Mary, Mary, quite contrary?

Classic Roman Catholic portrayal.

Letter Published in Limerick Post on 23 June 2018

The occasion of Limerick’s Novena prompts me to point out three myths about Mary. First, Mary is not “full of grace,” at least not in the sense that she is a fountain of grace for others. Only Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Instead, Mary was highly favoured because, first, she was chosen to bear the Saviour; and second, she is the recipient of God’s salvation: “my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47). If Mary had a Savior, she had sin, both original and actual sin, from which she needed to be saved.

Second, Mary is not the “Mother of God.” More accurately, she was the mother of Jesus, who is the divine Son; she was theotokos (literally, God-bearer), says the Creed of Chalcedon (451 AD), “according to the manhood.” The same creed declares Jesus as “begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead.” The aim of the creed is not to exalt Mary, but to stress the deity of Jesus.

Third, Mary is not able to obtain blessings for poor sinners with Jesus or with the Father: Jesus is the Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) and the Advocate (1 John 2:1), not Mary. The Bible commands us to “come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace” from Jesus (Heb. 4:16). Jesus, not Mary, died on the cross for sinners; and Jesus, not Mary, intercedes for those sinners. How dreadful to bypass Jesus Christ in order to seek mercy with Mary!

None of this is a slight on Mary, for she does not need, require, or want veneration. Instead, she says to us, “Whatsoever he [Jesus] saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5).

Martyn McGeown

Limerick Reformed Fellowship

 

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Messianic cults and “christian” uprisings.

Barnabas Fund posted this-thought it worth sharing!

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Painting of the lifting of the sige of Yuhuatai, by Wu Youru
Be not deceived: the real threat of cultic “messianic” movements in China

9/11 demonstrated the reality that religion can play a part in violence. Europe had known and experienced religious wars, from the bitterness of the seventeenth century English Civil War to the Thirty Years War in Europe, which left a quarter of the population dead. Religious war ceased with the Treaty of Westphalia signed in 1648, only to re-emerge in the twenty-first century.

Governments, rightly, have now to deal with this reality and pass laws to suppress religious ideas that propagate violence. The focus of Christian millenarianism has moved from Europe to China, as individuals believing themselves to be the Messiah rise up within cultic movements and oppose society. This is not a new phenomenon in China. Between 1850 and 1864, a period when Europe was without religious wars, China suffered the Taiping rebellion, one of the worst religious conflicts in history. Hong Xiuquan and his friend Feng Yunshan began the uprising with their idea to see China become Christian and establish a new moral order.

General Gordon (1833-1885), a committed Christian, was sent by the British government to assist the Qing Empire during the Taiping rebellion

Hong planned to overthrow the Qing government, which was persecuting Christians. As the rebellion unfolded, Western interests became involved, principally the US, Britain and France, and committed Christians took both sides. General Gordon, a devout Christian, became known at that time as “Chinese Gordon” because he was sent by Britain to assist the Qing Empire and later famed for his ill-fated defence of Khartoum. On the other side, A F Lindley, also a committed Christian, fought purely for religious reasons, disdaining the payment which other Westerners wanted. Lindley fought because the Taiping rebels were Christians and he considered their cause to be just.As time went on, both sides committed grave atrocities resulting in 20 million dead or – according to some estimates – 70 or even 100 million. British diplomats based in China described the situation in this way: “Their ultimate success and power of consolidating themselves are doubtful … They have done nothing to ameliorate the condition of the people, but on the contrary wherever they have been successful, they have been a curse and terror to the unfortunate, whose substance they have pillaged, whose gods they have insulted and destroyed, and whose houses they have burnt.” – Medhurst and Bowring, 1854.

 Hong Xiuquan (1814-1864), leader of the Taiping rebellion, who claimed he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ, called to set up a “Messianic Kingdom” by the sword

Hong considered himself as the Son of God and younger brother of Jesus Christ, called to set up “Jesus’ Messianic Kingdom” on earth in China by means of warfare. This was a far cry from the example and teachings of Jesus who told his followers to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44).  Nowhere in the New Testament is it permitted that Christians wage war against their rulers, however oppressive the rulers may be. Rather, Romans 12 tells us to pray for those in authority, and to endure persecution if need be. Christians must be loyal citizens of their country, whilst at the same time praying and working for justice, peace and righteousness.

Today, such “messianic” leaders continue to arise in China. In 1991, the Eastern Lightning movement developed, with up to a million members, believing that Christ had returned as a Chinese woman to set up “His Kingdom”. Some 14 other similar sects have now been banned, rightly, by the Chinese government, because they are subversive and potentially violent. Before we are too harsh in our criticism of the Chinese government, we need to remember that Western governments such as Britain, France and the US have also passed laws against sects which they believed to be a threat to their societies.

Whilst the Chinese government may not fully understand the underground Church is made up of devout Christians who respect their government and country, sadly there are always those who would foment violence. Equally, the Chinese government would be aware that in our day there are Christians who are too ready to take up arms, and those who want to use violence to gain freedom for Christian minorities who are suffering violence, whether it be Myanmar, Iraq or Sudan. The mercenary militias that take the name of Christ now utilise violence on behalf of national Christians. This is abhorrent. Western military interference on behalf of Christians will only make life more difficult for them and make governments distrust them and perhaps suppress them. The spectre of sects and cults taking on a religious and messianic character is growing. Jesus warns us that in the last days many will come in His Name “claiming ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).

We live in a dangerous time, when religious movements can all too easily take up weapons and where religious liberty can be espoused by governments for their own ends. Christians therefore need to be exceedingly cautious in allying religious freedom to any particular government, particularly when such governments are making war against other nations and using “religious liberty” as a pretext for regime change. The West must beware of these ramifications and Christians in the West must temper just concern with understanding for governments, such as China, that seek to maintain national stability and harmony.

God’s will that his people enjoy assurance.

“The Roman Catholic Church of Luther’s day and the Roman Catholic Church of today not only deny the possibility of the assurance of salvation, but deny that assurance is the will of God for his people. That is the stranglehold that the Roman Catholic Church has on its members…Luther understood from scripture that it is the will of God not only to save his people, but also to give those whom it is his will to save the assurance of their salvation..in this life here and now. He contended that this is the normal experience of the Christian.” (See I John 5:11-13)

From “Here we stand”  Editor Ronald Cammenga

Why men are given over to idols (a god of their own making).

Great insights from the Reformed theologian Herman Hoeksema:  “Unregenerate man is not really sorry for his sin. On the contrary, he has his delight in iniquity. If only there were no evil consequences connected with the service of sin, if only he could sin with impunity, he would not worry about sin at all. But he is afraid of the results. He dreads the punishment of sin. He would like to escape death and hell. He likes to feel safe and secure in the service of sin… Man loves sin, but he dreads hell. And so he makes an attempt to escape the one while continuing in the other… However, there is only one conceivable way in which this attempt to sin with impunity could possibly be successful; or rather that one imaginary way is really quite inconceivable: God must be changed! And the sinful heart and mind do indeed make the bold attempt to change the living God. It is thus that the sinner tries to entrench and fortify himself in his sin! He makes a god of his own imagination after his own sinful heart, before whose face he can sin and feel safe. He invents his own god, an idol that is wholly like himself. He deprives God of his sterner attributes of righteousness and justice, and speaks of a god of mercy and love that will wink at sin and make the ungodly the object of his blessing. And thus he tries to quiet the voice of his own conscience, and partly succeeds to create for himself a sense of safety in the way of sin, until he meets the living God in the day of the revelation of his righteous judgment, and discovers that he believed a lie, that he followed after a delusion, and that the eternal God cannot be mocked” (Triple Knowledge, pp. 199-200).

Are Roman Catholics deceived?

Jesus and His Word teach… 

  • You are saved by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • All who rely on observing the law (commandments) are under a curse (Galations 3:10).
  • Salvation occurs at the moment you believe the Gospel (Ephesians 1:13).
  • Jesus purifies sin (Hebrews 1:3).
  • You can know for sure you are saved (1 John 5:13).
  • The sacrifice of Jesus is finished (John 19:30).
  • We pray to the Father through Christ.

The Pope and his church teach…

  • You are saved by faith plus works.
  • Obedience to the commandments is a condition for salvation.
  • Salvation is a process from baptism through purgatory.
  • Purgatory purifies sin.
  • You are condemned if you claim to be saved.
  • The sacrifice of Jesus continues in daily Mass.
  • Mary is co-redemptrix with Christ
  • You can pray to Mary and saints

As you can see these two teachings directly oppose one another. You must make the choice as to which is true and which is deception. Your choice will determine your eternal destiny.  

Bahai

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Bahai star

The Bahá’í religion is relatively new being founded by Bahá’u’állah (name means the glory of God) in 1863 in Iran and like Islam believes he is the last and greatest prophet and manifestation of God, after progressive revelation through Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed etc.

    • The purpose of the Baha’i Faith is to unite all the peoples of the world in one universal Cause, one common Faith. Baha’is believe that all humanity was created by one God and all are members of one human race.
    • To be a Baha’i means to follow the teachings of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-Founder. Baha’is believe He is the Promised One of all ages, and that His teachings enable humanity to build the peaceful and prosperous civilization which has been promised in prophesies of many religions.
    • The Baha’i Faith has an administrative order including elected nine-member assemblies at the local, national, and international level.
    • Baha’u’llah has revealed laws that Baha’is are expected to follow. These laws include daily prayer and daily reading of Baha’u’llah’s  Writings.
    • A key tenet is the independent investigation of truth; each individual is responsible to discover the truth for himself. This pertains to the process of becoming a Baha’i.

    Some of the above tenets are commendible (red) but there is much falsehood and much missing. Here are some major points:

    Bahauallah was not holy nor a divine luminary, he was a sinful man who died like the rest of us. Notice that nothing is said about humanity’s sin against a HOLY GOD.

    The Bahai faith states that God is unknowable and inaccessible but yet the source of all revelation (what a contradiction!). But God has made himself known in the incarnation and was ever accessible, even in our first parents (John 1:18).

    “The oneness of all religion. ” How can beliefs that are diametrically opposed be one? (Amos 3:3).

    “The essential worth of all religions.”  Surely there can only be one truth and what is false is not only unworthy of adherence but downright wicked and dangerous. Any religion that denies that God has become man in Christ is a lie ( I John 4:2, I Tim.2:4). Humans MUST HAVE a sin-bearing atoning mediator to approach Jehovah.

    Bahai website