Sunday Thoughts: Why I’m Not a Roman Catholic

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“It is finished.”

Those three words, fleshed out by other scriptures like those found in Hebrews, are why I’m a Reformed Baptist as opposed to a Roman Catholic.  I believe that the scriptures are abundantly clear that salvation is humble and simple.  The glory of the salvation of sinners is all of Christ and none of us.

I don’t practice, nor will I ever practice Lent, confessions to a priest, mass, have a priest, or wear a crucifix.  Why?

“It is finished.”

All.  100%.  Every bit of the work that needed to be done for the salvation of the church has been done.  Christ is no longer on the cross.  He is no longer in the tomb.  He is SEATED at the right hand of God.

To understand why this is so important you have to be willing to stomach a little gore, and even if you can’t, you need to.  When God chose out a people, the Israelites, He set up a system of sacrifices.  They were required to lay their hand on the head of an animal as a symbol of it taking their sins upon itself.  Then, the animal was slaughtered, disemboweled, and dismembered.  Blood had to be spilled by an innocent creature to cover sin.  We see this in Genesis when God Himself took an animal skin to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness after they sinned.  We see this in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, and we see it in Christ’s crucifixion.  Sin requires blood.  Just imagine the sheer number of animals that gave up their innocent lives in the Old Testament era.  Thousands.  Over and over and over.

Hebrews 9: 19-26:

18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

What does this mean?  It didn’t work.  The blood of animals didn’t take away sin or they would have slaughter only one animal.  If it had worked, Christ wouldn’t have had to come and die.

Not only that, but look at the rules set in place to enter the presence of God.  Have we forgotten He is holy???  Guess who got to go into His presence? One man.  One man, once a year.  That was it.  A huge, heavy veil hung between the priests and the place where God was.  Even more space was between the priest and the people.  And, an even bigger space was between where God was and women.

But Christ!  Christ came, the better Prophet, the better Priest, and the better King.  He came, lived a holy life that we are incapable of living, humbly closed his mouth when falsely accused, died on a Roman cross, rose again and by death conquered death, entered not the earthly Holy of Holies behind the veil, but heaven itself where He was accepted by the Father.  And he SAT down.  One sacrifice, for all time, for His people.  He ripped the veil in two and opened the way for me, a woman, to come to God, through His blood.

Hebrews 10:11-18:

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[a] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Are we so quick to put veils back up between us and God?  Are we so quick to demand that we play a part in our salvation when Christ opened up the path to heaven?  Why do we run to the shadows when we have been given the light?

We are no longer required to do these things!  Our sins are forgotten.  Why should we repeat them to an earthly priest?  Was Christ’s blood not enough that we are required to do penance?  Is the blood of the Son of God that weak?  Aren’t we freed from the burdens of the law?  Why would we make new laws for ourselves?

It is finished!

Christ paid the price and asked us, his beloved church, to believe in Him.  He didn’t hand us a long list of do’s and don’ts. He told us to love one another.  Instead of abstaining from Facebook for a month, try loving the person sitting on the pew next to you!  We aren’t holier because we abstain or indulge!  We are called to love our church family.

You can go there, but the cross and the grave are both empty.

You can go there, but the cross and the grave are both empty.

I’m amazed at how quickly we Protestants are willing to cave to the pressure to add rules or suggestions to the Scriptures that Christ hasn’t given.  We fought and bled for this truth, are we so fat and lazy we now willingly give it up just a few generations later?  I’m ashamed so many Protestants are unaware of why we don’t practice Lent.  It is finished, people.  The work is done.  Christ is sufficient.  He left nothing undone.  The few things Christ has called us to do – love our church family, develop the fruit of the Spirit, become more like Him – flow from our love of Him.  And, they are hard enough without adding burdens to your load that He never gave us.

What we don’t like about what Christ has given us is that these things start in the mind and heart of the believer and work out in our small local churches.  They aren’t real visible.  They don’t go viral.  The world doesn’t see them.  It’s work and it’s a daily, moment by moment, battle.  No one gets to really see if you’re being holy or not.  I think this is where we slip up.  We constantly want to have a hand in our salvation and our sanctification.  But biblical salvation is simple, not grand.  Its glory resides in a place beyond death.  That humility is so hard for us.  We want the glory here and now on this earth.  Resist the call of the flesh.  Resist the desire to add to your salvation.

Galatians 3: 1 – 9:

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

My Christ, who paid for my sin, isn’t still on a tree.  He rose again!  He isn’t wringing His hands worried about who is and isn’t being saved.  He reigns now, knowing and preserving His people, His bride.  My job is to serve my church starting with the church member I live with and going out from there.  I’ll never wear a crucifix because Christ isn’t there.  I have pastors and teachers, not priests.  I have only One great High Priest who did His job one time and it is finished.

John 8: 31 – 32

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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A Short Story: The Pearl King’s Son

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This is a short allegory about Christianity. I’ve been trying to find a good story for years to describe our rebellion against God. We often glorify rebellion, especially in America, and I’ve wanted to try to show that we rebelled against a good King when Adam fell in the garden. I rarely write allegory because it becomes frustrating and breaks down the closer you examine it. Thoughts appreciated.


 

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful kingdom by the sea. Her buildings were carved from the white glistening shells of the ocean. When the sun rose in the east and set in the west the Pearl Kingdom glimmered and shown so brightly that far off wanderers could see her light.

A wise and good King tended the kingdom, both in the city and the green fields that surround it. The people lived free and happy lives protected by the King and his knights from her enemies and guided gently away from any ills by his wisdom. No trash marred the beauty of the Pearl Kingdom. No families lived without a roof over their heads, food on their tables, or clothes on their backs. No one went without work for their hands to do, or art to share with others. Everyone helped their neighbors. The countryside was orderly with good crops and fat cows and sheep, goats and chickens. Little wild places broke up the farms full of hidden delights for children and adventures alike. It was a good Kingdom ruled by a good King, a jewel on the Earth.

But, one day, darkness came.

It was not a natural slipping down of the sun into the sea and a rising of the silver moon, but a pestilence, a plague. It whispered in the ears of the unwise and the foolish that this land wasn’t the best and the King wasn’t the kindest and wisest. It whispered that far across the land an Onyx Kingdom lay where everyone could really be free. Where everyone could be their own king.

A rebellion arose against the good King. His once happy people shook their fists in his face and hurled horrible words and rotten food at the beautiful white walls of the castle. Then, they followed the darkness out across the land to the Onyx Kingdom where they could be free.

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Free to lie about and do nothing. Free to forget their neighbor and keep even what they didn’t need. Free to say aloud what they thought of others without restraint, and free to eat and drink until they grew sick with diseases. They were free to mock the kingdom they left and the King. They were rebels and traitors condemned under the law to die if they ever came home. Instead of cowering under their condemnation, they fought the Pearl King, and stole from their old kingdom. They crept in at night to take and whispered to any who remained in Pearl Kingdom to come away with them.

But the King wasn’t content to let the darkness just have his Kingdom. He wasn’t content to have his people blind, sick, and lost in the unlit streets of the Onyx Kingdom. He wasn’t content to let his people be eaten by the King who ruled that land for that was their fate. When they had grown fat in the darkness, the Onyx King’s slaves took them and fed them to the Onyx King.

He sent light with a promise of hope and mercy. Here and there, it slipped in searching under windows and behind doors for the King’s true people. The wealthy of the Onyx Kingdom pushed the light away, so it went to the poorest of the poor. It went to the lazy, the deceased, the dead. The light went into the darkest of the dark and searched out the King’s true people.

The Onyx King sensed the light in his shadows and sent his goblins and trolls to snuff it out. Over and over, they slayed the lights, but the Pearl King only sent more and more. Little by little, his true people came back. They came back filthy, broken, reeking of their own laziness and putrid rotting. The ones who made it to the Pearl Kingdom fell on their knees and begged mercy knowing they had to die for their rebellion. They knew they had broken the old laws. They knew they’d broken the King’s laws. Traitors had to be executed. But, they begged the good King for mercy. The King washed them, clothed them in royal robes, and gave them rooms in his castle. He helped them see the black lies they had believed. They dared to hope in the King.

Not everyone came. Not all who once lived in the Pearl Kingdom returned. Many, far more than the ones who came, stayed in the Onyx Kingdom. They hunted down the light. They slew those who listened to it. They revealed in the darkness. The Onyx King sent them out into the highways to attack and maim the ones trying to return to the Pearl Kingdom. Some they killed, and some returned to the darkness deciding the Pearl Kingdom wasn’t worth fighting to get home to.

The Onyx King was hungry. He wasn’t willing to let one person from Pearl Kingdom slip through his fingers. He wanted the ones who had left him back. He smiled. He had a plan. They were traitors and there was a law, after all.

The Kings met on the line between light and darkness. Behind the Onyx King gathered his vast black host. Behind the Pearl King stood only the weak and broken host of those to whom he had shown great mercy.

The Onyx King laughed at the Pearl King.

“This is a trick. They can’t be free. What of the old laws you yourself wrote?” he said. “They must be executed as traitors. It is the law.”

The Pearl King agreed. It was the law. Only death could a traitor expect.

The executioner came from the black land with his dirty axe on his shoulder.

“I will pay the price, Oh Father King,” a quiet, meek voice spoke out.

From out of the crowd of broken people needing mercy stepped the King’s only Son. The Pearl King nodded, granting the Son’s request. “If you pay this price, these people will be yours forever. Not one will ever be the Onyx King’s again.”

The Onyx king nodded, delighted to watch the Son die for such a group of useless people. He was losing nothing by their redemption for they were the poorest of his poor, scrawny and hardly worth eating.

As the Son knelt before the executioner, the poorest of the poor fell to their knees and wept that the good and kind Son would die in their place.

He freely laid his fair and noble head on the chopping block and the axe fell. His blood was shed in their place.

The poorest of the poor cried and wept.

“The price has been paid,” The Pearl King announced. “I declare peace on the earth and my good will towards my people. Pardon has come to all who now come because they heard the light.”

Much to the Onyx King’s surprise, many of his vast host quit his ranks, dropped their swords, and walked through the Son’s blood to join the poorest of the poor on their knees behind the Pearl King.

“And now, my law has been satisfied,” the King said. “Grace has been shown. The Dead are no longer Dead.”

With his words, the earth cracked between the two kingdoms and the sky broke apart casting the Onyx Kingdom into utter darkness never to see the sun again while the Pearl Kingdom rose into the heavens.

Lo and behold, the Son who had died rose up. All the host of heaven cheered with joy. He took his great spear and cast it down into the darkness right into the heart of the Onyx King.

His people surrounded him, forgiven, loved, the law satisfied and the Darkness slain.

The End