Creepy “Damien” cancelled, but false “servants of righteousness” continue

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my wife and I were big fans of the movie, “TheDAM Omen,” when it was released in 1976. I remember how we rushed home from the theater and opened up my wife’s deceased father’s Bible, the first time either one of us read from God’s Word (after a combined 24 years in Catholic schools), to find the passage in Revelation 13 that referenced 666, the mark of the beast. The Lord used many other things and people in our lives to eventually lead us to accepting Him in 1983.

This past March 7th, the A&E cable television network premiered the series, “Damien,” which was based on the 1976 film. There were 10 episodes with the last one airing on May 9th. The plot line began with Damien as a 30-year-old war photographer who begins to encounter unusual people and troubling circumstances in his life. Shortly thereafter, it’s revealed to him that he’s the anti-christ. Over the course of the remaining episodes, Damien struggles against his inevitable “fate.” The Vatican is made aware that the anti-christ has been revealed and sends a solitary nun on a mission to murder him. She’s unsuccessful (natch) so the Vatican sends a SWAT team of priests, replete with silver daggers in aluminum military attache cases (LOL, simply hilarious), to America to stop Satan’s spawn. Before the Vatican forces can arrive, Damien accepts his destiny and pledges his allegiance to Satan.

This past weekend, news sources reported “Damien” will not be picked up for a second season by the network because of low ratings.

Most Christians would probably think twice about watching such entertainment as “Damien,” but “The Omen” was part of our journey to Christ. We were also able to use “Damien” as an opportunity to speak several times to our unsaved sons about Jesus and the Gospel. They’re also fans of the original movie.

You can always count on Hollywood to get it wrong when it comes to spiritual issues and many of the usual trite stereotypes were used in “Damien.” Satan and his minions are presented as utterly repulsive figures that only the mentally deranged could possibly be attracted to. The Hollywood stereotype of demons as dreadful beings who oftentimes sport horns, pointed goatees, tails, pointed ears, and goat-like hind legs is utterly preposterous. God’s Word says Satan masquerades as an “angel of light” and his servants masquerade as “apostles of Christ” and “servants of righteousness.”

I dare say that the Hollywood cliches (based on popular religious folklore) may possibly be ruses hatched by Satan himself. It’s not hideous monsters that we need to be on guard against, rather it’s those seemingly goodly people and religious institutions who have twisted the Gospel of Jesus Christ from salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone into salvation by christ plus something else – works, sacraments, being good, baptism, religious emotional ecstasy, etc.

In “Damien,” it’s the Vatican and the Catholic clergy that are presented as the “good guys,” but, ironically, it’s the Vatican that has twisted God’s Word by teaching salvation by sacramental grace and merit. People fear ridiculous red trolls created in Hollywood studios, but it’s those upstanding and highly respected members of our communities who masquerade as ministers of righteousness but teach a false gospel of works who are leading people to Hell. Instead of warning their flocks against such people and institutions, some evangelical ministers openly embrace them.

There are evangelicals who would strongly caution others not to watch silly nonsense like “Damien” but would determinedly jostle in line for the chance of a photo op with the pope. Does not compute.

“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” – 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

News and Views

Below are several stories on Roman Catholicism that caught my eye over the last week,News along with some commentary:

Some Catholic churches have adopted evangelism programs that “mimic” evangelicalism. Results? Traditionalist parishioners are alienated and the bottom line is salvation is still by sacramental grace and merit.

I’m convinced Marian apparitions will play a big part in the end times’ world religion.

Is there no end to this disgusting scandal?

I actually give credit to these Catholic traditionalists for revealing the unvarnished attitude of Catholicism towards evangelicals. Hyper-Catholic, Michael Voris, is exactly right! Catholics and evangelicals DO NOT worship the same Jesus. The Jesus who saved me and who I worship cannot be eaten or placed in a monstrance and He doesn’t save the self-righteous who think they successfully obey the Ten Commandments.

I put zero stock in sociological descriptors like “highly religious” but it’s interesting to see that 83% of “highly religious” evangelicals claim to read the Bible daily compared to only 42% of “highly religious” Catholics. Since survey responses often involve a lot of wishful thinking, my suspicion is the actual percentage of pious Catholics who actually read the Bible daily is even much lower.

