Nature of the Church


Continued from Page Two...

Karen,
I would like to thank you for taking the time to type all that out. I think your point for quoting 2 Peter is that it talks about prophets speaking from God through the holy spirit. I agree, Paul said we should desire the gift of prophecy. He also says we should test the prophets. How then, do we test the prophets? We do so by reading his word.
And, the bible alone (the old testement) was the basis for testing to see if what the new testament prophets were saying was true.
If you mean "Bible only" as in the ultimate source of Gods truth in we should "test all things" as 1 corinthians says I will have to dissagree with you.
Yes, God is not the God of confusion, that is a good point. Which will bring me to a good point, if I am to trust the catholic church for guidance, which pope should I have trusted to teach me the whole truth of God?
The apostles did not have power reconcile us to God. What they had was authority to declare us either forgiven or unforgiven. Jesus is the one who reconciles us to God. You used 2 Corinthians as an example, that is a perfect example of what I mean. He has given us the ministry if reconciliation, as if God were making his appeal through us. God uses us to tell the world of his(Jesus) reconciliation.
The bible never says that we need to confess to a priest. Only to God. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ."
I agree, God has saved us through Jesus death on the cross.
Maybe some "bible christians" say we are saved by faith alone, but I believe that we are saved by grace alone. I think if someone says they are saved by faith alone they are just trying to say they are not saved by works of the law. Only by having faith in Gods grace. But, that is a good point and I agree, we are saved by grace.
I also agree that God is the one who gives is the ability to do his will, and we should allow him to.
You said we can lose our salvation by doing evil, I don't think you realize how much we actually sin. The blood of Jesus covers us from all sin. If we are truly born again we will not continue to live a lifestyle commited to evil. That is what Paul is saying. You say that we have no assurance of salvation. 1 John 5:13 "I write you these things that you my know that you have eternal life" he said we can know that we have eternal life. If we live a life devoted to sin it would be very foolish to think that we have been saved, after all, we have been saved from sin. I, like you, hate to hear someone say they are saved when there is no evidence that God is even a part of their life.
But, for those whose faith is real, there is definitly assurance of salvation. If you want to forfiet heaven thats your business, or someone else's. I will not argue that you can't, but, I don't see how anyone who truly has it would ever want to give it up.
I would like to ask you a question. If the pope is fallible. And we all know men are all fallibe. How do we know whether what they are telling us is true or not?
Thanks, Adam


Adam,

I'd like to give an answer to some of the points you raise, if I may....

Which will bring me to a good point, if I am to trust the catholic church for guidance, which pope should I have trusted to teach me the whole truth of God?
That question kinda goes inline with what you asked at the end of your post...I would like to ask you a question. If the pope is fallible. And we all know men are all fallibe. How do we know whether what they are telling us is true or not?

First off, we do not put our trust in the person of the Pope, but rather the Divinely established "office" of the Pope. This is why we are only bound, in good conscience, to the official declarations of the Papal office. We cannot look at the Papacy in the same way we might look at the Presidency of the US Government. One particular Bishop of Rome cannot overturn, change, etc. the promulgation of another Pope, or anything already held as part of the Deposit of Faith - the teaching and revelation of God.

Particular Popes have been led, we profess and believe, by the Holy Spirit to further define certain doctrines professed throughout the history of the Christian Church. Therefore, one particular Pope does not teach the whole Truth, but, rather instructs and further defines certain Truths as understood to that point in human history. Additionally, we have seen particular Popes define, to the point of adding some doctrine to the official deposit of faith that must be held at a level relating to their salvation, something that has been less rigorously practiced by the whole Church throughout the history of the Church.

Now, relating to the infallibility of the Pope...we hold that he is infallible only in the official capacity of the office, which we profess to be divinely established and protected. The person of the Pope is certainly fallible, and succeptable to sin. In fact, I believe that Pope John Paul II receives the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation/Confession every week (or every two weeks). We can, though, speak of the Pope as infallible, and know that certain declarations are such by examining the Deposit of Faith to that point, and also by our profession of faith in Christ Jesus, Who, by His Spirit, guides the Pope, in such a way as to enable the Pope to profess these things without error. Again, this is only to be regarded as infallible when teaching in His official capacity as Pope. This protection by the Spirit is part of the very nature of the Church, which this thread has been created to discuss.

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What they had was authority to declare us either forgiven or unforgiven.....The bible never says that we need to confess to a priest.

Now, you admit in your first sentence that the Apostles were given the authority to declare us forgiven or unforgiven. This stems, of course, from the Gospel of John 20:23 "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Your next statement is puzzling in light of your first statement...as it certainly seems that Jesus is telling the Apostles that they can forgive or not forgive someone's particular sins. That is the power they are given. How were the Apostles to know which sins to forgive and which not to forgive, if people did not confess their sins to them. Additionally, here, it is not really the Apostles (or the priests) themselves who are doing the forgiving, in the sense that they have the power of themselves to forgive sins. Rather, God is giving them the authority and power to forgive sins. It is in this way that they act in God's behalf - and this authority is given by God, as we see.

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Maybe some "bible christians" say we are saved by faith alone, but I believe that we are saved by grace alone.

