The Power of the Gospel

A “must hear” message delivered 10 years ago when CPRC building opened. Summarised below:

Notes:

Power of the Gospel  Prof. Herman Hanko

Text: 2 Cor.10:4-5

  1. Strongholds Conquered: Satan sets up wicked man-centred and man-honouring false religions the fruit of man’s imaginations including Roman Catholicism and Arminianism and systems of thought e.g. pagan philosophy and evolutionism which are all contrary to the true knowledge of God and designed to keep men from that knowledge through the gospel.
  2. Conquering Gospel: the most powerful force of God that smashes all these imaginations is the preaching of the gospel (the word of God preached by ordained, sent men).
  3. Glorious Victory: The gospel of the cross has the power eventually to bring everything under the dominion of Christ.

The Christian in Complete Armour (198)

This peace promised by God through the Gospel reproves:

  1. The Papists (Roman Catholics), who deny that peace of conscience is the blessing of the gospel, for they deny that any person can know in this life, unless by an extraordinary revelation, that he is a child of God, and one that shall be saved—which, if true, would smash to pieces the vessel in which the Christian’s joy and inward peace is kept. Whence comes the peace we have with our own consciences, but from the knowledge we have of our peace with God? ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God,’ Rom. 5:1. If the poor soul be left at uncertainties here, farewell to all inward peace. The poor Christian may then say of himself, ‘He walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth,’ I John 2:11. Truly then the gospel might rather be called the gospel of fears and doubts, than the gospel of peace.  For these misled folk, ‘their life should hang in doubt before them; and they shall fear day and night, and should have no assurance of life,’ Deut. 28:66. Bold men they are that dare so wretchedly disfigure the sweet face of the gospel because their hypocrisy makes them justly question their own salvation, and will not suffer them to apply the comfort of the promises to themselves, must they therefore seal up these wells of salvation from those that are sincere, and then lay the blame on the gospel which is due only to their own wickedness? But there is a mystery of iniquity which hath at last been found to be at the root of this uncomfortable doctrine of theirs.They are a little akin to Judas, who was a thief, and carried the bag. These have a bag, too, into which they put more gold and silver, that this doctrine brings them in, than ever Judas had in his. Though the doctrine of gospel-grace to poor sinners’ would bring more peace to others’ consciences —might it be seen in its naked glory among them —yet the superstitious fear which they keep ignorant souls in, brings more money to their purses; and this lies so near the heart of their religion, that gospel, Christ, heaven, and all, must bow unto it.

The evil uncertainty of works religion (e.g. Roman Catholicism)

Please click on the link below to see powerful words by the great Reformer Martin Luther exposing the evil of works religion which of course includes Roman catholicism

BRJ article clip

Furthermore he continues, “All heretics do not understand justification” and where that article (justification or imputed righteousness) is correctly preached and held , nothing can be evil; because only faith justifies; the Mass, purgatory, monastic vows, and all things fall.”

From an article in British Reformed Journal Winter 2020 by Rev. Angus Stewart.

Exposing the Mass.

New LRF Blog Post

Rev. Martyn Mcgeown, Limerick Reformed fellowship


Is the Lord’s Supper a sacrifice?

Posted: 31 Jan 2020 12:25 AM PST

The answer to this question should be a great concern to those who believe in the Gospel truth of justification by faith alone recovered and illuminated especially at the time of the Reformation. After all, justification by faith alone has reference to that in which we place our trust, and also the legal ground or basis for the justification of sinners. We must trust in a sacrifice as the basis for our justification. In particular, we trust in the one unique and completed sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross as the legal ground for the forgiveness of our sins. On the cross, Jesus Christ satisfied to the uttermost the justice of God which required that our sins be punished.

If that is the case, then we must not put our trust in any other sacrifice. Only because this sacrifice is perfectly sufficient and worthy, we can have peace in our consciences that we are right with God, and be free to serve Him in gratitude without the terrible expectation of everlasting punishment in hell for our sins. What are we to think then of Rome’s claim in its doctrine of the Mass that the Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice? Indeed, for Rome, what they call the “Eucharist” is the supreme and central object of their faith, toward which all other ecclesiastical ministries are directed:

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”1

In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking.”2

For Rome, the Lord’s Supper is a communion,3 a memorial of the cross,4 a thanksgiving5 and praise to God,6 a propitiatory sacrifice,7 and a substantial presence of Christ.8 Rome injects corrupt doctrines into the meaning of many of these terms, so that we could not even agree with what Rome teaches about the first two of this list,9 but it is the last two in particular that militate against justification by faith alone. Their doctrine of transubstantiation teaches that the substance of the bread and wine become the substance of “the whole Christ”, by which they mean “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity”.10 To this, we respond that Christ ascended to heaven and is there to be worshipped by us (Phil. 3:20). There is no justification by faith in idols of bread and wine in the place of Christ who is in heaven. Notwithstanding that this absurdity involves those who participate in it in both gross blasphemy and idolatry, our main concern in this article is the claim that the Lord’s Supper is a propitiatory sacrifice.

