Thursday, February 11, 2010

#28) Doctrines of Error

Last week, I spoke on some of the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. We learned that Roman Catholicism is not a valid alternative nor can it be considered a denomination of Christianity. We reviewed their own declarations from the Council of Trent as well as the Catechism. Tonight, we are going to focus on what Scripture has to say regarding some of the other doctrines and dogmas of the Catholic Church. As was the case with last week, this is not meant to belittle anyone simply because they have a different faith from ours. It is simply meant to point out the differences from a Scriptural perspective to further your understanding of Truth. It is as John Calvin said:

John Calvin to Michael Servetus
I neither hate you nor despise you; nor do I wish to persecute you; but I would be as hard as iron when I behold you insulting sound doctrine with so great audacity.

John Calvin
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.

As always, my goal is to teach the Truth of Scripture in the Light of Scripture alone. Sola Scriptura!

Our first area we are going to touch on tonight is the doctrine of purgatory.

Ask congregation to explain the basic concept of purgatory.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1030
All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven.

Handbook for Today’s Catholic, page 47
If you die in the love of God but possess any stains of sin, such stains are cleansed away in a purifying process called Purgatory. These stains of sin are primarily the temporal punishment due to venial or mortal sins already forgiven but for which sufficient penance was not done during your lifetime.

According to Roman Catholicism, all men die with a stain of sin. The only exceptions to this are infant babies who have been baptized and the saints who were deemed exceptionally holy. All others are blemished with sin even till the point of death. As a result of this, one can not enter into the joy of Heaven until they have been purified. This purification is as by fire. Catholicism does not rely primarily on Scripture for this doctrine. It is a doctrine that stems from their own teaching which they refer to as Sacred Tradition. It is also a doctrine that comes from the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha is included in the Catholic bible but it is not found in the Protestant Bible. They can be used as history lessons but they were written by fallible men and are not to be included among the inspired Word of God. However, they have attempted to fit it to Scripture by referencing various passages. One passage in particular is from 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 3:15
If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

In essence, the doctrine of purgatory teaches that one is to live a good and holy life but that they will eventually end in a state of sin with the need to be purified by fire and cleansed from the stain. Before I get into the doctrine of purgatory as a whole, I’d like to touch on a few other areas. Those areas are penance and indulgences.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1480
Like all the sacraments, Penance is a liturgical action. The elements of the celebration are ordinarily these: a greeting and blessing from the priest, reading the word of God to illuminate the conscience and elicit contrition, and an exhortation to repentance; the confession, which acknowledges sins and makes them known to the priest; the imposition and acceptance of a penance; the priest's absolution; a prayer of thanksgiving and praise and dismissal with the blessing of the priest.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1468
The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God's grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship." Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament.

In other words, penance is a part of the process of reconciliation. We become reconciled to God through a string of actions on our part. We earn the grace of God by the works that we complete on this Earth. According to Catholicism, the proper way to be reconciled to God is by being greeted and blessed by a priest, reading Scripture in public, and confessing our sins to a priest. It is by this method that one can attempt to achieve a state of holiness so as to reduce the amount of time they have to spend in purgatory. After all, isn’t the goal to get to Heaven as soon as possible?

All of this ties into indulgences. While penance is the active process of sanctification and obtaining holiness and good graces of God, indulgences are the method of obtaining forgiveness for sins already committed. It is not actually a way of obtaining forgiveness of the sin itself but rather a method of spiritual stain removal. Penance is preventative whereas indulgences are corrective. Like penance, indulgences are meant to reduce the amount of time one has to spend in purgatory. This is done by drawing from what is knows as the Treasury of the Church. Just as the Roman Catholic faith is based upon works, these same works are stored in a heavenly storehouse where merit can be drawn from by members of the Church. However, all drawings of indulgences are given through the Church by its priests through official sacraments.

Now that we have an idea of what penance, indulgences, and purgatory are, let’s look at Scripture to see what the Word of God says.

Penance and indulgences are both a form of works based salvation. It denies the atonement of Christ and places it in the hands of the priests. Regarding penance, the Catholic Church tells us we can perform works to earn justification and be considered righteous.

Romans 4:3

Romans 5:9
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

Romans 5:1
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 4:5
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

Galatians 2:16
nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.

Scripture is very clear when it says we are not saved by our works nor is there anything we can do to justify ourselves. It is by faith alone through the blood of Christ. We are not justified by penance and indulgences. We are justified by his blood. The doctrine of penance and indulgences clearly detracts from the atonement provided in the blood of Christ. It removes the sufficiency of Christ and amounts it to nothing more than a fraction of plan of salvation.

I’ll have you know, John battled a type of people similar to this.

1 John 5:13
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

John was combating a particular type of crowd in his day. That crowd was the Gnostic movement. They taught a secret knowledge that was pertinent to salvation that only they could reveal. John speaks boldly and bluntly in his use of the word “know.” He wanted the readers to understand that there was no hidden knowledge regarding salvation. It was cut & dry. They could KNOW whether or not they were saved. They could be confident! The Roman Catholic Church functions in much the same way. They say outside of the Catholic Church, there is no preservation from error. They say outside the Catholic Church, one cannot be saved. Sure, this is not the spoken word taught today but it is to be understood so long as they affirm the declarations of the Council of Trent that we went over last week. They teach that they have a hidden knowledge that is preserved within their church (that they claim to be Christ’s only Church). It is only through the priests that this knowledge and revelation can be shared and experienced. It is modern Gnosticism in more ways than one.

Not only are indulgences unbiblical, they were also created as a money making scandal. In the early Church, indulgences were often sold to the people. The people would bring the priests money and the priests would then offer up indulgences on their behalf. These indulgences would often be purchased for the dead in a hope to speed up their time in purgatory so they could enjoy the joy of Heaven. Indulgences were sold in the form of time periods. There were basic indulgences sold during the Mass that would shave time off of purgatory for basic sins. Then there were more expensive indulgences offered by bishops. These would only be available to certain people in higher financial standing. Of course, if it meant getting to Heaven faster, isn’t it worth it to give some money? You can’t take it with you after all right? On top of all of that, the quality of the pardon varied based on the motives of the priests. If they didn’t have the proper attitude while performing the sacrament, the quality was reduced. Of course, they were collecting money from people so the sacrament was not considered null and void. It was just reduced in effectiveness. Some time would still be shaved off purgatory just for going through with the act. Because a man’s heart is only known by God, it made sense to keep going over and over just in case. On top of that, nobody knew how long a man would spend in purgatory. Again, it only made sense to keep paying for indulgences in hopes that you would free your dead loved ones from the fires of purgatory as well as avoid having to go there yourself. As long as you pay, you can enjoy the joys of Heaven in an expedient manner. So long as you perform works in the Church, purgatory will go by much faster than for others. However, if you really care about the others, you can help them out by paying some more. This is the grim reality of how it all started. Things may have changed over the years but the roots still remain.

All of this leads to the concept of purgatory and how it completely bashes the concept of grace and forgiveness in Christ. Since we already covered the basics of what purgatory is all about, I now want to go over the Scriptural response.

Romans 8:1
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:8
we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be bsent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

As Christians, we have no fear of going anywhere but Heaven. Paul had no fear of death. He knew the moment he left his body, he would be at home with the Lord experiencing the joy of Heaven.

John 19:30
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

The Greek word used here is teleo. Regarding monetary matters, the word was used to refer to a payment of debt. Christ was saying that all debt was considered paid in full. Through his blood, there is no more debt. Why is it that the Catholic Church teaches otherwise?

Hebrews 9:27
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,

This verse looks like it could almost be used to justify purgatory. Isn’t it saying there is judgment after death? Can’t it support the notion of God judging us to an intermediate place of purgatory to be cleansed of the stain of our sins? Most certainly not! That is what the blood of Christ perfected. Remember in the beginning when we went over 1 Corinthians 3:15 regarding fire?

1 Corinthians 3:15
If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Upon death, there will indeed be judgment from God. For the unsaved, this judgment will end in eternal death and suffering of Hell. For the saved, this judgment will result in eternal life with the Father. However, our works will be judged as well. They may not play a part in our timeline from death to Heaven but they most certainly affect our rewards in Heaven. Instead of attempting to find out the meaning of 1 Corinthians 3:15, the Roman Catholic Church invents a meaning in order to make it fit their pre-existing doctrine of purgatory. It is dangerous practice to invent doctrine and then make Scripture fit. If it is not explicitly in Scripture, it is to be excluded.

Again, Paul is not saying one must be purified in purgatory. He is relating the common method of purification to our reward. In those days, fire was the method of removing the dross. Dross is all the waste product of metals being purified in fire. Let’s look at the entire passage.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Notice it is not saying that a man must perform works or else be saved through the fires of purgatory. It is saying that we will have eternal reward in Heaven. One day the judgment of God will come to all. The atoning blood of Christ is the only thing that can save. This will be the first step. Among Christians, however, there is yet another judgment. This judgment will determine the eternal rewards in Heaven.

Matthew 6:20
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

1 Peter 1:7
so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Isaiah 64:6a
For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;

Outside of Christ, even our greatest works are as filthy rags. In the Hebrew, this literally meant the rags used to catch the bloody flow of a menstruating woman. However, when we have Christ as our foundation, those works take on a whole new meaning. They may not purify us, speed up entrance to Heaven, or work off past sins of others but they do indeed build up treasures in Heaven.

2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

In the day of judgment, all of our works will be burned up. The only ones to remain will be the eternal works in Christ. These works are described as being of even higher quality than gold. Gold will burn away but works in Christ will remain forever. Gold will burn away. How then can money be used to buy pardons? Notice the final statement though. It says, “If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” Yet, even this is not referring to fires of purgatory. As we already covered, we have complete justification and forgiveness of debt in the atoning blood of Christ. It is telling us that even a man with no works will be saved but it will be by the skin of his teeth. Imagine a man being surrounded by fire. The firefighter comes in, grabs the man, and makes a dash for the only exit. The firefighter wraps the man in his coat to avoid being burned and plunges into the flames toward the door. If not for the firefighter, this man would have died in the judgmental flames. In the same way, even if a man has saving faith but has only a few works in Christ to go along with it, he will be spared from the fires of judgment simply by being clothed in Christ. His eternal reward will be small but salvation in Christ was still accomplished.

Romans 5:1
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Romans 3:28
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

We are justified by faith alone. The Roman Catholic Church teaches we must work for justification, work for Heaven, and experience suffering by fire in order to reach Heaven.

John Murray
According to Romish theology, all past sins both as respects their eternal and temporal punishments are blotted out in baptism and also the eternal punishment of the future sins of the faithful. But for the temporal punishment of the post-baptismal sins the faithful must make satisfaction either in this life or in purgatory. In opposition to every such notion of human satisfaction Protestants rightly contend that the satisfaction of Christ is the only satisfaction for sin and is so perfect and final that it leaves no penal liability for any sin of the believer.

Christ said it himself. It is finished! Roman Catholic teaching does not believe this and, in turn, adds to the gospel.

Galatians 1:8-9
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

Anything added to the Gospel is a false gospel. Anything that adds to the finished work of Christ is a false gospel. A false gospel is to be condemned. As I said in the beginning:

John Calvin
A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.

And again, as John Murray so accurately puts it:

John Murray
This polemic against Romish blasphemy is just as necessary today as it was in the Reformation period. The atonement is a completed work, never repeated and unrepeatable.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

#27) Mission Field or Family?

Tonight, I want to bring something to the table that has confused many people over the years. It is a topic that has differing views. It is a topic that many people feel they know the basics of but fall short when asked for an explanation. The subject is whether Roman Catholicism should be considered a valid option. The subject is whether Romans Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ or if they are the mission field. I want to let it be known that nothing said tonight is meant to belittle anybody else as a person. It is simply meant to inform so that you will never again be without an appropriate response when presented the question this lesson is named after.

Ask congregation what their answer is to the question in the title.

Beginning in 1985, there was a movement. This movement was called Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). In 1994, there were many people of both Protestant and Catholic belief who signed an official document. The purpose of the ECT is to work together for the common good. Although they may have their differences, they believed they were following the same Christ. Instead of fighting each other, they desired to work for the common good and share Christ to others. On the surface, this seems like a great idea. If we all worship the same Christ, why not work together? It was a joint effort to stop treating each other like the mission field. However, this simply is not possible regardless what piece of paper is signed so long as each party holds their beliefs unwavering. There are simply too many irreconcilable differences.

To realize why it is impossible, a Protestant must only look at their own name. The key word is protest.

Ask congregation if they know what they are protesting.

The protest that was cause for the birth of Protestantism was the protest of the Catholic Church. There are some very clear things being protested among us Protestants. In fact, the Catholic Church had some very strong things to protest as well toward us. In the 1500’s, over the course of 18 years, a council took place to put together an official statement. This assembly was known as the Council of Trent. Protestantism was gaining popularity in the way it held dear to Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) and did not place Church Tradition on the same divine level. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, puts them on an equal level.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 82
. . .the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.

The Council of Trent had a purpose to put a stop to the Sola Scriptura Reformers. They declared 125 anathemas in this attempt. defines anathema as, “a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction.” In other words, the Catholic Church gave 125 different ways a Protestant can be eternally cut off and cursed by God. We are going to review a few of those ways tonight and then learn the truth.

Canon 9, Justification
If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

In other words, if you believe you are justified by faith alone and that there is no work we can possibly do to justify ourselves, you are eternally cursed and cut off from God.

Romans 3:20
because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:28
For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

Titus 3:5
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

The Law does not justify us. If anything, it does the exact opposite. It shows how there is nothing we can do to justify ourselves. It shows our total depravity and dependence on God. It gives us knowledge of sin. It shines light on sin so that we can see it for what it really is and how impossible it is to be justified apart from God or by anything else other than God.

Canon 23, Justification
If any one saith, that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the other hand, that he is able, during his whole life, to avoid all sins, even those that are venial,- except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard of the Blessed Virgin; let him be anathema.

Canon 23 says it is possible, indeed likely, to lose your salvation. If you say it is impossible to lose your salvation and that one who falls away from the faith was never truly saved to begin with, be eternally cursed by God.

1 John 2:19
They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

John 3:36
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

John 6:40
For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

John 10:28
and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Salvation is not something which is here today and gone tomorrow. It is eternal. What good is eternity if it is only temporary and always changing? The answer is that it isn’t. Thankfully, Scripture promises something quite different. It tells us that a man who has obtained salvation through faith will remain secure in his salvation. If he departs from his faith, it was to show that he never had faith to begin with for nobody can snatch us out of the Father’s hand and Christ will not lose a single one of his sheep.

Canon 24, Justification
If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

The Council of Trent declares that good works are not merely the fruit of a Christian but are actually a method of obtaining justification. If you believe the former and not the latter, you are eternally cursed by God.

Galatians 3:1-3
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Galatians 5:1
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Romans 8:30
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

If good works are more than just fruit and do indeed justify, why is it that Paul so clearly states otherwise? Paul tells us we are to not be subject to a yoke of slavery. By putting our faith and hope of justification in works, we are binding ourselves to them. We are hoping we will perform well enough so that we might one day be considered justified. Paul rebukes the Galatians for this. He calls them foolish to think something that was started by the Spirit could be made perfect by our own doing in the flesh. Justification is by Christ alone. Those whom He calls, He justifies. Our own works have nothing to do with it.

Canon 30, Justification
If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

In other words, if you believe the blood of Christ fully cleanses and does not leave some form of spot or blemish in which we must purify ourselves of in the fires of purgatory, you are anathema.

Colossians 2:13-14
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:10a
and in Him you have been made complete,

Colossians 1:13
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

1 John 2:1
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins;

We are forgiven of all of our transgressions. Christ canceled out all of our debt. He rescued us from the domain of darkness; from Hell. While we are not to sin, even if we do, we have an Advocate in Christ. That is in the current tense. We currently have an Advocate making intercession for us at all times. Every little thing that might be held against us is nailed to the cross. As a result, we are fully justified and are left spotless before the eyes of God.

Canon 3, The Sacrifice of the Mass
If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema.

To understand, the Catholic Mass would be similar to our communion. Another name for it is the Eucharist. In other words, if you do not believe that communion is a sacrifice of Jesus, you are condemned. If you do not believe that communion is profitable for the dead as well as the living, you are damned. If you do not believe that communion is a means of propitiation, you are cursed. If you believe communion to be merely symbolic and not the imparting of grace, you are eternally cut off from the Father. Here are some quotes from official Catholic teaching:

New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, Vol 2 Question 357
The mass is the sacrifice of the new law in which Christ, through the Ministry of the priest, offers himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine. The mass is the sacrifice of Christ offered in a sacramental manner...the reality is the same but the appearances differ.

Their catechism clearly teaches that the mass is a sacrifice of Christ. Now the question remains as to what they mean by sacrifice. Thankfully, they answer this question:

New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, Vol 2 Question 358
A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way to knowledge that he is the creator of all things.

Based on those 2 statements alone, we can clearly see the mass is the sacrifice of Christ, their victim, which a priest offers up to God countless times over and over again to purposefully destroy him on the altar. Unfortunately, there is more.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1369
The sacrifice of Christ the only Mediator, which in the Eucharist is offered through the priests' hands,

How is it that they can possibly be proud to claim something so vile and disgusting? The Roman Catholic Church attempts to use Scripture to back itself up but it fails miserably. They use verses such as Matthew 26 and Luke 22.

Matthew 26:26-28
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Luke 22:19
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

Instead of taking this as a command to perform communion on remembrance of the death of Christ, the Romans Catholic Church teaches that Christ was passing on a sacrament to the apostles and their succeeding priests and was giving them the power to transform the bread and wine into the literal flesh and blood of Christ. As we read, they do not teach that it is bread and wine but rather, literal flesh and blood that only appears to be bread and wine although the bread and wine is no more.

This is where the priest comes into play with his sacrifice. He goes to the altar where the bread and wine await him. He lifts it up to the sky in the action of raising it to God. He then brings it down and offers it to the people. According to their teaching, it is not bread and wine that he offers up but is literally Christ being sacrificed by the priest under the appearance of bread and wine.

The Catholic Church does not deny that Christ alone is our propitiation. However, with their teaching of the Mass, it allows them to claim propitiation in the act of the priest for it is Christ being sacrificed.

Hebrews 7:26-27
For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Hebrews 10:1
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.

Hebrews 10:10-12
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,

According to Scripture, Christ died once for all. There was no need for countless reoccurrence as was the habit of the priests. We are told the repetitious sacrifices are in vain as they can never take away sins. We are also told that Christ died once for all so who is it that the Catholic priests are sacrificing? It is bad enough that they claim to sacrifice Christ countless times over but it is even worse that they are lifting up someone other than Christ since we know Christ was only sacrificed once and that was by God. Once was sufficient. Once for all. Who are they lifting up in their worship because it is not our Lord. The whole concept of the Mass is an extremely anti-biblical, pagan, and dare I say, Satanic practice.

The Catholic Church will deny their claim that they re-sacrifice Christ over and over. They do this because the claim of repetitious sacrificing completely goes against the Scripture that says he was sacrificed once for all. They instead say that they are simply re-presenting the sacrifice of Christ. Despite these claims, this is not what they teach.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1068
For it is in the liturgy, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, that "the work of our redemption is accomplished”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1367
The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice

By their own admission, they go against Scripture. However, they will never claim error because they believe they are preserved from such. They can never be wrong in their doctrine or dogmas. They clearly teach a sacrifice of Christ and will never recant these teachings for to do so would crumble the whole system. If one thing is admitted to be wrong, how many countless other things are wrong as well? Again, if Christ is not being sacrificed over and over again (as per the Scriptures), who is it that they are lifting up week after week all over the world?

Canon 33, Justification
If any one saith, that, by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.

In other words, if you disagree with even one jot or tittle of the declarations and teachings of the Catholic priesthood, you are eternally cut off from the glory of Heaven, eternally cursed by God, and are destined for Hell. I must be in big trouble then because I denounce every single one of those and I have the Truth of Scripture to bring me confidence in these matters.

One may ask if the Catholic Church still holds to these teachings. Wouldn’t it be highly possible that they would have renounced these absurd teachings so many years after the Reformation? It is clear the whole purpose of them was to scare people from leaving the Roman Catholic Church during a time when so many were converting to Protestantism. Despite this, the Roman Catholic Church still clings to each and every one of the teachings of the Council of Trent. In fact, it was only about 50 years ago that Pope John XXIII affirmed them. To say otherwise is to go against the very core of Catholic teaching.

1 Timothy 3:15
but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.

Matthew 16:18
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

They teach that they are Christ’s one true church and that they are preserved from error. They claim the truth abides with them and that they will never teach doctrinal error because the gates of Hell will not overpower Christ’s Church. Because of this, nothing they declare as doctrine, dogma, anathema, or especially ex cathedra will ever be wrong. As a result, instead of preserving the truth, the have done nothing more than preserve error upon error under a system of works.
I only taught on a few of the decrees from the Council of Trent. According to the Roman Catholic teachings, a few other things that will get you booted to Hell include:

1) Rejecting the Apocrypha as being the inspired Word of God
2) Saying baptism is not a requirement for salvation
3) Claim infant baptism is wrong
4) Believe confirmation is just a ceremony and not a sacrament that imputes grace
5) Deny penance
6) Deny the priesthood
7) Deny the doctrine of purgatory

Where exactly does the grace of God ever come into play in all of these preposterous claims?

Pope Benedict XVI
The Mass is the sum and substance of our faith.

If the Mass is the substance of faith, the Catholic Church does not have saving faith. The Mass lifts up someone they call Christ but is not actually Jesus. It worships a counterfeit and makes sacrifice after sacrifice of this counterfeit Christ. Again, how can this be the substance of faith? It follows after a system of legalistic works that teach you can earn your salvation as if by merit so long as you follow their rituals and make payment on time. It teaches that there is some other way of justification and some other source of propitiation and then places it at the feet of the priest who lifts it up to a false god. No, the Catholic Church cannot be considered a valid alternative. It can not even be defined as a Christian denomination any more than Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witnesses can be. Their counterfeit Jesus is not an all sufficient Savior but merely a person who helps them to save themselves.

Just keep in mind that not all people in the Catholic Church fully affirm its teachings. Some people know the truth for what it is but do not see the harm in staying in the Catholic church they grew up in. Being in a local Catholic Church is not the same as being a follower of the Catholic teaching. If you know anybody in this predicament, I urge you to speak with them of the importance of leaving. While it may seem harmless, I hope the examples brought to you tonight can show how it is far from it. It is very dangerous and we need to understand why. It is the mission field through and through.

#26) Where Did He Go?

Tonight, we are going to take a break from 1 Corinthians to discuss a subject that has been cause for much controversy. We always say that God loved us so much that he gave His son to die on the cross but how many of us really stop to think about it? We all know Jesus died and rose again three days later but most people don’t really think about the time in between.

Ask congregation what where they believe Jesus went when he died.

Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.


The simple fact of the matter is that not only did God send His Son to die on the cross but He also sent His Son to Hell for three days. Now, I want to clarify when I say Hell. I am not referring to a place of torment that we know it as. In English, we are very limited in our wording as we covered in a previous lesson regarding our 1 word for love versus the 4 words in Greek. When I say Hell, I am actually referring to Hades, the Greek abode of the dead. As a whole, Hades did not refer to a place of suffering nor did it refer to a place of peace. It was simply the storage location, or abode, of the dead.

Despite having never sinned, Jesus was viewed as having the sin of the world on him. Obviously, he wouldn't be able to enter into Heaven while viewed in this state by the Father. The only other place for him to have gone during those three days was Hell. Imagine how happy Satan must've felt when he thought he had triumphed only to be proven wrong a few days later. Ever wonder what Jesus went through during those three days? If we really stop to think about it we can see that God loves us beyond our comprehension!

Some may ask why God would send His only begotten Son to Hell for even one day let alone three. I’m not one to guess why God set up the timeline the way He did but I am willing to bet the three days wasn't meant to "work off" any sin as if he were in some form of purgatory.

Hebrews 9:27-28
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

Jesus bore the sins of the entire world. He was condemned as guilty and unsanctified despite having committed no crime. Because of this, He died and went to Hell. God's timeline said three days later he would rise. I don't know why He picked 3 days but He did and that's that. Jesus' judgment was Hell just as any other’s would have been. God had His plan for Jesus to rise. After he had risen, he was no longer viewed as being filthy with sin. He had already died and received judgment. Now, Jesus was alive for the second time. It was an entirely new life. It was a life that would never again see the sting of death.

Hebrews 9:27
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,

As it is appointed unto man once to die. Jesus had defeated death, risen from the grave, and visited his disciples one last time before rejoining his Father in Heaven. I say rejoined because he was there since the beginning.

To understand why Jesus went to Hell, we must understand the reasons people go to Hell:

1) They do not trust in Christ as their savior. They do not believe that he was the Son of God that died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day.
2) They cannot enter Heaven blemished with sin.
3) They have not asked Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice for them and cover their sin as it happens.

A friend once attempted to prove this wrong by saying it was the blood of Christ that washes away our sins. In and of itself, this is correct theology. The point he was trying to make was that since Christ had already shed his blood, he no longer had a need to go to Hell because his blood covered it all while he was still on the cross. The same argument was used for the thief on the cross. The problem with this is that the new covenant wasn't established until Jesus had risen from the dead. The thief on the cross died under the old covenant as did anybody else that died within those three days. We can believe Jesus was who he said he was all we want but unless we also believe that he conquered death by rising from the grave on the 3rd day then one is not truly saved. That is a vital part to our salvation!

Jesus did not have to deny God or himself. The reasons I gave previously were all reasons why men go to Hell. Numbers one and three cover number two now that he is raised but since that had not happened yet, Jesus was still stuck with number two. Yes, he had already died but he had not yet risen. He died just as any other man under the old covenant. It was once he had risen that the new covenant began and he was brought up into Heaven.

Now that we have a Biblical understanding of what the requirements of entry into Heaven are, we can focus on the Biblical support for Jesus in Hell.

Ephesians 4:9-10
(Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

Matthew 12:40
for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Luke 16:22-24
“Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s Bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.’”

During the times of Jesus, it was a normal belief that Hades was located deep within the Earth. Hades was broken into two parts. There was a place of torment and a place where there was peace. Before the death and resurrection of Christ, the faithful went to a temporary holding place of peace. The unfaithful went to a place where there was torment and suffering. This temporary holding place was not purgatory. It was not meant to work off the sins of the flesh. We also know Heaven is a place of eternity and not merely temporary. This place was meant to act as a holding area for those Old Testament saints awaiting the death and resurrection of Christ so that they might gain access to Heaven. This place was known as Paradise, or Abraham’s Bosom. Those with faith were in Paradise and those without faith were in Gehenna.

Some have tried saying Matthew 12:40 was probably speaking of a cave or a tomb in which Jesus’ body was kept. This is not even remotely close to being accurate. The tomb of Jesus would have been more of a cave. The heart of the Earth is hardly a hole in a mountain. The word used for ”heart” is the Greek word kardia. It was used in the sense of being the center of the Earth and to say the entire Earth comes from it. Kardia is certainly not being used to speak of a tomb. It speaks of the center of the Earth. The kardia of the Earth is referencing Hades.

We all remember the story of the thief on the cross. Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” The thief went with Jesus, as well as all the rest of the Old Testament saints, to Hell. Yes, they went to Hell. No, they did not go to Gehenna. As Jesus told us, they went to Paradise; the non-torturous part of Hades, the abode of the dead.

What do we know as of now?

1) Jesus was in the grave for 3 days.
2) Jesus descended into the lower parts of the Earth.
3) Jesus was going to be in Paradise the day of his death.
4) Jesus was in the heart of the Earth for three days and three nights.

Based on this information, we can see Jesus spent three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth. Since this was the exact same amount of time his body was in the grave, we can conclude that if he were in Paradise on one of those days, Paradise would have to be in the heart of the Earth. The only way to Heaven is through the Son. It is not simply a belief in the Son that grants us access. It is belief in who the Son is as well as belief in what took place in the death and resurrection. Before this process was complete, man had no way into Heaven. It was not until the resurrection that Paradise was relocated into Heaven and all the saints from that day forth could share in the Glory of God in Heaven.

1 Peter 3:19-20a
In which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient,

What exactly did Jesus do during his three days in Hell? 1 Peter makes mention of Jesus proclaiming the Truth to the spirits in prison. These spirits were characterized as being disobedient. The Old Testament saints that went to Abraham's Bosom certainly were not disobedient. Their obedience & faithfulness was the thing that saved them. They just had to wait for Christ before they could enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Verse 19 also says the spirits were in prison. Prison is a place where you go as a result of wrongdoing. You break the law and you go to prison. The demons and disobedient people of the world both broke the law of God. As a result, they would have been imprisoned in Hell awaiting the final judgment of God when all of Hell is cast into the lake of fire.

2 Peter 2:4
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into Hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;

The fallen angels are in prison. The NASB uses the word "pits" but, if you look, the KJV uses the word "chains" in their translation. The Greek word for this was σειρά (seira). It literally meant a line, rope, or chain. The fallen angels, as well as disobedient people, are in chains in prison. While some translations use the word “saints” instead of “spirits” in 1 Peter 3:19, this is why I do not believe Jesus preached to the saints at all. I believe this is yet another area of mistranslation that only leads to poor doctrine and theology. I feel the NASB is spot on when it uses the word spirits.

Revelation 1:17-18
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

Jesus conquered death. Death no longer has any hold over a Christian. Sure, we will all die. The difference is that we will live in Heaven because we have been reconciled to God through Christ. Christ is the only way to Heaven. What of the people from the Old Testament? Did they go to Heaven? I would have to say no. They performed sacrifices but this was a continued action. Christ cannot be compared to an animal. He is called the Lamb of God but he was so much more than that. No mere animal could cleanse the way Christ did. I fully believe the Old Testament saints went to Paradise as a place of storage awaiting the death of Christ. Even more, I believe they stayed there until the resurrection. It was not until Jesus rose from the grave that he truly defeated death.

John 20:17
Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "

This has commonly been misinterpreted to mean Jesus had to remain pure and did not want anyone to touch him. The problem with that interpretation is that it is in direct contradiction with John 20:27 when Jesus told Thomas to touch his wounds. In truth, Jesus was telling Mary not to cling to him. He was telling her to not expect his presence to continue for much longer for he had not yet returned to the Father but would soon be doing so. This brings me to my point. Jesus rose on the third day. Up until this point, he had not yet returned to his Father. He had not rejoined God in Heaven yet. Well, where was he then? He was in Paradise during this time. After the third day, he rose from the dead, saw his apostles along with hundreds of others, and joined God in Heaven.

Looking back, we see a few things:

1) the kardia of the Earth is Hades and not a hole in a mountain.
2) Jesus preached to the spirits in prison.
3) the spirits in prison are the fallen angels and those who rejected God.
4) Jesus had not yet returned to the Father (John 20:17).

The very basis of the disbelief in Jesus going to Hell for 3 days is:

1) People do not want to believe Paradise was a section of Hades.
2) People refuse to believe Jesus (being God) could go to Hades.

There is no Biblical evidence stating that Jesus did not go to Hell. On the other hand, the Biblical evidence is stacked saying he did. Ask yourself these questions: If he had not yet returned to the Father, where was he those 3 days? What spirits in prison was he preaching to? Why would they speak of the center of the Earth?

If he was in a tomb that whole time, he would not have been able to preach to anyone. This is another sign that the kardia of the Earth is not speaking of the tomb of Jesus. Jesus was preaching to the spirits in prison. He was in the kardia of the Earth while doing it. He had not yet returned to the Father. That only leaves one place and it makes perfect sense Biblically.

The doctrine of Jesus in Hades is a very Biblical teaching and a very accurate teaching. I do not believe he went there to suffer in pain. I believe he went there as a result of the sin of the world being on him. It was the same reason any of the other Old Testament saints went there. They placed their faith in God but they still had sin on them. Jesus was spotless up until the point that he became the ultimate sacrifice and took the sin of the world upon himself. He then went to Paradise and rose three days later, defeating death.

#25) Gender Neutral?

Much has changed over the years. The cultural view of women has gone from lower class to upper class, lower quality to higher quality, feminine to feminist, etc. It is a subject that always seems to be changing depending on the times we are in. The same can be said for men. However, there is one constant that we can depend on. We can look to God’s Holy Word for the answers.

The Bible is not silent when it comes to the roles and responsibilities of men and women. Unfortunately, many Christians choose to skip over those parts in favor of what the world teaches. As Christians, we are called to be in the world but not of it. Instead of conforming our views to the world, we are to conform them to Christ. The only way to do this is by conforming our views to that of Scripture.

Ask congregation what they believe the roles of men and women to be.

1 Corinthians has a lot to say on the subject of men and women. In fact, it has so much to say on the matter that many in the church today, corrupted by the world, refuse to acknowledge it as truth. They teach that it is sexist and was only for a particular culture. They teach that to follow the same practice today would be to take 10 steps back in the progress we have made regarding women’s rights. The problem is that these people have no idea what Scripture really says. The bigger problem is that they are forsaking the truth in lieu of worldly wisdom and are threatening a design that God created. The simple truth of the matter can be found in 1 Corinthians 11:3.

1 Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

Paul apparently knew this was an issue that he had to carefully explain. We can see it in his wording of, “But I want you to understand…” We can see a sense of importance but we also see a sense of sensitivity. It was a touchy subject but it needed to be taught. As with back then, it is a touchy subject even today. Nobody wants to hear that because it sounds sexist. However, further examination shows a much different story. Instead of being sexist, it is actually an honor.

If we left it at saying man is the head of every woman, it would be incomplete. It goes on to say God is the head of Christ. If the Bible were putting down women, one would have to conclude it is putting down Christ as well. Christ was a wonderful leader but he was also the ultimate role model in submissiveness. He was submissive to the Father unto the point of death! Through his submissiveness, salvation is possible. Here, we see submissiveness being painted in an entirely different light from what the world describes.

Furthermore, it says Christ is the head of every man. God submits to nobody, man submits to Christ, and woman submits to man. All have a very important purpose in their submission. As we already covered, Christ submitted to the Father for the purpose of salvation and reconciliation. Tonight, we are going to get into the roles of man and woman regarding submissiveness and headship.

Christ was submissive to the Father yet men are to submit to him. This is because he holds absolute authority.

Ephesians 1:22-23
And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Matthew 28:18
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Not only does God have a plan as outlined in verse 3, we are also commanded to show a sign of our roles.

1 Corinthians 11:4-5
Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.

We see the basic concept here is that man is to remain uncovered while praying or prophesying yet women are to remain covered. At first, this can seem a little confusing. To fully understand it, we need to look at the bigger picture.

