Sunday, February 26, 2017

Is Sola Scriptura Based On Circular Reasoning?

  • Introduction:
          -Opponents of Sola Scriptura sometimes charge that this teaching is based on circular reasoning. But this objection would hold water only if adherents of the position argue that belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture solely on the basis of what Scripture says about itself.
  • Sola Scriptura Is Not Circular Reasoning Because Outside Sources Attest To The Inspiration Of Scripture. It Has Also "Proven Itself" To Be True:
          -Excellent moral teaching/life transforming power of Scripture
          -Incredible manuscript evidence for the authenticity of New Testament Scriptures
          -Consistency with world history/archaeological discoveries
          -Scripture's fulfillment of prophecy points to its supernatural origin
  • Circular Reasoning To A Degree Is Somewhat Inevitable In Our Lives:
          -Some degree of circularity will always exist in the operational processes of any system that functions on a final stopping point or ultimate source of authority, whether it be Catholic, Protestant, or Secular. Infinite regress is logically impossible.
  • Accepting The Inspiration Of Scripture:
          -If we can prove the infallibility of an authoritative source (the Bible), then it follows from the premise of that statement that everything set forth by that particular guide must also be true.
          -The charge of Sola Scriptura being circular reasoning would be valid if, and only if, we asserted that the Bible was true because it told us so. However, Sola Scriptura is not a denial of the usefulness of extra-biblical sources. Scripture alone is infallible. It does not mean we cannot consult material outside of Bible.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Biblical Refutation Of Purgatory

  • Introduction: 
          -The Roman Catholic Church defines purgatory as "purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” and for those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It is further maintained that, “this final purification of the elect...is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).
  • Purgatory Denies The Sufficiency Of Christ's Sacrifice:
          -Jesus' death is sufficient to pay for all our sins (Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 10:10-18). Christ paid the infinite price by dying for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). He made the once-for-all atonement sacrifice by satisfying the wrath of God (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and so have a perfect positional standing before Him. Thus, we do not need purification in purgatory. If we must in any way pay for, suffer, or atone for our own sins, then Jesus Christ did not make the perfect and complete sacrifice necessary for our redemption.
          -The idea that we are able to atone for our sins undermines the message of the gospel. If we can make amends for our own sin even in part, then the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ becomes redundant. He made a sacrifice to save those who are unable to make amends for sin themselves, for the Scripture has concluded that all are under sin (Romans 3:23; Galatians 3:22). We cannot offer any atonement sacrifice for sins by suffering in purgatory or by offering indulgences because that debt has already been paid off completely by Christ Himself on the cross.
          -Scripture is abundantly clear that justification is by faith apart from the merit of works (Luke 18:9-14; John 5:24; Romans 3:20-28; Galatians 2:16-21). We have all have fallen short of God's perfect standard of morality. So He sent His Son into the world to remedy our problem. He died to pay our sin debt. Sin requires an atonement of infinite value because an infinite moral standard has been violated. There has to be an unblemished substitute (Hebrews 7:25-28). According to Scripture, there are no punishments for genuine Christians in the afterlife (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:21-23). Christ is our propitiation. But if we are forgiven for a sin and there is still some sort of punishment that we must endure, then we are not really forgiven. We cannot pay a debt (sin) that has already been paid by somebody else (Christ on the cross). Purgatory is an insult against God.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:15:
          -This text is not about punishment for sins. It talks about eternal rewards (or lack thereof). In other words, the context is about testing the quality of each believer's work which determines his or her heavenly rewards (v. 10-14). It is not about any kind of punishment.
  • Matthew 12:31-32:
          -The parallel passage makes this one crystal clear (Mark 3:28-29). It simply means that a person who commits the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will NEVER receive forgiveness from God.
  • Matthew 5:25-26:
          -The context is about anger and settling disputes in relationships (v. 21-24). No one can deny that this passage is speaking about hell because it is mentioned in the context (v. 22). A person in hell would be there "until he had paid the last cent," meaning that his or her stay there would be eternal, as he or she could never give a ransom for it.
  • 2 Maccabees 12:39-46:
          -These dead soldiers were struck down by God because of their idolatry (v. 40). According to the Catholic Church, idolatry is a mortal sin (CCC 1857; 1858). Mortal sins send someone to hell. Purgatory is for "venial" sins. Thus, we have no evidence for Purgatory in 2 Maccabees.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Refuting The Use Of Objects In Worship

