Thursday, June 05, 2008

Scripture and the Pope: Part 5

Here is Part 5 in my debate with Amy on papal infallibility as it is found in Scripture. Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
- - - - - - - - - -
I apologize ahead of time that most my comments are not backed with Scripture at this point. I have made most of those already in previous posts. While I put little stock in my own opinions as compared to the authority of Scripture, I am responding to the best of my ability from a biblical worldview rather than by book, chapter and verse. I have prayed extensively about this, as I consider truth claims no light matter that can be made without great accountability. (To whom much has been given, much is required.)
I do think that the lack of Scriptural support is a deficiency in your argumentation. I mean no offense in this at all, but many of your arguments seem to come from your own ideas of what you would like a verse to mean instead of what the context, the original languages, other Scripture passages, and biblical scholarship says that it means. I am often at a loss as to how you arrive at some of your conclusions.

Also, though I seem to say some very direct things, I am feeling no hostility (not sure that always comes through in writing). Sorry for the extensive disclaimer.
No problem! I think that this has been a very congenial debate.

I have been kept from being led astray on these matters of faith and morals by coming to Christ in faith, repenting of my sin, reading the Bible and obeying it. I did that before I ever knew what a Pope was. Or should I say, Christ did that in me. I have submitted myself to church leadership which has explained the scripture to me word for word, verse by verse since I was in 3rd grade. This doesn't make me an authority, only that I have great assurance of this grace in my life. I sin, but I have no trouble knowing what it is.
But, the problem is, I too feel that I have come to Christ in faith, repented of my sin, read/obeyed the Bible, submitted to Church leadership and had the Bible explained to me....and I disagree with you. In other words, it's not enough to come to Christ in faith and to feel good about your position. If that were the case then we would both be right and we could end this debate and go about our merry way. But, the Spirit does not contradict Himself. This means that, despite your litmus test, either one of us is wrong or both of us are.

So, how do we resolve this predicament? Well, luckily, God has not made Truth contingent upon the strength or forcefulness of human argumentation. Instead, he set up an infallible authority to settle such matters, a final rule against which we could judge all things. This authority rests in His Apostles and their successors. These, and no other men, were commissioned by Jesus Christ to teach in His name and with His authority. You will find no other group of individuals given such authority in all of Scripture.

To me, this means that if you want the assurance in doctrine that comes with this God-given authority, you better have a successor of the apostles in your midst. The Catholic Church does. The Protestant denominations do not. Now, this doesn't mean that Protestants don't get some things right. Often times they get quite a few things right. But, without the authority given first to the Apostles and passed on to the men they commissioned to take their place and lead the churches, error creeps in, as you acknowledge later in your post. This is a problem, and it is simply not what Jesus Christ (or the Apostles) wanted for His Church.

I confess my sin to my Heavenly Father, just as Jesus and the Apostles have taught me to do from the pages of Scripture. Christ mediates for me just as He promised. I do not see this passage telling me that someone needs to speak other infallible words outside of scripture.
Well, I'm not really sure what else to say. I have already shown you what the keys signify, based on significant Biblical scholarship from a host of sources. I have shown you how Mt 16:18-19 parallels Isa 22:15-22, in which Eliakim is made steward of the household of the king and given the keys to open and shut. I've explained what it means to "bind" and "loose" and the significance of Jesus binding and loosing in heaven what Peter binds and looses earth. I've explained the significance of Jesus praying specifically for the faith of Peter and calling Peter out from among the twelve to provide spiritual guidance and rule for His sheep. I have noted the promise of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus gave to the apostles to lead them into all Truth. Finally, I have shown you how none of this impinges upon Jesus' unique position as Head and sole Mediator of the Church.

Very little of this has been refuted with Scripture, and much of my arguments have been skipped altogether. I realize that you have a family and you're busy -- and like I said in an earlier post, I don't expect you to have all the answers -- but you also need to know that you have not sufficiently proven your position.

In fact, I see a greater danger in giving that man the power of infallibility based on a passage as vague as this one is, in supporting the idea of a single sinful person, capable of heresy and error wielding the power of words considered infallible.
Well, first of all, the doctrine of papal infallibility does not rest solely on Mt 16. I have brought in various other passages as well. Secondly, in my opinion, what's dangerous is when sinful men do not have the power of infallibility. Without that charism, they are prone to declare, in the name of Christ, a whole host of false and malicious doctrines that lead Christ's sheep astray. I thank God that he has given his Church the charism of infallibility, to guide Her and keep Her in all Truth, despite the sinfulness of her leaders.

Falsehood has indeed crept into the church, Nicholas. The father of lies works hardest not at sending people to the church of Satan and witchcraft, but to plant small seeds of “mis-truth” (though there is no such thing, they are lies) within the church. For a lie to be effective, it must look very much like its opposite with just enough of itself to damn those who believe it. Good lies seem like truth. But I do not believe that the heart of Satan’s affective mischief exists with not having a Pope to combat him, but with those who do not believe on God’s Son and obey the pages of Scripture. And faith in Christ as the Son of God, secures forever, that the gates of hell are shut to me, not by my works, not by Peter, but by Christ who shut them.
Well then, I guess the devil has won. He has succeeded in spreading his false doctrine and no body of Christians has been able to maintain the Apostolic teaching in its purity. Is that what you are telling me? If so, then I'm afraid you've turned Jesus into a liar.

Peter was capable of upholding the truth of the Old Testament and securing the church’s adherence to that already revealed truth. Any leader who would rise up after him, after Paul, or after any other Apostle would be capable of leading the church by staying close to the Scriptures and securing their clear explanation to the future generations. Scripture didn’t need more words than it has. (I know you are not saying the Pope’s words are added to the actual cannon of scripture) Peter did have infallible words given to him by the Holy Spirit, what we now call scripture (the books that he wrote). Beyond that there is no mention of others following after him to bring infallible words. It just isn’t in the text. Give me a different text.
I appreciate this question because it gives me an opportunity to discuss something that we haven't had a chance to get to yet: Apostolic succession. I think we both agree that the Apostles were given authority to teach in the name of Jesus and that their teaching was without error. Your beef seems to be not so much that Peter be considered infallible but that his successors would be as well.

I think it is evident in Scripture that the Apostles passed on their teaching and disciplinary authority to other men as they established churches and fulfilled the Great Commission. "They appointed elders for them in every church," as Acts 14:23 tells us. Peter institutes this succession in Acts 1:15-26 when Mathias is chosen to take the place of Judas.

Acts 1:20,25 For it is written in the book of Psalms, "Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it"; and "His office let another take." 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place."

Notice that Judas' position is called an "office" (or in the KJV, the "bishoprick,") and he was succeeded in his office by Mathias. Paul too calls his position an "office" (cf. Col 1:24-25), which he passes on to Timothy (cf. 1 Tim 3:1; 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6) and Titus (cf. 1:5). Timothy is in turn instructed by Paul to pass on his teaching authority to other "faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2).

Remember the position of "head steward" in Isaiah 22?

Isa 22:15,19-21 Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eli'akim the son of Hilki'ah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah."

It too is an office with a succession, and we have already seen how Peter's position in the Church parallels this office. All of this shows that the apostles instituted a succession of bishops so that the Apostolic authority to govern and the ability to teach without error would not die with the last Apostle but would continue on throughout the ages so that the Church would continue in Truth. Only the Catholic Church has maintained this Apostolic succession.

Herein is the heart of our debate. I have been a believer in Jesus Christ, saved by grace through faith in Christ for 26 years and I hadn’t even heard of this charism until I started reading your blog. For me to be saved, based on the clear teaching of Scripture, this charism has not been necessary. Nor do I find its necessity mentioned anywhere in all the teachings in Scripture laying the ground work for church leadership. Unless of course that is exactly what you are saying, that I am not saved. I will not be offended if you believe this about me.
The infallibility of Peter and his successors is Biblical truth. You have not considered it necessary to your salvation to believe it because you have been ignorant of it. But, I have shared this truth with you to the best of my ability, so now you are no longer ignorant of it. Now you are accountable for this teaching. I can't say how much this culpability effects your salvation. Only you and God know how responsible you are for rejecting this.

You said...
"By way of reminder, I've already shown (in Part 3) how, regardless of one's interpretation of that incident, the doctrine of papal infallibility is not refuted."
I say...
On the contrary, if one were to take my interpretation seriously, which I do, the very office of pope was never meant to exist.
You have yet to prove how that follows from the fact that Jesus spoke to "satan" in response to Peter.

Yes, the power of binding and loosing, that is what key Peter has been given, I agree. That power, in my reading, is clearly the Gospel. What else can bind and loose anyone on this fallen planet, but Christ’s act of substitution (I repeat myself). It had to be the perfect God-Man making reconciliation between the Holy One who was offended and His enemy, fallen mankind, (to all who believe).
I suppose you can read it that way if you want, but your understanding of "binding" and "loosing" is simply NOT supported either by the context of the passage, biblical scholarship on binding and loosing, or the Jewish and Rabbinical understanding of their own terms. You seem to be forcing this passage to say what you want it to say and ignoring any evidence to the contrary.

And I will add to these comments one question of vital importance to me. I have attached a quote below and I’d like to know if you believe it. It strikes at the very heart of what I believe. How you answer will also either confirm or relieve my concern for you.The Council of Trent (1500s), but I have heard, is still authoritative in the Catholic church today:
“If anyone says that the sacraments are not necessary for salvation… and that without them… men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification… let him be anathema.”
“If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.”
We can discuss the efficacy of the sacraments and their relationship to our salvation if you wish, but I'd rather not do it in this debate. I think it would take us too far off topic. I hope that's ok with you.

I thank you for being respectful throughout this debate.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

27 comments:

No Fluff Required said...

Wow, here you are and it is before the 14th. I hope all is going well with your testing. I have been praying for you.

I believe the only true argumentation that holds complete validity comes from scripture. I do not put the same weight of truth on explaining my own mind or emotional experiences. That is why I apologized for that. Some are very comfortable deriving arguments from mere men, because the Catholic church does that all the time. The final word for me comes from Scripture alone.

You said,
"but many of your arguments seem to come from your own ideas of what you would like a verse to mean instead of what the context, the original languages, other Scripture passages"

It is true I do not claim to have studied the original languages in depth but I certainly have not come to these ideas on my own. I do believe one can come to enough understanding of salvation to have it be effectual in saving them, just by reading Scripture alone. There are very difficult passages. To grow in deeper understanding, one should be taught by those who understand Greek and Hebrew even Arimaic and explain these things to them. These churches are rare in the world. I had the benefit of growing up in one such blessed place.

You said, "I am often at a loss as to how you arrive at some of your conclusions."

I would say the same thing of you, except I know you get your views from the Pope and the Catholic tradition. I do wonder how they arrived at many of their conclusions.


I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you did not mean to say that you think these are my ideas. I can give you a list, many centuries long, of those who hold these views.


You said,
"Instead, he set up an infallible authority to settle such matters, a final rule against which we could judge all things. This authority rests in His Apostles and their successors."

I believe the Apostles ONLY have the authority to speak infallibly and only in Scripture.


You have said,"But, the problem is, I too feel that I have come to Christ in faith"

I do not doubt your faith. From visiting your site I have seen what seems to be spiritual fruit coming from your life. If you remember, I was amazed to meet a Catholic who pursued personal holiness (namely purity before marriage). That's hard to obey if you are not a new creation in Christ without the Holy Spirit to help you. Warning don't take too much offense at what's coming:

I thought "this guy might actually be a saved Catholic."

I know many people, in fact probably half of our church, is made up of former Catholics who discovered that they were enslaved to a system of man made works and traditions they could never meet.

They finally realized, by God's grace, that salvation is found in Christ plus nothing. Not in confessing your sins to a Priest or any other man, not in taking communion, not in being baptized, not in praying certain prayers or any work of our own... Just believing. Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me."

An actual event takes place where Christ makes you born again, a new person. The good works are the result of that new life, not the cause of it.

There is so much convolution in the Catholic tradition that I do not find premise in scripture for. I still don't see anything about Peter's successors having infallible words in the passage you say it exists in.

I find nothing about Saints being someone we should pray to or being designated as overseers of certain aspects of life. Saints are always just plain Christians in Scripture. They are the church. Regular people who have been saved by grace.

There is no mandate at all to pray to Mary in Scripture even though she was a righteous woman and a chosen vessel.

Praying to angels is forbidden.

There is so much that is extra biblical in the Catholic church.

It is concerning to me. Salvation is by grace through faith. A work of Christ alone. Scripture is so clear on this.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God, not as a result of works, lest any man should boast" Eph. 2:8,9

If you or anyone else is depending on Christ plus anything, they are missing the mark and demeaning His sacrifice.

Why would Christ give His life for a maybe? Is he not strong enough to hold those whom He has purchased with His own blood, because their sin is greater than His sacrifice?

No way!

He is greater! His sacrifice is sufficient. He will not cast me out on the day of my death because another man didn't make it to my bedside to validate His blood already shed for me. He doesn't need anyone. His work is complete in regard to buying back my soul.


I realize I haven't addressed everything you said. I am processing.

Thanks for your time, while you are still so very busy.

Prayers,
Amy

No Fluff Required said...

You said,
"Well then, I guess the devil has won. He has succeeded in spreading his false doctrine and no body of Christians has been able to maintain the Apostolic teaching in its purity. Is that what you are telling me? If so, then I'm afraid you've turned Jesus into a liar."


The Scriptures are very clear in almost every Epistle that there will be false teachers among us and even the antichrist will be one such teacher. That is what I am referring to.

I believe all of the Gospels where Jesus is quoted wouldn't contradict this. Therefore He is not a liar. I certainly believe His words were consistent with the view that the devil seeks to confuse and lead people astray.

The devil has not won. I believe that churches that stick closely to Scripture alone and explain it verse by verse and also conceptually based on the original languages get it right.

I believe that some Popes and priests of the past have taught the scriptures accurately, and some have not. Those who haven't are false teachers. Just as there are some "evangelicals" who are liars and deceivers.

Christ has won, regardless, because He will safely bring into His kingdom all those who have placed their faith in Him. He will cast Satan into eternal hell with all who haven't placed their faith in Christ and as a result have despised His sacrifice or thought they needed something more (that His sacrifice wasn't good enough, but something they can achieve will give it the boost it needs).


This is what I meant. Certainly Christ is all truth. God cannot lie.

No Fluff Required said...

"The infallibility of Peter and his successors is Biblical truth. You have not considered it necessary to your salvation to believe it because you have been ignorant of it. But, I have shared this truth with you to the best of my ability, so now you are no longer ignorant of it. Now you are accountable for this teaching. I can't say how much this culpability effects your salvation. Only you and God know how responsible you are for rejecting this."

"I preach nothing but Christ and Him crucified" Paul said.

I will not go to hell because the Pope holds no authority in my life. Even if that passage you quote does say all that you say it says.

Peter is the rock
Peter holds the key
etc.

It doesn't nullify or undergird Christ work on the cross. It is unrelated entirely. If salvation is by grace through faith then it is not by Pope.

So I will face Him, when I die and answer Him that Christ's sacrifice was enough to save me. He will not tell me that I should have relied more on a man.

Christ who paid the penalty of my sin on the cross will not say that I should rely more on another sinner for salvation. The sinless Christ is enough for me.

No Fluff Required said...

We agree that protecting the church from error is most important.

I just think that you are in error and you think I am.

No Fluff Required said...

Notice that Judas' position is called an "office" (or in the KJV, the "bishoprick,") and he was succeeded in his office by Mathias. Paul too calls his position an "office" (cf. Col 1:24-25), which he passes on to Timothy (cf. 1 Tim 3:1; 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6) and Titus (cf. 1:5). Timothy is in turn instructed by Paul to pass on his teaching authority to other "faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:2).


There is no reason to believe that the successors of Peter are the same as Methias replacing Judas. Judas was replaced in Scripture. Paul was added to the Apostleship having replaced no one. There is no other record of an Apostle being replaced.

The original Apostles died, leaving the church in the hands of elders, deacons, and teachers of the Word of God. Those who would shepherd the flock.

Authority and infallibility died with them humanly speaking. The only authoritative thing that remains is the living and active Word of God. Those who teach it accurately can speak with authority, but hold no infallible authority themselves.

No Fluff Required said...

Lastly,

You are right. I have not answered every argument. I thank you for your gracious words about me having many responsibilities with my family.

This is true.

My arguments are not sufficient to convince anyone. Only the Word of God planted into the good soil of one's heart and mind, by the Spirit of God can transform anyone.

phatcatholic said...

Amy......thank you for your replies. In case you were wondering, the reason I was able to post Part 5 at this time was b/c I had been working on it in little bits every day, so when I said I needed to study I just had a little bit left. I decided to go ahead and finish it up so that I could have something up on my blog during this down time.

I'll respond to you later this month.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

*Linda Pinda* said...

Please forgive me if I am not supposed to comment here. I am unfamiliar with the format of the discussions contained on your blog and if these comment sections are only intended for the persons involved in the spirited debate.

That said, feel free to "delete me" if I am not supposed to be here!

Amy: Your earlier comment is that "I believe that churches that stick closely to Scripture alone and explain it verse by verse and also conceptually based on the original languages get it right."

Problem #1: Even churches that 'stick' closely to scripture disagree on the varied interpretations.

Problem #2: Jesus never said a word about writing down what He said or references scripture meaning 'the new testament'. He passed on His law and His love to a body of believers to share His message to the entire world.

Scripture was born of the church. It was compiled under the authority of that church. And future leaders of rebellious religious organizations removed words, added words, and even removed entire books if they did not suit their own agendas.

-Why on earth (or in heaven) would Jesus only give authority and infallibility to one generation of His church? That would have been useless. Surely the folks living in those days would have been more keenly aware of Christ's life, death, resurrection, and teachings. That authority would be needed for the long haul... until Christ's return in fact. As He says "I will be with you always". ALWAYS. Not just for one generation.

And scripture... Christ's own words are that "they be one". One church, one truth, one teaching.... One body.

The very history of the doctrine of the Catholic Church is it's own best "evidence". I will agree with you in one sense that not all popes are created equal. Some were saints... others were an embarrassment to the office. But this is not proof that the church is wrong in it's beliefs. No! This is concrete example that the church is led by the Holy Spirit and that in matters of doctrine, the pope is given the grace of infallibility. Why? Because no matter how holy or disfunctional any pope has been... no matter his faults or failures... no pope has EVER altered, removed, or decreed any dogma of the church which is contrary to the teachings of Christ. Though the man be weak, the Holy Spirit working through him is the one and the same sent to lead and guide the church since it's birth.

Christ never said I had to put a book before all things. NEVER. He said "I will build my church"... "MY church". Christ's church... The one holy Catholic and apostolic church.

May you find your way home Amy. The door is ALWAYS open.

Much love and prayer... *Linda*

Interested Bystander said...

I am enjoying this debate! Amy, your posts are a blessing to me. It is evident that Catholicism is not exactly your area of expertise, and that is what makes this debate so enjoyable. Your sincerity in sharing the Good News is refreshing! Keep up the good work!

phatcatholic said...

Linda.....your comment is perfectly fine. I welcome alternative ways to approach this debate. Your comment was a good one.

Interested bystander.....I think you for your interest in this blog and in our debate. Amy and I seem to be at an empasse, so I'm not sure how much longer it will continue. But, I'm glad that you were able to get something out of what Amy and I have contributed here.

No Fluff Required said...

Linda,
"on earth (or in heaven) would Jesus only give authority and infallibility to one generation of His church? That would have been useless. Surely the folks living in those days would have been more keenly aware of Christ's life, death, resurrection, and teachings. That authority would be needed for the long haul... until Christ's return in fact. As He says "I will be with you always". ALWAYS. Not just for one generation."

Yes. I agree. Infallibility has been given to every generation through the inerrant Word of God. But anyone can read it and the Holy Spirit can help them understand it. I believe one cannot understand it fully unless the Holy Spirit enables them.

I also believe that it will take forever to truly understand and search out the nuances of the Character of our great God. That is why I read it every day.

Also, men trained to explain it (pastors) are necessary to preach it every Sunday.

2Peter 1:20 Says "But know this,first of al, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

The word interpretation has the idea of "loosing" or "untying" What Peter is saying here is that the Word of God has one interpretation. There are many applications to different life experiences but the same interpretation of the law, prophets, Gospels and Epistles.

I know that people do interpret differently. The goal is to search the scriptures for the one interpretation.

And you are right. I am very limited in my understanding of the Catholic religion. I still believe, from what I do know that there is much in the Catholic tradition that is tradition and seems like it could never come from the Scripture that I read every day.

My biggest concern is that the Catholic church promotes a kind of salvation that can be earned by human good works. This is a dangerous belief that promotes self-reliance and not faith in Christ alone for salvation.

Thanks for your part of the discussion.

amy

No Fluff Required said...

Linda
"The very history of the doctrine of the Catholic Church is it's own best "evidence".

I disagree. Judaism has a longer history and is very incomplete without Christ.

Islam has a history of great length but has a wrong view of God and denies the trinity and Godhood of Christ.

The Catholic church has been promoting salvation in something other than Christ alone for much of their history. This is a wrong doctrine.

People can be misguided for many years.

No Fluff Required said...

If either of you want to listen to this sermon (by my friend Pastor Mark) below, it shares the Gospel as we believe it. It is not strong apologetically, it is very simple but it is good. You can forward through beginning announcements etc.
if you want.

http://www.northcoastcalvary.org/audio/Sermons/2008.02.24.mp3

*Linda Pinda* said...

Amy:
The Catholic Church does not teach that salvation can be earned by human good works. It does teach that proclaiming your belief and believing are two different things. The church position is beautiful in that faith is a verb rather than a noun. If one believes, then one lives it. Proclaiming it to the people, the church, the mountains and even God is great, but it is empty without our works. (or dead as James puts it).

The best example of the church's teaching in this area is Jesus' own words in Mathew 25. He clearly states that on the day of judgement, He will divide us, the sheep from the goats, to His left and right side. And what will our judgement be based on? "When I was hungry you fed Me". "When I was thirsty you gave Me to drink" etc. OUR ACTIONS!!! Or... Our INACTIONS!!!

Jesus says in Mathew 7 "None of those who cry out, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." DOES the will. DOES... action.

It is Christ's sacrifice that saves us, but we must pick up our cross and follow Him. We must live it. Believing it simply is not enough. Those are Christ's words, not mine, nor any popes.

No church more closely follows EVERY word of scripture than the Catholic Church. There is much irrational teaching that says otherwise, but when one lets the scales fall from the eyes, the whole truth is there, not just the parts that others feel is easy to live by.

I will never understand how anyone can say that they live by scripture alone when scripture does not say that is the foundation of faith, thus some human came up with that concept. And I will never understand how someone can claim to live by scripture but refuse to accept Christ's teaching, especially on the eating of His body and drinking His blood. I know of no other scripture more concise, more clear, more driven home than John 6, yet so many allow those seeds to fall on rocky ground.

Christ established a church. Many reject it, just as they did His teaching on the consumption of his flesh. It was too hard for them.

I figure if that many left Him that day, what hope do I have of opening anyone's eyes? Yet... I love Him and my soul longs for all the world to know the fullness of truth He has given us.

Men say lots of good things... sometimes even inspired things, but I choose Christ's words above all. And the place where all of His words are heeded is the Catholic Church.

Love & Prayers... *Linda*

No Fluff Required said...

"The Catholic Church does not teach that salvation can be earned by human good works. It does teach that proclaiming your belief and believing are two different things. The church position is beautiful in that faith is a verb rather than a noun. If one believes, then one lives it. Proclaiming it to the people, the church, the mountains and even God is great, but it is empty without our works. (or dead as James puts it)."

I agree that good works proclaim that one is truly saved. Belief is a verb (faith and belief are interchangable I agree) But faith breaks down where one credits their good works for salvation.Faith is something God gives you belief is the response to that gift, good works are the result of true salvation.

However, I am afraid every Catholic I have ever asked this question to: "Do you think you will go to heaven and if so why do you think God will let you enter?" Their reply is a variation of: "I hope so. I think I have done more good than bad in this life."

I have only heard from you and one other Catholic woman that it is by faith alone in Christ and it is all His work. That woman wants to leave the Catholic church because she reads her Bible every day and has for 40 years. She finds discrepancies between what the Catholic church allows and the Bible. She brings the discrepancies to her priest, who cannot answer her questions. I advised her to stay in that church anyway, only because her husband doesn't want to leave.(based on 1Peter 3:1)

*Linda Pinda* said...

You are misinterpreting what I said when you say that I am one of only two Catholic women who believe it is by faith alone in Christ that we are saved. I said... "It's Christ's sacrifice that saves us". In other words... without Christ, there is no salvation. His crucifixion is the saving work.

However, I clearly stated that believing that alone does not get us into heaven. In fact, Christ says that in scripture as I quoted above.

Do I think I will enter heaven? I believe that is dependent upon Jesus' judgement of my life and the living out of my faith. I am subject to His judgement as are all human beings. Saying "I am saved", does not make me saved. And if anyone believes that, then they are ignoring the words of Christ. As I stated earlier, Christ clearly outlines the criteria for our judgement in Mathew 25. Declaring to the world entire that Jesus Christ is my personal Lord and Savior is not on the list.

And speaking of which... where is the familiar alter call in scripture? And do non Catholic denominations not see that the "structure" of having to declare salvation in order to be saved is just as much an act of mankind than any other work? If salvation comes from Christ's sacrifice alone, then why do non Catholic denominations think that everyone who does not publicly proclaim Christ as their personal Lord and Savior is not saved? Sounds to me like their view of salvation is just as much dependent upon a human act, but it's ok because it's the formula they conceived.

I do believe that I will enter heaven. I base that upon the fact that I believe I have obeyed God and lived out the law and love He has given me. But... I am keenly aware that God's judgement is His alone and I am totally dependent upon His mercy.

I do not believe, nor does the Catholic church teach that anyone can "buy" salvation through their own works, but I do believe that we can lose it by not following the commands of His love and His law.

Jesus says "you know I love the Father because I follow His commands". Again, that following is an act. It is the conforming of one's will to the will of God. God gives us everything we need for salvation, but it is up to us to receive it. Faith truly is a gift freely given to us from God, but like all gifts it can be rejected, or even taken, but misused.

I would even go so far as to say that it sounds like you and I believe the same thing about salvation but that somewhere along the line someone poisoned your mind to what the church's teaching is. "Works" as so many non Catholics point the finger at, is no more than the physical and spiritual following God's commands, which all Christians are called to. The "fruits" which we bear and Christ says we will be known by. We do not believe that works without faith will get us into heaven any more than we believe that a faith without works is alive. I would not say they are interchangeable, I would say "they are one".

I am glad you have encouraged your friend to stay in the Catholic Church, especially for the reason you stated. I would suggest she find a priest more founded and faithful to the church who could indeed answer her questions and help her to see that there are not discrepancies between what scripture says and what the church teaches. The church is firmly committed to upholding and living out the entire scripture.

I did try to listen to the link you provided, but it said that page was not available. I visited the site and saw a host of previous sermons. I will gladly listen to some. I do love my brother and sister Christians and long for the day when we will all be one again.

Peace & Love, *Linda*

No Fluff Required said...

"If salvation comes from Christ's sacrifice alone, then why do non Catholic denominations think that everyone who does not publicly proclaim Christ as their personal Lord and Savior is not saved? Sounds to me like their view of salvation is just as much dependent upon a human act, but it's ok because it's the formula they conceived."

I do not believe that one is saved by a public proclamation. They are saved by faith. The public proclamation just like other good works is a result of Salvation. The altar call is something some churches do to invite people who have just heard the Gospel and believed it, to come forward and be prayed for. It doesn't save anyone to walk an isle.

...that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
(you know the reference)

Do you think you can add one ounce of effectiveness to the cross work of Christ. Only a sinless man could be the perfect sacrifice. Any good works we do are called filthy rags in scripture. So to think that by adding more and more of our own good works to the perfect and complete work of Christ is placing our faith in us, not Him. Heaping up piles of filthy rags will never make us cleaner.

It is trading our sin for his righteousness through faith in His completed work that saves us.

It is all of Him. He even grants the faith (so that no one can boast)

Since you pray to the Heavenly Father already, why don't you just ask Him if this is true and open your Bible in faith that He will reveal it to you.

No Fluff Required said...

"I do not believe, nor does the Catholic church teach that anyone can "buy" salvation through their own works, but I do believe that we can lose it by not following the commands of His love and His law."

I believe that the scripture teaches that when one walks away from the faith, that they were not really saved. They were the rocky soil from Jesus' parable.

I am glad to read that you do not believe we can buy salvation with our good works. I think that is the heart of the matter.

I agree that people can reject the truth. More people reject it than accept it.

My entire motivation for spending so much time on this is a selfless one. I fear for those who rely on their works to save them, because that is not putting their faith in Christ.

No Fluff Required said...

You said,
"but that somewhere along the line someone poisoned your mind to what the church's teaching is. "Works" as so many non Catholics point the finger at, is no more than the physical and spiritual following God's commands, which all Christians are called to. The "fruits" which we bear and Christ says we will be known by. We do not believe that works without faith will get us into heaven any more than we believe that a faith without works is alive. I would not say they are interchangeable, I would say "they are one".

I agree. You cannot claim Christ and live like an unrepentant sinner. The fruit proves that the Spirit is alive, a new creation in Christ. I do not think that anyone has poisoned my mind, since I hold these opinions soley on all of the Catholics I have met who do not bear fruit.

I also know many non Catholic "so-called" Christians who have claimed Christ and do not bear fruit. I would not say they are saved either. Walking an isle, praying a prayer or going to church doesn't save anyone...just like getting baptised, taking communion or any other sacrament doesn't save people.

Christ saves people.

If you agree with that, then we agree.

*Linda Pinda* said...

I think it is clear that you and I agree more on this matter than disagree. I am sorry that you base your opinions of the Catholic faith and our view on salvation solely on all of the Catholics you have met who do not bear fruit. Indeed, not all Catholics will go to heaven. Like in all things, calling oneself Catholic and 'being' Catholic are two different things.

And I should apologize for my across the board comment on all non Christians view of 'being saved'. I guess I know too many friends who feel others are not saved because they don't fit their profile of what saved is. I have a circle of friends who will not accept that I am saved because I am a Catholic even though it is a central teaching of the Catholic church that Jesus Christ is our personal Lord and Savior and most Catholics certainly understand and embrace that. It seems as though they are always afraid their loved ones have died unsaved even if their loved ones believed in Jesus with all their hearts. I guess I just don't get it. Surely imperfect 'faithful' should not be the basis for which any of us 'judges' another's religion. We all know people in isles and pews of all denominations who are living in deep sin or at least not living a gospel life.

You wrote:
that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.
(you know the reference)

Do you think you can add one ounce of effectiveness to the cross work of Christ. Only a sinless man could be the perfect sacrifice. Any good works we do are called filthy rags in scripture. So to think that by adding more and more of our own good works to the perfect and complete work of Christ is placing our faith in us, not Him. Heaping up piles of filthy rags will never make us cleaner.

It is trading our sin for his righteousness through faith in His completed work that saves us.

It is all of Him. He even grants the faith (so that no one can boast)

Again... I believe in Christ's words of the day of judgement. If I do not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, cloth the naked, comfort the ill, and visit the imprisoned, then I will not enter the kingdom no matter how much I believe. Call me crazy, but it does seem that the Lord of Lords is putting the ball in my court.

His sacrifice is the saving power, but if we do not live out His commands to love God above all things will all we are, and love our neighbor as ourselves, than we are not going to be saved.

I do not believe that can be defined as 'adding one ounce of effectiveness to the cross work of Christ', but we do have our part to play. It is in union with Christ, not in addition to His sacrifice.

You also wrote:
"just like getting baptised, taking communion or any other sacrament doesn't save people."

Yet, Christ Himself says in Mark 16"The man who believes in it and accepts baptism will be saved". AND accepts baptism. It would seem that scripture does not support your view that getting baptised doesn't save.


Your last statement in one of your comments concerns me... "Since you pray to the Heavenly Father already, why don't you just ask Him if this is true and open your Bible in faith that He will reveal it to you"

I do pray and read scripture every day. And I often will ask God to lead me to a Word He wishes to reveal to my heart, then open the bible and reflect on where I am led. However, the thought that I alone could read something in scripture and interpret it as I may, believing that I am led by the Spirit, is a dangerous game. While I do believe that God speaks to me personally through His Word, I do not think that my reflection is the one truth for all people. I 'could' be wrong in the way I interpret something.

This is why there is so much division among Christians throughout the world. Many seemingly holy individuals lead congregations and teach according to what the Spririt has revealed to them through scripture, and a hundred of them may all have varying interpretations. Either they are all right, or they are all wrong.

This is why Christ did not leave us shepherdless. He did indeed hand on the authority to the apostles with Peter as the foundation. Have you ever noticed that before Christ's death, the gospel repeats the words "Jesus and His disciples" numerous times. After Christ's death, the gospels repeat, "Peter and the other disciples" "The disciples and Peter", etc. Peter does not "replace" Christ, but he does represent Christ in so far as he has been given the keys to the kingdom by Christ. Peter does indeed hold an office of authority, which was surely the intended standard for the Church Christ founded.

The very fact that Peter was so imperfect is just another witness to the glory of God. Peter and all popes who followed him were only the instruments through which Christ worked (and is working) by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I'll tell you what... I will do the exercise you suggested in asking God to lead me to truth in scripture and read where he leads me if you will go back and slowly and prayerfully read John 6, 25-71. How can anyone think that Jesus' language is merely symbolic? If it were so, He would have clarified that in order to not lose so many followers that day. And since the scripture is so clearly stating this to be so, then believing anything else is believing a teaching outside of scripture. Even Martin Luther still believed in the Eucharist, so who decided this was not so? What man decided his authority was greater than the Catholic pope's? Or Christ's?

I would remain Catholic to death over just that chapter alone.

Peace & Love, *Linda*

IB said...

Still reading with interest, but wanted to interject a little historical perspective to your debate. I hope it’s okay to do this; if not just tell me to knock it off and I will.

Clement of Alexandria:

“Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: "Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood; " describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise.” (Paedagogus Book 1, chapter 6)

Irenaeus:

“For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.” (Against Heresies 4:18:5)

Justin Martyr:

“For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” (First Apology, 65-66)

Origen:

“It is not the material of the bread but the word which is said over it which is of advantage to him who eats it not unworthily of the Lord. And these things indeed are said of the typical and symbolical body.” (Commentary on Mathew 11:14)

With regards to Peter, he was not a pope nor the bishop of Rome. The church in Rome was founded by the apostles Peter and Paul who committed to Linus the office of the episcopate. Linus, not Peter, was the first bishop of the church in Rome. Peter and Paul were cofounders and co-organizers of that church.

Carry on…

No Fluff Required said...

IB: Knock it off, just kidding.
I am interested in your comments. Are you saying that the body and blood of Jesus are symbolized by the bread and wine?


Linda,
Thank you for your comments also. I have been thinking about them and will get back to you, especially about how inseperable you say works and faith are. Not that I am at all convinced any of us have anything to do with saving ourselves, only that I need to take even more seriously the connection of salvation and sanctification in the life of the believer. Thank you.


Phatcat: How are you holding up?
This must be extremely vexing to you to be so removed from this debate...ha!

As a result of this ongoing debate, (and I thank you all for not getting sick of me)I have been prompted to read through the entire new testament again and notice every verse in its context where salvation is a completed work of Christ. I have been overwhelmed by His grace in this study. It is hard for me to believe that my translation gets the past-tense wrong consistently from the original language into english. I will be posting many of these verses on thewayisay.blogspot.com.

Also, to anyone who is interested, there are many wonderful sermons to be heard, at racinebible.org in the audio download section of that site. This is not for apologetics' sake, but for your own personal encouragement and edification.

I have been praying for you all,
Amy

phatcatholic said...

Well, the combox has certainly exploded! I am thankful for that. I am also content to sit back and watch how this unfolds. However, I certainly cannot be quiet while "ib" attempts to use the early Church fathers to discredit the Real Presence in the Eucharist. So, I will be writing a post in response to his comment.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

IB said...

"I am interested in your comments. Are you saying that the body and blood of Jesus are symbolized by the bread and wine?"

I'm saying that the early church (pre-Nicea) believed that the bread and wine of the eucharist was symbolic of Christ's atoning sacrifice. It was central to Christian worship as it is today. It was never thought of as "merely" symbolic, as though it were some sort of ritual, but spiritually real; a celebration of the reality of Christ's passion and the unity of His body the church. Here is an example of how one early church father put real meaning to the eucharist calibration.

In rout to his own martyrdom, Ignatius, in his letter to the church in Rome, referred to himself as the wheat of Christ and the pure bread of heaven. Ignatius identified with Christ's passion as he was about to meet the Lord face-to-face. What Ignatius wanted more than anything was to partake of the bread of God; that is, to be martyred for his faith and live forever more with Christ. He eloquently explained to the church in Rome that he desired the ultimate prize: eternal life made possible by the flesh and blood of Christ.

"For though I am alive while I write to you, yet I am eager to die. My love has been crucified, and there is no fire in me desiring to be fed; but there is within me a water that liveth and speaketh, saying to me inwardly, Come to the Father. I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life." (To the Romans, Chapter 7)

Blessings!

*Linda Pinda* said...

Hello my friends :)
It's been a crazy week of events for the kids as this is their last week of school prior to summer break. FUN!

Glad to read all of your comments and glad to see phatcatholic respond to IB's comments.

I find it interesting when "scripture alone" Christians refer to information outside of scripture to back up their positions. I hadn't brought early church fathers into the debate because I didn't think their writings would matter. (they are not scriptural after all)

Scripture... JESUS clearly states that we must eat His body and drink His blood. In fact the actual word He used was gnaw. His terminology is very clear. He is not talking metaphorically. And the followers walking along with Him were very aware of this. Because of the Jewish law forbidding the drinking of blood, they found this teaching to be "too hard". They cannot bear it.

Jesus allows them to leave.

Any interpretation that Jesus did not mean what He said is some man's opinion. It is NOT scripture.

Ironically, as I read the quotes from the early church fathers that IB posted, they support the Catholic Church's teaching totally! Bread and wine are only bread and wine until the words are spoken over them. It is the prayer. It is the Holy Spirit which transforms them into Christ's body and blood.

Scripture tells us that the Word became flesh. This happened literally! This is why the church embraces ALL OF CHRIST, not just the written word, which is of course central and sacred. The Word became flesh. And through that incarnation, Christ shared so much more with us than "just a book". He built a church! He instituted sacraments. The church continues to be that living body of faith that Christ founded. When I hear "scripture alone", it makes me sad. I hear "only scripture". And Christ became man so that we could have so much more. There was no written New Testament when Christ was present on earth. He placed His love, His law, His teachings in the living church to carry out the mission He assigned to them. Part of that was following the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write things down and create the New Testament. Part of it.

I LOVE that part of it, but I choose to embrace ALL of Christ and to experience His living presence in the church and especially in the Holy Eucharist.

Just a little personal reflection... The only verse in scripture that I know of with the reference 666 is John 6;66... "As a result of this, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him". The devil has deceived many into not wanting to accept this teaching. Either it is too gross to comprehend or it must be symbolic... It couldn't possibly be what The Christ said it was.

I'll be away a bit this weekend, but I look forward to engaging in more charitable dialogue with all of you.

Peace & Love, *Linda*

No Fluff Required said...

Linda,
I would think you would appreciate someone bringing in a perspective of early church fathers since you do not value the "scripture alone" perspective. I didn't hear ib claim to be a "scripture alone" Christian in his comments. And though I do make this claim, I didn't quote any church fathers.

But I will quote Christ on this issue of the Lord's supper.

"Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the [3] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”

I have a few questions. How did Jesus eat his own literal body and drink his own literal blood? How did this happen when he was still alive? Why does He call it both His blood and the fruit of the vine, either the label "blood" or the label "fruit of the vine" must by necessity be symbolic because it was not both? And will He be drinking His own blood with all those who enter His kingdom forever?

When he spoke to his disciples and asked them if they would also walk away after he said, "you must eat my flesh and drink my blood" It was obvious that both the crowd and His disciples didn't understand that they must want Jesus not just His provision of a free meal. He was of course speaking of death on their behalf.
John 6 (this chapter is also rich with Christ's claims that belief in Him gives you eternal life, as well)

I could be overstating this, but it seems in your view that Christ must continually be dying. I can see how you would believe this since you do not believe His work was complete. Therefore He is physically present in the bread and wine. He is also pictured in a state of continual death on the Catholic cross. It is consistent with your view that sinners must somehow keep bearing their guilt and keep working to earn His favor. Though He gave His life, He must continually be giving His life?

Why did He die if it was up to us at all? Why did He die if He must keep offering Himself in the eucharist? Is God not powerful to save the first time? Is the Almighty somehow dependent on me and my filthy rags? I will never believe that.

"The free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Why do Catholics keep trying to pay Him for the gift already given? It is insulting to try and pay someone for a gift.

*Linda Pinda* said...

Dear No Fluff Required,
You are correct in saying that I assumed IB was a scripture alone Christian. I suppose I shouldn't have.

It breaks my heart that your understanding of Catholic doctrine, teaching, and belief is so skewed.

The image of Christ crucified is held so central to Catholics not because we believe His work is incomplete, but because we do not ever want to lose focus on His sacrifice. That sacrifice is central to us exactly because it is His death which saved mankind from sin. It is a constant reminder to be ever thankful and ever mindful of His great love. The Catholic churches are also filled with images of Christ's earthly ministry, the parables, and His resurrection. Jesus says that there is no greater love than to die for a friend. Nothing greater. So... doesn't it make sense that there is no greater image of love than that of His death? All others are lovely... holy... sacred, but none is greater. Why would we not want to focus on that? We are fully aware that our Jesus is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father. We pray it at every mass. We recite it in the creed, we embrace His resurrection as the greatest of all our celebrations and recall it each and every Sunday in a profound way. We celebrate His ascension into heaven. We pray continually for Him to come again in glory.

It's very hard to understand, and I am not claiming to "understand" it all. Celebrating the Eucharist does not "keep Christ dead" to us.

If I am wrong, I hope phatcatholic will jump in and help me out, but my understanding is that God is outside of time. At mass, we are not making Jesus "dead again" but we are "brought to the foot of the cross". By obeying Christ's words to eat His flesh and drink His blood, we are partaking in the ONCE AND FOR ALL SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS.

As far as Christ's reference to His blood and the fruit of the vine... I am not a theological or doctrinal expert, but I think it's important to understand the difference between substance and accidents in order to understand just a little about transubstantiation. The substance of the wine is gone. The substance is totally the mystical body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. But The accidents remain that of bread and wine.

How could Jesus consume His own flesh and blood? It is my understanding that God can do anything, even things that our minds cannot begin to comprehend. I also don't know how He resurrected Himself, but I know that He did.

You said: "When he spoke to his disciples and asked them if they would also walk away after he said, "you must eat my flesh and drink my blood" It was obvious that both the crowd and His disciples didn't understand that they must want Jesus not just His provision of a free meal. He was of course speaking of death on their behalf.
John 6 (this chapter is also rich with Christ's claims that belief in Him gives you eternal life, as well)"

I'm not sure I know what you mean exactly. I think it was very clear that both the disciples and the crowd understand Jesus wasn't talking about a free meal. But they couldn't comprehend the totality of what He was saying. His disciples, however, still believed despite the fact that they did not completely understand. "To whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life". They didn't "get" it, but they knew if He was saying it, it was the way the truth and the life.

This chapter (John 6) makes it clear one must eat His body and drink His blood to have eternal life! Once again this is more than "believing" It is living out His teachings.... ALL of His teachings.


You also said: " It is consistent with your view that sinners must somehow keep bearing their guilt and keep working to earn His favor."

I'm not sure that this could ever be addressed in a way that you will accept. I have already addressed this as I'm sure others have as well. We are still guilty of our sins. Christ died to save us from sin, but if we choose to live in sin and not accept His "payment", then He will allow us to die in that sin.

We do not "work to earn His favor". We simply carry out His commands and His mission. He laid it all out in scripture. He gave us clear "instructions" to be baptized, to eat His body and drink His blood, to love God above all else, to love our neighbor as ourselves, to follow the law of the prophets, to pray, to pick up our cross and follow Him, and on and on...

He even says to the disciples that they will do greater works than He!!! Does that mean that "His" work was unfinished? NO!!! But WE HAVE WORK TO DO!!! Work to fulfill the covenant He laid down for us.

As I read your words, I feel the opposite of what you do. If your interpretation is true, than what point is there to any of our lives? If the "book" is finished and the story is over, than what's the point? Christ entrusted us with a mission to continue in the saving of souls! In fact, many non-Catholic Christians say "I am saved" or "I remember the day I was saved", etc. If your perspective is true, then wasn't everyone saved 2 thousand years ago on the cross? How can someone say "I just got saved"? That in it's very nature implies that the action of the person was neccessary to their salvation.

Jesus came for EVERYONE!!! He died for EVERYONE!!! Yet, we know that not all will be saved! So, if Jesus is perfect... is God, and His sacrifice is perfect and the final payment for all our sins (which it is)... then how can it be that not all will be saved? There can be no other option but that we have a part to play in it. If not, what need is there of a final judgement? What is it that will be judged? Surely not His payment, but how we lived it out.

God is not dependent on us. He did His part. Now we must do ours. We must live out this mission He has given us. "The way is narrow". He gives us "the way", BUT we are the ones who have to walk it!

Finally, you said: ""The free gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Why do Catholics keep trying to pay Him for the gift already given? It is insulting to try and pay someone for a gift."

Catholics are not trying to pay for the gift. We are accepting it.... ALL of it.

Christ gave us many teachings, instituted many things, built a church! Believing is the first step, but it cannot be the last.

If I tell my son that I have done everything to prepare a home for him.... bought the property, cleared the land, and built it plank by plank. Then I say "here". "I even have the key for you. Now take the key and walk to the next town following this map to find your house." It wouldn't be enough for him to know what I say is true and take the key, he'd have to follow the map and go there to recieve the fullness of my gift to him.

Jesus gave us the gift, He gave us the keys, He gave us the "map" and he told us we must walk the straight and narrow path.

I can say "Great". "Thanks Jesus, I appreciate you dying for me and opening up the gates of heaven". But if I do not accept ALL of His teaching such as feeding the hungry, etc. then I am not walking that straight and narrow path to Him.

Even Saint Paul says he fought the good fight, ran the race, etc. If we don't join in the fight, run the race... we don't get to the finish line to receive the prize!

Our Father doesn't depend on us, but He WANTS us to open our eyes and be responsible for our lives. Our final destiny is of our own choosing. We will be judged as to what we did with the gift of salvation based on what we do or do not do in this life.

"Why did He die if it was up to us at all"? Because He loved us. He died knowing not everyone would accept the gift. He died knowing we would continue to sin and reject Him. Paying the price and forcing the gift on someone are two different things. He forces no one to accept it all. But He longs for us to hear His voice.

Trying to pay for a gift is indeed insulting, but throwing the gift back in the face of the one who gives it is even worse.

I choose to accept ALL of Christ's gift. His sacrifice, His church, His word, His body, His blood, His mission... ALL of it.

Peace & Love, *Linda*

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