noun
1. a title of reverence for bishops and patriarchs in the Coptic, Ethiopian Christian, and Syriac churches. [a no-no\
2. New Testament . an Aramaic word for father, used by Jesus and Paul to address God in a relation of personal intimacy.

To address the Pope as "Your Holiness" is counter to scripture. God alone is holy. To regard the Pope as the "Vicar of Christ" on earth is also anti-scriptural. The Vicar, if you must name one, is the Holy Spirit given to every believer. Only He speaks to us for Christ. No human being has spiritual authority over any other. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Christ and it remains with Him.

The basis for the church's claim of an unbroken line from Saint Peter to the current pope is simply, demonstrably, historically not true. In the first place, the church founded by Jesus did not come into existence until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on those in the upper room. Peter was moved by the Spirit to preach and three thousand were "added to the church" that day.

When the dust settled, the elders among the first disciples were holed up in Jerusalem. "The Way" of Jesus the Christ, Messiah, was a fledgling enterprise with no organization except as the Spirit directed. James, the natural half brother of Jesus by Joseph and Mary was the one who headed the group, not Peter.

I understand clearly that the hierarchy of the modern church wants you to believe it is the "one true church", but it is not. Doctrinal and political disputes caused fragmentation into various sects. Even in Paul's day, [read his letters to churches] there were "false teachers" trying to establish alternate congregations.

The claim is no doubt based on the incident when Jesus told Simon Barjona (son of Jonah) that he was "rock" [petros] after Simon Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ. Read it for yourself [Matthew 16:13-20]. The "rock" upon which Christ built His church is the direct revelation from God to Simon Peter which Jesus referred to as "The Rock" [petra]. Check out the Greek to see this is accurate.

But, in fact, Andrew first recognized Jesus as the Christ according to John.
John 1:35-42 [NASB} Again the next day [after Jesus was baptized by John] John [the baptist] was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He found first his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John or Jonah; you shall be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).

The renaming of Simon, according to John, occurred before the twelve were called. Matthew 16:13-20 is not about Peter being "The Rock" on which the church was founded. FAITH is the rock.

Subsequent upheavals and schisms in the worldwide organized church resulted in numerous, so-called "Catholic" church bodies. The one headed by the bishop of Rome declared itself the one true church and the rest is history until Luther challenged the church's doctrines.

If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that this is the same church which conducted the infamous Inquisition and then sold indulgences to reduce time spent in a nonexistent, non-scriptural place called Purgatory. The idea is that after death, no matter that one was saved, all the sins have to be paid for. In other words, Jesus died for nothing. The saved still go to a little hell for an unknown period of time to pay for their sins and eventually get to heaven. This is one of the worst theological constructions ever devised by men. It is also the same sanctimonious religious organization which allowed, then covered up, incidents of its clergy sexually molesting children. How much spiritual authority do you think goes with that ?

The church also has a doctrine which says that when a Pope speaks Ex Cathedra he is infallible.

The Catholic Encyclopedia

But its present meaning was formally determined by the Vatican Council, Sess. IV, Const. de Ecclesiâ Christi, c. iv: "We teach and define that it is a dogma Divinely revealed that the Roman pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals, and that therefore such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves and not from the consent of the Church irreformable."


Imagine it. Millions of Catholics are required to believe something uttered by a human backed up by the hierarchy. Do you realize that in the beginning there was no clergy ? Priests were functionaries of Judaism, not "The Way". There were no titles in the early church. Paul wrote about the requirements for being a bishop.

[Origin: before 900; Middle English; Old English bisc, Vulgar Latin ebiscopus, for Late Latin episcopus, Greek epískopos overseer, equivalent to epi- + skopós watcher]. In some denominations the district supervisor is actually titled Overseer.

Roman Catholics recognize the papacy as having spiritual authority. The other Catholics, Byzantine, Armenia, etc. do not. Only God has spiritual authority over mankind. God is the One who gave nankind an immortal soul.


DOCTRINE or DOGMA

Doctrine or dogma derives from the Bible ... the only known source of God's word. Any assertion to the contrary is either heresy contradicting scripture, or is from the imaginations of men. Some examples:

Meatless Fridays were once a church law (in some countries but not others). Any Catholic who ate meat on Friday then died without the absolution of a priest (or a "perfect Act of Contrition") was guilty of a mortal sin and went to hell. Not supported by scripture.