  • Introduction: 
          -The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches use statues and icons that are part of their worship and services. People who occupy objects for such purposes believe that they aid them in remembering God, Jesus, Mary, or other important figures in Christianity.
          -Advocates of using images in worship regularly bow down before statues, icons, and images of Christian figures, kissing at the feet of the statues, and praying to them. Some professing Christians will even be rolling in front of statues, showering flowers on them, lighting candles before them, carrying statues in procession, and changing the clothing on them daily. In Roman Catholic churches, there are several paintings of Jesus, Mary, Peter, and canonized saints. In short, there is an abundance of religious iconography.
  • Why The Above Actions Are Considered Idolatry:
          -Actions such as kneeling (in religious contexts) and prayer are defined as worship according to Scripture (Exodus 20:5; Isaiah 44:17; 45:20; Matthew 4:9-10; 6:6-14; Philippians 2:10). The apostles refused to accept honor as people knelt before them (Acts 10:25-26; 14:13-15). Even the angels who served God did not want people bowing before them in reverence (Revelation 4:10; 19:10; 22:8-9). Directing such adoration and devotion to entities other than God is idolatry. It also seems strange that Roman Catholics sing worship psalms to various saints and wear amulets with pictures of Mary on them.
  • The Case Against The Use Of Statues, Images, And Relics In Worship:
          -God clearly condemned making figures for the purpose of giving religious devotion or honor to beings other than Him (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 4:15-24; 2 Chronicles 33:6-7). In fact, the Apostle Paul specifically said that God is not served with physical objects (Acts 17:23-25). God said that He would not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
  • A Valid Practice In The New Testament?:
          -In the New Testament, we are never commanded to use statues in worship and have no examples of such activity being permitted by God. As noted previously, the Apostle Paul affirmed Old Testament prohibitions on using material objects in worship. Idols pose a danger to our relationship with God. Those who worship false gods will be judged (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 10:14; 1 John 5:21). There are also different forms of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5-7). So Beware! The only time we see people bowing before statues in Scripture are the unfaithful and unbelieving.
  • Veneration Verses Worship:
          -When Catholics are accused of worshiping Mary and the saints, they usually respond by saying that they merely "venerate" (honor) them (not "worship"). This claim is elaborated on by dividing this veneration into three distinct categories (using Latin): latria (God alone), hyperdulia (Mary alone), and dulia (saints and angels).
          -This argument may be theoretically coherent, but does not work in practice. Occupying separate labels does not change the essence of what is being done. Moreover, the Bible does not provide any justification for three different classes of honor for three separate heavenly classes. All religious veneration that we find in Scripture is directed to God alone. Remember that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24; Nahum 1:2).
  • Defining What Is Permissible:
          -We ought to give honor to whom honor is due (Romans 13:1; Hebrews 13:7). Bowing can also be a custom of respect toward authority (although God has never ordained a statue to be in such a position). It is also not wrong to have pieces of art for decoration and pictures that we cherish. God can indeed use images to communicate divine truths. Moreover, it is even acceptable to honor Christians from the past by acknowledging their faith and following their moral example (Hebrews 11). However, building statues with the intent of bowing before them and offering prayer or adoration to entities other than God Himself transcends honor. Such behavior is idolatry.
  • Does The Creation Of The Bronze Serpent Support Bowing Before Statues In Worship (Numbers 21:6-9)?:
          -God commanded Moses to make the Bronze Serpent for a one time purpose (John 3:14-16). However, the Israelites converted it into an object of worship. It ended up getting destroyed by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:3-4). There is no scriptural evidence that the Bronze Serpent was ever supposed to be used as an aid in worship.
  • Does The Creation Of The Two Cherubs Support Bowing Before Statues In Worship (Exodus 25:18)?:
          -God commanded the making of two golden cherubs, but the Jews were not called to bow down before them or serve them.
  • Does The Creation Of The Ark Of The Covenant Support Bowing Before Statues In Worship (Joshua 7:6-7)?:
          -God ordered the Israelites to make the ark so that He could dwell in their presence and meet with the leaders (Exodus 25:8; 22). But why does the ark have two images of angels (Exodus 25:18-21)? It has them because it is a replica of God's throne in heaven (Isaiah 6:1-2). This is further evidenced by the fact that the ark of the covenant also served as a footstool for the "feet" of the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:2). Unlike the ark, the images used in Roman Catholic veneration represent saints.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How Prayer Should Be Done (Commentary On Matthew 6:6-14)

          1.) Find some place and bow down before our God. Our principal focus must be on Him. God will answer one's prayer based on sincerity and faithfulness (v. 6).
          2.) We are not to pray in the same manner that the pagans do. The purpose of prayer is not based on factors such as how well it sounds, its length, how many times in a row it is done, or how noisy it is. God will not accept prayer tainted with self-righteousness (v. 7). We must approach God in humility and reverence.
          3.) God knows everything, which includes our prayer requests, even before you go to Him (v. 8).
          4.) We acknowledge that God is the Creator and Lord of all. It follows from that premise we are to give Him rightful honor and worship (v. 9).
          5.) We pray for (with knowledge beforehand that His will be done) God's kingdom conquering the evils of this world when Jesus Christ for the second time. We are living in a world that overflows with tragedies (poverty, wars, slavery, diseases, etc.). Only goodness can exist in the kingdom of God. Our wills should be one in the same with God's, functioning in perfect harmony together (v. 10).
          6.) In prayer, we should give thanks for the things which God (even the smallest things which we tend to overlook because of our sinful nature) has provided for us and know that He will continue to provide according to His will (v. 11).
          7.) In prayer, we must humbly ask God for the forgiveness of our sins. We have repeatedly violated His perfect standard of morality, the Law. We must pray for sins committed even after conversion.
          8.) We must follow the example of God forgiving our trespasses against Him (v. 14). We must forgive the sins of other people because that is what God has done for us (v. 12).
          9.) We pray to God that He places the "protective shield" of His grace on us so that the gnats of worldly temptation will not be attracted to us. God will prevail over the forces of evil. He is therefore entitled to perpetual glory (v. 13). Jesus Christ was giving to His disciples a proper model for prayer in contrast with the empty prayers of the scribes and Pharisees of the Law.

A Commentary On The Book Of Ecclesiastes

        The Book of Ecclesiastes describes what life is like in a fallen world. That is the point of Solomon repeatedly using the phrase "under the sun." Ecclesiastes illustrates the futility of placing an over emphasis on worldly passions. Compare the passage of Ecclesiastes 3:19 to Genesis 3:19.

        It is wrong to esteem our abilities and material objects too highly. That is how such things end up becoming idols. Solomon admonishes his audience to not allow whatever blessings or accomplishments that we may obtain get to our heads because they are in a very real sense not "original."

        Anything that we own or have already done was once created or accomplished by people in generations past (such as the purchase of a home, furniture, or the creation of artwork). The author of Ecclesiastes illustrates the futility of life from a materialistic perspective. Thus, we see a reason for the usage of the phrase "vanity of vanities."

        The human heart longs for something more than this life. It has a strong desire for something that transcends this temporal realm. The human heart finds its fulfillment in God. The world and the things therein are perishing. The things of our fallen world are subject to wear and tear. The human heart can only rest content in God.

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    Amazing Grace

            Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.

            ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed.

            Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

            The Lord has promised good to me, His Word my hope secures; He will my Shield and Portion be, As long as life endures.

            Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess, within the veil, A life of joy and peace.

            The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, The sun forbear to shine; But God, who called me here below, Will be forever mine.

            When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.

      Lyrics originally written by John Newton

      Did The Catholic Church Give Us The Bible?

      • Defining The Issues:
                -The Church of Rome argues that if we did not have its "divinely inspired" oral traditions, we would not have the canon of Scripture. This claim is obviously one of the Catholic Church's attempts to exalt itself as an infallible authority in addition to the Bible.
                -It is claimed that the canon issue was settled at the Council of Hippo (393 AD) and the Council of Carthage (397 AD). Then, it was supposedly reaffirmed at the Council of Trent (1546 AD). As a result of this major accomplishment, the entire world is indebted to the Roman Catholic Church and is therefore obligated to give complete submission to its claims to infallible teaching authority.
      • A Circular Appeal?:
                -When Roman Catholics claim that we can only accept the Bible on the basis of their "infallible" church councils assembling the canon of Scripture, they are guilty of using circular reasoning. We cannot blindly accept the books of the Bible only on the basis that the Roman Catholic Church says so. How can we know that the Church's claims to infallibility are true or not?
                -The claim that the Roman Catholic Church gave the world the Bible can be illustrated to be circular in the following manner: "The Bible and Tradition are true because the infallible Church defined them as such. The Roman Catholic Church is true because the Bible and Tradition told us so." The ultimate argument offered by Rome is that we must accept the canon of Scripture on the basis that it says so, which is circular reasoning.
      • What About The Old Testament Canon?:
                -How can the Catholic Church claim to have given us the Bible when the Old Testament canon was settled prior to its existence? How did the Jews correctly identify the Old Testament Scriptures? Just as the Jews recognized the Old Testament Scriptures without an infallible organization, the same is true with the early Christians and the New Testament Scriptures.
      • The Councils Of Hippo And Carthage Were Local Synods, Not Ecumenical:
                -The Councils of Hippo and Carthage were only provincial, which means that their rulings were not binding on the entire church. Neither were they able to finally settle any issues occurring in the church during that specific time.
      • The Canon Of Scripture And Church Councils:
                -There has always been a general consensus on the New Testament writings that were later consolidated into one volume. Though a few of the canonical writings were called into question on the issue of divine origin, the issues were worked through by examining the internal consistency of the documents and by appealing to outside traditions. The early church examined available material. While church councils may have helped to make more pronounced the New Testament canon, they most certainly did not give the New Testament books authority. Scripture is inherently authoritative because it is God-breathed. The degree of certainty that we can posses regarding the canon is sufficient certainty. The early Christians identified the inspired writings and affirmed them as such. The New Testament Scriptures were being recognized as inspired and circulated even as the apostles were still alive (Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27).

      Loving One's Neighbor

      We all have the tendency to act selfishly toward others. In our world today, people are constantly thinking of themselves and fail to recognize that it is not rational for them to behave in such a manner. If we can support ourselves and focus on our own desires, then what barrier is preventing us from doing the same with everybody else? If we can love ourselves, then we can certainly love other people. We can provide assistance to others on the basis of love for all. Why would God create us if our purpose was to live in the dungeon of sin? Jesus Christ repeatedly commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our purpose in life is to know, love, and serve God in this world with the intent of spending eternity with Him.

      We learn more about God when we love our neighbors as ourselves. His Son gave Himself up on a cross for our sake so that we could be with our Father eternally in heaven. We as followers of God can give ourselves up by spreading the Gospel of Grace and by helping others to see beyond the self-serving scope which is created by the lenses on the glasses of sin. We know God through His work. We can see things clearly when we put on the glasses of godliness. He expects us to make moral decisions. What is the right decision in life? The proper decision is to demonstrate our love for God by loving our neighbor. We can do kind deeds for others such as raking lawns for the elderly, giving food and money to the poor, and forgiving the wrongful actions committed by others.

      We learn to love the Father by loving our neighbors. If we do not love our neighbors, then we do not love God. Jesus said,"If you love Me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Human life itself has intrinsic value. We should give everyone else equal treatment and respect. Setting a good example for others helps them become better people. God judges without showing partiality. We should mimic the ways of God. We should love our neighbors as we would love ourselves by acting in an unbiased manner and by making the right decisions in every corner of life.

      We serve the Creator when we love our neighbors as we love ourselves. When we serve others, we are fulfilling His message of doing good for others. When we feed the hungry, we are serving God. When we cloth the naked and visit the prisoners, we are serving God. When we do any form of charity, we are serving God. Preaching the gospel should be our utmost way of serving Him.

      We live in a world that is selfish. This is totally contrary to what God has commanded us when He instructed us to "love our neighbors as ourselves." If we can help and love ourselves, then we can certainly do the same with everybody else. We are fully capable of doing great works for other people through the grace of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are to devote ourselves to the will of God with an eternal perspective.

      Friday, February 17, 2017

      What Is The Relationship Between Faith And Reason?

              Many people in our society mistakenly believe that religion and science contradict each other, and are thereby depicted as not being compatible entities. It is claimed by atheists that faith and reason together cannot be used to construct a sensible worldview. Either an irrational person subscribes to a religion or the rational person believes in science alone.

              The truth of the matter is that people who maintain that faith and reason are incompatible have presented a false dichotomy. A logical person can indeed be religious. A religious person can indeed be sane. In fact, faith and reason are inseparable. Faith cannot function without reason. Reason cannot function without faith. One cannot function independently of the other. Both must co-exist.

              Faith and reason overlap. The two do not stand in contradiction when understood properly, but rather complement each other. Our faith should be based on evidence. We occupy reason to grasp scientific concepts such as DNA, the atmosphere, and dinosaurs. Truths revealed solely through divine revelation would include the Trinity and virgin birth. These spiritual truths transcend the natural realm.

              Faith and reason overlap in areas such as intelligent design, objective moral laws, and the resurrection. These matters require both elements. When faith and reason walk together, we see completeness in our lives. We know and understand that logic cannot exist without a supreme Creator. Both faith and reason must co-exist.

      Catholic Authorities And Celibacy

      • Introduction:
                -For centuries, the Church of Rome has enforced strict regulations regarding the marriage of clergymen. But we must ask whether this practice has any biblical basis? Is it rightful for any church to establish laws prohibiting leaders from having marital relationships with women? If so, then why? Allow us to examine the validity of this Roman Catholic custom by weighing it against Scripture and history.
      • Consider This Quotation From The Roman Catholic Catechism:
                -"In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force for many centuries: while bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities. Moreover, priestly celibacy is held in great honor in the Eastern Churches and many priests have freely chosen it for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In the East as in the West a man who has already received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry." (CCC, 1580).
      • An Excerpt From Encyclopedia Britannica: 
                -"The first Lateran Council, the ninth ecumenical council (1123), was held during the reign of Pope Calisto's II; no acts or contemporary accounts survive. The Council promulgated a number of canons (probably 22), many of which merely reiterated decrees of earlier councils. Much of the discussion was occupied with disciplinary or quasi-political decisions relating to the Investiture Controversy settled the previous year by the Concordat of Worms; simony was condemned, laymen ere prohibited from disposing of church property, clerics in major orders were forbidden to marry, and uncanonical consecration of bishops was forbidden. There were no specific dogmatic decrees." (The canons of the First Lateran Council in 1123 AD during the reign of Pope Calixtus II)
                -"Canons 3 and 11 forbid priests, deacons, subdeacons, and monks to marry or to have concubines; it is also forbidden them to keep in their houses any women other than those sanctioned by the ancient canons. Marriages of clerics are null pleno jure, and those who have contracted them are subject to penance."
                -In 1079 AD, celibacy was first enforced for priests and bishops by Pope Gregory VII. Previously, they were permitted to marry.
      • What Does Scripture Say About The Matter?:
                -The New Testament teaches that a bishop (also known as an "elder" or "overseer") must be married and also have children (1 Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 1:5-9). This is equally true of deacons (1 Timothy 3:10-12). They at least have the right to do so.
      • What Is Wrong With Having Married Church Leaders?:
                -The Apostle Peter was married (Matthew 8:14). This is significant because the Roman Catholic Church claims that Peter was its first pope. In addition, the Apostle Paul said that the other apostles (including Peter) and all brethren in the Lord have the right to marriage (1 Corinthians 9:5). Scripture always speaks positively of marriage (Genesis 2:18; Hebrews 13:4). Its purposes range from companionship to preventing lust. It is not as though sex within the confines of marriage makes one unholy or unfit to uphold a position of leadership in the church.
      • A Route Into Apostasy:
                -The Holy Spirit warns that "forbidding to marry" and "commanding to abstain from meats" are "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1-4). Not only does the Roman Catholic Church forbid its leaders from marriage, but it also teaches adherents to abstain from meats for long periods of time such as Lent. In fact, the Church of Rome used to forbid all of its adherents from eating meat every Friday. But no man has the authority to declare foods dirty that God deems clean (Acts 10:10-15). Thus, the Church of Rome is in error.
      • Any Scriptural Support?:
                -Biblical texts that commend the concept of celibacy say nothing about making an entire profession only to celibate men or women. Rather, they affirm that marriage is a matter of choice (Matthew 19:11-12; 1 Corinthians 7:32-33).