By propitiatory, we mean a sacrifice which pays for sins so that God’s just wrath against us for our sins is appeased. There is no doubt that this is Rome’s view of the sacrifice of the Mass. First, they teach that the Mass is actually one and the same sacrifice as that offered by Christ on the cross. This is their grounds for concluding that it is propitiatory:

The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory.”11

For Rome, in the Mass “the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present.”12 Furthermore, Rome offers this sacrifice for both the living and the dead, as an offering to supplicate God to forgive their sins.13 This offering has to be made over and over again, not only for the living, but also for the dead. The question arises then, if it is really the same sacrifice of Christ on the cross which is perfectly sufficient to pay for all our sins, why does it need offered again? Was there something lacking in Christ’s priesthood which is supplied by Rome’s priesthood? These are kind of arguments made in the letter to the Hebrews, helping early Jewish Christians understand why they do not need the sacrifices of bulls and goats:

And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:11-14)

The apostolic doctrine is that if a priest has to offer the same sacrifices over and over again, then that proves that such sacrifices can never take away sins. Unlike the priests who had to offer daily sacrifices, Christ needed to offer up his sacrifice only once (Heb. 7:27). Similarly, the writer to the Hebrews argues:

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:24-28)

This illustrates an absurdity for us: If Christ had to be offered often, he would have been suffering since the beginning of the world. The apostolic doctrine is that Christ’s sacrifice cannot be offered without Christ’s suffering. The implication for Rome’s view then is that Christ continues to suffer today whenever the Mass is offered. But can there be any more suffering for Christ who has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, who said on the cross, “It is finished”? The writer to the Hebrews speaks of Christ’s hypothetical continued suffering as an absurdity which proves that he does not offer Himself often.

He crowns his argument by appealing to the death and judgment of men. We do not die often, but once and then are judged finally. In the same way, “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” If Christ had to be offered for sins often, He would also have to die often since death is the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23). But He has risen from the dead, and defeated death so that he lives forever and cannot die (Rom. 6:9; Heb. 7:16, 25; Rev. 1:18). He has defeated death precisely because His offering for sin was entirely sufficient. His resurrection is also the hope of our resurrection, because we will be like Him (I John 3:2). If He could still suffer and die, so that He be offered again and again, then we too would have no hope in the resurrection but continued suffering and death (I Cor. 15:12-22). But the promise of God concerning our eternal hope is this:

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:3-5)

What comfort would it have been to the thief on the cross, when Christ said “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43), if it meant continued suffering? Nevertheless, Rome holds her doctrine of the Mass, in contrast to this plain teaching of Scripture, and even claims that the early church fathers supported this view. The early church fathers may have differed on many things, but they did not differ in appealing to Scripture rather than the words of mere men as the final authority in controversy. Should we then simply respond by saying that those in the early church were fallible and should just be ignored?

Certainly we must insist, with them, that Scripture is the ultimate authority, and that is sufficient to counter Rome’s arguments. But our attitude towards other faithful members of the church, whether past or present, should never be simply to ignore them because they, like us, are fallible. That would betray a self-destructive pride and foolishness (I Pet. 5:5). Did God give His Spirit only to us, or also to others? Do we understand all things in Scripture perfectly, or did God also give valuable insights to others, which He did not give to us (Job 12:2)? Is there not safety in the multitude of counsellors (Prov. 11:14)? Should the eye say to the hand, I have no need of you (I Cor. 12:21)?

For Reformed Christians, this may never be our attitude. Scripture is our ultimate authority by which all men’s words must be judged, but that does not mean that we should dare simply to ignore the words of other church members. First of all, we should not dare because God has always taught the church by means of the preaching of His Word by men (Rom. 10:14-15; I Cor. 1:21; Eph. 4:11-16). Secondly, God has made the church a body, fitly framed together so that each part has need of the others (Rom. 12:3-8; I Cor. 12:8-31). Thirdly, we should prefer others above ourselves (Rom. 12:10; Phil. 2:3), being swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19). Fourth, we, just as much as others, are fallible and need corrected by others bringing God’s Word to us (Prov. 15:10; Acts 18:24-26; Gal. 2:11-16).

We look at the faithful who have gone before us with indebtedness and honour, being grateful to God for them. They have helped us to understand the teaching of Scripture – especially against the many heresies which have arisen in the history of the church. They have shown us where to look in Scripture for the answers against these heresies, and how the truth ties together to expose the arguments of heretics. We cherish the ecumenical creeds of the early church. We cherish also their writings, though again only so far as they can be proven by Scripture, since they like us, are prone to err.

But we are ashamed of our errors, and the errors of others, and we do not boast in them or publicise them when we become aware of them (Prov. 12:6; I Pet. 4:8). We say things today which we regret and are embarrassed of in hindsight, and those in past also, along with many wonderful things, said foolish things which they now regret and are embarrassed of. We should be careful to esteem the words of others, and especially in particular our elders and our fathers in the faith (Lev. 19:32; Job 32:4; Isa. 3:5; I Tim. 5:1, 19). But as Shem and Japheth covered Noah, we too should cover their shameful errors, which we now by God’s grace may see more clearly, because we have learnt from them. Not like Ham who made known the shame of his father.

Rome seems to take delight in rummaging through the gold of the early church writings, to find all the dung and put it on prominent display. The appropriate attitude here is not to simply cast them all aside as if all they wrote was dung, but to honour them by taking their gold and showing that what Rome insists on is inconsistent with that. This was Calvin’s approach in dealing with Rome’s claims. First, he explained positively what Scripture teaches, then he showed their errors from Scripture, and then he defended the honour of the early church fathers who were being dragged through the mud by Rome. Only after positively explaining the Lord’s Supper in Chapter 17 of his Institutes, does Calvin begin to treat directly the subject of the papal Mass, which he terms a sacrilege14. After dealing Scripturally with the points raised here, and much more besides, he begins to examine whether Rome can make any appeal to the primitive church.

Besides, this perversity was unknown to the purer church. For however much the more shameless among our adversaries try to gloss this over, it is very certain that the whole of antiquity is against them, as we have previously demonstrated in other matters, and it may be more surely ascertained by an assiduous reading of the ancient writers.15

Before he continues he asks “how they can believe that God is pleased by this way of sacrificing, for which they have no command, and which they see cannot be proved by even one syllable of Scripture” and since “they cannot claim even an iota that supports their priesthood,” he asks, “Why, now, will not their sacrifices vanish, which cannot be offered without a priest?” For Calvin too, Scripture is the ultimate, and sufficient authority. But neither is Calvin ready to relinquish the church fathers:

If anyone thrusts forward detached sentences of the ancient writers from here and there, and argues from their authority that the sacrifice executed in the Supper is to be understood far otherwise than we explain it, our answer briefly is: if it is a question of approving a sham sacrifice such as the papists have contrived in the Mass, the ancient writers do not support such sacrilege at all. Indeed, they use the word “sacrifice”; but at the same time they explain that they mean nothing else than the remembrance of that one true sacrifice which Christ, our sole Priest (as they everywhere proclaim), made upon the cross.16

He then quotes Augustine and Fulgentius who both make the same comparison and contrast between the sacrifices of the Old Testament looking forward to the prophesied sacrifice of Christ, and the partaking of the body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper remembering that sacrifice which has already been offered.17 Augustine refers to the Lord’s Supper as an offering, which Fulgentius qualifies as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.18 Calvin explains:

Augustine himself in many passages interprets it as nothing but a sacrifice of praise. Finally, in his writings you will repeatedly find that the Lord’s Supper is called a sacrifice for no other reason than that it is a memorial, an image, and a testimony of that singular, true, and unique sacrifice by which Christ has atoned for us.19

Calvin also points to a very deep and insightful theological argument made by Augustine, which really leaves no room for Rome’s priesthood, or any involvement of Christ’s sacrifice with the sacrifice they offer:

In a sacrifice four things are to be considered—to whom offered, by whom, what is offered, and for whom. Accordingly, that same one true Mediator, reconciling us to God through the sacrifice of peace, remains one with him to whom he has offered; has made those for whom he offered one in himself; is himself, both he who has offered and what he has offered, one.20

