In Answer to Your Oft Asked Question
Continued from Home Page . . .
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OK! OK! You win! I'll answer the question. People are always asking me about the differences between Protestants and Catholics, and in the spirit of the Pope's current call for unity, I want to encourage that spirit. Normally, I only want to point out the similarities, but I can see that this question must be answered. And I have to agree, if we are to become "one" according to the prayer of Jesus, then we cannot be at odds with one another, suspicious, not understanding. We don't have to agree; we do have to surrender to the absolute and ultimate Lordship of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
So let me begin by saying, at the beginning of 2014, Pope Francis sent a DVD message to Kenneth Copeland and the ministers attending his annual meeting in Texas. he stated that the word "Protestant" no longer needs to be utilized as the dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church now agrees with the Protestant dogma: We are saved by grace through faith, and then we will fulfill the good works the Lord has planned for us. (Those aren't his exact words, but close enough.) In other words, Catholic salvation no longer depends on the individual's good works. Their salvation depends on the grace of God through faith, just like the Protestants believe.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).
I was delighted! I tried that on for size. "I am a member of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ." "I am a member of the Christian Catholic Church." (Catholic means universal.") "I am a member of the Universal Catholic Christian Church." I couldn't make any of those statements exactly roll off my tongue, but I just knew I'd find an appropriate title for my new standing with the Catholics. I really want the prayer of Jesus to be fulfilled by His Church. I want us all to conform to His way, and His way always involves love, loving one another, especially loving those who follow Jesus, and if we don't understand each other, then we can never be united. We don't have to agree; we do have to accept and love each other exactly as we are.
There are differences that we need to understand. Like Rome. God lives in a vast, immeasurable heaven. His city is called Jerusalem, and there in heaven, God's city measures one-half the size of the United States or the size of France multiplied by 25. The countryside is infinite. Apparently, He has only one city. He calls the Jerusalem we have on earth His Holy City, which will last forever.
Now, for the continuation...
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels. (Hebrews 12:22).
"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name." (Revelation 3:12).
Look at what Peter says about the new earth and the New Jerusalem:
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with the fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up, 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless, we according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation--as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:10--18).
However, Roman Catholics have re-designated God's Holy City to be what they call The Eternal City, or Rome. Protestants cannot find that in the Bible. How can it be eternal when it is doomed to destruction? Therefore, Protestants reject Rome as having any significance in the heavenly design of things. It is not the Center of the Universe (as it is also described).
The one things that Catholics must understand and accept about Protestants is that everything is based on the Bible. Look at the severe warning found in Revelation.
18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophesy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18, 19).
Can't we ever make up our own truth? Sure...if we want to fight with God!
13 "but now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth." (John 17:13-19).
We are to be like the Bereans:
10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. (Acts 17:10--13).
When we hear a message, we are to search the Word to confirm that message, because only the Word can tell us the truth. The Word belongs to God, and he does not change. Jesus is the Word of God, and He never changes. The Holy spirit inspired the writing of the Word of God, and that writing will never change. It is written because it is a legal document between God and His Creation. We can't even have private or personal interpretations of the Word of God. It must explain itself, which it always does. Finding other passages in the Bible where that message is preached or explained, give further insight into the proper interpretation.
Knowing this first, that no prophesy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, (2 Peter 1:20).
In mentioning Rome, the monuments must be noted. The Lord is explicit about making no idols, no statues, no likenesses, and no reverential figures of any kind. The cults do that---not Christians. Rome is loaded with lavish and outrageously costly tributes to man. The number of Popes glorified in the Church of St. Peter is outlandish, with absolutely no tribute made to Peter in his chosen death of humility by being crucified upside-down.
I sat in the church of St. Mary where the Americans sent the gold to cover the entire ceiling---a good two football fields long, and truly repented. I was ashamed of Americans for contributing to this garish demonstration of pride. Jesus gave His money to the poor. He built no monuments. He told us to love and our enemies would be jealous because love does have a price tag. If we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will spend our money helping them, not in building ostentatious monuments.
Then there is the question of the Pope. Francis, the current Pope, is delightful. I'd like to have him for a friend. But nowhere in the Bible can it be found that God, after Jesus' resurrection, put another human being between Him and His Creation. Jesus said the He would build His church; He didn't say that Peter would. In that one Scripture that alludes to Peter, Jesus said that revelation knowledge would build His church. We are the church. It's His believers that He builds by revealing truth to them, one piece at a time, until they develop enough to swallow more.
For many centuries, as noted in Genesis, God walked and talked with His man and woman. He does the same today. He wants, and will only settle for, a very personal and intimate relationship with his own family---His own children who have come to Him by the new birth. (The new birth can only happen once.) He sent His own Holy Spirit to live inside of us to be our best friend and guide.
He does not approach us as a pastor, as a priest, as a bishop, as an archbishop, as a cardinal, or as a pope. He comes just like He says, as God Almighty, our Creator, omnipresent. He is everywhere at once and can have individual conversations simultaneously with all the billions of us living on the earth at this moment. He is God. He is not a man, and He does not need a man to represent Him. The people He employs---teachers, pastors, evangelists, prophets, and apostles---are used as servants to serve the people of God, not to control them, direct their lives, or be served.
This admonition includes the "saints." The Bible calls all of us saints because the word means we are "the called out ones." We have been called out of the world to live a heavenly life here on earth which will continue in heaven when we pass through the gates of death. No one is more spiritual than another because we are all spirits. At the new birth, we received new spirits, where the Holy Spirit now lives and influences our lives from the inside out. It puzzles me that people would want to talk with, or rely on, a spirit outside their own body when they have God Almighty's Spirit living on the inside. Besides, we are forbidden to speak with the dead.
I have asked many a priest questions about these differences I find, and one of them replied, when asked about praying or conversing with the "saints" in heaven: "Well, they're going to talk to the dead anyway, so we might as well give them good people to talk to."
Speaking of the dead, let's talk about Purgatory. Absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is NOT mentioned i the Bible. "but," people will exclaim, "he (this word includes "she") didn't have a chance to be born again, so he's got to have someplace to go where he can calmly choose. Look how wounded he was. He couldn't choose while he was here on earth with such burdens to bear." (You've heard these types of explanations, so I don't need to delineate any more of them.)
I say, "Really? You mean Jesus didn't pursue him? Are you telling me Jesus just left the poor man to flounder on his own?" I interviewed hundreds of people for my radio program, and it always surprised me how many times I heard people say, "the Lord told me this was my last chance." Usually, they said something like, "The Lord has been knocking at my door for years, and I finally said 'Yes.'" God doesn't need us to do the job for Him. He woos each and every one of us until we bow our knee to Him and say with our tongue that Jesus Christ is our Lord! Then we start developing our relationship with Him, not before.
And of course, Mary is a subject of dissension. It is such a crucial point that I will not discuss it but only list a few items:
Finally, the big subject---The Blood. When we take communion at the altar rail of a church (or in our own bedrooms as I do), are we drinking the blood of Jesus and eating His flesh? Let's see what the Bible says.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "take, eat; this is My body." (Matthew 26:26).
(Mark 14:22 says exactly the same thing.)
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it tot them, saying, "This is My body which is given to you; do this in remembrance of Me." (Luke 22:19).
(1 Corinthians 11:24 says the same thing.)
Two times it says we are eating His flesh, and two times it says we are doing this in remembrance of Him. Nowhere does it mention that a priest or some other "holy" man must pray over the bread to make it become flesh. We all know that is is a wafer baked by the millions in a factory. So when does it become flesh? In both scriptures I have mentioned, it says it is His Body after the word "eat." God knows which ones are His children and therefore are already members of Christ's Body. He also knows which ones are eating the bread but are not His children, and God is the only One who has this knowledge. Only in the bodies of His born-again ones does the bread become flesh, after they have eaten it. In myself, I notice the change when I swallow the bread and wine of communion.
27 The He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:27, 28).
Although the subject of the wine is not as clearly stated as is the bread, the blood is still mentioned after the drinking of the cup.
What are we to remember as we take this holy meal? We are to remember what that Body did for us. We are to remember that Jesus carried all sickness and pain on His body through His stripes; through His torture, He healed us all. He destroyed the works of the devil. If people would remember this, they would be healed by taking communion. I've seen it happen. All their trials and difficulties would be lifted because Jesus already defeated the devil, already paid for everything with His Body and His Blood. That's what we remember!
As both Catholics and Protestants surrender their lives to Jesus Christ---accept His sacrifice and His magnanimous gifts to us as we focus on Him---then we can be unified. I live in a Catholic "House" where everyone but me is Catholic. I love every one of this small band of believers. They've stopped trying to make me become Catholic and seem to accept me as I am, and I know them to be very loving and welcoming. I have no problem with them believing the aforementioned things as long as those things are secondary and they keep them to themselves. I don't like to be badgered or pestered into accepting things that are not biblical.
I, too, have some things I believe that are not found in the Bible, but I don't believe they are spiritual laws or precepts. I don't preach them, and I rarely reveal them because I don't want to mislead anyone. Every true christian knows that Jesus is the principal thing. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ. It is only on that stand that we can embrace one another as brother and sister.
for those who have read thus far, believe me when I say that Protestants have as much need of "cleaning house" as the Catholics do. We have our own little private leanings that are not at all supported by the Bible. We put pastors and preachers on such high pedestals that they surely get nosebleeds, and when they fall, it creates an enormous wave in the media and aftershocks in the hearts of many believers. We spend garish amounts of money on our church buildings, on our houses, cars, and jewelry, as if we are showing off the prosperity of God. but God sees prosperity as what we spend on others. I could say more but will end with this:
I look forward to the days when all Christians are like the Essenes, a division of the Israelites who lives in purity, equality, and harmony. They lived simple, exemplary lives, men and women lived and worked together as equals, and they shared all their goods so that no one had more than another. They did this by choice, not by compulsion. I also look forward to the day when my Catholic brothers allow me to take communion with them, and fortunately, I believe in miracles!