The IMPOSSIBLE burden of trying to merit your way to Heaven

Catholics are taught when they were baptized as infants their souls were wiped clean of sin but aftercarrying-a-heavy-load that they must constantly toil to merit their way to Heaven. They must receive the church’s sacraments and obey church laws and also obey the Ten Commandments completely in thought, word, and deed (impossible!).

But God’s Word says righteousness does not come by trying to obey the law. The law only teaches us how sinful we really are.

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” – Romans 3:20.

Scripture says the only Person who perfectly obeyed the law was Jesus Christ.

“Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” – Romans 10:4

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” – Philippians 3:7-9.

I was listening to Catholic radio today and the priest was talking about “Holy Days of Obligation.” Catholics MUST attend mass EVERY single Sunday. Every mass they miss without a valid excuse is a grave “mortal” sin that stains their soul and sends the apathetic Catholic to Hell forever. That’s one way to try to keep attendance up at church but despite that threat 75% of Catholics still choose to sleep in on Sundays. In addition to the obligatory mass there are also “Holy Days of Obligation” on which Catholics must also attend mass or incur another “mortal” sin.

According to Canon 1246 the Holy Days of Obligation are as follows:

January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, the solemnity of the Ascension
August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 1, the solemnity of All Saints
December 8, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 25, the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Included in the canon is the caveat: “Whenever January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, or August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption, or November 1, the solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Saturday or on a Monday, the precept to attend Mass is abrogated.”

Catholics need a canon lawyer to keep it all straight. My, what heavy burdens Catholics must bear in trying to merit their way to Heaven! The vast majority deal with it by simply throwing up their hands and staying away from church altogether except for weddings and funerals.

For every Catholic who is exasperated by the long lists of rules and obligations and trying to earn their way to God I have some REALLY GOOD NEWS for you! God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins. All who sincerely repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Savior will be born again into God’s family. The Lord is looking for humble people, the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3), who will admit they are depraved sinners without any merit of their own.

“I have not come to call the (self) righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Luke 5:32

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

Accept Christ as your Savior and find an Evangelical church in your area that reaches out to all the lost – the unchurched as well as the religious lost who place their trust in their own works.

How is it that Catholic clerics refer to Jesus as “Savior” but then insist their followers MUST participate in the sacraments they tightly control and precisely follow their many religious laws, rules, and regulations in order to merit Heaven? It’s a rhetorical question.

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Vatican employees caught in growing Ashley Madison scandal

“Be sure your sin will find you out.” – Numbers 32:23ashley-madison-site

Some may be scandalized by the recent headlines revealing Vatican employees were users of the Ashley Madison infidelity website but it comes as no surprise to Christians.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

As God’s Word says, there are NONE who are righteous and ALL fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3). While Catholics argue they have been given the grace they need to avoid “mortal” sins so that they can present themselves to God in a sin-free, “state of grace,” if they were honest with themselves they would have to admit they can’t possibly attain the spiritual perfection required by God.

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

Rather than accepting Jesus Christ the Savior and His perfect righteousness Catholics attempt to establish their own righteousness and merit their way to Heaven.

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” – Matthew 5:48

Thank the Lord for salvation by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

“I have not come to call the (self) righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32

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Vatican workers listed among users of Ashley Madison site

catholicherald.com
Thursday, 20 Aug 2015

A number of Vatican addresses are listed among the 37 million users

People working at the Vatican are reportedly among the 37 million users of infidelity website Ashley Madison.

Websites of at least two dozen people with the .va address are among those who had signed up to meet married people for liaisons.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/08/20/vatican-workers-among-users-of-ashley-madison-site/

Liturgy or Jesus?

Catholicism is a religion steeped in ritual, ceremony, and legalism. There are so many terms, pontifical-solemn-high-mass-st-peters-burkerules, and regulations a dutiful Catholic needs a Catholic encyclopedia in addition to a catechism close by at all times to make sense of it all. Of course, very few bother because they’re trusting in their priests to guide them through the religious maze.

At the center of Catholic life is the “liturgy.” Liturgy is a Greek word meaning “work of the people” or “public service.” For Catholics the liturgy is the ritualized form of their public worship service. Evangelical Christians are amazed at the prominence given the liturgy within Catholicism. The various components are analyzed and debated right down to the minutest of details. When to sit. When to kneel. When to stand. Which color robes the priest must wear on what day. The music. What the priest says and what the people say in response. Every once in a while a church liturgical commission tweaks the format creating swells of protests from the faithful who are totally dependent on rote repetition. I tune into Catholic radio quite often and it’s sadly amusing to listen to the raging callers who complain about a priest who – God forbid – deviated ever so slightly from the authorized format.

Where is Jesus in all of this? Good question. Like so many things within Catholicism the ritual takes precedence over what’s inside the heart. Pick up a diocesan newspaper and there’s always some aspect of the liturgy being written about but very rarely an article about Jesus. Why is that?

The Jesus of the New Testament had no use for empty ceremonialism:

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:27-28.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” – Matthew 6:5-8

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” – Matthew 15:8-9

Ritualism and legalism do NOT equal salvation: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” – Acts 16:30-31. 

Praise the Lord for salvation by God’s grace through simple faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

“Father, am I “born again?”‘ “Yes, you were “born again” when you were baptized as a baby.”

1st Catholic Caller: “Hi, Father. There’s a guy at work who asked if I was “born again.” What should I tell him?” Bishop radio recording

Catholic Priest: [Slightly annoyed] “You tell that guy that you WERE born again when you were baptized as a baby.”

2nd Catholic Caller: “Hello, Father. Thanks for taking my call. My cousin asked if I was “saved.” What should I tell her?”

Catholic Priest: [Obviously agitated] “You tell her you WERE saved when you were baptized, you ARE BEING saved as you participate in the sacraments and avoid sin, and you will hopefully BE saved as you continue to take the sacraments and avoid sin and die in a state of grace. Sheesh!”

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If you listen to Catholic radio for a few days you’re bound to hear at least one of the above exchanges as I did this morning. Is the priest giving Godly advice? I’m not going to examine the subject of justification at length in this short blog but I do have a few thoughts.

Being genuinely born again is definitely NOT about being baptized as an infant OR as an adult. Priests have no magical powers and neither does the water sprinkled on someone’s head. From God’s Word we come to the realization through the Holy Spirit that we are all sinners and deserving of God’s eternal judgement. We then understand that Jesus Christ, God the Son, came down from Heaven and put on flesh and lived a perfectly sinless life. He offered Himself up on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. But He then defeated sin and death by rising from the grave. He now sits at the right hand of God the Father as the Savior and Mediator and offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who will accept Him.

The person who understands the Gospel is then at a crossroads as the Holy Spirit moves in their heart. Maybe it’s the first time they’ve heard the Good News. Do they continue living their life as they have – relying on themselves or even their religious activities and hoping their good outweighs their bad at the end – or do they humbly admit their need for a Savior and pray to the Lord, Jesus Christ, to save them? Some people make a decision for Christ right away. Some wait. Some never accept Him.

But when you genuinely accept Christ and are born again you know it. For some who accept Christ it’s an emotional epiphany unlike any other; kind of like being given the last seat on the last lifeboat of the Titanic but even better. Yahoo!!! For most it’s a joyous realization that they’ve crossed over from death unto life beginning a sweet relationship that lasts forever. A new Christian’s eyes are open to spiritual things for the first time but the full impact won’t hit them until they wake up in eternity. They’re now pilgrims on this earth and still struggle with the flesh but their desire is to please their Savior and Lord.

Being born again is accepting Christ, becoming a new creation in Christ, walking with Christ, being accepted into God’s family because of Christ, loving Christ, and serving Christ. It’s definitely NOT about having water sprinkled on an infant’s head (although the Lord does command all who are old enough to accept Him to be baptized as a witness for Him).

Thank you, Jesus! Catholic friends, read your New Testaments!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” – 2 Cor 5:17

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” – John 1: 9-13

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3: 1-23

Pope Francis says even atheists can merit Heaven!!!

It used to be the Catholic church taught that only baptized Catholics who participated regularly in the sacraments could have a chance of going to Heaven. My, how things have changed! These days the church teaches that the Separated 1428864343000Brethren, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and members of every other religion can merit Heaven if they “seek the true God given the light they have received.” Pope Francis has said EVEN ATHEISTS can make it to Heaven if they obey their conscience and lead a “good” life.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/12/pope-francis-letter-atheists_n_3909425.html

Catholicism is a mixture of sacramental grace and merit. While Catholics give lip service to grace and faith they teach that people must ultimately “cooperate with grace” and merit their salvation. Since good works are the deciding factor in the Catholic “gospel,” it follows that they finally conceded that followers of other works-righteous religions, and even non-believers, would merit Heaven if they were also “good.”

But pope Francis’s wide-is-the-way Catholic “gospel” has nothing in common with the Gospel found in the New Testament. The Bible says no one is “good,” which is why Jesus Christ came.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” – 1 Timothy 1:15

We can’t save ourselves by being “good.” Here’s 101 Bible verses that teach salvation is NOT by works:

http://gochristianhelps.com/tracts/stl/notworks.htm

Who are we to believe, Francis’s wide-is-the-way “gospel” of “If you can’t be Catholic just be good!” or God’s Word? Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Trust in Him, not your own merit.

 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” – Acts 16:30-31

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

The pope’s wide-is-the-way “gospel” offends no one except for genuine followers of Jesus Christ.

 “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” – 1 Corinthians 1:21-23

coexist

Assisi1986

No Meat On Friday Nonsense

Back when I was a cute, young tyke, the Catholic church prohibited eating meat on Fridays throughout the entire calendar year. The obligatory abstinence had something to do with Jesus dying on a Friday and the refraining from eating the meat of warm-blooded animals was supposedly a commemoration of His sacrifice. Disobeying the church and eating meat on Friday was a “mortal” sin that would stain your soul and send you to eternal damnation, no excuses. Even just one bite of a cheeseburger meant perpetual torment! We “good” Catholics were scandalized when we heard about so-and-so Catholic who defied the church and barbequed hot dogs on the grill on a Friday. My Dad usually picked up a big batch of very tasty fried fish and french fries at Karl’s Fish Store at 1314 Culver Road so it wasn’t like we felt any kind of deprivation. I actually preferred the store-bought fried fish to Mom’s meat dishes the rest of the week. Sorry, Mom!

However, all this changed in 1966 (Sorry, Karl!) when pope Paul VI, in his PAENITEMINI document, left it up to the national bishops to determine abstinence policy and the U.S. bishops ruled that Catholics were able to eat meat on Fridays except during Lent.

Most Catholics are unaware that the Canon Laws prohibiting meat on Fridays throughout the year are still on the books (Canons 1250-1252) along with the provision that the national bishops are able to “determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety” (Canon 1253)

So the MONUMENTAL question is, What about all the U.S. Catholics who died before 1966 who had disobeyed the church and ate meat on non-Lenten Fridays without ever confessing this “sin?” Are they still in Hell or did God give them a “Get Out of Jail Free” card in 1966 in light of the new policy? Skeptical Catholics should definitely smell a rat with this one.

In contrast, the Bible is pretty clear on this abstaining-from-meat business:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-5.

So eating meat on Friday is definitely NOT a sin according to the Bible but the rule to abstain from meat is a man-made commandment subject to whimsical alterations (with *unexplainable complexities) as we saw in 1966. Are we to believe the Bible or the Catholic church?

“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” – Matthew 15:9

Unfortunately, Catholics are taught they must merit their salvation by jumping through legalistic religious hoops such as refraining from meat on Fridays. Praise the Lord for His Word and for His salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

*Postscript: Let’s suppose in 1967 an American Catholic traveled to a foreign country where he knew the national Catholic bishops dictated the abstention from meat on non-Lenten Fridays was still in effect. If the American traveler ate a cheeseburger in that country on a non-Lenten Friday did he commit a “mortal” sin? Oy vey!!! Just give me Jesus!

Churches empty as “cafeteria” Catholics growing

The celebration of the “eucharist” is one of the most important rituals of Catholicism. The church teaches that at the mass its ordained priests transform bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. The priest then offers up the consecrated “host” as a sacrifice to God on behalf of the attendees and any others who are specified. Catholics are taught that Bishop-asks-Toledo-St-Joseph-s-to-ponder-move-to-St-Francisphysically ingesting the supposedly literal “body and blood” of Jesus cleanses away “venial” sins from their soul and helps them avoid committing “mortal” sins in the future (Catholic Catechism, 1995, paragraphs 1394 and 1395). But the Bible teaches sacrifice for sin ended with Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and that He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, not upon Catholic altars as a broken victim (Hebrews 10:12).

For Catholics, weekly mass is not a choice. Failure to attend even a single Sunday mass or designated “holy day of obligation” results in “mortal” sin. However, a recent study done in preparation for the pope’s upcoming visit to the U.S. reveals only 24% of Catholic adults attend mass every Sunday. The same study shows only 66% of Catholic parents believe having their child receive first communion is important and only 61% believe it is important to them to have their child confirmed.

http://cara.georgetown.edu/staff/webpages/CatholicFamilyResearch.pdf

Previous studies have shown only 12% of Catholics go to confession once a year, another obligatory sacrament, meaning the other whopping 88% of Catholics are content to casually merit another “mortal” sin.

Things sure have changed. Back in 1965, 55% of Catholic adults attended mass every Sunday. But who can blame Catholics for sleeping in Sunday mornings and avoiding the liturgical *hocus pocus when their pope Francis says even atheists will go the Heaven if they are “good”?

http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=51077

In contrast the Bible says there are none who are “good” enough to earn their way to Heaven but that Jesus will redeem all those who accept Him as their Savior.

“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.

Thank the Lord for the GOSPEL of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29.

* hocus pocus was derived from “Hoc est corpus meum,” meaning, “This is my body,” the words used by the priest in the old Latin rite to supposedly transform the communion wafer into the body of Christ.

Religion or Jesus?

Nick was a devout Catholic. He was baptized into the church as an infant and attended Catholic grammar school where he listened attentively to the nuns and priests. In first grade he made his first confession and received his first communion. When he was in fifth grade he was confirmed. Nick grew up to be a very religious man. When he was twenty-years-old he resolved that he would attend mass daily and receive communion. He also resolved to go to confessioold-man-walking-146189n every Saturday and ask forgiveness for his “mortal” and even his “venial” sins. Nick was very proud of the fact that he kept up this religious routine for sixty years. A few days after his 80th birthday Nick was on his way to morning mass when he happened to notice a very attractive young woman walking ahead of him who was dressed in a rather revealing outfit. For just a few short moments he lusted heartily after the woman and didn’t notice the approaching car as he crossed the street. Nick, a devout Catholic for his entire long life, was hit by the car and died with the “mortal” sin of adultery on his soul (Matthew 5:28). He would have to spend eternity in Hell according to the Catholic theology because he did not die in a “state of grace.” Catholics are taught they must constantly sustain themselves in a “state of grace” through participating in the sacraments and through good works and “avoiding” sin. Most Catholics, if they’re honest, will acknowledge they haven’t been entirely “good” so they’re hoping they get the chance to wipe the slate clean by receiving the sacrament of Last Rites/Extreme Unction immediately before they die.

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Now let’s take a look at Bill. Bill was also raised as a Catholic. He was baptized as an infant and was introduced to the sacraments of reconciliation and the eucharist just like Nick and attended mass regularly growing up. But when Bill was twenty he felt like there had to be more to it than the ritual and constant striving so he bought himself a Bible and began reading the New Testament. He began to understand that he wasn’t a sinner because he sinned like the Catholic church had taught him, but he came to realize that he sinned because he was a sinner. Huge difference!

The message of the Bible was different than what Bill had learned in the Catholic church. The priests and nuns had taught him that by obeying the Ten Commandments and the rules of the Catholic church he would be justified before God. But the Bible said there are none who are “good.” There is no one who can possibly obey the Ten Commandments in thought, word, and deed, except for One.

“As it is written: “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 3:10-12 

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20 

Bill had heard about Jesus for many years but for the first time he really began to comprehend that God sent a Rescuer, a Savior, Jesus Christ, into the world to be the atoning sacrifice for his sins. Although Catholics call Jesus “Savior” they don’t think that they actually need to be saved.

“I have not come to call the (self) righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 

“For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Romans 10:2-4 

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 trail_of_the_tithe_2

Bill understood that becoming a Christian wasn’t a matter of baptism, church membership, receiving the sacraments, or being “good.” Rather, becoming a Christian meant acknowledging one’s sinfulness before God and accepting His Son as Savior. Bill humbly prayed to God and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and was spiritually reborn for the first time. He realized that “good” works weren’t the means to salvation, they were the fruit of his relationship with Christ.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10.

Bill walked with the Lord for many years and when he died he joined his Lord and the other saints in Heaven, not because of his religion or “good” works but only because of the imputed righteousness of his Savior, Jesus Christ.

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Philippians 3:9