Catholicism: Traditions

Catholics reject “Sola Scriptura.”  That is, they reject the idea that authority should be derived from the Scriptures alone.  Kevin McQuaid has expressed their belief writing, “After having read the Bible cover to cover and listened to the whole of Scripture numerous times at Mass, I still have no idea where the Bible says, implicitly or explicitly, that it is the sole rule of the Christian faith” [(August 19, 2007, Letters to the Editor, Longview News Journal).  Note: McQuaid's letter presents a dilemma.  On one hand, if one can read and interpret the Bible for oneself, then there is no need for anyone to rely upon a Magisterium interpretation.  On the other hand, if one cannot interpret the Bible for oneself, then how can he appeal to his reading of the Scriptures?  The best he should be able to say is that the Magisterium does not teach this].

The Catholics believe that authority should be derived  from “the Word of God,” and this means to them the Bible and Church Tradition. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition) states, “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God” (Paragraph 97).  Again, “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the church alone… This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome” (Paragraph 85).

Kerry Duke has described the situation in trying to study the Bible with a Catholic, saying, “If you argue, for example, that the New Testament says nothing about infant baptism, the Catholic will readily admit this.  He will add, however, that Sacred Tradition does speak of it – and this tradition is to him just a much the word of God as the Bible is.  In fact, when you cite any passage about the word of God (e.g. Matthew 24:35; John 12:48; 1 Thessalonica 2:13), the Catholic will immediately think not just of the written words of the Bible but also of the spoken word of the apostles handed down through the ages by the Catholic Church (‘tradition’).  Tradition, you see, is his trump card over any verse you quote.”  (Kerry Duke, Debate Charts on Roman Catholicism, pp. 1-2).  Moreover, “Catholicism also holds… that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the Catholic Church into truth.  This doctrine is the belief that the Pope and the Bishops (who are together called ‘Magisterium’) are guided by the Holy Spirit in defining dogma for Catholic Church” (ibid).  Again, Kerry Duke explains the frustrating situation one encounters in studying with a Catholic, “Can I know what the Bible teaches by reading it?  No, the Catholic Church  must officially interpret it for you… Will the official interpretation by all that I need?  No, you need the Sacred Tradition… Okay, then I’ll study the church fathers to learn this tradition?  Will that work?  Sorry, but you must have church  Magisterium to decide dogma… Well, I’ll go to the church to get that body of ‘Sacred Tradition’ so I can study all the apostles handed down to us.  Is that okay?  Not really, because the church  really doesn’t have this body of teaching written down somewhere.  The church only ‘extracts’ truths from it as they are needed… only the Catholic Church knows this tradition… And what is your proof of these claims? (ibid, p. 17).

Let us ask…

  1. What about their appeal to oral traditions?

The Pharisees of old also believed in the authority of oral traditions, which were supposedly passed down from Moses. Jesus scolded them “Why do you transgress the commandment of God because of your traditions? …You have made the commandment of God no effect by your traditions” (Matthew 15:3, 6; Mark 7:9, 13). Jesus made a distinction between “the word of God” and “your tradition” (Mark 7:13). Their tradition put them in conflict with God’s written word (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). It is in this context Jesus quoted Isaiah 29:13, “In vain do they worship Me teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7). Which of their oral traditions did Jesus tell the people to keep? Where is the evidence that God bound such?

It might be objected that the Pharisees were following “fake traditions” or “abusing traditions,” but that they are not. Asserting such is not the same as proving such. Proof is needed (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

In the Bible, we are told that it is the “Scripture” (that is – writing, inspired writing) which makes us “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Why do we need these traditions?