      Thursday, February 16, 2017

      Is The Roman Catholic Eucharist Biblical?

      • Defining The Issues:
                -Transubstantiation: the belief that during the Lord's Supper the elements (bread and wine) are changed into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ (to be consumed by the attendees of the worship services).
                -There is a change in the substance but not in the appearance of the bread and wine.
                -This transformation occurs during the Mass at the elevation of the elements by a priest.
                -The center of the Mass is the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is an alleged bloodless "re-representation" of Christ.
                -The most common scriptural references cited to substantiate Eucharistic theology are "This is my body...This is my blood..." (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:17) and "Except ye eat the son of man and drink his blood..." (John 6:51-58).
      • Biblical Response To Transubstantiation And The Eucharist:
                1.) There is no indication that Jesus' words were meant to be literal:

                -The Scriptures refer to the elements as the body and blood of Christ. However, they emphatically teach that Christ's words were spiritual words when talking about consuming His flesh and blood (John 6:63; 16:25-30). In other words, these words mean that we are saved by coming to Jesus and believing on Him (John 6:35-40; 47-48). This point was articulated clearly by our Lord Jesus Christ in John 6:35.
                -There are no implications in the biblical accounts of the Lord's Supper that the apostles believed that the elements were "changed" into the body and blood of Christ. The elements were never worshiped in Scripture.

                2.) After the institution of the Lord's Supper, both the elements were still called bread and wine:

                -Jesus spoke figuratively of His blood as being the "fruit of the vine," even after transubstantiation was supposed to occur (Matthew 26:28-29).
                -The Apostle Paul mentions the Lord's Supper and refers to the element of bread as bread and the element of wine as wine (1 Corinthians 11:23-28).

                3.) Drinking Jesus' blood violates biblical prohibitions on drinking blood:

                -The Old Testament Levitical Law condemned the practice of drinking blood (Genesis 9:5; Leviticus 3:17; 17:10-14; 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:23).
                  +The New Covenant was not established until Jesus' blood was shed on the Cross (Luke 22:10; Hebrews 9:15-16). Thus, taking Christ's words literally (especially during the Lord's Supper and Bread of Life Discourse) would make Him an impostor who is guilty of breaking the Law.

                4.) There is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22):

                -The Eucharist is an invalid sacrifice because it is an "unbloody sacrifice."

                5.) Jesus Christ's body was shed on the cross once for all:

