Monday, April 18, 2005
One of the most important verses in all of the Bible is John 5:39...
Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of me". The Pharisees and scribes were Bible scholars, but they missed the Messiah, Who was the Author.
I love the Bible. I love the Word of God. I believe it is all inspired (God-breathed) and "inerrant in the original", and that we should let it "dwell in us richly".
But having said that, here are four reasons why John 5:39 is such an important verse:
1. Relationship is more important than raw data. Dictionary definition of "Data": Factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions. Jesus is not data. He is our Shield, Defender, Advocate, Savior, Lord, Brother, Friend, and Beloved. A relationship to Him is even more important than info about Him.
2. A Guide is more important than a Guidebook. Don't think of the Bible as "The Owner's Manual", used for fixing up your life. See Jesus on every page, lovingly guiding as you walk this road of life arm in arm.
3. Life is more important than Lists. I love Bible lists as much as the next guy. The Kings of Judah, Wells of the Bible, Furniture of the Temple, etc. But Jesus said, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) We can't say, "He who reads the Bible every day, has life". But we can say, "He who has the Son, has life". (1 John 5:12)
4. Spiritual understanding is more important than scholarship. The "scholars" of the Jesus Seminar, or some Time Magazine article on who Jesus really was, are often blind. They are brilliant scholars, but "The natural [unregenerate, unsaved] man cannot understand spiritual things, for they are foolishness to him. He cannot understand them for they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)
If we miss Jesus, then searching the Scripture is worse than worthless. It's "always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the Truth" (2 Timothy 3:7). But if we search the Scriptures for Him, then we will know Him Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
I liked Pope John Paul II. He was kindly, charming, hard-working; a genius who spoke many languages, and he shared some of my own views on moral issues, such as the evil of killing our unborn, so I'm grateful for his influence in those areas.
And I wouldn't judge his final destination, heaven or hell, because it's God Who saves, by grace through faith, and none of us knows what may happen, even on a death bed.
But was John Paul a great spiritual leader? Particularly in this website about Grace, I must say "no", for three reasons:
1) He taught and supported a religion of "grace" plus works. The Bible says clearly that if works is added to grace for salvation, it's no longer grace ("But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace." --Romans 11:6)
Look at some excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (this is the "new" "modern" "open-minded" one...you should see the Traditional One!):
". . Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that 'we too might walk in newness of life,'"(Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 977). [note this first of seven sacraments obtains the forgiveness of sins]
"In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere 'to the end' and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ," (CCC, par. 1821). [note "as God's eternal reward for the good works"]
"Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification." (CCC, par. 2010) [note we not only merit for ourselves, but for others]
And since the Catholic Church obviously teaches that salvation includes man's works, then it follows that the failure of man's works can destroy that salvation and damn him again, after he's been "justified". The solution: more works! Read the following:
"Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as 'the second plank (of salvation) after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace." (CCC, par. 1446).
Acts of penance may be such things as prayer, saying the Rosary, reading the scripture, saying a number of "Our Father's" or "Hail Mary's", doing good works, fasting, etc.
Hold on, I gotta breathe in some fresh air of the Word of God, here:
"You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3)
2) John Paul also affirmed the Council of Trent, even traveling to Trento, Italy for the 450th Anniversary of the Council, and giving his approval. Among many other unbiblical teachings, the Council of Trent curses with damnation all of us who teach salvation "by grace through faith, not of works". Excerpts can be viewed at http://www.carm.org/catholic/trent.htm .
3) Like many false teachers, John Paul was deceptive in his public speeches, opening the gates of heaven to almost anyone from Protestants to Buddhists, Hindus, etc., ignoring the words of Jesus, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Whether by deliberate deception, or personal confusion, John Paul spoke out of both sides of his mouth when it came to whom are children of God. At best his sloppiness has caused masses (no pun intended) of people to miss the pure beautiful gospel of faith alone, by grace alone, in Jesus Christ alone. At worst, he deliberately said whatever itching ears wanted to hear, in order to win the crowds.
Either way, he could not qualify as a great spiritual leader.
Let me say, I have a particular love for Roman Catholics. I was once a member of the Roman Catholic Church myself, and my wife Michele was raised Roman Catholic. Many of our family members are of that faith.
If you are a Roman Catholic, or anyone who thinks that heaven can be earned by Sacraments or good works of any kind, I have terrific news for you. Jesus died on the cross for sins. He took the penalty for the sins of His people. He was buried and rose again from the grave, to give eternal life to all who will believe on Him and trust that His work on the cross was enough...who will believe that He meant it when He said on the cross, "It is finished." Whoever will may come to Him. God calls all men everywhere to repent, to change their minds. No works can earn it. It's a free gift of God. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
Listen to "Grace For Life" Radio Program.