I’ve been watching this drama unfold at St. Frances X. Cabrini for many years. With an increasing number of Catholics no longer practicing their “faith,” parishes have been closing and merging en masse. The parishioners at St. Frances X. Cabrini church in Scituate, Massachusetts defied their bishop and prevented their church from being closed for 11 years. These holdouts represent a large percentage of practicing Catholics; their “faith” is all about the “brick and mortar.” It’s all about the building, ritual, traditions, and ceremony and nothing about a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. But the church hierarchy can’t get too upset with these defiant parishioners because “brick and mortar” religion is what they’ve been teaching for the past 1500 years.

The history of the papacy is the history of the Catholic church. Under the popes, simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ devolved into religious ritualism and legalism, controlled by ecclesiastical monarchs with incredible appetites for wealth and power. In this article, it’s claimed pope Boniface VIII was the “least saintly pope.” But I would suggest that, because ALL of the popes promoted a religious system which taught an anti-gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit, NONE of them were “saintly.” It’s actually very difficult to choose which pope was the most corrupt. See my review of “Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy” here.

John MacArthur’s uncompromising stand for the Gospel offends many and he’s one of a shrinking number of nationally known evangelical pastors who publicly confront the errors of Roman Catholicism. MacArthur’s comments were in reference to Roman Catholic Hispanics, not evangelical Hispanics. The VAST majority of the Hispanic population is Catholic. And MacArthur is correct; Catholic Hispanics generally have not accepted Christ because their church has not presented them with the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. But an increasing number of evangelicals would view MacArthur’s statements as “divisive” and “unkind.”

Flip flopping again: Cremation

The Catholic church claims it’s the “one true church” and that it never changes – “SemperCB edem” (Always the same) – but anyone who studies church history is aware of the fallaciousness of that claim. Let’s look at just one example: cremation.

For centuries, the Catholic church did not allow cremation based on the practice’s strong association with paganism (and later, Masonry)  and because of Scripture verses that taught a bodily resurrection. When cremation began to be introduced as a modern funerary method in the late-nineteenth century, the church banned all Catholics from participating via two documents published in 1886 and another one in 1892. When the Code of Canon Law was revised in 1917, it strictly prohibited cremation (Canon 1203). Catholics who arranged their own cremation prior to their death committed mortal sin and were excommunicated from the church and its sacraments. Catholics who arranged the cremation of deceased family members also committed mortal sin and were also excommunicated.

In 1963, pope Paul VI reversed the church’s stand on cremation with only minor restrictions, although the church strongly recommended burial. This change was reflected in the next revision of the Code of Canon Law in 1983 (Canon 1176).

So I must ask, what happened to those Catholics who chose to be cremated or had their loved ones cremated prior to 1963 and died in mortal sin? Did they receive an apology and a “Get Out of Hell Free” card from pope Paul VI?

Some people think it’s unkind, hypocritical, and judgmental to raise such questions about Catholicism. But, in regards to this issue and many others, no one can deny the blatant inconsistency of this religious institution, which has boasted over the centuries that it “never changes.” The takeaway is to put your faith in Jesus Christ, not “unchanging” religious institutions. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Baptism doesn’t save. Sacraments don’t save. Being “good” doesn’t save because God’s Word says no one is good except for God. No one obeys the Ten Commandments. But God the Son, Jesus Christ, came into this world, lived a perfect life, and paid the penalty for your sins on the cross. He rose from the grave defeating sin and death and He desires to be your Savior. Pray to Jesus, repent of your sins and ask Him to save you today. Walk away from religious institutions that don’t teach the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

My opinion regarding cremation? Scripture doesn’t address cremation one way or the other. Christians in the very early church were expecting Christ’s imminent return and understandably favored burial. But in over two millennia, the dead bodies of innumerable saints have been consumed by bacteria, micro-organisms, insects, small animals, large animals, fish, birds, etc. Placing a dead body in a sealed casket and a sealed vault to “secure” it from the ravages of decay and scavengers strikes me as a bit of a useless and unnecessary battle. These practices seem to have more in common with ancient Egyptian funerary rites than with any Scriptural teaching. My wife and I agreed to have our bodies cremated when the Lord calls us home. The less money spent on the ritual, the better.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” – Philippians 1:21-26.

Is cremation forbidden by the Catholic Church?
(Ultra-traditionalist Catholic perspective – I relied on this article for dates and canon specifics)

What does the Bible say about cremation? Should Christians be cremated?
(Sample from evangelical perspective)


Resting in His arms (sigh)

Yay! It’s Memorial Day weekend! This weekend we somberly remember the unsavedLambCuddling and saved men and women who defended this country at the cost of their lives. What a sacrifice! I’m also reminded of the One who also gave His life so that we could go free spiritually.

“(Jesus) gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” – Galatians 1:4

Memorial Day weekend is also the unofficial start of summer and many will be happily toiling in their gardens. It’s a long, three-day weekend; an opportunity to rest and relax. I’m reminded of the great rest we have in the Lord for those who accept Him as Savior.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

This weekend I recall the story of the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years because of their sin and unbelief. God did not permit their leader, Moses, a symbol of the Law, to lead His chosen people into the Promised Land. God chose Joshua/Yeshua/Jesus to lead His people into the land of rest.

The only One who could satisfy the requirements of the Law was Jesus Christ, God the Son. And He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. His perfect righteousness will be imputed to you if you will only repent of your sins and accept Him as your Savior by faith. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior you’ll enter into God’s great rest. No more trying to merit your way into Heaven. No more trying to earn your salvation. You can finally find your rest in Him.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

That’s not to say that after you accept Christ everything will be a breeze. We will have trials and sorrows in this world. We will disobey the Lord often as we attempt to follow Him. But the sinner’s greatest struggle, finding forgiveness and acceptance from a Holy God, will be satisfied through Jesus Christ. Peace and rest. Peace, rest, and great joy!

Are you resting in Him or are you still struggling to merit your own salvation through religion or by trying to be good?

I am soooooo grateful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for saving me and leading me to eternal peace and rest. He’s my Shepherd. He knows me. I follow Him. Praise Him! Praise Him! Praise Him!

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

33,000 Protestant Denominations?

When defending the exclusive claims of the Catholic church in regards to ecclesiasticalDenom authority, Catholic apologists often point to the thousands of Protestant denominations and conclude God could not possibly be the author of such confusion. In their zealousness to press this argument, Catholics have been known to inflate the number of Protestant denominations to 20,000, 30,000, and, yes, I’ve even seen claims of 40, 000. But what is an accurate number?

In the article below, Scott Eric Alt scolds his fellow Catholic apologists for “cooking the books” when it comes to the alleged number of Protestant denominations. Bravo, Mr. Alt! Thank you for your honesty and objectivity.

My take? The early Reformers took many important initial steps in turning the church away from Catholic ritualism and legalism and back to the Gospel of simple faith in Jesus Christ. What may seem like incomplete and underdeveloped shifts in doctrine and methodology from our point of view were major steps at the time. Succeeding Reformers continued to shed beliefs and practices rooted in Catholic tradition. The process took place over many generations resulting in a large number of denominations. I don’t see that as a bad thing but a positive. Does anyone really desire to go back to 1517 when a monolithic church was ruled by a single dictator, where church and state were bound at the hip, and where all citizens were forced to join and be completely subservient to a religious system that had buried the Gospel beneath layers of ritual and superstition?

There have undoubtedly been many casualties along the way. Many of the mainline denominations have drifted into modern unbelief and apostasy. Many unsaved “protestants” began heretical religious movements. But in this unorganized mishmash called evangelical Protestantism that the world ridicules and scorns, the Gospel still shines brightly and the Holy Spirit still draws sinners to Jesus Christ.

“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

The world respects wealth, power, organizational structure, historical pedigrees, and the trappings of ritualistic pomp and ceremony, but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head (Luke 9:58).

We Need to Stop Saying That There Are 33,000 Protestant Denominations

See also…

The 33,000 Denominations Myth: A Call to Roman Catholic Apologists to Repent of the Use of Simple Dishonesty in Their Presentations

Where are the Lloyd-Jonses and Spurgeons of today?

These days, messages about correct doctrine won’t generally be received by evangelicals with anySPUR measure of approval. That applies not only to WordPress blogs but also to evangelical pulpits. Sermons today are written with the goal of not offending anyone. Doing so would negatively impact the numbers. What we now have in evangelicalism is a watered-down brand of christianity that’s long on feel-good emotionalism but short on content. “We all “believe” in Jesus and that’s good enough,” is the message people want to hear. More often than not, that’s what they get. I understand there are many secondary differences among evangelicals that won’t be resolved this side of glory but the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE should never be compromised. Religious error that opposes or confuses the Gospel of grace should never be accommodated or cooperated with. But that message doesn’t play in Peoria.