Failure to attend mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of obligation ... same penalty. Not supported by scripture. [Paul instructed Believers to gather on the first day. God said to keep the Sabbath holy. JEsus said the Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath.]

The bodily assumption of Mary the mother of Jesus into heaven. Not supported by scripture.

Immaculate Conception, the birth of Mary without original sin. Not supported by scripture.

The existence of Limbo. Not supported by scripture. In fact, Jesus said about children that, "Such as these is the kingdom of heaven."

Mortal and Venial sins. This they picked up from what Saint John wrote in a letter [1 John 5:16-17] where he discusses sins which lead to death [spiritual] and those which do not. The sin that leads to spiritual death is the sin against the Holy Spirit, which is unbelief. [Mark 3:29 and Luke 12:10].


Sacraments & Ordinances of the Church
BAPTISM

Baptism predates the church. God sent a forerunner, John the cousin of Jesus, to live in the wilderness and proclaim the coming of the Messiah. He called Jews to repentance, baptizing them in the Jordan River. When Jesus showed up to be baptized, John demurred but Jesus insisted. John told people gathered there, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." (Sound familiar?)

Jesus, after being baptized, saw the Holy Spirit descending upon Him and heard the voice of God the Father say, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." The Spirit then led Jesus into the desert for fasting, prayer, and the opportunity to resist Satan's temptations, thus choosing His calling rather than the lures and riches of the world. (If we are to be "conformed to the mind of Christ" as Paul taught, we should choose as Jesus did).

Jesus speaking: Matthew 28:19 [NASB]
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,"

The one baptism mentioned in the Creed is this one; the one Jesus commanded. The question is: can an infant be baptized? No. Why not? Because an infant is not competent to understand who Christ is and choose to follow Him and be saved. Children are guiltless in God's eyes until such time as God can see they are able to know and choose salvation. Only God knows for each child. After they reach that point they become liable for making the decision to choose eternal life or death. Yes. I admit it. This is my own theological construction but it is based on what Jesus said about children.

The position of your church is based on Old Testament practices of Dedication or Consecration of children. You will recall that Jesus was taken to the temple and circumcised and dedicated. He was not baptized until He encountered John in the Jordan.

True baptism is by water and the Spirit. No one can proxy for you. If you were baptized in infancy, original sin was erased from you when at a later age you believed and confessed Christ. At that moment, you entered the kingdom. You also received the Holy Spirit whose indwelling within you can be celebrated and honored, or ignored. If you have allowed the Spirit to rule in your life, you manifest to some degree the Fruits of the Spirit and possibly some of the Gifts of the Spirit.


Sacraments & Ordinances of the Church
CONFESSION / RECONCILIATION


1 John 1:9 [NASB]
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

James 5:16 [KJV}
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Jesus speaking:
Matthew 6:14-15 [NIV]
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Matthew 9:5-8 [NASB]
Which is easier, to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up, and walk?" But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

John 20:23 {NASB]
"If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

From the above passages you can readily see that confession is required for forgiveness, hence the church adopted a procedure to provide for this. However, scripture does not authorize the forgiveness of sins to be controlled by clergy. When Jesus said He founded His church on the rock of belief, He also passed the keys of the kingdom to His CHURCH; not to Simon Peter or any who came after him claiming to be clergy. If you think about this you'll realize that if any single man built the church it was Paul who ranged far and wide establishing churches and baptizing.

The POWER to forgive sin rests in God alone, yet HE requires that WE forgive the sins of others against US; else HE will not forgive us our sins. Be careful with this. This has to do with life on earth among believers. It emphatically does not have to do with eternal salvation. The saved will NOT be judged after death. [John 3:16-18, John 5:24].

You can confess to God and/or any fellow believer. It is especially important to confess to a believer you have wronged that he/she may forgive you and thereby be forgiven of their sins. A priest can hear your confession in the role of fellow believer (if he believes) but he has no special authority to grant absolution.

The Israelites, and later the Jews, confessed their sins to God and offered sacrifices as prescribed in the Book of Leviticus. What Jesus said about sacrifice is ...

Jesus speaking: Matthew 9:13 [NIV]
"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Psalm 51:16-17 [NASB]
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

In the above passage Jesus is quoting two (Old Testament to us) passages from the Hebrew Bible in use in His day. Hosea 6:6 and Micah 6:6, both of which say exactly the same words. Throughout the Old Testament we see God grappling with the chosen people over the same issues, again and again: faithlessness to His covenant with them; worshiping idols and false gods; failing to treat each other with mercy.


Sacraments & Ordinances of the Church
COMMUNION / EUCHARIST


Each day around the world multiple millions of professed Christians partake of a rite known as Holy Communion, Lord's Table, Eucharist, Blessed Sacrament, and by other names.

Did the Lord, Jesus Christ, institute a sacrament or ordinance to be followed by His church ?

My full treatment on this subject can be read at this link but in a nutshell, it is uncertain. Luke is the only writer to include the phrase "do this in memory of me", or its equivalent depending on which English translation you read. Neither Matthew, who was at the Last Supper, nor Mark record this directive from the Lord. John does not even mention the bread and wine.

Luke got his information from other still living disciples more than thirty years after the event. (You can check me on this assertion). If he got the early years stories from Mary, she was between eighty and one hundred years old when he interviewed her.

Let's assume the Lord did say to do it in His memory. He said it of the bread, not of the wine. In the final remarks before they went out to the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane,
He said of the bread, "This is my body, given up for you."
Of the wine He said, "This is my blood of the New Covenant",
and that He would not again taste the fruit of the vine until in the kingdom. That includes both sacramental wine and unfermented fruit of the vine as preferred by most Protestant churches. If He Himself intended to not drink new or fermented wine, why on earth would He command us to so do ? He did eat food after His resurrection ... remember? He cooked fish for His disciples and ate with them.

The Roman church's doctrine of Transubstantiation is hokum. When Jesus announced, in the temple no less, that you must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life within you, He was speaking of a spiritual matter [John 6:52-58]. He said so. He explained it to his listeners. He said He was (and is) "The Bread of Life" come down from heaven. Do you believe He meant He was actually a loaf of bread ? Ridiculous. So why would you believe He meant literally to eat flesh and drink blood? You believe it, if you do, because men teaching doctrines of men, not of God, told you you must believe it or get out of their exclusive one true church club. (When I was a child in Catholic school I learned that all Protestants go to hell. In some Protestant churches they taught that all Catholics go to hell.)

Your church goes so far as to take consecrated bread in the form of a host, place it in an elaborate gold device called a monstrance, place it on the altar, and have parishioners come in and adore or worship that piece of bread as the actual presence of Christ. It is little different from the golden calf Aaron made. Believe what you will.

The very worst thing your church does occurs during the mass at consecration, when the priest asks God to look down at our "sacrifice" and the people, like sheep belonging to some shepherd other than Christ, dutifully intone. "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands etc." Jesus was the sacrifice made once for all men, for all sin, for all time. For a man in costly vestments and a congregation as a whole, to proclaim that the bread and wine on their altar is a sacrifice is sacrilegious.

There is a place in the New Testament which does support the taking of both bread and wine:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,
"This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.

First you must accept that Paul received this as a direct revelation from the Lord. Paul was not present at the Last Supper event. Second, respecting the wine, Paul says the Lord said, "as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." There is no directive that believers must do this annually or on any other schedule; only to remember the Lord when you do it.


Sacraments & Ordinances of the Church
CONFIRMATION


This rite ostensibly confirms a youth, usually age twelve to fourteen, "in the faith". What faith? The teaching and doctrines of the Catholic church. The hierarchy commands and demands that members follow the rules and doctrines of the church. This is fair enough. Any private club has rules and can kick you out for failure to comply. But the church goes much, much farther. It threatens damnation. You know in your heart that God alone determines who is saved and who is not.

If you have read the gospels you heard Jesus say He did not come to judge the world. He said He had the authority to judge but did not judge anyone except the hypocrites who ruled the "church" of His time (the temple and the Law). But your church is big on spiritual judgment.

From The Catholic Encyclopedia web site, "A sacrament in which the Holy Ghost is given to those already baptized in order to make them strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ."

"Perfect Christians" ? They are joking, right ?

Luke 11:13 [NIV] Jesus speaking:
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

How interesting. Though Christ has given me salvation and eternal life, in the eyes of God I am still evil. Paul had something to say about this. Paul had a LOT to say about this.

Romans 7:14-25 [NASB]
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Paul was as "perfect" a Christian as is possible. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Christ personally recruited him to take the gospel to the gentiles. You think some bishop pronouncing a few words over a young person is going to suddenly turn him into a "perfect Christian"? Think again. Confirmation as practised by your church and other mainline denominations is merely a ritual having no basis whatever in reality.

Jesus speaking:

John 7:38-39 [NASB]
'He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water." ' But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

John 14:17 [NASB]
"that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."

John 20:22 [NASB]
And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit."

Acts 2:2-4 [NASB] When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other ]tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.



Sacraments & Ordinances of the Church
MATRIMONY


The first mention of the word marriage in the Bible is in Genesis 29:21-24 where Jacob claims his wife and Laban deceives him by placing Leah in the marriage bed instead of Rachel as promised for seven years work tending Laban's flocks.

In The Message [MSG] translation, Malachi 2: 13-15, which is speaking about divorce, says "God makes marriage' not you". In all English translations God hates divorce. He speak of "one flesh" as a result of marriage. Think back to the fact that Eve was made from Adam's rib. They were actually of the same flesh. There is no record of a marriage ceremony.

The churches and society join people in marriages. This is a social and legal custom. There is no reason the church can not join people in marriage. It does have rules, based on scripture, which prohibit marriage between previously divorced people. Of late, it has gone into the annulment business. (I have a RC annulled marriage making me free to marry again in the church, which I did more than thirty years ago. I was saved at the time.)

Having read this far, you may be amazed that I have no negative words to say about the church and its involvement in matrimony. I don't see any obvious conflict with scripture in the rite.


Sacraments & Ordinances of the Church
ORDINATION


Ordination, also called Holy Orders, appoints and authorizes a person (men only) to the priesthood. If you want to know the entire explanation of the Roman view you can read it online at Catholic Encyclopedia - Holy Orders. It is extensive and cites scripture to support the practice of ordination.

The word ordination does not occur in the Bible. The word ordain does occur. It is used mainly in the sense that God ordained, decreed, caused, whatever to occur. There is a place where Paul says he ordains in the churches. He appointed bishops and told them to appoint presbyters as needed.

Not surprisingly, all manner of religious organizations ordain ministers. Here is a list of some of them from wikipedia.org:

1 Buddhism
1.1 Mahayana
1.2 Theravada
1.3 Fully ordained nuns
1.4 Posthumous ordination
1.5 New Kadampa Tradition
2 Christianity
2.1 Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches
2.2 Protestantism
2.3 Non-denominational
2.4 Jehovah's Witnesses
2.5 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
3 Islam
4 Judaism
5 Unitarian Universalism
6 Wicca


No doubt there are others.
What wikipedia says of ordination in general is:
Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of, ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordinal.

The issue concerning Holy Orders is the presumption of powers and authority granted to ordained clergy or priests.

One power is to baptize. Anyone can baptize.

Another is to perform marriages. Anyone with a license, including in some states Notary Publics, can perform marriages.

To hear confessions and grant absolution; handing out "penance" which usually involves reciting rote prayers to someone other than God.

Authority to celebrate the mass. The power to consecrate the bread and wine and mysteriously turn it into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.

I am not knocking the RC priesthood collectively. My family has had numerous priests in it; one a bishop. I have known many priests and ministers of the gospel in other denominations. Of the priests I've known personally, only ONE was saved. His complaint was his fellow priests in the diocese ridiculed him for believing in "cheap grace", given by God without doing works to earn it.

This mentality is the fundamental flaw in the Catholic denominations, Roman included. After the sacraments I plan to address "good works". If you stick it out, you might learn something about living the Christian life.


Sacraments & Ordinances of the Church
LAST RITES / Extreme Unction


The word 'unction' has to do with anointing with blessed oil. Today the rite is more commonly called Last Rites, administered to the dying or extremely ill nearing death. Its primary purpose is to prepare the dying for exit from life to wherever the church says they are going, by forgiving the sins of the person.

This rite is a formality by which some set great store and receive comfort as the object of the rite, or as a family member who believes in it. Those who are saved do not need it. They entered eternal life at the moment of conversion.


GOOD WORKS

Romans 3:28 [NASB]
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Romans 9:32 [NASB]
Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone,

Galatians 2:16 [NASB]
nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

James 2:17 [NASB]
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

James 2:26 [NASB}
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

James 2:18-20 [NASB]
But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

When Paul visited the elders in Jerusalem to thrash out the issues concerning Gentiles, there must have been some heated dialogue between him and James. You can see in the above verses how they saw things. What do you suppose JESUS had to say on the subject ?

John 5:24 [NASB]
"Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."

John 6:29 [NASB]
Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

John 10:38 [NASB]
"But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father."

Let's give James credit for this ... faith without works is useless. The challenge is to determine what works to do as a result of having the gift of faith in Christ. Jesus said that believing is the work God wants us to do. His half brother James wants us to do more.

I generally concur that faith will produce works but that has no bearing on salvation as the saved will not be judged by works when the final judgment in heaven takes place. There are many more aspects than I can imagine to this apparent conundrum.

Suppose you are a quadraplegic who is saved. What works can you do? You can pray for others.

Suppose you are a deaf mute. What works can you do? You can pray for others. Maybe you have some other gift like the ability to illustrate or write. You do what God empowers you to do for the kingdom. This is all about the kingdom of God and bringing people into it. ANYthing which stands in the way, or is an impediment to any person entering the kingdom through salvation by Christ is not of God but of the enemy. It does not matter who or what it is ... a person, an organization, or an object ... it is serving Satan rather than God.

Suppose you are sightless. What works can you do? You can pray for others. You may have other gifts such as speaking or musical ability you can share and bless others. You may be the ideal person to take the gospel to others in your condition.

Every believer can perform some kind of works if he takes care of his first and most important work which is to believe God. You must keep in mind that earthly works, no matter how "good" they are, have no bearing on salvation. Jesus said that only God is good. Our works cannot be any better than we are, and we are sinners; saved, but sinners.

TITHING is not stressed by the Catholic church. It asks for support but does not emphasize the importance to YOU of tithing.

Malachi 3:8-10 [NASB]
"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows."

Attitude is important in tithing. It is one of few commands which come with a promise of payback. However, to give in order to be rewarded by God, the "prosperity gospel" some teach, goes against the very heart of God's love. When you tithe, God sees that you can be trusted with what you have been given. It is His good pleasure to give you more so that you can give more to His work

Ten percent (10%)of what?
Lots of opinions about this. The Bible speaks of first fruits. To me that means 10% of what I get. Before I retired it was 10% of my paycheck. I didn't get what went to government. If I got a tax refund, I(we) tithed it. When I started receiving Social Security instead of an earned paycheck, I tithed the net from what I got. Still do. We keep a separate checking account for the Lord's money and can write checks on His account to ministries He shows us are important to Him.

A portion goes to our local church to support its functions. A portion goes to missions work through a ministry where we know the people. A portion goes to disaster relief when it occurs but only through the Salvation Army where Christ is glorified in the process. Food banks, Homeless shelters and others in our area receive part of our tithe. Some national international minstrels like Habitat are on our list for an annual gift.

For those not accustomed to tithing the discipline can be difficult. I started when I was on unemployment compensation in 1977. I got $140 per week so I tithed $14. It was amazing. All my needs were met. Credit card companies put my accounts on hold until I got a job and could pay again. The experience made a believer out of me.

I was able to start a small business. I tithed its income. Then I got the wonderful idea to double the tithe to 20%. Soon my business started declining and income fell. I prayed asking, "Lord. What's happening here?" HE told me clearly, audibly in my head, "You are being disobedient. I said 10%. You are playing a game with me to get more. It won't work."

I was properly chastised and changed my attitude.

I strongly recommend you begin tithing. If you can't budget 10%, start with 2% and edge upward. When you come to the place where you recognize that everything you get, the air you breathe, the food you eat, the people who love you, all come from God, you realize all the money that comes to you belongs to Him in the first place. He gladly offers to let you keep 90% for satisfying your flesh desires and offers to bless you even more for how you manage the tithe. What a deal !

Here is the other side of tithing. Your money can go where you can't. Your money can do what you can't. Your contribution to support a prison ministry is almost as powerful as you visiting yourself. Your money to a food bank is feeding people you can not reach directly (and to be honest, people I would not want in my home). Your money to genuine missions work is bringing the gospel of the kingdom to people you can not see or touch. Building and sustaining the kingdom of God on earth is what it's all about. It Takes money. Money spent on buildings is all well and good but you can worship in a warehouse. You can't evangelize or help people with bricks, marble, gold and statues. Think and pray about this.


NOW WHAT ?

The world judges by appearances. God judges the heart.
Only you can decide what to believe.

