Category Archives: ROMAN CATHOLICISM

Should we call a minister “reverend?”

SHOULD WE CALL A MINISTER “REVEREND?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

No! While a common religious title, it actually is quite blasphemous to call a mere man “reverend.” The word appears once in the English (King James) Bible text, but it applies solely to Godnot a mortal man! Psalm 111:9: “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.”

The Hebrew word is rendered various ways elsewhere—“fear” (188 times), “afraid” (78 times), “terrible” (23 times), “terrible thing” (6 times), “dreadful” (5 times), “reverence” (3 times), “fearful” (2 times), “terrible acts” (1 time), and so on. Not only is JEHOVAH God’s name “holy” (set apart from all others), it is also “reverend” (instilling awe, terror, and respect). However, religion has watered down this majestic term to apply it to clergy (feeble, failing men).

In fact, observe this note found in The Oxford English Dictionary: “As a title Reverend is used for members of the clergy; the traditionally correct form of address is the Reverend James Smith or the Reverend J. Smith, rather than Reverend Smith or simply Reverend. Other words are prefixed in titles of more senior clergy: bishops are Right Reverend, archbishops are Most Reverend, and deans are Very Reverend.”

To be frank, these titles are nothing but empty obsequiousness. They are given to flattered people who belong to religious systems that exalt the creature above the Creator. It is no different than assigning the label “Holy Father” to a fallible man (Roman Catholic pope) when it too applies solely to God. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:11: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” In fact, even the religious title “father” is blasphemous. Jesus Christ declared in Matthew 23:9: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Religious tradition tosses all these verses aside.

It is most appropriate to use Bible titles for church leaders—“pastor” (Ephesians 4:11), “bishop” (1 Timothy 3:2), “deacon” (1 Timothy 3:8), “teacher” (Ephesians 4:11), “elder” (1 Timothy 5:17), or “evangelist” (Ephesians 4:11).

Also see:
» Are there modern-day apostles and prophets?
» Which is the correct title—pastor or bishop?
» But what if they read the Bible at my church…?!

What is a “daysman?”

WHAT IS A “DAYSMAN?” WHO IS OUR DAYSMAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both” (Job 9:32-33). What is a “daysman?” Who is it?

Seldom, if ever, is this term used today. Therefore, it is a strange word, one over which people stumble when they read Job 9:32-33 in the King James Bible. Friends, we need not get bent out of shape or feel intimidated. Neither should we fret that we have to learn a new word. Context clues are always there if we look for them, to help us along the way. The expression “…any daysman betwixt us” forces “daysman” to mean “something between two parties.” “That might lay his hand upon us both” again reinforces the idea that “daysman” is “something mediating between two individuals.” Moreover, you can consult a dictionary to find that “daysman” is an archaic word meaning “referee, arbitrator, adjudicator, umpire, or mediator.”

Religion stresses an idea called “the intercession of saints.” These “saints” are people in heaven who supposedly engaged in exemplary, “holy,” earthly lives. Having departed this world, they now allegedly have special influence with God. It is said that if we petition these “saints” to pray for us, God will honor their request based on their merits. By appealing to those “saints,” we supposedly get results with God we would not have received had we prayed directly to Him. This corporate “treasury of merit” not only involves Jesus’ crosswork, but also the sum of all “saints’” religious lives. It is a giant pool of divine favor from which every parishioner can draw if he or she comes by way of “the intercession of the saints!” Roman Catholicism has dozens upon dozens of “patron saints,” each specific to a profession, object, concept, injury/illness, and so on. The ostentatiously titled “Blessed Virgin Mary,” being Jesus’ mother, is said to have the greatest clout with the Lord. Religionists are urged to ask Mary for help, for, it is proclaimed, “Jesus cannot refuse His ‘Mother!’”

Let us see how Sacred Writ, in Job 9:32-33, thoroughly contradicts and outright disproves the above religious rigmarole.

At the time of Job, God the Son was not known by the name “Jesus Christ.” Moreover, the Calvary’s cross was over 1,500 years away. Therefore, no one living in the days of Job knew anything about Christ’s intercession. Sinful Job said he had no “daysman” (mediator) between him and God. In Job 9:32-33, he actually said God was not a man like he was. He and God really had nothing in common. God was mighty God; he was puny man. Earlier in the chapter, Job asked, “I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just [justified/declared righteous] with God? If he [man] will contend with him [God], he cannot answer him one of a thousand” (verses 1,2). Job had no daysman between he and God…. at least not that he knew of. God had only revealed so much information, and Job could do nothing more than believe what God had said to his people Israel.

Now, with a completed Bible in hand, we see the complete picture of God’s plan. Job did not know of the day when God really would become a man. He did not know that God-Man would literally function as his daysman and our daysman. We turn to 1 Timothy 2:5-6 to read: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” According to verse 7, that “due time” was Paul’s ministry. Notice how the crosswork of Christ is mentioned here—“[He] gave himself a ransom for all.” The Lord Jesus Christ functions as our mediator with respect to His sacrifice of Himself on Calvary. Job did not understand this because God had not shown it yet. Sadly, most church members, who have a completed Bible, still do not understand it either.

Those desperately defending religious tradition say the “intercession of saints” in “no way” diminishes Jesus’ role as the only mediator between God and man. (Heretically, though, they call the virgin Mary “co-mediatrix,” a female mediator who, according to her very title [prefix “co-,” “with”], shares a mediatorship. Whose mediatorship would she be sharing?!) They say we pray and influence the “saints” in our favor, the “saints” influence Jesus in our favor, and Jesus influences Father God in our favor. In other words, God is manipulated to do what we by ourselves could not persuade Him to do!

Friends, all the mental gymnastics and speculations of men aside, we look at Sacred Scripture to see no one exists between Jesus Christ and us. Holy Writ, in Job 9:32-33, defines a mediator (or “daysman”) as someone who lays one hand on one party and the other hand on another party. If there is one mediator—one who can identify with both parties—a third-party is completely unnecessary. We do not need a mediator between Jesus Christ and us: He is the mediator. Again, “For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus Christ is God, so He can take God by the hand. He is also Man, so He can take man by the hand. He thus joins man and God together. According to the very concept of “mediator” in Scripture, there is no room for some interceding “saint!”

The fact is, every single person on earth today has the same opportunity to access Father God through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, most do not take advantage of it. They ignore Jesus Christ’s crosswork; they want nothing to do with Him. Rather, they want to substitute their own works, and/or substitute the works of other religious people (namely, “patron saints”). Friends, God is not impressed; in fact, by pushing aside the sole mediatorship of Christ, they are treasuring up wrath! Oh, dear friends, how foolish are they.

Hebrews chapter 10 talks about how Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on Calvary fulfilled the type depicted in Judaism’s animal sacrifices. God became a Man that He might have blood to shed and pay for man’s sins: “[4] For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. [5] Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he [Jesus] saith [to the Father], Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: [6] In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. [7] Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”

If Jesus Christ, by virtue of His crosswork, is the one mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5), then there is no more need for other good works to please God. What have “patron saints” done to merit God’s favor that Jesus Christ has not already done? If they were human like we are—and they were—they failed God just as much as we do. What advantage do they have that we do not? The answer is no advantage. The fellowship that God the Son has with God the Father is the same relationship all we Christians have with Him: “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). We cannot get any closer to God, gain any more access to God, than what we already have by virtue of our position in Christ!

We “give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20) because we are approaching God according to Christ’s merits not our own or someone else’s merits. Whenever we must seek help from some other person to access God, we are saying that the cross is not enough.

Sacred Scripture could not be clearer when it says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5,6). Apart from Jesus Christ’s crosswork on Calvary, we have no access to God. Therefore, for us to appeal to some other “mediator” is to have no mediator whatsoever! Such an outcome will be worse than had we not approached God at all.

Dear friends, there will come a day when Christ-rejecters will stand before the God-Man they ignored. He will be their Judge, ready to punish them for their evil. It would have been far better for them not to know about Him, than for to know about Him and instead appeal to “patron saints” and “Mother Mary.” He will not take it lightly that they counted His perfect sacrifice at Calvary as insufficient, lacking in some way, needing supplemental enhancements. That they had the audacity to substitute the favor He offered them freely, with “good” works they and others did to merit that favor! We shudder to think of that dreadful day when He pronounces upon them those terrible words found in Matthew 25:41: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!”

The Bible says God wants His Son, Jesus Christ, to have the “preeminence in all things” (Colossians 1:18). He is the central figure in creation, and He will not share His mediatorship with anyone. For which reason, no room is left for distracting characters such as “Mother Mary,” “Father Joseph,” “Saint” Jude, “Saint” Francis of Assisi, “Saint” Teresa, et cetera. All the religious speculation aside, friends, the Scriptures say we Christians are accepted in the beloved [Christ]” (Ephesians 1:6). God has bestowed upon us divine favor because of the Lord Jesus. He is enough for us, and we are enough in Him. After all, He is “the Daysman!”

Also see:
» What is the real “Immaculate Conception?”
» Must I confess my sins—to God, to a priest, or neither?
» Does God give us “points” for trying to be good?

Can you explain the “Corban” tradition?

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE “CORBAN” TRADITION?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In order to get the full impact of certain Bible passages, we need to establish the cultural and/or historical context. The “Corban” tradition is one such example. Upon understanding its background, we will accomplish two goals. Firstly, we will better grasp the thrust of the verses. Secondly, we will recognize a modern-day parallel. This issue is a fitting commemoration to today, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

“CORBAN” INTRODUCED

The Lord Jesus Christ issued a very stern rebuke of Israel’s religious leaders in Mark chapter 7: “[9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

“CORBAN” DEFINED

If we look closely, we see that the Holy Spirit actually defined “Corban” for us in the verse. “It is Corban, that is to say, a gift…” (Mark 7:11). “Corban” is unique to Mark’s Gospel Record: it appears this once in Scripture. In Matthew 15:5, the parallel passage, we read simply: “But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;….” But what exactly is this “gift?” To whom or what is it given? And why was the Lord so opposed to this “Corban” practice?

“Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the Bible” provides the first few clues:

“G2878 κορβᾶν korbân, kor-ban’; of Hebrew and Chaldee origin respectively (H7133); a votive offering and the offering; a consecrated present (to the Temple fund); by extension (the latter term) the Treasury itself, i.e. the room where the contribution boxes stood:—Corban, treasury.”

The above Greek word appears twice in the underlying text of the King James Bible—Mark 7:11 (what we just read) and Matthew 27:6. Speaking of Judas Iscariot’s 30 pieces of silver, Matthew 27:6 affirms: “And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury [Korban/Corban], because it is the price of blood.” This was the Jerusalem Temple treasury, the place where offerings or gifts were kept.

“Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words” provides more information about “Corban:”

“(a) ‘an offering,’ and was a Hebrew term for any sacrifice, whether by the shedding of blood or otherwise;
(b) ‘a gift offered to God,’ Mar 7:11. Jews were much addicted to rash vows; a saying of the Rabbis was, ‘It is hard for the parents, but the law is clear, vows must be kept.’ The Sept. translates the word by doron, ‘a gift.’ See korbanas, under TREASURY, Mat 27:6.”

As an interesting side-note, we see an example of a gift being offered at the Jerusalem Temple in Matthew chapter 5: “[23] Therefore if thou bring thy gift [doron] to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; [24] Leave there thy gift [doron] before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift [doron].”

WHY THE “CORBAN” TRADITION WAS MENTIONED AT ALL

Why did the Lord Jesus even bring up this “Corban” issue? What point was He getting across? Why was the offering of this gift so evil and thus so offensive to Him? In order to ferret out the reason, we must go to the beginning of the chapter.

Mark chapter 7 from the beginning: “[1] Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. [2] And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. [3] For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. [4] And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. [5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”

Prior to Jesus mentioning the “Corban” tradition, the Pharisees and scribes had come to Him to criticize. His disciples were eating without first washing their hands. However, let it be clearly understood that they griped, not for hygienic reasons, but on religious grounds! Pay attention to verses 3-5: “[3] For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. [4] And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. [5] Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”

Notice all those assorted and repeated “washings” Jesus delineated in verse 4. They were “the tradition of the elders.” The Pharisees and scribes were deeply offended that Jesus’ disciples ignored it concerning their hands! To expose their hypocrisy, Jesus brought up the “Corban” issue. Here were these Pharisees and scribes grumbling about people breaking their fallible religious rules, but they themselves were blatantly rejecting and canceling God’s infallible Word. Furthermore, it did not bother these religious leaders one whit. In fact, they permitted others—the children offering the “Corban”— to also break God’s Word! What should not have angered them did. What should have angered them did not!