                -There are numerous references in the New Testament affirming that Jesus made atonement for our sin once and for all. His work is not ongoing or to be repeated (Romans 6:9-10; Hebrews 7:23-28; 8:1-2; 9:11-15; 24-28; 10:10-18; 1 Peter 3:18). The cross ensures that God will not "remember" sins once He forgives them (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17). There is therefore no use in "re-presenting" His work on a weekly basis, as is done in the Catholic Mass.
      • Further Discussion On John 6:51-58:
                -The surrounding context of this passage is about coming to Christ and believing on Him for salvation (John 6:27-29; 32-47; 63-69). In fact, the entire purpose of John's gospel is to convert unbelievers (John 20:30-31).
                -Jesus oftentimes spoke to the crowds using parables (Matthew 13:10-11; 34; Mark 4:11; 34). Some examples of His parables can be found in Matthew 21:28-31, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 14:15-24, 18:9-14, Matthew 25:1-13, Mark 13:28-31, and Matthew 25:14-30. Notice that the Gospel of John itself records many symbolic statements made by Jesus. Examples would include "born again," "living water," "meat that ye know not of," and "destroy this temple." Moreover, Christ made several "I am" statements throughout John's gospel (John 15:5; 8:12; 10:7; 10:11). Out of the four gospels, only in John are these terms used by Jesus. Thus, we have good reason to believe that He was speaking metaphorically in John chapter 6.
                -Just as circumcision was a symbol under the Mosaic Covenant (Genesis 17:10-11), bread and wine are used as symbols for the New Covenant (Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
                -The Lord's Supper has sacrificial overtones because the elements point to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary (not to themselves).
                -A grammatical study of the sentence structure between John 6:40 and John 6:54 makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was speaking symbolically in this text. Also compare John 6:47 with John 6:51. We must come to Christ and trust on Him for eternal salvation. That is the meaning of eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
      • Why Did So Many Disciples Leave Jesus During The Bread Of Life Discourse? Was It Because They Had To Literally Eat His Flesh And Drink His Blood?"
                -No, the audience left Jesus Christ because it did not believe the claims that He had established concerning His divine messiahship (John 6:52). Unbelievers, who were in this case the Jews, had hardened their hearts against God. They only remained around Christ temporarily because they were physically hungry. The Jewish people were not searching for the truth of the gospel, which satisfies all longings of the human soul. Their thinking was not spiritual but carnal. The Jews were not right with God.
                -After the departure of the 5,000, Jesus told the twelve remaining disciples that the words of His lecture were not literal but spiritual (John 6:63). His speech was not to be understood in a physical or materialistic sense. We must come to Jesus Christ and place our trust in Him for salvation. He is life to us, and we partake of Him by faith.
                -Even if the Jews had understood His words literally, that does not prove such an interpretation to be correct. It is clear throughout the four gospel accounts that Jesus Christ did not have a problem with speaking bluntly and offending those who clung to their man-made traditions. He was not afraid to offend Jewish sensibilities. He spoke in a figurative manner which requires interpretation. Jesus did not always explain His teaching, nor was He obligated to. Consider the example of Jesus Christ referring to His body as the temple (John 2:19-21). He knew from the very beginning who would have faith and who would not (John 6:64).
      • "Repetitive" Nature Argument:
                -Jesus is called the Lamb of God or the Lamb thirty times in the New Testament. If repetition proves literalness, then Jesus must be a literal lamb. But this is obviously figurative language. Repetition, whether it be closely spaced or spread far apart, does not prove "literalness." To make an attempt to create an exception to this principle is simply "splitting hairs."
      • "Forceful Or Vividness" Argument:
                -As for the vivid language found in John 6:51-58, the Book of Revelation, the Book of Daniel, and the entire book of Psalms also occupies quite vivid language or undeniably symbolic material. Furthermore, the Book of Revelation was also written by the Apostle John. "Vivid" simply does not translate into "literalness." The context determines the literalness of any text.
      • Does Malachi 1:11 Prove That The Lord's Supper Is A Sacrifice?:
                -The "incense" is a reference to prayers (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 8:3-4).
                -The "pure offering" is a metaphorical reference to believers offering their praise and good deeds as sacrifices which satisfy God (Hebrews 13:15-16; Philippians 4:18).
                -The theme of spiritual sacrifice or offering is found throughout Scripture (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 66:20; 1 Peter 2:5).
      • Does Hebrews 9:23 Support The Repetitive Sacrifices Of The Catholic Mass?:
                -"sacrifices--The plural is used in expressing the general proposition, though strictly referring to the one sacrifice of Christ once for all. Paul implies that His one sacrifice, by its matchless excellency, is equivalent to the Levitical many sacrifices. It, though but one, is manifold in its effects and applicability to many." (Excerpt taken from the Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary on the Whole Bible)

        Wednesday, February 15, 2017

        The Wrong Idiom

        "We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he “wants a woman.” Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus."

        C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, p. 134

        Tuesday, February 14, 2017

        What Is Love?

                On what basis or by what standard can one claim to have authentic love? Why is Love even significant? Love is what enables us to have a dedicated, compassionate relationships with other people. It is the foundation of all morality. This innate desire is completely different from a mere instinct or physiological obsession because it is recognized by reason and acted on by free will. Love is therefore a pillar which keeps the gears of this world turning in a peaceful manner. It is not merely an empty sensation.

                Just imagine what the world would be like if the concept of love was merely a product of the mentally deranged. It is not possible to care about anything without love, for it is the innate desire of the human heart to self-sacrifice for the sake of other people. It necessarily entails wanting what is best for others. Love is kind. Love is caring. Love entails self-sacrifice. All these concepts are interrelated. They thus function together in perfect harmony. In fact, the existence of love presupposes the existence of care. Love is the foundation of morality. Love rejoices in the truth, and weeps tenderly in the presence of falsehood. Animosity and vindictiveness negates any demonstration of love.

                 If people cannot work together because of hatred, then life on earth would come to an unnecessary, abrupt termination because no further progress could be made. Love and hatred cannot co-exist because they are contrary notions. Moreover, hatred brews other abominable states of heart such as being prideful, jealous, selfish, and unforgiving. Without love, life would collapse like a line of dominoes. Mankind cannot thrive without love, any more than a tree can survive without water. Hatred presents us with a rather hopeless and miserable picture of life in general. On the basis of divine revelation and plain reason we can claim to know what love is. God Himself is love.

        The Lord's Day--Saturday or Sunday?

        • Introduction:
                  -Although God originally instituted Saturday as the Sabbath during the Old Testament so that His people could relax from physical labor and concentrate on worshiping Him (mandatory observance was required by the Jewish Law; see Exodus 20:8-11), we see a difference in the New Testament. Christians gathered on Sunday because Jesus Christ resurrected on that day (Mark 15:42-46; 16:9; Luke 23:54-24:3; John 19:42). See also texts such as Acts 20:7-12; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; and Revelation 1:10.
        • An Interesting Observation:
                  -The New Testament restates only nine of the Ten Commandments; worshiping God according to His Will covers the first three commandments. The Sabbath is the missing one. Why? The reason is that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), and He is our rest (Hebrews 4)! The Ten Commandments were strictly for Israel, which includes Sabbath observance.
        • Is It Wrong To Observe The Jewish Sabbath? Are We As Christians Obligated To Observe Saturday?:
                -There is nothing wrong per se with Christians gathering together to worship on Saturday. In fact, we have been given the liberty of choosing which days that we wish to celebrate in worship of God (Romans 14:1-12; Colossians 2:13-17). But we should be glorifying the Creator daily. We also need to avoid becoming a stumbling block to others who uphold different views (1 Corinthians 8:9). Therefore, it is wrong for professing Christian groups such as the Seventh-Day Adventists (who demand Saturday observance) and the Churches of Christ (who demand Sunday observance) to cast judgment on others.
        • What Is The Purpose Of Sunday Worship?:
                  -The purpose of Sunday worship is to celebrate the Lord's finished work on the cross and His resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:26). Furthermore, Jesus instructed us to use bread and wine (communion "meal") as symbols to remember His body and shed blood (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). It is not as if we observe a "Christian Sabbath," but rather, we set aside a day to especially worship the Lord. Christians have historically gathered on Sunday to conduct fellowship with each other because that was the day that Christ was resurrected. However, it is understandable if one cannot do so on that day due to an obstacle such as a business schedule or family emergency. Sunday worship is simply a respectable, apostolic, nonessential tradition. It is not a dogma, but we must be mindful to not forsake the assemblies of God (Hebrews 10:25).
        • How Often Should We Celebrate Communion?:
                  -The New Testament does not identify a specific number of times (or when) in which Christians are to partake of the communion meal (bread and wine). However, notice how the Apostle Paul recorded a statement of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 11:25, which is as follows, "Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." We can infer from this Scripture text that we have been given some flexibility. The frequency of participating in the communion meal is nowhere near as important as our state of heart when we do this. We should observe the Lord's Supper often enough to make it a vital part of our ongoing worship services. To partake of the meal too frequently would be to reduce it to merely a ritual and to partake of it in too seldom of a manner would cause people to gradually forget the significance of Jesus Christ's work.

        Monday, February 13, 2017

        Biblical Defense Of Sola Scriptura

        • Sola Scriptura: The Bible alone is the only infallible rule of faith (or the spiritual standard) for the church. It functions as the ultimate standard of authority in spiritual matters.
        • There are other legitimate (but lesser) "rules of faith" such as catechisms, concordances, lexicons, commentaries, and godly leaders of the church. But only Scripture is infallible.
        • Presenting a biblical case for Sola Scriptura:
                  -Scripture contains all necessary things that Jesus did (Acts 1:1-2)
                  -Scripture brings us certainty of the Lord's actions and teachings (Luke 1:1-4)
                  -Eternal life in the name of Jesus Christ (John 20:30-31)
                   *If the Gospel of John by itself is sufficient to bring about conversion of heart, then it stands to reason that the same is true of the three other gospel narratives.
                   *If the Gospel of John is sufficient to bring about our salvation, then how much more sufficient must the Bible in its entirety be as a rule of faith?
                  -Instructions to salvation (2 Timothy 3:15)
                  -Assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13)
                  -Commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37)
                  -Standard to which nothing can be added (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 22:18-19)
                  -Proper conduct in the church (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
                  -Protection against sin (1 John 2:1)
                  -Every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
                  -A life of godliness (Psalm 19:7-14; 2 Peter 1:3-4)
                  -Joy that is complete (1 John 1:1-4)
                  -Hope and encouragement (Romans 15:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:18)
                  -Standard by which ministers are tested (Isaiah 8:20; Acts 17:11-12):
                   *Jesus always used the Scriptures as the measuring stick for determining Truth.
                   *Even though the apostles were inspired by genuine oral revelation, they always directed people to the Scriptures for the final determination of truth.
                  -Standard that judges traditions (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13)
                  -Standard that cannot be exceeded (1 Corinthians 4:6)
                  -Scripture is how we are reminded of apostolic oral traditions (2 Peter 3:1-2; Jude 3; 17-18)

        Commentary On The Book Of Joshua

                The historical Book of Joshua is a fascinating text for a person to read. Every event revealed throughout the sacred Scriptures presents us with a series of truths that can never be broken. God’s appointed people, Joshua and the citizens of Israel, overcame all of the challenges that they faced only when they obeyed Him. This involved trusting in the Lord for every aspect of life and obeying His precepts. We must follow the same moral pattern when we encounter challenges in our daily lives. If we violate the commandments of the Lord, then we will certainly put ourselves under His discipline. The most significant theme of the Book of Joshua is that God will lead us through our trials, especially from an eternal perspective.

                Joshua and the Israelites only succeeded at defeating Jericho because they obeyed everything that God commanded them. The people had no choice but to obey what God commanded Joshua to enforce. “Anyone who rebels against your orders and does not obey all your commands is to be put to death. Only be strong and steadfast.” [Joshua 1:18] We as Christians can infer that we are to be strong and steadfast when teaching His Word to others. We are God’s army which has been commissioned to fight the spiritual battle against the dark forces of evil. In other words, we have been called to instruct the ignorant world about His ways of righteousness and wisdom. “I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.” [Joshua 1:9] When we endure difficult tasks such as preaching the Gospel of Salvation to other people, we must heed to His command of always being strong and steadfast.

                Joshua was successful in defeating the enemies of God's chosen people because he obeyed His command to trust in Him. He was victorious at the battle against Gibeon because he did not fear the enemy, which was in perfect accordance to our Creator’s plain instruction. “The LORD said to Joshua: Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your power. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” [Joshua 10:8] Readers of the book of Joshua can deduce that God will continuously be there for them and to not be overcome by evil. The Lord repeatedly told Joshua to not fear his foes, for he will overcome them. Joshua can be seen as an example of faithfulness and courage. God is our Rock. He is our Refuge and Redeemer.

                The Book of Joshua teaches us that we as believers are bound to fail spiritually apart from the grace and sustaining power of God. Joshua sent a couple thousand men to battle at Ai and they were demolished quickly. The Israelites lost the first battle to Ai because they acted treacherously with the ban that God had established. He asked the Lord how such an occasion was possible. The Israelites had violated the Covenant that He made with them. If we follow God’s commandments, then He is with us. If we dare to act contrary to His Will, then He will discipline us. “But just as every promise the LORD, your God, made to you has come true for you, so will He bring upon you every threat, even so far as to exterminate you from this good land which the LORD, your God, has given you.” [Joshua 23:15] The Jews were promised blessings if they obeyed God. We must trust in Him if we truly wish to maintain a positive outlook from an eternal perspective.

                 It can even be said that Joshua himself is a type of Christ. Just as he had enabled the Israelites to obtain the blessing of dwelling in the land of milk and honey through the conquest of the Canaanites, so Jesus Christ reconciles believers to the Father and guides them into the heavenly sanctuary [Hebrews 4:8-11].

                The Book of Joshua is a powerful guide to life because it reminds us of the One who is infinitely superior to us. It shows that there are consequences for those who disobey God. This inspired text keeps our thinking in line with His commandments. It enforces humility and reminds us that God is sovereign. It was written for our edification. All events that take place in the Bible were recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So we would do well to heed to what is found therein. The Book of Joshua enforces themes of trust and obedience to God. He rewards those who seek after Him. We learn from the Book of Joshua to be strong and tenacious in serving the Lord our God.

        God's Divine Calling

               We live in a world that is founded on purely selfish agendas. Most people in our society are only focused on the superficial aspects of life, which consists of material possessions, bodily appearance, and various sayings of so-called human wisdom. But if we were placed on this earth only to indulge our own sinful lusts, then we would not be aware of the unfortunate. How can the bridge of human freedom stand over the troubled lake of perdition and iniquity? The Lord Jesus Christ commissioned us to serve others with compassion and humility. We as Christians can be servants of God by setting a good moral example for other people and by contributing to those who are in need.

               We can serve other people by being models for the lost. In other words, those who belong to the world can be converted to the King of the supernatural realm by examining the lifestyles of people who are united to Him. The darkness of this world can be lit by the candle of our faith. We as Christians are to plant seeds of conversion. People who trust in Christ as Lord and Savior will experience complete spiritual fulfillment. They will have joy and peace as a result of being children of God. We are simply the mirrors that point sinners to salvation by reflecting the personality of our Lord Jesus Christ. If the hearts of people are changed, the same will happen with our society.

               We can be servants by providing for the needy. In other words, we can assist others who are suffering from a lack of necessities by donating unused or unwanted clothing to second hand thrift stores, donating money, and contributing to food drives. Proper clothing can help people thrive in colder climates. Churches can work together in funding the construction of schools, hospitals, and homeless shelters. A sufficient amount of food will prevent people from dying of starvation. Our good works can provide hope for future generations, grounded in the preaching of the gospel. When we succor others, we are being fellow laborers for the sake of our Master. We are like compasses which point people to the One who can satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst.

               We live in a world that is contaminated by the continuous serving of one-self. But we have been called to move beyond the microscope of our own sinful desires. In so doing, we obey the edict of Christ: “Whatsoever you do for the least of My Brothers, you do for Me.” We do this by setting ourselves up to be models for others to emulate. We do this by serving others. When we do these things, we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ.