The Roman Catholic Mary

Mary7Jordan Standridge is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. In an article entitled “7 Problems With the Roman Catholic Mary” he writes:

About 10 years ago I was walking around the Duomo of Milan and these ladies captured my attention as they were staring at this stained glass picture of Mary. Being spotted by one of the ladies she quickly came to me to hand me a rosary. As she tried to convince me to take it, I said that I only needed to pray to God and that I would not pray to Mary, her shock quickly turned to anger and she said “may Mary whip you with the seven whips of Satan!” As I booked it out of there I was wondering to myself first of all, why is Mary working with Satan? But second of all and more importantly, how in the world do you get to that point where one talks to Mary more than God? How do you get to the point where you pray 10 prayers to Mary for every prayer to God? Well in honor of the lady who cursed me that fateful day, here are 7 problems with the Roman Catholic Mary.

She’s the mother of God

495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.144 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. imagesHence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).145

In order to refute certain heresies that taught against the Hypostatic Union, the early Church named Mary the Theotokos (wrongly translated the mother of God, it actually means the God-bearer), not in order to raise Mary to a God-like level but rather to correct the heresy about Jesus. Over time this developed into this strange idea that Mary was the spiritual mother of Human beings. As time went on, Mary received more and more honor to the point where the following statements about her began to appear. It’s fascinating how in order to protect the church from heresies about Christ, the Church unknowingly ended up creating one about Mary. Some say that when Constantine made all of Rome “Christian” the pagans now forced to be “christians” brought in several idols. One of these idols was the mother goddess. They say that they replaced the worship of the mother goddess with the worship of the Roman Catholic Mary.

She is sinless

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”.138 By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. CCC (The Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The Bible clearly states that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) Mary herself refers to her Son as her personal savior (Luke 1:47). 1 John 1:8 adds, “If any man says he has no sin he is a liar and the truth is not in him.” Mary was a sinner who needed to be born-again just like everyone else who has ever taken a breath. Claiming that somehow she was without sin leads us to have a view of her that is unhealthy. This is an example of adding to Scripture, we end up venerating her, looking up to her and this leads us into thinking that somehow she has grace to impart on us.

She ascended into heaven Continue reading

Quizes: The Trinity & Christology

(1) How well do you know the doctrine of the Trinity? In his little book Delighting in the Trinity, Michael Reeves calls the Trinity “the governing center of all Christian belief” and “the cockpit of all Christian thinking.” In other words, it is not an irrelevant or secondary doctrine, but one that is of primary importance. How well do you know this central doctrine? Tim Challies and Rebecca Stark have put together a little quiz that will allow you to test yourself. Here are 33 statements related to the Trinity. Simply answer true or false to each one and see your score at the end.

(2) How well do you know what the Bible teaches us about Jesus? Tim Challies teamed up with Mark Jones, author of the new book Knowing Christ, to prepare a quiz that asks thirty questions about Jesus.

Quizes in pdf form:

Reformation Day Quiz

I thought it might be fun to give our readers an opportunity to take a quick Reformation-related quiz. It’s pretty simple. (Just don’t peek at the answers until after you’ve completed the entire quiz.)

For each of the following 10 quotes, identify whether the statement was written by someone during the Reformation or prior to the Reformation:

1. When was this written?

It is well known that You [O Lord] give to all freely and ungrudgingly. As for Your righteousness, so great is the fragrance it diffuses that You are called not only righteous but even righteousness itself, the righteousness that makes men righteous. Your power to make men righteous is measured by Your generosity in forgiving. Therefore the man who through sorrow for sin hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he will let him trust in the One who changes the sinner into a just man, and, judged righteous in terms of faith alone, have peace with God.

2. When was this written?

And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

3. When was this written?

He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!

4. When was this written?

Trust wholly in Christ, rely altogether on His sufferings, beware of seeking to be justified in any other way than by His righteousness. Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation, and that without faith it is impossible to please God; that the merit of Christ is able, by itself, to redeem all mankind from hell, and that this sufficiency is to be understood without any other cause concurring. Continue reading

The Comfort of Sovereign Election

john-piperDr. John Piper has written this short article entitled “Ten Reasons to Revel in Being Chosen.

Peter said to the “elect exiles” — that is, to Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire — “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).

He meant it as an enormous encouragement for a tiny, beleaguered, persecuted minority in a vast sea of unbelief and growing hostility. The adversaries may seem powerful and numerous and dangerous and dominant. But look again. You are God’s chosen ones, a “people for his own possession.” O, dear suffering Christians, Peter would say, do you feel what that means? Revel in being God’s chosen ones! There are so many reasons!

1. Your faith is not the basis of God’s choosing you, but the result of it.

This means that your faith is a wonder — more wonderful than any of the seven wonders of the world. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). And there was a deeper choosing going on here than just the selection of the Twelve. We know this because Judas was part of the twelve, and he was not “chosen.” Jesus said, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me’” (John 13:18).

If you have come to Jesus, the wonder is that you already belonged to the Father, and the Father gave you to Jesus. You were not chosen because you came; you came because you were chosen. That’s what Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me. . . . Yours they were, and you gave them to me” (John 6:37; 17:6).

If you have believed on Jesus, the wonder is that you were first appointed to eternal life. You weren’t appointed because you believed; you believed because you were appointed. When the Gentiles heard that the gospel actually included them, “they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

Revel in the wonder that you are a Christian because God chose you to be one. Your roots, as a child of God, are in eternity — in the infinite mind and heart of God. Your faith, and all its fruits, are God’s eternal gift.

2. Therefore, the basis of God choosing you is not in you, but in grace.

Take God’s Old Testament people Israel, for example. Why did God set his favor on Israel above all the peoples of the earth? What was the basis of God’s calling them, “my chosen” (Isaiah 45:4)? Here’s Moses’ answer:

The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers. (Deuteronomy 7:6–8)

This is amazing: “The LORD set his love on you and chose you . . . because the LORD loves you.” He loves you because he loves you! That’s the deepest, and ultimate, basis of God’s choosing Israel.

Paul underlines the wonder. Why was Jacob, the father of the nation of Israel, chosen over his twin brother Esau? Paul answers, “Though they were not yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad — in order that God’s purpose to choose might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls — their mother was told, ‘The older will serve the younger’” (Romans 9:11–12).

And the principle holds today, Paul would say, “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5). So it is with every true Christian. Behind our believing — behind our coming to Jesus—is grace alone. There is no ground for our being chosen beneath the all-wise and incomprehensible love of God. O the vastness of the repercussions of this unfathomable truth!

3. Since our faith and obedience is owing to God’s choice of us, we can know we are chosen.

It is a wonder that God’s unfathomable, eternal choice of who will be his children can be known by those he chose. Paul said that he knew the Thessalonian believers were God’s chosen ones. “We know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you” (1 Thessalonians 1:4). Continue reading

Our Greatest Need

On the physical plane, our essential needs include oxygen, health water, food, shelter and sleep. When it comes to our relationship with God, our one essential need is something called “righteousness” and only in the Gospel of Christ can we obtain it.

Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 1:16-17

Sunday – the Lord’s Day

SundaySUNDAY: THE LORD’S DAY

There are some in our day who suggest that Sunday worship is something that was entirely unknown among Christians until the time of Emperor Constantine (272 – 337 AD), and make the claim that its religious roots are entirely pagan. However, in celebration of Christ’s resurrection, the early Church moved the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday (the first day of the week), calling it “the Lord’s day.” Here are some quotations from the early Church:

The Didache – “But every Lord’s day . . . gather yourselves together and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned.” (Didache 14 [approx. A.D. 70])

The Letter of Barnabas – “We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.” (Letter of Barnabas 15:6–8 [A.D. 74])

Ignatius of Antioch – “Those who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death.” (Letter to the Magnesians 8 [A.D. 110])

Justin Martyr – “But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” (First Apology 67 [A.D. 155])

The Didascalia – “The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the holy scriptures, and the oblation, because on the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday] our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven.” (Didascalia 2 [A.D. 225])

Athanasius – “The Sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord’s day was the beginning of the second, in which he renewed and restored the old in the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe the Sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord’s day as being the memorial of the new creation.” (On Sabbath and Circumcision 3 [A.D. 345])

“Never be absent from God’s house on Sundays, without good reason,—never to miss the Lord’s Supper when administered in our own congregation,—never to let our place be empty when means of grace are going on, this is one way to be a growing and prosperous Christian. The very sermon that we needlessly miss, may contain a precious word in season for our souls. The very assembly for prayer and praise from which we stay away, may be the very gathering that would have cheered, and established, and quickened our hearts.” – J. C. Ryle

Confessions of a Former Word of Faith Pastor

As many of you know, for quite some time, I was a pastor in the “word of faith” movement. Back in September, 2014, I guest-hosted a Dividing Line broadcast where I shared something of an insider’s guide, as well as the powerful biblical truths God used to alert me to the gross deception. Since then, the youtube video has been viewed around 12,000 times. May the Lord continue to use it to lead His elect out of the movement and into His truth.

Understanding Perseverance

Why Your Faith Will Not Fail

What makes you think you will be a Christian tomorrow morning? In 15 minutes, John Piper builds a foundation for the perseverance of your faith through all the world’s temptations and all of life’s trails. Your faith will not fail because God holds your faith and is utterly committed to keeping you.

Rejoicing in the Refiner’s Fire: Lessons from 1 Peter on Living as Exiles, Part 7 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Christ Will Do Everything, or He Will Do Nothing

Semper-ReformandaMike Riccardi, in an article entitled “Semper Reformanda: Christ Will Do Everything, or He Will Do Nothing” writes:

Reformation Day is fast upon us. Next Saturday will be the 498th anniversary of Martin Luther famously nailing his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, and kick-starting the Protestant Reformation as a result. Because of that, there will likely be many posts in the Christian blogosphere celebrating the recovery of the biblical Gospel from the perversions of Roman Catholic theology. And because of that, there will likely be many Romanist sympathizers who chide us Protestants as divisive, overly-narrow, unity-destroying, and judgmental. They’ll say something like this (a comment we’ve received before at The Cripplegate):

This is what drives me nutty about Christianity. We all believe in the Bible, Jesus Christ, the road to salvation and the Resurrection. Do I believe exactly as you do? I’m sure I don’t, but I don’t believe you’re any less Christian than I am. We need to understand that there’s more that unites us than divides us.

The problem, of course, is that Protestants and Catholics don’t all believe the same things about the most foundational aspects of the Christian Gospel. That means that we’re not just other Christians from another “denomination.” When two people disagree on issues as fundamental as the basis and instrument of salvation (i.e., Christ’s righteousness alone imputed through faith alone, versus Christ’s righteousness imparted through faith and our works) and whether good works are part of the ground of our righteousness or merely the evidence——one of them is a Christian and the other isn’t.

We see that proven plainly by the way the Apostle Paul spoke about the Judaizers. The Judaizers were professing Christians who “began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’” (Acts 15:1). In other words, they taught that the righteousness of Christ received by faith alone is not enough to secure your salvation. To be sure, you need to have faith in Jesus; they wouldn’t deny faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. They would just say it was insufficient; instead, you must “complete” your justification by performing certain good deeds. In other words, the Judaizers sought to add personal works of righteousness to the ground of their justification. They were the first-century counterpart to the Roman Catholic Church, which teaches, “If anyone says that the [justification] received is not preserved and . . . increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 24). For the Judaizers, those works were circumcision and the other Mosaic ceremonies. For the Catholics, those works are baptism, participation in the Eucharist, and the other sacraments.

Severed from Christ

But notice how Paul speaks of these teachers in the New Testament. He does not count them to be merely misled brothers in Christ. The churches of Galatia hadn’t even become propagators of this doctrine yet; Paul wrote to them while they were simply being tempted to believe in it. And even then Paul writes to them and says, “I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain” (Gal 4:11). That is to say, he fears they may not have ever been truly saved (cf. 1 John 2:19).

He goes on to say that if they receive circumcision—that is, if they allow even the smallest of religious rituals to become part of the ground of their confidence for salvation—“Christ will be of no benefit to you” (Gal 5:2). Notice, he does not say, “Christ will be of some benefit to you, just not as much as otherwise. You’ll differ a little doctrinally, but we can still rejoice in our unity.” No. Paul says that everyone who receives circumcision as a ground of their righteousness is obligated to keep the whole law (Gal 5:3). In other words, if you want your righteousness to be based even partly on works, you’re under obligation to earn the whole thing by works (cf. Jas 2:10). And in that case, since you would then be seeking to be justified by law, it would be right to speak of you as “severed from Christ, . . . fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). You would be one of those whom the Apostle John said “went out from us, but . . . were not really of us” (1 John 2:19).

Finally, Paul speaks about those who preach such a soul-destroying false-gospel. His conclusion regarding such a teacher is: “he will bear his judgment” (Gal 5:10). Again, this is not merely an estranged brother. He is not one of Christ’s sheep, just from another fold. He will bear his judgment. He will face the condemnation of Almighty God that no true believer can ever face (cf. Rom 8:1). Continue reading