You've read it. Maybe you have simply rejected the views I expressed based on scripture, or maybe you have that sinking feeling in your stomach that you are on the wrong side of what God wants for you. My solution was to withdraw from organized religion (though I often attend church for praise and fellowship with believers).

What Catholicism calls a Confession of Faith, repeated at every mass, is
"Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again".

That confession speaks only to the events recorded in the Bible. It does not mean much more than my saying, "George Washington died, he was buried, he ain't comin' back."

A genuine Confession of Faith might go
Christ our Savior has died for us.
Christ the Messiah rose from the dead.
Christ our Redeemer is coming again to take us to Himself.

I am automatically excommunicated from the Church of Rome because I reject many of its doctrines. Yet, from time to time I go to mass with friends. I have no compunction whatever about taking Communion with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The priests and Eucharistic ministers do not know my heart. I don't need the sacrament. When I do it, I remember what Jesus did. I remember every day what Jesus did. Every meal I eat comes from the Father so I give thanks for it both at home and in public.

When I attend mass I pay close attention to the words of the liturgy and do not join the responses when they run counter to biblical truth. I do not echo the priest's prayer about "sacrificing" bread and wine. When the Confetior is prayed I am mute because it addresses prayers to others than God.

I don't respond to foolish prayers for world peace. This falls on deaf ears. God has already decided to let the world exist in turmoil until the Lord comes again. There will be world peace then, and only then, when Christ Himself rules the earth and Satan is bound for one thousand years. After that, the end comes.

Exodus 20:7 [NASB]
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain."

People tend to think of this command as relating to profanity, which it does indeed, but it goes well beyond that. People who utter phrases like "goddammit", "good god" and "oh my god" as expletives are in direct violation of God's command. (This was the very first insight I received from the Holy Spirit after being born again. Stop saying God's name in such manner).

If you are one prone to such use, ask the Spirit to stop your tongue. He will if you want Him to. Profanity is not the only vain misuse of God's name. Praying contrary to scripture is vain use. By vain is meant without purpose; in a useless manner. Consider what you say to or about God. His name (which is not actually "God" but "I Am Who Am" as far as we know) is to be honored. You may have seen modern Jews who wear the skull cap called a yarmulkah, or more properly a kippa, as a sign of reverence toward God. Devout Jews do not say the word 'God' lightly.

Finally, if you are saved and want to remain a practising Catholic, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what to accept as doctrine and what not to accept. If you want to believe that Mary is in heaven, you can believe it without spiritual consequences. If you want to believe her body was transmuted to heaven, you can believe that too. Only Enoch, Elijah, and Jesus are said to have ascended in the Bible.

But if you want to pray to Mary, consult the Holy Spirit and listen for His response.

If you have been reading this and are not certain whether or not you are saved and have already passed from spiritual death into eternal life, I can recommend these courses of action.


1. Ask someone you know is a saved believer to lead you in the 'sinners prayer' of salvation.

2. Visit this web page and follow instructions you find there.

Revelation 3:20-21
The Message:
"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!

New American Standard Bible
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

New International Version
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition [Catholic Bible]
Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.


3. With total sincerity, ask Jesus to come into your heart and be your Savior. You can use these words if not comfortable using your own.
Lord Jesus, I cannot manage my life. It is filled with sin.
I ask you to come into my heart and change me. Save me.
Send the Holy Spirit to dwell in me and teach me.
Thank you Lord.



4. If you need to talk to a trained person, you can call toll free 1-800-NEED Him (1-800-633-3446) and a spiritual counselor will help you. When I last checked this number is was operated by The Navigators Ministry. I am not positive it is currently working but you can try it.


Once you are converted, the effect is immediate. Your spirit is reborn and is alive in you. No doubt the Lord will send into your life people who can help you in your walk. When they come, listen to the Holy Spirit lest you be led astray. Your spiritual enemy will also send people your way. If you do not believe Satan is a real being, he already has an advantage over you. His helpers will attempt to discourage you before you become firmly attached to the family of God. Heed this advice. I know whereof I speak. [Read Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23].

READ the BIBLE in a translation comfortable for you. For help in how to approach Bible Study, you can click on this link and get help. How to Understand The Bible

Parting admonition: Trust God.
If God is not trustworthy then nothing matters.
Believe God, not men.


Written by Wayne Hepburn, August 2012. I herewith place this document in the Public Domain


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