Friday, August 5, 2011

Are you free?

"Are you free?  Then stand fast in your liberty, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage.  Listen not to those who by good words and fair speeches would draw you back to the Church of Rome.  Beware of those who would fain persuade you that there is any mediator but the one Mediator, Christ Jesus, -any sacrifice but the one Sacrifice offered on Calvary, -any priest but the great High Priest Emmanuel, -any incense needed in worship but the savour of His name who was crucified, -any rule of faith and practice but God's Word, -any confessional but the throne of grace, -any effectual absolution but that which Christ bestows on the hearts of His believing people, -any purgatory but the one fountain open for all sins, the blood of Christ, to be only used while we are alive.  On all these points stand fast, and be on your guard.  Scores of misguided teachers are trying to rob Christians of Gospel liberty, and bring back among us exploded superstitions.  Resist them manfully, and to not give way for a moment.  Remember what Romanism was in this country before the blessed Reformation.  Remember at what mighty cost our martyred Reformers brought spiritual freedom to light by the Gospel.  Stand fast for this freedom like a man, and labour to hand it down to your children whole and unimpaired."

J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion


Chiara said...

Love this reminder!

Teresa Grodi said...

I feel very grateful for your great care for my soul and for the soul of all Catholics and for your desire for us to spend eternity in the Kingdom of God. However, it is hard for me, practicing Catholic, in love with Jesus, and a Christian historian, to understand how I am being "oppressed." I am not being oppressed - honestly I feel very free in the Catholic faith - although people frequently tell me that I am and that I need to be liberated. I know that this is your personal blog and I don't want to turn it into an unwelcome discussion, but I am open to dialogue. Please shoot me an email, if you'd like -

Andrea said...

Feeling free and actually being free are two completely different things. True freedom is only found in salvation. “Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12)

The Roman Catholic Church thinks that there is a different way for salvation. Whether you are idolizing Mary (which you do, as you consider her a mediatrix), by works or sacraments – you are delivering a different “gospel” than the one true gospel in Christ Jesus. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)

This is why I am concerned for souls out there who are going to be standing in front of the Lord one day, “On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:22-23)

joey said...

Zang!!! Amen girl!

I have been convicted of not speaking scripture lately. Often times when people ask for my counsel I rely on my own thoughts and words.

You are an example of how I need to speak and answer - just giving the very words of God - scripture itself. That is the only authority.

Thank you for modeling this. It's convicting.

Teresa Grodi said...

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I didn't even remember check if anyone had answered my question on your blog for a long time. Since I posted, I gave birth to my first child, so I've lost track of many of my pre-baby tasks.

Thank you for responding to my post. I am beginning to understand a little better some of your thoughts towards Catholicism. I would like to biblically approach your comment about Mary as Mediatrix in-depth, but only briefly touch on the issue of the "Gospel of Works" which you believe Catholics preach, as opposed to "Faith Alone." The issue of "works" is one that spans the whole of salvation history and cannot be summed up adequately without reading/studying the entire Bible. I don't think the length of my response will post in one comment so I will use a few. I apologize.

Just briefly, I am a little confused at your remark that I am still oppressed and not enjoying the freedom of Christ Jesus because I remain in the Catholic Church, because the Catholic Church teaches a "Gospel of Works"…even though I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. It seems that having to leave the Catholic Church would be an added work (a work which is nowhere stated in the Bible) that I would have to do in order to earn salvation. Are some works necessary for salvation and freedom in Christ Jesus? Each of the Scripture passages you quoted referring to me, I could just as easily quote referring to your beliefs and traditions. There is nothing that you mentioned that specifically denounces the Catholic Church, just "another Gospel." There are many "other Gospels" that Christians follow, *I* believe two are Sola scripture and Sola fide, both created by Martin Luther.

I'm sure you have heard this many times before, but Catholics don't worship Mary. Worship is an act of will. You can't be tricked into worshiping Mary without knowing that you are and giving your consent to it. Catholics don't worship Mary. Period. Not even the Pope worships Mary :) Addressing Mary as Mediatrix, actually Catholics believe that ALL Christians - you and I - are mediators in Christ, not just Mary.

Teresa Grodi said...

Am I bypassing the one mediator-ship of Jesus Christ by asking the Saints (Mary) in Heaven to pray for me? The biblical answer is No! Mediation among Christians here on earth does not take away from the one mediation of Christ. All Christians should agree with me - we pray for each other all the time.

In the verse right before 1 Tim 2:5 which you quoted as biblical evidence against Mary's title as Mediatrix, in 1Tim 2: 1, Paul commands mediation: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men." Here, the very written Word of God commands Christian mediation/intercession. In Romans 15: 30, St. Paul requests intercession, mediatory prayers for himself: "Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me"… "by our Lord Jesus Christ" - St. Paul's mediation is through the one mediator: "to God for me." In Colossians 4: 3, Paul is asking the Colossians to pray for him: "at the same time, pray for us, too, that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak of the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison." (the same in Ephesians 6: 18).

Paul also intercedes for others in 2 Thessalonians 1: 11: "To this end, we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling" (and also in Colossians 1: 9, that they may be worthy). He also prays for the Jews that have not yet accepted salvation of Jesus Christ in Romans 10:1 "I pray for them unto salvation." praying them to salvation…

Why is it that my prayer as a Christian can be effectual here on earth and not take away from the one mediation of Christ? Why is it that Paul asks others to be mediators to God and why does Paul himself act as mediator?

The Bible explains that it is because we *participate* in the one mediation of Christ. The only reason we can be mediators or intercessors is *because* of the one mediation of Christ Jesus. Let me explain the way the Bible teaches us this:

Teresa Grodi said...

First, we as Christians are members of the Body of Christ. Through baptism we become part of the body of Christ, Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12: 27 "Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it" and 1 Corinthians 12: 13 "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." So it is through our baptism that we enter into the body of Christ. Romans 6: 3-5 "Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection." Through the incorporation into the body of Christ at baptism with die with Christ and we rise with Christ, because we participate in Christ's death and resurrection, according to St. Paul. Is my dying taking away from Jesus' one death on the cross? Is my resurrection taking away from Jesus' one Resurrection on the third day? No! Not according to St. Paul! Why? Because my baptism incorporates me into Christ's body and I participate in his one death and resurrection. "It is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). My participation in his mediation does not take away from his one, unique mediation. The reason why we can participate in the unique mediation of Christ is because we are in the body of Christ.

Second, we participate in many other qualities of Christ through his body. In Hebrews 3:1 Christ is our one high priest, but in 1 Peter 2: 5-9 when St. Peter calls us Christians a holy and kingly priesthood. Is this a contradiction? No, because we participate in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ. You would agree with me that Jesus Christ is the one Savior? In 1 Corinthians 9: 22, St. Paul speaks of himself "saving" all. Is he taking away from the one Savior-ship of Jesus Christ? (Similarly in 1 Tim 4: 16 and Romans 10:1) No, because as a part of the body of Christ, he is participating in Christ's Savior-ship.

Teresa Grodi said...

If Christian mediation on earth does not take away from the one mediation of Christ, as demonstrated by the Bible. Where does it say in the Bible that the *Christians* in heaven's mediation is not acceptable and pleasing in the sight of God? For not even death separates us from the Body of Christ (Romans 8: 35-38). If we die with Christ, we live new life with Christ (2 Tim 1: 10, Romans 6: 3-5). Hebrews 12: 1, 22-24 speaks of "The souls of the just men made perfect," "the great cloud of witnesses" who are alive in the Heavenly Jerusalem. In Revelation 5: 8 - 24 John sees in Heaven ancients/elders (human souls), differentiated from living creatures and angels, who are praising God and offering up the incense of the prayers of the Saints to the throne of God. Romans 8: 35 - "Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? …. 38 "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things,* nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." In Luke 20: 38, Jesus says God is the God of the living and not of the dead. Deuteronomy 18: 10-11 does not apply to us because we are not conversing with the dead. Like Jesus on Mt. Thabor, speaking with Moses, we are conversing with the living - those alive in Christ Jesus. Those souls in heaven of the just men made perfect are alive - they are more alive then we are!

All of these biblical points show that it is NOT CONTRARY to the Bible and does not take away from the one mediation of Christ to ask the Saints in heaven to pray for us. St. Paul's command to intercede for all men still exists in heaven.

As for the Church preaching "another Gospel," I am not sure who would determine that it is the Catholic Church that preaches "another" Gospel, since, historically, it is the Catholic Church (as reflected in the Greek Orthodox, Egyptian Coptic, Armenian Christian Churches as well) that has been preaching the same Gospel of Jesus Christ since Pentecost. The Gospels of Scripture alone and Faith alone are new and different Gospels! It seems to me that those should be accursed, since they came not from the Apostles but from the theologies of men, millennia removed from Jesus and the Apostles.

Teresa Grodi said...

While I don't doubt Martin Luther's sincerity in reform, in his new translation of the Bible he added the word "alone" in John 3:16 (and in that translation he also got rid of the books of James and Revelation). In fact, the only time "faith alone" is ever mentioned in the Bible is in James 2:24 "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (In fact, if you find someone who has studied the Bible in it's original Greek, John 3:16 does not say "so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life," as if belief were in one point in time. The verbs in the sentence are in the present habitual tense, it would be "those who are believing will be being saved.")

The Scriptures all the way from Abraham to the Epistles teaches Faith by obedience. Paul speaks about Faith in his letter to the Romans. The first time he mentions faith he says, "the obedience of faith". If I were to ask you what the opposite of belief was, you (anyone) would probably say disbelief or not believing. But not according to the Bible! The opposite of belief is disobedience: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him." (John 3: 36). Obedience is a necessary part of Faith. In fact, according to John 3:36, it is such an important part of faith that without it we do not have life! I feel very blessed to belong to a church that does not believe in theology based on "plucking" verses out of the Bible, but one that sees the whole of the Scripture - from Genesis to Revelation - as the history of our salvation.

I would be very happy to know what you think and to discuss anything else you may have on your heart.

Thank you for your time! May God bless you and your family!