Church Search – Part 2

In last Sunday’s post (see here), I related the history of my church membership/attendance. The three Gospel churches my wife and I attended after we were saved all had unacceptable problems that motivated us to leave: legalistic fundamentalism, Rome-friendly ecumenism, and seeker hipsterism.

I retired from my weekend job at the end of October and was looking forward to finding a new church. My wife was not as enthusiastic in light of our previous church experiences.

There are many churches in the Greater Rochester area, but how to find a “good” church? What constitutes a good church? Does a believer just start attending any ol’ church they happen to drive past on Sunday morning? There should be godly, Biblically-solid criteria used in selecting a church.

Foremost, a possible church home must preach the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Secondly, a possible church home must uphold the Bible as God’s inspired and infallible Word. Those two criteria eliminate all Roman Catholic churches and pretty much all old-mainline Protestant denominational churches, which now teach a Bible-denying social gospel. I think I just disqualified about 75% of Rochester-area churches (or rather they disqualified themselves).

What other criteria? There’s no such thing as a perfect church just as there is no perfect congregant, but I desired to find a Gospel church that closely matched my beliefs on secondary and tertiary doctrines and values.


⚠️ Please note: I will be getting down into the nitty-gritty details of my own beliefs in regards to secondary and tertiary doctrines and values, something I generally avoid for harmony sake. I realize some readers are going to have contrary views. My intent is not to offend, but to be honest and transparent about my own personal beliefs and values as we searched for a church.


I’m admittedly a square peg when it comes to secondary and tertiary doctrines and values. I’m too conservative for “hip” non-denominational mega-churches and too “liberal” for fundamentalist churches. Most of the criteria below were shaped by our three previous church experiences. For me, a possible church home…

  • …can’t be independent fundamental Baptist. I won’t sit under IFB legalism again.
  • …can’t be KJV 1611-only. Use of the word-for-word ESV or NASB translations would be preferred.
  • …can’t be Rome-friendly ecumenical. I won’t sit under a compromised, Rome-friendly pastor again.
  • …can’t propagate Christian nationalism. The Gospel has nothing to do with nationalism. In conjunction with this, a church can’t propagate political (or otherwise) conspiracy theories.
  • …can’t be Southern Baptist. That denomination is currently embroiled in a tug-of-war between theological conservatives and liberals. Praise God if you’re attending a solid SBC church.
  • …can’t be seeker/church-growth/hipster. I won’t sit in a rock concert-style church with blaring electric guitars, laser light shows, and a pastor in skin-tight skinny jeans again.
  • …can’t be a church that doesn’t value its older members.
  • …can’t be a sprawling mega-church. I want to know the pastor and I want the pastor to know me.
  • …can’t be Pentecostal or charismatic. I’m a cessationist and believe the apostolic sign-gifts ended with the apostles. In conjunction with this, a church can’t teach the “health and wealth” prosperity non-gospel.
  • …can’t be Presbyterian or Lutheran-based. I don’t believe in paedo/infant baptism or in any degree of “real presence” in communion.
  • …can’t be Wesleyan/Holiness based. I don’t believe a genuine Christian can lose/forfeit salvation or achieve sinlessness.

What’s left? Are there any conservative evangelical churches in Rochester that uphold the Bible, preach Jesus Christ and the genuine Gospel, and align to a good degree with my secondary and tertiary beliefs and values? My long list of square-peg criteria probably eliminates 98% of Greater Rochester churches.

I had a couple of church candidates leftover from my 2015 church-search list and on Sunday, November 20, we visited what I thought might be the more promising of the two. Praise God, the church (photo above) upholds the Bible as God’s Word, preaches Jesus Christ and the genuine Gospel of grace, and “appears” to “largely” (not completely) align with my secondaries. The congregation was friendly and embraced us warmly. We had an edifying phone conversation with the pastor several days afterwards during which we discussed a few of our concerns with evangelical churches in general. We have attended the church several more times. We are pleased and we are blessed.

The tone of this post may appear more self-serving than God-serving, but I strongly believe (after past experiences) that a believer must be cautious and discerning about what church they attend.

Church Search – Part 1

My wife and I were recently searching for a church and we believe we have found a good one, but first some history.

My wife and I were raised Roman Catholic, but in 1983 we both accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith alone and began attending our first Gospel-preaching church, VB Church,* which was six miles from our home. VBC was an independent fundamental Baptist church and the IFB was still quite influential back in those days. The pastor was charismatic and funny, but could also rage and finger-point from the pulpit as well as any IFB pastor. We stayed at the church for eight years, but became increasingly troubled by the pastor’s harangues and political stumpings and the IFB legalistic guilt trips. We left the church in 1991 and visited another church in the area a couple of times, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was so disappointed and disillusioned with IFB “churchianity” that I walked away from the Lord for 23 years. Yup, 23 years. Not a smart move.

A lot of bad things happened in my life in those 23 years and the Lord continuously bid me to return home to Him. In 2014, some neighbor friends invited us to attend a Sunday service at a nearby church associated with the Free Methodist Church USA denomination. I relented and returned to the Lord at that service. However, I wasn’t comfortable with several FMC/Wesleyan secondaries so I started a church search. We began attending a small, Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated church, NF Church** with a new, young pastor. Things started out well, but it soon became apparent that the pastor leaned towards Christian nationalism and was also enamored with Roman Catholicism. He named Thomas Aquinas as his “favorite theologian” and cited Peter Kreeft as his “favorite philosopher.” That was very disconcerting. He also favorably referred to Catholics, Malcolm Muggeridge and G.K. Chesterton more than a few times. The Christian nationalism and Rome-friendly ecumenism became increasingly problematic, so we left that church in 2015, leading to another church search (the creation of this blog in 2015 was prompted in-part by the SBC pastor’s Rome-friendly ecumenism).

Shortly thereafter, we visited a satellite branch of a large, non-denominational mega-church, NR Church.*** It was like a rock concert/movie theater experience with a darkened auditorium, electric guitars, loud amps, light shows, and the pastor’s sermon beamed from the main campus to the big screen. Hmm. That was very different. Definitely geared towards a younger crowd. But the teaching was good and we thought the “seeker” atmosphere might be attractive to our unsaved sons. The pastor moved on in 2016 and a young fella was hired to take his place. The new pastor moved the church further towards “cultural relevancy.” The sermons became increasingly vapid and the pastor’s attire devolved into hoodies and skinny jeans with the requisite holes in the knees à la Carl Lentz and Steven Furtick. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we stopped attending in-person church services like everyone else. In addition to watching the church’s streamed services, my wife and I also began listening to archived sermons from Martyn Lloyd-Jones. What a contrast! After listening to MLJ for awhile, it became clearer to us just how poor and compromised the teaching was at NR, so we eventually stopped watching the mega-church’s streaming service. NR’s focus on the younger generation and disregard for older members was also a consideration in our cutting ties.

Then what? After the last two church experiences, and with C-19 still in play, my wife and I were in no hurry to return to church. I was unemployed throughout all of 2020 as jobs are extremely hard to find in economically-challenged Western New York. But in January 2021, I was able to get a job at L3Harris Technologies on weekends. My wife and I continued to listen to on-line preaching from solid pastors.

On November 1, 2022, I reached the age of 66 and four-months to qualify for the full Social Security monthly benefit, meaning I was able to retire from L3H. What about church? My wife was not eager to return to church after our experiences, but I knew it was important. I’ll pick up the story next Sunday in “Church Search – Part 2.”


* When the VBC pastor became ill in 2011, his son took over the pastorship. The son was subsequently arrested in 2017 for sexually molesting three young women who had been attending VBC and he resigned the pastorship. In 2021, the father, age 71, was arrested for sexually abusing two underage teenage girls. VBC continues under the leadership of a pastor who was groomed by the aforementioned father and son.

**The young pastor at NF Church resigned at some point in 2019-2020. A new pastor was hired, but the church no longer appears to be functioning. The church’s Facebook page has been deleted, the website is non-operational, and a Sunday worship time has been removed from the church’s roadside sign.

***NR Church continues, although with only one satellite rather than the three operating in early-2020. Regular attendees can remain relatively anonymous at NR mega-church because of the large crowds, dark movie theater ambiance, and decidedly hands-off pastoring. Pastors don’t really “pastor” at NR, rather they emcee the “show.”

For the conclusion of this two-part Church Search post, see here.

Why we left N********* Church

I put off writing this post for several months because it documents a difficult experience and decision, but here goes…

I returned to the Lord in 2014 after a very long and very dumb prodigal “season.” My wife and I then attended a small, Southern Baptist Convention church in close proximity to us, but we left after one year because the young pastor made it increasingly clear that he was very favorably-inclined towards ecumenism with Roman Catholicism.

I then drew up a short-list of possible church homes. Finding a solid Christian church up here in Western New York isn’t easy. The vast majority of churches are either Roman Catholic or mainline Protestant, all of which are apostate. There are a number of Pentecostal and charismatic churches, but we are cessationists in regards to the apostolic sign gifts. There’s also a number of fundamentalist churches, but they weren’t an option after our 1983-1991 experience at an IFB church. That left only a few non-denominational church options.

On a Sunday in November 2015, we drove to the first non-denominational church on our short-list, which was ten miles from our home. Services were held in the auditorium of a public middle school. It was actually one of two satellite campuses, with the main church campus being ten miles away in the city of Rochester. Each of the three (eventually four) locations had it’s own pre-sermon “worship” (song and singing) portion, but the sermon was a digital feed from the main church to big screens at the satellites. Hmm. That was different. But we enjoyed it. The preaching (more like a lecture) was actually quite good.

So we settled in at N********* Church, but were disappointed six-months later when the senior pastor announced he was leaving for a new career with a pastor-placement consulting firm. A new pastor was then selected from a list of candidates. One of his most desirable qualities, we were all told, was his young age (30).*

We attended N********* Church every Sunday for the next three-and-a-half years, but were increasingly conflicted. There were things about the church that we didn’t particularly care for, but we told ourselves no church is perfect. Then COVID-19 hit in mid-March. We began watching live-streaming of our church’s Sunday morning services, but around the same time my wife and I also began listening to 25-minute segments from Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons nightly throughout the week (See here. There’s also an app for smart phones). Well, in listening to MLJ’s sermons it became painfully apparent that we had compromised way too much by attending N********* Church and we resolved we wouldn’t go back. As the pandemic lingers, we continue with our daily sermon podcasts from MLJ and others (but definitely NOT from N********* Church).

Let’s now get into some sad specifics. This mega-church followed the Warren-Drucker-Hybels seeker-growth model which included the following characteristics:

  • The auditorium was darkened like a movie theater to accentuate the “rock concert” light show experience during the “worship” portion of the service. The worship band played Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) exclusively and the volume was quite loud. The singing of the congregation was completely drowned out by the amplified singing of the worship leaders and by the electric instruments. Songs popularized by apostate Hillsong and Bethel were occasionally featured.
  • As an essential part of its seeker-growth model, the pastor avoided deep topics in his sermons. Doctrine was skimmed over and church history was absolutely avoided. The previous pastor did refer to the Reformation and the Five Solas, but those topics were never to be heard of again after he left. Presentations by heterodox teacher, Francis Chan, were available from “RightNow Media” as part of the church’s online resources (see photo above). We participated in a “small group” for about eighteen months, where the church’s shallow teaching was also manifest. A couple of our group’s members used Joyce Meyer devotionals for their daily “scripture” readings.
  • Every facet of every church service was geared towards an 18-49 age group including the rockin’ worship portion of the service and the numerous videos and handouts. Members over the age of 50 were glaringly excluded from presentations. I strongly suspected that the main reason the previous pastor left was because he had just turned 50 and felt he had come to the end of his rope with the church’s self-imposed focus on young adults. We’re in our mid-60s and already felt out of place, so it’s impossible to imagine a believer in their 70s or 80s attending this “hipster” mega-church. It wasn’t a welcoming atmosphere for older believers to put it mildly.
  • The previous pastor mandated that he and all of the staff follow a very casual dress code. Polo shirts and khakis were not an option. Jeans and flannel shirts were the uniform de rigueur. Not a huge deal, but the new pastor gradually took the “casual look” to a radical, Steven Furtick-like level, wearing skin-tight, skinny jeans with requisite holes in the knees along with a trendy, swag haircut. I frankly was embarrassed by his skin-tight jeans and, excuse my bluntness, his unavoidable “man bulge.” It’s beyond disconcerting that I must use “pastor” and “man bulge” in the same paragraph. After taking a guest to a church service one Sunday, the first thing out of his mouth when we got back into the car was, “Man, that pastor has some TIGHT jeans!”

There you have it folks, all of our reasons for leaving this last church. We had compromised way too much by staying as long as we did.

*I’m certainly not averse to 30-year-old pastors, but this church specifically chose a young, “hipster” candidate to fit its Millennials-focused, seeker model.

Even our good deeds are like filthy rags, like showing off at church!

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” – Isaiah 64:6

All of the world’s major religions teach that a person may merit Heaven/Paradise/Nirvana/Jannah by becoming increasingly good and moral. The exception is Biblical Christianity, which declares that everyone is a sinner and no one can merit salvation. Only by repenting (turning from rebellion against God) and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone can a person be saved.

The Bible says in Isaiah 64:6 that even our “good deeds” are tainted by sin and are as “filthy rags” in God’s sight. But how can that be?, people ask. I do A LOT of good things!, people object. However, even the “good” that we think we do is routinely motivated by sin. I can think of one humorous example.

My wife and I began attending a Gospel-preaching church right after we were saved back in the early-1980s. Things were done differently at church back then. Everyone brought their Bibles to church and we also used hymnals. These days, Scripture passages and CCM song lyrics are shown on the auditorium overhead, so many attendees leave their Bible at home (if they even have a hardbound Bible). But back then, everyone brought their Bible to church. If you showed up to church without a Bible, boy oh boy, you were judged to be spiritually lax or immature. Whoops, I’m already pointing out how our “goodnesses” are tainted and I haven’t even gotten to my example yet. Okay, let’s proceed.

Throughout the course of his thrice-weekly sermons, the pastor had us constantly picking through our Bibles. “Turn in your Bibles to…” was a regular instruction. When you’re a new believer, it’s very difficult to navigate through the Bible with its 66 books and odd sounding book names. Most new Christians had to resort to…argh…the index. But over time, the new believer became better acquainted with where all of the different books of the Bible were in conjunction with each other and could join in the race. The race? Every time the pastor called out the passage that we were to turn to, everybody in the congregation began flipping determinedly to the desired spot. Some cheaters had Bible tabs and automatically disqualified themselves. Those who got to the passage first gloated with pride. “Do I know my Bible or what,” they silently and self-satisfyingly beamed as others still noisily and frantically flipped through the pages of their Bibles. Nobody wanted to be last in the race, a sure sign to everyone around them that they did not know their Bible. Yup, I pridefully tried to win that race many times myself.

So even going to church and reading Scripture along with the pastor and the congregation involved a bit of prideful sin.

Disappointing and dangerous

I normally don’t publish two posts in a single day, but this one is important.

On Friday, July 24th, Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California (16 miles northwest of Los Angeles) announced that they were going to defy the state restrictions imposed after a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic and reopen worship services to the public. Health safety precautions and protocols such as social distancing and PPE masks would not be enforced at the church or even encouraged.

The photo above is from the Sunday morning worship service at GCC on July 26th. It’s clear that social distancing is not being observed by the congregants and not a single mask is in evidence among the tightly packed crowd. The congregants are standing and enthusiastically applauding JMac for his defiance of the state mandates, but will they be applauding a month from now?

From his comments, it’s clear Pastor MacCarthur views the state restrictions almost entirely as a freedom of religion issue. That very strangely belies the fact that California is in the middle of a coronavirus surge and 10,400 Californians and 162,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19.

There’s a paradigm that’s popular within conservative evangelicalism that, while grudgingly acknowledging the overburdened hospitals and funeral homes, holds to the belief that the pandemic is largely fake news, a hoax, and a conspiracy foisted upon “Christian America” by the elites of the New World Order. Some Christians have pointed to the BLM demonstrations and argued, “Many of the BLM protesters don’t social distance or wear masks and the government let’s them get away with it, so we’re not going to social distance or wear masks, ether!” The logic in that argument wouldn’t appeal to a junior high school debate team.

I quite frankly don’t get it. COVID-19 is spread in close quarters by those infected with the virus. The environment at Grace Community Church, with many people in close proximity, without masks, and singing their lungs out is prime breeding ground for the virus. Many Christians admire John MacArthur and many pastors across the nation emulate his leadership. Opening GCC and not mandating any health safety protocols is irresponsible and dangerous. Some members of GCC will attend services and forego health safety protocols, even though they know better, because of social/group pressure. What will MacArthur say to the families of members of GCC who contract the virus and are hospitalized and die? The chances of that happening are very high given the conditions I see in the above photo.

Nope, I just don’t get it. I’m very disappointed in JMac.

Postscript: In his July 26th sermon remarks, MacArthur categorized all those who disagree with his decision to reopen and ignore health safety protocols as unbelievers.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines “Church and the State”

After returning to the Lord in 2014 after my very long prodigal “season,” the Lord introduced me to some solid Bible teachers, past and present, including D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). I’ve read several books by and about MLJ and also enjoyed the 2015 documentary, “Logic on Fire,” about the life and ministry of the Doctor.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, I desired to read some more about/from MLJ so I Screenshot 2020-05-19 at 6.59.44 AMdownloaded “Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life” by Jason Meyer to my Kindle (review to follow). While reading that book, I thought about another resource, the MLJ Trust. I was vaguely aware that Lloyd-Jones’ former ministerial assistant and biographer, Iain H. Murray, had collected the Doctor’s recorded sermons and made them available via the MLJ Trust website. I was curious if MLJ Trust had a smart phone app and, sure enough, they do! I downloaded the free app to my iPhone and, voilà, I now have access to 1600 of the Doctor’s sermons. Wow!

I quickly browsed the list of MLJ’s sermons and stumbled across a series of six sermons on “Church and the State” delivered on successive Friday evenings in January-February, 1967. Friends of this blog know the topic of the church’s relationship to the state is something I am very interested in. Roman Catholicism took its cue from Constantine and the Roman imperial model and continued to fuse together church and state. The early Reformers regrettably continued this error to a degree and when the Pilgrims and Puritans settled in Massachusetts, they established semi-theocracies. The Puritans preached that America was the New Israel and that its citizens were in covenant relationship with God and enjoyed special blessings and prerogatives thereby. That thinking was perpetuated from American pulpits for four-hundred years, although the genuine Gospel preached by the Puritans was gradually replaced over time in mainline denominations by a watered-down, social gospel. The God of the Bible was replaced by the nebulous deity/higher power of American “civil religion.” American civil religion infiltrated the church resulting in national citizenship superceding spiritual citizenship in God’s Kingdom. Americans of all denominations, Protestants and Catholics (and even Jews), could harmoniously join together in singing “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”

After Americans became increasingly secularized in the 60s, 70s, and 80’s, Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority drew a line in the sand and attempted to return America back to “Judeo-Christian” values. Some high-profile ministers like Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell, Jr. continue Jerry Sr.’s crusade to “return America back to Jesus.” Regrettably, alliances formed with pseudo-Christian religionists in the cause of shared political and cultural concerns has led many temporal-minded evangelicals to overlook doctrinal differences and compromise the Gospel via ecumenism.

