22 July, 2011

Continuing discussion with Ernest S about apostolic authority and the Church

(ErnestS) “Still you give no Scripture to show you are not bound by the Apostles’ word

The line stops with the Apostles and all are sealed up to their authority. That is what < We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error > means

What you write is only your word and it contradicts the Apostle.

That is why I need God’s word. Without that the RCC is of the spirit of error and must be witnessed against as corrupt and deceitful and opposed to Christ.”

(Cristoiglesia) Actually I did provide Scripture by our previous email which is contained below. 1 Joh 4:6 is speaking of the authority of the Church. In the first century we know what the definition or understanding of what Church means to the primitive Catholic Christians. St. Ignatius in his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans in the first century of the Church defined the Church as those who gathered around the bishop saying “where the bishop is there is the Church”. Now St. Ignatius along with St. Polycarp had unique qualifications among the direct successors of the disciples. They were both disciples of two of the twelve disciples of our Lord, St. John and St. Peter. St. Ignatius was third in line as the successor of St. Peter of his bishopric of Antioch. St. Ignatius was ordained and consecrated by St. John and St. Peter as their successor. Surely St. Ignatius teaching had the confidence of St. Peter as well as St. John when they chose him as a disciple and successor. So as is clearly apparent, is that the Church is inseparable from the teaching and authority of the apostles. The same authority remains today in the successors of the apostles in an unbroken line for 2000 years. Where the bishop is there is the Church defines the first century understanding of the Church from the direct successor of two of the disciples of our Lord.

All authority was given to the apostles from Christ and at least some of that special authority is recorded in Scripture and is certainly attested to by the ante Nicene fathers.

There is no doubt that the apostles knew that their ministry would survive their death as it was needed to be a permanent living presence until the Parousia.

(Mat 28:20 DRB) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

Knowing their responsibility in preserving the teaching of Christ they ordained successors giving them the gift of the Spirit with Episcopal consecration:

(Act 1:8 DRB) But you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.

(Act 2:4 DRB) And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost: and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.

(Joh 20:22 DRB) When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

(Joh 20:23 DRB) Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

(1Ti 4:14 DRB) Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.

(2Ti 1:6 DRB) For which cause I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands.

(2Ti 1:7 DRB) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power and of love and of sobriety.

There is no doubt that “Apostolic Succession” is a historical fact. Scriptures, as well show clearly that Christ chose these apostles and commissioned them to establish and continue his work with his authority and they ordained successors. It is Apostolic Succession that is the link connecting the Church to Christ. It is the authority from Christ of the Episcopacy that brings so many knowledgeable people to return to the Catholic faith as I am a witness.

We see those who were ordained in apostolic succession fulfilling their ministry:

(Act 20:28 DRB) Take heed to yourselves and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood.

(1Th 1:1 DRB) Paul and Sylvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians: in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1Th 1:2 DRB) Grace be to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for you all: making a remembrance of you in our prayers without ceasing,

(1Th 1:3 DRB) Being mindful of the work of your faith and labour and charity: and of the enduring of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father.

(1Th 1:4 DRB) Knowing, brethren, beloved of God, your election:

(1Th 1:5 DRB) For our gospel hath not been unto you in word only, but in power also: and in the Holy Ghost and in much fulness, as you know what manner of men we have been among you for your sakes.

(1Th 1:6 DRB) And you became followers of us and of the Lord: receiving the word in much tribulation, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

(1Th 1:7 DRB) So that you were made a pattern to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.

1Th 1:8 DRB) For from you was spread abroad the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and in Achaia but also in every place: your faith which is towards God, is gone forth, so that we need not to speak any thing.

(1Th 1:9 DRB) For they themselves relate of us, what manner of entering in we had unto you: and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.

(1Th 1:10 DRB) And to wait for his Son from heaven (whom he raised up from the dead), Jesus, who hath delivered us from the wrath to come.

(2Ti 1:6 DRB) For which cause I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands.

(Tit 1:5 DRB) For this cause I left thee in Crete: that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:

(Tit 1:6 DRB) If any be without crime, the husband of one wife. having faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly.

(Tit 1:7 DRB) For a bishop must be without crime, as the steward of God: not proud, not subject to anger, nor given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre:

(Tit 1:8 DRB) But given to hospitality, gentle, sober, just, holy, continent:

(Tit 1:9 DRB) Embracing that faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers.

(1Ti 4:14 DRB) Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood.

(2Ti 1:6 DRB) For which cause I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands.

St. Paul goes on to instruct St. Timothy as to who is a qualified candidate for ordination:

(1Ti 3:1 DRB) A faithful saying: If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth good work.

(1Ti 3:2 DRB) It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher,

(1Ti 3:3 DRB) Not given to wine, no striker, but modest, not quarrelsome, not covetous, but

(1Ti 3:4 DRB) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity.

(1Ti 3:5 DRB) But if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

(1Ti 3:6 DRB) Not a neophyte: lest, being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil.

(1Ti 3:7 DRB) Moreover, he must have a good testimony of them who are without: lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

(1Ti 5:22 DRB) Impose not hands lightly upon any man, neither be partaker of other men's sins. Keep thyself chaste.

We also find in the Scriptures that those in Apostolic Succession had particular and varied duties:

(1Co 12:27 DRB) Now you are the body of Christ and members of member.

(1Co 12:28 DRB) And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors: after that miracles: then the graces of healings, helps, governments, kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches.

(1Co 12:29 DRB) Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all doctors?

(Eph 4:11 DRB) And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors:

(Eph 4:12 DRB) For the perfecting of the saints, for the word of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

We are further reminded of the foundation of the Church:

(Eph 2:19 DRB) Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners: but you are fellow citizens with the saints and the domestics of God,

(Eph 2:20 DRB) Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone:

This is only some of the Scriptures speaking of apostolic succession and the duties, need and authority of the office.

What I wrote contradicts your misunderstanding of the teaching of the apostles. The apostles and their successors are the Church and have been for 2000 years.

The onus is still on you to prove where the Church is the “spirit of error” and “corrupt and deceitful and opposed to Christ”.

(ErnestS) “The church of God is built on the Apostles No mention of any successors there at all. Not at all. The foundation is Christ, His Prophets and Apostles. Nothing else. The foundation stopped with the Apostles. Upon them the building commenced. As on, and from, the day of Pentecost. About three thousand souls. Look it up if you cannot remember.”

(Cristoiglesia) One cannot deny that the foundation of all Christianity through His Church is based on Christ’s words to St. Peter before the disciples. There is no doubt from the construction vernacular that Jesus was instructing them to build a Church with them as the foundation stones and Himself as the cornerstone. He built no other Church as no other was needed because the One, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic, Church derives its perfection from Him through His promises. He prayed that we all be one within this Church. He said this Church would endure until the Parousia. He said of this Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. He said that He would be with this Church until the end of time. The Scriptures confirms these promises saying that this Church is the “pillar and ground of the truth”. He did not plan for the Church to be without leadership after the apostles died but provided that they choose successors to replace them in the enduring Church. This is confirmed it the book of Acts and the Scriptures previously provided. Certainly Christ could be seen as being incompetent in building His Church if the foundation He laid was not intended to be built upon by successors and only have authority for one generation. This would not be a competent plan for an enduring Church and such a foundation with nothing built upon it would have been nothing more than incompetent folly. We know that in order to fulfill the prophesy of Isaiah (Isa 22) St. Peter was appointed as the prime minister of the Church. This was to be an enduring office that Christ ordained in order to fulfill the Scriptures that required successors. You can easily prove your point in view of all the evidence to the contrary that authority ceased with the death of the apostles by simply providing a Scripture reference that supports your contention. Note that at Pentecost they all came to faith by gathering around the bishops. Where the bishop is, there is the Church. It is still the same to this day.

(ErnestS) “While you are there you will see they were all Jews. Not a Roman Catholic in sight! Ha-ha. The RCs didn’t come until some three hundred years later. I know, I know you think Adam and Eve were R Cs but the Bible and history show otherwise. You listen too much to the absurd lies of the RCC.”

