Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

CONVICTED SINNERS CAN REJECT CHRIST

Dr. John R. Rice

The Scriptures show that enlightened, convicted men do resist God, do thwart the grace of God. Men who could be saved, who are set apart by the blood of Christ, men who are bought, resist the Holy Spirit. God's grace is offered to all, but is not irresistible, as Calvin taught.

One of the five points of this man-made philosophy of extreme Calvinism is the doctrine of "irresistible grace." By this term Calvin meant, and hyper-Calvinists today mean, that God intended for only a limited number of people to be saved, that the atonement of Christ paid for the sins of only this limited few (the doctrine of "limited atonement," as extreme Calvinists call it); that those who are predestined to be saved cannot resist the grace of God, cannot reject the Saviour but are certain to be saved. For this reason extreme Calvinists are not generally burdened about soul winning since they say, the grace of God is "irresistible."

So if we can show that the Bible teaches that men do resist the grace of God, do resist the moving and conviction of the Holy Spirit, we have proved that extreme Calvinism is simply not true, that it is unscriptural, a man-made philosophy contrary to the Bible. But the Bible and human experience alike prove that men do resist the Spirit of God, do thwart divine grace. Therefore some could be saved who are not saved, and the atonement is for all.

In the seventh chapter of Acts we find Deacon Stephen, a Spirit-filled man of God, speaking before the Sanhedrin and Jewish elders. And Spirit-filled Stephen said, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:51,52).

To these Jewish leaders Stephen said, "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost." So here were people some of whom had seen Jesus and heard Him preach, others who had heard Peter the apostle at Pentecost, others who had heard Stephen and other Spirit-filled men preaching with great power so that "the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).
And what had these done? They were stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, that is, they were stubborn in their rebellion against God. They were deliberately "uncircumcised in heart and ears," remaining unconverted. And this resistance against the Holy Spirit went to such length that as they heard Stephen preach, "they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth," and then they took him out of the city and stoned him and killed him! Men did resist the Holy Spirit. These particular men had done so year after year under great moving of the Holy Ghost.
And Stephen said, "As your fathers did, so do ye." So Stephen says that all the way from Abraham through the history of the Jewish nation down to the time of Christ and those same Jewish elders, unconverted Jews had resisted the Holy Spirit!

Thus we must believe, taking the Word of God at face value, that God calls people who do not come. God convicts people who will not repent. God's Spirit moves people to be saved, but they will not be saved.

One of these same Jewish leaders who heard Stephen speak was Saul of Tarsus. Oh, how he hated this new sect of Christians! And now with that hate flaming in his heart and the zeal of Judaism he set out to arrest Christians at Damascus. You see, Paul up to this time was resisting the Holy Ghost, so much so that later God said to him, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (Acts 9:5).

So people do kick against the pricks of God's Holy Spirit. People do resist the call of God. People do resist God's grace and do thwart God's offer of mercy. And that means that those who are not saved could have been saved. Those who reject Christ could have accepted Him. God offers mercy to those who will not have it. Those who go to Hell go, not because God wanted them to go, nor because they were predestined to go to Hell, but they go to Hell because they would not heed the moving of the Holy Spirit on their hearts, and they would not repent when God commanded them to repent. They would not follow the light that God gave them.

Again in Hebrews 10:29 we find the clear statement that men resist God, that sometimes men who are convicted and moved to get saved will not be saved.

Read Hebrews 10:28 and 29 together. "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"

First, note that God says the damnation of a lost sinner is illustrated by the stoning of rebels against the Mosaic law in the Old Testament. Those who "sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth" (verse 26) are ready for judgment for rejecting the truth. Notice that the sin mentioned is wilful sin and this involves a certain freedom of the will to sin or not to sin. (I speak not now of the taint in our carnal nature, but in the actual choice of right and wrong, the choice of receiving Christ or rejecting Him.) So a wilful sinner under the Mosaic law, at the mouth of two or three witnesses, was stoned. But then God warns us, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"

Verse 29, here quoted, teaches so clearly that men who turn down Christ do it deliberately and that the punishment is because of the wilfulness of their sin. Notice these sins:

1. They have "trodden under foot the Son of God."

2. Such a man has "counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing."

This may mean either of two things. It may mean that every lost sinner is in some sense sanctified by the death of Christ, that is, potentially set apart for God. Since Jesus is potentially "the Saviour of all men," but "specially of them that believe," as we are expressly told (I Timothy 4:10), then the blood of Jesus, potentially, sets apart every sinner in the world for God. That is saying no more than I Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Every poor sinner is bought by the blood of Jesus. He is the propitiation "for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2).

