Category Archives: religion
People willingly choose not to give glory to the immortal God. Instead, in the craftiness of their own mind, they make up their own truth with the purpose of removing God from His throne:
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1:21-23 NIV)
Verse 23 above is obviously talking about the ancient pagan religions that worshiped idols shaped like animals. It was wrong for them to reject the One True God in their hearts and replace Him with a false God fashioned after some of the things that He had created.
Today this kind of idolatry is very rare in the “civilized” world. But it has been replaced with naturalism, which is just as bad. The naturalist does not technically worship the animals as God, yet he claims that nature is capable of creating itself without God. This philosophy, like that of the ancient pagans, exalts the creation above the Creator. This is an offense against God. Anyone who looks at God’s beautiful creation and says that it could have created itself is denigrating the power and the majesty of the One who carefully formed it. If this is your view, you will have to answer for it to the One who made you. Repent of your sins while their is time, and thank Him for the fact that you are very wonderfully made and designed.
The trick to living life is prioritizing: You need to figure out what is most important, and make it the main goal of your life. I personally believe that the gospel is more important than any other pursuit, and therefore my life needs to revolve around the gospel: preaching it, living it, training my children in it. It is nothing to be ashamed of because it trumps all other concerns that we think are important.
The Apostle Paul agrees with me:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)
The gospel is important because it tells us how to obtain the one thing we all need: salvation. Believing it will save us from sin, selfishness, and the wrath of God. Those who do not follow it are slaves of their own sinful desires, bringing down disaster on themselves and attempting to do so to others.
But the gospel, this simple truth that many people mock and despise, is the answer to our problem. It is “the power of God” and is therefore capable of rescuing those of us who admit that we have no power to save ourselves. When we believe the gospel we believe in God’s capability and willingness to save us, despite of our complete inability to save ourselves. Jesus shed blood is the only thing that can take away sin, and it is applied to “everyone who believes” both Jew and Gentile. That’s a promise that you can take to the bank.
I do not want you to be unaware,brothers and sisters,[d] that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. (Romans 1:13-15 NIV)
Preachers of the Gospel should not be territorial. What I mean by that, is that we should not be afraid to allow other believers preach the Word of God on our “soil.” After all, the entire world is God’s world, and He desires for His gospel to be preached and re-preached all over its surface.
The Apostle Paul knew this. That is why he does not apologize for wanting to preach the gospel and win souls in the city of Rome, even though he knows that other Christians had gotten their first, and had already reaped a large harvest. He knew that the believers there would welcome his help, not resent him. After all, they were all on the same team.
Faithful believers in Jesus Christ need to take the time to meet and fellowship with other faithful believers. When we do this we encourage each other, and our faith becomes stronger, as the Apostle Paul indicates in his opening of his Epistle to the Romans.
I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:11-12 NIV)
Some Christians don’t seem to have any desire to meet and talk to other steadfast believers, and when they do meet them, they don’t want to talk about spiritually related things. To me, this seems unnatural. As a born again child of God I want naturally to meet with other born again children and discuss with them our mutual experience of God’s grace, love, and mercy.
Unfortunately I have never traveled much, and have never left the country of my birth. However, I have always enjoyed meeting foreigners who have come here from other countries, especially if they are believers. It is great to meet someone from a different culture and discover that you already have so much in common because you believe in the same God.
The Apostle Paul felt this way too. He was aching with anticipation to meet the Roman believers whom he had heard so much about but never met yet:
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. (Romans 1:8-10 NIV)
Paul, in this passage expresses extreme joy in the reports he has heard about the faith of the Roman Christians. Paul assures them that God Himself know that Paul has been extremely diligent in praying for them. His prayer is not only for their continued well being, but that he might one day get to meet them in person. This a natural desire for believers who are separated by geography. All true believers are members of the One Church, and long to fellowship with each other. We will ultimately have our wish in heaven when we will be with each other for eternity.
For what it’s worth, Paul got his wish before he died. A few years later he was taken to Rome as a prisoner, where he had the opportunity to meet with the Roman church (Acts chapter 28).
I was recently reading through the 23rd chapter of Matthew in my Bible and I couldn’t help but notice that the evil religious leaders of Jesus’ day were very similar in practice to the officials of the Roman Catholic Church. Like the Catholic clergy, the Pharisees had tried to exalt themselves to a superior spiritual position above other believers. In response Jesus tells them that their holiness is completely fake and that they will burn in hell for their hypocrisy if they do not repent (Matthew 23:33).
Let us look at parts of this passage and see how Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees can be legitimately applied to the Roman Catholic Church.
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. (Matthew 23:5-7)
One of the first things a person notices about the Catholic clergy is that they do not dress in the same clothes as common people, especially when conducting religious services. They wear special priestly garments that make them appear holy. But God cares about what is in your heart. There is no indication anywhere in the new Testament that church leaders are to well any special garments to make themselves stand apart from the rest of their brothers and sisters in Christ. These vestments give the outward appearance of holiness, but they do nothing to make the priest inwardly holy.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. (Matthew 23:8-9 NIV)
Jesus here forbids the use of special clerical tittles, since all true believers are priests (I Peter 2:5,7) on the same spiritual plane with one another. Catholic priests claim to have a special priesthood, i.e. relationship with God that other believers do not have. This imaginary, and contradicts scripture. They are not above the rest of us, and they are not are spiritual fathers. Therefore we ought not to address them with the title of father, since that formal title is reserved for our Father in heaven.
The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)
All religious leaders like to appear humble. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day often made a show of giving lots of money to the poor in public. However, they really liked people to think they were better than everyone else. Do not be fooled by religious hypocrisy! The recently elected Pope tried to appear humble by washing the feet of criminals. That was a nice show, but it was done to fool the public. If he was really humble he would not false claim to be God’s representative on Earth, and to have power over the souls of humans.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. (Matthew 23:13)
The Catholic church insists that if you want to get to heaven, you must go through them. Whereas in truth, Christ’s offer of salvation is free to everyone who believes in Him and repents. Read the Gospel of John, or John’s first Epistle, and you will see time and time again that you do not need to submit to an earthly clerical body in order to get to heaven. Many (hopefully not all) of these priests do not believe God’s promise themselves, for otherwise they would obey him and not behave as tyrants over His church. Not only are they not on their way to heaven, but they try to decieve those who among the common people who are looking for God, because they knew they will lose their influence over them if they find the truth.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. (Matthew 23:14 NKJV)
One of the historic sins of the Catholic Church is the many things they have done to get money out of the hands of poor people and into their own coffers. The Modern Roman Church has been forced to Reform because of the publicity that its abuses of power have gotten in the past. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church still advises widows to pay them a small fee in order for a priest to pray their dead husbands out of purgatory. While the pricetag for this service is small, the theological implications are enormous. YOU CANNOT BRIBE GOD OR ANY GODLY PRIEST WITH MONEY TO GET A SOUL OF A LOVED ONE INTO HEAVEN. This gift cannot be purcahsed with money. It was purchased once on the cross by Christ for all who believe.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. (Matthew 23:15)
These priests work hard to win converts, and then teach them to follow the same religious hypocrisy as themselves. They follow all the religious rituals perfectly, but their inward life and private actions are characterized by greed and sin.
You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:24)
The priests swallow the camel, in that they will tolerate much gross sin, just so long as you do not deviate from their insignificant manmade religious rites.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs,which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:27-28)
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. (Matthew 23:33-34)
The Catholic Church, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, persecuted and even killed many believers in God, simply for preaching the gospel. Of course they do not kill Protestants any more, but they still do their best to keep their congregants from understanding the Gospel. Thefore, the are not innocent. Many of them will be given a ticket directly to hell if they do not repent and start preaching the truth: that salvation is only in Faith in Christ, and not through the imaginary sanctifying power of the clergy.
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1 NIV)
At the opening of the Book of Romans, Paul refers to himself as someone “called to be an apostle and set apart from the gospel of God.” The word “apostle” means “sent one.” So Paul is making the claim here that God himself has chosen him for his unique mission, which chiefly includes being “set apart” to preach the gospel for others.
There is definitely a sense in which all true believers are “apostles.” We have each been sent to this planet for a purpose, but not all for the same one. Our specific roles in God’s plan are diverse. Most of us are not called to be full time missionaries like the apostle Paul was. Nevertheless, we must obey God and do whatever it is He has called us to do. Disobedience is not an option for a mature believer. We do not get to decide what our ministry is: that is God’s decision. He has “set apart” each of us for something, we must be prayerfully honest in finding out what it is and pursuing it. God will equip us with the power and gifts we need to accomplish His will for us. The only way we could miss it is if we are selfishly disobedient.
Therefore, you do not need to roll dice in order to find God’s will for your life. Simply focus on your spiritual walk with God, make sure that you are not being ruled by arrogance or selfishness, and then you will accomplish what God wants you to accomplish. The only thing that will keep you from the right path is sin. So don’t make yourself miserable worrying about the big choices that face you; rather work your hardest to combat sin in your life.
Peter told Jesus before the crucifixion that he would remain faithful to Jesus in times of opposition stating quite boldly: “even if all are made to stumble I will not be” (Mark 14:30). But by the next morning these words were proved to be empty bragging; Peter did indeed deny that he knew Jesus in order to save his own skin (Mark14:66-72).
Peter learned from this lesson that it is best not to brag about your faith, but quietly and patiently trust in God to help you persevere. Notice how Peter’s response is different after Jesus has been raised from the dead:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15 NIV)
We see here that Peter still insists that he loves Jesus, but he is doing so with more meekness. No longer is he boldly proclaiming himself to be more faithful than all the other disciples. Jesus gave him a perfect opportunity to brag by saying “do you love me more than these?” Peter answers in the affirmative, not so much that he loves Jesus “more” than the other disciples, but simply that he loves Jesus. It is no longer a competition for Peter. He has been humbled by the events of the last couple weeks.
Let us all learn humility from Peter’s example. We have no business fooling ourselves into thinking that we are “better Christians” than our friends. This spirit of spiritual competitiveness is misguided. Let us be honest about the fact that we are weak and vulnerable to failure, and let us beg God for the grace to endure. Finally, let us help each other in our Christian walk, rather than see each other as competitors.
Grace Episcopal Church is located at 1011 North 7th Street in Sheboygan. Their website can be found at http://www.gracesheboygan.com. Reverend Father Karl C. Shaffenburg serves as Rector.
Grace is a church very much steeped in tradition and ritual. It was established over 160 years ago, and some of its liturgy has been unchanged since the 19th century.
There is a shrine on the west side of their premises called “the Chapel of Our Lady of Walsingham.” According to the video message on their website it is “nationally known for it’s healing powers.”
I have noticed several things on the Grace Church Website that make me worried for the spiritual safety of the parishioners there. This church is geared towards an unhealthy pomp and ceremony designed to create a sense of awe and holiness, while in fact doing things that run counter to true holiness. Here are some specific things I noticed that worry me greatly.
1.The head pastor is referred to by the title “reverend father.” Jesus said: “Do not call anyone on Earth your father; for one is your Father, He who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9). When you call a religious leader “father” you tend to venerate him with some of the worship that is intended only for God. You begin to see him as a conduit for God’s holiness to you. Actually, our holiness can come only from Christ (II Timothy 2:5), not from men who have raised themselves up for veneration in a way that usurps Jesus Christ’s role in the church.
2.The clergy at this church wear special robes that set them apart from the laity. Jesus condemned the religious leaders of his day for making a scene out of wearing “flowing robes” (Luke 20:46-47). There is no precedent in the New Testament for the clergy to wear priestly vestments. In fact, there is no indication that the church leaders wore any different clothes than the rest of the congregation. When the clergy wear uniforms like this it implies that they have earned a higher level of holiness because of their calling. Actually everyone of “you who believe” are part of the same “holy… royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:5,7,9). All true believers are priests equally in the sight of God. Therefore, we need to stop putting these people on a higher spiritual plane than other believers. The Apostle Paul warned against these self-righteous hypocritical religious leaders that pretend to be holier than average believers: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).
3.The website says that Shaffenburg was “ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Fond du Lac,” when in fact the Bible says, as stated above, that all true believers have been ordained to the priesthood. He is aggressively diminishing the God-given role of the individual believer by claiming to have a priesthood that they do not have. The human beings who claim to have ordained him to the position of priest have committed a great sin against God, since God is the only one who can ordain someone as a priest.
All people are sinners who maliciously and consciously sin against God and each other. Jesus loves everyone in the world and died to save all people before they loved Him. Those who repent and believe in Him will be saved. Those who reject Him in their heart will be damned for eternity.
Therefore make sure that you are obeying God in your heart, and are not living in hypocrisy. It is easy to be religious on the outside, but religious rules by themselves do not save you:
“Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:20:-23)
Instead, confess your sins directly to Jesus and believe in Him:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (I John 1:8-9)
Do not trust in the holiness of your so-called priests to save you. They do not have any power to forgive you on God’s behalf. Rather, the Bible teaches that you can come to God directly, through Jesus Christ. If you believe you are a priest. Do not surrender your Christian liberty to a man walks around in robes and asks to be addressed as your father in direct contradiction of the word of God. This is artificial holiness and spiritual bondage. Confess your sins directly to God and know that He will forgive you.
If you are still confused, after reading this there are some things you can do in order to make sure you are saved. You can pray to God humbly and ask Him for direction, and you need to start reading the New Testament and trying to figure out what it says. God will help you if you have a humble heart. If you need a place to start, I would suggest the book of I John. It was specifically written to give assurance to believers that they are indeed saved (I John 5:13).
Feel free to contact me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Jesus’ name,
There are lots of people that think they are saved because they partake of the Eucharist or have been baptized. They think that practicing the rites of Christianity automatically makes them right with God. However, this is not true. Here are some case examples from the Bible:
1. Simon the sorcerer was a pagan living in Samaria a few years after the death of Jesus. He converted to Christianity and was baptized by some of the earliest Christians (Acts 8:13). However, after converting he tried to buy the power to send the Holy Spirit from the Apostles with money. Peter’s reply to his request was blunt:
“May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Acts 8:20-23 NIV)
Simon was terrified by their response. He realized that if He did not repent he would be under God’s judgment, so he said:
“Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” (Acts 8:24)
The fact that Simon asked for forgiveness is a good sign. It gives us hope that he may have genuinely believed all along, and was simply lacking in his understanding of Christianity. However, Peter the Apostle certainly did not give him a pass, even though Simon had already been baptized. Peter knew that a true believer undergoes more than just baptism of water, but is changed on the inside (II Peter 3:21). Peter seems to imply by his response here that he believes it is possible that someone who has been baptized was never saved in the first place.
2. In Peter’s second Epistle he warns other Christians to watch out for false teachers. He obviously does not think that these false teachers have been saved, because he calls them “accursed children” who have “forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the Son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (II Peter 2:15,6). Notice that these agents of Satan can be found in the center of Christian fellowship:
They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. (II Peter 2:13)
The “feasting” that these false teachers did in the church probably is a reference to the so-called “love feasts” which were a meal that a lot of the early churches held prior to taking communion (I Corinthians 11:17-21). I think it can be assumed that if these false teachers were at the love feasts, that they also took communion as well. They were trying to appear as “Christian” as the true believers, and they partook of the “Eucharist” in order to complete the charade.
These passages definitely contain an important lesson for believers: there will always be frauds who are baptized and take communion. Yes, it is important to obey Jesus by participating in these ordinances, but we should not count on them as evidence of our salvation. The proof of our salvation to ourselves is the simple fact that we believe (I John 5:1, 10,13). The proof of our salvation to others is the genuine change that God performs in us (Ephesians 2:10, John 3:8, Matthew 7:17-20)
If you wish to become a true believer, and be forgiven of your sins, you need to repent (II Corinthians 7:10) and believe in Jesus (Romans 10:9) for Salvation. Once you believe you must obey Gods’ command to be baptized and take communion regularly (Acts 2:38, Luke 22:19). If you are not sure if you are saved or not, I suggest you pray to God, and prayerfully read God’s Word for clarity. You may wish to read the book of I John. It’s not a very long book, but it explains how someone becomes a child of God, and how a genuine child of God behaves. It does not talk at all about Baptism or the Lord’s supper. After all, you are not saved by performing the rituals of the faith to physical perfection; you are saved when God does surgery on your heart. If you truly believe than you are saved. If you do not believe you are not saved.
So repent and believe!