All Roads lead to Rome

 

There is little doubt that things are moving quickly.  At one time Rome persecuted true believers using torture and even the stake.  Many dear saints perished in the Spanish Inquisition – and even now this is celebrated in some parades.  Manuel, a friend of my father, as a young man during the Spanish civil war, was shown a coffin by a priest and told, ‘That is where you are going!’  He fled.  Rome’s heart hasn’t changed.

Its tactics have changed though.  Protestants are being lured back – ‘ there isn’t much difference really’.  Indeed many are pleased that the Catholic church takes a firm line on abortion, gay rights and promotes moral rectitude, despite the fact that many priests have fallen miserably.

A few weeks ago I came across this video on You Tube Ecumenism: Spiritual Whoredom – a bit frightening.  It might have overplayed things, critical of some who have served the Lord.  But whoever they are, none are immune from the charms of the harlot.

Sosthenes

April 2014

The Supper and Roman Catholic Mass

The church of Rome says that the Lord’s supper (or rather the mass, as they call it) is the same sacrifice as that which was accomplished upon the cross. But when the Lord said, ‘This is my body … do this in remembrance of me’ (See (Matt 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, 1 Cor 11:24) He was not yet upon the cross. His blood was not yet shed

God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The blood of Christ is ever before the eye of God.  He never fogets it.   If God does not ever forget the blood of Christ shed once for ever, He does not wish us to forget it.  The Lord Jesus in His boundless grace wishes us to think of Him, to remember Him.  Precious manifestation of love for us, that the Saviour should delight in our remembrance of Him, and that He has left us a touching memorial of Himself and His love.  Jesus wishes us to think of Him, because He loves us!   In the supper we shew forth His death till He comes.

It is important to remark that there is no sacrifice in the present time, and that the Lord is not personally present in the bread and wine.  The church of Rome says that the Lord’s supper (or rather the mass, as they call it) is the same sacrifice as that which was accomplished upon the cross. But when the Lord said, ‘This is my body … do this in remembrance of me’ (See Matt 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, 1 Cor 11:24) He was not yet upon the cross. His blood was not yet shed, and when He broke the bread He did not hold Himself in His hands.  There is no such thing now as a crucified Christ: He is seated at God’s right hand, and there is no shedding of blood now. It is a blessed fact that there is a sign, a commemoration of this, but that it should be so really and substantially is impossible – there is no such thing as a dead Christ now.

We shew forth in the supper His death and His blood shed for us: but a glorified Christ cannot be a sacrifice; cannot come down from heaven to die; and if the bread be changed into His body, and there be a soul in it, it must be another soul; this is absurd. They say that the Godhead is everywhere, and that the substance of the body is there; but the soul is individual: this lives, feels, loves, is a single individual soul. According to the Roman Catholic teaching, the soul of the Lord Jesus leaves heaven; but it cannot be the same soul, and if it is another, it is absurd. The Lord says in Luke 22:20, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’: — that is, it represents the blood — for the cup itself is not the new covenant.  Thus the bread presents to us in the most striking way the body of the Lord crucified upon the cross, and the wine His blood shed for us.

From JND Collected Writings Volume 24 (Expository 3) p317-319 on Mark  14

Peter and the Keys

Peter is often portrayed as having the keys to heaven. He had the keys to the kingdom

Peter is often portrayed as having the keys to heaven.

He had the keys to the kingdom.  He used

  1. The first in Acts 2 when 3000 Jews believed on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came.
  2. The second was in Acts 10 when the Gentile Cornelius, his household and friends believed.

The door is now open.
When looking at the building of church,  J N Darby noted, ‘There are no keys for the Church. One does not build with keys. The keys are for the kingdom’  Collected Writings Vol 14 (Ecclesiatical 3), p80

Sosthenes

June 2017

 

Confusion as to the Church – – The House and the Body

People confuse what Christ builds with what man builds, physically and metaphorically. Christ said to Peter in Matthew 16:18 that He would build the Church and that the gates of hell (Satan’s deadly power) would not prevail against it. Resurrection was the proof of that. Peter’s confession, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (v. 16), was the rock on which Christ would build his church. Peter was the first stone in importance, but he was not the builder.

 

Based J. N. Darby: The Church – the House and the Body – Collected Writings Volume 14 (Ecclesiastical 3) p 91

 

JohnNelsonDarbyThe word ‘church’ means different things to different people:

  1. The Established Church (in Britain the Church of England)
  2. Those who are enrolled members by baptism etc.
  3. The buildings
  4. What is being built spiritually
  5. The clergy
  6. The congregation
  7. Christendom in general
  8. The body of Christ here
  9. What the Lord will present to Himself without spot or blemish

 

Baptism and the Church

No 2, above (enrolled members), is at the base of Romanism and much of Protestantism.  A person becomes a Christian by being baptised into the church, whether as an adult or a young child.  It is taught that one is saved because one is a member of the church, not that one is a member of the church because one is saved.   Immediately after Pentecost, of course, everybody in the church were true believers.  But soon the likes of Simon Magus got in, and introduced formality and other Jewish sacraments.  They may have been baptised and enjoyed the privileges of the church.  But they did not have eternal life, and were not members of the body of Christ.  As described in the epistle of Jude, they were ‘ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Jude v 4).

To say we are members of Christ by baptism is a falsification of the truth of God.   Alas, many of the early Church fathers, such Justin Martyr, Origen, Clement and later Augustine, espoused this heresy.  They may have been clear as to the Person and divinity of Christ, but they regarded the outward body as the Church, and its privileges was attributed to all who were baptised.  This has continued.  The (Anglican) Book of Common Prayer says ‘baptism wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven’.

Much of this confusion comes about by taking what the Lord said literally when in fact He was talking figuratively.  He could say, ‘I am the true vine’ (John 15:1), ‘I am the door’ (John 10:7), etc.  He is not a vine nor a door.  The outward act is confused with true life from God.  Life and membership of Christ are by the Holy Spirit.  We are born of the Spirit, and by one Spirit baptised into one body (see 1 Cor 12:13).

Man fell and was driven away from God.  If there is to be a remedy, there must be new birth.   We are born of God and receive the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.   As we become conscious of the sinfulness of the flesh, and say ‘O wretched man that I am!’ (Rom 7:24),   we need a change of place, position or standing – reconciled to God.  Baptism is that change of place.

We are baptised to His death, buried with Him unto death.  Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, therefore we are alive, risen and quickened together with Him.  Death has totally taken us out of our old place; we have died out of it, as Christ died out of the world  we are alive with Him –   walking in newness of life (see Romans 8).

The Lord’s Supper

There were many sacraments in Judaism.  Some have been carried over into the public church, whereas only two are scriptural.  We have looked at baptism.  The other scriptural sacrament, the supper, demonstrates the unity of the body.  The Lord’s supper is received in common – the assembly or Church participate.  Hence we have (Eph. 4:4-5), ‘one Spirit, one body, one hope of your calling’ (belonging to the Spirit and spiritual persons, and), ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (the outward profession of faith and the recognition of Christ as Lord).  Again there is a misinterpretation here: partaking of the Lord’s supper involves eating Christ’s flesh and drinking Christ’s blood.  The true meaning of that is lost.  (I hope to address this in a later article – see Address to his Roman Catholic brethren by a minister of the Gospel. and Second Address to his Roman Catholic brethren).

 

What is being Built

See Nos 3 & 4, above.   People confuse what Christ builds with what man builds, physically and metaphorically.   Christ said to Peter in Matthew 16:18 that He would build the Church and that the gates of hell (Satan’s deadly power) would not prevail against it.  Resurrection was the proof of that.  Peter’s confession, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’  (v. 16), was the rock on which Christ would build his church.  Peter was the first stone in importance, but he was not the builder.  In his epistle Peter addresses other stones coming to Jesus, ‘To whom coming, a living stone disallowed indeed of men but chosen of God and precious, ye also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 2:4).  They come by faith and are built up.  There are no human rules or ordinances; there is no literal building, only faith.  Man’s building has no part in this.  And nothing prevails against it.

Paul amplifies this, developing the doctrine of the Church as the body of Christ.   But Paul does not build either.   He says, ‘Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord’ (Eph 2:21-22).  Only in Corinthians, where it is a matter of responsibility, does he write about our building.   ‘Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon’ (1 Cor 3:10).  Wood, hay and stubble are not compatible with gold, silver and precious stones.  Man’s work will be burned up; Christ’s work never will.

Puseyism, the high church movement, does not distinguish between the perfect building which Christ builds, where living stones grow to a holy temple in the Lord, and what man has built and continues to build.  The professing church may have a good foundation, but its superstructure is questionable.  It has been built of wood and stubble, which will be burned up in the day of judgment.  Those who corrupt the temple of God dishonour Him by assuming that what they build has His seal of approval – in effect that God sanctions evil – what wickedness!   That is why Paul writes, ‘If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (1 Cor 3:17).

Paul tells us in 2 Tim 2 what our path should be.  But that is another subject[*].   May we distinguish between those admitted by baptism and the body, and between the Church which Christ builds, and the sham that man builds.   All man has put his hand to has failed.  But God has put His hand in first, by the Man who never fails.

 

 

[*] See:

Simplified Darby – Separation from Evil and Christian Unity – Separation from Evil, God’s Principle of Unity

Knowing where we are, and what God wants us to do, in the Confused State of Christendom – The Faith once delivered to the Saints

Romanism and True Faith

True faith is believing God, because he has said it. Faith in God believes in His word without any other authority than His word itself. If you require the church’s sanction of the word, you do not have faith in God. Anything else is human superstition.

To my dear Roman Catholic Brethren

I admire the devotion of many simple souls in the Roman Catholic church. Your sacrificial generosity is evident from buildings which, I am sure you have in good faith dedicated to the glory of God.  You also hold some correct doctrine:  the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, Christ’s atonement for sin – and more.romanism

But I am sorry for you. The teaching of your church leaves you with uncertainties, the prospect of purgatory, and a dependence on God’s word being set aside by unscriptural practices. Indeed, Christ’s true church of which you individually are members, if you have faith in the perfect work of Christ on the cross does not teach – it testifies and worships.

I have produced the following based on a paper by J N Darby entitled Superstition is not Faith; or, The True Character of Romanism. Though written in the 19th Century it is applicable to the 21st.

Forgive my using the word ‘superstition’. Darby uses it. It may have changed its meaning over the years but I am sure you will understand its use over against that of God given ‘faith’.

May you, after prayerful consideration of this, realise that your sins were born by Jesus on the cross. Your standing before Him is secure. No mass is needed, no confession to the priest, no extreme unction and certainly no purgatory is necessary for you to enjoy Christian blessings NOW. And who more tender to speak to directly than your Lord and Saviour, Jesus?

Sosthenes

May 2015

 

What do we mean by ‘Superstition’?

Superstition is the unwarranted religious subjection of the mind of man.

This may be:

  1. Man’s rational thinking
  2. Something of man’s own imagination;
  3. A real, evil and malignant satanic influence
  4. Something or some one good, but the object of worship.

There is no warrant for such worship in scripture. Faith, on the contrary, is the reception and belief of God’s testimony to the soul.

Superstitious reverence includes:

  1. Animals (the Egyptians)
  2. The earth, sun, moon, planets and stars
  3. Mythology (fauns, satyrs etc – the Greeks)
  4. Serpent (evil power) worship (Africa, American Indian)
  5. Saints and angels.

Even John nearly fell for the latter when he fell down to worship at the feet of the angel. Paul speaks of ‘a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels’ (Col 2:18).

Superstitious reverence acknowledges God, even if it does not know Him. Because it gets between the soul and God, God is hidden and usurped. It is often called faith, but really it is the opposite. Faith brings us into God’s presence – we receive God’s authoritative testimony. Faith is the revelation of a loving God, who has revealed Himself in Christ our Saviour. God gave His own Son who, on the cross, purged our sins, thus freeing us from guilty consciences, and giving us peace and reconciliation with God, so we can walk in newness of life. Hence faith is exactly opposite to superstition.

Superstition hides the true God, giving false notions of Him, attaching the authority of His name to moral degradation. Human conscience revolts against this, as it is contrary to what even an unbeliver would consider God to be. Superstition would tend to exalt man above his own religion, producing infidelity and even atheism (if such a thing exists which Darby doubted). The human will is always atheistical, for it is not subject to God’s will, and will seek to reason against the existence of whatever it does not like. But God has given man a conscience, which the will can never get over. As a result people use religion – that which bears God’s name, as an excuse for throwing off God’s authority.

 

What is Faith?

Faith must be founded exclusively on the testimony of God, otherwise it is not God who is believed. I must believe when God Himself has spoken, or I do not believe God at all. John says, ‘He that received his [the Lord’s] testimony hath set to his seal that God is true’ (John 3:33). Had God’s testimony been founded solely on the miracles, it would have been without value, since man is unchanged. ‘Many believed in him when they saw the miracles which he did; but Jesus did not commit himself to them, for he knew what was in man’ (John 2:23).

Having received the testimony of the God of love we know the Saviour, are reconciled, and have peace and communion with Him. We know the Father, through the Son, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and we approach God without fear, however poor and guilty we may be. Such is the Christian’s portion.

God has reconciled us to Himself, and we freely enjoy His perfect and gracious love, even in our weakness. Because we are reconciled, we have a direct relationship with God, so anything that is put in the way militates against the entire, perfect putting away of sin by the blessed Saviour. It is a human invention and a denial of Christianity. There is one Mediator between us sinners and God – Christ. Anything else is infidelity.

 

Why Rome is not based on Faith

Now we will see that the Roman system is not founded on faith. Romanism is in doctrine and practice, really infidel, though of course it would claim otherwise. A sincere person may believe that the liturgical worship of God is right and conform to religious habits. This is not faith. Alternatively, a poor ignorant, but pious, soul might even believe the in system, but be almost overwhelmed by its errors.

Between the Romanist and the Evangelical Christian is vast system of apostate error. Two questions are at issue:

  1. Are the doctrines that Rome teaches true?
  2. How can any one be sure of the authority of what is taught?

We shall see that the teaching is false and without authority. For example:

 

Roman Catholic Teaching The Truth
An unbloody sacrifice (the Mass) is efficacious for the remission of sins The blood of Jesus Christ his [God’s] Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Purgatory is needed to complete our cleansing (except for some special cases) We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb 10:10).
The Mass is an offering for the sins of the living and the dead. By one offering Christ has perfected for ever those that are sanctified. (Heb. 10:14.)
The saints and the Virgin Mary are more accessible and tender-hearted than Jesus We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15)

 

 

The Mass

Christ suffered and shed His blood. His perfect offering was so efficacious, that it never needed to be repeated – He did it only ONCE. The Roman Catholic Mass pretends to offer this sacrifice again and again, therefore denying the efficacy of Christ’s offering of Himself on the cross. God’s word declares that there is no more offering for sin (see Heb 10:18). Furthermore, as the Mass is an unbloody sacrifice, which Rome maintains to be efficacious for the remission of sins. However, scripture says that ‘without shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Heb. 9:22). Consequently the Catholic doctrine contradicts scripture.

 

Purgatory

Now another false doctrine, that of of purgatory, teaches that the blood of Jesus does not purge me completely, even though I have accepted the gospel, and have lived a good religious life. I must suffer in some fire in order to be fit for God’s presence. Even if I have confessed to a priest, received absolution, the last rites and extreme unction (which is supposed to wipe away the remains of sin), and have had masses said for the repose of my soul, I still need to go through purgatory and pay the last farthing. As a result I retain a guilty conscience down here, and sadly the church maintains its power over me.

But scripture says ‘He has by HIMSELF purged our sins’ (Heb 1:3). The doctrine of purgatory is infidelity as to the efficacy of Christ’s blood and God’s word. The blood of Christ has cleansed the true Christian from all sin, so that we might have peace in our souls through His Name.

 

Jesus, the Mediator

The scripture declares there is one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. It teaches us that a divine and gracious person, the Son — one with the Father, who is God over all, blessed for evermore — came down so low in grace, that even the poorest and vilest sinner could find free access to Him. Such grace and tenderness, was in Jesus. Now to us He a merciful High Priest, bearing our infirmities, and sympathising with our sorrows, entering into them as none other could, with a heart such as none other had (Darby’s words) (See Heb 2:17).   He was without sin, so we can come boldly to a throne of grace as He intercedes for us.

 

Mary

But how does this tally with the doctrine of Mary? Can I not go to Jesus directly and count upon His tenderness? Is He too high and far off?   Has Mary a tenderer heart as being a woman, must I go to Him either through her or the saints? Did Mary, however blessed, come down from heaven to seek me in my sorrow and in my misery? Or has Christ changed, and become hard-hearted, since He ascended up on high? No; the doctrine of many mediators, including the Virgin Mary, is infidelity as to the grace of Christ. It denies His glory as a compassionate High Priest.  I trust His kindness more than that of all the Marys and all the saints, however blessed they might be. (Darby’s words)

 

The Word of God

These are just a few examples of the way in which Rome, on the authority of what is called the church, undermines the truth, taking away all the value of the precious truth of the gospel. It calls you to believe things that are not in scripture, and, in doing so, makes you disbelieve the truth of God. However, because Rome does not deny the expiation for sin made at the cross – or the Trinity , – or the incarnation, or the divinity of Christ, one would not suspect it of infidelity. But because it has denied the actual value and application of these wonderful truths, it has destroyed the them, and taken away the way of peace to the sinner’s soul.

But another point: everything in the above discussion has been based on the premise that the true believer accepts the authority of the inspired word of God. But Rome does not agree. It tells me that I cannot know the Bible, or the word of God, without the authority of the church. If God has written a book, and addressed it to men in general or to those called Christians, He has put them under the responsibility of receiving and submitting the authority of His word. If the teachings of Rome were right, no ordinary Christian could know that it is the word of God, and receive it as such. He must either deny it to be God’s revealed word, or assert that it is not binding on those to whom it is addressed. Otherwise God would have failed in His word: What blasphemous infidelity!

What kind of church it can be that makes itself more competent, and its authority more obligatory, than that God Himself?  If I need the church’s authority in order to believe the word, I do not believe God at all. I am not to judge God’s word: it judge me. The Lord said, ‘The words that I have spoken unto you, the same shall judge you in that day’ (John 12:48). Whether it is the church, the pope, or a general church council, it is something besides the word, without which God’s own word is not binding on the conscience. This is high treason against God and His truth.

 

Accepting God’s Testimony

If Paul wrote an inspired epistle to a certain church, say to Corinth, the Christians there were bound to receive it as God’s word. The church has to receive the apostle’s letter, not pronounce on it. If God gives a testimony of Himself, the church is bound to believe it. If not, it is despises the testimony of God. Woe to it if it refuses the testimony; woe to me if I do too.

Even in creation, God has given a testimony. Man is guilty if he does not see God in it. There may be many things that he cannot explain; but the testimony is sufficient to condemn those who do not believe in God the Creator.

So when the blessed Lord appeared, many infidel hearts refused to accept who He was. But He said, ‘If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins’ (John 8:24). John said that by not believing we make God a liar, and are therefore guilty of infidelity (See 1 John 1:10). So in the word God has given a testimony, and man is bound to believe it. Difficulties may be raised by infidel minds; but God’s testimony is adequate to bind men and women to believe it, and for it to govern the conscience.

True faith is believing God, because he has said it. Faith in God believes in His word without any other authority than His word itself. If you require the church’s sanction of the word, you do not have faith in God. Anything else is human superstition.

Romanism is infidelity as to the most precious and fundamental truths of Christianity: it is infidelity as to the authority of God’s own word.

 

Based on Superstition is not Faith; or, The True Character of Romanism. By John Nelson Darby (1800-82).

 

A summary by Sosthenes.

 

The original is published in Collected Writings of John Nelson Darby Volume 17 (Doctrinal 4). Kingston Bible Trust, Lancing, England. Downloadable from Stem Publishing.

For some further reading I recommend J N Darby’s Familiar Conversations on Romanism:

 

Familiar Conversations on Romanism

J. N. Darby.

Conversation  1 Faith is in God and His Word, not in the Church
Conversation  2 The Forgiveness of Sins: Purgatory 1
Conversation  3 The Forgiveness of Sins: Purgatory 2
Conversation  4 The Word of God and the Church 1
Conversation  5 The Word of God and the Church 2
Conversation  6 The Word of God and the Church 3
Conversation  7 Infallibility
Conversation  8 Infallibility
Conversation  9 Holiness
Conversation 10 Apostolicity and Succession 1
Conversation 11 Apostolicity and Succession 2
Conversation 12 Apostolicity and Succession 3
Conversation 13 Apostolicity and Succession 4
Conversation 14 The Mass
Conversation 15 Transubstantiation 1
Conversation 16 Transubstantiation 2