1 Corinthians 11:14-15
Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

We can clearly see women are being described as having a natural covering of their long hair whereas men are not. In the same way, this is the idea behind the symbol of a covering. Some form of head covering was to be used by women as a symbol of submission. While this is seen as ludicrous in America today, many places in the world still subscribe to this practice. When I went on a mission trip to Ukraine, this was a part of the briefing. The women out there wear a covering, often a cloth wrap, around their head. It is out of the ordinary when someone does not do this. The purpose of verses 4 to 5 telling men not to wear a head covering and women to have their head covered is another way of telling us not to cross over into the roles of the other gender. It is disgraceful for a man to take on the role of a woman and vice versa. The head covering is the woman’s outward symbol of submission within the church under God.

While it may not seem like a big deal to us, Paul makes it known to be a very big deal.

1 Corinthians 11:5-6
But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

To get the full effect, we need to understand what a woman with a shaved head meant. A woman with a shaved head was a sign of a prostitute. It was meant to be a public symbol of shame. Much the opposite, a head covering is meant to be a public symbol of honor and obedience. If a woman desires to not have her head covered in church, let her shave her head and look like a prostitute. If she does not want to look like a prostitute and be associated with prostitution, let her cover her head. It was as simple as that.

This leads us to question why only women had their head covered if both women and men are submissive to some higher authority. The answer to this one is also found in Scripture.

1 Corinthians 11:7-10
For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Simply put, man is made in the image of God whereas woman is made in the image of man. God is the Supreme Authority. He submits to no one. Men are made in the image of God. We submit to God but we do not wear a head covering. Our gender alone symbolizes our role. Man is proof of the glory of God and what He can create. However, women are made in the image and glory of man and what can be created from man. While it sounds sexist, it is still God’s plan and we know God is good in all ways. We see in verse 10 that it says a woman should have her head covered because of the angels.

Ask congregation what they think “because of the angels” means.

Angels are created beings meant to worship, submit to, and serve God. That is their whole purpose for existence. They are used by God in any way He chooses. However, in the beginning, a third of the angels decided to follow Lucifer. Lucifer desired to be God and he convinced many angels to follow him. This was the ultimate act of disobedience and refusal to submit to authority. As a result, Lucifer and the fallen angels were cast out of Heaven by God. This should be remembered by all. It should always be in the back of our mind to show the importance of submission. Because of the incident that took place in the beginning, always submit to the authority placed over you and do it gladly.

So far this entire lesson makes God out to be a male chauvinist. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12
However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.

It was important for Paul to teach on this as well. It is very easy to get carried away with the previous verses and take on a position of a master with his servants. This is not the design God created. While it is true that woman was made from man and is the glory of man, without woman, man would cease to exist. She has a very important role that God has blessed her with. Equality was important even back then.
John MacArthur has a great way of explaining the importance of headship and submission among men and women in the church.

John MacArthur, Commentary on 1 Corinthians
[Paul] makes no distinction between men and women as far as personal worth, abilities, intellect, or spirituality are concerned. Both as human beings and as Christians, women in general are completely equal to men spiritually. Some women obviously are even superior to some men in abilities, intellect, maturity, and spirituality. God established the principle of male authority and female subordination for the purpose of order and complementation, not on the basis of and innate superiority of males. An employee may be more intelligent and more skilled than his boss, but a company cannot be run without submission to proper authority, even if some of those in authority are not as capable as they ought to be.

Just because man is placed over woman in headship does not mean man is better. It just means that is the way God designed it and we are to follow it because it is His will. Unfortunately, many men and women fall short in this because of the world’s influence. Satan has crept into the Church in many ways and this is yet another one of them. If he can’t take something out of Scripture, he will try his hardest to get people to misinterpret it so that they will think it no longer applies and was strictly cultural. This is the belief of many female pastors today.

Ask congregation what they think of female pastors.

1 Corinthians 14:34
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.

Many have taken this to mean that women are not allowed to speak in church at all. Because of this, they either look down at women or take the passage to be invalid today. We must never take a single verse and attempt to interpret it on our own. We must always take Scripture as a whole. Let’s look at the entire passage in context.

1 Corinthians 14:31-35
For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

We can see it is not saying women are to remain silent in all forms. We can clearly see it is referring to prophecy. However, if you will remember, 1 Corinthians 11:5 tells a woman to have her head covered if she is going to prophesy. Why the apparent contradiction? It is because people fail to properly interpret what is being said.
First of all, if you will remember our recent lesson on spiritual gifts, you will recall that prophecy was not just telling the future but was actually a gift of proclaiming publicly the truth of God and was not limited to new revelation but was often the already existing Word. Women are not prohibited from speaking out and teaching the Word. If you look again, 11:5 does not mention the church. It is speaking in general. There is nothing to prohibit a woman from teaching. In fact, women are all over the Old and New Testament with teaching examples. Women are free to teach all women studies. They are free to teach children. They are free to minister alongside their husbands as Aquila and Priscilla did in Scripture. However, in accordance with chapter 14, a woman is never to be in that position when placed over men in a church environment. She is to subject herself to man. If she desires to speak forth in a church environment for the purpose of edifying the church and teaching the church, let her do it at home with her husband. The concept of female pastors, which is becoming more and more accepted, is a highly unbiblical concept.
Even the people of Corinth apparently thought it was a cultural thing Paul was teaching as he felt the need to squash this idea.

1 Corinthians 11:16
But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.

It was not just something that belonged to another region. It was not something that belonged to another time period. Paul says if anyone is inclined to be contentious, if anyone desires to argue his teaching as cultural, there is no other practice in all the churches of God. Every single church of God practices these things.

Obviously, the church in Corinth was a valid church of God. What Paul is saying is that anybody who claims to follow God should incorporate these practices into their local body as well. It was not a standard of man in a local church. It was a standard of God that He set forth for the Church as a whole to follow. We may not like it because of our culture but it is still the Word of God regardless and as stated in the beginning, it is not a sign of dishonor but rather, a symbol of honor.
This honor carries over into marriage as well.

Ephesians 5:22-24
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

This is another area that is horribly misinterpreted as well as avoided in today’s culture. Wives look at it and say nobody can tell them what to do or control them. Men look at it and think the have absolute control over their wives in all things. Both of these are erroneous. In fact, Paul clarifies this with a very strong stipulation.

Ephesians 5:25-30
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

Husbands are to love their wives just a Christ loved the Church. Christ loved the Church to the point of death. In a recent lesson, we covered the different types of love in the Greek language. The type of love portrayed here is agape love. It was totally selfless and sacrificial. This is the same type of love we are to have for our wives. We are given authority over our wives so that we may flourish; not have a servant. We are to love our wives just as we love ourselves. In fact, we are to love our wives greater than we love ourselves just as Christ loved the Church greater than himself.

Ephesians 5:33
Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

In many polls over the years, a simple question has been posed: “Would you rather feel loved or respected?” The majority of men say they would rather feel respected while the majority of women say they would rather feel loved. Typically, a man feels loved when he has genuine respect while a woman feels respected when she feels genuinely loved but it does not work the other way around for either party. These results are not surprising. In fact, they were not surprising even during the time that Paul was writing to the church of Ephesus. This is why it does not tell men to respect their wives and for wives to love their husbands. Women are to respect their husbands through submission in all areas. Husbands are to love their loves sacrificially and ensure she feels it and is taken care of. Through the love shown by the husband, the wife will have a desire to submit because she will know she is taken care of and that the authority is not being abused. The results of the poll are based on our emotional responses and needs. These are controlled by nature itself. It is only when our culture gets in the way that we reject nature to look for an alternative way. Unfortunately, these alternative ways will fail.

Galatians 3:27-28
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Again, in God’s eyes, man and woman are equal. There is nothing in His plan that makes one superior to the other. They are not independent of each other. There is simply a design of authority and submission that must be followed in the Church if we claim to be followers of His Word. Stop trying to find another way and look at Scripture for what it is in the proper light. God created an order and He saw that it was good. Who are we to say otherwise?

#24) From Death To Life

The other day, for Christmas, I spoke on the birth of Christ. We began 650 years prior when it was prophesied and continued on to his death. We learned that the whole reason Christ came to this Earth was to die so that we might live. While we covered the timeline of life to death, tonight we are going to cover death to life.

Matthew 27:50
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

Mark 15:37
And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.

Luke 23:46
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, "Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT." Having said this, He breathed His last.

John 19:30
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

We all know the basics of the story of Jesus. We hear of his birth every year at Christmas. We all know he was sinless and that he died for our sins. While I don’t plan on beating a dead horse tonight, I would like to get into a few more details that are often overlooked by your average Christmas and Easter churchgoer.

Ask congregation if they have ever stopped to ponder the crucifixion.

It was a brutal form of death. Nails were driven into your wrists and feet. You would be forced to support your body weight on either the nail in your feet or hang by the nails in your wrists. After a little while of hanging by the arms, cramps would begin to occur. The cramps would cause your chest muscles to go numb. It would be possible to breathe in but breathing out would be next to impossible. The cramps and flaming of the muscles would make it difficult to even use your legs to alleviate some of the breathing difficulties. The buildup of carbon dioxide would finally ease the cramps which would then make it possible to lift with your legs using nothing but the nail in your feet as leverage. While the pain was unbearable and it was a challenge just to breathe, this alone was not what would normally kill the person. After some time, a guard would come up and break the legs of the person hanging. This would extinguish his ability to press up with his legs so that he could breathe. While already dealing with muscles on fire and scourged flesh, he would now have to endure the pain of broken legs and the thought of knowing he would have no way to breathe. He would hang by his arms until the cramps came back. He would breathe in but not be able to breathe out. He would then die of asphyxiation.

John 19:31-33
Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.

While the thieves hanging on either side off Jesus both had their legs broken, Jesus was already dead. There was no need to break his legs to speed up the process. As we covered at the Christmas Eve service, this was a fulfillment of prophecy that no bones would be broken. However, we also see that Jesus apparently had enough energy to speak in a loud voice and speak his last important words. They were not mere whimpers or whispers. They were loud and bold so that everybody could hear. Why then did he die so much faster than the other two? Was he weak? Not at all! If anything, it is because he was stronger than anybody could ever be. While the thieves were at the mercy of the soldiers and the cross, Jesus was at the mercy of no one but himself.

Matthew 26:51-54
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?"

John 10:17-18
"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again This commandment I received from My Father."

Matthew 27:50
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

It was not the cross that killed Jesus. Jesus was only on the cross because he knew what had to be done. He could have called more than twelve legions of angels to put a stop to it. To get a better idea, a legion was roughly 6,000 soldiers. In other words, Jesus said he could have instantly called more than 72,000 angels to use at his disposal. However, that was not his purpose for being on this Earth. We know from Matthew 26:38 that he was deeply grieved and had the fear of the pain he was about to go through but this did not stop him. He had a mission and there was only one way to accomplish it; death by crucifixion. Again, we see Jesus telling his disciples that nobody could take his life from him. The Father had given him the authority to lay down his own life. Matthew 27:50 aligns with this perfectly as it says Jesus yielded up his spirit. He laid down his own life and yielded up his own spirit. He did not die before the others due to being weaker. Died before the others because he chose the time at which he would yield his spirit. He fulfilled the Scripture by going to the cross, fulfilled the Scripture by speaking his final words, and yielded up his spirit at a time of his choosing to finish the fulfillment of Scripture regarding his death.

John 11:43-44
When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Acts 24:21
other than for this one statement which I shouted out while standing among them, 'For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today.'"

Matthew 10:5a & 8a
These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them:…………"Heal the sick, raise the dead,

There were some during the apostolic age who rose the dead. They were given this authority by Christ himself. While being miraculous, the resurrection of Christ was very different.

John 10:17-18
"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."

All other resurrections were performed by someone else. Christ did not need someone else. He resurrected himself. So what exactly took place during the resurrection?

1 Corinthians 15:3-8
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

First, we see he appeared to quite a few people. At one point, he even appeared to 500 people at once. If over 500 people came up to you declaring they saw Metallica live at a concert, would you not believe that there was a Metallica concert? It only stands to reason that if so many people make a claim and testify to being eye witnesses to this claim, it probably happened. Why then did so many people disbelieve still?

1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

Even with all the eye witness accounts, many still refused to believe it and thought it was crazy talk. Paul, going with their reasoning, tells us that if this is true, we are all to be pitied as we have been teaching a false god and some had even died for this false god and were cut off for all of eternity. Thankfully, it does not end there. He continues in verse 20 with:

1 Corinthians 15:20
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

Paul says Christ is the first fruits. The first fruits of a harvest was a sample brought to the priest as an offering to the Lord. The farmer was not allowed to harvest the rest of his crops until after this offering had been made. In the same way, there was no resurrection until the first fruits had been brought forth. Christ was the first fruits. He alone made it possible to be raised unto eternal life with the Father. Many people teach of Christ. They say all you have to believe is that he was the son of God. The movie The Passion of the Christ portrayed the death of Jesus. Catholics wear a crucifix around their neck as a reminder of what he did for them on the cross. This is all fine and dandy but alone, it amounts to nothing. Without the resurrection, there is no salvation. This is why an empty cross is a more accurate symbol and is actually the one used by Protestants. As my old pastor used to say, a hole in the wall to represent an empty tomb would be the most accurate of all. Christ is no longer on the cross. He is no longer in the grave. As important as his death is, his resurrection is even more so.

Matthew 27:50-53
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

This is something I missed for the longest time. Although I had read Matthew countless times, I never really noticed it although it is a huge event. The dead came out of their graves and went into the holy city. Imagine seeing your dead relatives come up to you one evening to talk. You look around and see your neighbors are being visited by their dead relatives as well. It is absolutely amazing. I have no idea how I never really saw this in Scripture. How could I skip this part in my brain? While it may look like all this happened upon the death of Christ, we need to carefully look at the text. It speaks of the death of Christ, moves into people rising, and then goes back to speak about the death. This almost appears contradictory to the teaching of Christ being the first fruits. The thing to pay attention to is in verse 53. It says, “and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” Christ raised himself and appeared to many. In the meantime, there were others who had previously died and were now walking into the holy city. Talk about amazing! One other thing to notice is the fact that all who had previously been resurrected, died again at some point. They were brought back to life in an earthly sense but this was temporary. At some point, they would die again. They had surely been resurrected but not in the same sense as Christ. He was now in a glorified and eternal state that we will all one day see.

1 Corinthians 15:22 & 51-53
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive……Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

We can see there will be a literal changing of the body upon the resurrection. It calls our physical body perishable and mortal whereas our next body will be imperishable and immortal.

Philippians 3:21
who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

John 20:26
After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."

The doors being shut refers to them being locked. Jesus had just been crucified and the disciples feared they would be next. They were frightened and in hiding so they locked their doors. Nevertheless, Jesus appeared in their midst. There are some out there that teach our glorified body will be able to pass through walls since Jesus somehow appeared inside a locked house. I do not necessarily subscribe to this theory as it is not what the text says. It simply says he stood in their midst.

Luke 24:31
Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.

While I can’t confidently teach that Jesus could pass through walls, I can say he could do something even great. First, it alludes to the fact that he could hide his appearance and make himself appear differently to people. Second, it says he vanished from their sight. I think a better interpretation of his standing in their midst despite a locked door is that he just appeared. Just as he could vanish, he could reappear somewhere else. He did not have to pass through a wall. He just appeared where he wanted to be.

Philippians 3:21
who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

According to Philippians 3:21, we will all have this same glorified body upon our resurrection.

Not only do we have a physical resurrection and change to look forward to someday. We also have a spiritual resurrection. The difference is that one happens the moment you become a believer in Christ and receive the gift of saving faith while the other will take place at a later time.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Romans 6:4
Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Titus 3:5
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

Before Christ, we were spiritually dead. After Christ, we have a newness of life. We become regenerated and renewed. A band called Decyfer Down has a great chorus that speaks of dying to oneself and living in Christ.

Walking Dead by Decyfer Down
I am so alive, since you took my life
I'm walking dead now, only you remain
I take the life you gave, I walk from the grave
I'm walking dead now, I am not afraid!

It is not speaking of a physical death but rather a spiritual one. We must die to ourselves and be raised in Christ. This is the symbolism represented at baptism. We go under as if we are being laid in a grave upon death. We come up cleansed as if being resurrected in the new life of Christ. Baptism is a representation of what occurs at the moment of salvation. The day will come when we will experience this in the physical as well but it is only because Christ did it first to make it all possible.

1 Corinthians 15 closes out with encouragement:

1 Corinthians 15:57-58
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

We’ve already won and we have something great to look forward to so stand fast in all you do and trust in the Lord.

#23) A Reason To Celebrate

Christmas is a time of rejoicing. It is a time for family to be together. It is a time for opening gifts. It is a time for seeing others open gifts. It is a time for setting our diets to the side. It is a time to relax. While it has become all these things, it is really so much more.

Matthew 1:18-19
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

The birth of Jesus was not your average trip to the hospital. In fact, there was nothing normal in it at all. Even from the beginning, it was unique. It begins by telling us that Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary. In those days, marriages were arranged most times. The groom or his family paid a price to the bride’s family. This cost covered expenses of the wedding ceremony as well as other areas. The betrothal, or kiddushin, was actually enough to legally bind the bride and groom in marriage. Despite this, they did not have sexual relations for quite some time to come. In some cases, this could span the course of even a year. This would not normally occur until the marriage ceremony, or huppah, took place. They were already in the betrothed stage but had not yet come together in a sexual sense as is indicated in the text.

Despite this, we find that Mary was found to be with child. Joseph’s natural reaction was that he had been cheated on. There were a few options with him at this point.

Deuteronomy 22:23-24
If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

Old Testament Law, which they were under, states Joseph had every right to take Mary out in public and stone her to death. If her adulterer was ever to be found, he would join her in death by stoning. Should he not desire her death, he could have at the very least made her ashamed for the rest of her life by leading a life marked of adultery. However, notice that Joseph does not appear to harbor any anger or resentment. He did not desire to publicly shame her or have her stoned. He was not only a righteous man. He also loved her. This love is evident by the fact that he desired to put her away secretly. Remember, they were already legally married although the ceremony and the consummation had not yet taken place. The word used for “send her away” literally meant a secret divorce. He loved her enough that despite being “cheated” on, he desired her safety. He would divorce her secretly and buy her some time before the public realized what had happened. However, God had other plans.

Matthew 1:20-23
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

Joseph was afraid and rightly so. He assumed he had been cheated on as they had not had sexual relations yet she was pregnant. He was to have her stoned to death under the Law yet he still loved her and cared for her safety. He was about to lose his wife before the ceremony could even take place due to adultery. This, in turn, would embarrass him as well. God took all these fears and put him at ease. He sent an angel to Joseph to appear to him in a dream. This one spot in Scripture is a very important passage. He tells Joseph that Mary did not cheat on him and that the baby was actually conceived of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, being a righteous man, would have known Scripture very well. It was not simply casual reading for them. It was a way of life filled with study and memorization from childhood. The angel quoted Isaiah. The virgin birth was actually prophesied some 650 years prior. Furthermore, the name prophesied by Isaiah was Immanuel which means “God with us.” This name means more than they could have guessed. Not only is God with us but he literally came to be with us in the flesh.

Matthew 1:24-25
And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Imagine the relief that must have followed upon waking! Scripture does not say he deliberated in what to do. It says he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and he took Mary as his wife. The ceremony, or huppah, took place. At this point, he had every right to have sexual relations with his wife. Despite this, we are told they refrained from doing so. We are told he kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son. It is safe to say he did not refrain from natural marriage relations forever as the text says that it was only until she gave birth. Not to mention, Scripture gives the names of other children of Mary. However, Jesus was different. While Joseph was his legal father, his natural Father was of Heaven above. The baby’s name was Jesus and according to the angel, he was going to save His people from their sins.

No, Jesus was not just your ordinary pregnancy and birth. He was unique in every way. It had to be so in order to fulfill the prophecy declared all throughout the Old Testament. Jesus matched every single prophecy and not one was overlooked. This is because he is who the Bible claims him to be; God in the flesh sent not to condemn the world but to save it.

Psalm 22: 1, 7-8, 16, & 18
My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning…… All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, "Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."……. For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet……. They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.

Matthew 27:46
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"

Luke 23:35
And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One."

John 20:25 & 27
So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."……….. Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."

Matthew 27:35
And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.

Psalm 34:20
He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.

John 19:32
So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him;

Psalm 41:9
Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

John 13:18
I do not speak of all of you I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.'

While we are all on this Earth trying to live our lives, Jesus came to this Earth to die for our lives. This is the real reason for the season. Presents and family time are fun and can even be an important time of togetherness but we should never let it overshadow why it is we even have a season to celebrate. It is because of this one baby boy bon under the most peculiar of circumstances so that we might one day have eternal life through Him. I urge you all to ponder this thought as we prepare to celebrate the most important birthday party is all of history.