We continue reading in Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.” Of course, some 700 years before Christ, JEHOVAH God had said the same concerning Israel’s worthless religious system.

The Holy Spirit wrote in Isaiah 29:13: “Wherefore the LORD said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:….” Jesus Christ appealed to this to validate His condemnation of Israel’s vain religion during His earthly ministry. Israel’s spiritual blindness in Isaiah’s day still lingered in the nation when her Messiah showed up. All the while despising and violating and replacing God’s Word in their hearts with their manmade rules and regulations, these religious Jews were singing and speaking beautiful words to God. Alas, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’ day, it was all just mindless ritual, rote duty, habitual phoniness, and empty religion!

Please notice the parallel passage of Mark chapter 7, which contains extra information. Matthew chapter 15: “[1] Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, [2] Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. [3] But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

WHY THE “CORBAN” TRADITION OFFENDED THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Now that we have a basic understanding of the “Corban” issue, we want to see just why the Lord Jesus singled it out to prove His point about Israel’s empty religious practices. Returning to Mark chapter 7: “[9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;….”

The Fifth Commandment is in view here, as God commanded Israel through Moses in Exodus 20:12: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” It was reaffirmed many years later in Deuteronomy 5:16: “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

As Jesus stressed, God gave Israel another instruction through Moses concerning one’s parents. “Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death…” (Mark 7:10). The Law of Moses commanded in Exodus 21:17: “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death (cf. Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Respecting parents was such a serious matter that a child who “curseth” (reviles, speaks evil of) his parents was to “die the death” (or, “surely die”)!

In spite of the gravity of God’s instructions about Jews respecting and taking care of their parents, they overlooked, rejected, and substituted God’s Word. Notice Matthew chapter 15 again: “[4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (cf. Mark 7:10-13).

At the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, there was a man-made religious tradition in Israel. If a man simply said that he would dedicate his possessions to God (as in giving an offering at the Jerusalem Temple), he was thereby freed from any financial obligation to his parents. Israel’s religious leaders said that he did not have to honor his parents—namely, support them financially—because his wealth was reserved as “Corban” (a gift, that is, presented to the Temple). Instead of instructing the Jews in the ways of JEHOVAH God through Moses, these religious leaders gave precedence to a “commandment of men”… and that “tradition of men” outright contradicted God’s Word! Now we see why Jesus Christ was so critical of the practice.

We will take a brief moment to review. According to the Pharisees and other Jewish religious leaders, a child did not have to honor his parents—to wit, support them financially—if he declared his wealth “Corban” (a gift to the Temple). After all, that gift was supposedly an “act of worshipping God” (when it fact it contradicted true worship of God because it violated His Fifth Commandment!). The religious leaders enjoyed gifts to the Temple because they could take the wealth for themselves… forget the needy parents of the person offering the Corban! This “escape clause” from the Fifth Commandment of God explains why the Lord Jesus Christ said what He did in the surrounding verses.

One more time, Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. [9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. [10] For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: [11] But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. [12] And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; [13] Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

Matthew chapter 15: “[3] But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? [4] For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. [5] But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [6] And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. [7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

CONCLUSION

Dear friends, religion has not changed one bit in the 2,000 years since Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel. Man has not changed one whit since the books of Matthew and Mark. We hear so much about “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture” in religion today—especially in Roman Catholicism—and yet it really is not “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture” at all. To many, it is, “We found these Bible verses to prove our ‘pet’ ideas, but we do not care about Scriptural context or even if we violate other Scriptures! We will quote Scripture, so long as it furthers our agenda. Scripture takes a back-seat if it contradicts our church or takes away from our authority!”

Friends, while religious people claim to “follow the Bible” and be “Bible believers,” this is often not the case when they are closely investigated. After all, the same religious leaders who habitually and deliberately violated the Mosaic Law professed to be “followers of Moses” (John 9:28)! This is the type of (antithetical) nonsense you get involved with when you start trying to reconcile two authorities. We cannot serve two masters—we must follow either the Bible alone, or tradition alone. If we at all attempt to hold to both, they will compete and (because of our [human] sinful flesh) the manmade tradition will invariably become the final authority. It happened to Israel in Isaiah, Matthew, and Mark. It will surely occur today—yea, it has occurred today. The Protestant Reformation—or better, Protestant Revolution—recovered the truth God’s authority is in the Bible alone and not in church tradition. May we not revert!

This author will never forget the time long ago when he asked a “Bible-believing” Roman Catholic priest why so much emphasis was placed on one particular religious tradition when the Bible taught something else entirely. The priest, acknowledging this discrepancy existed (!), sharply blurted out words that this author has never forgotten: “I do not follow the Bible! I follow tradition!

And so, dear friends, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ continue to echo all these centuries later….

“Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…. Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Also see:
» Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?
» What is the real “Immaculate Conception?”
» Should Christians observe Lent?

What is the Sabbath day—Saturday or Sunday?

WHAT IS THE SABBATH DAY—SATURDAY OR SUNDAY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Within the ranks of Christendom, you find the common idea that Sunday is the “Christian Sabbath.” Who changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday? Did they have the authority to do this? We look to the Holy Word of God!

Roman Catholic priest “Father” Dale Fushek wrote: “When Did Sunday Become the Sabbath? The Book of Genesis says God created the universe in six days. Beginning on the first day of the week, Sunday, and ending on the last, the Saturday, on which he rested. ‘Sabbath’ comes for the Hebrew word for resting or ceasing. In Jesus’ time—and even today—there are serious restrictions among Jews concerning what can and cannot be done on the Sabbath. But, over time, Christians began celebrating on the first day of the week because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday and it was on Sunday that the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost.”

Note this priest never really answered the question he asked. He never said when Sunday actually became the Sabbath. Could it be that he knows Sunday never actually became the Sabbath at all? There is no verse in the Bible, in the Protestant Bible or in the Roman Catholic Bible, that indicates Sunday ever became the Sabbath. Can it be any clearer? Sunday never became the Sabbath! That is the figment of theologians’ imaginations!

The Bible says Jesus arose on the “first day of the week” (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Using this standard of Sunday as the first day of the week, Saturday would be the last (or seventh) day of the week. Genesis 2:1-3 speaks of the first Sabbath, or Saturday: “[1] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. [2] And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. [3] And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Many centuries later, God commanded the nation Israel through Moses in Exodus 20:8-11: “[8] Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: [10] But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Prior to the nation Israel and Moses, no one was ever commanded to keep the Sabbath Day. Nothing in the Bible indicates that Adam, Noah, or even Abraham ever observed the Saturday Sabbath.

It is true that Jews worshipped in the synagogues on the Saturday Sabbath (Matthew 12:2,9-10; Mark 1:21; Mark 6:2; Luke 4:16; Luke 6:6; Luke 13:10; Acts 13:14-16; Acts 15:21; Acts 17:1-3). It is true that Christians usually assembled on the first day of the week, or Sunday. Acts 20:7, for example: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” And 1 Corinthians 16:1-2: “[1] Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. [2] Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”

While early Christians did meet on the first day of the week, the Bible never called this the “Sabbath Day” or the “Lord’s Day.” In the Dispensation of Grace, there is no prescribed day of worship. We should worship God every day, not just on Sunday. Paul’s epistles make no reference to us keeping the Sabbath Day or that we have to go to church on Sunday. If it is convenient for us to fellowship with saints on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Tuesday, or even Monday, we can do it. The point is not to put so much emphasis on a formal schedule, but rather the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ being clearly proclaimed.

Colossians 2:16: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:…” Galatians 4:9-11: “[9] But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? [10] Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. [11] I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”

The Mosaic Law regulated what foods the Jews were to eat, what foods not to eat, what drinks to drink, what drinks not to drink, what days to observe, and so on. Today, however, we are under no such regulations. Actually, to teach that we must abstain from certain foods in the Dispensation of Grace, the Bible calls that a “doctrine of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1-5). We are under no kosher food laws today. We are not bound to keep the Sabbath Day. The Sabbath Day has no meaning for us as it did for the nation Israel in the Law program. Paul never instructs us to keep the Sabbath day. It may be good church tradition but it is not Bible!

Furthermore, Paul said that he was “afraid” of the Galatians because they were embracing the Mosaic Law and they were hindering God’s grace from working in their lives. They were observing days, religious holidays. Paul said in Colossians chapter 2 that Satan would use various tactics to cause us to forget our identity in Christ. We read about the traditions of man, vain deceit, philosophy, the rudiments of the world, holydays, new moons, Sabbath days, and so on (Colossians 2:8,16). None of that has any significance today. It is Scriptural to follow the Law of Moses, but it is not dispensational. We are under the Dispensation of Grace, not the Dispensation of Law (Romans 6:14-15). God’s grace never tells us to set one day aside for worshiping God. We should worship God all the time. Every day should be lived to the glory of Jesus Christ, not just one day a week.

Also see:
» Why did God give Israel the Sabbath day? (UPCOMING!)
» What is “the Lord’s day” of Revelation 1:10?
» Why did Jesus Christ heal on the Sabbath days?

Does God give us “points” for trying to be good?

DOES GOD GIVE US “POINTS” FOR TRYING TO BE GOOD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

A Roman Catholic friend once told me that he believed God gave us “points” when we tried to do our best. We may not be perfect, but he reasoned we can certainly “try” to be like Jesus and God will give us “points” for effort. Like in high school or college, if we answer a question wrongly, but at least attempt to answer it, the teacher or professor will give us a few points. While this idea of “partial credit” sounds reasonable to the natural man, and is quite handy in school, it is completely unbiblical to apply it to justification before God. God never gives “partial credit” to anyone. Either we have perfect righteousness or we do not, friends. We trust we will demonstrate in this study that the Holy Bible does not teach God giving us “partial credit!”

In fact, the Bible teaches the opposite of “partial credit” before God. With the God of the Bible, Law-keeping is “all-or-nothing.” You either keep all of the Law, or you break all of the Law. James 2:10-11 in the King James (Protestant) Bible says: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” For our Roman Catholic readers, we quote the New American (Roman Catholic) Bible: “For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not kill.’ Even if you do not commit adultery but kill, you have become a transgressor of the law.’”

Both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Bibles agree that the Law is an “all-or-nothing” system. You fall short with one commandment, and you break all of the commandments. The Roman Catholic Bible actually contradicts the Roman Catholic doctrine that we can “do the best we can” and “make up for what we have done wrong.” According to Sacred Scripture, James 2:10 in particular, we can do no right to “make up” for our wrongs! Again, if you offend the Law in one point, you are guilty of breaking all of the Law. God does not give partial credit, He does not give partial righteousness, and He does not give partial eternal life. Once more, if you offend the Law in one point, you are guilty of breaking all of the Law! Never forget that, friend.

In order to get to heaven, you have to be perfect, my friend. Romans chapter 2 tells us in the King James (Protestant) Bible: “[5] But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; “[6] Who will render to every man according to his deeds: [7] To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: [8] But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, [9] Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; [10] But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: [11] For there is no respect of persons with God.”

And, the New American (Roman Catholic) Bible: “5 By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, 6 who will repay everyone according to his works: 7 eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, 8 but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. 9 Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. 10 But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek. 11 There is no partiality with God.”

Notice how we read about people who are “evil” (verse 9). Who is evil? James 2:10 already told us that the “evil” people are Law-breakers. They have offended God’s Law in at least one point. When Romans 2:10 talks about “good” people, it refers to people who have never sinned at all. They have never broken even one of God’s laws! You say, “Oh, but Shawn, there is no sinless person anywhere! Every person has sinned!” I immediately reply, “Yes, yes, yes! I agree, my friend!” That is the purpose of Romans chapter 2. It is to condemn all people as sinners, unworthy of eternal life and unworthy of heaven. It declares us all to be ungodly and unrighteous. Saint Paul is outlining the sinfulness of man, that he may present the righteousness of Jesus Christ in chapter 3. God offers us His righteousness in Christ Jesus. He does not demand that we make ourselves holy and acceptable to Him because He knows we cannot do it. We cannot be “good” because our nature is evil, tainted by sin. The Law already demonstrated it. Go back to James 2:10.

Let us repeat. With God, Law-keeping is “all-or-nothing.” You either keep all of the Law, or you break all of the Law. James 2:10-11 in the King James (Protestant) Bible says: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” For our Roman Catholic readers, we quote the New American (Roman Catholic) Bible: “For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not kill.’ Even if you do not commit adultery but kill, you have become a transgressor of the law.’”

And, no, Romans 2:6-11 is not a plan for getting into heaven. You cannot “continue” (“persevere”) in well doing. There comes a point when you fail, when you interrupt, so you cannot obtain eternal life by “continuing” or “persevering.” The moment you fail, Saint James says you have failed completely. But that is not all. Works-religion is again demonstrated to be a failure, unable to get us to heaven.

