First we studied the formation of the Christian Church which is recorded in the New Testament. We studied how Jesus chose and prepared the Apostles, prepared the ordinances and comprehensive teaching of the New Testament. Jesus also warned us of those who would change His message and commissioned the Apostles to pass on this message to the entire world. They wrote everything down within their lifetimes and most of the New Testament was in circulation within fifteen to thirty years of the resurrection. This includes three of the Gospels, Acts and most of the letters of Paul and Peter. The Apostles clearly warned us ( 1 Cor. 4:6 ) as did the Lord ( Matt. 15: 3-6 ), of those who would change doctrine, add to it or to discount clear doctrinal teaching. All of the early teachers after the Apostles affirmed that Scripture alone was to be trusted ( Jerome, Cyril, Anastasius, Augustine, John Christom ) , even Aquinas one thousand years later also placed Scripture above all. This lesson is short on Bible verses and has more history which we will explain and link to approriate pages in the near future.
A. Doctrinal Evolution
1. Mary ( Latin Vulgate translation mistake Gen. 3: 15 not corrected until 1950 , 431A.D. Ephesus - Theotokos ‘ God Bearer ’ titled given to Mary to emphasis Christ's Deity, 1854 - immaculate conception declared. 1950 - assumption declared ). The teaching in the church evolved regarding Mary. Study the time line of changes compared to all teaching by the Lord and the Apostles.
2. Papacy ( 682 Pope Leo’s teaching condemned by Church Council , 1414-18, 1616, 1870 ) The Popes were not always considered accurate by their own Councils who later rejected Vatican teaching. John Paul 2 recently beatified Sister Faustina whose works were rejected previously by the Vatican. The only constant in the Church is the Scriptures given to us by the Prophets Jesus quoted, the Apostles He chose and the only place where we find His Words.
3. Justification ( Trent 16th Century damnation of Justification by faith alone still stands ) Read Ephesians 2: 8 & 9 and Titus 3: 5 - 9 for starters to see that faith alone saves apart from works. In James 2 we see that faith is shown by our works after we are saved - it is impossible to live the Christian life until the Lord intervenes in our life , Jesus said, " By their fruits you shall know them " and this is the message of James, but God sees the heart and looks for true living faith which always results in change afterwards, When we come to Christ we have nothing to offer. We come with empty and stained hands needing to be cleansed. Without Him we can do nothing ! He first cleanses us from all sin as a free gift and gives us His Holy Spirit to enable us to be different as we continue to walk in faith. As the song says, " ... He died to make men holy " Battle Hymn of the Republic. We will have more on this important topic in the next four lessons.
4. Indulgences - ‘a greater and fuller forgiveness’ ( Ostrorog, Luther, y2k Papal Bull ) The forgiveness of Christ is perfect already. No one needs a fuller forgiveness and the Blood of Christ is greater than all our sin and even our "self righteousness".
B. Lessons from History ( examples )
1. Latin Vulgate Mistake corrected in 1950 - Gen. 3: 15
2. Historical signposts prove N. T. written early on - Luke & Acts
3. Papal admissions & confessions to Church failures & mistakes
4. Meetings with the Cardinal in Krakow ( on tape ) 1974 -1978
5. Personal testimony & Radio in Chicago ( on tape ) - 1962 & 1999
6. Hussites, Moravians,Waldenses and Huguenots ( on tape )
7. Statements of Early Church leaders & full communion
8. Current day Catholic Church Crisis ( read 1 Tim 3 & 1 Cor. 9:5 )
9. Revelations 12 & Apparitions of Mary
*10. Petition Drive for a new co - Savior
Reflections: As in the church of Thyatira ( Rev. 2: 24 ) not all people in any given church accept or are responsible for doctrines formed hundreds of years ago. Many of them are still seeking the truth or led to stay to help others. The weight of Scripture and walking in the Spirit is our strength as we seek to bring men and woman to a personal relationship with our Lord based on His grace through faith. Next session we will go over doctrinal formation and the Reformation in more detail.
C. Lessons from the Reformation
1. Sola - Deo, Christ, Scriptura, Grace, Fide ( True Christianity was to Worship God alone, depend on His Son alone, trust the words of the Scripture alone, come to the Lord on the basis of His grace alone and to give only our faith; as our works before the transformation of the new birth were like filty rags in His sight.
2. Luther - The “ Wild Boar ” : The Reformation tamed Germany for one hundred and fifty years until the Germans fell in love with theologians " fancy teachers " again, rather than the Scriptures and they as a majority fell into error returning to their old ways.
3. Inquisition - Spain, England ( Bloody Mary ) , France & Italy.
4. Evangelicalism & Liberalism ( Reformed, but not Transformed ) Not all who call themselves Protestants, Christians or even Evangelicals are true followers of Christ. The love of Christ for all men must be shed abroad in your heart. You must be leaning on His Word and depending on Him alone. This is why the five SOLAS of the Reformation had such an impact.
D. Turn the Tables
1. Don’t you believe in Mary ?! Yes, I believe everything the Bible says about Mary, but tell me whom do you have to believe in to be saved? Acts 4: 12; 16: 31; John 14: 6
2. Pope adoration - Calling him, ' his holiness, holy father, etc. ? Answer: A good spiritual leader always leads people to Christ and never to himself. The same is true of one teaching who should lead men and women to God's Word and not to himself or herself. No succession is ever mentioned by Christ or the Apostles. No titles - Jesus called His Father in Heaven , HOLY FATHER; We pray OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN' not who art in Rome. Peter’s actions & words on spiritual leadership speak to us today. These truths apply to Protestants as well who place their Pastors on a pedestal. 1 & 2 Peter; - Gospels.
" These expressions, nevertheless, have evolved out of a long tradition, becoming part of common usage. " John Paul 2 ( Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Page 6 )
3. Aren’t good works important ? Yes! There are two kinds of good works in the Bible - Good works done in the power of the flesh and good works done in the power of the Holy Spirit. You need to have the Holy Spirit. You need to be born of the Holy Spirit. The mark of a Christian and the greatest traits of a Christian church are to see that we worship in Spirit and in Truth. This means in Love, in goodness and in honoring God's word. All good churches agree that only the Bible is called God's word - Gal. 2: 20.