Monday, July 23, 2012

The Gospel's True Jesus and a substitute Jesus

Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Today's blog will be dealing with this significant question: how is the salvation of Jesus Christ accessed and applied to human beings?

1. The True Gospel teaches Salvation is Accomplished by Christ and Applied by the Holy Spirit through the scriptures to his Church

The Bible's teaching on salvation Accomplished and Applied
By Grace Alone
Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the Bible teaches that salvation, and its application, are worked forth by Christ through His Spirit to His people. 
Through Faith Alone in Christ Alone
It is the Holy Spirit who applies the gifts of faith and repentance whereby the sinner makes a decision of trust in Jesus Christ. (John 1:12-13; 16:8-16; 2 Timothy 2:24-26) 
By the Bible Alone
It is the Holy Spirit who strengthens the Christian in following through in obedience to the commands of God. (Galatians 5:16, 22) 
Leading to a Faith that is not Alone
It is through the scriptures that the salvation to turn a heart of rebellion into worship is brought, as well as the desire to live out the Christian faith. (Psalm 19:7-14) By faith without works one recevies salvation which leads to an ongoing faith that works, or is never unaccompanied without evidence of a changed life. (James 2:14-18)

The Bible's teaching on Baptism and the Lord's Supper
Pertaining to the place of baptism and the Lord's table, they function mainly a pictures of the prior work of salvation received by faith in the believer. (Romans 6:4-5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21) Baptism is an act of obedience done by converted people, and the Lord's Table is for those converted people who have been immersed in a church which practices believer's baptism as a picture of salvation. (Acts 2:38-41)  We see no evidence whatsoever of these two ordinances conveying salvation.

This point express the fact that only two ordinances, or Divinely prescribed wordpictures were given by Christ to His church - Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

The Bible's teaching on the role of the church
In the Bible, Baptism initiates the believer into the membership of the church, not life in the kingdom. Jesus taught that the new birth, recevied by grace through faith, is what initiates one into salvation or the Kingdom. (John 3:3-6). The Church functions to be the means by which the Christian gorws in their faith with other Christians. (Hebrews 10:24-25) However, the church is to never replace Christ nor the ministry of the Spirit in matters of salvation. Only through the scriptures, preached and taught, can salvation be begun and received in the heart. (Romans 10:17)

2. Roman Catholicism teaches salvation accomplished by Christ and is applied through participation in its Church system

The Roman Catholic Church Sacramental System: Functioning as a substitute Jesus
In Roman Catholic teaching, especially in Part Two of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the way in which one receives salvation and participates in it is through what are called "sacraments".  When something is termed a "sacrament", it is simply a conveyor or vehicle of God's grace.  This word in other Christian communions refers more to how God strengthens or encourages the believer.  However in Roman Catholic theology, a sacrament is taken a step beyond, and refers to conveying actual saving faith and sustaining of the participant in salvation. 

For the Roman Catholic Church there are seven such "sacraments" which we'll just simply list and describe.  Please note that the definitions assigned to these words are not from scripture, but rather meanings given by Roman Catholicism itself:

1. Baptism - That which, when combined by faith, brings about Christian conversion.1 

2. Confirmation - Small children are taken through a ceremony whereby they learn and recite the teachings of the church. 
3. Confession - Roman Catholic Theology believes that when one sins, they can lose the grace of justification (salvation) they received in baptism.  Thus by going to the priest, the priest assigns a means for them to get right with God again through certain moral acts or "penance".2

4. The Mass -  In Roman Catholic teaching, this is literally a re-sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the participants - albeit a bloodless sacrifice. 3

5. Marriage - When a Roman Catholic wedding is performed, you will commonly see the celebration of a mass.4 

6. Anointing of the sick - Sometimes still viewed as "last rites", this particular act is done for those near death or extremely ill.

7. Holy Orders or Ordaining to the Preisthood - The Priests, Bishops and the entire Roman Catholic Heirarchy has their own "sacrament" that is believed to convey some level of authority to them.  This means they represent the interests of Christ and the church, especially in the Mass. 

The Sacramental system is how the Roman Catholic Church believes the benefits and experience of salvation are applied and experienced.  In a large way, though claiming in their theology to believe in accomplished work of Jesus Christ, yet the application of such work is accomplished through the Roman Catholic system.  If anything, the sacramental system functions like a substitute Jesus. 

Once again the Roman Catholic system, when compared to scripture, shows a completely different gospel.  May we through the study of God's Word aim to understand and proclaim the True Gospel, which must ever be contended for in every generation.

1 Also too, since Roman Catholicism believes in sprinkling infants, quite literally that infant, when sprinkled, is believed to be infused with the regenerating grace that leads to salvation. 

2 Thus the Roman Catholic never has full assurance of salvation, and is thus tied to the sacramental system. Once they pay there penance, the priest declares their sins forgiven or "remitted" and thus they can particpate in the Mass.

3 This Roman Catholic version of the Lord's supper has the priest blessing the bread and the wine with them being transformed into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. Roman Catholicism teaches that when a participant has payed penance, the mass restored them to fellowship within the church.

4 This rite is viewed as a sacrament as well, a conveyor of grace. Quite literally the sacramental system covers a Roman Catholic from cradle to grave.

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