The purpose of this blog is to provide insights from the Christian perspective. It exists to present the teachings of the glorious Gospel through the preaching of sound doctrine, biblical exegesis, and by conducting apologetics. The Apostle Paul gave the following exhortation, "...that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another." (1 Corinthians 4:6)
-It is interesting to note that Martin Luther's German translation of the Bible does not contain the King James Version rendering of 1 John 5:7. Following is an relevant excerpt from this publication:
"We have informed our readers in these pages before that Luther omitted I John 5:7 from every edition of his German New Testament which he published during his lifetime. I have recently learned that he also omitted it from the revised edition of the Latin Vulgate which he published in 1529...This omission was a bold step on Luther's part, for, as Scrivener informs us, the verse is found “in perhaps 49 out of every 50”[manuscripts of the Vulgate, but the very boldness of the step proves beyond cavil, if any further proof were wanted, that Luther did not believe in the genuineness of the verse."
Additionally, Martin Luther omitted texts such as Mark 11:26 and Luke 17:36 in his translation. As Rick Norris of the King James Only Resource Center confirms:
"...the fact that Luther's German Bible did not include Mark 11:26, Luke 17:36, 1 John 5:7, and many other clauses and phrases in the KJV is ignored."
Ironically, Luther's German translation was based on the same underlying Greek text as that of the King James Version, the Textus Receptus. So, if both these translations were to be put on equal footing, then how does one account for these variations in textual rendering? Which ones are correct? Would one argue that the Protestant Reformers plotted to corrupt the King James Version (which is patently absurd)? Why is it that King James Version only advocates inconsistently applaud Luther's German translation of the Bible?
"Don’t be fooled by those who say that illegal aliens contribute billions to our economy and take little from it. They’re wrong. Many work off books, earn low wages, pay little to no taxes, send millions of dollars in remittances to their home country, and use social services at a higher rate than American citizens. The truth is that, yes, illegal aliens are important to our economy—but only if you’re talking about the destruction of it.
Illegal immigrants tend to be less skilled and less educated than those who got off the ships at Ellis Island. While new immigrants used to earn just 14 percent less than native-born Americans, that gap had widened to an average of 34 percent less by 1998.
Before the New Deal, if you came to America and couldn’t make it, you went home. Now, our growing welfare state is feeding off those who fall short of the eduction and skills necessary to achieve the American Dream. Illegal immigrants are 50 percent more likely to use welfare than citizens. They get free education, Medicaid, cash assistance for kids (WIC), and sometimes food stamps. While children of illegal immigrants make up only six percent of the population, they account for almost 12 percent of our nation’s poor."
"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag…We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
"If anyone asks me, “What is the best safeguard against false doctrine?” I answer in one word: “The Bible—the Bible regularly read, regularly prayed over, regularly studied.” We must go back to the old prescription of our Master: “Search the Scriptures” (John 5:39, AV). If we want a weapon to wield against the devious schemes of Satan, there is nothing like “the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.” But to wield it successfully, we must read it habitually, diligently, intelligently, and prayerfully. This is a point on which, I fear, many fail. In an age of hurry and frenzied activity, few read their Bibles as much as they should. More books perhaps are read than ever, but less of the one book which makes men wise to salvation. Roman Catholicism and liberal theology could never have made such havoc in the church if there had not been a most superficial knowledge of the Scriptures throughout the land. A Bible-reading congregation is the strength of a church."
By Richard Bennett and Stuart Quint of Berean Beacon
The December 2006 issue of Christianity Today poses the question: “Will the 21st be the Orthodox Century?” It highlights the growing interest among Christians in the doctrines of Eastern Orthodoxy. Some people have even converted to Orthodoxy in the West. For example, Peter Gillquist and a number of former Campus Crusade leaders organized churches into a new denomination called the “Evangelical Orthodox Church.” This denomination grew to 2,000 members in the US and Canada and later merged with “The Antiochian Orthodox Church.”
One reason for this interest in Orthodoxy has been the growing fascination with mysticism and ancient tradition, which has permeated Western societies. Increasing numbers of Christians are coming into contact with Eastern Orthodox mysticism via the Emergent Church. The shallow regard to God and His Word in many churches lures Westerners to seek a more meaningful level of spirituality and mystery. Some mistakenly find allure in the rites and mysticism of Eastern Orthodoxy.
However, many Western believers are unaware of the implications of Orthodoxy. They ignore the oppression that Orthodoxy holds over nations it dominates such as Russia, Romania, Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria. On an individual level, instead of being taught the simple and pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, people practice empty ritual and works in hopes that God might bless them in their lives, but without any hope or certainty of it. On a national level, corruption and lawlessness abound as consequences for a society where heartfelt worship is replaced by ritual enforced by manmade tradition and the hierarchy of the church.
Sadly, the Orthodox Church in these countries not only refuses the true Gospel of Christ herself, but she also exerts great effort to prevent other people from seeing the Gospel. People who repent and believe in Jesus Christ often suffer scorn and even persecution from family and government. Pre-communist Russia under the czars strongly persecuted Christians with fines, loss of employment, property, prison, exile, and even removal of their children from their parents. Some countries even consider born-again Christians as “dangerous cults” and fine and imprison those who wish to spread the Gospel among their Orthodox friends. Greece and Serbia are two modern examples. Other countries in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Africa are following their lead. The Eastern Orthodox Church fears the Gospel of Christ and hinders it. As Jesus said to the Pharisees: “For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”
While Christian circles make popular the issue of evangelism of Asia and Islamic countries, they often neglect vast nations under the veil of Orthodoxy. Despite a misinformed notion that people in Orthodox cultures have no need for the Gospel of Christ, the truth of God’s Scriptures demonstrates their need is just as great as for men dead in sins in other countries. Indeed, Eastern Orthodoxy falls well short of Biblical Orthodoxy. It is essential to address the issue: “Is Eastern Orthodoxy Biblically Orthodox?” Why and how should we spread the Gospel among these millions of people living apart from the freedom of grace in Jesus Christ? Why should true believers beware of the false “gospel” of Eastern Orthodoxy?
What is Orthodoxy?
“Orthodoxy” comes from two Greek words that mean “right praise,” or “right worship.” One can also translate the word as “right belief.” Just as Shakespeare posed the question, “What’s in a name?”, so one must realize that other religions claim “right worship” in their name. Islam comes from an Arab word meaning “peace.” Catholicism derives from a Greek word meaning “universal.” The substance, not a name, of a belief system and its conformity to God’s direct revelation is the important issue.
Orthodox churches are organized under autonomous national groups, or patriarchates. Estimates of members range up to 300 million people. Large groups are found in Russia, Ethiopia, Romania, Greece, and Serbia. Orthodox churches also exist in the Mideast, India, and the West. Most Orthodox Church members arise from familial and ethnic ties; however, some converts do exist.
Although Orthodoxy claims its origins from the first apostles, its actual start came after the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century A.D founded the state church for the empire. The political capital moved from Rome to Constantinople. This city also became a seat of religious power for the Patriarch of Constantinople (though other cities also had patriarchs of influence). In 1054, the rivalry between the bishop of Rome and the patriarch of Constantinople triggered a split between the Roman Catholic Church of the West and the Orthodox Church of the East. Unlike Catholicism, Orthodoxy officially does not have a “Pope,” though the Patriarch of Constantinople claims premier status among equals of other branches of Orthodoxy. The Moscow Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church disputes his primacy.
Orthodoxy’s Claim to Authority: Does It Measure Up?
The Orthodox Church claims its origin from the church founded by the first apostles of Jesus Christ. Frangopoulos states: “Moreover, she (the Orthodox Church) is called Apostolic because she preserves and proclaims to all the Apostolic Faith and Confession and because her pastors and ministers, Bishops and Presbyters, all her clergy possess Apostolic Succession and administration.” Eastern Orthodoxy, however, is not the only church to say it comes from Christ’s church of the New Testament. Roman Catholicism makes the same claim. Yet, a church can only claim direct connection to Christ’s church of the New Testament to the extent that it conforms to the church of the Holy Scriptures. Let us examine the leadership structure of Orthodoxy in light of God’s Word.