It might be objected that not all things which Jesus did and said are recorded in the Scripture. Such is true (John 20:30-31; 21:25). Moreover, the same could be said of the apostles. However, enough has been revealed (John 20:30-31; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

  1. What about Moses’ seat?

Some have appealed to the fact that the Scribes and Pharisees are described as sitting in “Moses’ seat” as evidence that they were entrusted with the oral traditions. Such is an assertion, but not proof. “Moses’ seat” may simply mean that they were teachers of the Law of Moses (cf. John 3:10; Acts 13:27; 15:21; Romans 2:21-24). There is no passage which suggests that Jesus or God ever viewed the Pharisees oral traditions as from God, and thus binding.

  1. What about apostolic traditions which are mentioned in the Scriptures?

Let us consider: a) 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” The traditions (teachings which were handed down) came unto those at Thessalonica in both word (oral inspired teaching cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:5), and by way of epistle (written inspired teaching). Prior to the complete New Testament canon coming forth, there were inspired men who proclaimed the message. It is important to understand that the oral message did not differ in content from the written word which would come forth (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5; 3:10). Paul both spoke and wrote of the gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Corinthians 15:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:14-15). There is no evidence that salvation depends on our having knowledge of certain information not recorded in the scriptures. The Scriptures makes us “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). b) 2 Thessalonians 3:6, “We command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” Paul had shown them how to behave (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9). He had taught them orally (2 Thessalonians 4:11-12). He had also written to them on this same subject (1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 3:14). Absolutely, nothing here suggests that this ‘tradition’ involved things that we should know, but which are not recorded in the Scriptures.

  1. Are all man-made traditions wrong?

No. The word “tradition” refers to something which has been “handed down.” Traditions fall into three categories. a) Some traditions are evil. I have heard of traditions which are in clear violation of the Scriptures. I have heard of traditions which add to or take from what God requires. These traditions should be avoided (Galatians 1:6-10; Acts 15:1-5, ff; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19; 2 John 9). b) Some traditions are good, such as teaching that respect is to be shown to the aged (Proverbs 16:31; 1 Timothy 5:1). This is in harmony with the Scriptures. It is good to keep such traditions. c) Most traditions are neutral, such as wearing solemn colors at a funeral. In general, it is good to keep such traditions lest one cause unnecessary offense.

However, man-made traditions are not our authority in religion. Marion Fox explains, “The first reason that traditions are to be rejected as proper authority in religion is they have led some men to sin (Matthew 15:1-20 and Mark 7:1-23). The second reason that traditions are to be rejected as proper authority in religion is they have caused some to wrongfully accuse others of sin (Matthew 15:1-9 and Mark 7:1-5). The third reason for rejecting traditions is people have engaged in vain worship as a result of traditions (Matthew 15:18-19 and Mark 7:6-7). The fourth reason for rejecting traditions is people have made void the word of God because of them (Matthew 15:4-6 and Mark 7:10-13). The fifth reason for rejecting traditions is they have made spoil of Christians (Colossians 2:8). The word ‘spoil’ (sulagogeo) means, “…to carry off as a captive (and slave), …Thayer” (The Work of the Holy Spirit, Vol. 1., page 98).

We should distinguish between optional matters (how the collection is taken up, whether by plate or hat… how many songs we sing before the first prayer… the hour on Sunday that we choose to assemble, etc.) and obligatory matters (things like what is ethically taught in the Bible… the plan of salvation… the organization of the church… how we worship, etc.).  Traditions in optional matters are acceptable, for God has not specified; though, we should be very careful not to treat optional matters as if they were obligatory matters.  However, obligatory matters must not be changed or interfered with by human tradition.

5.  What about their appeal to continuous revelation?

Why we should believe their claim over the claims of others? The Mormons have the Bible plus the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants, and continuous revelation through the church today. The Seventh-Day Adventist have the Bible plus the writings of Ellen G. White. The Muslim have the Bible plus the Quran. Multitudes of protestants urge man to take the Bible and their creed book. The Jehovah Witnesses have the Bible plus their Watchtower writings. So, I would suggest that it is proper for us to press for an answer as to why we should accept their extra-Biblical traditions and revelations, and not these others.

Concerning the subject of continuous revelation: A careful study of 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 helps one to see that revelation wasn’t to continue to come forth forever. It is beyond our scope to study this passage in detail just here… But consider the words of Kerry Duke, “What is the ‘perfect thing’? The counterpart to that which is in part, the miraculous gifts. Since verse 8 and 9 refer to modes of revelation which are ‘in part’, verse 10 must refer to a mode of revelation which is complete (teleion). This complete avenue of revelation replaced these temporary, miraculous, and oral means of revelation. It is the New Testament, the written word of God which is the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) and which furnishes a person to every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17)” [Debate charts on Roman Catholicism, p. 88].

Sometimes Catholics object that they are not arguing for continual revelation, but continual guidance. It is claimed that the organization of the Roman Catholic church was revealed by the dual authority of the Bible and oral tradition. No new revelation can come along to change this. However, now that it is in place the Holy Spirit guides the Roman Catholic church. Listen to Kerry Duke, “Strangely, Catholics cite John 16:13 in proof of this claim. Of course, this verse in context was spoken to the apostles, and it is the promise of the revelation of truth, not guidance to truth already revealed but not yet realized or perhaps needed as the Catholic church claims. This fact is evident from the preceding verse… (v. 12).   Also, verse 13… Jesus does not use the word ‘revelation’ here, but this is what is described, since revelation is a disclosure, a making known of things not previously known” (ibid, p. 22). Whatever they call it they’re speaking continuous revelation.

In the Bible, we’re told that it is the “Scripture” (that is writing, inspired writing) which is given “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It sounds sufficient.

Additionally, let us ask: “If we did what those in the first century were told was necessary for salvation (in passages like Acts 2:36-38; 3:19; 22:16, etc.). Would we be saved? If not, why not? What is written is said to be adequate for belief and eternal life (John 20:30-31; 1 John 5:13).

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Catholicism: Interpreting the Bible

Catholics do not believe that the Bible can be properly understood apart from the Magisterium, that is, the guidance of the Pope and the Bishops of the Catholic Church.  Catechism of the Catholic Church (second edition) states, “The task of interpreting the word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is to the Pope and to the Bishops in communion with him” (Paragraph 100; see also, Paragraph 85).

Let us ask…

1.  Can man understand the message of God without a Magisterium?

I find no evidence that under the Old Testament system one needed a Magisterium to interpret the Scriptures.  I do find the word of God being read both privately, and publically (Exodus 24:7; Deuteronomy 17:19; 31:19; Joshua 8:34-35; 2 Kings 22:8, 10, 11, 16; 23:2; 34:18-19, 24, 30; Nehemiah 8:1-3; 9:1-3; 13:1-3).  I do find Jesus saying things like: “have you not read” (Matthew 12:; 12:5; 19:4; 21:16; 21:42; 22:31; 24:15), and “it is written” (Matthew 4:4; 4:7; 4:10; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24; 26:31), and “you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures” (Matthew 22:29).  If there were a Magisterium under the Old Testament system, who were they?  “Were they: Elders of Israel? No – Matthew 15:1-2; Scribes and Pharisees?  No – Matthew 15:13-14; Sadducees? No -Matthew 22:23-32;  Lawyers?  No – Luke 12:45-52; Chief Priests?  No – Matthew 27:20″  (Kerry Duke, Debate Charts on Roman Catholicism, page 119).

I find no evidence that Jesus pointed anyone to a Magisterium.  He taught that individuals could rightly discern (Luke 7:43).  He said, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God, or whether I speak from My own authority” (John 7:17).  The common people heard Him gladly (Mark 12:37).  They were not pointed to the Magisterium.

I find no evidence that under the New Testament system one needs a Magisterium to interpret the Scriptures.  The Bereans, we are told, “Searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).  Paul, at a synagogue in Thessalonica, “reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2).  He told Christians, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  He wrote, “When you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4).  Three times Paul asked, “What does the Scriptures say” (Romans 4:3; 11:2; Galatians 4:30).  He expected the reader to know.  The writer of Hebrews said that was possible for one to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).  John warned, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).  I do not read of a Magisterium of official interpretation, but I do read that the individual is to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing (handling accurately – ESV) the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

2.  Why should we believe their claim over the claims of others?

The Roman Catholics say that you need them to understand the Bible.  However, the Jehovah Witnesses say the same.  They have written, “Not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the ‘Scripture studies’ aside even after he has use them, after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for tens years – if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, although he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the ‘Scripture Studies’ with references and had not read a page of the Bible as such, he would be in the light at the end of two years…” (Charles Taze Russel, The Watchtower, September 15, 1910, page 298 – quoted in McDowell and Stewart’s Handbook of Today’s Religions, page 45). Again, they have written, “The Bible is an organizational book and belongs to the Christian congregation as an organization, not to individuals, regardless of how sincerely they may believe that they can interpret the Bible… The Bible cannot be properly understood without Jehovah’s visible organization in mind” (The Watchtower, October 1, 1967, page 587- quoted by Kerry Duke in Debate Charts on Roman Catholicism, page 28).  Furthermore, the Mormons have similar claims of special guidance.  They have said, “No one in this church will ever go astray who ties himself securely to the church authorities” (In Conference Report, April 1951, page 104 – quoted by Kerry Duke in Debate Chart on Roman Catholicism, page 32).  The common thread is do not interpret things, trust us.

3.  What about 2 Peter 1:20-21?

Catholics sometimes cite this passage in an effort to get us to understand that one cannot understand the Bible without the Magisterium. It is a self-contradictory argument. When they cite the passage they expect us to understand it to teach we cannot understand the Bible by ourselves. Well then, how do they expect us to understand the passage to which they appeal?

If one would take time to read verse 21, and compare it with verse 20, the context should become clear. The passage is not discussing how to understand revelation; but, instead, the passage is discussing how revelation was received. McCord’s translation renders it “know this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of anyone’s own release, for no prophecy was ever borne by the will of man; but men, being borne by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God.” The point is this: men of old did not examine the world around them, and from that draw predictions about the future. No, prophecy is of a different nature. These men of old saw things that they could never have known by the current events of their day. They received their information by the inspiration of God.

4.  What about division?

The major objection served up is division. How can man be left to himself to interpret the Scriptures? One man reads a passage, and understands it one way; another reads the same passage and understands it another way. One man reads the Bible and sees from it the necessity of baptism for salvation; another reads the Bible and does not conclude such.

Please understand that I am not claiming that all who read the Bible will understand the Bible alike, but I am saying it’s possible to read and properly understand. In Jesus’ day the Sadducees and Pharisees differed over the after-life, and other matters (Acts 23:8; Matthew 22:23-24). They were divided, and no Magisterium settled the matter. Another example: think of what Peter wrote of Paul’s writings. He said, “…as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which they that are untaught (unlearned KJV, ignorant ASV) and unstable people twist (wrest KJV) to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Please note the following: a) Paul’s writings are called Scripture [Note: The term appears 52 times in the New Covenant and is invariably used of the inspired scriptures cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17].  b) Peter claims that he and Paul wrote of the same point. c) Peter acknowledges that some of Paul’s writings were very challenging. He did not say that all that Paul wrote was hard to understand, but some of the things he wrote were hard to understand. Notice also, Peter did not say impossible, but he said hard. God has given to us a challenging book. It requires mental exercise and effort to understand (cf. Proverbs 2:1-5). I personally believe this is part of the spiritual test He has placed before us. d) The reason that men do not understand: 1) some are unlearned (ignorant ASV). They simply do not spend enough time in study of the word of God. 2) Others are unstable (2 Peter 3:16 cf. 2:14). They are not well grounded enough to withstand false teaching. One of the methods of a false teacher is to appeal through what the people want to hear – that is, appeal through the hearers lustful appetites, and egos (Isaiah 30:10; Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11; John 3:19; Romans 16:18; 2 Timothy 3:6; 4:3; Jude 4, 16). Many want to be religious, they want to think they are serving God, but in reality they more want to serve their own selves. e) They twist (wrest KJV) the Bible from its intended meaning. Notice, this is done not only with the difficult, hard to understand portions; but, also, it is done even with the simple passages.

Each of us are left to interpret the scriptures for ourselves. We should do so with great care (2 Timothy 2:15; Philippians 2:12), for one day we will stand before the Great Judge and give account.

The attitude we should have in our studies is a “will to do His will” (John 7:17). We truly need a good and honest heart to succeed spiritually (Luke 8:15).

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Sincerity or Hypocrisy?

The two words in the title above have very interesting origins. We will explore these origins, and especially how they relate to love.

Our English word “sincerity” comes to us from the Latin language. In Latin “sin” means “without,” “cera” means “wax.” Thus, the meaning is “without wax.” In times of old, it was common for the statue makers to fill in the flaws of the statues with wax. It looked good, but what you were seeing really wasn’t how it was. It only appeared to be that way. Under bright light and careful examination the cover-up could be seen. The best of sculptures used no wax.

Even the Greek word “eilikrineia” translated “sincerity” carries the similar idea. The original word has to do with clearness, after being judged by sunlight to be found clear.

Our love is not to be one way in actuality, but another way on the surface. Our love is to be sincere (Phil. 1:9-10). 1 John 3:18, “…let us not love in word, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

The word “hypocrisy” comes into English directly from the Greek language. The word was used for being an actor,  playing a part on  stage.

We, as God’s children, should not just be acting or pretending as if we care about one another. Romans 12:9a  reads, “Let love be without hypocrisy.”

God does not want His children being on the surface one thing but underneath something else. He does not want us just playing a role and repeating lines without meaning it. He wants us to genuinely care for one another. May we truely love one another. ” Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).

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The Get Out of Jail Free Card

Do you remember playing the board game Monopoly?  There is a “Get Out of Jail Free” card that can be drawn from the Chance or Community Chest cards.  This card can be saved and played when needed.

This is how some religious groups and religious teachers use the appeal to the Holy Spirit.  If an action or teaching cannot be supported from the Scriptures, then they appeal to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

A case in point: The Presbyterian Church (USA) and same-sex marriage.  Michael L. Brown wrote an article entitled, “It’s Time to Leave the Presbyterian Church (USA).”  This article appeared in an online magazine called OneNewsNow.com and also in gopusa.com on June 23, 2014.  He wrote, “The PCUSA had made its rejection of the Word of God official. According to the denomination’s statement, on Thursday, June 19, ‘the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved the recommendation from its Civil Union and Marriage Issues Committee allowing for pastoral discretion to perform ‘any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform,’ where legal by state law.’  In other words, regardless of what scriptures plainly say, as a PCUSA minister, if you feel called to violate God’s word and perform a same-sex ‘marriage,’ follow your conscience, not the Bible.  This is… nothing less than rebellion against the authority of the Word.  The statement continues: ‘They also approved a recommendation to change language in the Book of Order to indicate that marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.’  Not only is this completely unbiblical, since marriage in the Bible and throughout history requires a man and woman rather than ‘two people,’ it is also completely illogical, opening a Pandora’s Box of new possibilities.  After all, if marriage is not the union of a man and a woman, why does it require two people?  Why not one or three or five?  What is so special about ‘two’?” (gopusa.com).

Brethren, it is essential that we not only teach others what the Bible teaches, but that we demonstrate the completeness of revelation.  The system of faith was delivered in the first century (Jude 3).  The apostles were guided into all truth (John 14:26; 16:12-13).  The Scriptures are not only inspired of God, they also make us “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:6-17). If we win the battle with others on what the Bible teaches on this subject or that subject, but do not help people grasp the completeness of the revelation of Scripture we will lose the war in convincing them.

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How Does God Give Souls to Jesus?

“My Father, who has given them to Me…” (John 10:29) – several passages speak of the fact that the Father has given souls to His Son (see John 6:37-39; 10:28-29; 17:11-12; 18:9). The question is: “How does God give to His Son these souls?” The Calvinist assumes the method of giving is a direct, unconditional giving. Let us study.

John 6:37 reads, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me…” Yet, later in this same chapter we read, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…”(John 6:44). This passage teaches that God draws men to Jesus. How does He do this? Look at the next verse, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall be all taught of God.’ Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me” (John 6:45). This verse gives us the “how.”

He calls us through the Scriptures (cf. John 5:36-37,39). He calls us  by the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14; Romans 10:14-17). The Gospel is for all people (Mark 16:15). God provides the words and the evidence which attracts men to Jesus.

Now we ask, “Who has the Father given unto Jesus?” The answer is found in John 6:39-40. The Father has given unto His Son everyone who sees the Son (this doesn’t omit us for we can behold Him through the Scriptures – Galatians 3:1; Hebrews 2:9; John 20:30-31), and believes in Him (literally those that “keep on believing on him”).

In summation, the kind of person God gives is one that considers the evidence and puts his trust in Jesus. The method of giving is this: the Father provides the words and the evidence to draw men unto Jesus. Nothing in context suggests a direct, unconditional giving.

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A Positive Influence on Children

I read of a study which showed that religion has a positive influence on children (Foxnews.com: Religion is Good for Kids by Melinda Wenner, Tuesday, April 24, 2007). The study was conducted by John Bartkowski, a Mississippi State University sociologist, and colleagues.

In the study, parents and teachers of more than 16,000 children (most of them first graders) were asked to rate how much self-control they believed the kids had, how often they exhibited poor or unhappy behavior, and how well those children worked with their peers. The data was gathered.

Next, the data was compared to some questions asked of the parents. Things like: how frequently the parents said that they attended church services, and how much they said that they talked about religion with their children.

The results? Melinda Wenner reports, “The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services – especially when both parents did so frequently – and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents” (ibid).

Bartowski lists three things that he thinks religion does to help the child. First, religious networks provide social support to parents. Children who are brought into such networks and hear parental messages reinforced by other adults may also “take more to heart the messages that they get in the home.” Secondly, the types of values and norms that circulate in religious congregations tend to be self-sacrificing and pro-family. This ‘could be very, very important in shaping how parents relate to their kids, and then how children develop in response.’ Thirdly, religious organizations imbue parenting with sacred meaning and significance (ibid).

The Bible says, “These words, which I command you today, shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:6-7). “…A child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29:15). “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

What if they don’t want to attend? Should I make them? We make our children attend public school. We make them eat their vegetables. Dave Miller asked, “Do you remember your mother insisting that you eat your vegetables? Her rationale was (1) They’re good for you and (2) you must learn to like them. Our culture is losing all of these sage bits of wisdom and insightful truths about life, and human existence, and moral value. Like virtually everything of value in life, one must grow, cultivate and develop one’s involvement in life’s activities” (Piloting the Strait, p. 187). Is this any less important? It is true that at first they may resist attending, but who knows if they show up, they may well receive encouragement from others and learn a great lesson and application from God’s Word.

 Remember that you are the parent. You are responsible.  God said of Abraham, “I know him,… he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice” (Gen. 18:19). But of Eli we’re told, “I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them” (1 Sam. 3:13).

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Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?

“Why did the Savior heaven leave, and come to earth below where men His grace would not receive? Because He loves me so/Why did the Savior mark the way, and why temptation know? Why tech and toil and plead the way? Because He loves me so/Why feel the gardens dreadful dross? Why thro’ His trials go? Why suffer death upon the cross? Because He loves me so! (song: He loves Me)

“Why did my Savior come to earth, and to the humble go? Why did He choose a lowly birth? Because He loved me so/Why did He drink the bitter cup of sorrow, pain and woe? Why on the cross be lifted up? Because He loved me so! (song: Why Did My Savior Come To Earth? By J.G. Dailey)

 1.  He came to do the Father’s will (John 6:38; 17:4; 19:30).  *Not that such was against His own will (Hebrews 9:14; 10:17-18; Matthew 26:51-53; John 10:11, 17-18).

2.  He came to be man’s perfect example.

  • In love (John 13:15; 13:34; Philippians 2:4-8; 1 John 3:16-18)
  • In endurance (Hebrews 12:3-4; 1 Peter 2:21-23)
  • In forgiveness (Colossians 3:13)
  • In service (John 13:14-15; Matthew 20:25-28; Philippians 2:4-7)

3.  He came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17; John 5:39; Luke 24:25-27; Acts 8:30-35; 17:11; 18:28; 26:22, 27-28; 28:23).

4.  He came to give us a new covenant (Hebrews 9:16-20; Luke 16:16).

5.  He came to defeat Satan for us (Hebrews 2:14-15) and save us from our sins (Luke 19:10; John 3:17; 1 Peter 2:24-25; Matthew 26:28 cf. Acts 2:38).

6.  He came to give us a better quality of life (John 10:10).

7.  He came to give us peace and joy (John 14:27; 16:33; Philippians 4:4, 7).

8.  He came to become our perfect High Priest (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 2:17-18).

9.  He came to give us the hope of Heaven (John 14:1-3; Philippians 1:21; 1 John 5:11).

10.  He came because He loves us (John 15:13; Matthew 20:28; Hebrews 2:9; Philippians 2:4-7).  *And so does the Father (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

11.  He came to reveal the unseen God (John 1:18; 12:45; 14:8-9; Colossians 1:15; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3).

12.  He came to establish His church (Matthew 16:18).   *Even Hades itself wouldn’t prevent it (cf. Acts 2:27, 31).

The next time that we are tempted to feel sorry for ourselves, may we meditate on what He endured for us (Hebrews 12:3-4 cf. 4:15). Consider the following story….

God Leads A Pretty Sheltered Life

   (author unknown)

At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly, not with cringing shame, but with belligerence. “How can God judge us?” “How can He know about suffering?” snapped a joking brunette. She jerked back a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp, “We endured terror, beatings, torture, death!” In another group, a black man lowered his collar. “What about this?” he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn, “Lynched for no crime but being black! We have suffocated in slave ships, been wrenched from loved ones, toiled till only death gave release.”

Far out across the plains were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He permitted in His world. How lucky God was to live in Heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping, no fear, no hunger, no hatred. Indeed, what did God know about what man had been forced to endure in this world? After all, God leads a pretty sheltered life,” they said. So, each group sent out a leader, chosen because he had suffered. There was a Jew, a black, an untouchable from India, an illegitimate, a person from Hiroshima, and one from a Siberian slave camp. In the center of the plain they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather simple: Before God would be qualified to be their judge, He must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God “should be sentenced to live on earth – as a man!” But, because He was God, they set certain safeguards to be sure He could not use His divine powers to help Himself. Let Him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted, so that none will know who really is His Father. Let Him champion a cause so just, but so radical, that it brings down upon Him the hate, condemnation, and eliminating efforts of every major traditional and established religious authority. Let Him try to describe what no man has ever seen, tasted, heard or smelled – let Him try to communicate God to man. Let Him be betrayed by His dearest friends. Let Him be indicted on false charges, tried before a prejudiced jury, and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let Him see what is to be terribly alone and completely abandoned by every living thing. Let Him be tortured and let Him die. Let Him die the most humiliating death – with common thieves! As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the great throng of people. When the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No one uttered another word. No one moved. For suddenly all knew… God had already served His sentence.

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