In a satanic stroke of genius through the purpose driven life and the emerging from the shadows church–which are but arms of his Ecumenical Church of Deceit–the Devil has been able to cause the evangelical church of our Lord in so-called postmodern America to grow soft and sentimental. And what is being obscured is the single most important issue that there is for mankind–the doctrine of justification–and the sad fact is the average person just takes far too much for granted in this key area. This is what Satan has been able to manipulate throughout the years, chiefly using among his many other false religious systems, the Church of Rome who left the Body of Christ long ago.

The Roman Invention Of The New Law

You must understand that the religious system of Roman Catholicism is built around their so-called “Sacraments of the New Law” which, by the way, is a term they invented themselves. The “faithful,” as Roman Catholics are called, are then taught that these Sacraments are the usual means by which God dispenses His grace and His justification. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes it this way – “Sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification” (Online source, emphasis added). If you understand this concept then you will see why in their minds at least, the Church of Rome is the one true> Church. And it can clearly be seen, this is exactly the claim they make for themselves.

This however is a very fundamental error, which is really a confusion of the 2 components involved with salvation. The first one part A, which is justification, whereby God by His grace alone–i.e. His unmerited favor–declares a man righteous through that person’s faith alone in Christ alone. Remember the Bible says – But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart (Jeremiah 11:20, KJV). So, when God Himself judges a person to have completely have placed his trust in Christ, then the person becomes “born again” by the Holy Spirit. True Protestant theology, what we now call Biblical theology, correctly sees God as the One Who decided to extend His grace to man; or in other words, the Lord chose to have mercy on us by His Own initiative alone.

If one really knows the majestic and magnificent, awesome and holy, Yahweh El Shaddai–the LORD God Almighty–Who is revealed in the Bible in Whose dreadful presence we would immediately disintegrate, then you’ll understand this: If one truly knows Christ Jesus of Nazareth then he will also know that there could never be anything we could do as men to even begin to deserve His precious sacrifice. If one truly belongs to God by His grace alone–through faith alone–in Christ alone, then he will simply say, “Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling”

The Bible teaches us that God decided that He would save mankind, and it is then God alone Who decides who it is that He is going to save, and just how He is going to do it. And since He is our Creator, one might be see where He might retain that right. Which I might add, God does through faith in the completed work of the only Savior there is–Jesus Christ of Nazareth. When one truly does give their life to Christ–God Himself–has decided to impute, or “credit, reckon” the merits of the perfect life lived by Jesus of Nazareth into the life of the sinner. In this age of universalism it is also crucial for us to recapture today because this was at the heart of what forever tore apart the Church during the Protestant Reformation.

And this uncompromising truth is why the great preacher George Whitefield would say:

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. Being once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have recourse to a covenant of works for our everlasting salvation. And we have contracted such a devilish pride by our fall from God that we would, if not wholly yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of our own salvation. We cry out against Popery, and that very justly; but we are all Papists, at least I am sure we are all Arminians by nature; and, therefore, no wonder so many natural men embrace that scheme. It is true we disclaim the doctrine of merit and are ashamed directly to say we deserve any good at the hands of God; therefore, as the apostle excellently well observes, we go about establishing a righteousness of our own and, like the Pharisees of old, will not wholly submit to that righteousness which is of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord (Online source).

Today’s Evangelical Doesn’t Cry Out Anymore

Men and women, what you have just heard from George Whitefield is consistent with what all of the great men of God in history–whom our evangelical leaders say they respect–have always taught about the doctrine of salvation. The great preachers of history have also said the same things about the apostate Church of Rome as well.

However, all the compliments and words of praise regarding such men of past renown–who were so obviously used by Jesus–just do not line up with what we hear our evangelical leaders actually preaching to us today. It brings me no pleasure to tell you this, and it certainly isn’t making me popular either. But as it has been very well stated elsewhere, if you are in the ministry as a popularity contest you have chosen the wrong profession.

Let me quickly tell you a little about George Whitefield who preached during the major revival in the mid 1700’s we know today as the First Great Awakening. In his very readable book Church History In Plain Language Dr. Bruce Shelley, who is Senior Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Denver Theological Seminary tells us about this Great Awakening:

New Jersey. Virginia. Massachusetts. The winds [of revival] remained vigorous but regional until the Atlantic currents carried to America the father of modern mass evangelism, George Whitefield. In 1739, the Wesleys’ friend brought his powerful voice and magnetic style to the colonies, and preached his way through Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York.

In Philadelphia he spoke out of doors. Even the worldly wise Benjamin Franklin was impressed, especially when the audience “admir’d and respected him, not withstanding his…assuring them they were naturally half beasts and half devils.” It was a surprise to the deistic Franklin to walk through the streets of his city and hear psalms ringing out from house after house (p.346).

So What Has Changed?

Now surely it must be clear enough for you that the Church in America does not have this kind of effect on people today. So let me ask Billy Graham, and some of our other evangelical leaders to think about something. Did God change; or just maybe it was instead that we Protestants simply have lost the courage to tell people the truth. That historical quote from Ben Franklin’s own diary certainly tells us a lot doesn’t it?

Out of respect for God’s man, the uncompromising Whitefield, the unbelieving Franklin wrote, that the people “admir’d and respected him, not withstanding his…assuring them they were naturally half beasts and half devils.” You see, there are those of us who know from personal experience that even when people hear the truth, and when you present it in the power of God the Holy Spirit, they will respect you. No doubt, they might not ever want to see you again, but they will respect you. So I find I must ask again what has happened?

For our purposes right now though, let’s get back to the issue of 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. This is what Whitefield was saying, and this is literally what God the Holy Spirit has quite plainly revealed in the very pages of the Bible itself–which is what you will see for yourself if you will but read it. And to see this clearly all one needs to do is to lay down his pride in self. Now, think again about what Whitefield had just 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.”

But what separates true Christians forever from the 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 Roman Catholic theology 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 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” (Online source, emphasis added). So, the Church of Rome does say they acknowledge that God has to at least help us to become more righteous. “Well, isn’t that special?”

Christ Died For The Ungodly

Can you see how crafty the Devil is? Why this all sounds so holy and very pious–but it is dead wrong–and it actually takes away from God’s grace, and away from what Christ did. Don’t you remember what we can very plainly see in chapter 5 of the Book of Romans? The Scripture says:

For when we were yet without strength, 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 sacrifice] – we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, – [we as mankind considered God our enemy] – we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. [The merits of Christ-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, KJV).

And this is what we are talking about! We are talking what God did; what Christ did, and not what man does. We 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–decided to offer us an underserved way to be saved from ourselves! The Apostle Peter tells us – 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 help though.” No!] For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God – (1 Peter 3:18, KJV).

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 wonderful sacrifice. And this is the example we see in Paul and Barnabus with those Judaizers in Acts 15 when they heard that some false teachers had begun adding things to the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. But they already knew, what the Evangelical church has apparently forgotten, that anything you add to Christ’s work on the cross immediately 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 will bother you a great deal once you find out about it.

For their perversion of the Gospel is a major point of Roman Catholic theology that we should be attacking in our efforts to help people see through the man-made façade of the Church of Rome. It’s very important for you to understand that the time has come to make this firm stand for Jesus against Roman Catholicism’s false system of religion. Right now there is a call from God for Evangelical fellowships to draw attention back to the original Protestant Reformation; and you may rest assured it’s not that we need to be doing anything “new,” no brothers and sisters, in fact, it’s quite the contrary.

The Actual Witness Of History

First of all as far back as 1958 the late Dr. Walter Martin founder of the Christian Research Institute had been writing and speaking about the subject of Roman Catholicism. And here is what Dr. Martin, who was a recognized expert in the field of Comparative Religion, actually 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).

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. Consider this from William Webster in his book 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,… (pp.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” (ibid., p.163).

In eminent church historian Philip Schaff’s classic History Of The Christian Church we find out that canon 6 of this Council 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, p.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 bishoprics 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” (ibid., pp.275,276, emphasis added).

Dr. James White, Director of Alpha & Omega Ministries–and a leading Christian apologist against Roman Catholicism–brings out an extremely important truth 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 (Online source, emphasis added).

You need to realize that this is what actually happened, but the apostate Church of Rome continues to tell people a story that is quite different. 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 those who have been lied to by the Roman Catholic Church with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Trust me, there are many of these people who will listen to the truth when it is presented to them, as the Lord is with us.

Now Dr. White, who has debated a number of top representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, then goes on to make this salient point:

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).

Now let’s keep in mind at this point that 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). Think for a moment about the leadership the apostate Church of Rome ended up choosing as Pope; Benedict the XVI, a theologian who holds to “classic” Roman Catholic theology, a man who is even more conservative and traditional than Pope John Paul II was. It is my view that the discerning Christian should see the Lord’s hand in all this. Don’t most of us think that we are living in a critical time in history – His-story?

How much more then should we finally follow Dr. Martin’s advice given back in the mid-80’s at another time when few 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 differencesand Jesus Christ and His Gospel are a very major part of these differences” (Martin, Roman Catholicism, op. cit.).

The Church Of Rome Left The Christian Church

What we need to finally get across to this tepid generation is that Evangelical Protestants just do not need to be afraid of the Church of Rome because they were actually the ones who left us, as the true witness from the history of the Christian Church bears out. You will hear Roman Catholic representatives say all the time that they wish their Protestant “separated brethren would come home,” when in actuality, it was Rome herself who left the Church to proudly assert its own authority over us.

This is the main reason that I have spent so much time at Apprising Ministries pounding on the issue of mankind’s sinful pride. The Bible puts it this way – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9, KJV). And the absolute 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, KJV).

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 issue. In other words, is the Bible alone sufficient to hear from God, or do we also need the Church of Rome and its so-called “Sacraments Of The New Law?” What is often missed in discussions of this topic is that these things cannot be separated. The heart of what we are talking about–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 most know is Latin for “the Scripture alone.”

Something that we in the Evangelical camp have been taking for granted for many years now is the effort required for the individual Christian to personally have a relationship with God through His Word in the Bible. It is because of this neglect that we are beginning to pay the purpose driven price with the emerging word of faith–despicable doctrines of demons currently being spread in Christ’s Name with the Church of our Lord. The problem is, that over time we ourselves have in reality been slowly drifting away from what God has actually said in Scripture about true unity in the Body of Christ. And subsequently, we have simply ended up floating into just blindly accepting what counterfeit Christian teachers like Rick Warren and Brian McLaren and Joel Osteen have been telling us that our Lord has said.

A Sad Recurring Theme

So we arrive at 2007. Now we are so concerned about “unity” that we are have begun accepting these “traditions” and the “teachings of men” all over again. It is sad, but it is nonetheless true. Certainly we’d all like to get along; however, 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.

I close this with the following words by Martin Luther from his work The Three Walls Of The Romanists:

The Romanists[1], with great adroitness, have built three walls about them, behind which they have hitherto defended themselves in such wise that no one has been able to reform them; and this has been the cause of terrible corruption throughout all Christendom.

First, when pressed by The temporal power, they have made decrees and said that the temporal power has no jurisdiction over them, but, on the other hand, that the spiritual is above the temporal power. Second, when the attempt is made to reprove them out of the Scriptures, they raise the objection that the interpretation of the Scriptures belongs to no one except the pope. Third, if threatened with a council, they answer with the fable that no one can call a council but the pope.
(Online source)

And then Dr. Martin Luther, the man God raised up to ignite the Protestant Reformation, and a man who had actually taught theology for the Church of Rome concludes:

Thus I hope that the false, lying terror with which the Romans have this long time made our conscience timid and stupid, has been allayed. They, like all of us, are subject to the temporal sword; they have no power to interpret the Scriptures by mere authority, without learning; they have no authority to prevent a council or, in sheer wantonness, to pledge it, bind it, or take away its liberty; but if they do this, they are in truth the communion of Antichrist and of the devil, and have nothing at all of Christ except the name” (ibid.).

This is the true record of Christian history, the Church of Rome left the Body of Christ. So again, I find myself asking today’s Evangelical Protestants – “what has changed?”