The church has been struggling for two-thousand years to define its proper relationship with the state, but it’s clear from history that the church has erred way too far on the side of church-state alliance. I fully realize that the deeply-rooted concept of America as a “Christian nation” continues to be quite popular amongst American Christians.

Okay, time to step down from my soap box and get to the crux of this post.

In the six sermons below, Martyn Lloyd-Jones thoroughly examines the relationship between church and state including the regrettable historical record and what the Bible teaches. It’s one of the best treatments I’ve ever seen or heard on this topic. Lloyd-Jones has much to say about the Roman Catholic model and the dangers of ecumenism. I’ve provided a link to the MLJ Trust website for each individual sermon. You can also download the MLJ Trust app to your smart phone and search “church and the state” to easily find the six sermons:

Church and The State (1)
Church and state; ecumenism; church and state under Christ’s authority; Constantine; Roman Catholic teaching; Wycliffe; the Reformation; Erastianism; Luther; the Church of England; religious toleration.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233337

Church and The State (2)
Church and state essentially different; common grace; the differences explained; value of history; Luther; Zwingli; Calvin; Belgic Confession on magistrates; Puritans; Presbyterians; Westminster Confession on magistrates; Melville; two kings; two kingdoms.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233338

Church and The State (3)
Pilgrim Fathers and American colonists; Separatists; Cromwell; the ‘Free Church idea’; Roger Williams; the Commonwealth; democracy; the Ejection of 1662; established churches.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233339

Church and The State (4)
Church-state relations unknown in New Testament; Old Testament appealed to; Israel’s position unique; Christ’s kingdom not of this world; confusing the world and the Church.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233340

Church and The State (5)
Summary of teaching; lesson of history; traditionalism; the state cannot Christianize society; parable of the leaven misunderstood; no gradual advance; except in the Church.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233341

Church and The State (6)
The lordship of Christ; tension between the two kingdoms; the Church should lay down principles; freedom; education; the arts; science; law; morality; individual Christians may influence society.

https://www.mljtrust.org/search/?q=%233342

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #4

It’s Tuesday once again, which means we have a couple of sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas. In the first sermon, Associate Pastor, Kelvin Richarson at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana expounds on the sins of King David and what we need to learn about seeking God’s forgiveness. In the second sermon, Pastor Cody Andrews at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City uses the sorry example of King Agrippa in Acts 26 to exhort unbelievers to accept Christ and believers not to be lukewarm followers.

Pastor Kelvin Richarson – King David

 

Pastor Cody Andrews – Almost

Truth from Arkansas! Sunday sermon series, #2

It’s Tuesday, which means we have a couple of sermons from the brethren down in Arkansas. In the first sermon, Pastor Roger Copeland at Northern Hills Baptist Church in Texarkana expounds on the sufferings of Job. In the second sermon, Pastor Cody Andrews at Holly Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Star City exhorts us to wake up and walk with Christ with intentionality. Thanks to brother Wally for uploading Cody’s sermons to YouTube!

Roger Copland – The Minister of Misery

 

Cody Andrews – Are You Spiritually Sleeping?

Throwback Thursday: Next time you drive past a Catholic church on Sunday morning…

For today’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a slightly re-edited post that was first published back on August 28th, 2015.

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Many evangelicals pass a Catholic church on Sunday morning and probably think to themselves, “Sure, Catholics worship God a little differently than we do, but we’re all worshiping the same God, that’s the important thing.” But let’s examine that thought. At an evangelical worship service there’s typically some announcements and singing of hymns and songs of praise for about a half an hour followed by an hour of preaching from God’s Word by the minister. The Gospel is presented and the unsaved are invited to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The Catholic “mass” is quite different. At the mass, there are also announcements, singing, a couple of very short readings from the Bible and a short seven or eight-minute “homily” (sermon). But the main focus of the mass is the lengthy ritual whereby the priest allegedly changes bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus. Jesus spoke about being the “bread of life,” but Catholics interpret those passages in a literalist sense that defies sound exegesis and a spiritual understanding of God’s Word. The priest then offers up Jesus the “host” (i.e., “victim”) to God the Father as a sacrifice for the sins of all the participants and any others who are mentioned. The mass attendees then line up to take the Jesus wafer and Jesus wine from the priest and consume them, believing grace is imparted that will wash away “venial” sins and supposedly help them avoid committing “mortal” sins in the future in order to hopefully merit their salvation at the moment of their death.

Catholicism is really an extension of the Old Testament Levitical sacrificial system with the priest serving as a mediator between God and the people. The priest is essential to the Catholic sacramental and works-righteousness system. Without his ordained “powers” and role as mediator, the people are doomed and the Catholic hierarchy has always desired to keep it that way.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:5.

However, Jesus completely did away with the Old Testament sacrificial system when He was crucified and breathed His last breath with the words, “It is finished,” and the veil to the Holy of Holies of Jerusalem’s temple was torn in two, giving all people direct access to God through Jesus Christ the Savior. God’s Word says Jesus is currently seated at the right hand of the Father, NOT on Catholic altars as a broken victim, being sacrificed again and again, thousands of times daily all over the world.

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” – Hebrews 10:11-12.

Here’s a passage from a Catholic source that should put the Catholic priesthood and the mass in stark perspective for all evangelicals:

“When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the victim for the sins of man…The priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal victim for the sins of man – not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo, Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s commands.” – from “The Faith of Millions” by Father John O’Brien, Nihil obstat; Rev. Lawrence Gollner, Censor Librorum Imprimatur: Leo A. Pursley, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend; March 16, 1974.

What anti-Biblical BLASPHEMY!

So when you drive by that Catholic church next Sunday morning, remember they’re NOT worshiping God the Son inside, rather they believe they’re sacrificing Him on their altars as part of a process to merit their salvation. Rather than trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone for their salvation, they’re relying on priests, sacraments, “good” works, and “obeying” the Ten Commandments (impossible!)

Another Regrettable Example of Coerced Tithing

I don’t believe in mandatory tithing. See my post on the topic from January 2017 here. I think it’s very wrong for pastors to appropriate a law meant strictly for ancient Israel and impose it on the church, but of course it’s obvious why they do it.

The only standard for giving in the New Testament is found in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7:

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

I really don’t wish to go through my arguments against coerced tithing that I stated in my January 2017 post. So why do I bring it up again?

While my wife was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, a Christian couple who are good friends came up to visit her. The conversation eventually turned to their church. For several years, the pastor and elder board have been contemplating purchasing or building a larger facility. One of the local YMCA* branches (photo above) is moving into a new facility and the pastor would like to purchase the old “Y” and convert it into the “new” church building. The purchase of this large complex and the subsequent renovations will require a massive amount of money. The pastor addressed the membership and told them that many of them are disobedient because they currently do not tithe and he is compelling…er…”asking” them to make a commitment to begin tithing immediately to support the purchase and renovation of the YMCA property.

This is so wrong. Giving to the Lord’s work is surely a privilege and a blessing, but using coercion and making the Old Testament law of tithing mandatory is un-Biblical. Pastors drive people away and lay unnecessary guilt trips on people with this type of un-Biblical, heavy-handed manipulation.

The short article below offers a very helpful perspective on tithing:

Does God require me to give a tithe of all I earn?
Pastor John MacArthur, Grace to You
http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA144/does-god-require-me-to-give-a-tithe-of-all-i-earn

*It’s quite strange that the YMCA – Young Men’s Christian Association – still uses that name. The organization moved away from any kind of connection to Christianity many decades ago.