In Part One I began to discuss the compromise of more and more supposedly Reformed Protestant evangelicals within the Body of Christ today regarding the long apostate Church of Rome. Apparently a post I placed on Slice of Laodicea struck a nerve and ended up even finding its way to Tim Challies. A reader of his blog took exception to it and made Challies aware of my post of a quote by Robert M’Cheyene. This prompted him led to write The Beast Of Revelation where he did an excellent job showing from writings of great men of God through the centuries just how far the Church has fallen today. The very fact that there were enough negative responses that Challies felt he needed to write the follow up article My Beastly Article is further proof of my thesis that due in large part to contemplative spirituality Rome’s daughter, The Ecumenical Church of Deceit (ECoD) of the new evangelicalism has virtually reversed the Reformation itself.

The Mush God Of The New Reformation

In pointing out that those with eyes to see know that the American Christian Church does not have near the power she should have. So to religious icons like Billy Graham, as well as so many other current evangelical “superstars” who are now denying the Reformation along with him, I pose this question again: Was it God Who changed? And based on the message of George Whitefield, the powerful preacher of the First Great Awakening, whom I quoted previously it is obvious that instead Protestants have simply have lost the courage to tell people the truth? I cover this misplaced fear a little further in A Little Something For Emerging Hypocrites, but we are doing people a horrible–and eternal–disservice when we don’t tell people the absolute Truth of God’s Word in the Bible. The issue that now faces our Lord’s Church is this: Was the Protestant Reformation brought about by God the Holy Spirit, or was it instead caused by divisive men who tore apart the unity of the Body of Christ.

While the Reformation was brought about by the Church of Rome selling indulgences that offered time off in purgatory for a donation to the cause as it were, it truly centered around the very heart of the Gospel itself, the doctrine of justification. It would seem to me that our Lord has begun a time such as 1 Peter 4:17 – For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And it is my view that one of the issues the Master wants His Body to get back to is is a proper understanding of the cardinal doctrine of justification, which we might refer to as part A of salvation. The absolute truth is, when God alone makes the decision that a person truly has placed his faith in Christ alone–then He alone–declares that person as righteous because of what Christ has already done. As we move along here at Apprising Ministries you will see this from the Bible for yourselves because God the Holy Spirit has quite plainly revealed it in Holy Scripture.

That’s why in these two articles I find I must ask again what has changed regarding Roman Catholicism? You may recall that I pointed out where George Whitefield said: “Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general or the propensity of his own heart in particular must acknowledge that self-righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart.” And as stated before, to see this clearly all one needs to do is to lay down his pride in self. For those who have read my article The Falling Away of the Evangelical Church you’ll already know why I write so strongly against the man-centered-on-self psycho-babble espoused by Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller, the Devil’s Twin Towers of sappy sentimentality. Through relentless teaching about an inflated value of mankind and what their “mush god” of unconditional love will do for men we have lost the majestic and holy Yahweh Elohim Shaddai–the LORD God Almighty. Just as prophesied in his book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation we truly do now have an evangelical theology that is man-centered instead of God-centered.

The Return Of Confusion Surrounding Justification

For our purposes right now though let’s get back to the issue of the cardinal doctrine of justification which, as I said, we might refer to as part A of salvation. But what forever separates true Christians from the apostate Church of Rome is that Roman Catholic theology then twists part A – justification – together with part B of salvation which is sanctification. Roman Catholicism goes on to teach that man then cooperates with God’s grace and actually becomes righteous through the works he will go on to do. This is precisely what the Church of Rome teaches, although they are nice enough to at least patronize God, and to say that “this ‘process’ is with His help” of course. So that’s why in Section 1992 of the Catechism Of The Catholic Church it says – “Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy” (emphasis added). So in fairness, the Roman Catholic Church does say they acknowledge that God has to at least help us to become more righteous. “Well; isn’t that special?”

Can you see how crafty the Devil is? Why, this all sounds so holy and very pious, but it is dead wrong because it actually takes away from God’s grace and away from what Christ did. However, in the Book of Romans it is written:

For when we were yet without strength – [the Greek means “powerless”] – in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, – [His once or all sacrifice] – we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life – [the merit of Christ, and not our own] – And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received – [past tense] – the atonement.(Romans 5:6-11)

Men and women, this is precisely what we are talking about! We are talking what God did–what Christ did–and not what man does. The Bible is teaching here in Romans 5:6 that mankind actually considered the Lord our enemy and we deserve nothing short of death for rejecting our wonderful Creator. So, how great is He! God loved us anyway, and in His grace–His unmerited favor–our loving Lord decided to offer us an underserved way to be saved from ourselves! The Apostle Peter further confirms this as he tells us under the direct inspiration of God the Holy Spirit – For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for – [all those who are making themselves inwardly just. “Oh, but it is with God’s assistance though.” Absolutely not!] – For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

Protecting The Glory Due Christ Alone

The true Christian who loves Jesus can never compromise this incredible fact, nor will he ever allow anything to take away from his Lord’s incredible and wonderful sacrifice. And this is the example we see in Paul and Barnabus with the Judaizers in Acts 15:1-2. When these faithful Christians heard that some false teachers had begun adding things to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ they did something about it. You see they already knew, what the evangelical community has apparently forgotten, that anything you add to Christ’s work on the cross will immediate subtracts from the glory that is His alone. So these Christians went out and confronted this false teaching as they defended their Lord’s honor. Men and women, if you truly do love God, then this issue is going to bother you a great deal once you find out about it.

For this a major point that we should attack in the corrupt teachings of Roman Catholicism in our own effort to help people see through the man-made façade of the Church of Rome. It’s very important for you to remember that basically our goal for Jesus while still here on this planet is to be willing to make a firm stand for Him. And in particular, in the times in which we now live we will need to make a firm stand for our Lord against Roman Catholicism’s false system of religion. Perhaps you sense your local church is among the Christian fellowships that God is asking to draw attention back to the original Protestant Reformation. And you may rest assured, to do so you are not doing anything “new,” nor will you be out on our own at all. No my brothers and sisters, in fact, it’s actually quite the contrary.

First of all as far back as 1958, evangelical Protestant scholar, Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) founder of the Christian Research Institute, had been writing and speaking about the subject of Roman Catholicism. And here is what Dr. Martin who also happened to be a recognized expert in the field of Comparative Religion had to say about the tradition surrounding the Church of Rome:

Let us learn what history has to say. Before the year 590 AD, with the ascension of Gregory the First, there was no centralized Roman authority. It was not until the tenth century, when the eastern and western churches split, that there was anything known as the Roman Catholic Church–tenth century of the Christian Era–a thousand years after the fact. (Roman Catholicism: Part 2 of 3, Walter Martin’s Religious InfoNet, cassette tape #4011, Side 1)

The True Testimony From History

These are the facts. Prior to that time there just wasn’t any primacy of the Roman Bishop. He was treated the same as any of the other prominent Bishops within the various early Councils of the ancient katholikos or “universal” Church, and this long before there even was a “Roman” Catholic Church. Consider this from William Webster in The Matthew 16 Controversy:

What was the attitude of the Ecumenical Councils towards the bishops of Rome? If Roman Catholic teaching is correct and [really] has been accepted throughout the history of the Church as orthodox, then the popes should have always exercised supreme authority over the Church and all Church Councils. We should find this historically acknowledged by the Councils both in teaching and proceedings. But the facts reveal a different story.

The Ecumenical Councils never viewed the position of the bishop of Rome as one of supreme authority over the Church. The Councils, in fact, always operated independently of Rome and with authority derived, in their view, directly from the Holy Spirit, and not in any sense dependent on Roman approval. Contrary to seeing themselves under the authority of the Roman see, the Councils viewed the popes as subject to the authority of the Council itself,… (161,162, emphasis added).

We only have space for one example here. Webster discusses the famous Council of Nicea which was “convoked by the emperor Constantine in 325 A.D. Canon 6 of this Council demonstrates that the Church of Rome had a very limited jurisdiction which was not universal” (163). And then in eminent church historian Philip Schaff’s classic History Of The Christian Church we find out that canon 6 itself states:

The ancient custom, which has obtained in Egypt, Libya, and the Pentapolis, shall continue in force, viz.: that the bishop of Alexandria have rule over all these [provinces], since this also is customary with the bishop of Rome [that is, not in Egypt, but with reference to his own diocese]. Likewise also at Antioch and in the other eparchies, the churches shall retain their prerogatives. Now, it is perfectly clear, that, if any one has been made bishop without the consent of the metropolitan, the great council does not allow him to be bishop (Vol. 3, 275).

Schaff then goes on to tell us:

The Nicene fathers passed this canon not as introducing anything new, but merely as confirming an existing relation on the basis of church tradition; and that, with special reference to Alexandria, on account of the troubles existing there. Rome was named only for illustration; and Antioch and all the other eparchies or provinces were secured their admitted rights.506 The bishop-rics of Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch were placed substantially on equal footing, yet in such tone, that Antioch, as the third capital of the Roman empire, already stands as a stepping stone to the ordinary metropolitans.

By the “other eparchies” of the canon are to be understood either all provinces, and therefore all metropolitan districts, or more probably, as in the second canon of the first council of Constantinople, only the three eparchates of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Ephesus, and Asia Minor, and Heraclea in Thrace, which, after Constantine’s division of the East, possessed similar prerogatives, but were subsequently overshadowed and absorbed by Constantinople.

In any case, however, this addition proves that at that time the rights and dignity of the patriarchs were not yet strictly distinguished from those of the other metropolitans. The bishops of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch here appear in relation to the other bishops simply as primi inter pares or as metropolitans of the first rank, in whom the highest political eminence was joined with the highest ecclesiastical” (275,276, emphasis added).

The Bishop Of Rome Was Not Supreme

Dr. James White, Director of Alpha & Omega Ministries, and a leading Christian apologist against Roman Catholicism, brings out an extremely important point here when he says:

This canon is significant because it demonstrates that at this time there was no concept of a single universal head of the church with jurisdiction over everyone else. While later Roman bishops would claim such authority, resulting in the development of the papacy, at this time no Christian looked to one individual, or church, as the final authority.

This is important because often we hear it alleged that the Trinity, or the Nicene definition of the deity of Christ, is a “Roman Catholic” concept “forced” on the church by the pope. The simple fact of the matter is, when the bishops gathered at Nicea they did not acknowledge the bishop of Rome as anything more than the leader of the most influential church in the West (WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT NICEA? ,emphasis added).

You need to realize that this is what actually happened, however the Church of Rome continues to tell people a story quite different. I realize it may seem as if we are beating this subject to death, but if we hope to rescue people from this tide of anti-Reformationism within the evangelicalism itself then we really must accept our call to this mission field. Unless unless we stand together and learn how to share the true Gospel of Jesus Christ with Roman Catholics within our communities then we will be swallowed alive by Rome’s devious daughter the new evangelical Ecumenical Church of Deceit. Brothers and sisters, the time has come for us to “step up to the plate” so to speak, and to get on with our mission to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and many people you come come across will have been influenced by Roman Catholicism.

Now Dr. White, who has debated a number of representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, goes on to say:

For those who struggle with the idea that it was not “Roman Catholicism” that existed in those days, consider this: if one went into a church today, and discovered that the people gathered there did not believe in the papacy, did not believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Bodily Assumption of Mary, purgatory, indulgences, did not believe in the concept of transubstantiation replete with the communion host’s total change in accidence and substance, and had no tabernacles on the altars in their churches, would one think he or she was in a “Roman Catholic” church?

Of course not. Yet, the church of 325 had none of these beliefs, either. Hence, while they called themselves “Catholics,” they would not have had any idea what “Roman Catholic” meant (ibid., n21, emphasis added).

The New Pope With An Old Roman Catholic Theology

Here’s something I feel is worthy of note. The death of Pope John Paul II came at a very interesting time in regard to the direction of the church that I pastor. Those of us in leadership had just met about how we all felt concerning the direction that the church should go. It seemed that being in a community which is so heavily influenced by Roman Catholicism, and with Claremont also so inundated by what can only be called “church-hoppers,” we made the decision it would be best to make a stand against the false doctrines of the Church of Rome. So the timing of events within Roman Catholicism since then with their current Pope became rather fascinating. Pope Benedict the XVI is reputed to be of the “old school,” which means he personally holds the very positions that I have been reviewing for you.

Do you think it was a coincidence that just as Jesus has begun calling some of His more bold ministers to preach on these topics concerning the apostate Church of Rome, they were afforded the chance to put in new leadership? Well it isn’t! For the Bible clearly tells us that God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation (Acts 17:26). And now let’s think back for a moment about the leader the Roman Catholic Church ended up choosing. A theologian who worked with the previous Pope, who holds to “classic” Roman Catholic theology and who is even more conservative and traditional than even Pope John Paul II was. It is my view that the discerning Christian should see the Lord’s hand in all this. After all don’t most of us think that we are living in a critical time in history? His-story.

Then as Dr. Martin said back in the mid-80’s when even fewer people were listening:

we are going to be on guard as Protestants, lest we think there are no differences [with the Church of Rome]. There are lots of differences, and Jesus Christ and His Gospel are a very major part of these differences” (Martin, Roman Catholicism, op. cit.).

And this is what is such an important point in all of this discussion regarding Roman Catholicism. Evangelical Protestants just do not need to be afraid of the Church of Rome because they were actually the ones who left the Body of Christ as the true history of the Christian Church bears out. Often you will hear Roman Catholic representatives say that they wish their Protestant “separated brethren would come home.” When in actuality, it was Rome herself who left the Church in order to proudly assert its self-professed authority over us. This is the main reason that I have spent so much time pounding on the issue of mankind’s sinful pride during my first year of work here at AM. For it is written: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). The truth is the Church of Rome should have heeded this warning from Holy Scripture – There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 16:25).

A Recurring Theme With Mankind

We need to remember that while the Protestant Reformation was fueled by the issue of indulgences it really centered around how a man is saved–as well as–how do we know what God has said about this most critical of issues. In other words, is the Bible alone sufficient to learn what God has said, or do we also need the traditions of the Church of Rome, its so-called “Sacraments Of The New Law” and her teaching magisterium? What is so often missed in discussions about the soteriology of the Roman Catholic Church is that these things cannot be separated. The heart of what we are talking about with justification–how is a man saved from his sins before a holy and righteous God–is inextricably tied to the Bible itself. And that’s why the Reformers used the term Sola Scriptura, which is Latin for “Scripture alone.”

Now what they meant by that term is something that the evangelical camp has been taking for granted for many years now. This would be that the individual Christian can personally have a relationship with God and commune with Him through His Word in the Bible. But the problem is compounded in that over time so many of us have in reality been slowly drifting away from what God has actually said in Scripture about unity in the Body of Christ. And subsequently we simply ended up floating into just blindly accepting what people have been telling us that our Lord has said about these issues. But the absolute Truth is that Christ Himself rules His Church through His Word in Holy Scripture, and this is what the Reformers were calling the Body of Christ to return to as they used the phrase Sola Scriptura.

So we arrive at today. Now we are so concerned about “unity” that we are have begun accepting the “teachings of men” like sympathizer of Rome Rick Warren and the “traditions” of Roman Catholicism all over again. It is so sad, but it is nonetheless true. Certainly we’d all like to get along, but if you study the Bible carefully, you will see there is a recurring theme with mankind that proves quite vexing to our Lord. God’s people called by Him to live separate from the world as a witness to Who He truly is–and how He truly is–end up compromising and then attempting to find ways to live in “peace” with those around them. As a result we’ve already been on the decline spiritually in this nation for quite some time. The news isn’t all bad however. The good news is that there will be those who feel the Lord’s inner call. An inner call, which is always consistent with what God has already revealed about Himself in the Holy Scriptures.

Then, as the sheep of the Great Shepherd respond to His Voice, there will be a reform of sorts within the actual universal Body of Christ. But unfortunately, there is the inevitable return to the same pattern of apostasy yet again. Now I fully realize that this is not pleasant information but it really cannot be disproved Biblically because the record is appallingly clear. So the question then becomes: Are you and I now living in a time where God is trying to bring about one of these “Awakenings,” or revivals, of true Biblical Christianity? I wonder, could this be why there are so many Christians right now who say that they can sense “something” in the Spirit. I know that many I have personally talked to seem to be in agreement that if it isn’t Christ Jesus returning in our lifetime there appears to be no doubt that we are at the end of something. Indeed, something will die…