A Plea for Unity

I wanted to clarify something I stated in my last post suggesting that the Catholic Church is the true church of Christ which might cause some Protestants to infer that they are not true Christians.

Please understand, Protestants are true Christians. The Catholic Church recognizes that those who are baptized according to Protestant faith are, indeed, brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is true that the Catholic Church traces its roots to the apostolic age while the Protestant Church had its origins in the Reformation. Churches that follow Protestant doctrine were only established in the last 500 years. To suggest that the Catholic Church is not of God is to claim that the disciples of Christ believed a lie for 1500 years. That is an inconceivable proposition to which I do not subscribe. If the Pope is the Man of Sin then the Church was deceived for fifteen centuries until Martin Luther received enlightenment from the Holy Spirit.

Young’s Literal Translation reads:

And I also say to thee, that thou art a rock (Πέτρος, Petros), and upon this rock (πέτρᾳ, petra) I will build my assembly, and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

Notice that the Greek uses two different words for rock. Very simply, it recognizes one as a proper name while the other as a common noun. In addition, Jesus spoke in Aramaic so that Young’s translation is, well, quite literal.

In the language spoken by Christ, rock is the same word whether used as a name, or noun. Peter is told that he is a rock upon which Christ will build his church. That is the literal meaning of the verse. Notice that Jesus calls himself the builder while Peter is a foundation stone.

Together, we are God’s house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself (Ephesians 2:20).

In Revelation 21:14 we read:

The wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were written the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

There is no need to force any other interpretation as do Protestants who teach that the rock is a reference to Christ himself, or a metaphor for Peter’s confession of faith. Understanding that the apostles are foundation stones, and that Jesus is the chief cornerstone, it therefore is unnecessary to impose an awkward interpretation of what is a simple declaration.

Protestant interpretation is intended to challenge the Romish claim that the Pope is Peter’s successor. To disprove that claim might cast doubt on the assertion of Papal authority, and the legitimacy of the Catholic Church.

Did Peter fulfill the charge of Christ? Did the Apostle serve as a foundation stone in the apostolic age?

Most definitely, yes.

It was Peter who spoke to the crowd in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost — the birthday of the church when the Holy Spirit was poured out, and 3000 people were baptized (Acts 2:14-41).

It was Peter who opened the church to Gentiles (Acts 10).

It was Peter (and James, the brother of Christ) who oversaw the church at Jerusalem.

When Jesus said to Peter, You are a rock, and upon this rock I will build my church, the Apostle clearly fulfilled this mission.

Is the Bishop of Rome in the line of Peter? Did the Apostle confer his role to succeeding Popes? Did Peter establish the church in Rome? Was Peter ever in Rome?

We know Paul was in Rome, but there is no scriptural evidence that Peter was ever in Rome. Author Loraine Boettner wrote:

The remarkable thing about Peter’s alleged bishopric in Rome is that the New Testament has not one word to say about it … and never is Peter mentioned in connection with it. There is no allusion to Rome in either of his epistles. Paul’s journey to the city is recorded in great detail (Acts 27 and 28). There is in fact no New Testament evidence, nor any historical proof of any kind, that Peter ever was in Rome. All rests on legend. (Roman Catholicism, p. 117)

Catholics cite 1 Peter 5:13 as scriptural evidence that Peter was in Rome, but is this a correct interpretation?

Your sister church here in Babylon sends you greetings, and so does my son Mark.

Babylon is said to be code for Rome, but in the context of Peter’s letter (written to the churches in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey) the Apostle had no reason to be cryptic. John Calvin, who favored a literal interpretation, believed that Peter actually meant Babylon.

The Jewish Encyclopedia estimates that 800,000 Jews lived in first century Babylon. Josephus, the Jewish historian, noted that tens of thousands of Babylonian Jews visited Jerusalem to celebrate the feast days. Many of them heard Peter’s sermon and witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Regardless of the meaning of Babylon there is sufficient extra-Biblical evidence that Peter not only visited Rome, but established the Holy See — ordaining Clement of Rome who later was consecrated as Pope. Irenaeus (Against Heresies) wrote that Peter and Paul set the foundation of the church in Rome. Clement of Alexandria wrote that (in Rome) Peter preached the word and declared the Gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit (from which we received the Gospel of Mark). Dionysius of Corinth, in a letter to Pope Sorter, noted that Peter and Paul planted the church in Rome. Tertullian (Against the Heretics) affirmed that Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome. There are many other ancient sources who documented Peter’s connection to Rome so that by the time of Augustine it was widely accepted to be factual.