The Orthodox Church has an intricate hierarchy of priests, monks, bishops, patriarchs, and others. Orthodoxy ascribes great authority to the function of the Orthodox priest. Nicholas Elias writes:
“The blessing of the priest has a marvelous efficacy as being an exercise of the mysterious power with which he is invested…. The priest changes bread and wine … into the Body and Blood of Christ…. He bestows special sanctity upon the Christians and upon the objects blest…. The hand of the priest is, therefore, an instrument of imparting Divine Grace. For this reason Orthodox Christians throughout the centuries customarily kiss the hand of their priest.”
Contrast Orthodoxy with what God’s Word says about priests. In fact, we find no evidence of a special class of priests holding “mysterious power” that “bestows special sanctity” by “imparting Divine Grace.” The only One who can give “Divine Grace” is the Divine Jesus Christ Himself. Indeed, every member of the body of Christ receives grace from Him: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
Instead, we read of only one High Priest with such power, Jesus Christ who presides over an entire church of priesthood of all believers who comprise the members of His church. In other words, every believer in Christ is a priest. Some have special roles to equip the saints to build up the whole church, but that does not mean these leaders have special mystical powers.
Orthodox Sacraments Versus Biblical Reconciliation to the All-Holy God
The Orthodox Church has seven sacraments that it calls “Holy Mysteries.” These include: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, priesthood, marriage, and unction. Every Orthodox believer must receive the first four in order to join the church. Frangopoulos writes, “If he is not baptized, and chrismated (confirmed), if he doesn’t communicate [i.e. have communion] frequently and confess his sins, he does not receive grace and does not become a Christian.” However, as A. M. Coniaris writes: “In Christ, God does just this. He brings God’s grace and power to each one of us. The means He uses to do this are the Sacraments, which are like seven power lines from God’s Niagara to each Christian.”
Eastern Orthodoxy teaches that the sacraments actually convey the power. They are not merely symbolic. The Orthodox regards the sacraments as the actual, literal means by which God conveys “grace and power.” If one does not receive these sacraments, one does not receive the grace and power of God! Furthermore, Orthodoxy teaches that an individual believer receives the Sacraments only through an authorized representative of the “Church”. Otherwise, he receives no help from God. In contrast, God recognizes only two sacraments according to the Holy Scriptures: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These two sacraments are really ordinances symbolic of the spiritual reality in the life of a true believer in Christ. They do not confer any special “grace and power of God.”
Orthodoxy also shows the critical role it places on the priesthood and the seven sacraments. They are alleged to be vital for a person to maintain a right relationship with the All Holy God. Orthodoxy teaches that man can only receive mercy from God through faith and good deeds in his life: “The primary conditions for our justification are our faith in Christ the Savior and the good works that spring from our virtues and our holy life.” Yet God in the Holy Scriptures defines a right relationship with Himself in a different order. We can only stand righteously before the one and only All Holy God on the terms He prescribes. By His undeserved and unilateral mercy for us sinful people, we turn to Him in faith alone for the salvation that He alone gives, by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, based on Christ’s death and resurrection for His own, and believe on Him alone, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Here we see that “good works” are not the “cause” of being right with God, but rather a consequence of the salvation a believer can receive in Christ Jesus: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” In other words, God’s mercy, not man’s works, saves a person. As a result of God’s mercy, a believer can reflect a virtuous life as he/she is enabled by Christ’s salvation to walk in good works. Furthermore, no human being can earn God’s favor through his or her own “good works.” Before the all holy God, “all our righteous works are like filthy rags” and “there is none who is righteous, no not one.”
Authority of Eastern Orthodoxy Conflicts With God’s Holy Scriptures
Orthodoxy ascribes its authority on questions of belief and practice to “Holy Scripture” and “Holy Tradition.” Bishop Kallistos Ware writes:
“But to an Orthodox Christian, Tradition means something more concrete and specific than this. It means the books of the Bible; it means the Creed; it means the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Fathers; it means the Canons, the Service Books, the Holy Icons – in fact, the whole system of doctrine, Church government, worship, and art which Orthodoxy has articulated over the ages.”
Essentially Orthodoxy says: “God’s Word is a part of Tradition, but He did not see fit to write it all down in His Holy Scriptures. Take our word that we know what other tradition God has entrusted to man through us (even though there is no evidence for this ‘oral teaching of Christ and the apostles’).” And yet, how striking that Jesus Christ Himself consistently condemns man made traditions as a basis of knowing God’s will for us to live!
“Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
May it never be that someone wastes his life in man made religion governed by “the commandments of men” as Jesus Christ calls them. Man made tradition not based on God’s Word leads one to violate God’s very commandments and worship “in vain.” Such worship offends God and draws His wrath, not His blessing. In the area of tradition, the Holy Scriptures make no reference at all to something that the Lord did not see fit to reveal to us through His unfailing Word. The Apostle Paul states:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
One of the alleged sources of Orthodox “tradition,” an “early church father,” alleges to submit his authority to that of God’s Holy Scriptures. Basil of Caesarea defended the basis for his beliefs and teaching, “What then? After all these efforts were they tired? Did they leave off? Not at all. They are charging me with innovation… Their complaint is that their custom does not accept this, and that Scripture does not agree. What is my reply…? Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth.” So we see that at least one of the church fathers alleges that Scripture alone is his ultimate source of truth. We see no allusion to tradition apart from the written revelation of God. In fact, we see Basil condemning manmade “custom” or “tradition.” Basil reflects the view of the overwhelming majority of church fathers who claimed to rely on the same Holy Scriptures we can read today.
The Foundational Ritual of Orthodoxy Denies God’s Unique Glory
Icons represent one core aspect of Orthodoxy that illustrates not only the overt violation of God’s direct Holy Scriptures, but also shows the inconsistency of the Orthodox definition for “Holy Tradition.” Icons present 3 types of problems when we set aside the sole reliable and unchanging authority of Holy Scriptures, the Word of God, in favor of unstable and unreliable manmade tradition:
(1) Contradicting traditions: Which council was right? It is the one that upholds God’s written Word. Orthodoxy places great emphasis on ecumenical church councils, which involve a gathering of many church leaders to discuss matters of doctrine and practice. After many examples of condemnation of their use, the church council at Constantinople (A.D. 754) decreed their removal from churches and religious life. Also known as the Iconoclast Council, it received warm support from the Byzantine Emperor Leo and many laypeople.
Upon the death of Emperor Leo, his wife Irene seized power and convoked the Second Council of Nicea (also known as the Seventh Ecumenical Council) in A.D. 787. This council revoked the rulings of the Iconoclast Council by mandating the use of icons in the Byzantine Orthodox Church.
(2) Icons violate the Second Commandment that bans visual representations of God, including Jesus Christ. This is also known as “idolatry.” The Scripture makes clear that God hates idolatry and forbids a representation in art of what is divine. Making images to represent God corrupts those who use them. Images teach lies about God. God cannot be represented in art and all who practice idolatry are commanded to repent. Just as in the Old Testament, so also in the New Testament does the Holy Spirit warn true believers, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Frangopoulos explains, “Hence we have the Saints as our intercessors before the Lord and as help in our needs; we have them, their holy icons, and their holy relics as examples of virtue and sanctity. This is why we honor them and celebrate their memory, and invoke them in our prayers, in our supplications and in our Liturgies.” Many icons are not just pictures of saints. In fact, the Second Council of Nicaea mandated the depiction of “…the figure of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, of our spotless Lady, the Mother of God, of the honorable Angels, of all Saints and of all pious people.” There even exists an icon attempting to picture God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit visually.
(3) Icons in Orthodoxy deny Christ as the Sole Intercessor for man before God. Orthodoxy imposes extra mediators in prayer between man and God. God’s Word forbids such practices. Frangopoulos contends:
“We especially turn to the Church Triumphant in heaven: the Church of our Saints and we commemorate them and especially ‘our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary’. We commemorate them and ascribe glory and honour to their holy personages and their sacred memories, and we ask their prayers before God on our behalf and their supplications and aid in the many needs of our lives. With special faith and devoutness we honour the Most Holy Theotokos, the Mother of our Lord, and we ask her protection and her speedy overshadowing and aid. We recourse to the wonder-working Saints – Holy men and women – for our spiritual and bodily needs, since God granted to them the gift of performing miracles and of the miraculous healing of many spiritual and physical maladies.”
Contrast the answer of Holy Scripture as St. Paul answers the question of how many mediators exist between believers and God: ONE! “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
Another problem with praying to dead saints and Mary through icons is that it violates God’s Word forbidding living people to communicate with the dead: “There shall not be found among you…a consulter with familiar spirits or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination before the Lord.” The imposition of these “middlemen” by Eastern Orthodoxy neglects yet another vital truth: neither Mary nor the saints can hear such prayers! Prayer using icons presumes that somewhere in the expanse of the spiritual world that Mary and the saints have the same capacity to hear prayers that only God does. In other words, Mary and the saints allegedly have the gift of all-powerful hearing! Such a presumption is absurd and an offense to God, the only One who sees and hears all! Only God is worthy of our veneration and adoration: “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images!”
Eastern Orthodoxy Provides No Assurance of Eternal Life
The logical yet tragic conclusion of Orthodoxy is that it provides no assurance that all these rituals and religious activity will even bring eternal life or peace with God! The practice of “memorial services” for the dead is not to be confused with what Biblical Christians call “funerals.” Orthodox “memorials for the dead” serve a very different purpose. Seraphim Rose, an Orthodox priest, explains: “In the Orthodox doctrine, on the other hand, which St. Mark teaches, the faithful who have died with small sins unconfessed, or who have not brought forth fruits of repentance for sins they have confessed, are cleansed of these sins either in the trial of death itself with its fear, or after death, when they are confined (but not permanently) in hell, by the prayers and Liturgies of the Church and good deeds performed for them by the faithful.”
We also find that Eastern Orthodoxy teaches that after a person dies, his or her soul goes on a journey of forty days. According to St. John Maximovich, Bishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, the soul passes through various “toll houses” staffed by demons that test his or her soul’s ability to resist some type of temptation. If the tortured soul withstands one test, it moves onto another “toll house” for another test, and so forth. If the soul passes all the tests, it receives eternal life. If it fails, it goes nowhere unless the departed soul receives enough aid from the living church for God to grant it mercy. (Such assistance consists of prayers and good deeds done on that departed soul’s behalf.)
But what if the soul does not receive the prayers and charity of others? The soul goes to Hell! One writer describes an elderly Russian widow who is absolutely despondent, without hope. Why? She has no friends or family who will pray for her soul to go to Heaven and not slip into Hell. Neither does she have the money to give to the local priest so he will conduct memorial services for her soul. There exist thousands like this woman in Russia. She has few friends, or no friends, no money, no hope! Orthodoxy orphans them as forlorn “baptized Orthodox servants of God.” Is that the sort of hope Christ came to give and then take away? Let it not be! Rather, God in His Holy Scriptures presents His alternative to Eastern Orthodoxy: eternal life. Jesus Christ states: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
Humanity’s greatest problem is that we have offended the Holy God, who can tolerate no sin. Our thoughts and behavior rebel against God’s goodness. There is no good work that we can perform that God will accept as a perfect sacrifice. Jesus Christ God’s Son came to this Earth, lived the perfect live, and gave His life as an atonement for sins. A person comes into Christ and inherits eternal life not by his efforts, but by simply repenting of his sinful life and believing in the One Whom God sent: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The Orthodox Church makes a startlingly bold claim to preserve the “pure apostolic faith.” If that claim were true, we would be the first in line to join. However the light of God’s Holy Scripture exposes the core teachings of Eastern Orthodoxy to be false. Eastern Orthodoxy merely preserves the tradition, which men have developed within Orthodoxy, and not that which God has explicitly revealed in His Word. Eastern Orthodoxy in its sacramental system, its doctrine of salvation, and its understanding of Scripture falls short of God’s inerrant Word. The Orthodox Church’s priests with their sacraments and icons formally and explicitly contradict the Scriptures. Their teaching is all the more to be condemned because it leads millions into despair, and ultimately eternal damnation.
Jesus Christ the Lord had done all that was necessary to put away the sins of His people. He has provided for them both the forgiveness for their sins and His own perfect standing before God. “It is finished,” He declared. What was finished was the believer’s slavery to sin and the true moral guilt that attends his sin! Paid was the price of the believer’s redemption! Performed were all the requirements of God’s law. In a word, complete satisfaction had been made to God for the believer.
Believe on the Eternal Lord and know the Priest that gives life now, and forever! “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God….” This is the living way.
It is spiritual death to attempt to come to God through any earthly priest who has no place in the New Testament. The way to the Eternal Father is through the Eternal High Priest alone; His death is for us the way to life. To those who believe on Him, He is everlasting life.♦
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 Bradley Nassif, “Will the 21st Be the Orthodox Century?”, Christianity Today, December 2006 issue from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/december/30.40.html
 See the book review by Dr. Robert N. Wilkin on http://www.faithalone.org/journal/bookreviews/gillquist.htm of Peter E. Gillquist, Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt Inc., 1989).
 Sobering accounts from the archives of the Most Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Duma, amongst other sources: Aleksandr Bulgakov, “The Holy Inquisition” in Russia until 1917, (Moscow, Russia: Tavitha, 2006)
 The Greek Constitution forbids “proselytizing” of “Orthodox” believers and threatens prosecution with prison and fines: http://agis10.tripod.com/id16.html . Serbian law passed in 2006 refuses to recognize open freedom of religion to all peaceful groups, particularly evangelical churches, even those that have been there for centuries. See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/july/7.16.html
 Newer examples include Uzbekistan (“The government and its authorities are exerting all efforts to make the Russian Orthodox Church the sole “Christian” representative on the territory of Uzbekistan and to force other Christian denominations to cease to exist.” http://www.krinica.org/1/562_1.shtml ), Belarus (new law codifies Orthodoxy as “dominant” religion in Constitution and represses freedom of religion: http://ww w.nytimes.com/2002/11/23/world/new-belarus-law-codifies-rising-religious-repression.html ), and Russia (Justice Ministry naming Orthodox chauvinists hostile to the Gospel of Christ to dictate who constitutes a “cult” in Russia: http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:wK1CWVsF3EAJ:www.christiantelegraph.com/issue5494.html+Orthodoxy+Alexander+Dvorkin&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a ). Ethiopia is an African example where Orthodox persecute those holding to the Biblical Gospel of Christ. (http://oduk.infogateway.org/profile_ethiopia.php . See also, http://www.christianpersecution.info/news/terrified-ethiopian-christian-women-in-besieged-evangelical-church-investigators-say)
 Matthew 23:13
 The Greek word glorified (dokeo – to glorify) originally meant to appear or to seem. As the noun glory (Greek – doxa), the term’s root meant opinion – that is, how a person or thing appears to the one observing it (i.e. the English words orthodox – one who holds the correct opinion; heterodox – one who holds a different opinion, and; paradox – a contradictory opinion). Originally the Greek words dokeo and doxa were neutral, used in reference to both good and bad opinions, but eventually they came to be used especially and then exclusively in reference to good opinions. From that point, the words evolved to mean praise or honor – the glory which was due to one about whom such good opinions were held. This use of the word has come into the English language in the term doxology, which is a song of praise.
 “The patriarch of Moscow does not recognize the patriarch of Constantinople as ‘primus inter pares’ [first among equals], a title traditionally attributed to him by other Orthodox Churches. This has given rise to historical disagreements and misunderstandings.” (Interview with Bishop Hilarion of Moscow Patriarchate of Russian Orthodox Church – cited in: http://directionstoorthodoxy.org/n/moscow_patriarchate_disagrees_with_constantinoples_special_posit.html )
 Athanasios Frangopoulos, Our Orthodox Christian Faith (Athens: The Brotherhood of Theologians “ 1988), p. 197.
 Nicholas Elias, The Divine Liturgy Explained: A Guide for Orthodox Christian Worshippers, (Athens, Greece: Astir, 1984), pp. 86-7
 Ephesians 4:7
 Hebrews 9:11-12
 I Peter 2:9-10
 Ephesians 4:11-13
 “There are at least 7 sacraments in the Orthodox Church.” http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/Orthodox_Church/The_Sacraments.shtml
 Frangopolous, 205.
 “It is an exhilarating experience to stand at the brink of Niagara Falls watching that tremendous water-power thundering over the cliff, knowing that millions of kilowatt—hours of electric power are right in front of us. Exhilarating yet sad if none of it lights our way in darkness; none of it heats our homes in the cold. . But when the power of the Falls is channeled to where we need it: to light up our darkness, to dispel the damp cold from our homes. .What a difference it makes! In Christ, God does just this. He brings God’s grace and power to each one of us. The means He uses to do this are the Sacraments, which are like seven power lines from God’s Niagara to each Christian. A.M. Coniaris, Introducing the Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life , (Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life Publishing, 1982).
 For detailed analysis, please see https://bereanbeacon.org/articles/Salvation_and_the_Sacraments.pdf .
 Frangopoulos, p. 18
 Ephesians 2:8-9
 Ephesians 2:10
 Isaiah 64:6
 Romans 3:10
 Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church: New Edition, (London: Penguin, 1993), p. 196
 Mark 7:7-9
 Col. 2:8
 As with any person, the “church fathers” were men capable of teaching error if they strayed from God’s infallible Word. Basil allegedly supported the use of icons, which the Scriptures condemn. Even the apostle Peter erred against God’s Word by avoiding the company of Gentile Christians. Paul rebuked Peter. (Gal. 2:11-16) Therefore, we need to be careful to scrutinize anyone’s teaching, including that of the church fathers, in light of the Scriptures. Let us be noble as the Bereans who scrutinized even the Apostle Paul’s teaching when they first heard it to see if his teaching conformed to God’s Word. (Acts 17:11)
 Basil, Letter 189, 3 from http://www.bible.ca/catholic-vs-orthodox.htm
 For more information about icons, including numerous quotes condemning their use from Holy Scriptures and opposition to their use from a number of “Church Fathers” such as Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria, please see https://bereanbeacon.org/eastern_orthodoxy/Icons_Visions_of_a_Spiritual_World.pdf .
 For more information on the Seven Ecumenical Councils that form a major source of Eastern Orthodox doctrine, please see https://bereanbeacon.org/eastern_orthodoxy/The_Seven_Pillars_of_Orthodoxy.pdf .
 Exodus 20:4-6
 Deuteronomy 4:13-16
 Habakkuk 2:18-20
 Acts 17:29-30
 I John 5:21
 “The Seven Ecumenical Councils, the Decree of the Holy, Great, Ecumenical Synod” cited in Henry R. Percival, Philip Schaff, and Henry Wace, The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 14 (Albany: AGES Software, 1997), p. 1032
 “The Holy Trinity” by the Russian artist Andrey Rublev. Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icons (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 1994), p. 198-201
 Frangopoulos, 243
 I Timothy 2:5-6
 A necromancer is one who consults with spirits of the dead.
 Deuteronomy 18:10
 Any parent with children knows that children often do not hear even a loud voice calling them to attention from a mere five feet away. Imagine the living attempting communication with the dead who are separated by huge dimensions! Impossible!
 “The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.” Psalm 33:13
 Isaiah 42:8
 Eastern Orthodox “memorials for the dead” are called “panikhidi” in Russian and “mnemosyna.”
The Roman Catholic Church is known for its reports concerning alleged appearances of Mary and angels claiming to deliver important messages from God. What should also warrant our attention is the fact that some of these supernatural phenomena do indeed seem real. Consider, for example, the visions of Fatima. In 1917, three Portuguese shepherd children began experiencing visions for a period of six months from an entity claiming to be Mary, with the final occasion taking place in the sky with the guise of a trembling, dancing sun within the vicinity of 70,000 people.
The best method of determining the validity of these so-called miracles is to compare the substances of those messages to the inspired pages of Scripture. We have been called to test and prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We have been called to test the spirits to see whether they originated from God (1 John 4:1-4). The Bible is to function as our final spiritual standard of authority (1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). No professed prophet is to be embraced at face value, even if he or she is performing seemingly wonderful signs and wonders (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). Scripture also speaks of false miracles that are only intended to deceive (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Revelation 13:11-17). Multitudes can be deceived by these.
Unfortunately, such is the case with the Church of Rome welcoming and encouraging its members to unquestioningly accept the veracity of these so-called Marian apparitions. The Fatima episodes serve as a great illustration as to why these visions should categorically be rejected on the grounds of being blasphemous. In other words, they are blatantly unscriptural and unchristian. Consider the implications of this message attributed to the Lady of Fatima:
"Our Lady said that many souls would be saved from Hell and the annihilation of nations averted if, in time, devotion to Her Immaculate Heart were established..." (Fatima.org)
Nowhere does the gospel mention anything about devotion to the heart of Mary. Nowhere does the New Testament ascribe supernatural powers and roles to the mother of Jesus Christ. Mary is not venerated by anyone in Scripture. Never do we see prayers dedicated to beings other than God in Scripture, nor does He ever grant us permission to partake in such activity. God is our strength and refuge (Psalm 46:1). He is our help and deliverer (Psalm 40:17). We should trust only in God (Psalm 62:1-8; 73:24-26). The Scriptures testify to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (John 5:39-40). In fact, not even the Holy Spirit points to Himself. He points to Christ (John 16:13). Consider further explanation of the messages announced by the visions at Fatima:
"He also explained to them the great importance of praying and making sacrifices in reparation for the offenses committed against God. He told them: 'Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication, for the conversion of sinners." (Fatima.org)
"The children were also told to pray and sacrifice themselves for sinners, in order to save them from hell." (Fatima.org) "Our Lady said it was necessary for those persons to say the Rosary in order to obtain..reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary." On the contrary, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was already full atonement for all our sins (Hebrews 10:10-18). He is our High Priest who continually makes intercession for us (Hebrews 7:24-28). He is able to completely save all of those who come to Him by faith. We can approach God with confidence because of what His Son accomplished on our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16). We cannot establish our own righteousness (Romans 9:30-10:4). We cannot simply merit God's grace and good favor. The notion that we must atone for sin should be offensive to us in the highest degree. It certainly is to Christ. Thus, the messages proclaimed by the visions of Fatima are totally heretical.
"She showed Her Heart, surrounded by piercing thorns (which represented the sins against Her Immaculate Heart), to the children, who understood that their sacrifices could help to console Her." (Fatima.org)
The biblical problem of sin is defined as the threat of mankind suffering eternal condemnation as a consequence for breaking the commandments of God. This stuff regarding sins being committed against the "immaculate heart" of Mary is simply made up. It is entirely fictional. Mary has clearly been elevated to the level of deity, conflating her will with the will of God. It needs to be understood that God was not by any means obligated to save us. He could have refused, if He so wanted to. He did not have to choose Mary. God could have found another faithful Jewish woman, if He so desired.
Notice also that these Roman Catholic apparitions commonly advise the faithful to feverishly meditate on the Rosary, which is just another way to glorify Mary. If these were at all given by God, then they would directly point us to Him, considering that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5). Instead, they exalt themselves. At best, these so-called Marian apparitions are spurious messages infested with half-truths. At worst, they are demonic utterances used to deceive the public and provoke God to wrath. This is merely another episode of Satan being caught masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). Consider the words spoken by the mother of Jesus during the wedding feast at Cana:
"His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5)
In other words, the biblical Mary pointed to Jesus Christ Himself. Thus, these Marian apparitions could not possibly be the real mother of Jesus.
One of the Fatima apparitions is reputed to have said the following:
"In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me and she will be converted and a period of peace will be granted to the world. Only I can help you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God."
But the truth of the matter is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who can offer us assistance (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). He came to save His people (Matthew 1:21). He does not need anybody's help. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He is our righteousness. He is our salvation (Hebrews 5:9). Furthermore, the final restoration of the world to its original state of perfection cannot and will not happen until the second coming of Christ. Yet, Catholics boldly display this mindset in regards to Mary.
In short, the point of this article is to demonstrate why all of these Roman Catholic apparitions should be rejected. They distract the attention of millions to Christ. This is clearly the promotion of a false gospel, which is no small deal (Galatians 1:6-12). These visions are sheer blasphemy. We would do well to adhere to the words of the Apostle Paul:
"Let no one disqualify you, delighting in self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, inflated without reason by his fleshly mind." (Colossians 2:18)
"When a message is composed, it involves the coding of its mental content, but the message itself is not concerned about whether the contents are important or unimportant, valuable, useful, or meaningless. Only the recipient can evaluate the message after decoding it." (Hans-Joachim Flechtner (cyberneticist), cited by Werner Gitt, p.47)
"It should be emphasized that matter as such is unable to generate any code. All experiences indicate that a thinking being voluntarily exercising his own free will, cognition, and creativity, is required." (p. 65, note 13.)
"When its progress along the chain of transmission events is traced backwards, every piece of information leads to a mental source, the mind of the sender." (p.70)
"There is no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this." (p.79)
"The information present in living beings must have had a mental source…Any model for the origin of life (and of information) based solely on physical and/or chemical processes, is inherently false."(p.98, 99)
"Since the findings of James D. Watson (*1928) and Francis H.C. Crick (*1916), it was increasingly realized by contemporary researchers that the information residing in the cells is of crucial importance for the existence of life. Anybody who wants to make meaningful statements about the origin of life, would be forced to explain how the information originated. All evolutionary views are fundamentally unable to answer this crucial question." (p.99)
"Since science does not have the faintest idea how life on earth originated,… it would only be honest to confess this to other scientists, to grantors, and to the public at large. Prominent scientists speaking ex cathedra, should refrain from polarising the minds of students and young productive scientists with statements that are based solely on beliefs." (Hubert P. Jockey, Journal of Theoretical Biology [Vol 91, 1981, p13], cited by Werner Gitt, p.101)
"The final result of all my researches and discussions is that the theory of evolution should be discarded in its entirety, because it always leads to extreme contradictions and confusing consequences when tested against the empirical results of research on the formation of different kinds of living forms and related fields. This assertion would agitate many people. Moreover: my next conclusion is that, far from being a benign natural-philosophical school of thought, the theory of evolution is a severe obstacle for biological research. As many examples show, it actually prevents the drawing of logical conclusions from even one set of experimental material. Because everything must be bent to fit this speculative theory, an exact biology cannot develop." (Professor Dr. Heribert Nilsson, “Synthetische Artbildung,” cited by Werner Gitt, p.106)
"There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter." (p.107)
"The basic flaw of all evolutionary views is the origin of the information in living beings. It has never been shown that a coding system and semantic information could originate by itself in a material medium, and the information theorems predict that this will never be possible. A purely material origin of life is thus precluded." (p.124)
"Mutations can only cause changes in existing information. There can be no increase in information, and in general the results are injurious. New blueprints for new functions or new organs cannot arise; mutations cannot be the source of new (creative) information." (p.127)
The Armchair Theologian Published An Excellent Article With Several Excerpts From Various Church Fathers Proving That They Believed In Justification By Faith Apart From The Merit Of Works. Following Are Excerpts From John Chrysostom:
“Let us see, however, whether the brigand gave evidence of effort and upright deeds and a good yield. Far from his being able to claim even this, he made his way into paradise before the apostles with a mere word, on the basis of faith alone, the intention being for you to learn that it was not so much a case of his sound values prevailing as the Lord’s lovingkindness being completely responsible. What, in fact, did the brigand say? What did he do? Did he fast? Did he weep? Did he tear his garments? Did he display repentance in good time? Not at all: on the cross itself after his utterance he won salvation. Note the rapidity: from cross to heaven, from condemnation to salvation. What were those wonderful words, then? What great power did they have that they brought him such marvelous good things? “Remember me in your kingdom.” What sort of word is that? He asked to receive good things, he showed no concern for them in action; but the one who knew his heart paid attention not to the words but to the attitude of mind.” —John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD), Sermon 7 on Genesis, in St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis, pp. 123-24 (2004), Robert C. Hill translator. “They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Homily on Galatians 3)
“But he calls it their ‘own righteousness,’ either because the Law was no longer of force, or because it was one of trouble and toil. But this he calls God’s righteousness, that from faith, because it comes entirely from the grace from above, and because men are justified in this case, not by labors, but by the gift of God.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Homily 17 on Romans 10:3) “Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” Homily 7 on Romans- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) “For you believe the faith; why then do you add other things, as if faith were not sufficient to justify? You make yourselves captive, and you subject yourself to the law.”- St. John Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD) (Epistle to Titus, Homily 3, PG 62.651) "But what is the ‘law of faith?’ It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” St. John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD), Homilies on Romans 3 “We need none of those legal observances, he says; faith suffices to obtain for us the Spirit, and by Him righteousness, and many and great benefits.”- Chrysostom (347 – 407 AD), Homilies on Galatians 4 “And he well said, “a righteousness of mine own,” not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence.” Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD) Homily on Philippians 3 “God does not wait for time to elapse after repentance. You state your sin, you are justified. You repented, you have been shown mercy.”- St. John Chrysostom, (347 – 407 AD), Homily 7 On Repentance and Compunction, p. 95 in FOTC, vol. 96.
"A study of rise and fall of ancient history shows that the extent of homosexual practice affects the general corruption of a society. Richard Lovelace says, “Homosexual expression endangers the formation of sexual identity in boys and girls, the integrity of the family, and therefore the stability of the whole society.” He goes on to say that a degenerative process is set in motion when a people, a society, and a nation endorses the practice of homosexuality."
Hope MacDonald, The Flip Side of Liberation: A Call to Traditional Values, pg.135-136
"At the time of the Fall (Gen. 3:6), all of creation fell. Nature and the human race fell. We became separated from God, and our fellowship with one another was marred. Even sexual relationships were affected by the Fall. Instead of man and woman becoming one, as ordained by God, we now have adultery, practicing homosexual and lesbian relationships, prostitution, incest, rape, and bestiality. All of these are distortions of the wholeness and oneness that God originally intended.
They go against the purpose of God’s plan for marriage and family life. Homosexuality is a perversion of the law of nature and violates the law of God. It is a distortion of the beauty of God’s pattern for man and woman…
God created humans as two distinct creations, male and female. From Genesis to Revelation, sexuality is always in this context. The practicing homosexual lifestyle is not an alternative lifestyle, it is a departure from God’s plan. God did not create man to use one another in this unnatural way. Thomas Aquinas called it the “sin against nature and an injury against our Creator.” God intended sexual intercourse to take place between man and woman. It is obvious that the male and female bodies were designed in this way. The Bible condemns every form of sexual expression outside of heterosexual marriage."
Hope MacDonald, The Flip Side of Liberation: A Call to Traditional Values, p. 134
-"Then it happened when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart; and all those signs came about on that day." (1 Samuel 10:9)
The context of this passage is about the conversion of Saul and him being anointed by God's Prophet Samuel as king over Israel. Prior to him being appointed by God through His chosen vessel, a group of prophets informed him that the Lord was going to give him a new heart (1 Samuel 10:5-7). This passage of Scripture is most certainly intriguing, seeing how the language seems to correspond to New Testament text such as 2 Corinthians 5:17.
Even though Scripture records King Saul as being a poor moral example, we can nevertheless learn from his life experience the inevitable, devastating consequences of living according to the flesh. His life was characterized as being envious, vengeful, and murderous. He even committed suicide. But nobody can say with absolute authority what Saul's eternal destiny was, for only God knows the hearts of man (1 Samuel 16:7). We are not in a place to pronounce definitive judgments on the salvation of other people. It is possible that he could have earnestly pleaded from the heart that God be merciful to him in his last breath.
My personal opinion on the matter is that he was once born again but walked away from his salvation. If that is the case, then we see evidence of the Holy Spirit's regenerating work in the Old Testament. Maybe King Saul came to a point of having saving faith, but chose not to continue in that pursuit. God can use anybody or anything to accomplish His will. This exercise is only meant to provide some food for thought.
-Quite simply, the purpose of this article is to answer Roman Catholic apologist De Maria's rebuttal to my open letter that I made in response to him criticizing me for citing a commentary from Martin Luther on Galatians 4:30. Following are the Catholic apologist's remarks alongside with a critique:
"...in his rebuttal, Jesse neglects to answer the question I asked. Will they be saved who do not do good works?"
Notice the fallacious either/or nature of De Maria's question. If one answers in the affirmative, then this person will most likely concede that his respective position is the correct one. If one answers in the negative, then this person will simply accuse his opponent of upholding a license to sin. The conclusions drawn in both scenarios, however, are misguided.
While we agree that faith cannot be separated from good works, the area of disagreement between Catholics and Protestants is the relationship between the two. Advocates of justification by faith alone would argue that works have a consequential relationship to faith. There was also a reflection question raised for De Maria, to which he answered:
"I don't know. Since the Catholic Church Teaches that we have assurance of salvation, we live a life of joy and peace when we give ourselves to Christ."
That is not really a satisfactory analysis, since question-begging is involved and the logical implications of my inquiry are totally overlooked.
"We don't claim, as the Pharisee did, that we know that we are saved. We, like the Apostle, say...[1 Cor 4:13]."
First of all, the scribes and Pharisees of the Law boasted of a righteous standing before God on the basis of their good works. In contrast, believers approach God by faith because they are convicted of their sinfulness and need His mercy.
Secondly, the Apostle Paul did not say that we could not have assurance of eternal life. Rather, it is God who evaluates our degree of faithfulness and rewards us accordingly. Paul did not dare to make such a judgement regarding himself even though he had a clear conscience (1 Corinthians 4:5).
"On the contrary, the biblical gospel condemns those who judge themselves saved...if you judge yourself saved, you judge yourself righteous."
It is God, not ourselves, who declares us to be righteous by faith. We cannot possibly take credit for our own salvation if He is its author and finisher.
"Luke 18: The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. 9 He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else...if you say, "I am saved because of the righteousness of Christ which He has credited to me." Scripture doesn't say any such thing. If you are not truly righteous, God will condemn you. God does not acquit the wicked.
God has chosen to exercise His mercy rather than judge us for what we deserve. Man in his present condition is dead to sin. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. No one deserves His salvation. If we wish to be changed by the grace of God, then we must place our trust in the atonement of His Son Jesus Christ. It seems as though De Maria has turned the text of Luke 18:9-14 right on its head.
"That's another error passed on by Luther. God forgives sins."
God is perfect and holy. He is true to Himself. Yet, we have all sinned against Him. That is why His Law condemns us. This is not about Martin Luther or the other Protestant Reformers. In order for God to forgive us, we must accept the atonement that Christ provided on our behalf.
"Hebrews 5:9 and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him...Those who continue to live wicked lives will not be saved no matter how many times they claim to believe in God..."
Hebrews 5:9 describes God's purpose and intent in saving us. In addition, equating Sola Fide with the type of faith that demons have is a strawman off the bat.
"[It is strictly by God's grace that we are saved [De Maria quoting me]. No doubt [De Maria's reply]. not by our own efforts [De Maria quoting me]. Also true. But God will not pour out His grace on those who do not obey His will [De Maria's reply]."
The Roman Catholic Church has a different understanding of "grace alone" and "not by our own efforts" than what is defined in Scripture. Them two phrases have been loaded with underlying philosophical presuppositions that we ought to reject.
"Again, that [John 6:28-29] doesn't mean what you think it means. That doesn't say, "If you claim to believe in Jesus Christ, you will be saved. Scripture is clear that those who do not do the righteous works of God, will be condemned to eternal punishment."
The text being disputed does indeed mean that it is God's will for us to place our trust in His Son Jesus Christ and His work alone for justification. Those who fail to do so will be condemned to eternal punishment.
"And where do you get this Blood? We get it in the Holy Eucharist when we attend the Mass. You reject this Sacrament."
First of all, the term "Eucharist" literally means thanksgiving. Whether or not the concept of transubstantiation is biblical would be a point of dispute and is not the subject matter being discussed at hand. In short, this is simply a red herring.
There is much heated debate among professing Christians and their respective denominations regarding whether or not certain gifts of the Holy Spirit have come to an end. The brimming controversy centers around the specific areas of speaking in tongues, prophecy, and miraculous powers to heal. The question that has aroused much fascination is whether or not the ability to exercise these spiritual gifts was terminated by the end of the apostolic age. In fact, there are folks on both sides (cessationism vs continuationism) who uphold rather extreme positions. While there are people who accuse those who claim to speak in tongues as being demon possessed, there are others who argue that those who have never encountered such moments have not really been born again. But we need not be up in arms on this matter, for it is not an issue directly related to the gospel.
Nevertheless, both sides cannot be correct at the same time because that would constitute embracing a logical contradiction. Moreover, a study on the sufficiency of written revelation and purposes of the spiritual gifts in question should spell out quite plainly that they were meant to cease after the apostolic era.
First and foremost, the Scriptures reveal to us that they are to be the final, sufficient standard of spiritual authority for the Christian church. They are to serve as our guide in our walk with God. They are to function as the measuring stick in the process of discernment. Scripture contains the instructions necessary for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15). Scripture enables the one who serves God to be "adequate" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Note that Paul goes on to define that thought as, "equipped for every good work." Scripture was written to make our joy complete (1 John 1:4). Scripture gives us assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13). It addresses everything, at least in principle, that we need to know pertaining to faith and holiness. Our Lord Jesus Christ promised the twelve apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach them all things God intended to make known (John 14:26; 16:13). The faith has been delivered once for all to the saints (Jude 3). Therefore, there can be no new revelations. He has communicated all that we need to know concerning the will of God through written revelation. God has given us (in the past tense) everything pertaining to a life of godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4). Not everything is about the individual. We are not to rely on our emotions and personal experiences in discerning truth from error, but rather are to read Scripture with a humble and prayerful heart. The testimonial of the apostles and prophets is a part of the church's foundation (Ephesians 2:19-20), which logically suggests cessation.
Anything that contradicts the commandments of God should be rejected immediately at all costs. If a so-called revelatory experience confirms completely to the message of the Bible, then it becomes redundant. One should be adhering incessantly to the voice of Christ as proclaimed throughout its pages. Scripture is the only known, safe road map for traveling the route of Christianity. Once a person departs from the formal sufficiency of written revelation, multitudinous opportunities for propagating heresy arise, which is a springboard for another objection to continuationism. False Christs and teachers can arise that perform counterfeit miracles (Ezekiel 13:9; Matthew 24:24; Acts 20:28-30; 1 John 4:1-4). How then can we distinguish truth from error? What standard exists to judge the validity of wolves in sheep's clothing? Tongues were needed to preach the gospel in other languages. Prophets uttered prophecies to give us a fuller picture of God's plan of redemption. He has now spoken fully in His Son (Hebrews 1:1-3). People can now "prophecy" only in the sense of edifying other people in the faith. We have the more sure word of prophecy recorded in Scripture (2 Peter 1:16-21). The apostles originally worked miracles for the purpose of establishing the Christian church (2 Corinthians 12:12). Scripture speaks of the performance of miracles in the past tense (Hebrews 2:3-4).
Now, none of the materials presented within this article is meant to suggest that God does not work miracles or cannot work today. The Holy Spirit is still at work in our midst. God still intervenes with His creation. Spiritual gifts need not be communicated through human instruments today because they have fulfilled their designated purposes and we now possess Scripture. The objective of this paper is not to imply that all charismatic types are unsaved, but rather that that they have taken matters too far. In other words, continuationist beliefs are misguided. The grace of God is sufficient for all Christians. His strength is made perfect during the times of our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God uses times of suffering to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.
Following Are A Handful Of Excerpts From An Apologetics Pamphlet Published By Middletown (Connecticut) Bible Church:
"If faith in Christ itself is God’s gift, then how do I receive this faith? Instead of asking, “What must I do to be saved?”, I must now focus on the question “What must I do to believe?” If faith is God’s gift, then how do I get this gift? Do I pray to God and ask for the gift of faith? Do I sit back and do nothing and hope that I am one of the chosen ones who will be given this gift? How do I get the gift of saving faith? It is all confusing and it takes away from where the focus of the sinner ought to be, which is upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified." "Some might argue that “faith is the nearest antecedent: For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves.” It is certainly true that “faith is the nearest antecedent, but since there are a great number of cases in the New Testament where the nearest antecedent is not the correct one, we should be very careful before applying this “rule.” There are other far more important considerations.
Here is the correct rule that Greek grammar demands to be followed: PRONOUNS AGREE WITH THEIR ANTECEDENT IN GENDER AND NUMBER. THEIR CASE IS DETERMINED BY THEIR USE IN THEIR OWN CLAUSE. This rule argues forcefully against the identification of “faith” as the antecedent does not agree with the pronoun in gender. The pronoun “that” (verse 8) is NEUTER, and the word “faith” (verse 8) is FEMININE. IF Paul wanted his readers to understand the pronoun as referring to “faith,” then there is no reason why he could not have used the feminine form of the pronoun [here the author gives the Greek, but I don’t have that font]. This would have settled it. If Paul had used the feminine pronoun then it would be very clear and obvious that FAITH is the gift of God. Paul did not use the feminine pronoun. Why then did Paul used the neuter pronoun? What is the antecedent? If Paul had wanted to refer to the idea contained in the main verb (the idea of being SAVED), then it would have been perfectly normal and appropriate for him to use the neuter gender. It would have been very natural for Paul to say, “For by grace ARE YE SAVED through faith and this thing that I’m talking about, namely salvation, is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…” If Paul had wanted the pronoun to refer to the idea contained in the verb, the neuter form would be the one to use. We need to carefully think through Ephesians 2:8-9 in order to correctly identify the antecedent. We must ask, “What is Paul talking about in Ephesians 2:8-9? What is his main point?” It is obvious that Paul is talking about HOW A PERSON IS SAVED. The main idea of the sentence is found in the verb “ARE YE SAVED” [or “YE ARE SAVED”]. How is a person saved? Ephesians 2:8-9 answers this key question. Salvation is by grace. Salvation through faith. Salvation is not of yourselves. Salvation is the GIFT OF GOD.Salvation is not of works. Paul is not giving a dissertation on faith, but he is giving a brief dissertation on salvation. SALVATION is his main subject. Faith is mentioned because you cannot answer the question “HOW IS A PERSON SAVED?” without mentioning faith. A person is saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). God’s gracious gift of salvation must be personally received, and it is received by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." "The question the Philippian jailer asked was this: “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Some would answer in this way: “Nothing! You can’t do anything! You are dead and totally unable to respond to God until you are regenerated. You have no part is salvation. God must do it all. You cannot exercise saving faith.” This answer might harmonize with one’s theological system, but there is only one problem. This is not how Paul and Silas answered the question! Paul and Silas told the jailer that there was something that he could do and was responsible to do: “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ!” (Acts 16:31 and compare how Peter answered a similar question in Acts 13:37-38)."
-Roman Catholic apologist De Maria wrote an article response to a citation of a commentary written by Protestant Reformer Martin Luther on Galatians 4:30. This open letter serves as my confutation of this Catholic blogger's claims:
"To preface, my intention here is not to defend Martin Luther's every move; he made some good and bad decisions. I simply found an excerpt from his commentary on Galatians to be insightful. He never claimed that Christians should not be doing good works, but rather that our own sinfulness merits us condemnation before a holy and just God. The gospel is the power of God to save every man who believes (Romans 1:16). Following are a handful of quotes from St. Bernard (who was mentioned in Luther's comments) which can be found in this document by professor Else Marie Wiberg Pedersen:
“I too believe that man is saved through faith alone.” (says in the footnote of the research paper, "Ep 77, 8: ”credens et ipse sola fide hominem posse salvari.” Bernard formulates this clear statement in 1125 in the famous letter to Hugh of St. Victor, in which he explicates his view on the sacraments – a letter that was paradigmatic for Hugh’s later doctrine on the sacraments. Bernard explains that baptism is not in itself salvific. It has to be preceded and accompanied by the proclamation of the word of God (SBO VII, 184-200), a teaching that Hugh echoes and for which he, like Bernard, slides into oblivion of a church that prefers scholastic theology with a Thomistic bent. Bernard repeats his teaching in SC 66, which is directed toward a strong selection teaching along with a Donatist understanding of ministry by sectarian groupings in Germany in 1143-45. See esp. SC 66, 7-9 (SBO II, 182-184).)
“What is hidden about us in the heart of God will be revealed for us and his Spirit testifies and persuades our spirit that we are the children of God. But he convinces us of this by calling and justifying us by grace through faith.” (says in the footnote of the research paper, "My translation from In Dedicatione Ecclesiae V, 7 (SBO V, 393): “Quod de nobis latet in corde patris, nobis per ipsius Spiritum reveletur, et Spiritus eius testificans persuadeat spiritui nostro quod filii Dei sumus. Persuadeat autem vocando et iustificando gratis per fidem.” Humans cannot obtain it by their own merit.")
There is a fundamental difference between presumption and assurance of salvation. The first involves bragging and self-praise regarding one's alleged status with God, whereas the latter is knowledge regarding salvation upon humble acceptance of the gospel and submission to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. Consider, for example, texts such as John 5:24 and 1 John 5:13-15. We can indeed have great assurance of salvation. This is not a matter of acting presumptuously, but rather is simply trust in the promises of God. We can trust Him to keep His promises. Our works demonstrate the reality of our faith, which means that mere intellectual assent is not sufficient for justification before God. Faith must originate from the heart. Justification is by faith apart from the merit, not the presence, of good works (Romans 4:2-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5-7). Works are the product, not the cause, of our justification. They are certainly important. A faith that saves is one that obeys the commandments of God. Justification is by faith alone, but is never alone. It will always be accompanied with (or at least a desire to perform) good deeds.
What is even more, is that the Apostle Paul always excluded works within the context of how man gets right with God. His reasoning from that logical framework is that no man had the opportunity to boast. That was the simple, precious truth recognized by Luther. De Maria uttered this telling statement which in my opinion summarizes his entire article:
"It is Catholics who say, "I don't know if I'm saved. I've done my best, it is God who will judge me."
But how could we possibly live a life of joy and peace, if we are not able to have assurance of eternal life? Moreover, it is precisely this self-righteous, pompous attitude (which is ironic since De Maria claim to be humble) that is utterly incompatible with the biblical gospel. Those who want to merit the kingdom of heaven absolutely need to recognize the vital spiritual truth that God demands perfect obedience (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10-11; James 2:10-11), which is impossible since we have all sinned against Him. That is precisely why He sent His only begotten Son Jesus Christ into the world to make atonement for our sins.
It is strictly by God's grace that we are saved, not by our own efforts. Our "work" is believing on the One whom He has sent (John 6:27-29). He saves all who come to Him with a repentant heart through faith. It is only by the blood of Jesus that we are saved from God's wrath and eternal condemnation (Hebrews 10:10-14). Thus, Sola Fide gives all credit to God alone."
-Professing Christian groups such as the Seventh-Day Adventists and Hebrew Roots Movement maintain that the New Testament does not abolish the Mosaic distinction of eating clean meats verses eating unclean meats, which are discussed comprehensively in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. What needs to be understood, however, is that these dietary laws were strictly applicable to Israel. These food laws served as a means to make the Jews a different people from neighboring countries.
Notice especially the language found in Scripture passages discussing Jesus Christ's fulfillment of the Old Covenant such as Romans 10:4, Galatians 3:24-26, Ephesians 2:14-15, and Colossians 2:13-16. He very clearly terminated mandatory observance of Mosaic customs by His crucifixion at Calvary, which therefore eliminates any possibility of us being under compulsion of adhering to dietary regulations. Moreover, the Scripture is abundantly clear that our Lord Jesus Christ declared all foods, including meats, clean:
"because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man." (Mark 7:19-20)
The Scripture teaches that no man may deem unclean anything that God has declared to be clean:
"But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy. This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.” (Acts 10:10-16)
We have freedom in Christ to eat anything of our choosing:
"Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him." (Romans 14:1-3)
"I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died." (Romans 14:14-15)
"Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense." (Romans 14:20)
"The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin." (Romans 14:22-23)
"But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat." (1 Corinthians 8:8)
In fact, the New Testament labels doctrines such as mandating that others abstain from eating various meats as being signs of apostasy. Why? Because everything created by God is good and is to be received with thanksgiving:
"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
Moreover, those who wish to reinstate customs of the Old Testament are failing to recognize that they are in actuality threatening to undermine the biblical gospel. If we are going to adhere to dietary laws, then why not also revert to performing animal sacrifices, as well? After all, the Law demands perfect obedience (Deuteronomy 27:26; 32:45-47; Galatians 3:10-11), which is why it condemns us. The point being made here is that we are not under law, but under grace. The Mosaic covenant has been done away with by the one perfect sacrifice of Christ. Nowhere do any of the New Testament books warn us against eating certain kinds of food. We should be much more concerned with managing our appetites, for that is an indicator of how well we practice self-control.
"Rather than seeking to deaden, ignore, or elevate the importance of our emotions, we should allow them to speak to us about our hearts. Because God gave us the ability to experience emotions, we want to be very cautious about ignoring what they may be telling us. We want to carefully consider whether dampening the awareness of our feelings through the use of medication (or alcohol) is the best road for us to take to better health. Medicines or alcohol may make us feel better for a time, even if our "heart problem" is not addressed. For example, we know that morphine dulls the pain of a broken arm. It does not heal or reset the bone, and it does not fix the root cause of the pain. The same is true about medicines and emotional pain. In order to resolve such pain, we need to deal not with the symptoms, but the root cause of the pain."
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Laura Hendrickson, M.D., "Will Medicine Stop the Pain?," p. 32
"And now they themselves do not defend their wicked life; nay, rather, they which are the best and the soundest of them all, do detest it; but they fight for the maintenance and defense of the doctrine of devils, for hypocrisy, and for the righteousness of works. Here they allege the authority of councils and the examples of holy fathers, whom they affirm to have been the authors of their holy orders and statutes. Therefore, we fight not against the manifest wickedness and abominations of the papacy, but against the greatest holiness and holiest saints thereof, which think they lead an angelic life, whilst they dream that they keep not only the commandments of God, but also the counsels of Christ, and do works of supererogation, and such as they are not bound to do. This, we say, is to labour in vain, except they take hold of that only and alone, which Christ saith is only necessary, and choose the good part with Mary, which shall not be taken from them.
This did Bernard, a man so godly, so holy, and so chaste, that he is to be commended and preferred above them all. He being once grievously sick, and having no hope of life, put not his trust in his single life, wherein he had lived most chastely; not in his good works and deeds of charity, whereof he had done many; but removed them far out of his sight, and, receiving the benefit of Christ by faith, he said: "I have lived wickedly. But thou, Lord Jesus Christ, by double right dost possess the kingdom of heaven: first, because thou art the Son of God; secondly, because thou hast purchased it by thy death and passion. The first thou keepest for thyself, by thy birth-right. The second thou givest to me, not by the right of my works, but by the right of grace." He set not against the wrath of God his monkery, nor his angelic life; but he took hold of that one thing which was necessary, and so was saved. I think that Hierome, Gregory, and many other of the fathers, were saved after the same sort. And it is not to be doubted but that also, in the Old Testament, many kings of Israel and other idolaters were saved in like manner, who, at the hour of death, casting away their vain trust which they had in idols, took hold of the promise of God, which was made unto the seed of Abraham, that is to say, Christ, in whom all nations should be blessed. And if there be any of the papists which shall be saved, they must simply lean not to their own good deeds and deserts, but to the mercy of God offered unto us in Christ, and say with Paul: "I have not mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is by faith in Christ," (Phil. iii. 9.)"
"Politically correct media and school textbooks give the impression that slavery has primarily been a sin committed by white people who enslaved blacks. The fact that only about 25 percent of the Americans in the South had slaves before the Civil War is commonly not mentioned, nor is the fact that (according to the United States census of 1830), for example, 407 black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, alone owned black slaves."
Alvin J. Schmidt, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization, p. 273
We know from Scripture that it is impossible for genuine Christians to be possessed by demons because they are owned by God (1 Corinthians 7:23). He has redeemed us with the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28).
The God who indwells Himself in us is greater than the things of this world (1 John 4:4). The Holy Spirit has no fellowship with demons, and therefore cannot be present in the body of a person who is possessed by them (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
The only types of people that we see as being possessed by demons in Scripture are those who do not believe. The epistles record no examples of or instructions as to how to even cast evil spirits out of Christians.
An Excerpt From John Gill's Exposition Of The Entire Bible:
-"which he hath purchased with his own blood; which being the blood not only of a pure and innocent man, but of one that is truly and properly God as well as man, was a sufficient ransom price to redeem the church and people of God from sin, the law, its curse and condemnation: so that this is no inconsiderable proof of the true and proper deity of Christ; and contains a fresh argument, or reason, why the flock of God and "church of Christ", as the Syriac version reads; or "the church of the Lord and God", as in five of Beza's exemplars: or "of the Lord God", as the Arabic version, should be taken heed unto and fed; because it must needs be dear to God and Christ, and precious to them, since so great a price has been paid for it. The purchaser is God, Christ who is God over all, blessed for ever, not a creature; that could never have made such a purchase, it could not have purchased a single sheep or lamb in this flock, no man can redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him, much less the whole flock; but Christ being God, was able to make such a purchase, and he has actually made it, and given a sufficient price for it..."
An Excerpt From Matthew Poole's Commentary:
-"With his own blood; the blood of Christ, called truly the blood of God, there being in Christ two natures in one person, and a communion of the properties of each nature. If Christ had not been man, he could have had no blood to shed: had he not been God, the blood which he shed could not have been a sufficient price of redemption. Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, who found out such a ransom; and the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the love of Christ, who paid this ransom for us! Romans 11:33 Ephesians 3:18,19."
An Excerpt From Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:
-"It is the church He has purchased with his own blood. The blood was his as Man; yet so close is the union between the Divine and human nature, that it is there called the blood of God, for it was the blood of Him who is God. This put such dignity and worth into it, as to ransom believers from all evil, and purchase all good. Paul spake about their souls with affection and concern. They were full of care what would become of them. Paul directs them to look up to God with faith, and commends them to the word of God's grace, not only as the foundation of their hope and the fountain of their joy, but as the rule of their walking."
Additional Insights From Robertson’s Word Pictures Of The New Testament On The Text Of Acts 20:28:
-"… The church of God (thn ekklhsian tou qeou). The correct text, not "the church of the Lord" or "the church of the Lord and God" (Robertson, Introduction to Textual Criticism of the N.T., p. 189). He purchased (periepoihsato). First aorist middle of peripoiew, old verb to reserve, to preserve (for or by oneself, in the middle). In the N.T. only in Luke John 17:33; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:13. The substantive peripoihsin (preservation, possession) occurs in 1 Peter 2:9 ("a peculiar people" = a people for a possession) and in Ephesians 1:14. With his own blood (dia tou aimatoß tou idiou). Through the agency of (dia) his own blood. Whose blood? If tou qeou (Aleph B Vulg.) is correct, as it is, then Jesus is here called "God" who shed his own blood for the flock. It will not do to say that Paul did not call Jesus God, for we have Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13 where he does that very thing, besides Colossians 1:15-20; Philippians 2:5-11."