Or some will think that "the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified" refers to the blood of animal sacrifices which Jews gave. They think that every Jew was thus sanctified or set apart by a covenant of blood. But if so, that does not change the essential meaning. If every Jew was set apart by bloody sacrifices, then those bloody sacrifices typified the blood of Christ and the blood of Christ surely went as far as the blood of bulls and goats!

This Scripture plainly teaches that the blood of Jesus Christ has set apart every sinner for salvation. Some do not accept the salvation that is offered. Jesus is "the Saviour of the world," although not all the world will take Him as Saviour. Jesus is "the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2), although some people do not accept the blessed gift that is given. So here the Scripture is teaching that the blood of Christ has purchased people for salvation who do not take salvation.

But the third thing this Scripture says about such a sinner who rejects Christ is that he "hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace." The blessed Holy Spirit who calls the sinner and whom he resists is insulted and abused by the Christ-rejecting sinner!

Oh, poor lost sinner, when you go to Hell you must remember that you have trodden under foot the Son of God. You must remember that when you go to Hell you counted the blood of Jesus shed for you an unholy thing. In Hell, poor lost sinner, you must remember that you were called and pleaded with and convicted and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, but you insulted that Spirit, you did "despite unto the Spirit of grace."

We are talking here about the grace of God which is so freely offered to sinners by the Holy Spirit. And sinners resist and reject that grace of God and insult the Holy Spirit who pleads with them, so teaches the Word of God.

So every lost sinner could be saved. The death of Christ met the requirements and paid for his sins. The precious blood is a holy thing which would pay the entire debt. The Holy Spirit of God calls in grace but sinners refuse. This Scripture does not teach "irresistible grace," but it teaches the grace of God offered to all men so that all could be saved and all ought to be saved.

Second Peter, chapter 2, is given up to a discussion of false prophets. The whole 22 verses are on this subject and the chapter starts off with this statement: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction."

These false teachers bring in damnable heresies "denying the Lord that bought them."

Here is the strange statement that even false teachers are bought by the blood of Jesus Christ.

This chapter goes to great detail to show that these false prophets are lost people, certain of the judgment of God. Verse 3 says of them, "Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." The rest of the chapter tells us how God who spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell, will not spare these false teachers. Verse 5 tells us that as God destroyed the ungodly in the flood, so He will destroy these false teachers.

These false teachers are described in verse 12 "as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed." Verse 17 speaks of these false teachers as "wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever." These false teachers are ungodly men who will go to Hell. They are men "even denying the Lord who bought them."

Nothing could more clearly show that these men are included in the atoning death of Christ, they are included in the grace of God which would save everyone. But they resist the grace of God, they reject the call of the Spirit, they exercise the freedom of their wills to reject Christ and be lost.

Men do resist the will of God and go to Hell, who could be saved. And that shows the folly of this man-made philosophy of hyper-Calvinism. It shows the falsity of this human doctrine of "limited atonement," this human doctrine of "irresistible grace," this doctrine that some are "foreordained to reprobation" as others are "foreordained to be saved."

I do not need to call attention to the fact that those of us who are saved in most cases long resisted the call of God. In Genesis 6:3 we are told that the Holy Spirit strives with men and then sometimes ceases striving. In Acts 24:25 we are told how as Paul "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled .. " No doubt this blessed Spirit of God convicted Felix and spoke to his heart. He waited for a convenient season and, we suppose, kept on waiting and went to Hell. But he cannot say that he might not have been saved. He can never say that the Spirit of God did not call him, did not convict him, did not show him his need.

The very fact that Christians are warned against the sin of quenching the Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:19) and are solemnly warned, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30), shows that the grace of God is not irresistible. Man has certain moral freedom of choice. Lost men must choose whether or not they will be saved. And saved people must choose whether or not they will more perfectly follow the Lord than they do.

God's grace offers salvation to all men. All could accept it; some do not.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Calvinists see the Bible through the filter of Calvin's teachings. They don't see what the Bible says about the free will and human responsibility.

They see God's sovereignty in places where God sovereignty gave responsibility to man. It's like view through the red window where the white clouds became red.

a39greenway said...

The doctrine of predestination is at the heart of the Reformed message, but almost every tradition has to wrestle with the thorny questions of divine and human agency, as have home-grown religious movements like Mormonism and Christian Science.

In this history of the doctrine in America, Peter Thuesen argues in his new book Predestination: The American Career of a Contentious Doctrine that it has been a crucial but generally unacknowledged source of conflict in and between many American religious bodies, shaping American religious history, and that while predestination usually is contrasted with free will, a more telling contrast is with sacramentalism.

Micky said...

As for the Reprobate, Catholics believe that God predestines no one to hell. Scripture says God loves the world (John 3:16); He desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and that He has no pleasure on the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).

The belief that God predestines no one to evil has been the constant teaching of the Catholic Church.

We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema.