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If you have a chance, watch Secrets of the Vatican on PBS TV. It is worth all 90 minutes. Sixty years plus of corruption, pedophilia, homosexuality, intrigue, money laundering, drug trade and other evils have been uncovered with little contrition. The curia is the governing body of the Roman church. It comes from word roots meaning, ironically “care by” a “noble guardian.” There certainly has been not guarding going on and not noble but venal. Yes, the Roman Catholic Church is trying to do something about it, with mixed results, but it really can’t because so much of the foundation is flawed. The New Testament identifies a number of errors which demonstrate falling away from God.
God has promised He will do His word. He has not promised He will honor the words of men. It is our duty to know the difference.
And Protestant churches have fallen into the humanism trap too. Secular Humanism is a real political group with a doctrine and devotees. That is not what I am referring to here. Secular humanism (no capital letters) is the spirit of compromise that reduces both the Word of God and the effects of sin to a human perspective. In the case of the pedophiles, secular humanists (SH) say it results when priests cannot marry.
Secular humanism always identifies a problem as starting with Man and ending with Man’s doing something about it; so God is not a factor.
In no case is this correct.
Truth is always based ultimately on the word of God, because it is the will of God, and evil results when God’s will does not prevail in a man, a society, a nation, and all the groups therein. Pedophilia is not caused by celebacy rules but a direct result of disobedience to God’s word/will. The Bible says clearly “Do not forbid to marry.”
1 Timothy 4:1-4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;
How plain can you get? Here are more examples of common practice in violation of the revealed will of God.
SH #2. Correction to church practice and corruption would have begun earlier but the lowly participant in this denomination is discouraged from reading the Bible. The entire scriptures are there for all men to know, read, promote, and live every day. Church believers can be and should be the backbone of immediate correction. They should have the power to be rid of corrupt leaders at any level. John 17:17 – Your word is truth.
SH #3. There is no “special” priesthood in the New Testament. We are all called priests. Each person in the church of Jesus Christ has a function. There are no fancy robes, headdresses, pope-mobiles, red sashes, gold goblets and on and on. No, the first church met often in the back of a restaurant, or someone’s home, or when under persecution in the graveyards of Rome. There was NO MORTGAGE.
1 Peter 2:9 -you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
Women had as much right in the New Testament church as males Any differentiation tells us that the group is not “in Christ.” In Christ is where the church is supposed to be; when it is not it is somewhere else – in the world, in the flesh, in the devil, or more likely in trouble. Man is not the measure of reality, unless you mean the Man Jesus.
Galatians 3:27-29 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
SH#4. Believers are not saved by being baptized. They are saved before they are baptized. It is not necessary to baptize babies. They do not need to be added to heaven; because they already are there! (They do lose that standing when they mature however; then salvation and baptism are appropriate.
Mark 10:14 … Jesus [said] Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
Not will be, not was. The Kingdom is where they are right now.
SH#5. There is no purgatory, i.e. a place where people go after death to get their lives straight. Jesus said, “Today you’ll be with me” to the thief on the cross. That ought to be good enough for today as well.
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to [the thief] “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
SH# 6 Jesus died once. That’s all, never again. No crucifix should have on it a body of Jesus. He left the tomb.
Hebrews 10:10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
SH #7. Yes Virginia there is a devil. Some churches speak of the devil as though he either does not exist or is not a problem. This makes it easier for the demonic kingdom over which he presides to run amuck in our lives. And again, it does not match the written word of God. There are 4 wills in the world, the will of Man, the will of the world system, the will of the demonic kingdom, and finally the will of God. The first 3 will pass away.
Christians have a responsibility to know the Bible and what they believe. They should also know what the Bible does not say. God has had 4 thousand years to create His written word and now we have it. And there is a test!
My new hero is Franklin Graham who said simply (I paraphrase) “When God changes His mind, so will I.”
My daughter agreed to take me to the Church of the Incarnation, a musical feast of a Capella singing in a High Episcopal Church replete with lavish stained glass windows, clearly valued at millions of dollars, incense, huge candles and all the trappings of a church that only recently cast off the Roman label. I’ve seen a few great cathedrals of Europe, Chartres, Paris, and others. And that is what I wanted to hear again after a youth spent listening to Episcopal services. This is what the Wesley family saw in church in 18th century England.
A liturgy of the past.
But I was not prepared for what I saw in the light of 50 years of progress as the church of Jesus Christ has moved on, not just decades, but a century forward in thinking and practice.
Over half the congregation was male; also the choir, which was as good as you will ever hear, was half male. The acoustics were perfect. The soprano who sang the Magnificat must have been a professional. Only one other church in the area, the Messianic community at Sar Shaloam, can say that half their congregation is male. But the difference is that this church had many homosexuals while the Messianic men were straight.
Blessed assurance can be false.
All men (and women) have a desperate, internalized need to feel saved. It applies to all cultures and is one of the main functions of religions, false ones as well as true, rotten political systems as well as blessed ones, to provide this assurance to the citizens.
In China, for example, in brazen contrast to the West, the Communist State simply mandates that even though there is required atheism, everyone goes to heaven. I have yet to figure out how this works. If you do not believe in God, how can you believe in heaven….or hell.
The convenience in believing in a special heaven just for you.
No one explains this, but I did read where Mao Zedong, the butcher of China, remarked to an aide that they would all die and be with Karl Marx in the next life. The heaven for genocidal maniacs would rightly be called hell, and yes, I think we can believe Marx is there in some discomfort, and yes, Mao can expect to be there since he engineered the death of 30 million, a lot more than Hitler and we know where Hitler is.
Every false religion tells their adherents that it alone is the way to heaven. And after 45 years as a peregrine missionary, I can declare that all men (women, and children) do believe in God even though education and culture might try to wipe it out. Truth will overcome in the end. But when we pull the religious scales off we see that it is faith, not religion, that saves us.
So I ask myself: How can all these homosexual men sit through this service, which was biblical and accurate to the nth degree and leave the sanctuary assuming they will be in heaven with the Lord someday. It makes no sense. There is no room for evil or its practices in heaven; God demands holiness in His people.
The limits of the Incarnation
The answer is the limits of the Incarnation, which is God’s decision to enter human history by becoming man, as Christ with us, savior, redeemer of the whole world, our sacrifice for sin. All this is true, and it is the message of three hours on the cross so many centuries ago.
The elegant program of worship towards this God-man did not touch these men because everything was Jesus, and Him only. He alone was the focus of the service, the church, the congregation, the singing and the truth. But it is not the whole truth.
The other three hours Jesus spent on the cross was for the redemption of the created world, not just humankind but also the culture, the planet, its resources, the animal kingdom, and nations. The blood of the cross fell on the ground.
Jesus’ sacrifice become complete through us.
Even though Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was complete in all aspects that salvation must still be worked out to completion in history of which you and I are a part. If this were not so, God would have ended future births and taken us all to heaven in one great act immediately following His death. No, He did not want the re-creation of the world to progress without Us.
The second half of the Crucifixion is what we, his people, are and do in this world. For this we need, no, we require submitted and obedient lives. “Christ in you the hope of glory.” The crucifixion is not complete until Jesus completely conquers this world and everything in it; that is what we anticipate. We are part of that redemption as his Body here on earth, and it is not a body of evil or perversion.
The Acts of the Believers
The 1st four gospels are about the incarnation, but the balance of the New Testament concerns the acts of the apostles and the management and productivity of the believers for centuries to come. I am today just as much a creator of the universal salvation message in what I do for the Kingdom as the original apostles and worshipers in the caves of Rome.
The church service I enjoyed on Mother’s Day was only about Jesus; the modern world is about us and our mission to a fallen world. And God gives no ministries to the openly sinful, the rebellious, or the disobedient. The church is not a building, a program or a bureaucracy; it is the people of God living progressively more holy lives and changing the world around them through those lives. Salvation to be real demands a response.
If you get a map of the world, you will be astonished to see that in 2,000 years Christianity has taken over most of the globe, at least in principal if not in actual practice. The world still lies in the evil one, for all our effort, although things are changing. But we are doing what Jesus asked us to do. When Jesus said “It is finished,” He meant, “I’ve done my part now you can do yours.”
My daughter said later that as she left the ladies room she noticed not one person in the choir was smiling.
I asked her, “if you knew in your inner man, that you were going to hell, not because God mandated it (because God sends no man to hell) but because of your own decision, would you be smiling?”