(Cristoiglesia) I have already explained to you that “Roman Catholic” was a pejorative term given to those faithful and obedient to Christ’s Church by the Protestant rebels against the Church in the sixteenth century. Previously the Church was known only as the Catholic Church but we have embraced the name “Roman Catholic” because it reminds us of the persecution we endured for our faith in Rome and the martyrdom of the disciples of our Lord and their successors like St. Ignatius that I mentioned earlier. As I mentioned to you earlier in a previous response the first century Church contained Jews who became one with Christ under the New Covenant and were baptized and born again into the faith at Pentecost. They were perfected Jews and Gentiles but upon their Baptism and faith in Jesus they became Christians and indeed Catholic Christians as no others calling themselves Christian existed. As a side note….the followers and faithful of Jesus were first called Christian at St. Peters bishopric at Antioch and first called Catholic there as well. So at Pentecost they were all Catholic Christians. This is 300 years prior to your understanding of the beginning of the Church which cannot be supported by Scripture, history or patristic evidence. Such a beginning of the Church is only found in the imagination of the ignorant of Scripture, history and the teaching of the fathers of the Church. It is prideful fanciful revisionist history that convicts you of error.

(Ernest S) “In any event there can be no successors to the Apostles because then the foundation would not be laid and none could be built until that foundation was completed. No building can be built without a foundation, that would be absurd, don’t you agree? You wouldn’t think to put the roof up first, would you? Ha! Ahaa-ha! Silly isn’t it?”

(Cristoiglesia) The foundation was completed by Christ with himself as the cornerstone and the 12 disciples as the 12 foundation stones that the Church was built upon through apostolic succession with St. Peter given the keys to the Church and being appointed as the first prime minister of the enduring office ordained by Christ to fulfill the Scriptures as I have previously pointed out. As you see from Scriptures the foundation was completed by Christ and He was not incompetent as you suppose by your false statements.

(Ernest S) “You see? It is stacking up against you. It will get heavier and heavier the more you go on. Now you have another Scripture that slays the RCC and the foolish, absurd things you say. Roof up first! Ha! Nice one! Some scholarship!!! Aha-haa-ha!”

(Cristoiglesia) Excuse me, it is you that made the absurd supposition of putting a roof before the foundation and not I nor Christ. Christ built the foundation with Himself as the cornerstone and the disciples as the foundation stones just as the Bible says. It was complete and prepared for an enduring Church that so far has lasted for 2000 years as testimony to Christ’s promise to the world of an enduring Church until the Parousia.

(Ernest) “None of the so called church fathers have any authority whatsoever, You would be in a pretty pickle if they did because they disagreed! ---Ouch! You see where this is going? With your great learning and scholarship and that?”

(Cristoiglesia) I see where it is going very clearly. You are continuing to dig yourself a deeper hole of error.
The fact is that the Church fathers had the same authority as the apostles as the successors of the permanent office of the apostles. It is an enduring office for an enduring Church. It is true that some disagreed individually but not corporeally as their disagreements were handled in the ecumenical Councils by the whole Church. If you read about the Council of Jerusalem we find it being convened to settle the dispute over the Gentile converts and a consensus was arrived at by the Church corporeally to settle the disagreements. The Church teaches infallibly corporeally and not individually except in the rare instance of the Pope speaking ex cathedra.

(ErnestS) “How wise of God to seal up the authority with His Apostles. He did not and does not need scholarship. We have it all in the Bible. How wise and thoughtful He is! And how utterly foolish and sinful are men… with their scholarship.”

(Cristoiglesia) There is absolutely no evidence that God did what you claim from any source. I can certainly see why Satan would deceive men to reject sound biblical hermeneutics as you do and that is because it is easier to deceive the ignorant. The Bible clearly states that it is not to be interpreted privately but instead teaches that it is to be understood in the community of the Church under the teaching authority given by Christ to the Church. Individuals have absolutely no authority to interpret Scriptures from Christ or any other source but Christ’s Church.

2 Peter 1:20-21 (King James Version)

20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

So clearly, rejecting scholarship is what is foolish as it leads to false teaching, practice and doctrines as the more than 30,000 Protestant sects testify with their diverse heresies and departure from the authority of the apostles. Such an approach Is in direct opposition to God’s will that we be one in His Church as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Protestant teaching is not of God but comes from a different source which is a spirit of contention and division within the Body of Christ.

(Ernest S) “Cain was the first person not to see God and how quickly he departed from the truth. So God has sealed us all up to those who have seen God. What a very long way we have now come, since you and the RCC do not even hear Him.”

(Cristoiglesia) As I have clearly illustrated from Scripture and history the Church remains with the leadership of the apostles through their successors. You are impotent to show any verse of Scripture that apostolic authority ceased with the physical death of the apostles. You could not even muster a reasonable explanation of why this is even possible. The Church and His faithful indeed hear Him and follow Him in spirit and truth. We do not fall for the doctrines of men but simply obey the authority that He left on earth, His Church, as it has been for 2000 years and will be until He comes again. His lambs know His voice.

(Ernest S) “Do you need more time to search for a Scripture to excuse you from the Apostles’ word? Since you have had nearly 1,700 years and still not come up with one, it surely does not look likely you are going to be able? But you can have some But you can have some more time if you like.

Meanwhile the witness of God against the wicked antichristian RCC filled to overflowing with the spirit of error, goes on.”

(Cristoiglesia) The Church has endured for 2000 years following the only authority that Christ provided which is His Church founded on the foundation of the apostles and He as the cornerstone. That authority endures today as the Church endures today and will for all times. It is you that reject that authority whether out of ignorance, pride, hatred or bigotry it does not matter but what matters is that it is you that does not recognize His authority despite the scriptural teaching that supports the Church as having divine authority through apostolic succession. You have been given the scriptural evidence that Christ’s authority still exists in His Church. It is up to you to continue to reject the God given authority and be obedient to His Church or reject it to your own peril.

God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

03 July, 2011

Assurance of Salvation discussed with "Doug"

[The following is the first exchange that took place between one calling himself Doug and I about sanctification and justification contrasting the teaching of John Calvin and the teaching of the Church in the Bible and exposed fully in the Catechism.]

(Doug) “I appreciate the kind email, but you are sadly mistaken my friend. Paul clearly contrasts faith with works in passages like these: "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Rom. 4:5); "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9).”

(Cristoiglesia) Without eisegesis it is impossible to come to the same conclusion as you. In Romans 4:5 the Scriptures are speaking of Abraham who was an idolater before coming to faith in God. The Scriptures are simply saying that as an idolater he did not merit God’s appointment by his works. After God called him Abraham believed God’s promises and justice prevailed as both were gifts of God. Certainly Abraham is not an example of dead faith but instead it is an example of active faith full of charity as His life exemplifies.

In Ephesians 2:8-9 we see the biblical testimony that faith is the genesis as well as foundation of justification as the first of virtues in a virtuous life. The absence of faith separates one from God and any possibility of a familial relationship as such is not pleasing to God. It is by God’s grace that we receive this salvific grace. In receiving this grace we grow as a result with grace being the whole cause and justification being the effect.

There is no contrast indicated in these passages but instead they are speaking of faith and works being integral in a familial and pleasing relationship with God coming from God’s grace and through the Holy Spirit prompting us through grace to serve God. Romans uses Abraham as an example of this grace and Ephesians simply confirms the abundance of God’s grace for faith and for works.

(Doug)”The Bible says we can KNOW that we are saved right now (1 John 5:13). You can't know for sure that you're saved if your works are involved since you're nothing but a dirty rotten sinner to the core (as am I).”

(Cristoiglesia) I do not see how anyone reading this verse in context could ever come to a conclusion as you, Calvin and Jansenius before him.

The preceding verses and especially verse 3 contradict such a conclusion. The burden of following God’s commandments should not be approached as impossible to overcome which causes one to arrive at despair and hopelessness. We have many examples of the martyrs of the faith who have suffered into death rather than sin against God. They are a clear example against total depravity as you suggest. The abundance of grace given by God and our response to that grace allow us and indeed encourage us to overcome that which you, Calvin and Jansenius proclaim are impossible. We can turn from temptation and deny self. We can suffer death for Him rather than sin. It is God’s grace that we receive which makes the yoke of our belief in Christ a light burden for the faithful to bear. (Mat 11:30) We certainly can by His grace reject sin. God does not command that which is not possible to follow as Calvin and Jansenius proclaim in their heretical teaching.

(Doug) “Consider the warning of Jesus in Matthew 7: 21-23.

So, who among those who say "Lord, Lord" will enter? Answer: those who do the will of the Father.”

(Cristoiglesia) In these verses God is illustrating that it is not enough to believe in Him and to hear His words but that the evidence of salvific grace in our lives is the joining of works to our faith as on the last day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess it is our works in obedience to our faith that will be judged. If one had not faith how could they cry out Lord, Lord. Even one with the strongest of faith without works will not see the beatific vision. (1Cor13) We are being instructed by His Word that those who profess even constantly their faith but care little for receiving Him and responding to His grace by receiving that grace into their own spirit will find that their presumption of their deceitful consciences towards themselves will result in great disappointment and eternal damnation.

Not only do the righteous receive the gifts of prophecy and of miracles but it also comes by the wicked as the biblical example of Caiphas and Balaam. The Scriptures are illustrating that even with the evidence in our lives of prophecy and miracles will not save us if not accompanied and assisted by good works. God sometimes works through men who do not have lives that are congruent with faith in God but yet they become tools of God to encourage others in their faith despite their personal lack of faith. We have the example of Balaam who had no faith yet was used by God to give advantage to others. Judas even cast out devils despite his personal wickedness. As St. Chrysostom said in quoting St. Paul, “if I had all faith so as to remove mountains, and if I knew all mysteries, and was possessed of all wisdom, but had not charity, I am nothing."

(Doug) “What, then, does Jesus mean by the will of the Father and who are those who do it?

A person who trusts in Christ alone obeys completely the will of the Father to believe in Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation. Such a person obtains absolute perfection before God [positionally speaking] since Christ takes away all of his sins and gives him His righteousness in exchange (2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 2:13-14; Heb. 10:1-18).””

(Cristoiglesia) Perhaps you would like to point out the verse in Scriptures that says
“Christ alone”. Please define “positionally speaking” so that I can respond.

(2Co 5:21 DRB) Him, who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us: that we might be made the justice of God in him. Sin for us... That is, to be a sin offering, a victim for sin.

This verse says that Jesus had never sinned nor is He capable of sinning. When the Scriptures say “he hath made sin for us” is usually understood to refer to His atoning sacrifice on the Cross. This is supported by the Church fathers including St. Augustine with its foundation in Scriptures. The verse further explains that as a result of His sacrifice we might be justified and sanctified by His grace and His resulting justice from Him. He is a sin offering and victim for sin. Perhaps you could share how this verse supports your theological understanding

(Col 2:13 DRB) And you, when you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he hath quickened together with him, forgiving you all offences:

(Col 2:14 DRB) Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross.

Verse 12 puts verses 13-14 into context as this is speaking of the benefits of Baptism. “Blotting out refers to the sentence of eternal death brought on by the sinful Adam and for all of his posterity being removed by Baptism through His sacrifice. (Heb 10:1 DRB) For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, by the selfsame sacrifices which they offer continually every year, can never make the comers thereunto perfect.

It is saying that it is this “original sin” that is taken away or blotted out by Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The reference to the cross represents the sin of Adam upon the Cross and the atonement of His death for that sin that condemned men to death. Again I fail to see how these verses that you use to support your statements contribute to the statements any credibility or veracity.

(Heb 10:2 DRB) For then they would have ceased to be offered: because the worshippers once cleansed should have no conscience of sin any longer.

(Heb 10:3 DRB) But in them there is made a commemoration of sins every year:

(Heb 10:4 DRB) For it is impossible that with the blood of oxen and goats sin should be taken away.

(Heb 10:5 DRB) Wherefore, when he cometh into the world he saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not: but a body thou hast fitted to me.

(Heb 10:6 DRB) Holocausts for sin did not please thee.

(Heb 10:7 DRB) Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do thy will, O God.

(Heb 10:8 DRB) In saying before, Sacrifices, and oblations, and holocausts for sin thou wouldest not, neither are they pleasing to thee, which are offered according to the law.

(Heb 10:9 DRB) Then said I: Behold, I come to do thy will, O God: He taketh away the first, that he may establish that which followeth.

(Heb 10:10 DRB) In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once.

(Heb 10:11 DRB) And every priest indeed standeth daily ministering and often offering the same sacrifices which can never take away sins.

(Heb 10:12 DRB) But this man, offering one sacrifice for sins, for ever sitteth on the right hand of God,

(Heb 10:13 DRB) From henceforth expecting until his enemies be made his footstool.

(Heb 10:14 DRB) For by one oblation he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

(Heb 10:15 DRB) And the Holy Ghost also doth testify this to us. For after that he said:

(Heb 10:16 DRB) And this is the testament which I will make unto them after those days, saith the Lord. I will give my laws in their hearts and on their minds will I write them:

(Heb 10:17 DRB) And their sins and iniquities I will remember no more.

(Heb 10:18 DRB) Now, where there is a remission of these, there is no more an oblation for sin.

This passage simply says that Jesus is like us in representing us on the cross except for sin. He experienced temptation, suffered unto death as fully man so that He could experience the desire for mercy, feel compassion for the sinful in all of our temptations and sufferings so that He might become the High priest which was His destiny and our blessing through His grace. How do these verses relate to your theological conclusions.

(Doug) “James 2 is talking about a dead faith that was at one time alive. Believers who don't live godly lives will experience profound regret at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). “

(Cristoiglesia) I do agree that those who do not live godly lives will suffer regret at judgment but I do not see the support for a theological position that it is speaking of fallen away Christians who have lost their faith. It instead is speaking of God’s grace working through the faithful in producing good works as evidence of their faith. Thus as James stated faith without works is a dead faith because it is evidence that the person is not being obedient and responding to the Holy Spirit which surely provokes the faithful to works such as charity, mercy and denial of self.

I know how seductive it is to choose eisegesis over exegesis when approaching Scripture. I was a Protestant for 50 years and fell for some of the same man-made doctrines as you because I was unable to accept sound doctrines and used eisegesis to satisfy my itching ears also. I find it very sad when people are still lost in the false teaching of men and reject the sound doctrine that Jesus promised in His Church. It all comes down to either trusting in Christ’s promises or the doctrines of men like Calvin, in this case, it is the latter who is a heretical false teacher.

I can see how someone taking Scriptures out of the whole context of the Bible could come to believe in false doctrines. But, using improper biblical hermeneutics such practices can only lead to error as you have illustrated. The facts are that the Bible teaches that salvation is a lifelong process culminating in judgment. Our sins are not covered by Jesus but by His blood we are made pure and Holy and indeed sanctified so that we may receive the beatific vision. No sinful soul even covered in a cloak of deception can entire heaven but only the sanctified soul purified and cleansed by the redemptive blood of Christ. The fruit of our godly grace are the obedient works we do when prompted by the Holy Spirit and are evidence of the redemptive grace in our lives. Thus the Bible says that faith without works is dead faith and evidence that we are not one in the family of God as we might suppose. God calls us in His greatest commandment to love one another and this is evidenced in our godly works like sacrifice and prayer for one another.

(Doug) “With all due respect, you are the one who is rejecting the clear teachings of scripture. I find it very sad when a can’t see salvation for what it is – a completely free gift received through faith and apart from any works that we do. You obviously couldn’t refute the passages that I quoted earlier. You would probably have to go to the Catholic Catechism for that.”

(Cristoiglesia) Well as you can see from my previous commentary I have refuted your eisegesis soundly with Scripture and reason. I cannot find a single biblical verse that says that salvation is “a completely free gift received through faith and apart from any works” instead you add the word “any” which makes your claim false. The Bible only condemns one kind of works and that is the works of the law which is referring to the written Mosaic law alone. It is saying that a knowledge of the law is a knowledge of sin and recognizing what is sinful but the Bible does not condemn godly works prompted by the Holy Spirit working in one’s life but instead condemns those who do not acknowledge and conform to the precepts of the law making them even more guilty.

(Rom 3:28 DRB) For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law.