We can also see what Saint Paul says about the matter of justification before God. Galatians 3:10-11 in the King James (Protestant) Bible says: “[10] For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. [11] But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” For our Roman Catholic readers, we quote the New American (Roman Catholic) Bible: “10 For all who depend on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law.’ 11 And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for “the one who is righteous by faith will live.”

The New American (Roman Catholic) Bible has the following footnote at Galatians 3:10: “Those who depend not on promise and faith but on works of the law are under a curse because they do not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law (⇒ Gal 3:10; ⇒ Deut 27:26) in order to gain life (⇒ Gal 3:12; ⇒ Lev 18:5; cf ⇒ Romans 10:5). But scripture teaches that no one is justified before God by the law (⇒ Gal 3:11; ⇒ Hebrews 2:4, adapted from the Greek version of Habakkuk; cf ⇒ Romans 1:17; ⇒ Hebrews 10:38). Salvation, then, depends on faith in Christ who died on the cross (⇒ Gal 3:13), taking upon himself a curse found in ⇒ Deut 21:23 (about executed criminals hanged in public view), to free us from the curse of the law (⇒ Gal 3:13). That the Gentile Galatians have received the promised Spirit (⇒ Gal 3:14) by faith and in no other way returns the argument to the experience cited in ⇒ Gal 3:1-5.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

Even the Roman Catholic scholars quoted above admit that salvation into heaven is dependent entirely on Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with our works or our performance in religion, for we do not continue (“persevere”) in everything written in the Law. Jesus Christ died to free us from the curse of the Law. Do we believe it as true? Do we reckon it as true for ourselves? Have we placed our faith, our complete reliance, on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins? Not as a way to “help” us, but to do it all for us? That is the message Saint Paul is trying to tell us. Again, Romans 2:6-11 is condemnation—we cannot “persevere” in good works therefore we are bad and under the condemnation of the Law. We are unable to persevere to get eternal life. No one is justified by works. No one is justified by the Law! Justification (right standing before God) is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone!

Romans 3:19-20 in the King James (Protestant) Bible: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. [20] 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 3:19-20 in the New American (Roman Catholic) Bible: “19 Now we know that what the law 4 says is addressed to those under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world stand accountable to God, 20 since no human being will be justified in his sight 5 by observing the law; for through the law comes consciousness of sin.”

Galatians 3:10 in the King James (Protestant) Bible: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Galatians 3:10 in the New American (Roman Catholic) Bible: “Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law.” If you do not do all things” that are written in the Law, you are under a “curse.” This agrees perfectly with James 2:10. What is the curse? Eternal damnation in hell! Go back to Romans 2:8-9 in the King James (Protestant) Bible: “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, [9] Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile….” Romans 2:8-9 in the New American (Roman Catholic) Bible: “8 but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. 9 Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.”

Cursed is everyone who does not do everything the Law demands. That means, even if you keep 99% of the Law, the one percent of disobedience nullifies/cancels your obedience. Again, the Law, the performance-based acceptance system, is an “all-or-nothing” system. This is the fact set forth in both the Protestant and Roman Catholic Bibles. In reality, we understand the following: Our performance will never make it before God. Every little failure will add up. No Law-keeping is enough for heaven. Even one failure cancels out everything preceding it. Our score before God is “0.” We score no points with God by our good works because our disobedience completely cancels our good works. That is why trusting in Jesus and our good works is also a failure. If Jesus Christ is enough, why do we have to work? Are we going to supplement what Jesus did at Calvary? What heresy! What blasphemy! What folly! Friend, to add to Christ’s sacrifice is to taint it with sinful human fingers! Leave Christ’s sacrifice alone and just accept it by faith!

Also see:
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?
» Should I recite “The Lord’s Prayer?”
» What was the real Immaculate Conception?

Did not Jesus speak words not recorded in Scripture?

DID NOT JESUS SPEAK WORDS NOT RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Recently, while listening to a Roman Catholic radio program, I heard an “apologist” claim, “Sacred Tradition is necessary because John says Jesus taught many things that were not recorded in Scripture.” Of course, he never actually read the verse from John. Whether he did this inadvertently or deliberately, he misquoted the verse. Perhaps he hoped no one would actually look in John, find the verse he was referring to, and read it to see he lied about what it said. The Holy Bible never said what this religious leader claimed it said! But, how many would actually look into the Bible and see if what he said was so, anyway? In this Bible study article, we will examine two of the “pet” passages the Roman Catholic Church uses to defend its “Scripture plus Tradition” position. What the Roman Church says about these passages, and what these passages actually say, are two different things entirely.

Having personally dealt with Roman Catholic “apologists” for many years now, I know they are very desperate for Scriptural justification. They will appeal to any verse—or any piece of a verse—to argue against Bible-quoting Protestants. No matter how greatly they abuse the Bible text, Roman Catholic apologists will never think twice about grabbing verses out of context. Their only goal is to defend their theology and church. Scripture means nothing to them if they cannot use it to teach what they want to teach.

Interestingly, Roman Catholics always enjoy touting: “If it were not for our church, you Protestants would not even have the Bible!” Of course, this is fallacious. Actually, the Bible, having almost no Roman Catholic doctrine in it, is a very poor example of a “Roman Catholic” book. Since the Bible says precious little about Roman Catholic beliefs, Romanists must largely appeal to “Sacred Tradition” as their authority. The “Tradition” portion—the bulk of their doctrine—is not found in the Bible. They quite readily admit it. But, they will go to great lengths to prove that the Bible allows for “Sacred Tradition” to speak where Sacred Scripture is silent. They claim: “John’s Gospel says Jesus taught many things that are not in the Bible. That is why we need Sacred Tradition!” Are they correct? Did John really endorse “Sacred Tradition?”

The Bible says in John 20:30-31: “[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: [31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” As stated in our opening statements, religionists use this passage to form the following argument: “Jesus spoke more in His earthly ministry than what the Scriptures record.” Is that what these two verses are saying? Of course not! Re-read the verses. Did they say anything about what Jesus spoke and taught? No, but they did mention what Jesus did.

If you have ever read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you noticed that the Gospel Record According to John is tremendously unique. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar to each other. Hence, they are commonly called the “Synoptic Gospels.” In stark contrast, John takes a very different approach to Christ’s earthly ministry. John’s Gospel Record stands by itself. Unlike the so-called “Synoptic Gospels,” John documents just a small portion of Christ’s earthly ministry.

To form John’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit selected eight special miracles—seven of which are found only in John. They are not found in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. These eight special miracles in John’s Gospel are various aspects of what God wants to do for and with the nation Israel. Our King James Bible calls these eight particular miracles “signs” in John 20:30. Of course, Jesus performed more than eight miracles during His earthly ministry. This is all what John 20:30-31 is teaching. The Bible does not say, “And many other *words* truly *spoke* Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.” That is the way Romanists want the verse to read, but, of course, it is a misreading. The emphasis in John 20:30-31 is on the eight special miracles recorded in John. John did not write about the other miracles featured in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

From the King James Bible, we read John 20:30-31 again: “[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: [31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” For our Roman Catholic readers, we cite the New American (Catholic) Bible: “30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” The Catholic Bible and Protestant Bible are agreed that the emphasis of John 20:30-31 is on what Jesus did (miracles, signs) rather what He spoke and taught!

John 21:25 should be understood likewise: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Once more, the stress is not on what Jesus taught but rather on what He did. Jesus’ miracles found in the book of John are just a portion of all the miracles He performed during those three years. John admitted his book focused on only eight of the miracles Jesus performed. For more information on how the Gospel Record of John is structured, please see our study linked at the end of this article, titled, “Should we use the book of John in evangelism?”

Please do not misunderstand me. No honest person could ever say that Matthew through John contains all the words Jesus spoke in three years. I gladly admit Jesus spoke and taught many things that are not recorded in the Bible. The statements He made “in red” are just a portion of what He spoke during three years. That does not matter because 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Colossians 1:25 make it clear that, apart from the written Bible text, we need no more revelation from God. The Holy Spirit superintended what was to be included in the canon of Scripture. Even the Roman Catholic Bible has 27 New Testament books (just like the Protestant Bible). If you were looking for everything else Jesus spoke during those three years, you would be foolish to appeal to an organization that hates the words He did speak and record in His Bible! You study history, you study Roman Catholic theology, you speak to Roman seminarians, priests, bishops, et cetera, and you can see just how anti-Bible they really are. They laugh and criticize the Holy Bible. Would God have used these people to preserve His Word for us? (And they claim they are “Bible believers!” Ha!) I have seen non-Christian people treat the Bible with more respect than Roman Catholic priests treat it!

If we respect the words of God’s apostles, then we will accept what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible—the written text, the “Scriptures” (“script”=“writing”)—is all that we need to be “throughly furnished unto all good works.” Even the Roman Catholic Bible teaches that in these verses. Saint Paul argued that if it is not in the Bible, it is not a “good work.” If the Scriptures contain all that we need for a productive Christian life, and they do, then what is the purpose of Sacred Tradition? Church tradition is useless. It will only take away from the Scriptures that are completely sufficient for us.

Also, Paul wrote in Colossians 1:25 that he was made a minister of God to “fulfill [bring to completion] the word of God.” Saint Paul said he gave us the final revelation from God. Once he penned his second letter to young Timothy, Paul died, and the revelation from God was complete (refer to 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul died 2,000 years ago. Since his death, the Papacy and other Roman leaders have continually supplemented the Bible with “Sacred Tradition.” Saint Paul said that, once his ministry concluded, there would be no more information from God to mankind. Yet, the Roman Church continually appeals to the “church fathers” for further divine insight, men who lived decades and centuries after Saint Paul died! Why? They have no regard for what God has revealed in the Bible.

CONCLUSION

Friends, we would have to be willfully deceptive to say that John 20:30-31 and John 21:25 teach there is additional revelation from God apart from the written Word (the Bible). It is most ridiculous! Those verses are talking about what Jesus “did” rather than what He “taught” and “said.” John’s Gospel selected only eight miracles whereas Jesus did many more during His earthly ministry (see Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The purpose of John’s Gospel can be found in our study, “Should we use the book of John in evangelism?,” linked at the end of this article.)

SUPPLEMENTAL: EVEN IF THE BIBLE CRITICS WERE RIGHT….

For sake of argument, let us suppose that God wanted us to follow church tradition to compensate for the fact that not everything Jesus said is recorded in Scripture. How would we know that church tradition would carry just as much weight as Jesus’ written words? Would there not be a risk that church tradition would challenge, and take away, from the written Word of God? Why, of course—and it has! I have spoken to so many people who claim to follow the Bible and “Sacred Tradition,” but when I pressed them about it and asked them to explain themselves, they finally blurted out, “I do not follow the Bible! I do not care what the Bible says! I follow tradition!”

For people who supposedly familiarized themselves with “God’s Word” in catechetical school, for people who supposedly “studied the Bible” for years at seminary, Roman Catholic “apologists” know almost nothing about what the Bible teaches. No, they do not study the Bible. They simply study theology and then pick out Bible verses that even remotely resemble what they learned in school. Instead of getting their theology out of the Bible, they look for their theology in the Bible. If there is no Bible verse that clearly supports their particular denominational doctrine, they will find the Bible verse closest to what they believe and then force the verse to read their way. John 20:30-31 and John 21:25 are just two examples of this. Their handling of the verse may be phrased as,” A better reading is….” If they disagree with the verse, especially in a King James (Protestant) Bible, they say (most conveniently), “What a poor translation!” Well, in the case of John 20:30-31 and John 21:25, their Roman Catholic Bible says just what the Protestant Bible says. What Jesus “didnot what Jesus “taught!”

Also see:
» Should we use the book of John in evangelism?
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Does doctrine really matter?

Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

SHOULD CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE MARDI GRAS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Should we as Christians celebrate Mardi Gras? Firstly, we need to define what “Mardi Gras” is, and then we need to search the Scriptures to see whether or not such a holiday is Biblical. As always, my goal is not to attack or condemn anyone, but to share God’s Word with you and let you come to your own conclusions about what God would have you to do. Compare it with the Scriptures and see what God says about the matter!

ORIGIN OF MARDI GRAS

The History Channel’s website (www.history.com) has the following opening remarks about Mardi Gras:

“A Christian holiday and popular cultural phenomenon, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites. Also known as Carnival, it is celebrated in many countries around the world–mainly those with large Roman Catholic populations–on the day before the religious season of Lent begins. Brazil, Venice and New Orleans play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

Mardi Gras” is French for “Fat Tuesday.” From where did this celebration originate? According to secular historians, not Bible believers, Mardi Gras “dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites!” In other words, even people who do not believe the Bible understand that Mardi Gras was never Christian; it was simply a pagan celebration given a “Christian” appearance. The History Channel’s website continues:

“According to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous [wild, disorderly] Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess [gluttony] and debauchery [wickedness] of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

“Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the meat, eggs, milk and cheese that remained in their homes, preparing for several weeks of eating only fish and fasting. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.” The word “carnival,” another common name for the pre-Lenten festivities, may also derive from this vegetarian-unfriendly custom: in Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat.”

* * *

Today, Mardi Gras is celebrated in Roman Catholic countries as well as here in Louisiana (mostly in the city of New Orleans). Mardi Gras is marked by partying, drunkenness, gluttony (overeating), parades, costumes and masks, eating a “King Cake,” and throwing beads and other trinkets. A few years ago, I wrote a Bible study about Mardi Gras titled, “God’s Grace on Parade.” I have reproduced it in its entirety below, in hope and prayer that you can profit from it and/or use it for others’ benefit regarding this time of year.
_______________________________________________________
GOD’S GRACE ON PARADE
by Shawn Brasseaux

Here in Louisiana, a state dominated by Roman Catholicism, Mardi Gras is perhaps the most celebrated festival. Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people consume as much alcohol as they want, eat as much rich and fatty foods as they want, and party as much as they want. While I love the dear people who participate in these events, I, as a Bible-believing Christian, object to such activities. Please understand that the following study is not intended to belittle or attack, but to provide sound doctrine regarding a matter that many enjoy but few understand.

A BRIEF SUMMARIZATION OF FAT TUESDAY, ASH WEDNESDAY, AND LENT

Religious people are told that, after they have “sinned all they want” on Fat Tuesday, to repent of that wickedness, to mourn, and turn to God. On the day after Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, clergymen place ashes on the foreheads of the church members as a sign of their “repentance.” “Lent” is the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. During these weeks, religious people endure “penitential preparation” for Easter Sunday. They are encouraged to “get closer to God” and make their lives more closely resemble Jesus’ life. How?

Their clergy urge them to pray, do penance (suffer and apologize for their sins), have repentance (feel sorry for their sins and/or turn from their sins), give alms (give material goods/money to others), and seek self-denial (temporarily give up luxuries such as a hobby or favorite food). These dear souls are even told they cannot eat meat on the Fridays during Lent (fasting). Did you know that God’s Word says that “commanding to abstain from meats” is a “doctrine of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)?

So, why do they observe Lent? They claim to be following “Jesus” when He fasted for 40 days (Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2). To Satan’s delight, Mardi Gras appears so innocent and it hides behind the cloak of religion. People are completely blinded regarding Mardi Gras, just like they are regarding much of the other activities in “Christian” circles today. Let me further demonstrate this.

THE DECEPTION AND PAGANISM OF MARDI GRAS EXPOSED

Why is Mardi Gras a period of drunkenness, overeating, and partying followed by a time of fasting? Historians tell us that Mardi Gras can be traced back to the pagan Roman festivals Saturnalia and Lupercalia, wild and shameful celebrations of fertility and springtime. Lupercalia was noted for its orgies and sexual excesses while Saturnalia was celebrated with overeating and revelry (drunken parties). And then, after the excess, the pagans fasted. Does that sound familiar? Is that not what Mardi Gras is all about? Despite its “Christian” veneer, history claims that Mardi Gras is not a Christian celebration at all. Pagans originally celebrated it, albeit they called it other names (Lupercalia and Saturnalia).

How did Mardi Gras become associated with Christianity? Well, when Christianity came to Rome in the first centuries A.D., church leaders knew that it would be impossible to convince the pagans to abandon their ungodly practices, worthless idols, and unbiblical beliefs. What was the solution to uniting the Roman Empire? The church leaders simply incorporated that heathenism into Christianity! This is the origin of several “Christian” holidays, including Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas.

A few weeks ago, a local Roman Catholic priest wrote a column in my local newspaper. The poor soul actually defended Mardi Gras as something godly, withholding the historical facts that he should have known. He claimed, “Getting drunk and wreckless [sic] is not the spirit of Mardi Gras in its origin. Rather, it was to tap into the rhythm of life of celebrating and mourning, of eating and fasting, of laughing and crying. It is what the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes was inspired to write….” Basically, he argued that since Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says there is “a time for” everything, Mardi Gras is no exception! He concluded his article with, “As long as there is no sin, celebrate Mardi Gras with gusto so the 40 days of Lent will be entered into with willingness and even a sense of joy.” (Bold emphasis mine.) According to him, you can celebrate Mardi Gras, a sinful holiday, without committing sin. Shame! Shame! Shame!

I wrote a letter to the editor, and surprisingly, it was published. In that letter, I objected to this priest’s statements and pointed out that his entire argument was misleading. Some may argue that this was an honest mistake on his part, so be it known, that, to my knowledge, that priest made no attempt to correct his untruthful statements. He never recanted or retracted his claims.

More recently, this same Catholic priest wrote yet another column in our newspaper, and this time, his topic was Lent. He wrote, “Marked on this coming Wednesday with ashes as a reminder that we are dust and unto dust we all shall return, we enter this season to reflect on how best we can walk with Jesus, knowing that ‘if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him’ (Romans 6:8). This is a holy time—a time to believe more and more in the good news of Jesus.” Notice again how Mardi Gras and Lent is associated with Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Lent is a “holy” time? Well, as long as we compare Lent to the shameful carousel on the previous Tuesday, I guess Lent IS holy!

MARDI GRAS ON PARADE

Quite frankly, religious people use Mardi Gras as a license to sin. Mardi Gras parades, complete with bead tossing from floats, involve alcohol, gluttony, and dancing. Sexual acts—including exposing certain body parts—are prevalent. People just seem to lose all temperance, doing whatever they want and how much they want. And, may we add masks are donned as to keep their identities secret! When the parades are over, the streets are covered with vomit and polluted with literally tons of litter. Do you know what is most pitiful? They claim that this is a “holy time!” Now do you see why Jeremiah 17:9 explains that man’s heart is “wicked,” “deceitful above all things?” They have deceived themselves into thinking that ungodly activity honors God, since they will confess it and repent of it all the next day! Sadly, there is no shame whatsoever. The Mardi Gras parades are broadcast on television and published in our newspapers. While wearing cross necklaces (of all things!) these revelers drink and party. And guess what? The media even refers to them as “revelers.” Again, they are open about their sin.

GOD’S GRACE ON PARADE

Every Mardi Gras, I am reminded of a verse in Romans: “…Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (5:20). Mardi Gras is sinful in that it involves drunkenness and sexual promiscuity. But it is all the more wicked because this blatant sin is committed in the name of “God!” The Mardi Gras colors purple, green, and gold represent justice, faith, and power, respectively. Again, Mardi Gras appears to be “Christian.”

In addition, a notable confection of Mardi Gras is the “king cake,” which is decorated with green, purple, and gold icing. It symbolizes the “three kings” who visited the baby Jesus. A plastic baby is even hidden in the king cake. Regardless of all its biblical allusions (ILLUSIONS!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God.

Despite all this sin, even when it is committed in the name of “God,” the Lord Jesus Christ in His abounding grace and mercy, continues to tolerate mankind. Year after year, Mardi Gras Season after Mardi Gras Season, mankind parades his sin, and God parades His grace. God holds back that wrath that mankind so rightfully deserves. People believe they are getting away with their sin, but the Bible says this about their “payday.” “[God] Who will render to every man according to his deeds: Unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;” (Romans 2:6,8,9). There is “pleasure of sin,” but the Good Book says, it is but “for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

WHERE THE SAINTS STAND

Throughout my short life, I have personally known scores of “Christians” who find Mardi Gras totally acceptable. They believe it is godly, when, in fact, the Bible exposes “revelry” as sin, a “work of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21). Even the Apostle Peter—who Rome claims was its “first pope”—disagrees with and condemns reveling (1 Peter 4:3). Peter forbade “excess of wine, revellings, and banquetings” (1 Peter 4:3). Galatians 5:19-21 claims that “drunkenness” and “revellings” are “works of the flesh.” Paul wrote, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess” (Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness. So why do we have professing Christians engaging the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?!

Mardi Gras is completely offensive and unacceptable to God and to those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Christians should speak out against such foolishness. It mocks our Saviour… even more so because they commit sin using HIS name!!!! As Christians, we are taught to “deny” the activities that accompany Mardi Gras.

Titus 2:11-15 explains: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

There is nothing biblical about Mardi Gras. It is not “sober, righteous, or godly.” It does not reflect the grace life that we have in Jesus Christ. Mardi Gras entails riotous and careless living. God’s grace teaches us Christians not to sin, to lead lives that are responsible and temperate. Sin is not who we are anymore. Romans 6:11-15 says: “[11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we continue in sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

Can the Bible be any clearer? Mardi Gras is not for Christians.

CONCLUSION

So, perhaps I have gotten your attention, and have made you see things you never realized before. To the Lord alone be the glory if that is true! Maybe you are a Mardi Gras reveler. Perhaps you are still dead in your trespasses and sins and destitute of eternal life. The key is not to stop the Mardi Gras revelry in your own strength. Come to God as you are and He will take care of the rest. He will clean up your life and give you peace, joy, righteousness, and love. God accepts us in His Son, the beloved, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:6). The wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God declares that God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

No fasting, no penance, no confession, and no self-denial will ever merit the favor of God. By trying to please God in your own strength, you will only condemn yourself. You are a sinner, so you cannot do anything to please God. But, because you are a sinner, God can save you. You can be made “the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). How?

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for everything that is wrong with you. Why not trust in Jesus Christ alone, that His finished crosswork is sufficient to pay for your sins? God has forgiven you and you do not have to go to hell! Come to God as you are, and by faith, rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour. If you do, God will save you forever, and make a trophy of His grace. And then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!
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WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN TO DO?

Perhaps a dear Christian reading this, would reply, “Oh, Brother Shawn, do not judge! We are under grace not law! Do not be legalistic! I am a Christian and I see nothing wrong with Mardi Gras parades and my having a good time there. I do not drink alcohol there, I do not riot there, et cetera, so I do not see what the big deal is.”

Over the years, many dear friends, lost and saved alike, have posted pictures on social media of the parades that they attended. What is most troubling is that yes, Christians are seen in these questionable situations. Dear friends, we need to be careful as to what type of message we are sending with regards to our actions. Even if we are behaving, not getting drunk or being rowdy, why put ourselves in the midst of those who misbehaving? If it is a holiday known for its drunkenness, rioting, vulgarity, and religious nonsense, and it is, why do we Bible-believing Christians want to participate in it at all? Is not saying, “I go to the Mardi Gras parades but do not drink or act vulgar” just as ridiculous as claiming, “I frequent the local bar or pub, not to drink, but to socialize?” Why set yourself up for stumbling into sin, dear friend and Christian?

While people are free to do as they want, God’s Word has already judged the matter. I am just repeating what the Bible says, so you need not get angry with me. Friend, talk to God about it, but He has already made up His mind. We are to “use not our liberty for an occasion to the flesh” (Galatians 5:13). Just because we are under grace and not law does not mean that God does not care how we live (do you see why denominationalists object to our beliefs by saying, “You people use grace as a license to sin?”). In fact, we should not be using grace as permission to do things that would offend a fellow brother or sister in Christ. If our Christian testimony means anything to us at all, we will “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)—if the activity appears bad, then we should avoid it. Furthermore, for the sake of the spiritual wellbeing of another Christian, we need to be sure we are not using our liberty to destroy those for whom Christ died!

The most non-legalistic person in all of the Bible, the Apostle Paul, wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” While we do not have a bunch of rules and regulations to follow in this the Dispensation of Grace, there are still activities that are “not expedient” (not profitable or beneficial). Later on, the Holy Spirit penned through Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24: “[23] All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. [24] Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” Not all activities build up others; we need to keep other people in mind, especially Christians, before we engage in any behavior. Friends, we must keep that in mind, lest we cause them to stumble in similar sins. Christian living is not selfish living.

We read in Romans 14:19-21: “[19] Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. [20] For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. [21] It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” Again, dearly beloved, we should engage in behavior that edifies (builds up) others. As a Christian, it offends me to see other Christians participating in pagan Mardi Gras celebrations, parades abounding with immature, riotous, vulgar, drunken, religious people. I can only imagine what kind of stumbling-block Mardi-Gras-celebrating Christians are for Christians struggling with alcoholism or sexual sins. Just some things to keep in mind, dear readers.

In conclusion, our purpose here has been to enlighten you about Mardi Gras so that you can make an informed decision. It is certainly not our goal to “have dominion over your faith;” our desire is to be “helpers of your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24). We will not dictate to you what you can and cannot do regarding Mardi Gras, but we do offer this study for your consideration. Our goal is to have your faith rest in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word, so that you may have joy and peace in believing God’s Word (Romans 15:13). Let us use this time of year on the religious calendar often used to “live in sin and abuse grace,” as opportunity to share the wonderful news of the new life we have in Christ, and the new life that they can have in Jesus Christ, too, if they trust Him alone as their personal Saviour. This is the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God, and it alone is the life-giving message that lost people need to hear—at Carnival-time and every other time!

NOTE: The reader is greatly encouraged to search the internet to learn more about Mardi Gras’ history, and not take this author’s word for anything.

You may also see http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras.

Also see:
» Should Christians observe Lent?
» Is there any divine authority in church tradition?
(LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Is Roman Catholicism true Christianity?
(LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

What is the “Immaculate Conception?”

WHAT IS THE “IMMACULATE CONCEPTION?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

There is ever so much confusion about the meaning of the term “Immaculate Conception.” According to Sacred (Roman Catholic) Tradition, the “Immaculate Conception” applies to Mary being conceived sinless in Saint Anne’s womb. According to Sacred (Roman Catholic) Scripture, the “Immaculate Conception” applies to Jesus being conceived sinless in Mary’s womb. The question is, which is correct—was Mary conceived sinless (and thus qualifying her to be the Savior), or was Jesus conceived sinless (and thus qualifying Him to be the Savior). Let us see what the Sacred Scriptures really say. Let me be very clear that I hate no one, but I am ever so passionate about teaching the Bible, and if the Bible’s teachings offend anyone, I can do nothing to change its verses.

Lest the author be accused of misrepresenting Roman Catholic theology, The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the 1899 Douay-Rheims Roman Catholic Bible will be referenced in this study. For the benefit of our Protestant readers, we will quote the King James (Protestant) Bible. We will summarize with some final comments to prayerfully consider, but our readers will be left to come to their own conclusion.

HOW THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHISM DEFINES THE “IMMACULATE CONCEPTION”

Paragraph 490: “To become the mother of the Savior, Mary ‘was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.’ The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as ‘full of grace.’ In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.” (This comment of “full of grace” will be more fully addressed later.)

Paragraph 491: “Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary [it was not originally taught as official doctrine in the early church, but a concept that evolved over the centuries—S.B.], ‘full of grace’ through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: ‘The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.’” (Bold emphasis mine.) (Notice how Mary’s Immaculate Conception—that she was conceived sinless in her mother’s womb in order to bear a sinless Christ—was not declared as official Roman Catholic doctrine until 1854, nearly eighteen centuries after she lived! What was the church’s prevalent view of Mary prior to 1854, we can only wonder?)

Paragraph 492: “The ‘splendor of an entirely unique holiness’ by which Mary is ‘enriched from the first instant of her conception’ comes wholly from Christ: she is ‘redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.’ The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person ‘in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ and chose her ‘in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.’ (Note these verses, Ephesians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:4, are applicable to all Christians, and are not exclusive to Mary as the Catechism suggests. Father God did not bless Mary more than He did any other Christian; to say so is to pervert the verses and make the Bible say something it never said.)

Paragraph 493: “The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God ‘the All–Holy’ (Panagia) and celebrate her as ‘free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature.’ By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.” (Bold emphasis mine.) (Imagine, the Roman Church actually believes that Mary never sinned even once! Why God did not choose her to die on the cross for our sins instead of Jesus, we can only wonder? Yes, it makes Jesus’ sacrifice meaningless to even sugest someone else was sinless and could die for our sins instead of Him.)

Paragraph 494: “At the announcement that she would give birth to ‘the Son of the Most High’ without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that ‘with God nothing will be impossible’: ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.’ Thus, giving her consent to God’s word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God’s grace: “As St. Irenaeus says, ‘Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.’ Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert… : ‘The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.’ Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary ‘the Mother of the living’ and frequently claim: ‘Death through Eve, life through Mary.’” (Bold emphasis mine.) (The Catechism does not emphasize Jesus Christ as the cause of our salvation, but rather Mary as the cause of salvation. Blasphemy!)

HOW THE ROMAN CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT BIBLES DEFINE THE “IMMACULATE CONCEPTION”

Dear friends, in the famous “Canticle of Mary,” or “Magnificat,” the virgin Mary begins to rejoice in what God is accomplishing in and through her: she quotes almost a dozen Old Testament verses in Luke 1:46-55, magnifying not herself but glorifying the God of the Bible. After hearing that she will be the biological mother of the human body in which the eternal Son of God would dwell, and Elisabeth her cousin reminding her of it, Mary cannot help but joy in God’s Word. The very first words that Mary uttered in this passage are as follows: “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour (Luke 1:47, the Roman Catholic 1899 Douay-Rheims Bible and the Protestant King James Bible read the same in this verse).

Sacred Scripture is very clear that, contrary to what church tradition may tell us, Mary was certainly a sinner. Mary admitted that God was her “Saviour” (Luke 1:47), and only a sinner needs a Saviour. If Mary were sinless, she lied when she said she needed a Saviour. Furthermore, if Mary were sinless, then Jesus could have stayed in heaven, spared Himself pain at Calvary, and God have had Mary die on the cross for our sins instead.

Saint John says if we say we have no sin, we call God a liar, the truth is not in us, and God’s Word is not in us (1 John 1:8,10)—to say that Mary is without sin is to not only lie about Mary, but to lie about God, and we thus claim that Mary lied when she needed a Saviour (thus condemning both Mary and ourselves as sinners). To say that Mary, who had a sinful biological father, lived her whole life without sinning is undoubtedly one of the most ridiculous ideas ever said. Dear friends, no wonder people are so critical of Christians—look at what some of them claim to believe!

Saint Luke was correct in quoting Mary as being in need of a “Saviour,” for Saint Luke understood that even Mary knew in her heart she needed Jesus to die for her sins. We either believe Sacred Scripture, or we believe church tradition—we cannot be inherent of both because they are mutually exclusive.

Let us see what else Sacred Scripture says about the “Immaculate Conception:”

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, 1899 Douay-Rheims). “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (King James). Never once in Sacred Scripture is the virgin’s mother mentioned, never once is the virgin’s conception in her mother’s womb mentioned; the issue is the conception of the Messiah in the virgin’s womb. No one reading the Bible would ever conclude that Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb was anything abnormal or supernatural—unless of course, they had a denominational agenda to advance and God’s Word to ignore.

Matthew 1:20: “But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost” (1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible). Matthew 1:20 in the King James Bible: “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”

Luke 1:35 in the 1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible: “ And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 is the King James Bible: “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Saint Matthew testifies with Saint Luke that the Holy Ghost worked in Mary to bring about a sinless human body for Jesus’ Spirit to reside. Sinlessness in Mary was unnecessary, or Mary should have died on the cross for our sins, and Jesus should have stayed in heaven and spared Himself 30 years of misery and rejection, and six hours of humiliation and asphyxiation. According to Saints Matthew and Luke, the reason why Jesus could be sinless was, not because Mary was sinless, but because the sinless Holy Ghost worked in Mary’s womb to conceive a body that was untainted by Mary’s sinful blood. Because Jesus had God as His Father, He had no need for a human biological father; the sin nature is passed from Adam to each succeeding father, and because Jesus had no sinful biological father, He was thus spared a sin nature. Again, it is all about what God can do, not what sinners can do. Mary is constantly emphasized in religion, but, in the Bible, it is about what the God of the Bible can do for sinners and in and through sinners (Mary’s own words in Luke 1:46-55).

The Holy Ghost can even work in sinners; Mary did not have to be sinless to bear God’s Son. It is often believed that Mary had to be sinless for her to be used of God. Was King David (an adulterer and a murderer) used of God? Was Aaron (an idolater) used of God? Was Saint Paul (a murderer and blasphemer) used of God? Was Saint Peter (Christ-denier) used of God? Was Moses (murderer) used of God? Was Solomon (idolater) used of God? On and on and on we could go. God can use sinners, and Mary did not have to be sinless to be used of God. If sinlessness were necessary to be used of God, every church in the world would be destitute of God’s working. Even the Roman Catholic Church would lack even a single clergy or layman if God needed sinless people if they were be used of Him.

Even the shallowest Bible reader is aware of Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God” (1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible) and “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (King James Bible). This would include Mary the mother of Jesus—when discussing soul salvation throughout the book of Romans, Saint Paul never once mentioned Mary as sinless. Someone would argue that this is not a blanket verse, since Jesus Christ was sinless (and it is assumed, because Jesus Christ is an exception to Romans 3:23, Mary could be another exception to the verse). This argument is utterly ridiculous, since Jesus Christ is God (as the Catholic would defend using the statement, “Mary is God’s mother, for Jesus is God”). Since Jesus Christ is God, Jesus Christ would be the exception to Romans 3:23, for God cannot fall short of His own glory! The only way Romans 3:23 could be non-applicable to Mary is if Mary were God, and no Roman Catholic I know of would ever say Mary was God. Romans 3:23 applies to Mary as well, and we cannot change what Sacred Scripture says.

Someone may argue, “Mary prophesied that ‘henceforth all generations will call me blessed.’ Therefore, it is not right to ignore Mary.” We agree we should not ignore Mary, but again, we should not emphasize something that God does not or overly honor someone God does not. Sacred Scripture does not place as much emphasis on Mary the mother of Jesus as religion does. In fact, after Acts 1:14, no one mentions Mary the mother of Jesus. Can we honestly say she is to be venerated, when none of the saints such as Paul, James, Peter, and John ever did it in their New Testament writings? Again, we remind you of her Canticle—Mary never exalted herself, but all she did was praise God and quote Old Testament Scriptures in Luke 1:46-55. She did not brag about her sinlessness, her goodness, she mentioned her lowliness and meekness as a servant girl, handmaiden (Luke 1:48)—the Mary of the Bible is hardly the goody-goody, sinless Mary of religious tradition. We should give just as much honor to Mary as the New Testament does—she was a human vessel of God, and God who used her is the issue not the vessel He uses (Saint Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:5). Of all the Jewish women living at the time, Father God chose Mary to be the human mother of His Son. That was an honor, but again, Mary rejoiced in God, not in herself (Luke 1:46-55). Mary was not the issue, what God did in and through her was the issue. Mary did not become a Saviour, she merely became the vessel that God used to bring about the Saviour. It is ever so critical, dear friends, that we get it straight.

Beloved, let us see how Jesus Christ Himself viewed Mary, how the wise men viewed Mary, how the shepherds viewed Mary, and how an angel viewed Mary. This will give us a correct view of how much emphasis we should place on Mary.

HOW JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF VIEWED MARY HIS MOTHER

Jesus actually never called Mary “Blessed Mother,” “Ever Virgin,” “Queen of Heaven,” “My Lady of Mercy,” or any of those other titles we hear in religion today. In the Bible, He addressed her as “Woman” (John 2:4; John 19:26), for Mary represented the nation Israel, the “woman” of the Bible (see Jeremiah 6:2; cf. Revelation 12:1,4,6,13-17). Jesus did not praise Mary, never indicated that she was sinless, and never indicated at all that she was any different from any other human God used in history. The Lord Jesus Himself knew of the prevalent pre-Christian virgin goddesses of paganism, the virgin deities of antiquity, and He was ever so careful to make sure people did not misunderstand Mary His mother. If they did, He quickly corrected their thinking.

In Luke 11:27, we read a very interesting account: “And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck” (1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible). “And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked” (Luke 11:27 King James Version).

Religion encourages us to direct “special devotion” to Mary, Jesus’ mother, but slyly reassures us that Marian devotion is not equivalent to worshipping God. Is this true? What does our Lord Jesus Christ think of any Marian devotion? In the context of Luke 11:27 (verses 1-26), Jesus is teaching. One woman is so amazed at the Lord Jesus’ doctrine that she begins to praise Mary, Jesus’ mother, not Jesus! Notice that this lady exalted Mary, giving her the “special devotion” that religion gives Mary today: “blessed is the womb and blessed are the breasts of Mary!” Such a statement originates from pagan goddess worship (and accompanying fornication) of ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions.

Notice how Jesus responds: “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (verse 28, King James and Douay-Rheims). Recognize that Jesus immediately rebuked her: He corrected her, He did not agree with her, He did not say “Amen” to the woman’s comments. Our Lord Jesus knew that Mary was being exalted to a goddess’ position, and He clearly refused it with “Yea rather….” In other words, Jesus said, “Rather than singling out Mary for special attention, recognize that all who trust in God are blessed.” Notice Jesus never designated Mary to any special position whatsoever (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21). Sacred Scripture is never wrong (paragraph 136 of the Roman Catechism); therefore the Scriptures are right in not exalting Mary in these passages.

Our dear religious family members and friends need to realize that Mary is no superhuman or goddess. Although God used her body to generate the human body of Jesus Christ, the Bible never presents Mary as an object of worship. No believer in the Bible ever prayed to Mary, no believer in the Bible ever asked Mary to pray for them either. According to the Bible, God clearly hates all Marian devotion, because it usually leads to focusing on Mary instead of on Jesus Christ. People are quick to defend Mary in religion, but very rarely will they defend Jesus Christ (I know from personal experience).

Dear friends, my precious readers, Marian devotion is blasphemous because it robs Jesus Christ of devotion. It was what God did through Mary that matters. Mary did nothing for our salvation; she was submissive to God’s working, but she did no work to bring about our salvation. She is not our mediatrix, savior, or mother, so why does she deserve devotion? According to God’s Word, she does not deserve veneration.

HOW THE WISE MEN VIEWED MARY

We read in the 1899 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible in Matthew 2:11: “And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they adored him; and opening their treasures, they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” It reads this way in the Protestant (King James) Bible: “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Did the wise men bring Mary gifts? Did they praise Mary? Did they fall down before Mary? No! They praised Jesus, they presented Jesus with gifts, and they worshipped Jesus.

HOW AN ANGEL AND THE SHEPHERDS VIEWED MARY

When the angel appeared to the shepherds in the field watching their flocks, the angel never bothered to mention anything about Mary—her goodness, her motherhood of God, her sinlessness, and so on (Luke 2:8-14). In fact, the shepherds come to Jesus just shortly after His birth, and when they leave the manger, they glorify and praise God (verse 20). Never once did they praise Mary or pay her homage.

WAS MARY REALLY THE “MOTHER OF GOD?”

Paragraph 495 of the Roman Catholic Catechism: “Called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus,’ Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord.’ In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos).”

If Mary was God’s Mother, that would mean she existed before God, and who would then be God’s Father if God had a Mother? Dear friends, it makes no sense, but then again, religion never does. I remember one atheist having such trouble with “Christianity” because certain Christians told him that Mary was “the Mother of God.” Frankly, it is no wonder people want nothing to do with Christianity—they are being told that something nonsensical is “Christian” when it is certainly not Christian. To say that God would have a mother is absurd; God the Son existed long before Mary did, but He existed as a Spirit. Jesus did not lose His deity but He gained humanity when He was conceived in Mary’s womb. Jesus did not need Mary to gain or retain deity, He needed her body to gain humanity. Jesus could still live as God without Mary, thus God not needing a mother. There, that makes more sense than the concept religion offers us.

Furthermore, Saint John never called Mary “the Mother of God” but in the Catholic Bible she is called “the mother of Jesus” (John 2:1,3). Saint Luke also called her “the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14). If people who deny Mary as “God’s Mother” are “rejecters of the divinity of Christ,” Saint John must also be declared as a heretic, for he believed Mary was nothing more than “the mother of Jesus” and not the “Mother of God.” The Catechism says the Bible is without error (paragraph 136), so Saint John and Saint Luke were totally correct in calling her “the Mother of Jesus” and not “the Mother of God.” Furthermore, Elisabeth never called her “mother of God,” but “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43).

WHAT THEN DOES SACRED SCRIPTURE MEAN WHEN IT SAYS THAT MARY IS “FULL OF GRACE” (CATHOLIC) AND “HIGHLY FAVOURED” (PROTESTANT)?

Someone may argue that Mary should be honored as sinless in light of Luke 1:28: “And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Roman Catholic 1899 Douay-Rheims Bible) and “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Protestant King James Bible). It is said that such language is only reserved for someone who is sinless, someone who is already in heaven. It is argued that “any sinner would have some grace lacking, and thus could not be called ‘full of grace.’”

To exalt Mary and give her undue veneration on the basis of Luke 1:28, we would find ourselves ignorant of the Roman Catholic Bible as well as the New Testament Greek word translated “full of grace” (Catholic) and “highly favoured” (Protestant) in Luke 1:28. Keep in mind that the Greek word is kecharitomene.

Look at what Saint Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:6: “Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved son” (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition Catholic Bible). In the New American Catholic Bible, it reads, “for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.” The King James Bible says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Do you know what Greek word is translated “his grace that he granted us” (NAB), “he hath graced us” (DR), and “made us accepted” (KJB)? It is the word echaritosen, and you know what it means? “Full of grace,” “make accepted,” to “be highly favored.” It shares the same root as the word in Luke 1:28.

Saint Paul believed there were people in Ephesus, Christians not in heaven and not sinless, but Christians on earth, who were just as favored of God as Mary was! What dear Roman Catholic soul praises the Ephesians as much as it does Mary? According to Sacred Scripture, they are on the same plane—Mary and the Ephesians are equal before God. That is what the Catholic Bible says in Ephesians 1:6, that is what the Protestant Bible says in Ephesians 1:6, and Sacred Scripture is never wrong (paragraph 136 of the Roman Catechism). All Christians are “full of grace!” Friend, if you must argue, you will have to argue with the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible, but you cannot change what they say.

Someone once wrote to me, “[Mary] is the greatest of all creatures, but she is still a creature. She deserves honor, but never worship.” Again, calling Mary “the greatest of all creatures” is to praise her way too much, and it would be erroneous to ignore the Ephesians if we praise Mary as “full of grace” (remember Ephesians 1:6?). Religionists exalt Mary and not Jesus; they defend Mary and not Jesus. Their statements and their writings reflect the fact that they seem more interested in exalting Mary and defending Mary and praising Mary instead of worshipping Jesus Christ (the inherent danger of Romanism). Jesus Christ alone is preeminent in all things Saint Paul said (Colossians 1:18), and His Word is without error. On the Day of Judgment, He will hold you accountable to His words (John 12:48). Friend, I would believe the Words of God long before I would believe the words of men.

CONCLUSION

Why is there so much confusion about the meaning of the “Immaculate Conception?” It is quite simple. Satan never wants God’s Word to be clear (1 Corinthians 14:33). Some Roman Catholics believe “Sacred Tradition” while others believe Sacred Scripture; usually, Protestants just believe the Sacred Scriptures. Hence, there are varying beliefs about what the “Immaculate Conception” means.

Tradition changes over time, as the Immaculate Conception concerning Mary was not adopted as official Roman Catholic teaching until 1854. Jewish tradition was prevalent in Jesus’ day; that was why He was so anti-tradition in Mark chapter 7 and Matthew chapter 15. Considering all the corruption in the Jewish religious traditions, God would not use tradition to preserve the New Testament any more than He used tradition to preserve the Old Testament. That is why tradition is not reliable, and not a valid method of preserving history or doctrine. A written record from God is always more authoritative than church tradition passed down through history.

In order to be the Savior of man from his sins, the Savior must be sinless, not guilty of the same sins; one cannot be a Savior and also be in need of the same salvation. The doctrine of substitutionary atonement is one dying for someone else’s sins because one is not in spiritual debt himself or herself. If Mary were sinless, as the 1854 dogma was officially accepted as true (1800 years after Mary was even conceived—I wonder what the official Catholic position was prior to pope Pius IX?), spared from all original sin, then she did not need salvation from sins, for she was as Adam was before the fall, and Adam did not need a Savior before the fall. If Mary were like Adam before the fall, then she could be the Savior, and Jesus had no reason to die. Why pay the bill when someone else is able? Why did sinless Jesus have to die when sinless Mary could have died instead? What prevented Mary from being the Savior, since she was sinless (or so people claim)?

And, I might add, no one has yet to answer this—if Mary needed to be conceived sinless to bear sinless Christ, Saint Anne (her mother) would have to be conceived sinless in her mother’s womb to bear a sinless Mary, but then Saint Anne’s mother would need to be sinless to bear sinless Saint Anne in her womb, and on and on, an unending cycle. Why does Immaculate Conception stop with Mary in Saint Anne’s womb when sinless conception, according to Catholic reasoning, would have to go back all the way to Eve, so as not to have one sinful conception to spoil the whole lineage?

To make Jesus’ sinlessness dependent on Mary’s sinlessness is to divert attention from Jesus’ sinlessness (who alone was sinless). Mary and Jesus, in religion, are on the same plane, the same level, since they were both spared sin nature (“original sin”). This is blasphemous, beloved, for one of the attributes of God is His sinlessness. To say that Mary is sinless is to make her equal with God, and that, dear friends, is idolatry.

What it comes down to is to (1) believe Babylonian pagan mythology about a sinless virgin goddess named Semiramis (whose attributes Rome applied to Mary of the Bible, her being born sinless), or (2) believe the Sacred Scriptures that Mary was a sinner who needed a Saviour, and the Catechism affirms the Bible is without error (paragraph 136 of the Roman Catechism). The way I see it is, if we are Christian, we are not going to believe non-Christian theology, but we are going to believe the error-free Sacred Scriptures. May we rejoice in God’s truth, His written Word!

Also see:
» Was Jesus born on the 25th of December? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Were there really three wise men? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» What was the Star of Bethlehem? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

Should Christians celebrate Easter?

SHOULD CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE EASTER? IS IT NOT A PAGAN HOLIDAY?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some professing Christians believe that we should celebrate Easter because it commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Other professing Christians believe that we should not celebrate Easter because of its pagan (non-Christian) origins and elements. In this Bible study, we will evaluate Easter from the historical and Biblical perspectives, and let our readers come to their own conclusion as to what they should do about Easter.

ORIGIN OF EASTER

According to the “Easter” article of The World Book Encyclopedia:

“Easter is the most important Christian festival of the year…. The word Easter may have come from an early English word, Eastre. Some scholars say Eastre was the name of a pagan goddess of spring, the name of a spring festival, or the name of the season itself. Other scholars believe the word Easter comes from the early German word eostarun, which means dawn. This word may be an incorrect translation of the Latin word albae, meaning both dawn and white. Easter was considered a day of ‘white’ because newly baptized church members wore white clothes at Easter observances.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

The New Encyclopædia Britannica says under its article “Easter:”

“The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre…. By the time that the Christian liturgy had begun to take shape (2nd century), the Sunday Eucharist was preceded by a vigil service of Scripture readings and psalms. In this must be seen the origin of the Easter Vigil service, one of the striking celebrations of Easter in both East and West; from being a weekly observance the vigil has turned into an annual one at Easter only. As it is now constituted in the Roman Catholic missal, this vigil consists of the new fire (a practice introduced during the early Middle Ages); the lighting of the paschal candle; a service of lessons, called the prophecies; following by the blessing of the font and baptisms and then the mass of Easter. A similar form is used in Lutheran and some Anglican churches. This pattern is quite primitive and, in its principal elements, can be traced to the 3rd–4th century. … The connection of baptism with Easter is of early date. During the church’s first centuries the whole of Lent was not only a time of penance but also the period during which the catechumens (persons to be baptized) were prepared for baptism, which was given only once a year, at Easter. For the six weeks preceding Easter the catechumens were instructed in the Christian faith, and the texts of the Lenten liturgy in the Roman Catholic missal still preserve clear indications of this practice. The catechumenate came to an end with the solemn baptisms of the Easter vigil. This is the explanation of the present practice of the long ceremony of blessing the font on Easter night and of the great emphasis on baptism and its meaning and the many allusions to it still present in the Easter services…. Popular customs. Around the Christian observance of Easter as the climax of the liturgical drama of Holy Week and Good Friday, folk customs have been collected, many of which have been handed down from the ancient ceremonial and symbolism of European and Middle Eastern pagan spring festivals brought into relation with the resurrection theme. These customs have taken a variety of forms, in which, for example, eggs, formerly forbidden to be eaten during Lent, have been prominent as symbols of new life and resurrection. The hare, the symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt, a role that was kept later in Europe, is not found in North America.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

As you can easily see from these quotes from World Book and Britannica, the apostles did not institute Easter practices and customs such as Easter candle and fire burning, blessing of fonts and baptisms, and displays of eggs and rabbits (fertility deities—this is why the Playboy symbol is a rabbit!). The New Testament Scriptures are silent about the apostles instituting special practices and rituals during Easter. These activities existed within the professing “Christian” church in the 2nd century at the earliest and to as late as the 3rd and 4th century and the early Middle Ages—decades and even several centuries after the apostles died! As per Roman Catholic tradition, many Easter customs and practices are a “development of doctrine,” and they have no Scriptural support: the Britannica says the pagan activities were “brought into relation with the resurrection theme.” That is an elegant way of saying, “Non-Christian elements from non-Christian religions were adopted to celebrate the Christian doctrine of resurrection.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia (1909) elaborates for us in its “Easter” article (bold emphasis mine):

“The English term, according to the Ven. Bede (De temporum ratione, I, v), relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise unknown, even in the Edda (Simrock, Mythol., 362); Anglo-Saxon, eâster, eâstron; Old High German, ôstra, ôstrara, ôstrarûn; German, Ostern. April was called easter-monadh.”

“Easter eggs. Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning.”

“The Easter Rabbit. The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility” (Simrock, Mythologie, 551).

“The Easter Fire. The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. … The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires (Conc. Germanicum, a. 742, c.v.; Council of Lestines, a. 743, n. 15), but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ; the new fire on Holy Saturday is drawn from flint, symbolizing the Resurrection of the Light of the World from the tomb closed by a stone (Missale Rom.).”

Holweck, F. (1909). Easter. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from New Advent: < http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05224d.htm >

In his classic The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop wrote:

“Then look at Easter. What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country. That name, aas found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar. The worship of Bel and Astarte was very early introduced into Britain, along with the Druids, “the priests of the groves.” Some have imagined that the Druidical worship was first introduced by the Phoenicians, who, centuries before the Christian era, traded to the tin-mines of Cornwall. But the unequivocal traces of that worship are found in regions of the British islands where the Phoenicians never penetrated, and it has everywhere left indelible marks of the strong hold which it must have had on the early British mind. From Bel, the 1st of May is still called Beltane in the Almanac; and we have customs still lingering at this day among us, which prove how exactly the worship of Bel or Moloch (for both titles belonged to the same god) had been observed even in the northern parts of this island. “The late Lady Baird, of Fern Tower, in Perthshire,” says a writer in “Notes and Queries,” thoroughly versed in British antiquities, “told me, that every year, at Beltane (or the 1st of May), a number of men and women assemble at an ancient Druidical circle of stones on her property near Crieff. They light a fire in the centre, each person puts a bit of oat-cake in a shepherd’s bonnet; they all sit down, and draw blindfold a piece from the bonnet. One piece has been previously blackened, and whoever gets that piece has to jump through the fire in the centre of the circle, and pay a forfeit. This is, in fact, a part of the ancient worship of Baal, and the person on whom the lot fell was previously burnt as a sacrifice. Now, the passing through the fire represents that, and the payment of the forfeit redeems the victim.” If Baal was thus worshipped in Britain, it will not be difficult to believe that his consort Astarte was also adored by our ancestors, and that from Astarte, whose name in Nineveh was Ishtar, the religious solemnities of April, as now practised, are called by the name of Easter—that month, among our Pagan ancestors, having been called Easter-monath. The festival, of which we read in Church history, under the name of Easter, in the third or fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish Church, and at that time was not known by any such name as Easter. It was called Pasch, or the Passover, and though not of Apostolic institution,* was very early observed by many professing Christians, in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ.” (pages 103–104, Bold emphasis mine.)

While much more could be said regarding the above quotes, suffice it to say that Easter practices certainly have roots in false religion, and much of what is called “Easter worship” is nothing more than the carryover of superstitious practices that non-Christians followed centuries and millennia ago. These pagan practices have a godly appearance—they have been “Christianized”—but they have no relation to the God of the Bible and no association with Jesus Christ. The only mention of Easter in the Holy Bible—the King James Bible—is Acts 12:4, and it refers to a pagan Roman King Herod Agrippa I observing it (near the time of Passover).

Why there is so much confusion about pagan practices and Christian practices is simple to explain. Satan is the master counterfeiter: from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures reveal how the devil schemes to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Whatever God does, Satan defiles that work by introducing false doctrine, distracts mankind from God’s truth by mimicking His actions, discourages God’s people from His ministry by using incorrect thinking patterns, and so on. Why? Satan wants the worship that God alone deserves (Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8).

Consider Christmastime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping the birth of the sun god in early winter—near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) took upon human flesh in the virgin Mary’s womb! Now, consider Eastertime. Centuries before Christ, Satan had pagans worshipping fertility deities and new life in early spring, near the date that Jesus Christ (God the Son) died for our sins and resurrected victoriously over sin, death, hell, and Satan to give us new life! (To Satan’s delight, today’s average church member is not mindful of relevant sound Bible doctrine during Christmastime and Eastertime—the devil’s distractions have never lost their efficacy!)

Let us take a few moments to briefly summarize Passover.

ORIGIN OF PASSOVER

Any person familiar with the Bible knows of Israel’s first Passover, held just before JEHOVAH God delivered the Jews from Egyptian bondage (see Exodus chapter 12 for details). In Exodus 12:1-2, we read: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, [2] This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

The first month on Israel’s religious calendar is what the Bible calls the month of “Abib” (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:14; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1)—it was also called “Nisan” (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7). In Exodus 12:6-14, JEHOVAH instructed the Jews to pen up the Passover lamb on Abib 10th, to check and make sure that it was not sick or crippled, and the Jews were to kill the Passover lamb on Abib 14th (roughly equivalent to April 14th in our Gregorian calendar). This lamb’s blood was then applied to the side posts and lintel of the door of every Jewish home in Egypt. God would kill all of the Egyptians’ firstborn, but He would “pass over” and spare the Jews who had the lamb’s blood on the door. In Israel’s program, Passover is “an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14).

Through the annual Passover observance, God was teaching Israel that blood had to be shed in order to redeem her, or buy her back. Israel was trapped, not only under Egyptian rule, but Satan’s rule (domination of sin)—many times the Bible calls Egypt “the house of bondage” (Exodus 13:3,14; Exodus 20:2; et al.). The Jews were slaves to Egypt and to sin, and could not function as the nation God designed them to be. The blood of the Passover lamb was a preview of what Jesus Christ would do at Calvary many centuries in the future. The Apostle Peter reminded Israel in 1 Peter 1:18-19: “[18] Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

When Israel celebrated her new life on the other side of the Red Sea, a life as a free people, the pagans were celebrating the new life associated with Easter (Satan’s counterfeit religious system). Easter was Satan’s way of mocking Passover: again, Satan is the master counterfeiter, and as long as he can distract you from God’s Word to you, he is very pleased with himself (Satan gets the glory and worship when the God of the Bible does not). March-April was the time when God shed blood for Israel’s redemption, and when He gave her new life (after she crossed the Red Sea).

From the Four Gospels, we learn that Jesus Christ died around Passover (Matthew 26:2,17-19; Mark 14:1,12-16; Luke 22:18,11,13,15; John 11:55; John 12:1; John 13:1; John 18:28,39; John 19:14). In other words, Jesus died during the same holiday that had typified His death for the last 1,500 years. The blood of the true Passover lamb—Jesus Christ—was shed at Calvary. With the death of Jesus Christ at that time of year, March-April was that much more appealing to Satan to further corrupt.

During the centuries following the apostles’ deaths, the pagan festival Easter that had counterfeited Israel’s Passover gradually began to merge as Christianity was paganized to welcome new converts. Hence, today, the non-Christian and Christian elements of the Easter-Passover season have blended into one celebration within Christendom (just what Satan wanted from the beginning!). While it is often assumed that Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, it actually was never intended to do so. Still, very few church members even know the difference between Passover and Easter. A quote from The Catechism of the Catholic Church demonstrates how Christendom has greatly confused these two holidays:

“At the Council of Nicaea in 325, all the Churches agreed that Easter, the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon (14 Nisan) after the vernal equinox. Because of different methods of calculating the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the date of Easter in the Western and Eastern Churches is not always the same. For this reason, the Churches are currently seeking an agreement in order once again to celebrate the day of the Lord’s Resurrection on a common date” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition, paragraph 1170). (Bold emphasis mine.)

How could we possibly confuse Passover, a Biblical holiday, and Easter, a non-Biblical holiday? How can we call Easter “the Christian Passover?” Again, you can see just how paganized Christianity has become over the centuries since the apostles; what was once non-Christian is now considered “Christian” and what was once Christian is now considered “non-Christian.” How more deceived can the professing Body of Christ get? What do we expect when we throw away God’s Word, the Holy Bible, and embrace the traditions of men?

WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN TO DO?

Our purpose here has been to enlighten you about Easter so that you can make an informed decision. It is certainly not our goal to “have dominion over your faith;” our desire is to be “helpers of your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24). We will not dictate to you what you can and cannot do regarding Easter, but we do offer this study for your consideration. Our goal is to have your faith rest in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word, so that you may have joy and peace in believing God’s Word (Romans 15:13).

JEHOVAH, the God of the Bible, instituted in Israel a festival, Passover (the killing of a spotless lamb and its bloodshed in early spring), while they were still in Egypt (Exodus chapter 12). Passover’s annual observance reminded them of JEHOVAH delivering them from Egyptian slavery unto new life. Israel did not understand its meaning until 1,500 years later. The true Passover lamb, Jesus Christ, died and shed His sinless blood during that annual Passover feast (early spring), and He resurrected in new life to give them spiritual life and liberty. It was during this time of year that lost mankind—the nations of the world, those under Satan’s influence—celebrated fertility, reproduction, and new life by praising manmade idols and participating in shameful and ungodly activities. Easter and Passover should certainly not be confused.

As with the case of Christmas, Easter has both good and bad elements: we do not have to avoid either holiday altogether. Yes, the pagans may have “hijacked” this time of year for the devil’s glory, but we can disregard their ignorance: spring is God’s season for new life. We can still use this season to bring the God of the Bible glory by remembering that He has given us physical life, and He offers us new life (that is, spiritual life) through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! March-April was indeed the time of year when Israel was released from Satanic and Egyptian bondage, and March-April was the time of year when Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We can trust Him alone and pass from eternal death to eternal life.

If we do choose to “celebrate” (for lack of a better word) Easter, we should remember not to be get distracted by the eggs, rabbits, denominational rites and rituals, and so on. Let us use this time of year—a time when people are most open to “spiritual things”—to share the wonderful news of the new life we have in Christ, and the new life that they can have in Jesus Christ, too, if they trust Him alone as their personal Saviour. This is the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God, and it alone is the life-giving message that lost people need to hear—at Eastertime and every other time!

NOTE: My own research about Easter yielded too much information to be reproduced in its entirety here. The reader is greatly encouraged to search the internet to learn more about Easter’s very complex history, and not take this author’s word for anything.

 

Also see:
» Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?
» Should Christians observe Passover?
» Is “Easter” a mistranslation in the King James Bible in Acts 12:4?

Should Christians observe Lent?

SHOULD CHRISTIANS OBSERVE LENT? IS LENTEN SEASON A BIBLICAL PRACTICE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Should we as Christians participate in Lent? Firstly, we need to define what “Lent” is, and then we need to search the Scriptures to see whether or not such an activity is taught in the Bible. As always, my goal is not to attack or condemn anyone, but to share God’s Word with you and let you come to your own conclusions about what God would have you to do. We should not blindly perform rituals simply because some religious group instructs us to do them. Compare it with the Scriptures and see what God says about the matter!

Interestingly, when the Catholic Encyclopedia speaks of Lent, it says regarding its origin: “Some of the Fathers as early as the fifth century supported the view that this forty days’ fast was of Apostolic institution. For example, St. Leo (d. 461) exhorts his hearers to abstain that they may “fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the forty days” — ut apostolica institutio quadraginta dierum jejuniis impleatur (P.L., LIV, 633), and the historian Socrates (d. 433) and St. Jerome (d. 420) use similar language (P.G., LXVII, 633; P.L., XXII, 475). But the best modern scholars are almost unanimous in rejecting this view, for in the existing remains of the first three centuries we find both considerable diversity of practice regarding the fast before Easter and also a gradual process of development in the matter of its duration. There Irenaeus says that there is not only a controversy about the time of keeping Easter but also regarding the preliminary fast. “For”, he continues, “some think they ought to fast for one day, others for two days, and others even for several, while others reckon forty hours both of day and night to their fast”. He also urges that this variety of usage is of ancient date, which implies that there could have been no Apostolic tradition on the subject. We may then fairly conclude that Irenaeus about the year 190 knew nothing of any Easter fast of forty days.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

Pay close attention to the above quote. Saint Irenaeus, a prominent church father, “knew nothing of any Easter fast of forty days.” Irenaeus, living nearly a century after the apostles, had never heard of a 40-day-long Lenten season. This practice developed later. Catholic authorities freely confess that they do not know if Jesus Christ’s apostles instituted a 40-day Lent—a 40-day Lent may not be a practice of Saints Peter, Paul, John, James, and so on. If Jesus’ apostles did not practice it, can we rightly call it “Christianity?”

Quote from a Roman Catholic priest regarding Lent: “Through prayer, repentance, and sacrifice, this time of year allows a Christian to more clearly reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. During Lent, many Christians choose to abstain from certain items or activities.”

What does Scripture say about this? Do these religious rituals really help us reflect on Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection? Or, are they simply “traditions of men” as Paul called it in Colossians 2:8 designed to have us boast in ourselves and what we can do in the flesh? According to 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, remembrance of what Christ did for us is found in the Lord’s Supper, when we gather together with fellow saints to eat and discuss sound Bible doctrine, especially our life in Christ as made possible through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. According to Saint Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, remembrance of the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ is not found in prayer, repentance, and sacrifice. We do not remember what Jesus did for us by doing things for Jesus—that is how we remember what “good” things we do for Him! We remember what Jesus did for us by studying God’s Word, the King James Bible. Then, we reflect on what we read, for what we read in the Bible tells us all about God’s love for us in that He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Jesus Christ came to pay for our sins, which no amount of good works could ever accomplish. Saint Paul wrote, “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). The emphasis is on the Bible, not religious duty (ceremonies, rites, rituals, et cetera).

To try to keep a set of rules and regulations in order to make ourselves acceptable before God, as with the case of the Lenten Season, is what Saint Paul openly rejected as wickedness and ungodliness. He wrote (New American Catholic Bible), “[1] Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on their behalf is for salvation. [2] I testify with regard to them that they have zeal for God, but it is not discerning. [3] For, in their unawareness of the righteousness that comes from God and their attempt to establish their own (righteousness), they did not submit to the righteousness of God(Romans 10:1-3). (Bold emphasis mine.)

For our Protestant readers, the King James Bible reads like this in Romans 10:1-3: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

Notice how Saint Paul said the nation Israel ignored Jesus Christ’s righteousness displayed at Calvary, and they attempted to counterfeit it when they performed religious rites and rituals. They placed more emphasis on what they could do for God in religion (a form/appearance of godliness), than what God had done for them through Jesus Christ! They thought they could please God, but despite their “good” works, they could not please God. They were sinners, lost and going to hell, having not understood that God only accepts what Jesus Christ does, not what sinful man does. God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”” (Matthew 3:17 New American Catholic Bible). “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 King James Bible). Works-religion is never enough because we can never perform perfectly.

The New American (Catholic) Bible says: “[1] Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions [2] through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences. [3] They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. [4] For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving, [5] for it is made holy by the invocation of God in prayer.” According to Saint Paul, abstaining from foods and marriage for religious purposes are “demonic instructions!” Lenten practices, according to Saint Paul, is not how one draws closer to God, but how one draws further away from His truth. Lent, says Saint Paul, is how we fall into Satanic deception!

The New American Catholic Bible has the following footnote at 1 Timothy 4:1-5: “[1-5] Doctrinal deviations from the true Christian message within the church have been prophesied, though the origin of the prophecy is not specified (1 Tim 4:1-2); cf Acts 20:29-30. The letter warns against a false asceticism that prohibits marriage and regards certain foods as forbidden, though they are part of God’s good creation (1 Tim 4:3).” If this is not descriptive and denouncing of Lenten practices, I do not know what is!

For our Protestant readers, the King James Bible reads like this in 1 Timothy 4:1-5: “[4] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

Not only is Lent connected with the pagan festival Mardi Gras, and completely un-Christian (pagan), Lent is an example of works-religion, something that God’s grace is completely against. Here are a few things people are instructed to do during Lent: give up some type of food or activity, doing good deeds, praying, treating others like Jesus treated them, obeying Matthew chapters 5-7 (by the way, this was spoken to the Jews, not us Gentiles, according to Saint Matthew 15:24, Saint John 4:22, and Saint Paul in Romans 15:8.

As long as you are faithful for those 40 days of Lent, living a “holy” life, religion says that once the Lenten Season expires, you can return to the shameful activities you gave up! Some dear souls give up alcoholic beverages and/or cigarettes for forty days, and then go right back to drinking and smoking once Lenten season is over. The next year, they give up those bad habits for another Lenten Season, and then return to them yet again. This is using grace as a license to sin, and the Bible teaches that this should not be so!

Engaging in the activity of self-denial (giving something up) for 40 days is nothing godly or noble, for you are only doing that one-tenth of the year. Of the 365 days in a year, you only reserve 40 for holy living? That makes no sense. The Bible says the Christian’s life should honor God all year round, not just during Lent! How does relinquishing bad habits and living a “holy” life for 40 days bring you closer to God? Saint Paul wrote that if have you have never trusted Jesus Christ alone as your personal Saviour, you are still dead in your sins, and you cannot fellowship with God, not matter how “religious” you are or appear to be.

The New American (Catholic) Bible says: “[1] You were dead in your transgressions and sins 3 [2] in which you once lived following the age of this world, 4 following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. [3] All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest. [4] But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, [5] even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ 5 (by grace you have been saved), [6] raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, [7] that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; [9] it is not from works, so no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:1-9).

For our Protestant readers, the King James Bible reads like this in Ephesians 2:1-9: “[1] And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; [2] Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. [4] But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, [5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

“Good” works are of no value if you are lost and going to hell. The only truly GOOD works is what Jesus Christ did for you at Calvary, and what He will do in and through you when you trust Him and His Word to you, Saint Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon. Furthermore, suppose you dedicated yourself to prayer and Christian service all year-round, not just 40 days. How much more glory could be given to the Lord’s name? Why limit “holy” living to a mere 40 days out of the year?

A Roman Catholic parishioner commented, “[Lent] is when we have to start being good.” After sinning all day on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), the “faithful” are urged to come to church for Ash Wednesday, to show they are sorry for their sins (as evidenced by ashes placed on the forehead), and to show they will give up a certain sinful activity for the next 40 days so they may be “holy” for Easter Sunday, that they may mimick Jesus Christ’s life. The cycle of sin and “giving it up” is repeated year after year after year, every Lenten Season, and sin is returned to time and time again. This sin-management system fails over and over, for it is repeated over and over.

Saint Paul says in the New American (Catholic) Bible: “[1] What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not! [2] How can we who died to sin yet live in it? [14] For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace. [15] What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not!” (Romans 6:1-2,14-15). Saint Paul says we should not use grace as a license to sin.

For our Protestant readers, the King James Bible reads like this in Romans 6:1-2,14-15: “[1] What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? [2] God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? [14] For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. [15] What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

Again, Saint Paul says in the New American (Catholic) Bible: “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love” (Galatians 5:13). For our Protestant readers, Galatians 5:13 in the King James Bible: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Remember, Saint Paul says we should not use grace as a license to sin.

Saint Paul says in the New American (Catholic) Bible: “[20] If you died with Christ to the elemental powers of the world, why do you submit to regulations as if you were still living in the world? [21] “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” [22] These are all things destined to perish with use; they accord with human precepts and teachings. [23] While they have a semblance of wisdom in rigor of devotion and self-abasement (and) severity to the body, they are of no value against gratification of the flesh” (Colossians 2:20-23). Saint Paul condemns “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch” religion, and this is exactly what Lent is—do not eat this and do not eat that, do not do this and do not do that, et cetera.

For our Protestant readers, Colossians 2:20-23 in the King James Bible: “[20] Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, [21] (Touch not; taste not; handle not; [22] Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? [23] Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.”

Saint Paul says in the New American (Catholic) Bible: “[19] Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, [20] idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, [21] occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:19-23). The Catholic Bible clearly forbids “drinking bouts,” and this is exactly what Mardi Gras “reveling” is! God’s Holy Spirit is not involved in the activities listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Saint Peter forbade “drunkenness” and “carousing” (1 Peter 4:3)—what is Mardi Gras? God’s Holy Spirit would lead us to have lives filled with the activities listed in verses 22-23 all year long, not just for 40 days during Lent.

The New American (Catholic) Bible has the following footnote at Galatians 5:19-23: “[19-23] Such lists of vices and virtues (cf Romans 1:29-31; 1 Cor 6:9-10) were common in the ancient world. Paul contrasts works of the flesh (Gal 5:19) with fruit (not “works”) of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). Not law, but the Spirit, leads to such traits.”

For our Protestant readers, Galatians 5:19-23 in the King James Bible: “[19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,[20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Quote from a Roman Catholic bishop regarding Lent: “Lent is a time of subtracting and adding. People doing penance try to eliminate from their lives those things that are contrary to the Gospel. They try to add to their lives the virtues of the Gospel. Lent is a time of preparation for the celebration of the Lord’s resurrection at Easter.” The bishop also urged his readers to follow the three “penitential practices”—prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—of Matthew chapter 6. He added, “In this season of Lent, may Christ help us to conform our lives more closely to his.” Works-religion is “a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear” (Saint Peter in Acts 15:10 in the Catholic Bible) and “weak and destitute elemental powers” (Saint Paul in Galatians 4:9 in the Catholic Bible). Contrary to the bishop’s comments, a sin-management system will help no sinner, for no sinner can ever quit sinning, and no sinner can ever make himself acceptable to God.

Contrary to popular belief, a Christian cannot grow “closer to God” because the relationship between us Christians and the Lord is based not on our performance, but relies upon Christ’s faithfulness toward us. Our performance is not the issue; Jesus Christ’s performance in and through us is what matters, for Jesus Christ alone can live His life. We cannot live the Christian life because we are not perfect. God is faithful, not us.

Notice what Saint Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 in the New American (Catholic) Bible: “[7] so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. [8] He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus (Christ). [9] God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” For our Protestant readers, 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 in the King James Bible: “[7] So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: [8] Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Saint Paul says in the New American (Catholic) Bible in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: “[23] May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [24] The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.” For our Protestant readers, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 in the King James Bible: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

Notice what Saint Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:13 in the New American (Catholic) Bible: “If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” For our Protestant readers, 2 Timothy 2:13 in the King James Bible: “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Again, the emphasis is on God’s faithfulness, not our faithfulness. A believer can grow in knowledge and wisdom of God’s Word to him, which is what Paul prayed for his Gentile converts in Ephesians 1:18-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-11, but you as a believer cannot come closer to God than you already are in Christ! “God hath accepted us in the beloved [Jesus Christ]” (Ephesians 1:6) Works-religion does not have the power of God, but the gospel of grace is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18)!

In order to justify the observance of Lent, religious people will oftentimes quote “work out your own salvation” from Philippians 2:12 or tell us that Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2; Luke 4:2). In the context, Philippians 2:13 has nothing to do with fasting, penance, prayer, or almsgiving—it is talking about pride (verses 1-8). These believers in Philippi were not working for their salvation, neither were they trying to merit favor with God. This “working out of their own salvation” was simply God’s grace transforming their Christian lives for His glory. It was not something they were doing; it was something God was doing in them.

Quote from the previous Catholic priest: “A small sacrifice helps us understand a little better what Christ did for us.”

No matter how big or small our sacrifice, what we do will never, ever be worthy to be compared to what Christ did on our behalf, and how blasphemous it is to insinuate what the priest did! How dare some mortal man thinks his menial sacrifices will come even close to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of His life! How dare people force works-religion on us, and they use the Bible to do it, too. Just because Jesus fasted forty days in the wilderness does not mean you have to do the same (Jesus was physically circumcised, so would you care to follow Jesus in this activity too?).

Friend, please listen, you are placing your own deeds above what Christ already did for you. Jesus Christ already demonstrated His love for you and His grace toward you, so why will you ignore that and go on through with vain works-religion? Why try to please God with your sacrifices and self-denial, when God says you are a sinner, unworthy of His heaven, and that God offers to save you by grace (despite your sinfulness)? For those of us who are already saved by trusting Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, let us let Him live His life in and through us, and may we not attempt to live the life that only Jesus Christ can live in and through us. You cannot do something to get God’s merit, for as a sinner, you have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). That is why God must deal with you in His grace—His grace enables Him to do for you when you do not deserve it.

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Paul never mentioned that God’s Word would work in us 40 days out of the year; God’s Word works year-round in the believer’s heart! You should be bringing glory and honor to the Lord all 365 days out of the year (366 for leap years!).

Now, look at one final passage, which we examined earlier. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Saint Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 in the New American Catholic Bible: “[23] May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [24] The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.”

According to Saint Paul, what will God do? Sanctify you wholly, and preserve you as blameless, as the Bible says. You do not have to perform rituals to be close to God. You simply have to place your faith in His Son Jesus Christ, and His finished work on Calvary as sufficient payment for your sins, and God will save you forever.

I gave up Lent for Lent! Will you, by faith, do the same?

Also see:

» Is Roman Catholicism true Christianity?
(LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

» Is there any divine authority in church tradition? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

» Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)