Sunday, June 5, 2011

Encountering God's Truth: A Church Built upon THE Rock (revised)

I am so blessed to have made new friends last week. I had a good discussion over at Facebook with some of them and I'd like to share it with you as well. One friend had a few questions raised and so I shared this Truth with them from the Word of God... 

May you find a blessing in here today as well. :)


I'd be glad to share what I learned from the Word of God with you regarding this matter, to at least make it more "sensible" for you. Please bear with the length of my reply on this. :)

But before I do share what I have (also) learned, may I request that you ask yourself this one question: "What do I want to have more authority in my life right now? The "Word of God" which I profess to pledge allegiance to, or the words of men whom I believe to be founding fathers of the faith?" This question is the grass root level of all questions we could ever ask ourselves. I faced this question myself before, too, so don't think that I am aiming any ammunition at you right now. I'm just sharing what I had been given as well. :)

Now, you must agree that our belief system and the faith we have on something or someone comes solely from the culture we were brought up in. If we had been born into a family in China, we must have also followed the ways of Buddhism; or a family in Saudi Arabia and must have been brought up in the practices of Islam. This faith and belief system we currently follow was inculcated to us throughout the years by family and community. It will be the "Truth" for us because that is what we had perceived from since we were able to understand. I'd like to say that we were more blessed to be brought up in Catholicism because at least we were introduced the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--the God of the Bible.

Okay. If we are to consider the last point, we have to believe that the Bible is authoritative over any other books in the history of mankind. Many other faith systems have their "Holy Books," too, but why pledge allegiance to this particular book called the BIBLE? Because no other book of faith has EVER been written the way it has been. The Bible we have today is a compilation of books penned by more than 40 authors over a period of 1500 years! These various authors interestingly come from various backgrounds and locations. For example: Moses, a prince of Egypt; Isaiah, a prophet of ancient Israel; David, a king; Luke, a physician; Matthew, a tax collector; Peter, a middle-class fisherman; Paul, a pharisee. Despite the various backgrounds and locations of the authors of the books compiled as the Bible and the amazing span of time between their writings, the message is STRONGLY unified all throughout the book.

The only reason why these books have a unified message is the reality that the various writers were "inspired" by just One author--the God of the universe, the Creator of all, the Almighty. This book is in reality the Creator's communication to His created being--man. The Bible has parts that are historical (mainly the OT), poetic (Psalms) and doctrinal (NT).

Now, when we profess to believe in the Bible as THE "Word of God," we now come to know of the BEGINNING and the END. :) For the Bible said, "In the BEGINNING, GOD created ..." The Almighty God created the world for this purpose: that His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, can be clearly seen, being understood through what has been made. (see Romans 1:20) God created everything for HIS glory.

Everything was good when He first created the world (Genesis 1:31). But the Bible tells us that sin entered the world through the disobedience of man. Human kind was supposed to be living in fellowship with God for eternity (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). BUT when sin entered, death entered as well because of sin. (Romans 5:12) Instead of living for all eternity, mankind now has an end and the Bible tells us that after this we face judgment. (see Hebrews 9:27)

And yet, we see the Almighty God working to SAVE His people from this death and sin. For from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation we see God's plan for man's salvation enfold. We are very familiar with John 3:16 that says, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in HIM shall not perish but have eternal life." This was God's plan of salvation. Humankind cannot save itself from the bondage of sin and death. No matter what we do to try to be good before the HOLY God, our good works will never suffice to what HE required to appease His anger toward sin. In fact, the Bible describes our good works as "FILTHY RAGS" before the Holy God. No matter what GOOD a person attempts to do and maintain in this lifetime, it will always come short of the glory of God because all have sinned since the fall of Adam. (Romans 3:23)

Jesus, the Son of God, had to be born of a virgin in order to meet the requirements of saving the human race. He was born of a virgin, Mary, undefiled by the seed of man, thus conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary, being the mother, brings forth the flesh of her flesh making Jesus fully man, as well as fully God. The reason for God to send Jesus this way was because He needed to be like man in order to take our place when He pleads our case to the Father. Human wisdom cannot fathom God's wisdom for doing so, but it is by FAITH that we believe in this.

Jesus and the NT (New Testament) writers left us with the things we needed to know in order to understand God's plan of salvation. They all spoke about Christ Jesus's work on the cross and the power it bestows upon those who believe in it. Romans 10:9 shows us that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus IS Lord, and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, then we will be saved. Saved from what? Saved from the wrath of God against sin--against sinners (Psalm 7:11)). No-one is exempted from this wrath for the Bible tells us that there is none righteous, not even one.

Now, when the Bible talks about the "CHURCH," we find the apostle Paul explaining this clearly in the book of Romans that those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who are saved, form one body--the church. (Romans 12:5) We would understand as we read in Paul's letter to the Colossians that BELIEVERS of Jesus are the CHURCH and CHRIST is the HEAD of the CHURCH. (Colossians 1:18)

It is very important at this point that we acknowledge that the original text for the BIble isn't English. They are either Hebrew (mostly for the OT) and Greek (NT). When Jesus talked to Peter in Matthew 16 and told Him that he is "Peter," the original Greek word was Πέτρος (petros) which means "a detached STONE." This was a totally different word from what Jesus said next that He will build His CHURCH upon this "Rock." He used in the original Greek πέτρᾳ (petra), which means a solid MASSIVE ROCK or BOULDER rising up through the earth.

It would be tempting to believe that Peter is a rock upon which Jesus built His church if we stick to this verse, but the Bible had provided us with verses that help clarify these doctrines to us. It is AMAZING how the apostle PETER himself clarified this to us in his epistle. In 1 Peter 2:5 he clearly explained that those who believe in Christ Jesus become living STONES! If we read the entire chapter we can see that all this talk about "stones" and "rocks" were to give a picture to us about how the church is built. JESUS is the foundation--the Cornerstone, the ROCK upon which the church is built. Then individuals who come to believe in the LORD JESUS become living stones that form the "CHURCH."

It is only dangerous for anyone to continue believing that the "church" is built upon Peter--a man. We will be in trouble in the end because Peter himself was corrected by Paul at some point for being a hypocrite (see Galatians 2). Peter is only a mere man like any of us and if indeed the church was built upon him, then we find no hope in this life since Peter also made many mistakes.

It is not upon MAN that the church is built but upon the foundation of JESUS CHRIST alone. :)

As to the question of worshipping the "CREATED," I was pertaining to Mary. She was like any other individual who was created by God and had sin and needed salvation. It is an eye-opener to realize that Mary herself acknowledged this in Luke 1:47 when she said she rejoiced in God her SAVIOR. If she didn't have any sin then she wouldn't have needed a Savior.

I used to believe in all the doctrines of Mariology, but the Word of God is always clear to refute all of it. It was never easy for me, too, and was quite offensive because it presented a Truth that was in contradiction to the truth that I perceived and believed in for so long. But it only takes a step of FAITH to believe in the WORD of GOD, in JESUS CHRIST and Him crucified and in Him who is THE Truth.

This is why Jesus always offered the invitation to "Follow" Him, because we all are taking the same road to destruction since we were born. CHRIST offers THE Way to life as HE is life. There is no-one else who can save.

I pray that these Truths may shed light to your faith journey as they did to mine a few years ago. And I continue to pray that you will not be afraid to embrace God's Truth as you encounter them, for Jesus's words and HIS TRUTH will always prevail as it had been since the beginning of time and as it always will be until the end of time.



  1. Hi Cookie,

    Thanks for all your posts.

    I have been reading a lot now about my Catholic faith, which I am ready to share with all your readers as well. I am actually behind with my school assignments because you inspired me to read CATHOLIC apologetics instead.

    I have noticed that you try to undercut some passages to conform with your arguments.

    For example, you cited Romans 3:23 on good works as "filthy rags" before the Holy God, but you failed to cite first the passage before this in Romans 2:2-10, to wit:

    "And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:"

    On Peter:

    I am, as a Catholic aligned with your present belief that Jesus is the head of the Church and not Peter or the Pope as you try to imply. That is what I learned in my Catholic catechism when I was in my elementary grade. I don't know why you missed that Catholic teaching when you were still a practising Catholic.

    On Mariology or Marian Doctrine: Luke 1:47 cited:

    Chacon and Burnham (2004) have this to say:

    "Mary was saved by the merits of Christ, just as we are. The difference between Mary and other Christians is that her salvation from sin was more perfect. While we are FREED from original sin at our baptism, Mary was PRESERVED from original sin at her conception. But Jesus is the savior in both cases."

    Do you know that the three Reformists, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli each affirmed the Catholic Marian doctrine?

    Chacon and Burnham (2004) quoted the three on page 20 of their book Beginning Apologetics 1: How to Defend and Explain the Catholic Faith. To wit:

    Martin Luther: "In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such good things were given her that no one can grasp them....Not only was Mary the mother of Him who is born (in Betlehem), but of Him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God." (from The works of Luther, vol.7, 572)

    John Calvin: "It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of His Son, granted her the highest honor...Elizabeth calls Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God. (from Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, vol.45, 348,35.)

    Ulrich Zwingli: " It was given to her what belongs to no creature, that in the flesh she should bring forth the son of God. (from Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, vol.6, I,639.)

    If these fathers of the Reformation movement accepted Marialogy, then why do you reject it now?

    -to be continued-

  2. -continuation-

    On "Word of God" means only the "Bible"

    It is evident that you only refer to the Scripture as the Word of God. This is what separates me-the Catholic, and you-the Protestant(former Catholic).

    God reveals Himself through Public revelation which comes in two forms:

    1. Sacred Scripture
    2. Sacred Tradition

    Notice that the letter T in Tradition is capital letter. It is not the same as the tradition (salin lahi o mga praktises) that we normally say in the Philippines. (Yes, I am a 39 year old Filipino). Sacred Tradition is the "handing over".