I agree whole heartedly with this statement, and it is good to bring this out. I think that we must hold that we are saved by faith, through grace; however not faith alone, meaning that we can remain devoid of all good works. The Catholic position neither says that we are saved by faith alone, nor by works alone. But, when we come to saying we are saved by grace alone....I believe the whole Church shouts out a jubilant "Amen!"

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1 John 5:13 "I write you these things that you my know that you have eternal life" he said we can know that we have eternal life.

I really believe the point that John was trying to make here was not that we have an eternal life that cannot be lost in this life...but, that we really do have the possibility of eternal life, which was won for us by our Lord's death and resurrection. All who profess belief in Christ Jesus truly know that they can have eternal life. That eternal life is a gift that is waiting for them to grasp, and accept....which would bring us back to the concept of grace, and our "keeping the commands", "believing in Him", etc.

It's my hope and prayer that these things are becoming a bit easier to understand, Adam, so that you may see, more clearly, the Catholic Church really is a biblical Church....and eventually come to see it a *the* Church of God.

God bless, Matt


I don't want to sound insulting Matt, but you are clearly changing the meaning of something very straight-forward, John said "that you may know that you HAVE eternal life", not that you "CAN HAVE" eternal life. I think that is the problem you are having. Instead of allowing the text to speak for itself, you are looking for something that more suits your way of thinking.
Respectfully, Adam


Let's look at 1 John 5:13

"These things I write to you, that you may know you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God."

The Greek word in 1 John 5:13 meaning "you may know" is eidete (a derivative of oida). This term does not necessarily imply an absolutely certain knowledge. The same is true in English and other languages. We use the verb "to know" in more than one way. For example, I could say I know I'm going to get an A on my Greek exam tomorrow. Does that mean I have an absolute certainty of this? No. In fact, I could get a B or worse. In this instance, the verb "I know" means I have confidence I'll get an A on my exam because I have studied the material thoroughly and I know it well. In other words, I have a moral certitude, as opposed to an absolute certitude.

The context of 1 John shows that this broader sense is how eidete is used in chapter 5, verse 13. In the very next verses (14-15), St. John says, "And we have this confidence in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us, and if He hears us we know (Greek: oidamen; a derivative of oida) that what we have asked him for is ours."

Do this mean you have absolute certainty you'll receive whatever you asks for when you makes specific requests of God in prayer.

Obviously, you can't have absolute certainty. Also, we must remember that God is our sovereign Lord, and we trust Him to answer our prayers in the way that is best for us. But sometimes (perhaps often) what we just know is best for us is not, in fact, what's really best for us. God often answers our prayers in a very different way from what we had asked for. So when St. John says, "If we ask anything according to His will He hears us, and if He hears us we know that what we have asked Him for is ours," He is making clear that our knowing is purely conditional on unforeseen factors, not some sort of absolute assurance that, "what we have asked Him for is ours.

1 John 3:21-22: "Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him." Here St. John speaks of our having "confidence" that we will receive what we pray for. Here again, this is not a confidence equivalent to an absolute assurance. Are you certain you are completely fulfilling the requirements of that verse. Could you have done or be doing things that do not please God? Christ warned that at the Last Judgment, many unrighteous people will be shocked to discover that conduct they thought was acceptable is not, in fact, acceptable to the Lord (Matt. 25:41-46).

As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5-8), but I'm also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9-10, 1 Cor. 3:12-15). I am redeemed, and like the Apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11-13)--but not with a false "absolute" assurance about my own ability to persevere (2 Cor. 13:5).


I wasn't arguing with "may know" but that "you have" he says we can realize that we "have" eternal life. Maybe we don't realize it. But, we can if we want. "I write this that you may know(although we might not) that you HAVE eternal life. I think the statement is very clear.


Adam ... you have missed the context of John's statement. Not to mention ignoring so much other scripture to the contrary.
First, look at the very next two verses ...

1 John 5:14 "And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him."

Using your same argument, everything we pray for we will get. That's not the context of what John is telling us. We have confidence ... but not absolute assurance.

In 1 John, St. John is speaking to Christians (ie. believers who had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior (cf. chapter 2:12-14), when he says, "If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing" (1 John 1:8-9). Notice that St. John includes himself in this category by using the word "we." What would happen if you did not confess your sins. What would happen if you confessed with your mouth but weren't truly repentant? Would God forgive you anyway? If you say yes, you contradicts the biblical passages that say unrepented sin will not be forgiven and nothing sinful or unclean can enter into heaven (cf. Hab. 1:13; Rev. 21:8- 9, 27).

St. John also says, "Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you remain in the Son and in the Father" (1 John 2:24). This if/then construction shows that there is an alternative to "remaining in the Son and the Father." That alternative, naturally, is not remaining in them. In other words, these Christians are being told that it's possible for them to choose not to remain in Him.

St. John makes a distinction between mortal and venial sins in 1 John 5:16-17. He explains that "all wrongdoing is sin," but that some types of sin are "mortal" (Greek: pros thanaton = unto death), while there are other sins that are "venial" (Greek: me pros thanaton = not unto death). The one who is born of God does not commit mortal sin. If he does, he is "cut off" from the body, as St. Paul describes in Romans 11:22-24 and Galatians 5:4; St. Peter also mentions this in 2 Peter 2:20-22. Christ provided the sacramental means by which a person who commits a grave sin and subsequently repents may be restored to fellowship with God and the Church (cf. John 20:21-23).


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