Since Christ has come God’s justice which has made others just must come by faith in Christ. It is by Christ’s grace which all whether Jew or Gentile, because of His sacrifice as the propitiation for the sins of all men are saved. We must have faith in His blood shed on Calvary for us And knowledge that He died for us. He is the sole justifier for man. As Gentiles we are justified without the Mosaic law but the Jews who have been under the law of Moses cannot receive sanctification, justification or receive salvation except by the faith and grace of Christ. St. Paul is teaching in chapter 3 verses 20 and 28 of his letter to the Romans that man is justified without the works of the Mosaic law. He further teaches that there are no works of the Mosaic law or works by the law of nature will justify man. He further emphasizes that believing in faith alone for salvation would be contrary to the Gospel. Works must be joined to faith and God’s grace.

In chapter 4 verses 3 and 5 when speaking of Abraham as an example that we are justified by faith or believing but nowhere does he say we are saved by faith alone. Only the heretics proclaim salvation by the sufficiency of faith alone.

(Rom 2:6 DRB) Who will render to every man according to his works.

(Rom 2:13 DRB) For not the hearers of the law are just before God: but the doers of the law shall be justified.

(Gal 5:6 DRB) For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by Charity.

(1Co 7:19 DRB) Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing: but the observance of the commandments of God.

St. James acknowledges the consistent teaching of Scriptures when he reiterates that faith without works is dead faith.

(Doug) “I don’t know why you’re so obsessed with Calvin. He actually held to a lot of doctrines that I also reject such as perseverance of the saints. I am a Dispensationalist just to be clear. However, systems of theology don’t determine who enters heaven or not. A person must be born again through faith in Christ (apart from works…as the verses I pointed out yesterday clearly show) in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

(Cristoiglesia) I am not obsessed with John Calvin but only recognize that he has been used as a tool for evil in his teaching of heresies like faith alone. I have little regard for the ravening wolves and false teachers like Calvin. We can discuss Dispensationalism separately as it does not apply to this discussion and would just be a separate tangent to the discussion. I would agree that “systems of theology” do not determine who is saved as all salvation is by God’s grace and I would agree that one must be “born again” through Baptism to be saved as the Bible teaches that this is the path to salvation. But you seem to suggest another teaching on being “born again” that is not at all biblical. Being “born again” is only mentioned in the context of baptism.

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

1Pe 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the word of God who liveth and remaineth for ever.

As you can see by these verses we must follow the Word of God which states that we are born again by Baptism and not only by faith.

(Doug) “In Matthew 7:21-23, the people shouting “Lord, Lord…” were not Buddhists or Hindus. These represent individuals who claimed to do righteous works in the name of Christ. Because they felt their meritorious works earned them kingdom entrance, they were flatly denied. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).”

(Cristoiglesia) Surely St. Matthew is writing of those who do not do the will of God yet claim to be Godly. It is not the will of God to simply proclaim faith without living that faith by their works. One can bear good or bad fruit but only he who bears good fruit. When one bears good fruit as a result of the indwelling and obedience to the Holy Spirit which is God’s will. Those that reject the Holy Spirit and have no evidence of the continuance of good works like charity and mercy are instead evidencing that they are not in Christ but instead are of the world.

In verse 21 St. Matthew is teaching that believing in Him is not sufficient nor is hearing His words. Instead it is teaching that we must incorporate works with faith as this is how we will be judged on the last day. Even the strongest of faith without the works of justice will gaze on the beatific vision. Having the Lord continually in one’s mouth is not enough but it is necessary for one to be penetrated by His Spirit in full acceptance in their own spirit or to find their presumption of their faith without works being sufficient to be woefully disappointed. Surely St. Mathew is not speaking of those without faith or they would not cry out “Lord, Lord”.

(Doug) “I can know right here and now that I possess it based on the simple promises of Jesus. His Words take priority over what the Catholic Church teaches or what some priest thinks is the correct way to salvation”

(Cristoiglesia) I understand that you have been deceived by Calvinist teaching into thinking that you have already been saved but that will not occur until your death and judgment according to biblical teaching. Only our sovereign God declares one saved and that is done at judgment. We cannot proclaim ourselves or others saved without prideful presumption. You are looking for cheap grace but that grace was earned for us by our Lord at Calvary and carried a heavy price of suffering to atone for our sins and open the door to heaven for us through our repentance.

The truth is that the Church teaches and proclaims the true Gospel which says that we are only saved by His sovereign grace. The Church proclaims the Word of God and not others claiming to have the authority to do so from Christ that was given only to His Church. The Bible states that it is not for private interpretation but must be interpreted through the Church lest we fall for error and heresy. If one truly believes in God and His Word then they will follow only HIS Church and not man-made counterfeits or false doctrines of heretics. Only His Church is called the “pillar and foundation of the truth” which can only be the Catholic Church. Jesus prayed on the “Mount of Olives” in the “Garden of Gethsemane” that we all be one in His Church as He and the Father are one. So, According to Jesus and the Bible the Church is the teaching of the correct way to salvation and not the teaching of Calvin or other heretics.

(Doug) “My willingness to serve Christ stems from the gratitude I have for His free gift of salvation as well as a desire to receive a special inheritance and reward for faithful service at the Judgment Seat (2 Cor. 5:10). Hell is not an option since I have already passed from death into life (see John 5:24)!”

(Cristoiglesia) St. Paul disagreed with your conclusions:

Php 2:12 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.

(Doug) “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This is so simple that a young child can grasp it! This is why we can KNOW right here and now that we are saved (1 John 5:13). Praise God that I know I’m on my way to heaven :-)”

(Cristoiglesia) John 3:16 in the original language teaches us that we must continue to believe for everlasting life just as St. Paul warned in Php 2:12. Taking verses out of context with the whole of Scriptures almost always results in error as you have proven here but eisegesis instead of exegesis compounds the error. 1 John 5:13 does not support your conclusion but stands in opposition to it. The presumption of salvation for oneself or others is a grave sin against God.

(Doug) “Perhaps you have been born again at some moment in the past (since it seems you did at one time embrace the truth). Given the fact that God promises us life that is eternal, your salvation can't be touched if that is the case. However, you will experience loss of reward at the Judgment Seat as you see all of your works burn up (1 Cor. 3:15). You will be denied the privileges of reigning and ruling with the King of kings (2 Tim. 2:12).”

(Cristoiglesia) Yes, I have been baptized and born again in the biblical sense with Baptism which has made a permanent mark on my soul. It was done in a valid Protestant ceremony when I was eight days old. I have come into the fullness of truth through the Catholic Church as the Bible teaches. But I approach my salvation with fear and trembling that I may fall away just as does St. Paul in His teaching. St. John said in John 3:16, I must continue in faith in Christ to be saved.

(Doug)“My prayer is that God will open up your heart to see that His death on the Cross FULLY paid for all your sins. Your soteriological writings are so foreign to scripture that it would be almost laughable if it weren't such a serious issue being discussed. Read John's Gospel since the purpose statement is clearly stated in John 20:31.”

(Cristoiglesia) I am fully aware of what Jesus did for us on the cross and it was not to award us with cheap grace but a grace paid for with His blood and suffering. It is clearly you that has little regard for Scripture with your proof text methodology and eisegesis. You create with your misunderstanding of Scriptures more contradictions than any consistency of truth. When you create contradictions it is a clear indication of error for both error and truth cannot coexist in God’s Word or in His Church which is truly the “pillar and foundation of the truth” as the Bible states.

My writings are consistent with the Word of God and would only be laughable to one that is captured in the snare of false teachers that twist the Word of God to their own profit as did Calvin whom you follow. He was a Secular Humanist lawyer that wanted to establish a theocracy that had God as a servant of the people instead of the consistent teaching of the Church and of the Bible of man being created to serve God. You think as a result that God owes you a debt because of your belief in Him regardless of whether you accept His will prompted by the Holy Spirit to do His works of charity and mercy and become the good fruit that He promises will have the beatific vision and not the bad fruit of those who cry, Lord, Lord as the heretics have taught you. The issues of salvation are serious and as it is proven by this discussion many are seduced by the doctrines of men and devils because such teaching satisfies their itching ears. But false teaching or cheap grace do not lead to salvation and that is the truth I must share with you.

(Joh 20:31 DRB) But these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing, you may have life in his name.

May you learn to do His will, reject false teaching and live out the true evidence of salvific faith through your works. May our Lord have mercy on you and by His grace may you come to faith in His Church and reject the doctrines of men and devils. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph