Part 2 of third response to John Fisher

3rd Response to John Fisher on the Papacy. (part 2 of Response # 3) My response is in blue.

see part 1 of 3rd response from earlier post.

Also, see the Rule of Faith in the early church.

It’s at this point that Ken begins with an avalanche of objections.

Paul rebuked Peter in Galatians 2. That was a big deal! This is why Irenaeus rebuked Victor (180–200 ?); why Tertullian mocked Calixtus (200 ?) (or whoever it was that he mockingly called “Pontifex Maximus”, why Cyprian, Firmillian and 85 other bishops all over rebuked Stephen and said, “no one sets himself up as “bishop of bishops” and “by tyrannical terror” = “lord it over the other areas” and interfere with other local churches, etc.Paul objected to Peter’s actions, not his doctrine. Furthermore, the purpose of Paul’s point was that no one was above criticism, even someone with such great authority as the Pope.  

This is very weak, because the entire letter of Galatians revolve’s around the issue of justification by faith and not by works (which means “alone” = apart from works) and Peter’s behavior and hypocrisy are part of Paul’s argument against the Judaizers.

Tertullian was a heretic, and I really have little respect for his opinion, let alone his polemics, to count him as an authority.

I don’t really care what the RC thinks about Tertullian – in my opinion, he wrote some really great things that comport more with Biblical truth and in some areas, are in line more with Protestant faith. (not all, but on some things)  I respect him greatly for his understanding of “the brothers of the Lord” – that Mary and Joseph had a normal sexual marriage after Jesus was born.  This comports more with Matthew 1:25 and 12:46-50 and 13:55 and other synoptic parallels.  Also, Tertullian did not think Mary was sinless.  No human is infallible, except Jesus.  Tertullian was right on waiting for children to be baptized until the age when they can understand the gospel and then repent and believe.  

The rebuking of Pope St. Stephan I by St. Cyprian was uncalled for, 

No; it was a good call by him and 86 other bishops!

and it was Stephan’s view that won out in the Latin Church. 

A grave mistake of later historical theology.  Since it is unBiblical, we are free and in our right to reject the later churches’ judgement.

According to [E.W. Benson, Stephan “triumphed, and in him, the Church of Rome triumphed, as she deserved”[6]. St. Cyprian, while a Saint for his martyrdom, was not vindicated.

History says otherwise, since 86 other local bishops also agreed with Cyprian (and Firmillian, etc.)

Furthermore, the disobedience of someone does not entail they don’t recognize your authority. The Lefebvrean schism is testimony to this.

It is not disobedience, since Stephen (bishop of Rome around 251-257 AD) had no authority to command the other areas and bishops and interfere in their jurisdictions.  The Eastern Greek church agrees and is one of the main issues of contention to this day between RC and EO. And Stephen carries no authority for us today at all, as do none of the Popes of history.

Popes anathematized Pope Honorius of the 600s into the 900s AD — they knew at the time (600s to 900s AD) there was no such thing earlier in history as the 1870 claims, and so Ignaz Von Dollinger and lord John Acton’s response to the 1870 infallibility claim was right — those 2 were right to question it. Pius IX reportedly said, “I am the tradition!” when Von Dollinger said that the claims of Vatican I (1870) were not tradition. That doctrine was not there in history or the flowing of tradition through the centuries.

An apocryphal story is not really admissible, but this strikes me as awesome and I really hope Pius IX did say this.

Is it really apocryphal?  The fact that you think it is awesome just reinforces our position of the arrogance (and obvious error of the office and claims) of the Popes in history (there are many examples – especially Stephen VI (in the Cadaver Trial of Formosos), Boniface VIII (1302 Unam Sanctam), Leo X (vs. Luther, and using Indulgences to fund the building of St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome), Pius IX, etc.)

As to the claim of Pope Honorius, he was not infallibly exercising his teaching. 

No.  The evidence is against you on this.  If subsequent Popes in their ceremony to become Pope, kept repeating, “Anathema on Pope Honorius of Rome”, etc. for 300 to 400 years – then this just proves the whole claim that it was not “ex cathedra” is wrong.

As noted by Joseph Hergenrother, in response to Dollinger,

the letters of Honorius were private letters and not synodical epistles [7]

It does not matter.  It does not pass the smell test, since he was formally condemned as a heretic for centuries! by an Ecumenical council ! by formal installment ceremonies of subsequent Popes !

As a private individual communicated to a patriarch, and not teaching to the whole Church, he was not exercising his infallible authority.

The formality of 300-400 years subsequent to that of having to say it the ceremony, “Anathema to Honorius” (and Sergius, etc.) proves that it was a formal official teaching intended to communicate to the entire church, no matter what another Pope 1,000 years later says.  (1870 trying to play anachronisms with the 600s to the 900s AD)  This is documented in William Webster’s “The Matthew 16 Controversy”.

 As the Relatio to Pastor Aeternus reminds us,

For the Pope is only infallible when, exercising his function as teacher of all Christians and therefore representing the whole Church, he judges and defines what must be believed or rejected by all [8]

The claim constantly dies with a 1,000 qualifications, as George Salmon rightly wrote in his book, “The Infallibility of the Church” (1888)

Ken then wishes that I clarify this point from my original post,

However, note that as individuals, the other apostles never can exercise that power, since it was promised to the whole, not just to them individually. To assume he did by dint of the fact they were a part of the college seems to be a fallacy of division. Whereas Peter himself was given the key and the power directly as an individual, and not merely as part of the twelve.

‘By dint’ means ‘as a result of something’. For example, “he was promoted by dint of being the manager’s son”. My point is that Peter does not get the power of binding and loosing as a result of being a part of the greater apostolic college. Rather, it is a result of being given the keys directly. 

And the meaning and outworking of that is clear in Matthew 18:18, John 20:23, Acts 2, 10-11 and 15 – Peter is the first to exercise the keys of the kingdom by preaching, and the other apostles are also given the same authority; and subsequently all Christians are to evangelize and declare forgiveness if a person repents and trusts Christ and there is not forgiveness for those that don’t repent and believe.  The Great commission is for the church as a whole (Matthew 28:18-20), not just the church in Rome with a Pope.

Whereas the other apostles are never given the keys as individuals, but rather are only given one function of the keys, together, as a group. To assume the individuals could exercise that power because they were a part of the same collection is the fallacy of division. It would be like assuming because a plane could fly, an airplane engine could take off on its own.

The Apostles appointed elders for each church. (Acts 14:23)  There is no mono- episcopate there.  All elders are also overseers (Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-4) 

Ken objects that,

the context and grammar of starting with the plural “said to them” (autois — plural) and “you”, both in Matthew 16:15 (But who do you (humeis Ὑμεῖς — plural) say that I am?”)

While true, Jesus opens the question to all, in the 17th passage he reveals that,

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you [soi σοι — singular ], but my Father who is in heaven.

Yes I know that; it does nothing to the claim of 1870 anachronistically read back into the text.  As I explained before, the history of the subsequent Biblical history demonstrates how Peter was a rock and exercised the keys of the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 18, Acts 2, 10-11, & 15.

It was Peter alone that the Father chose to first reveal this truth to so that Jesus might elicit it when the Father could have revealed it to anyone.

Ken says,

even though later singling out Peter later, demonstrates that Peter is part of the twelve as a whole group.

But no one doubts Peter is a part of the Twelve, but it doesn’t mean therefore the rest receive those powers.

Yes it does, as Matthew 18 and John 20:23 demonstrate.

Ken writes,

No; the communion (fellowship and unity between churches in history) is in agreement with the doctrine that Peter spoke about Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”, not communion with him as person in Rome, centuries later, through a bishop, wearing a mitre hat, etc. The communion is the common faith of all Christians who are to go and proclaim the truth of the gospel — if you trust in Christ, you are forgiven; if you don’t, you are still in your sins and not forgiven.

Jesus gives no one else the power to forgive sins other than the apostles. Jesus tells them in John 20:23

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained

The sins are forgiven by the apostles, if they refuse to do this, they are retained. Jesus does not say “If you refuse to preach to any their sins are forgiven, they are not forgiven; if preach that they are, their sins will be forgiven”.

Except that is the meaning, to the response of the preaching of the gospel, if one repents and believes, as when Paul said it in Acts 13:38-39 (forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you) and the whole NT screams this – having eternal life means forgiveness of sins – Luke 24:44-47; John 20:30-31; John 5:24; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10, etc.

Ken writes,

Peter is a foundation in the sense of being the first to preach the message in Acts 2 and being the first to break through the barriers with the Gentiles in Acts 10–11, providing the background of Acts 15.

There is nothing in Matthew 16 that tells us Peter’s role is limited to a preaching capacity. I agree that preaching is a part of it, but it’s not limited to it.

It is not a matter of “limiting”. If a person responds with repentance and faith, then they are forgiven of their sins, have eternal life; they are saved.  (Mark 1:15; John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; Luke 24:44-47; Luke 13:1-5; etc.)

After that, Peter fades from the scene. There is no Papacy. If there was such a thing, he would have mentioned in his 2 letters and the content of those letters are negatives for the Roman Catholic understanding of the Papacy.

He literally writes a letter from Rome to the various Churches around Asia (twice).

Agreed.

 I don’t think he’s fading from the scene, 

I meant in Acts 16-28.  I did not mean canonically.  1 and 2 Peter give more weight to Biblical truth and are closer to Protestant principles that to Papalism, as we will see.  (all Christians are priests (1 Peter 2:4-10; no sucessor or bishop or Papacy is mentioned in 2 Peter 1:12-21 to prepare them for after he is to die, rather a focus on Scripture; Peter calls himself “fellow-elder” in 1 Peter 5:1)

and that’s probably something that’s expected from the Pope, especially when the Church in Rome faces such persecution. Unless there was some greater obligation from Peter, I don’t see a reason why another Apostle didn’t write them. While it is true they were all under some level of persecution, at the very least we know Paul had the advantage over Peter by being a Roman citizen, and none of the rest of the Apostles were in the very heart of the empire.

Furthermore, this ultimately boils down to an argument from silence. Are we supposed to think, along with liberal scholars, that that the virgin birth was an innovation because Paul never speaks of it?

non-sequitur, since the virgin birth of Christ is clear in Matthew 1 and Luke 1-2.  You are not arguing with a liberal, but a believing Evangelical Reformed Baptist Protestant.

Ken continues,

The rock behind Peter is Jesus Christ, the foundation under him and the apostles. Jesus is the rock behind Peter’s ministry. 1 Corinthians 10:4 — “The rock was Christ” and 1 Corinthians 3:11 — Christ is the foundation. All the apostles (plural, apostles and prophets) laid down the foundation on which the church is built, Jesus Christ being the cornerstone. (see Ephesians 2:19–20) We see this played out in the book of Acts and the first century.

The issue with this reading is that Jesus doesn’t say “I am the rock”. 

But that is the import with all the rest of Scripture, as in 1 Cor. 10:4 and 1 Cor. 3:11, which I have already made clear. Peter is a rock because Jesus is a stronger rock behind him, and God the Father is the rock in the OT that is the stability of the believers in Israel. 

The phrasing doesn’t allow for this.

wrong.

Peter’s name, meaning “rock”, and being given the name, lends itself more naturally to him. Furthermore, the flow of the passages lends Peter as the subject for all three verses (Matt 16:17–19).

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,

and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Nothing there that contradicts or refutes what I am saying. 

Furthermore, making Jesus the rock makes a mess of the analogy. 

This argument is Irrelevant to my point.

Is Jesus the foundation, or the builder? Why doesn’t Jesus simply say he is both,

The rest of Scritpure demonstrates that Jesus is both.

 rather than mixing up the analogy by potentially confusing himself with another person?

While it is true Peter is the rock to the rock, being delegated that power, that doesn’t detract from Christ’s power any more than Eliakim denigrated the power of David when he was given the key (Isaiah 22).

Lastly, a metaphor can be applied in multiple different ways. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:10 that he is a builder, does that mean no one can build upon the Church other than Paul? While no one can lay another foundation, other than Christ, it does not mean Christ himself cannot lay one since he isn’t bound to the same restrictions.

Again, Isaiah 22 is demonstrated more in Rev. 3:7 (and Rev. 1:18) as the root of the authority of the Messiah, which all the apostles preached.  Jesus is the one who has the keys to death and hades – by the preaching and evangelism of churches all throughout history, if a person repents and believes in Christ, they are forgiven, have eternal life, are saved.   It is not about Peter or his successors centuries later in the city of Rome.

Ken cites Cyprian who says,

“And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins ye retain, they shall be retained;” yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honor and power;but the beginning proceeds from unity.

And that’s fair enough, I don’t deny there wasn’t a consensus among the Fathers on this issue. Doctrine does develop, and that’s a point that’s affirmed by the Catholic Church. However, a point of context, Cyrpian’s personal theology seems to have gone against the actual governance of the Church. In his letter to Saint Stephan, he writes,

Let letters be directed by you into the province and to the people abiding at Arles, by which, Marcian being excommunicated, another may be substituted in his place, and Christ’s flock, which even to this day is contemned as scattered and wounded by him, may be gathered together. Let it suffice that many of our brethren have departed in these late years in those parts without peace [9]

Cyprian seems to need Stephan to excommunicate Marcian, the bishop of Arles, so that another may take his place. But why the Church in Gaul would need the Bishop of Rome to do this is beyond me. 

That seems to be a natural practice that started in church history, (it does not mean it was biblical though) because Rome was respected as the capital of the Roman Empire and as one of the apostolic sees (seeds where apostles planted churches), along with others in the east – Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople (those, along with Rome, are the 5 main apostolic sees of the first 3-400 years).  The only western one out of the 5.   N. Africa looked to Rome, because N. Africa was a Latinized area of the Berber people, as Christianity spread there from Rome by ships. A natural practice does not mean “bishop of bishops” or a “Pope” in the 1054 (split with EO) sense, or 1302 (Unam Sanctum) sense or 1870 sense.

Rome at this time seems to be exerting more power, and Cyprian has to write to make this happen.

However, just because Cyprian rejects the view of the First Vatican council, does not mean what Ken believes it does. Ken thinks

It is obvious that Cyprian understood that all the apostles had an equal power, honor, and authority. “The beginning proceeds from unity” means what I was trying to communicate by showing the beginning of the church in Acts chapter 2 — Peter gives the first (beginning) sermon, and in Acts 10–11 Peter begins formal outreach to the Gentiles, which James emphasizes in Acts 15:14

While he did believe they had equal power, Cyprian did not say Peter was the first because he preached to the Gentiles. 

And yet, that is the meaning of the historical narrative in the gospel and Acts – John 20:23 to Acts 2 to Acts 10-11 to Acts 15. 

He only affirmed the power among all the apostles, not all the believers. Even during the time of Cyprian and Firmilian, they still needed Stephan to exercise his power.

No they did not, since they rejected his interference in 87 total bishoprics all over the east and N. Africa.

Ken goes from citing Cyprian’s rebellion,

It is not rebellion.  You are assuming Papal authority again.  It is Stephen who is rebelling against the Scriptures.

 a point which I don’t really see undermining the Catholic position for the above reasons, to citing 2 Peter.

Peter says, he says he is about to die (1:14–15), and in 3:1, “this is the second letter I am writing to you” and that “by being diligent” (1:12–15) before he dies, he is leaving them with something written down. After Peter is dead, the churches he wrote to will be able to remember and stir up their sincere minds in the truth, because he wrote it down and then they can read it — so they will be able to call these things to mind. If there was any truth to the Papacy or Mono-episcopate, he would have written, “after I am dead, go to your bishop and get the truth from him.” Instead, Peter focuses and emphasizes the written word.

Peter focuses and emphasizes his own written word.

Are we to understand Peter had the clairvoyance to foresee his words would be scripture? 

I would not call it “clairvoyance”; rather maybe “prophetic” and definitely inspiration (as an apostle), as that is import of the entire passage, 1:12-21 – and 3:1 and 3:16 – the emphasis is written Scripture, which is inspired by God (theopneustos), which Peter explains in different words, “men carried along by the Holy Spirit”, etc.  He is writing with apostolic authority.

Or, that Peter knew the authority of his office. 

Yes, as an apostle with authority to write inspired Scripture. But not as a “Pope” (bishop over all other bishops).  no such thing as a Pope in the NT nor early centuries.

Given that there is nothing in the letter to indicate prophecy, the latter seems more likely. Contrary to what Ken thinks, this seems to help rather than hurt the Catholic claim.

Not at all, since Peter moves from his eyewitness experience of the Transfiguration (Mark 9, Matthew 17), to “we have the prophetic word made more sure” (1:19) to the writing of Scripture (1:20-21) to the inspiration of Paul’s letters (3:15-16), if you notice the flow of what he is saying, he is claiming apostolic authority to write inspired Scripture. 

Ken writes,

Fisher again: “Having the power is not sufficient to show one has the keys, since they were neither given the foundation of the Church

Every Biblical church has the foundation of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, the meaning of the cross and the resurrection.

 nor the promise of the gates not triumphing against them.”

This cannot be since “the keys to the kingdom of heaven” means the instrument that will open the door for people to enter the kingdom of heaven = preaching the gospel and proclaiming forgiveness, which I why I quoted from Acts 13:38–39 and now, in this response, Acts 15:8–14 — all people can enter into the kingdom of heaven by repentance and faith in Christ (Mark 1:14–15 — “repent and believe”) — see further Romans 10:9–10; John 20:30–31; Acts 16:31; John 5:24; 3:16, Ephesians 2:8–9, etc.

I don’t see how he goes from the instruments that will open the door to enter the Kingdom of heaven = preaching the gospel and proclaiming forgiveness from the verses. 

that is exactly what happens when a person responds to the gospel – the doors to the kingdom of God are opened and the person is saved and forgiven by Christ; they get eternal life.  This is a great difference between RCs and believing Protestants / Evangelicals – those who hold to the gospel.  (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and the subsequent Protestant movements that held to Sola Fide.)

Does Peter also have the power to prevent people from accessing heaven by binding the door? Do believers have the power to withhold access to belief and repentance? if not then the power of binding seems rather redundant.

The authority is there in evangelism in John 20:23, Luke 24:44-47; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2, etc. and the authority to do church disciple is there in Matthew 18:15-20

Lastly, as we went over the apostles had the power to forgive sins, not all believers. 

It is not an authority like a RC priest, who claims “ex opere operator” powers.  But, the Lord Himself is the one who has the power and authority and it comes when a person responds rightly to the gospel.  Romans 1:16-17 – the gospel is the power of God to save any person who repents and believes in Christ.    Your statement is wrong, according to the NT.  God in Christ forgives sins, by faith (repentance and faith – Mark 1:15).  Evangelism has within it, if the person responds rightly, the power is from God, and we can proclaim that promise.  All elders / overseers / pastors have local church authority to do church disciple (Matthew 18:15-20)

This is affirmed by Cyril,

For He thought it meet that they who have once been endued with the Spirit of Him Who is God and Lord, should have power also to remit or retain the sins of whomsoever they would, the Holy Spirit That dwelt in them remitting or retaining them according to His Will, though the deed were done through human instrumentality.

They who have the Spirit of God remit or retain sins in two ways, as I think. For they invite to Baptism those to whom this sacrament is already due from the purity of their lives, and their tried adherence to the faith; and they hinder and exclude others who are not as yet worthy of the Divine grace. And in another sense, also, they remit and retain sins, by. rebuking erring children of the Church, and granting pardon to those who repent [10]

Which Cyril is this?  Cyril of Jerusalem or Cyril of Alexandria ?

or another Cyril?  Cyril Lucaris?  There are many Cyrils in church history.

baptism is “due from the purity of their lives” ?  So they have to clean up their lives first, before they can be baptized?  “not yet worthy of Divine grace” ? – wow, both of these statements seem to contradict the NT teaching and order of 1. repentance and faith, and 2. then baptism

This is also affirmed by Saint Gregory the Great,

The power to forgive the sins, which the Lord gives to the apostles and their successors, is a great honor, but also a heavy responsibility. The preacher takes to task his confreres in the episcopate as to the manner of administering this sacrament [11]

Has no meaning for Biblical faith or doctrine.  By Gregory’s time (590-604 AD), the church was being corrupted by the doctrine of Purgatory and ex opere operato priestly claims of power (acts like magic) and prayers to Mary and dead saints and icons and statues.  Getting wet and saying words over a baby does nothing to the baby.  There must be understanding of sin first, repentance and faith, then baptism.  Tertullian was right on that also.  (on Baptism, 18) 

Ken continues,

Peter was the beginning and unity of the faith of the early church and in several ways, it started with him, historically, being the main preacher in Acts 2, and the breakthrough of the gospel to the Gentiles, in Acts 10–11 and James mentions this in Acts 15, which I have already documented.

But this neglects the fact Peter was the leader of the Apostles. 

No it does not; it is actually affirming what the NT means by him being the leader and dominant one and getting the keys first.

It’s not surprising he would be the first to preach among them. In the Gospels, among the Twelve, he is listed first. As David Armstrong explains,

Peter’s name occurs first in all lists of apostles (see Mt 10:2; Mk 3:16; Lk 6:14; Acts 1:13). Matthew even calls him “the first” (10:2). (Judas Iscariot is invariably mentioned last.) [12]

I debated Dave Armstrong a lot over many years (from around 2004 to 2014)  before he moved his blog to “Patheos” (a terrible website, too busy, annoying web-site, full of overcrowding, pop-up advertisements, distractions; a really terrible design. I remember that article; read it long time ago.

The Greek word for “the first” (prōtos) could mean either first in order of importance, or first in a chronological sense. Given that Matthew and Luke aren’t in the same order, it seems more likely that Peter is mentioned as first in the sense of importance.

Says nothing about a bishop in Rome centuries later.

Ken writes,

since Matthew 18 is the only other passage in the Gospel according to Matthew with the word “church” in it, and it follows along with the same “binding and loosing” language as Matthew 16, it demonstrates the authority is given to all the apostles there in Matthew 18, and so, by principle, later, to leaders of the local church to do church discipline

But he seems to be ignoring the issue. In Isaiah 22, without reference to the Key, Eliakim would still have the power to open and shut, but that would not be similar enough to the power granted to Peter, but would not be sufficient to show much if the key was not there.

But Ken points out there are other reasons to think the other apostles have the keys, including the fact that the powers of binding and loosing are there, as well as the fact the word “Church” is there. But it doesn’t follow that they received it from the keys directly (which again, isn’t in the text) or that it is an extension of Peter’s authority.

Yes it does since it was extended to all the apostles in Matthew 18:18 and John 20:23.

Both seem equally possible. Furthermore, their power is more limited since, as stated earlier, it is given to them as a group, whereas Peter is still the only person we know that was given this power as a part of the group and as an individual.

Ken goes on,

which will mean to other elders / pastors / overseers (local churches) in history. (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5–7; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1–4) Jesus has the keys of death and hades (Revelation 1:18) and the key to open and shut in Revelation 3:7. The NT develops Matthew 16 to Matthew 18 to Rev. 1:18 to 3:7.

But if Ken wishes to take this reading seriously, who gave Ken (or his pastor) this power? 

The NT teaches this.  All the passages that say “if you repent and believe in Christ, you are forgiven, have eternal life, are justified, are saved”, etc.

Galatians 2:15-21; Romans 1:16-17; 3:28-4:16; John 1:12-13; 3:16; 3:18; 5:24; 11:25; 20:30-31; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 3:9, etc.

If he says by the faithful or by preaching the word, his own authority disagrees with him. Cyprian says that it must be delegated from the apostles,

These are they who of their own accord, without any divine arrangement, set themselves to preside among the daring strangers assembled, who appoint themselves prelates without any law of ordination, who assume to themselves the name of bishop, although no one gives them the episcopate; whom the Holy Spirit points out in the Psalms as sitting in the seat of pestilence, plagues, and spots of the faith, deceiving with serpent’s tongue, and artful in corrupting the truth, vomiting forth deadly poisons from pestilential tongues; whose speech does creep like a cancer, whose discourse forms a deadly poison in the heart and breast of every one [13].

The “law of ordination” is in the NT – Titus chapter 1, 1 Timothy chapter 3; 1 Peter 5:1-4, and other passages – by the qualifications for eldership / overseer / pastor being laid out there.

Clearly, Cyprian holds that the bestowal of the episcopate is a divine arrangement, requiring a proper ordination. We’ll keep this in mind for later.

But going back to the various citations of the Key, yes, they are Christ’s in light of being both God and the successor of David, but he can delegate that power to others, and he does it first through Peter. 

Yes, and then to all the other apostles, and then to all biblical churches of properly ordained elders.  The RCC has no exclusive right on those promises or principles.  Especially since the RCC anathematized the heart of the gospel at the Council of Trent, and has other unBiblical doctrines and practices for centuries, it has no authority and is a false church since the Council of Trent, 1545-1563.  All biblical churches have the faith of Peter the apostle.

But unlike the Apostles and the other bishops, he is the only one who spoke through the revelation of the Father, who was the only one who was promised that the gates of hell would not overcome him, and the only individual who was promised the power to bind and loose.

Ken writes (in response to me)

The gates of hades (death) not overcoming the church = the second death has no power over true believers.  (see Rev. 1:18; 2:11; 20:6; 20:14-15; 21:8; 21:27)

The “alone” of “by Faith Alone”, Sola Fide = apart from works, not by works, etc.

What part of “apart from the works of the law” (Acts 13:38–39; Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1–16) and “apart from works” (Ephesians 2:8–9) and “not because of righteous deeds which we have done” (Titus 3:5) do Roman Catholics not understand? Just because the word “alone” is not there does there means nothing, because “alone” in the “Sola Fide” terse slogan is the meaning of all the Scriptural data (see above) of “not by works”, “not by works of the law”, etc.

He never justified why dikaioó shouldbe translated as ‘justified’ and not ‘freed’. But in response to the question “works of the law” and ‘apart from works’, concerns the works of the Jewish law. 

Are you saying all the NT texts are just meaning ceremonial law, circumcision, food laws, feast laws, etc.? You are unnecessarily limiting what the apostle Paul means by “not by the works of the law”, since God’s law includes His moral law, which no human being is able to keep or do by earning until they are regenerated. Unless you want to affirm the heretic Pelagius?

The law of God is all of the law – the moral law included.  No one is able to earn salvation by obedience to the moral law either. Romans 7 and Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 make that even more explicit.

These have been superseded by the New Covenant, which no longer requires being a Jew and following the law, 

Ok, agreed, but still, the texts are including all the law – not just the ceremonial laws and circumcision.

but faith to enter in through baptism.

Yes, and an infant cannot exercise faith in Christ, so they should not be baptized.

That’s why Titus 3:5 reads,

he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit

That is not baptism.  It is a spiritual washing of the reality of regeneration.  “cleansing their hearts by faith” Peter said, Acts 15:8. “believe in your heart, and you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10) Water baptism is an outward symbol and picture of the gospel’s inward reality, that is assumed to have already taken place in the heart, by the person’s profession of faith.  The word baptism is not used in the Titus 3:5 passage, and so with the text talking about the Holy Spirit’s work, the “washing” is an internal work of God, not an outward action that causes something to happen in the heart.  Regeneration is an inward washing.  The emphasis in the NT is that repentance and faith is the human response to the gospel and it is God who mysteriously and sovereignly chooses when to draw a person to regeneration (Acts 16:14; John 6:44; 2 Cor. 4:6; Ephesians 2:4-5).  It is not a mechanical ex opere operato action by a RCC priest; getting wet and for a priest to say words over a baby, for example, does not cause regeneration – water baptism does not cause regeneration at all.  But water baptism is evidence of regeneration, that a person who is old enough to understand the gospel and then repents and believes, then they are baptized (immersed) in water as a testimony to the church of their commitment to the Lord, and a gospel picture / symbol of God’s work of grace in the heart.  A person’s desire to be baptized is evidence that they are already regenerated.

The reason why the Old Testament rites are defunct is that unlike the sacraments of the New Testament, they do not bestow grace.

God bestows grace sovereignly, mysteriously (John 3:8), invisibly, directly into the heart through the word of God, by repentance and faith (justification) and spiritual growth (sanctification, which includes Biblical church membership, etc. – but not RCC), not by a priest saying words over a person or over water and waving his hands, etc.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. — John 1:17

Ok. we agree there. no problem.

As Saint Thomas Aquinas explains in his commentary on Galatians 5:4,

Then when he [Paul] says, You are made void of Christ, he proves what he said, namely, that they must not embrace the observances of the Law, because it involves a double injury: first, the loss of Christ; secondly, the loss of grace. Moreover, the first is the cause of the second, because you who are justified in the law are fallen from grace

He says therefore, You are made void of Christ. As if to say: Verily Christ will profit you nothing, because you are made void of Christ, i.e., of living in Christ. The second injury is the loss of grace. Hence he says: you are fallen from grace,, i.e., you who were full of the grace of Christ, “because of his fulness we have all received” (Jn 1:16); “The heart of a fool is like a broken vessel and no wisdom at all shall it hold” (Sir 22:17). You, I say, who are justified in the law, i.e., who believe that you are justified, are fallen — “Be mindful, therefore, from whence thou art fallen and do penance” (Rev 2:5). — from grace, namely, from possessing future happiness or even from the grace you once had.[14]

Not really relevant to our discussion, IMO.

The law, being devoid of grace, profits nothing. However, there are plenty of verses to show sacraments of the NT provide grace, such as baptism. Baptism, which we can only access by faith. Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 3:21, etc.

“sacraments” do not confer grace automatically (ex opere operato) by a RC priest.  The ordinances of baptism and eucharist (thanksgiving) (or the Lord’s supper) are living pictures, illustrations, symbols, of the gospel and the reality of the gospel in the heart of believers.  Their physical accomplishment / exercise of doing them does nothing in themselves; they do not cause grace to come into the person.  Grace is not something that is “a thing”.  It is a spiritual power that happens by God’s sovereignty and freedom, in response to repentance and faith in justification and then is strengthened by growth in holiness and sanctification.

Ken writes,

Water baptism is the result of true faith, and evidence that one truly entrusts himself to Christ. (This is clear in Justin Martyr’s writings) The apostle Paul indicates that baptism is not part of the gospel message in 1 Corinthians 1:13–17 — verse 17 “for Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . . “ It is important, and part of “making disciples”, but not part of the gospel proclamation. Rather it is a result of the gospel being accepted by the person.

Justin Martyr says no such thing. In fact, in the First Apology, he writes,

As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them.

As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, . . . “ – This shows there was evangelism and a process of a person being persuaded and they thought about the gospel first, and repented and believed in Christ first, being convinced and there was teaching, and thinking (what we say is true), etc. – Justin Martyr precludes any and all infant baptism. 

This is Justin Martyr’s expression of a person making a commitment to Christ (John 1:12; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10) – first there must be understanding of the gospel and sin, repentance and faith – before baptism.  That is what I meant.  It is not for infants. It is closer to a Protestant Baptist position than all the padeo-baptism perspectives.

Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, Unless you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. [John 3:5] Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers’ wombs, is manifest to all. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins…And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed [15]

Tim Kauffman (Presbyterian) puts enough holes in the claim that the early taught unanimously “baptismal regeneration”:  Even if Justin meant what RCs and others say he meant, if he meant that, he was wrong on that issue.   Getting wet in a church and having Latin words said over you does nothing!  Regeneration happens by God’s Spirit in the heart, at the time when a person repents and believes in Christ.  (John 3:8; Acts 15:8; John 7:37-39; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 12:13)  Unfortunately, the early church interpreted John 3:5 wrong.  The “water” there is not about baptism, but about the internal cleansing when God gives a new heart, as in Ezekiel 36:25-27.  

https://apologeticsandagape.wordpress.com/2016/01/02/refutation-of-baptismal-regeneration-in-the-early-church/

As to 1 Corinthians 1:13–17, the conversion is not baptism, no one will dispute that, but all that means is that Paul’s role was preaching, and not baptism. Also, even if Paul was not baptizing, he is still preaching baptism as part of the Gospel message. Peter himself preached baptism in Acts,

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit — Acts 2:38

“for the forgiveness of your sins” goes with repentance; and baptism naturally follows in true believer’s hearts.  This is probably an example of the grammatical structure of “causal eis”, as in Matthew 12:41 – “they repented at (eis/ εις = or because of) the preaching of Jonah”  (or “with reference to”)

Ken then goes into a series of personal attacks, but these don’t entail that anything I said is false.

These “personal attacks” are valid criticisms of modern Roman Catholicism and its Popes, who seem to emphasize unity with false religions, rather than challenging them in evangelism.  John Paul 2 should have preached the gospel to Buddhists and Muslims and “Mother Teresa” confessed in her writing that she did not preach the gospel to dying Hindus and Buddhists; rather she told them to prepare to meet their own “gods”.  see more here:

So, only the apostles had the authority to do evangelism? Is that why Roman Catholics are so weak in the practice of evangelism and missions in recent years? (especially since Vatican 2) We see modern Popes doing all sorts of “kum baya” type ecumenical meetings with Buddhists and Muslims, but we don’t hear them actually preaching the gospel message to them. It seems like a major emphasis of modern Roman Catholic apologetics is focused on winning Protestants to their church, rather than reaching unbelievers with the simple NT message of the gospel. The emphasis is “convert to the RC Church”; “come home to the Church”, rather than “repent and believe in Christ”.

I never claimed only the apostles had the power to evangelize, I claimed that only they had the power to forgive sins. In fact, it is because we have the power to witness that it would not make sense for Christ to say it was only to the Apostles who had that power.

You are making an unwarranted massive division between evangelism and the 2 responses to evangelism – it is obvious by the NT that a positive response to hearing the gospel – repentance and faith – results in forgiveness of sins, eternal life and we can tell people this.  Rejection of the gospel is the “retaining” of sins or announcing “no forgiveness”.   That is flow of the revelation of Matthew 16 to Matthew 18:18 and John 20:23 to the spread of the church by evangelism and missions, all through history.

Peter says to all the saints who are also priests in 1 Peter 2:4–10 that they are all “to proclaim the excellencies of Him who brought them out of darkness into His marvelous light”. (verse 9) All authority has been given to Christ after the resurrection (see Matthew 28:18), “therefore, go . . . make disciples of all nations . . . “ (verse 19) That commission and authority continues to today.

None of these verses claim that people’s sins are forgiven by dint of believing (not the full sense of trusting) the Gospel message.

Are you Canadian also (like Allan Ruhl ?)  I have never heard this expression “by dint of” – why not just say, “as a result of”; or “because of” ? (or “by reason of”? 

You keep using that expression, and it throws me off, as I am not familiar with it.

Ken writes,

All of Scripture is from one unity — God Himself. So there is no need for Luke to mention Peter “as a rock”, etc. I repeat this section because chronologically, Acts 2, 10–11, and 15 are the historical events that show “the beginning of the unity” of Matthew 16. Mark 8 and Luke 9 are parallel with Matthew 16. (one historical event) There is no contradiction just because Luke does mention some of the details.

True, but scripture is written by various authors with their own writing styles, which is why we should expect some continuity between the authors when they press on in their work.

agreed; but that does nothing to advance your argumentation.

Ken continues,

It has nothing to do with Isaiah 22:22 in the sense of trying to show some kind of Papal authority or secession of bishops; rather the key is a Messianic key — the house of David, and Jesus has that in Revelation 1:18 and 3:7 — Jesus is the authority and ultimate rock and foundation. Peter and the apostles’ authority is secondarily derived from Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

The idea that the delegation of a Key of the king to a minister has nothing to do with another delegation of keys to an appointed leader seems like a stretch.

It is actually your exegesis that is a stretch to get Papal doctrines, papal office in Rome, centuries later in the text of Matthew 16.

 I don’t deny Jesus has it (he needs the key to delegate it). But as it stands, Jesus delegates it to Peter, and Peter delegates some of that power to the others. But Peter is one link in the chain that cannot be reduced to the others.

It is not reduced, but expanded to all other apostles in Matthew 18 and John 20:23 and that expands to all Christians who preach the gospel and establish biblical churches in history.

Ken writes,

These 2 verses and the whole events of Acts 2, 10–11 and 15 demonstrate the future fulfillment of what Jesus meant by singling out Peter, and calling him “this rock” in Matthew 16:18, while connecting Peter’s faith to the content of the doctrine of his statement, which God the Father revealed to Peter’s heart and mind — “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”. Jesus says to all the apostles, “I will build My church”; and we see the early church unified, at the beginning, in Jerusalem in the book of Acts. The unity of the believers is emphasized as the gospel goes out to Samaria (Acts 8) and the Gentiles in Acts 10–11 and 15.

Peter’s statement of faith was not called the rock, 

But Peter is only called a rock because of the stable foundation of the doctrine that he spoke.  The rock is Peter, in relation to the truth he spoke about Jesus being the Messiah and Son of God.

and any attempts to say the rock was something other than Peter ruins the flow of the passage, 

Protestant emphasis and exegesis is not ruining the flow, but seeing the relationship of why Peter is a rock, and that the content of the doctrine is a rocky, solid, firm foundation, and behind that doctrinal foundation is the Lord who is the Rock behind the solid rock doctrine.  It is actually the RCC eisegesis that ruins the flow to Matthew 18:18 and to John 20:23 and to Acts 2-15.

Peter is the one addressed, and he is the subject as shown throughout verses 17–19 in Matthew 16. It does not accord with his change of name. It does not accord with Luke’s documentation of the events.

Your exegesis does not accord with the flow of the historical events from Matthew (and synoptic parallels) to the book of Acts and beyond in church history.

Ken response to my point here,

The second issue is that if it was his confession of faith, then it seems to be in tension with the fact Peter wavered and denied Jesus three times.

Wrong; since it was a temporary thing, Peter was restored; Peter repented. (John 21; Acts 1–2 and beyond) Luke 22:31 means that his faith will not ultimately fail, like Judas. It has nothing to do with an infallibility to say right doctrine, passed on to successors, and only in Rome.

As I already wrote above, it does not accord with the Greek. The verse is still better explained in light of Peter’s office being granted protection.

Ken attempts to refute my point by also noting that,

I don’t see how your argumentation follows. All elders are also bishops /overseers — according to the New Testament.

The apostles appointed elders (plural) for each church. (Acts 14:23)

This is a non sequitur, appointing elders is literally the function of a bishop.

No; here in Acts 14:23 it is the function of the apostles to appoint elders for each church.

The office of elder is also an overseer — see Titus 1:5–7. (see also Philippians 1:1)

Titus 1:5-7 requires some explanation, but there is no conflation of office. 

The office (presbyter-overseer) is the same, as is borne out when one studies all the relevant passages. (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Timothy chapter 3; 1 Peter 5:1-4)

Paul writes,

5 The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint[a] elders in every town, as I directed you. 6 An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe[b] and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless — not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.

Verse 5 establishes that Paul is speaking Titus, a Bishop. 

Episcopal forms of government argue that Titus and Timothy are “bishops”, but here in the NT, they (Timothy and Titus) are primarily Apostolic church planters / teachers with apostolic authority to raise up elder-bishops and deacons, with qualifications, in the local churches.   To read back into the text that Titus and Timothy are “bishops” in the RC sense is taking 3rd and 4th century historical understandings and reading it back into the text of Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3. 

He is directed to appoint Elders. Paul is speaking to the duties to the elders he is to appoint. Then Paul addresses Titus’ duties as bishop, 

No, the context is showing that elders are bishops / overseers. verse 7 “for” (Greek: gar / γαρ) continues the qualifications from verses 5 and 6 that are about elders.  This, along with all the other relevant verses, demonstrates that elders and overseers (bishops) are the same local church office, who are to teach and do the pastoring.  It is you who interrupts the flow of the passage here. 

overseeing the Church. I also don’t see how Philippians 1:1 demonstrates there is no Episcopate, rather than no presbyters.

Paul shows that bishops are the same as presbyters, by only mentioned “overseers” (plural) of one church in Philippi.  Demonstrates a college of elders-bishops. According to Acts 20:17 & 28 and 1 Peter 5:1-3, elders are also overseers, so Paul could have written “to the elders and deacons”.

Paul calls the elders (plural) of the church of Ephesus (Acts 20:17). and in verse 28 he says that the elders are also overseers (or “bishops”) (plural: episcopous / ἐπισκόπους )and shepherding (pastoring)

1 Peter 5:1–4 says that the elders are to shepherd the flock of God and that they are to do the work of overseeing.

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

And? Even today diocese have multiple bishops, some of which are auxiliary bishops, and priests. 

And so what?  “even today” is applying the situation of today anachronistically back into the NT texts with a RCC centuries later ideas of Papacy-mono-bishop-priest with ex opera operato powers of forgiveness that claims only your RC Church is able to grant forgiveness of sins.

Priests also are overseers in a sense, in that they participate with the bishops as their co-workers, and share in their ministry. For an image, in Numbers 11:16–30 Moses shares in his prophetic ministry with 72 elders. While the elders do act as prophets and prophecy (Numbers 11:25), they are not prophets proper. But only share in that with Moses delegating his power.

In the same way, the presbyters could be bishops and exercising oversight in a delegated sense, but not one proper to their own ministry. The image is not incidental. As David M. Gregson explains,

The probability that the Seventy were the first Christian presbyters is enhanced by the following consideration. The seventy elders appointed by Moses were selected from among the elders of the various tribes, and appointed to form a ruling council over all Israel. In Christ’s day, the supreme council for all Judaism was the Great Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. The number of those sitting on this council was seventy, over whom the high priest presided as nasî’. These seventy were called zeqenim, or in Greek, presbyteroi. The seventy elders of the Sanhedrin were regarded as the successors of the seventy appointed by Moses. They were “ordained” to their office by the laying on of hands with prayer, after the pattern of Joshua (Nb 27:18; Dt 34:9). Thus we have a significant example in the time of Christ of a ruling council of seventy, called “elders,” basing their number on the precedent of Moses’ ruling council of seventy.

Was the number of those commissioned by Christ in Luke 10 based on the same precedent? We would expect so, if we were to find the Seventy exercising a ruling function in the Church. In the gospel, we are told only that they went out to teach, but in Acts, while there is no direct reference to “the Seventy,” we do find a body of elders/presbyters functioning like a sanhedrin [16]

All of this is irrelevant to the argument, since a plurality of elders was appointed by the apostles for each local church (Acts 14:23) in each city (Titus 1:5-7) and it is very doubtful that each church had seventy elders each. 

Ken goes on to attack the traditional idea of the priesthood,

Yes, false doctrine should be attacked.

One of the first mistakes of the early church in the 200s AD, is calling presbyters, “priests”, since all Christians are priests, according to 1 Peter 2:4–10; Revelation 1:6; 5:10. There is no NT special office of priest that offers sacrifices. The sacrifices that are still going on in the NT are praise and worship, spiritual sacrifices. (Hebrews 13:15)

While all Christians are priests, it does not preclude a ministerial priesthood with its own set of powers and functions. The Levites were a ministerial priesthood, and that fact was not taken away by the fact God said to the whole nations,

and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” — Exodus 19:6

Which is applied to the whole NT church community (all believers in Christ) in 1 Peter 2:4-10.

Ken ends off by restating a point I already addressed,

No, Jesus’ prayer is not futile since He is talking about not ultimately failing; and being restored even after stumbling. Jesus is praying for Peter’s ultimate faith, which was made stronger through the trial of his sin, and Jesus’ prayer was accomplished by restoring Peter and also by Peter strengthening the other disciples’ faith.

As stated already, the Greek does not seem to permit this.

Yes it does. 

To Ken, I appreciate you taking the time to respond. 

Also thank you John for your response!

If you read this all the way, feel free to contact me. My Twitter DM is open, I would love to discuss the prospect of you coming on my YT channel. The discussion on the apostolic origin of the episcopate seems like it would be a good topic.

Footnotes

[1] John 1:42 Commentary, RSVCE, Link.

[2] Strong’s Concordance, 1587. ekleipó, Link.

[3]Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3, paragraph 5, Link

[4] Charles John Ellicott, Commentary for English Readers, 1 Peter 5:13, Link

[5] Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church, page 114, Link

[6] Horace Mann. “Pope St. Stephen I.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 15 Mar. 2021. Link.

[7] Joseph Hergenröther, Anti-Janus, 89, Link

[8] Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser, Official Relatio of Pastor Aeternus, Paragraph 29, Link

[9] Cyprian, Epistle 66, Paragraph 3, Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050666.htm>.

[10] Cyril, Commentary on John, chapter 20, Link

[11] Gregory the Great, Homily 26 on the Gospels, Link

[12] Dave Armstrong, The Pre-Eminence of St. Peter: 50 New Testament Proofs, Link

[13] Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church, Treatise 1, Link

[14] Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Galatians, Chapter 5, Link

[15] Justin Martyr, The First Apology, Chapter 61, Translated by Marcus Dods and George Reith. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm>.

[16] David M. Gregson, The Origin of the Presbyterate in the New Testament, Link

About Ken Temple

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), through faith alone (Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:28; 4:1-16), in Christ alone (John 14:6). But a true faith does not stay alone, it should result in change, fruit, good works, and deeper levels of repentance and hatred of my own sins of selfishness and pride. I am not better than you! I still make mistakes and sin, but the Lord is working on me, conforming me to His character. (Romans 8:28-29; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18) When I do sin, I hate the sin as it is an affront to God, and seek His forgiveness in repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:7-10; Colossians 3:5-16 ) Praise God for His love for sinners (Romans 5:8), shown by the voluntary coming of Christ and His freely laying down His life for us (John 10:18), becoming flesh/human (John 1:1-5; 1:14; Philippians 2:5-8), dying for sins of people from all nations, tribes, and cultures (Revelation 5:9), on the cross, in history, rising from the dead (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 28, Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians chapter 15). His resurrection from the dead proved that Jesus is the Messiah, the eternal Son of God, the word of God from eternity past; and that He was all the gospels say He was and that He is truth and the life and the way to salvation. (John 14:6)
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