It is not even necessary to establish a succession between Peter and the Popery. Indeed, if the Romish Church sought validation it could rightfully claim apostolic succession through the Apostle Paul. Irenaeus (Against Heresies) wrote:

After the Holy Apostles (Peter and Paul) had founded and set the Church in order (in Rome) they gave over the exercise of the episcopal office to Linus. The same Linus is mentioned by St. Paul in his Epistle to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:21).

How does this all relate to the Catholic-Protestant rift?

To Martin Luther, the doctrine of faith alone (Sola Fide) was the essential underpinning of Christian theology. Luther opposed what he called merit-based salvation. Protestant doctrine correctly proclaims that a person is saved by simple faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that people are saved by grace through faith — that no one can earn their salvation. The disagreement hinges on this passage from the Book of James:

You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone (James 2:24).

There is a fine distinction between justification and sanctification that, quite frankly, Luther failed to grasp. James, the brother of Jesus, was writing to Jewish Christians. They believed that simple faith absolved them of any Christian duties. Freed from the law of Moses they could go on sinning. Good works were deemed non-essential and irrelevant to the doctrine of saving faith.

Is this what Christ taught? Read again the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). See also Matthew 7:19Matthew 21:18-19, John 15:2.

James rightly taught that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Make no mistake, a dead faith will save no one. Where Luther saw conflict between Paul and James there was none. Their teaching is consistent with our Lord’s.

Luther insisted that the church stands or falls on the doctrine of faith alone. He rejected the apostolic authorship of James, and relegated the book to the index of the Lutheran Bible.

Is Luther’s theology heresy? At the very least it borders on false teaching. If the church stands or falls on the doctrine of Sola Fide then Protestantism might lead people astray. I see it in the witness of so-called Christians who lead a fruitless, sinful life. They invariably say, “Oh, but I’m covered by the blood of Jesus.”

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)

To be saved by faith does not mean a life void of good works. Catholics point to James to affirm that we are not saved by works, but saved for good works — mischaracterized by Protestants as merit-based salvation.

This is Catholic doctrine:

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” (James 2:18)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

The Catholic Church, whatever its faults, has withstood 2000 years of spiritual warfare both internal and external. Pray for Christian unity as division is not a good witness. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical UT UNUM SINT (That They May Be One), wrote:

… I think of the grave obstacle which the lack of unity represents for the proclamation of the Gospel. A Christian Community which believes in Christ and desires, with Gospel fervor, the salvation of mankind can hardly be closed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who leads all Christians towards full and visible unity. As Pope Paul VI wrote … “May the Holy Spirit guide us along the way of reconciliation, so that the unity of our Churches may become an ever more radiant sign of hope and consolation for all mankind”.

It is worth noting that the Pope signed the 2500 word encyclical … servus servorum Dei … which is Latin for servant of the servants of God — a humble title for one who supposedly represents the seat of Antichrist.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Amazing Grace

What God made from the dust He has returned to dust. Millions of people — I pray you were one — followed the end-of-life journey of Joey Martin Feek. For any who are walking that difficult road I want to offer you my heartfelt prayer that our blessed Lord will be a comforting source of peace and strength to you and your family.

Though we continue to mourn the loss of a beautiful spirit I am compelled, once again, to challenge the heretical teaching of those who preach the false gospel that is Word of Faith. You see and hear them all day on Christian television and radio — Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Kenneth Hagin, Creflo Dollar and many others.

Rod Parsley, for example, said:

Don’t you pray ‘If it’s Thy will.’ Perfect faith cannot exist where the will of God is not known. Did you hear me? I said healing is not a promise, it’s an established fact. First Peter 2:24 records that sickness was defeated as a result of the stripes Jesus bore on His back. When the Roman cat-of-nine-tails whistled through the air and stripped His back until His flesh hanged round His legs like ribbons, every lash laid on Him purchased healing for our sick bodies. Because Jesus bore those stripes you don’t have to be sick anymore.[1]

Messiah Gate has recently published articles on 1 Peter 2:24 so we won’t revisit that except to say that the Word of Faith interpretation of Peter is wrong.

In a recent article I posted the following:

There was an incident where the faith healer told a disabled man to get out of his wheelchair and walk. Well, the man got up and fell … repeatedly. The pastor screamed at the man for his lack of faith. He commanded him over and over to get up and walk — only to fall again and again. The stunned assembly watched in gasping disbelief at the abuse inflicted upon this helpless person. The pastor (Andrew Womack) had the nerve to share this story on TCT, and with no remorse for it was the man’s fault that he was not healed.

Perry Stone recalled a service where he and others were performing a laying on of the hands:

There are some people who when you touch them you can feel the anointing. When you lay your hands upon them there is a surge of power (as when the woman reached out to touch Jesus). Others, it’s like laying your hands upon a rock — there’s nothing. [2]

Womack and Stone both explained that they had confidence in their ability to transfer the healing power of the Holy Spirit, but the afflicted person had to possess the power of faith to receive it. As hard as it was to watch the crippled man fall, a mystified Womack insisted that it was the lame man’s fault that he was not healed.

The assertion of faith healers is that you are not healed either because of a lack of faith, or unconfessed sin. This is what caused me to fall away in my early Christian walk because I listened to (and believed) these false teachers. I mean, let’s call them out — Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Joseph Prince, Robert Schuller, Oral Roberts, Jesse Duplantis, Clarence McClendon and most of what you see on TBN, TCT and The Church Channel. Did I mention Daystar?

It’s a gospel call to health and prosperity. Just name it and claim it is the pulpit mantra. T.D. Jakes, citing the example of blind Bartimaeus, said:

It was not what was in Christ’s mouth that got him healed. The power was in Bartimaeus’ mouth. He would have whatever he said. And Jesus was saying ‘My hands are tied because I can’t do any more for you than what you say.’

If the power of life and death is in the tongue and you can have whatever you say and if you’ve been praying and praying and praying and you finally got God’s attention and now He’s looking at you and saying ‘What do you want?’ … What do you want? Name it, baby, name it … Declare it! Speak it! Confess it! Get your list out! [3]

To a degree, yes, we must have faith, but even that is a gift from God. When Jesus returned to Nazareth it is recorded that He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). How might we judge the crippled man whom Andrew Womack could not heal? That a man bound to a wheelchair made the effort to attend a faith healing service would seem to suggest that he at least possessed a mustard seed of faith. Why, then, wasn’t he healed?

Perry Stone suggests that without the anointing of God you cannot receive healing. So, if I’m anointed by God I will be healed? Maybe the Jewish scriptures can help us to understand. When Elisha was preparing to succeed Elijah he asked the prophet to bless him. We read from the Masoretic text as translated by the Jewish Publication Society (1917):

And it came to pass, when they were gone over (the river Jordan), that Elijah said unto Elisha: ‘Ask what I shall do for thee, before I am taken from thee.’ And Elisha said: ‘I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.’2 Kings 2:9

Was this double-dose anointing enough to preserve Elisha’s life? Safeguard him from affliction? Well, no. Only a few chapters later Elisha is confined to his sick-bed:

Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he was to die; and Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over him (2 Kings 13:14).

There was no miracle healing for Elisha, but there was a miracle after he was buried.

And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a (marauding) band; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet (2 Kings 13:21).

That was quite an anointing Elisha received. He died — yet a dead man lived. As Christ died (and was resurrected) so shall we live also. The mystery of the Gospel, hidden in the Jewish scriptures, is yet again revealed. And by this interpretation we correctly understand what Peter was saying — that by the wounds of Christ we were healed of our sin condition. Sin is a fatal disease, but the healing is in the blood of Jesus.

The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it and claim it” originated) was combined with Pentecostalism, resulting in a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism.

At the heart of the Word of Faith movement is the belief in the “force of faith.” It is believed words can be used to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health and wealth). [Ed: God is subject to these laws according to WOF.]

From here, its theology just strays further and further from Scripture: it claims that God created human beings in His literal, physical image as little gods. [4]

Creflo Dollar (sounding so much like the Serpent to Eve):

I’m gonna say to you right now that you are gods, little ‘g.’ You are gods because you came from God and you are gods. My whole attitude now should be I have equality with God. Now somebody says, ‘Well it’s hard to think that way.’ Well, keep saying it … Talk yourself into it. [5]

So, we can talk ourself into health and wealth — visualize it and possess it? Where is that taught in Scripture? It’s not. It is New Age mysticism and idolatry.

If Jesus had commanded a crippled man to rise from his wheelchair what do you think the result would have been? Or consider this — does a dead man have faith? I’m speaking of Lazarus. By whose faith was he raised, but by the power of Almighty God.

In her final days Joey Martin Feek said:

I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed I’d discover I was healed. But I realized I was healed in a different way. I was healed in my relationship with Christ, because it just drew me closer.

And what of the over two million people who said a prayer for her? Were they all lacking in faith? Even Paul who discovered that (in his affliction) the grace of God was sufficient enough.

Amazing grace, indeed.

Notes:

1. Christianity Still in Crisis?, Bob Hunter, Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 3 (2007).

2. Manna-Fest, Perry Stone, published on Mar 4, 2016.

3. Source, see #1.

4. Is the Word of Faith Movement Biblical?, Got Questions.org.

5. Source, see #1.

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

Word of False Teaching

false-teachers

Friends, I wanted to humbly revisit 1 Peter 2:24 to affirm the proper scriptural understanding of this contentiously debated verse with regards to physical healing.

A short time ago, awakened from a deep sleep, the Spirit led me to a Word of Faith blog that essentially teaches the precept of name-it-and-claim-it healing. The blog author cited Peter’s words as the proof-text of faith healing. Regular followers of this blog know that I have recently posted a number of articles on this subject, and so I felt compelled to leave a comment that the author’s interpretation of Peter was incorrect.

[You can read my comments here.]

The short version is that I was effectively banned from the website until I reviewed hours of videos and articles promoting Word of Faith healing. The author admonished me that I was under a veil of deception, that God sent me to her blog and she would pray for me.

Well, I thought the Holy Spirit sent me to correct her so there we stood at an impasse. I took ill after this exchange, and was sorely afflicted by a chronic condition that has not been healed by years of prayer. Thoughts tormented my sleep — maybe I am deceived … maybe I am lacking in faith or wisdom … maybe God inflamed my affliction to show the error of my thinking.

After many days of fasting, prayer and study I am even more confident of my interpretation, and that my affliction is a message — not from God, but Satan. (See Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:7.)

Incidentally, I want to thank the brothers and sisters who sent me words of encouragement.

I studied over 20 commentaries — some dating back to the Reformation — which concur with my understanding of Kephas. We have to put on the whole armor of God including the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, to faithfully abide in Him.

[This is the part of my sermon where I serve the daily dose of castor oil. You can’t be fully equipped to defend your faith if you spend a third of your day in front of the television or tethered to a cell phone. As you feed your body, you need to feed your spirit.]

I could post two thousand words of orthodox commentary on Peter, but one of my afflictions is dimming eyes so I will leave you with a summary by Dr. Thomas Constable whose interpretation is consistent with historic Christian teaching.

Jesus’ sufferings reached their climax on the cross. Peter taught that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and laid down His life as payment for those sins. He viewed Jesus’ cross as an altar on which a sacrifice was placed.

We could translate the second part of this verse as follows: “… that, having broken with our sins, we might live for righteousness.” Jesus Christ’s death separated our sins from us. Consequently we can now live unto righteousness rather than unto sin (cf. Romans 6:1-11).

“The idea is that, Christ having died for sins, and to sin, as our proxy or substitute, our consequent standing before God is that of those who have no more connection with our old sins, or with the life of sinning.” [Note: Alan M. Stibbs, The First Epistle General of Peter, p. 121.]

Some writers have cited the third part of this verse to support the non-biblical doctrine that Jesus by His death made healing from any physical ailment something that every Christian can claim in this life. This is the belief that there is “healing in the atonement.” The context of Isaiah 53, as well as the past tense “were healed” here, implies spiritual healing from the fatal effects of sin rather than healing from present physical afflictions. Peter used healing as a metaphor for spiritual conversion, as Isaiah did (cf. Mark 2:17; Luke 4:23). 

A false teaching has become entrenched doctrine in the Word of Faith movement that by Jesus’ wounds we have been healed of physical infirmities while by His blood we have been cleansed of our sins. No, my friends. Our precious Lord did not die an agonizing death on the cross to heal your body, but to save your soul.

To facilitate a greater understanding of Scripture it is useful to become learned of Jewish idioms, metaphors and hyperboles — and not rely on your own understanding, or the teachings of a charismatic leader.

Notes:

Dr. Thomas Constable
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Unedited Text: StudyLight.org

Visit Us at Blogspot

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate