Text Box: Publish Monthly by 
Pilgrimís Bible Church
Timothy Fellows Pastor
VOL. XVII No. 11
JANUARY, 1991

 

Featured Articles

The Development of Roman Catholicism

This Month in History

* Winthrop and "Manifest Destiny"

*Foljamble declares History to be God's Autobiography

Study of Atonement, Part III

 

THE DEVELOPMENT

OF ROMAN

CATHOLICISM

Text: "These were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11)

At the close of the first century (100 A.D.) the church was yet pure in its doctrine and in its practice. The Apostle John had recently penned the book of Revelation (c. 95 A.D.), and had been received into the presence of the Lord.

The Gospel preached was repentance of sin and faith in Christ. The church was still perceived to be a fellowship of believers. It yet recognized only those two offices instituted by the apostles, that of pastor and that of deacon. There was as yet no distinction made between the "clergy", which means "those who have been called of God", and the "laity", which means "the people."

The church still observed only two ordinances: that of Baptism and The Lordís Supper. Each congregation was independent of every other. A large congregation did not enjoy a more exalted position than a smaller one, and neither was a city congregation considered to be more important than one among the "pagani", or country folk.

Along with the simplicity with which Christ had established the church, worship was correspondingly simple consisting of singing, praying, reading Scripture and preaching. The truth that since God is a Spirit, He must be worshipped in spirit was not yet obfuscated by ritualism which characterized heathen worship.

By the 4th century, however, the work of Christ was reduced to only a fraction of what was required for salvation; and faith instead of looking unto Jesus as its "Author and Finisher" was now ordered to be directed to the church as "The Ark of the Covenant", and the "Ark of Safety." In two hundred years following the death of the last apostle the church had become a saving institution and people were taught salvation was mediated through the "sacraments" of Baptism and the "Mass."

The 4th century witnessed a growing corruption first, of the nature of faith, then of the nature of worship and of the church itself. The purpose of the church was obfuscated, for instead of being constituted of believers, it was now perceived to be constituted in the pastor. Congregations were no longer considered equal, but individual congregations began to strive for prominence that in time resulted in the concept of "primus inter pares" or "first among equals." Reminiscent of the political reforms under Diocletian, territories began to be marked to indicate the boundaries of a pastorís authority

Salvation was now perceived as proceeding through the pastor of a church. After all, if the sacraments have the ability to convey grace, and they were dispensed through the church, then if one was to be saved, it was perceived he must join the church.

Cyprian, writing c.250 A.D., said, "No man can have God for a

Father who does not have the church for his mother." Again he wrote,

"Where the bishop is, there is the church, and there is no church where there is no bishop.... He who is not in the church is not a Christian. There is no salvation outside of the church." It was Cyprian who conceived the idea of one universal, which is, "catholic" church. In time, the church of Rome would claim to be the "Catholic Church." How did this come about?

 

 

DOCTRINAL LIBERTIES

Liberties with respect to doctrine were early taken. The result was that Baptism and the Lordís Supper were increasingly referred to as "sacraments," a term taken from Latin that refers to the military oath of loyalty. Instead of the symbolic sense the Scriptures ascribe to the ordinances, "sacramentalism" taught that God channels His salvation through the "sacraments."

Baptism and the Lordís Supper

Writing c. 115 A.D., Ignatius called the bread and wine used in the Lordís Supper, "the medicine of immortality." Within 70 years, Irenaeus asserted that after consecration, the bread was no longer common bread. This amounted to a departure from the teaching of Scripture.

Justin Martyr, c. 165 A.D., wrote that Baptism completes salvation. Within 20 years, Irenaeus asserted Baptism is the new birth, that it brings regeneration. It is in his writings that we find the first hint that infants should be baptized if we would secure their salvation. Parents might present their infants for baptism and thereby serve as proxy for the childís lack of faith. But if the waters of baptism possess the qualities of salvation, then faith is made void, and the promise of God that salvation is by grace and not by works is made of no effect.

 

Pouring and Sprinkling

The first instance of "effusion" or "pouring" occurred c. 250 A.D. when Novatian became ill. He was the leader of the strict party at Rome, but had never been baptized. Fearing death was near, he desired to be baptized, but because he was too weak to be immersed in water, it was decided a quantity of water should be poured upon him. After all, was it not in this manner that the kings, and priests, and prophets were anointed of old?

It was from this practice that the act of sprinkling developed.

Was not blood sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat of old? And are not the hearts of Christians "sprinkled from an evil conscience? And if the waters of Baptism contain saving properties, then why would not only a little water suffice? Note: It insignificant that the Montanists of the 2nd century, the Novatians of the 3rd century, and the Donatists of the early 4th century all preached that baptism is a saving ordinance.

Sacramentalism and Priestcraft

The idea that there is magical benefit derived from the 0bservance of Baptism or from the Lordís Supper is heathen in origin. In fact, the words the "priest" utters to consecrate the bread: "Hoc

Est corpus meum" or "This is My body" is in fact the origin of words "hocus pocus"

The teaching that salvation lay in the observance of the sacrament of the Lordís Supper developed into the idea that the ordinance actually constituted a sacrifice; and if a sacrifice is called for, then a priest is needed. By the beginning of the 400ís the bishop or "presbyter" of a church was with greater frequency called a "priest."

The concept thus arose that after consecration by the priest, the bread or "Host" was transformed into the body of Christ. Centuries would pass and Anne would answer the Lord Mayor of London, "Scripture teaches us God made man, but you ask us to believe man makes God"; and for so saying was put to death.

If the Lordís Supper was indeed magical in nature then the proper words and materials were essential. Pronunciation must be exact. Therefore, in order to preserve the "magic" men had to be secured who were properly trained and qualified. The teaching therefore developed that only the bishop or those trained and authorized by him could call forth the efficacious grace latent in the properly consecrated bread and wine.

CORRUPTION OF WORSHIP AND THE

ADVENT OF CATECHISM CLASSES

The focal point of worship became the Lordís Supper, but the ordinance becoming corrupted into a "sacrament" that conveyed grace to its observer was being more and more commonly referred to as the "mass." The term was derived from the Latin word for "dismissal" because people not worthy to partake were asked to leave the church. Although the Mass became a daily celebration by 394 A.D., it was not declared obligatory until the 11th century.

Worship now involved the priestly ritual; and as church services contained less and less preaching, so the instruction of new converts and of children must be accomplished at another time. This resulted in the formation of "catechism" classes and, the practice resulted in the addition of yet another "sacrament" which came to be known as "Confirmation."

Heathen worship is most often identified by 3 characteristics: a sacrifice, a priest, and an altar. Now the religion professing to be founded by the Lord Jesus Christ boasted of all three. We should note here that contrary to what most Baptist churches believe we have no altar now: Christ is our altar. Neither do we have need of another sacrifice than that of Christ; and neither do we need another priest than the priesthood of Christ.

SACRED RELICS AND A HOLY LAND

If common elements such as bread and wine, or even water could take on a sacredness, why would not the bones of them who died for Christ, and even their clothing be sacred as "Relics?" So, Julian the Apostate (c. 361) called these people "bone worshippers."

What about the places associated with our Lord and His apostles? Did they not constitute a "holy land?" Who would be so vulgar as to question the fact that the land where our Lord trod was indeed the greatest "relic", the "Holy Land?"

Summary

By the 4th century faith in Christ had largely been supplanted by the observance of the "mass." The symbolic ordinance of the Lordís Supper had been corrupted by making it a "sacrament." Faith alone was no longer perceived as an evidence of salvation because the Gospel had now been corrupted to the place that it was taught without the church and the observance of the sacraments there could be no salvation. In the case of a child, the church and the sacraments were sufficient to save, although an infant did not have faith.

No longer was the church a fellowship of believers. It had become an institution that could save --that must save. The ordinances given to the church for believers to remember the death of Christ now were perceived as having the ability to convey grace.

Salvation was now believed to lie in the hands of men, and as

Merle DíAubigne rightly observes, "Salvation considered as coming from man is the creating principle of all error and abuse." (History of The Reformation) TO BE CONTINUED-

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JANUARY

3, 1846 --Washington, D.C. Robert C. Winthrop of Massachusetts uses the phrase "Manifest Destiny." This is the first time it is mentioned in Congress. John L. OíSullivan coined it in a magazine article that appeared in 1845. The phrase involves the conviction that God intends for the United States to overspread the continent.

5,1876 --Massachusetts. "Observe the hand of God in the wise and beneficent timing of events in the dawn of our history. The events of history are not accidents. There are no accidents in the lives of men or of nations. We may go back to the underlying cause of every event, and discover in each Godís overruling and intervening wisdom. It has been said that history ...is the autobiography of Him Who is graciously timing all the events in the interest of His Christ, and of the Kingdom of God on earth."

--Rev. S. W. Foljamble, in a sermon preached to the Massachusetts

lawmakers.

THOUGHT: "Truth not defended is surrendered."

A STUDY OF THE ATONEMENT --Part Three

"Brother Fellows, I still have some difficulty with limited atonement. Please answer the following remarks from Finneyís Heart of Truth, p. 228."

12. If the atonement was not intended for all mankind, sinners in Hell will see and know their salvation was never possible; that there was no atonement made for them; and that God was insincere in offering them salvation.

There are two parts to Finneyís statement. First, Finney errs not knowing the Scriptures, for it is the testimony of the Apostle John that sinners in Hell curse God day without night. (See: Revelation 14:11; 16:9-11) No one ever repented in Hell. The wicked who go there do not wish for salvation. They have no desire to be saved, nor does any man unless God works in him "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

Second, the recurring theme of Finney accusing God of insincerity is again on account of his inability to grasp the fact that the Gospel is a two-edged sword: it was never designed to save all who hear the message. It is the means God uses to save them that believe. To them we are the savor of life unto life. They believe because "My sheep hear My voice and follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish." (See: John 10:27,28)

To everyone else, the "preaching of the cross" is foolishness. To them we are the savor of death unto death. (Note: II Corinthians 2:14-17) This passage makes no sense otherwise.

Third, the definition of "grace" is "God giving to man what he does not deserve;" while "mercy" is "God not giving to man what he does deserve."

13. If the atonement is not for all men, no one can know for whom in particular it was intended, without direct revelation.

First, a sinner awakened by the Gospel does not care for whom the atonement is intended. "The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Matthew 11:12) They go to Heaven because they must go to Heaven. Sinners go to Hell because they are not much concerned to go to Heaven because God has not caused them to will and to do of His good pleasure.

Second, Since we do not know the elect of God, and since our ministry is to the non-elect as well in order to call them to judgment, we lift up our voice and proclaim the Gospel to every creature, and thus fulfill the great commission.

Third, it is not by direct revelation, but by written revelation that we as believers can see who is chosen and who is not: they who are made willing to do the pleasure of God, to confess and forsake their sins are the elect only. Others could not care less. "He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6)

Did not Jesus say, "I lay down my life for the sheep?" (John

10:15) And again, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am..." (John 17:24) Either the Father gave these unto the Son or He did not? But I will rather trust the Holy Ghost as He spoke by the mouth of John than any man uninspired.

14. If the atonement is for none but the elect, no man can know whether he has a right to embrace it until by a direct revelation, God has made known to him that he is one of the elect.

First, man is not born with a desire to love God and to worship Him. Who is it then that makes him willing to embrace the Gospel? (See: Philippians 2:13)

Second, None of the non-elect whether on earth or in Hell have ever wanted to be saved. They could not care less.

Third, Sinners who have been quickened and are in the labor of the new birth do not stop to wonder who is elected.

Fourth, Believers know they are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world: they know it by the witness of the Spirit of

God as well as by the knowledge God reveals in His Word. Ė To Be Continued

 

 

"GOD HATH SPOKEN"--Since our last edition, we distributed 100 copies of our newest book. Several computer errors marred the first edition. To those who received them we would say with William Pitt --

Be to its faults a little blind,

Be to its virtues very kind.

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