The article below examines the similarities between Charles Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, two men of God from the past who weren’t afraid to point at heresy and call it heresy. Where are the Spurgeons and Lloyd-Joneses of today? Some free will believers may object to Spurgeon’s and Lloyd-Jones’s strong Calvinism but let’s not quibble over secondaries.

Lord, raise up pastors and Christian leaders who are faithful to You and Your Word rather than crowd pleasers.

10 similarities between Charles Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones: What do Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Charles Spurgeon have in common?
By Will Graham
Evangelical Focus
January 23, 2016

Against all odds, two deceased British preachers are coming back into fashion in our days, and not just in the English-speaking world. Thanks to a great resurgence in the Protestant faith throughout the Hispanic world, the nineteenth-century “Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon and the twentieth-century “Prince of Expositors” Martyn Lloyd-Jones are selling hundreds of thousands of books every year. Due to the renewed interest in these two defenders of the Gospel, this article will draw out ten similarities between Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones so that we may know them better and follow their example of faithfulness to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…

To read the rest of the article click on the link below:

“Five reasons why I cannot pray to the Virgin Mary”

Why I do not pray to Mary: Five reasons why I cannot pray to the Virgin MaryMary
By Will Graham
Evangelical Focus

Mary. What a wonderful woman of God. Her faith, her obedience and her wholehearted submission to the will of God never cease to amaze me.

Down and throughout the ages few saints have been as sorely tried and tested as she was; and yet through it all, she remained faithful to the God of Israel and to the Son she so problematically bore. No Bible loving person can fail to be moved by Mary’s God-centered love; but at the same time, no Bible reader could ever fall into the trap of turning Jesus’ mother into a quasi-Savior-like figure to whom we must pray and intercede earnestly (and through whom we have access to the Father). Such thinking is a blatant distortion of New Testament faith. So do I pray to Mary? No, I don’t. Why don’t I pray to her? Let me offer you a bouquet of reasons.

1.- Mary isn’t God
One, I don’t pray to Mary because Mary isn’t God. The Bible makes it crystal clear that prayer is to be directed to God and God alone. The Bible strictly prohibits the deification of any creature in the stead of God. I can’t help thinking how horrified mild Mary would have been had she realized that so many billions of biblically ignorant ‘believers’ would use her name to usurp the authority of the Almighty.

See the rest of the article via the link below:

Rescuing the Gospel

Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the ReformationRG
By Erwin W. Lutzer
Baker Books, 2016, hardcover, 224 pages, currently $14.56 from Amazon (doesn’t include tax or shipping)

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation coming up in the Fall of 2017, we can expect the publication of many books on the subject. Every evangelical should, at the least, be “somewhat” familiar with the struggles of the men and women of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries who, led by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, sought to return the church from Roman ritualism and legalism to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

“Rescuing the Gospel” is an excellent introduction to the topic for those who want to get just an essential understanding. It’s basically a “Reformation 101” in an easy-to-read style and (very) attractively formatted with many small, color illustrations. It’s abundantly evident that this book was a labor of love for author, Erwin Lutzer, retired pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

The book begins by examining the corruption of the Catholic church in the Middle Ages. The church had devolved from preaching simple, saving faith in Jesus Christ into ritualism, legalism, superstition, and formalism, all tightly controlled by the increasingly despotic church leadership. In addition, many of the popes, cardinals, and bishops had adopted flagrantly wicked lifestyles. Early reformers like John Wycliffe in England and Jan Hus in Bohemia defiantly challenged Rome’s teachings. The bulk of the book focuses on Martin Luther’s rebellion against church authority beginning with the nailing of his 95 theses to the cathedral door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was a complex man with his share of faults but he was used mightily by the Lord to return the church back to the Gospel. Lutzer then turns to the important contributions of Huldrych Zwingli in Zurich and John Calvin in Geneva, as well as a few others. The Reformers had several failings and missteps (e.g., Luther’s liturgicalism and anti-Semitism, Zwingli’s alliance with civil government), which the author readily acknowledges. It would be up to succeeding Reformers to chip away at remaining vestiges of Roman error.

