This blog and Jesus

Well, my beautiful wife is working on this New Year’s Eve and I have the day off and themht house to myself so I guess I can sit back and ruminate on the outgoing year and this blog.

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I love to read and I’ve written many book reviews at Amazon.com. Last year a friend accidently stumbled upon my reviews and, without referencing them, circuitously suggested I start a blog. So, after thinking about it for a long time, excatholic4christ was born this past July.

I’m sooooooooo grateful the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I have no plea before a just and Holy God other than the imputed righteousness of my perfect Savior, Jesus Christ.

I created this blog to reach out to Catholics with the Good News! of Jesus. Catholics believe in salvation by sacramental grace and by “cooperating with grace” and perfectly obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules in order to merit Heaven.

The overwhelming attitude in religious circles these days is to push aside doctrine and embrace everyone who names Christ as a Christian. But one cannot claim Christ as Savior and then try to merit their own salvation. Does not compute. A person is either relying on Jesus Christ ALONE for their salvation (God gave us the thief on the cross as the perfect example) or they are relying on their own abilities to obey the Law (impossible!). It’s one or the other. It can’t be both.

I realize it’s not popular to defend the Gospel of grace these days. It’s so much easier to just embrace everyone who names Christ because “they love Jesus, too.” I don’t get a lot of “likes” for my posts, which is understandable given how “inclusiveness” and “plurality” are the gods of this day.

Many Catholics have submitted comments. Some of the comments I post, some I don’t, depending on the leading of the Holy Spirit. I initially debated with many who submitted comments but I’m now much less inclined to do so. I’d rather use my time and energy just getting the Word out.

My critics have had some valid points. Sometimes I’ve posted in anger. Sometimes I’ve posted in frustration. Jesus always taught using the truth of God’s Word in conjunction with His love for all. I have not always mirrored Christ’s love and I apologize for that.

I attended eight years of Catholic grammar school and four years of Catholic high school and was thoroughly indoctrinated into the religion. It’s hard for me to admit, but I’m grateful to the nuns and priests for teaching me some basic truths about God. Catholics correctly teach that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to this world to die for our sins and was resurrected from the grave, conquering sin and death. Where the Catholic church stumbles is HOW to appropriate the gift of salvation. Catholics are taught they must ultimately earn their salvation while Christians just accept Christ by faith like the repentant thief on the cross and the repentant tax collector in Luke 18:9-14, acknowledging they have absolutely no plea of their own.

My posts won’t win this blog any popularity contests but I pray at least one person has been blessed by it. The Holy Spirit used God’s Word and MANY people and MANY circumstances over MANY years to show me my need for Christ.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. I don’t deserve your salvation or your abundant blessings!

I hope all of you have a blessed new year and that Jesus Christ will be glorified in your life as your Savior and Lord!

Tom

 

 

Pilgrimage from Rome: The True Story of a Roman Catholic Priest’s Search for the Truth

Pilgrimage from Rome: The True Story of a Roman Catholic Priest’s Search for thePFR Truth
By Bartholomew F. Brewer
Bob Jones University Press, 1982, 164 pages

The years tend to blend together at this stage of my life but I left Catholicism around 1980 or 1981 and I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in 1983. Very shortly after my conversion I discovered the Mission to Catholics ministry led by ex-Carmelite priest, Bart Brewer.

Mission to Catholics was the type of “old-school” ministry that’s becoming increasingly hard to find these days.  Bart and his wife traveled the country speaking in churches and debating Catholic apologists. He offered a very large assortment of tracts, pamphlets, and books dealing with Catholicism. In my early years as a Christian I was very grateful to have a resource like Mission to Catholics available.

In “Pilgrimage from Rome,” Bart gives an informative and heartfelt account of why he left Roman Catholicism. Bart was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1953 but began to struggle with the doctrines of the church in comparison to what he read in the Bible. He left the church in 1963 and eventually received Jesus Christ as his Savior. Bart founded Mission to Catholics in 1973 and faithfully delivered God’s Good News to Roman Catholics until he went home to be with the Lord in 2005.

Used copies of Pilgrimage from Rome are available from Amazon.com here.

The Mission to Catholics website has not been updated since 2006 but it’s still a very good resource. See here.

There are several videos of Bart Brewer on You Tube. See here.

See my list of over 280 books comparing Catholicism to God’s Word on my Book tab here.

 

Leaving Catholicism for Christ “way down under”

Stepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their StoriesSOF
Edited by Mark Gilbert
Matthias Media, 2012, 124 pages

This is a short, very readable collection of testimonies from eleven people who left Roman Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

There’s not a lot of heavy-duty theology here. Most of the folks tell a similar, short tale of growing up within legalistic, cultural Catholicism, being invited to a Bible study and noticing the differences between God’s Word and their religion, and responding to the Gospel.

All of the contributors noted that Catholicism teaches salvation by sacramental grace and perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments and church law, which left them exasperated. Through God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit they came to understand the GOOD NEWS! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone and accepted Jesus as their Savior.

Gilbert and the ten other writers are Australians so there’s an interesting “down under” twist to the stories. Also, most of the writers heard the Gospel for the first time in Bible studies sponsored by the Anglican church in Australia. Gilbert is an Anglican minister. I had assumed the Anglican/Episcopal church was largely dead but evidently there are pockets where the Gospel is still given out and received. Surprise! These eleven Anglicans are more zealous in their defense of the Gospel of grace than a few Baptists I know.

Below are a couple of other books from Matthias Media dealing with Roman Catholicism:

  • The Road Once Travelled: Fresh Thoughts on Catholicism (2010) by Mark Gilbert
  • Nothing In My Hand I Bring: Understanding the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs (2007) by Ray Gallea

See their online catalog here.

In my Books tab I’ve compiled a list of over 280 books which compare Roman Catholicism to God’s Word. See here.

 

 

Mary in the window?

Catholics in Marietta, Georgia are flocking to Transfiguration Catholic Church to see one ofMarymg the church’s windows which has developed a case of glass fog that vaguely resembles popular images of Mary.

Is the image formed by the window fog a supernatural phenomenon or is it all merely coincidence?

Mary is barely mentioned in the New Testament or in the writings of the early church. How then did she ascend to the positions of Advocate, Mediatrix, and co-Redemptrix within Catholicism? Historian Geoffrey Ashe examines the connection of Mariolatry to pagan mother goddess worship in his book, “The Virgin: Mary’s Cult and the Re-emergence of the Goddess.”

http://www.amazon.com/The-Virgin-Marys-Re-emergence-Goddess/dp/0750950641

I accepted Jesus as my Savior many years ago. He’s my Rock, my Redeemer, my Mediator, my Advocate, my Lord, my King, my Light, my Shepherd, my Deliverer, my Life, etc. I don’t need another. I don’t want another. THERE IS NO OTHER! Nowhere in the New Testament is there even the slightest trace of veneration and worship given to Mary that we see in Catholicism. In fact, Jesus gives the believer specific instructions NOT to single out Mary for special devotion: Luke 11:27-28 and Matthew 12:46-50.

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” – Luke 4:8

“I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.” – Isaiah 42:8

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and leave man-made traditions behind.

************************************

Marietta churchgoers see likeness of Virgin Mary in window

December 23, 2015

http://www.wtoc.com/story/30816416/foggy-silhouette-draws-dozens-to-marietta-church

Pope Francis once again assures atheists they’re going to heaven if they’re “good”

In the article below, pope Francis once again reaffirms the current teaching of the CatholicPFA church that EVEN ATHEISTS will be able to merit heaven if they “obey their conscience.”

Yet, every truly HONEST person will agree that they certainly don’t obey their conscience. We know we should be satisfied with what we have but we’re constantly jealous of those who have more. We know we should love everyone but we become instantly enraged at the person who carelessly cut us off on the expressway. We know we should be satisfied with our spouse but we persistently desire to be sexually intimate with others. The list goes on and on and on.

Unlike the pope, God’s Word recognizes our true reality and states there are NONE who are righteous. There isn’t one atheist who follows their conscience and there isn’t one religious person who obeys God’s laws. But God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus the Christ, the ONLY person who ever lived a perfect life, to die in our place for our sins. Then Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and offers fellowship with God and eternal life to all those who accept Him by faith as their Savior.

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away,
they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,
not even one.” – Romans 3:11-12

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3:23-24.

If everyone could earn their way to heaven by being “good” Jesus wouldn’t have had to come and die for our sins. Millions upon millions of people celebrated Christmas yesterday, the birth of Jesus Christ the Savior, but the VAST majority – atheists and religious – would say, “Hey, I don’t need to be saved. I’m a pretty good person.”

Pope Francis is wrong. He’s teaching the pernicious lie told from the very beginning that sinful man can earn his own way to heaven, utopia, nirvana, etc.

You celebrated Jesus’ birth yesterday. Now acknowledge that He came into this world to die for YOUR sins and accept Him as YOUR Savior.

http://www.gotquestions.org/sinners-prayer.html

Doctrine-light Evangelicals who embrace the pope and Catholics as “brothers in Christ” need to reevaluate their thinking in light of this “good atheists are going to heaven, too” philosophy.

***************************************

Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven

December 26, 2015

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Pope-Francis-assures-atheists-You-dont-have-to-believe-in-God-to-go-to-heaven/articleshow/50330694.cms

What about church membership?

I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused ChristianIW

By Thom S. Rainer

B&H Publishing, 2015, 112 pages

The Lord commands born-again believers to assemble together to worship Him and serve Him by serving the brethren.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

After my wife and I accepted the Lord we started off at an independent fundamental Baptist church that was way too judgmental and way too focused on political/cultural battles, a la Jerry Falwell. After 8 years of that stuff I was so soured on church I never wanted to go back again. After a very long hiatus we hooked up with a Southern Baptist church last year. There was a lot more focus on grace than the IFB church but there was still more nationalistic fervor than we were comfortable with and the pastor had a very strange fondness for Catholic theologians. Ugh!

It’s admittedly tough to find a good church out there these days with many young pastors deemphasizing God’s Word and pushing the seeker-emerging-purpose driven model. And we don’t believe in apostolic gifts for today. There’s probably around 20 Evangelical churches within 15 miles of our house but there’s only a handful I would ever want to visit.

We’ve been attending our current non-denominational church for close to two months. It’s not perfect. There’s a few things I would change, but it’s a witness for the Gospel of grace and it doesn’t embrace “churches” with works-righteousness theology. Plus, there’s no jingoistic, patriotic flag waving. We’ve been pretty much anonymous up to this point, waiting to see where the Lord leads.

Southern Baptist, Thom Rainer, has written a couple of short books about church and church membership. “I Am a Church Member” (2013) looked at attitudes towards church and church membership. I just finished Rainer’s follow-up book, “I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian,” which looks at what members could/should be doing to better serve their church. It’s an interesting read and motivates me to serve at church sometime down the road instead of staying a spectator.

“I Will” was custom-made for Sunday School classes and weeknight group sessions. Most people could easily read through it in a couple of sittings.

Worship the Lord with other believers. Serve the Lord with other believers. But always, always, always keep your focus on Jesus Christ. Fellow believers aren’t going to have the EXACT same take on everything but if the church you attend doesn’t focus on Jesus Christ, His Word, and the uncompromised Gospel of grace, it’s time to move on.

 

Pope tells pious altar boy to lighten up

In a message posted a couple of days ago (see here) I pointed out that traditionalist Catholics are becoming increasingly alarmed  – better make that ENRAGED – by pope Francis’ unorthodox statements and I provided a few recent articles as examples.

At the time I posted my previous message I had only briefly scanned the article from The Remnant but this morning I carefully read it, word-for-word. Boy, it’s a stunner! I invite you all to take a look:

The Year of Mercy Begins: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (A petition calling for Francis to resign) – 12/8/15

http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/2198-the-year-of-mercy-begins

Oy! This is great stuff, folks! These fundamentalist Catholics have had more than enough of this pope and they’ve gathered at the Vatican gatespeasantstorches with their torches and pitch forks! Included in their VERY long list of charges against Francis is an incident from 2013 where the pope told a pious altar boy to lighten up. Well, as a former altar boy I just had to watch the attached video. Wow! I can see why all the Catholic fundamentalists are in a dither!

My friends, don’t put your faith in your cherished religious traditions and rituals. There’s no salvation there. These lost religionists are PASSIONATE about their traditions and rituals while they ignore the knock of the Savior upon the door of their heart.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” – Revelation 3:20.

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Ritual and ceremony won’t save you. Trying to be “good” won’t save you.

Evangelicals and Catholics see justification differently…and it matters

Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of JustificationFA
By R.C. Sproul
Baker Books, 1995, 219 pages

I’ve discussed several times how I accepted Jesus as my Savior back in 1983 and worshipped at an independent fundamental Baptist church until 1991 when I could no longer take the Falwellian hyper-patriotism and anti-homosexual harangues. Well, I walked away from the Lord for 23 years but finally returned to Him last year. I was quite startled at how snug some Evangelical pastors and para-church leaders had become with Rome in my absence. Even the young pastor at the Southern Baptist church where we began attending frequently expressed his admiration for several Catholic theologians.

I began reading material on the festering Evangelical compromise with Rome including Chuck Colson’s Evangelicals and Catholics Together ecumenical project, which released its first joint declaration in 1994. ECT argued that, despite some secondary differences, Catholics and Evangelicals shared a belief in the primary doctrine of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ so unification was not only possible but desirable in the face of the mounting opposition to Christian “morality” from an increasingly secularized society. See my review of ECT’s first book here.