    You mentioned Moses, a prince of Egypt; Isaiah, a prophet of ancient Israel; David, a king; Luke, a physician; Matthew, a tax collector; Peter, a middle-class fisherman; Paul, a pharisee. Without them, do we have right now the Sacred Scriptures? They simply "handed over" to us what had been inspired to them by the Holy Spirit.

    In John 1:1- "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (NAB)

    "The passage refers to the Incarnate Christ, not the Scripture." (Madrid, 1997)

    In 1 Thesalonians 2:13 - "For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you HEARD from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe." (NASB) (emphasis mine).

    Madrid (1997) points that this passage is about oral Tradition. Madrid continues to say that Paul doesn't enjoin them to go solely by what is written in Scripture, but reminds them to adhere to the oral teachings he had handed on to them. (p.57-58)

    Finally, it is very pleasing to know you still acknowledges Catholicism and its contribution to you as a Christian. To wit:

    "I'd like to say that we were more blessed to be brought up in Catholicism because at least we have come to faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--the God of the Bible."

    End of story.

    God bless.

  3. Hi Franklin!
    Whew! I have to admit, after all these comments we have for each other I would probably gain a Certificate in Biblical Apologetics already! (hehe)

    Anyway, I know you wrote all these comments at one time and sent all of them at one time without a single response on my part to clarify to you that I am not a Protestant as you have been trying to rub in all this time. :)

    Thank you for mentioning about the Reformers... so they did indeed still believe at some point about Catholic doctrines like Mariology and all that (sorry, I haven't really followed their lives and works, so I'm not well-versed as to what they are exactly.) But then again, I do not stand with those whose view of the gospel is mixed with false doctrine. I stand in the WORD OF GOD alone which is the only infallible source of Truth, the absolute Truth any human being can desire to find in this lifetime. "Sanctify them in thy Truth, THY WORD IS TRUTH." (John 17:17)

    That is why they are "protestants" because there are SOME things they wanted changed within their Catholic practice. They were just trying to reform an already crooked system when they started encountering God's Truth in HIS WORD.

    Now, I'd like to thank you for pointing that last sentence out to me, too, because I had to edit it now that I realized it didn't speak exactly what I wanted to say. Anyway, I was meaning to say I honestly consider it a blessing to be introduced to the God of the Bible and not to a far-off deity like Semerimus or Krishna or Buddha. It at least gave me the head start to acknowledging the Truth in God's Word for knowing and acknowledging that there is this God of the Bible.

    My friend, allow me to say this with all honesty and love in my heart for you. If you are to grow in your walk in Faith, please study and read the Bible instead of any other book of commentaries or apologetics out there. Don't take it from me, nor from other distinguished writer, speaker, evangelist, apologist, and the like. That is exactly why even the apostle Paul himself tells us to CHECK HIS TEACHINGS AGAINST SCRIPTURE because anyone who comes to preach and teach a gospel other than the gospel taught by Christ JESUS, then it is plainly false gospel that would lead us astray.

  4. I respect you argument about "Oral Tradition" and "Sacred Scripture" but may I share with you what I have learned from God's Word? The apostle Paul had a drastic (and I mean radically drastic) change of course in life when he encountered Christ Jesus on the way to Damascus. He walked away from all the traditions he was brought up with and had mastered, just because he received the GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST. When Paul wrote the NT letters, they were all addressed to believers in Christ Jesus AFTER he had been born again in Christ. Now, the apostle focused on spreading the gospel to Greek believers and non-Jews in the end and whenever he talks about "holding on to the teachings (whether written or oral)" he has given over to the believers, it simply means the Truth that he echoes from Christ Jesus (and not the "Scriptures" of Jewish teachings concerning good works). It will be foolishness to say, read and acknowledge his letters to contain the Truth of God and then believe he taught something contradictory otherwise ORALLY. The apostle Paul was zealous about JESUS CHRIST and HIM ALONE. He was zealous about the salvation we can find in HIM ALONE and by FAITH ALONE...

    We can play with all the verses and argue about everything that the Catholic Church is teaching and what I believe is the Truth in God's Word and yet still not reach a point of agreement in the end. There is ONLY ONE TRUTH that we ought to check every single doctrine, belief, tradition, oral teachings, handed-down practices and the like against--the Word of God (Scriptures: both OT & NT; the BIBLE; the words and teachings of JESUS CHRIST). The Word of God stands forever... whether we point it out as Scripture in the OT or His Word in the NT... He is the beginning and the end, the absolute end of everything, the first and the last... If there was anything we ought to use to back up anything we put our lives into, it should only be the Word of God who was with God, who was God, who became flesh and dwelt among us and who was the word of God whom anyone who believes receive... ;)

    "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18)

    Take care now. Be blessed! Encounter God's Truth in HIS WORD always...



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