Astoundingly profound Christological doctrine! Christ’s sacrifice is so unique in that Christ offers Himself to God with whom He is one, and for us sinners who are made one in Him. How then could this unique sacrifice be offered by anyone other than Christ Himself? It would be to try to take the office of Mediator between God and man. No-one other than Christ has been given that office (I Tim. 2:5), and no-one else could possibly be qualified, since only Christ is both God and man in one divine Person. Little surprise that for Augustine it would be the “voice of Antichrist” to speak of anyone else as an intercessor between God and man.21

Having shown that these early church fathers themselves are sufficient to refute Rome’s doctrine of the Mass, when putting their gold, silver and precious stones on display, he concedes that there is also some wood, hay and stubble. Says Calvin:

… we do not deny that the sacrifice of Christ is so shown to us there that the spectacle of the cross is almost set before our eyes … [as in the preaching, cf. Gal. 3:1] But I observe that the ancient writers also misinterpreted this memorial in a way not consonant with the Lord’s institution, because their Supper displayed some appearance of repeated or at least renewed sacrifice.22

Calvin was not afraid to disagree with the early church writers, and where necessary to point out where he believed they had erred. Again he urges us to look instead to the “pure and simple ordinance” of the Lord’s Supper in Scripture alone.23 He insists however that their error was mitigated or restrained:

Certainly, since I see that they have kept a devout and orthodox sense of this whole mystery, and I do not find that they intended even in the slightest degree to detract from the Lord’s unique sacrifice, I cannot bring myself to condemn them for any impiety; still, I think they cannot be excused for having sinned somewhat in acting as they did.24

Specifically, he blames them for taking a “perverse anagogical interpretation” so that the Lord’s Supper was compared too closely with Old Testament sacrifices. Calvin remedies this by spending some time illustrating the proper contrast that should be made in light of Christ’s sacrifice now being accomplished. He then treats the important distinction between a propitiatory sacrifice and a sacrifice of praise or thanksgiving.

But although these [Old Testament sacrifices] were of various forms, still they can all be referred to two classes. For either an offering was made for sin by some kind of satisfaction, by which guilt was redeemed before God; or it was a symbol of divine worship and attestation of religion—sometimes, in the mode of supplication, to ask God’s favor; sometimes, of thanksgiving, to testify gratefulness of heart for benefits received; sometimes, of the exercise of simple piety, to renew the confirmation of the covenant.25

He explains that those sacrifices belonging to the first category, were not actually capable of atoning for sin, but only prefigured the sacrifice of Christ which only He could have offered. Calvin insists that the perfection of this offering, leaves no room for any other. He then applies this to the Mass as “a most wicked infamy and unbearable blasphemy” for anyone to suppose that pardon of sins is obtained by repeating the offering. In passing, he also takes aim at the avaricious practice of offering these Masses not for the whole church, but for those who pay with money.26

In modern Ireland today, this abominable practice is maintained. The recent scandal regarding the sale of Mass cards was not primarily to do with Rome’s wicked practices, but the practice of the retail sector, selling pre-signed Mass cards for Masses that were never actually offered, because in many cases the priests in question were dead or could not be found. In 2009, a new law was brought in to ban this practice, which in retrospect really just serves to strengthen Rome’s monopoly on the sale of Masses.27 Speaking personally, I would not appreciate receiving a card for a departed loved one which says that the faithful departed is burning in the fires of purgatory, and that Masses must be offered up continually in the vain hope that their sins may be paid for. What a weak and pitiful sacrifice it must be that offering it once is not enough! Of course, for the sake of appearances, they are careful no longer to speak of this transaction in terms of a sale, but as a voluntary donation. A donation for which there is a recommended amount and which secures that a Mass is offered for the donor. An exchange of a Mass for money, one might say, or a “sale” in other words. One may read the papal instructions on this practice and make one’s own conclusions.28 With the convenience of modern technology, one can now also much more easily purchase these Mass cards online, even in bulk.29 It’s not clearly advertised however how much sin €5 for one Mass is supposed to pay for.

Perhaps surprisingly, Calvin shows the shamefulness of the Mass, by showing how even by the standards of the pagans (Plato, in the Republic) paying for Masses as a mechanism to continue freely in sins is “brutish stupidity”. Yet, he says, the ease of purchasing Masses enables this, and this practice accounts for “the greatest part of masses.”30 Calvin continues his explanation of the distinction between sacrifices of propitiation and sacrifices of thanksgiving, by demonstration from Scripture. Stating that the sacrifice of thanksgiving includes “all the duties of love”, he expands:

Also included are all our prayers, praises, thanksgivings, and whatever we do in the worship of God. … This kind of sacrifice has nothing to do with appeasing God’s wrath … but is concerned solely with magnifying and exalting God. For it cannot be pleasing and acceptable to God, except from the hands of those whom he has reconciled to himself by other means, after they have received forgiveness of sins, and he has therefore absolved them from guilt.31

The argument is plain, God is not pleased with offerings of service which are stained by guilt and wickedness. Our works of gratitude cannot be acceptable as an offering of praise unless we are first cleansed by the offering of Christ to remove our guilt. He explains Malachi 1:11 in this light – the incense offered in every place is not the incense offered in Masses by Rome, but is the offering of ourselves in the New Testament age as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable worship (Rom. 12:1). As examples, he refers to the letter to the Hebrews in which doing good and sharing are called well-pleasing sacrifices (Heb. 13:16), and to the Philippians’ generosity to Paul as a fragrant sacrifice (Phil. 4:18). He adds to these examples from both Old and New Testament (Psalm 50:23, 51:19, 141:2; Hosea 14:2-3; Heb. 13:15) showing that all Christians have been made priests to offer this sacrifice of praise (I Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6).32

Finally Calvin concludes, “Satan never prepared a stronger engine to besiege and capture Christ’s Kingdom” and that the Mass, “from root to top, swarms with every sort of impiety, blasphemy, idolatry, and sacrilege.”33 Having understood this clearly, at least from this one consideration of Rome’s teaching of the Mass as a sacrifice, what should those who fear God do with respect to the Mass as it is practised everywhere throughout this nation? The apostle Paul gives us the very simplest admonition: “Flee from idolatry” (I Cor. 10:14, cf. I John 5:21). If we do not with all our energy denounce and abhor it, and bear witness against it, at least let us flee from it. Let us not look back towards it, or linger awhile for the sake of others near to us, since we know that God’s wrath burns against all idols and idolatry, and there is no respect of persons with God. “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32), as an example of those who do not wholeheartedly flee from what God has designated for destruction when His deliverance has been displayed (Num. 16:26; Rev. 18:4).

Calvin also had much to say about the right application of the Gospel with respect to the Mass. Some, under fear of persecution, thought that they could avoid causing offence to their neighbours if they at least attended, even if they did not believe in it or worship the “consecrated” breadwith their hearts. Calvin’s answer was very clear, worship is not only with the heart, but with all of our being.34

Now it cannot be denied, that the Mass is an idol set up in the temple of God. Therefore, whoever attends it, gives an example to the simple and ignorant that he holds it in reverence as good: and he is thus guilty before God of the ruin of the one whom he deceives in this manner … First, all servants of God will unquestionably require of a believer not only that he love and honour God in purity and innocence of heart, but also that he give witness to the love and honour that he bears Him inwardly by means of outward exercises. This witness consists of two points, namely confession with the mouth and outward worship, or ceremonies. … As to the second point, there is no doubt but that all ceremonies that involve manifest idolatry are contrary to the confession of a Christian. Therefore, bowing down before images, worshipping relics of saints, going on pilgrimages, bearing candles before idols, buying Masses or indulgences are all things which are wicked and displeasing to God. We must likewise abstain from all ceremonies which are connected with superstition and error, such as attending services which are performed for the dead, going to Masses, processions and other services which are done in the honour of saints, as is done today. For there is nothing there but what is profane and impure. The word of God is defrauded there; the prayers which are made there are not only foolish and inept, but full of blasphemies, and without anything which may be defended by the authority of the ancient church. For they have entirely overturned and destroyed what the fathers holily instituted and observed in the past.35

We belong to God both body and soul, and owe Him the sacrifice of praise with both body and soul. Calvin pointed to the example of Daniel’s friends.36 How easy it would have been for them to just bow with their bodies to the image of Nebuchadnezzar to satisfy him, yet they refused, determining even to burn in the fiery furnace if God did not deliver them! Not merely because it would be a poor witness to what they believed in their hearts, but because it would be offering worship to devils (I Cor. 10:20). Calvin casts down almost every equivocation and excuse one could imagine for attending the Mass in these writings. Calvin insisted that the sacrifice of thanksgiving required by God demands that we keep ourselves from any participation in such idolatry (I Cor. 10:21).

When a man understands the Gospel of our salvation by the one sufficient sacrifice of Christ, the only sacrifice which gives us confidence before God and delivers us from slavery to sin, he ought rather to suffer death than to offend God by attending such an abominable ceremony (Psalm 1:1, 26:4-5; II Cor. 6:17). This was a very real possibility in Calvin’s time, whereas in our country and time, the worst we can expect is some acquaintances and relatives are offended and perhaps give us the cold shoulder and refuse to speak to us or hear us. Let man be offended, but do not offend God by tolerating what He despises – a ceremony which aims to supplant the perfect sacrifice of His Son. Only by Christ’s offering of Himself can our consciences be cleansed. Only by His final and finished atoning sacrifice can we be justified before God through faith in Him. The only sacrifice which has paid for sins is the one which never needs to be offered again forever.

1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324, https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm (accessed 21st January, 2020).

2 Catechism, 1327.

3 Catechism, 1331.

4 Catechism, 1363.

5 Catechism, 1360.

6 Catechism, 1361.

7 Catechism, 1367.

8 Catechism, 1374.

9 Briefly, the Lord’s Supper ought to be a communion of believers, not only a select few, and not open to the unbelieving and impenitent, and not all who eat enter into communion with Christ, but only those who partake by faith (contra. Catechism, 1329). By “memorial,” they mean not just a “recollection [and proclamation] of past events” but also the same sacrifice being present again, and it being offered again (Catechism, 1362-1366).

10 Catechism, 1374.

11 Catechism, 1367.

12 Catechism, 1364.

13 Catechism, 1371.

14 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, 1960 (The Westminster Press: Philadelphia).

15 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1437.

16 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1438.

17 With perhaps greater clarity now, and better distinction from various errors, we (with Calvin), insist that this real partaking of Christ is only by the instrument of faith (John 6:51-58). The physical mouth and hands are of no profit to reach or assimilate Christ into us (John 6:63-64), only the mouth and hands of faith can avail to reach up to Christ in heaven and receive Him (John 6:27-40; Gal. 5:4-6), and that only because this faith is worked in our hearts by the Spirit of Christ who unites us to Him (Eph. 1:19, 2:8). Unlike others who “throw the baby out with the bath-water” when rejecting Rome (not properly discerning between the lies and the vestiges of truth upon which the lies are constructed to make them seem more plausible, persuasive, and historic), we insist that we must really partake of Christ, who is Himself the bread of life, and that Christ is really present at His table, not in substance, but by His Word and Spirit, in the preaching and in the hearts and communion of His people by the faith which works by love.

18 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1438.

19 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1439.

20 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1439.

21 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1439.

22 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1439.

23 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1439.

24 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1439-40.

25 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1441.

26 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1442.

27 End to ‘bogus’ Mass cards, Michael Brennan, Irish Independent, https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/end-to-bogus-mass-cards-26513616.html (accessed online, 27th January 2020).

28 Mos iugiter decree, 1991, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_22021991_miug_it.html (accessed online, 27th January 2020).

29 Sympathy Cards – Sets, MSC Missions, https://www.mscmissions.ie/product-category/mass-cards/with-sympathy/sympathy-cards-sets/ (accessed online, 27th January 2020).

30 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1443.

31 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1444.

32 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1444-5.

33 Calvin, Institutes, p. 1445-6.

34 John Calvin, Come Out From Among Them, 2001 (Protestant Heritage Press: Dallas, TX).

35 Calvin, Come Out From Among Them, p. 41-2.

36 Calvin, Come Out From Among Them, p. 57-8, 136.

Pursuit of Glory (9)

We want life-a life of glory, happiness, purpose, freedom, companionship, truth, peace and holiness. God, in Christ is the life (John 1:4). To know him is to have eternal life (John 17:3, 1 John 5:11-12). It is abundant life (John 10:10). An unbroken covenantal relationship with God is life. The life of Christ within (Gal.2:20) is “like an everlasting river that quenches all our thirsts.” It’s the life Adam and Eve had pre-fall. Death came as separation from God leading to misery, meaninlessness, bondage, guilt, unrighteousness and shame. Spiritual death (separation from God), physical death and eternal death are all aspects of this death.

Christ rejoiced throughout his life except for the hours of separation fromhis father. He was full of joy because he found pleasure in obeying God and he delighted in him at all times (Psalm 16:11, Psalm 45:7, Heb.1:9, he obeyed Phil.4:4). All that we seek (the headings of this book’s chapters) is found in Christ-we are complete in him (Col.2:10). The lost, born deceived, think that by feeding their bodily appetites, they will fulfill the deep longings of their hearts but these are insatiable till rest is found in Christ.

Excellent little book in it’s analysis of human need, human motives and human satisfaction!

The Pursuit of Glory (6)

Truth

We are made to be lifelong students. Sadly the true knowledge of God, which constitutes one of the aspects of the image of God in man, was lost when our parents believed Satan’s lie. This is spiritual darkness, hiding to avoid the truth about our sins and what God says about them (Psalm 82:5). Our inablilty to understand truth is moral. “If anyone will do his will he shall know…” (John 7:17, I Cor.2:14).

 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:19-21).

The most pervasive and powerful lie infecting humanity is EVOLUTION…              “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:” (2 Peter 3:5)-JK

“Of  all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important” (Jonathan Edwards). We are full of self-deceit, and love to make gods in our own image. If we only perceive God’s justice and wrath, we will forever hide from him and suppress the truth, but knowing his mercy and grace in Christ leads us to repentance. The truth (Christ) frees us, sanctifies us and brings forgiveness as we confess our sins (John 8:32, 17:17). “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life….”

Precious Remedies (45)

Brooks now turns to the characteristics of false teachers who are the source of much evil, temptation, backsliding and the damnation of themselves and sinners who listen to them.

 SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS OF FALSE TEACHERS

Satan labours powerfully by false teachers, which are his emissaries, to deceive, delude, and forever undo the precious souls of men (Jer. 23:13) ‘I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.’ Micah 3:5: ‘The prophets make my people to err.’ They seduce them, and carry them out of the right way into by-paths and blind thickets of error, blasphemy, and wickedness, where they are lost forever. ‘Beware of false prophets, for they come to you in sheep’s clothing—but inwardly they are ravening wolves’ (Matt. 7:15). These lick and suck the blood of souls (Phil. 3:2), ‘Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers.’ These kiss and kill; these cry, Peace, peace, until souls fall into everlasting flames! (Prov. 7). (Acts. 20:28-30; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 4:14; 2 Tim. 3:4-6; Titus 1:11, 22; 2 Peter 2:18,19.)

Now the best way to deliver poor souls from being deluded and destroyed by these messengers of Satan is, to expose them so, being known, poor souls may shun them, and fly from them as from hell itself.

Now you may know them by these characters following:

[1.] False teachers are men-pleasers.

Such are not true teachers; Gal. 1:10, 1 Thess. 2:1-4. They preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart (Is. 30:10): ‘Who say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things: speak to us smooth things; prophesy deceits.’ Jer. 5:30, 31: “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” Jeremiah 5:30-31. False teachers handle holy things rather with wit and trifling, rather than with fear and reverence. False teachers are soul-murderers. Flattering words do all the mischief, they are sweet soul-poisoners. “This is my warning to my people,” says the Lord Almighty. ‘Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord! They keep saying to these rebels who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own evil desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!'” (Jer. 23:16, 17). Among these are those who promise health and wealth and preach free will and a universal love of God-JK

[2.] False teachers are notable for reproach upon Christ’s most faithful ambassadors.

Thus Korah, Dathan, and Abiram charged Moses and Aaron that they took too much upon them, seeing all the congregation was holy (Num. 16:3). You take too much state, too much power, too much honour, too much holiness upon you; for what are you more than others, that you take so much upon you? And so Ahab’s false prophets fell foul on good Micaiah, paying of him with blows for lack of better reasons (1 Kings 22:10-26). Yes, Paul, that great apostle of the Gentiles, had his ministry undermined and his reputation blasted by false teachers: ‘For his letters,’ say they, ‘are weighty and
powerful—but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible’ (2 Cor. 10:10). They rather condemn him than admire him; they look upon him as a dunce rather than a doctor. Christ and his servants have filth and scorn thrown upon them of whom the world is not worthy!

[3.] False teachers invent devices and visions of their own heads and hearts.

Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer are cases in point as regards descent into hell etc-JK. Jer. 14:14: “Then the Lord said unto me—These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.” “This is my warning to my people,” says the Lord Almighty. “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord!” Jeremiah 23:16. Harold Camping’s false prophecy was another recent case in the USA. Matt. 24:4,5; Titus 1:10; Rom. 16:18

[4.] False teachers major on minors and legalism.

1 Tim. 1:5-7: ‘Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith sincere; from which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, and understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.’ Matt. 23:23: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for you pay tithe of mint, and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.’ False teachers are nice in the lesser things of the law, and as negligent in the greater. 1 Tim. 6:3-5: ‘If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing—but doting about questions and strife of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw yourself.’ Such teachers are hypocrites. (Rom. 2:22). The earth groans to bear them, and hell is fitted for them (Matt. 24:32). Luther complained of such in his time as would strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. This age is full of such teachers, such monsters! The high priest’s spirit (Matt. 23:24) lives and thrives in these days.

[5.] False teachers cover and colour their dangerous principles and soul deceptions with very fair speeches and plausible pretences, with high notions and golden expressions.

Many in these days are bewitched and deceived by the magnificent words, lofty strains, and stately terms of deceivers. As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls; so false teachers will put a great deal of paint and garnish upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls. They know sugared poison goes down sweetly; they wrap up their pernicious, soul-killing pills in gold! (Gal. 6:12; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rom. 16:17, 18; Matt. 16:6,11,12; 7:15.)

[6.] False teachers strive more to win over men to their opinions, than to better them in their lives.

Matt. 23:15: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves!’ They busy themselves most about men’s heads. Their work is not to better men’s hearts, and mend their lives; and in this they are very much like their father the devil, who will spare no pains to gain proselytes.

[7.] False teachers make merchandise of their followers.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:13. They eye your goods more than your good; and mind more the serving of themselves, than the saving of your souls. So they may have your substance, they care not though Satan has your souls (Rev. 18:11-13). That they may the better pick your purse, they will hold forth such principles as are very indulgent to the flesh. False teachers are the great worshippers of the golden calf. “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.” (Jer. 6:13). Crates threw his money into the sea, resolving to drown it, lest it should drown him. But false teachers care not who they drown—so they may have their money.

Now, by these characters you may know them, and so shun them, and deliver your souls out of their dangerous snares.

Well said back in the 1600s and applies for all of NT age-JK

The Importance of Biblical Doctrine.

REFORMED FREE PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION

The Importance of Doctrine

BLOG POST | October 22, 2018

Doctrine is not highly regarded anymore. In many evangelical churches there is such ignorance of doctrine that even the fundamentals of Christianity are not well understood. Even in churches that remain faithful in their teaching and preaching, there is often little interest in learning and understanding doctrine. The youth are, for the most part, bored by it, and their elders are content with a superficial knowledge of the doctrines of the Reformed faith.

Very often the symptom of this lack of doctrine is a constant agitation for more “practical” preaching and teaching along with a greater emphasis on liturgy and on the other parts of the worship service until the sermon is all but squeezed out. On the part of the preachers themselves, one finds less and less biblical exposition and more and more illustration, storytelling, and entertainment.

Symptomatic of doctrinal indifference in the private lives of God’s people is complete disinterest in reading good Reformed books and periodicals. In some cases these are purchased and not read; in others there is not sufficient interest even to purchase them. If any reading at all is done, it is superficial, mostly of the “how-to” variety. Almost nothing of substance is read, and most would consider a book of doctrine too deep even though their fathers and grandfathers, who had far less education, not only were able to read theology, but read it widely and well.

If the church and the lives of God’s people are to be rescued from superficiality, decline, and all the church troubles that afflict us today, there must be a return to doctrine. For proof we need look no further than the great Reformation of the sixteenth century. Above all, the Reformation was a return to doctrine—to the doctrines of justification by faith alone, of sovereign grace, of the church, and of the sacraments. Without an interest in or return to doctrine, we cannot even hope for revival and renewal in the church.

In 2 Timothy 3:16–17 the Word of God tells us that Scripture is profitable for many things, but for doctrine first of all. Indeed, if it does not first teach us doctrine, it is not profitable for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. To all of these, doctrine is not only first, but also foundational.

Scripture emphasizes the importance of doctrine in other ways. We learn from John 17:3 that the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ is eternal life. Nothing is more important than that. Doctrine, properly taught, understood, and believed, is that knowledge of God and of his Son. Scripture teaches nothing else. “Search the scriptures,” Jesus says, “for they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).

Let us, then, give heed to doctrine. It is the province not only of the theologians but of every one who desires life eternal. Let us not set doctrine aside in the interest of more “practical” matters, but understand that doctrine reproves, corrects, and teaches the way of righteousness. Above all, it brings us face-to-face with the living God himself, in whom we live and move and have our being. To be without doctrine is to be without God.

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This excerpt was taken from the introduction of Doctrine according to Godliness, written by Ronald Hanko.