There were many prominent Evangelicals who vigorously opposed ECT including Reformed theologian, R.C. Sproul. Sproul’s “Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification” is a thorough rebuttal of ECT’s betrayal of the Gospel and the Reformation. The Catholic church concedes that God initiates salvation by the grace provided through its sacraments but it’s then up to Catholics to “cooperate with grace” and do their part to merit their salvation. So Catholics can also say they believe in “justification by grace through faith” BUT they can’t and they won’t say they believe in justification by grace through faith ALONE. Catholics believe they must perfectly obey the Ten Commandments to merit Heaven (and go to confession when they fail – repeat cycle). Every born-again believer knows that trying to obey your way into Heaven is a sheer impossibility and denies Jesus’ office as Savior.

Sproul gets deep into the theological nitty gritty and dissects both sides with precision and charity. If you don’t care for theological arguments you won’t care for this book. But every blood-bought Christian must at least believe in the core doctrines of Christianity found in God’s Word. Seeker-emerging-purpose driven churches desire everyone to just hold hands and tell each other how much “we all love Jesus” but no one can really love and follow Jesus if they don’t know what He taught. If anyone believes all or part of their justification relies on being “good” then they have an incorrect (and spiritually moribund) understanding of why Jesus came and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection.

Praise the Lord for R.C. Sproul and many other Evangelicals who raised a red flag when Judas Colson and the other Evangelical signers of ECT (Land, Lewis, Packer, Bright, Guinness, Noll, Robertson, etc.) betrayed the Gospel of grace.

Any Catholics who might be interested in the Evangelical view of justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ ALONE would do well to start with this book.

Catholic fundamentalists getting restless

Slightly perplexed by pope Francis’ unorthodox, off-the-cuff remarks when he firstcbrr assumed the papacy, conservative Catholics are now beginning to wake up and smell the coffee. Francis threatens fundamentalist Catholicism with his push to soften the doctrines of the “unchangeable” church in an attempt to stanch the exodus of disaffected members (many to Jesus Christ and evangelicalism). Pictured is the leader of U.S. Catholic fundamentalists, Cardinal Raymond Burke.

Below are a few recent articles that articulate the growing dissatisfaction with Francis by the EWTN-types.

I praise the Lord for freeing from me from Catholic legalism, traditions, and ecclesiastical fratricide! Salvation is a free gift by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28

**********************************

As pope turns 79, conservative backlash mounts – 12/17/15

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pope-francis-79th-birthday-opposition-catholic-conservatives-reform/

The off-the-cuff and out-of-focus papacy – 12/1/15

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/4408/the_offthecuff_and_outoffocus_papacy.aspx

The Year of Mercy Begins: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (A petition calling for Francis to resign) – 12/8/15

http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/2198-the-year-of-mercy-begins

Questions regarding the “holy doors”

In the next year millions of Catholic pilgrims will pass through the “holy doors” at St.VHD Peter’s Basilica. They have been told if they walk through the “holy doors” they will receive a “plenary indulgence” whereby all of the pending temporal punishment for their confessed sins up to that point will be removed.

Doors at cathedrals throughout the world have also been designated “holy doors” for those who can’t afford the airfare to Rome.

The “holy doors” will all be “closed” on November 20, 2016 and their “power” to remove temporal punishment will end.

But I have a few hypothetical questions for Catholics:

  • Let’s say an American Catholic couple flies to Rome on November 20th to walk through the “holy doors” at St. Peter’s to have their combined 1000 years of suffering in purgatory wiped away. But their plane is delayed on the tarmac. They’re finally able to catch a taxi to St. Peter’s but it’s too late; they arrive only to find the “holy doors” closed and sealed. The disappointed couple takes a taxi to their hotel but they are both killed when the vehicle is involved in a traffic accident. Does the couple still have to spend the full 1000 years in purgatory or did their “good intentions” count for something?
  • Suppose a Catholic woman was in line to walk through the “holy doors” at her diocesan cathedral to have her 300 years of suffering in purgatory removed. When her turn came she started walking towards the doors but collapsed on the floor from a fatal heart attack. Half of her body made it through the “holy doors” but the other half didn’t. Were all 300 years of her temporal punishment removed or only 150 years since only half of her body made it through the “holy doors”?  Pshaw!

In the article below, the pope warns pilgrims to St. Peter’s “holy doors” to be wary of fraudsters. But who is going to warn them about the anti-Scriptural fraud of “holy doors,” indulgences, temporal punishment, and purgatory?

Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Religious traditions and superstition won’t save you.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 5:1

Praise God for His salvation by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

See my earlier post regarding the “holy doors” here.

**********************************************

Salvation is free, pope says, warning against Holy Year fraudsters

Reuters, December 16, 2015

http://news.yahoo.com/salvation-free-pope-says-warning-against-holy-fraudsters-115331872.html