Perhaps the best part of this book is the final chapter: “Is the Reformation Over?” Today, some evangelicals clamor for unity with Rome despite the remaining fundamental differences in doctrine. Most importantly, the Catholic church continues to teach salvation by sacramental grace and merit in contrast to the “Good News” of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Some evangelicals hear “grace” and “faith” mentioned by Catholic representatives and proclaim, “Close enough!,” while purposely ignoring the fine print. Lutzer calls for evangelicals to continue to rescue the Gospel of grace from the Catholic church and all other groups and individuals who believe “that it is up to them to contribute to their salvation and that they must make themselves worthy to receive it “ (p.200). Lutzer suggests that our task to uphold the Gospel may be even more difficult than in Luther’s day because of the compromise with error WITHIN evangelicalism. It’s our unending job to rescue the Gospel of grace and to proclaim it! The Reformation continues.

If you’re interested in reading a basic examination of the Reformation without the challenges and obstacles of an academic tome, THIS is your book. It would also make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves the Gospel. I’m not one to collect books on a dusty bookshelf anymore, but this one’s a keeper!

It’s one or the other! NO double-dipping!

Today I was listening to the 2/11/16 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on TheCross Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, in Buffalo, NY) with Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, taking questions from callers. Rick began the show by humbly correcting some previous advice he had given.

A couple of days before, a Catholic woman had called into the show and asked Rick if it was okay to pray The Stations of the Cross at her church at the same time she was at the church for eucharistic adoration? That would essentially be like getting two for the price of one.

For my evangelical friends, traditional Catholic churches have 14 plaques stationed around the sanctuary, which depict various events in the trial, suffering, and crucifixion of Jesus. Five of the 14 events; Jesus meeting His mother Mary (IV), Jesus having His face wiped by “saint” Veronica (VI), and Jesus falling three times (III, VII, IX) as He pressed on to Calvary are apocryphal and are not mentioned in the Gospels. Pope John Paul II came up with a different series of 14 events – the “Scriptural Form” – which some churches have adopted.

Catholics walk from station to station and pray the assigned rote prayers. This practice is especially popular during Lent. Praying the Stations of the Cross is classified officially as a “devotion.” Catholics are taught a “plenary” (full) indulgence can be earned by making the “Way of the Cross.”  This means that all of the temporal punishment for confessed sins not yet fully expiated up to that point in a person’s life are “remitted” (canceled). Catholics believe they could spend hundreds and even thousands of years in purgatory receiving the temporal punishment that remains after they die, so receiving a plenary indulgence is a big deal although probably 90% of today’s Catholics would have no clue what a “plenary indulgence” was if you asked them. The vast majority of Catholics these days can’t even be bothered with attending obligatory mass on Sundays let alone coming to church during the week and saying the Stations of the Cross.

If someone begins the Stations of the Cross but has to stop after Station XIII because of a family emergency, do they still earn a plenary indulgence or is the indulgence benefit pro rated?

As for eucharistic adoration, Catholics believe their priests change bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ during the mass. Sometimes a large eucharist wafer is placed inside an ornate container called a monstrance. The monstrance has a glass window so the wafer is visible. Catholics come to church at designated times to worship and adore the eucharist wafer, which they believe to be Jesus Christ. Catholics are taught they receive a partial indulgence (of indeterminate time) if they visit with the eucharistic Jesus for less than thirty minutes and a plenary indulgence if they visit for more than thirty minutes. Anybody got a stopwatch? Who decided on thirty minutes? Why not twenty-five? Why not thirty-five? Can 29:30 minutes be rounded-up or is 30:00 minutes a precise non-negotiable?

So, back to our caller’s question. Initially, it was clear from the tone of his voice that Rick wasn’t thrilled about the caller’s proposition of praying the stations AND adoring the eucharist at the same time but he concluded by saying it was “probably” okay. However, when Rick came back on the air on February 11 he had some egg on his face, saying he had checked the US Council of Catholic Bishops web site (see below) and discovered that Catholics can’t double-dip. A devotion like The Stations of the Cross and a “benediction” like the eucharistic adoration cannot be mixed. It’s either one or the other. Catholics aren’t allowed to do both at the same time.

So is it a mortal sin if a Catholic tries to double dip by participating in both activities at the same time or is it only a venial sin? Or is it that they just don’t get ANY indulgences?

Are you all still with me? I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers dropped away several paragraphs ago. The Roman Catholic church’s rituals and rubrics are so complicated even a priest like Rick can’t keep them all straight. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple even a child can understand it. Accept Jesus as your Savior. Religious ritual doesn’t save. Only Jesus saves. Accept Christ as your Savior and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

“Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” – Mark 7:13

“They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” – Matthew 23:4