Sunday sermon [2nd Corinthians 1]
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Some of my studies-
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[TODAY’S POST BEGINS HERE]
John 6:41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
Sunday sermon [2nd Cor. 1] Videos-
.The Bread- confession? [An interesting experience]
.Than came John 6:41
.What was the significance of the meaning of the word MANNA?
.Manna means ‘What is it’
.So like wise the 1st century Jewish person would not immediately recognize Jesus as the Messiah- in essence saying ‘Who is this’?
.Jesus being the Bread from heaven
.Overview of Stephens sermon in Acts 7
.What was the main theme of his message?
.2 Corinthians- Paul's most autobiographical letter
.We too share in the sufferings of Christ [The fellowship of his suffering]
Philipians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
.Yes- Jesus ‘Paid it all’- and also left us an example of how to go thru suffering as well
.Look to the ‘joy set before you’ [Hebrews 12] and you than see a purpose in the suffering
.Development of the Papacy
.The split between Rome and the East [Orthodox] in 1054 ad
.Council of Trent
.The debate between Infusion or Imputation- which view is correct?
.The letter of James and the example of Abraham
.James was talking about the Genesis 22 account [Infusion]
.Paul primarily focused on Genesis 15 [Imputation]
.James and Paul do not disagree- the confusion is trying to make the James teaching fit into the Genesis 15 account of Imputation [technical- I know- but hopefully this will help my friends who are familiar with the debate]
.Soteriology [The doctrine of salvation] is Both a static- 1 time event [initial conversion] and also defined as a fluent conversion process thru out life
.Yes- scripture does have the final say
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:
TEACHING [More teaching below]
I’ll add the intro to both 1st and 2nd Cor. that I wrote many years ago-
1st CORINTHIANS INTRODUCTION- Out of all of Paul’s letters, this one is ‘the most verified’ as being his. Of course we know this because Paul says so in the letter! But for all those intellectual higher critics, this helps. Corinth was a city of great influence and trade, many land and sea routes converged at Corinth and her port. The city was also known for her philosophers and ‘preachers of wisdom’ [Rhetoric]. They actually had a custom at Corinth in which you could ‘hire’ your own ‘preacher of wisdom’. These were the traveling teachers who made a living at speaking. This also might be why Paul specifically said ‘when I was with you I did not take money from you’. The custom of the traveling preachers was you could pay a one time honorarium for a single speech, or you could actually hire a regular speaker and have him ‘on salary’. Paul did not want the Corinthians to think that he was their hired preacher! How much influence this type of trade would have on the later development of the ‘hired clergy’ is unknown, but the similarities are striking. The famous 5th century bishop of Hippo, North Africa, Saint Augustine, made his living as one of these traveling teachers of philosophy before becoming a Christian. It’s believed that Paul wrote a 3rd letter to the church at Corinth, so what we know as 1st, 2nd Corinthians might actually be letters 2 and 3. I personally think Corinthians holds special value for the church today. The 21st century believer is being challenged on her Ecclesiology, the whole idea of what the church is. In Corinthians we see a specific picture of what the church is and on how she should meet. Paul will not address ‘the Pastor’ [there was none in the modern sense of the office] but he will speak directly to the brothers at Corinth and give them some heavy responsibilities to carry out [like committing a brother to satan for the destruction of his flesh! Ouch]. Paul went to Corinth on his 2nd missionary journey and spent 18 months with them [Acts 18] one of the longest stays at any church. Because of the pagan background of the city Paul will address specific issues related to believers and certain practices of idol worship. Eating meat offered to idols and stuff like that. Corinth also practiced a form of idolatry that included prostitution, so he will deal severely with the loose sexual morals of the people at Corinth. Well we have a lot to cover in the next few weeks, try and read Corinthians on your own as we plunge into this study, it will help a lot.
INTRO, CHAPTER 1- Out of all of Paul’s letters, this one is the most autobiographical. This is Paul’s 3rd letter [some think 4th] to the Church at Corinth. There is a missing letter that we don’t have. Some scholars feel parts of the missing letter are in this letter [chapters 6, 10-13] either way, we know the letter is inspired and part of the canon of scripture. In chapter one Paul recounts the difficulties he went thru [and continues to go thru] for the sake of the gospel. Paul sees both his sufferings AND his deliverance as beneficial for the communities [churches] he is relating to. He says ‘God establishes/strengthens us and anoints us together with you’. Paul’s view of the church [his ecclesiology] is that God works with corporate groups of believers. His view on discipline is seen from this angle. In 1st Corinthians he says because we do not live to ourselves, therefore if one is in open, unrepentant sin, then commit him to judgment. Why? Because everything that one member does affects the others. I would not go so far and say that Paul taught ‘no salvation outside of the church’ but he sees salvation and Gods working with humans as a corporate experience. The Catholic Church for the first time in her history accepted other Protestant churches who confess Christ and his deity as ‘separated brethren’. This happened at Vatican 2 [1962-65]. The council explicitly taught the other churches were actually ‘churches’. They specifically used the word ‘subsists’ when describing their view of the church. They said the church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church in it’s fullness. They still believe that the fullest expression of Christ’s church on earth is contained within her, but they rejected the hard line doctrine that the church exclusively resides within her. They realized that God was working with all Christian groups/churches, not just one. I recently saw an ad in my local paper from one of the traditional Latin churches, these are the old ‘tridentine’ churches who observe the mass in Latin. The ad said that salvation is only in the Catholic expression of the church. I hate to correct my Catholic brothers [being I am a Protestant] but this language is not in keeping with the spirit of Vatican 2. Paul understood that God was working with him along with the corporate groups of people that he was relating to as an apostle. He will even teach that this dynamic can take place when they are physically separated, i.e.; he did not have to be in the same room/city for God to be working with them as a community. This is very important to see, it comes against certain expressions of local church. It also opens the door for other expressions of church, like ‘on-line’ communities. There are passages of scripture where Paul does say that whether he is with them in body or not, yet he is present in spirit joying and beholding their growth in Christ. Or he says word got back to him about their growth and he rejoiced in it. While believers should physically meet together as a testimony of their faith, yet the fact that there are occasions where this might not be possible does not mean that they can’t be joined together in spirit and truth. Peter says ‘you who were not a people are now the people of God. You who did not obtain mercy have now obtained it’. God ‘birthed’ churches [communities of believers] thru the apostolic ministry of Paul, these groups were both birthed and received mercy as a corporate event, they understood that they were brothers and sisters in Christ.
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1st Peter 4.
PAST POSTS [These are links and parts of my past teachings that relate in some way to today’s post- verses and other videos at the bottom of this post]
2ND CORINTHIANS 4- In chapter 3 Paul said we are beholding/seeing God in an open way as compared to the old covenant. In this chapter he shows us how we ‘see God’. We see him in his Son. God has chosen to reveal himself to us thru his Son. One of the first Christian councils [after the one at Jerusalem in Acts 15!] was held in the 4th century under the Roman emperor Constantine. The reason was to bring unity to the church on the issue of Christ’s divinity. These councils played political roles as well as theological. After Constantine became emperor he established the great city in the eastern empire called Constantinople. This city [named after him] became both the theological and political seat in the eastern half of the empire. So you had both a religious and political competition going on in the empire. Rome, situated in the west, was feeling like she would lose her position if the eastern half started gaining too much influence. So you had differing reasons for these councils. But you also had sincere men who held to various beliefs at the time. The bishop Arius came to teach that Jesus was the Son of God, but not God himself. This created a stir in the empire and Constantine called a council to settle the question. The debates went forth, both views were discussed and classic Orthodoxy came down on the side of Jesus being God. Now, there would be more councils dealing with Gods nature and Christ’s role, but this was a defining moment in Christian history. The church [and the scriptures] teach that God became man [incarnation] and thru Jesus we ‘see God’. Paul also relates the many sufferings and trials he was going thru. He says he tastes death and bears in his body the death of Jesus. He simply does not give a picture of the Christian life that is common in today’s world. Many believers are taught that these types of difficulties and sufferings are a result of their lack of faith, or their inability to rightfully ‘access their covenant rights’. Paul refutes this doctrine strongly. Paul has already mentioned those who ‘peddle Gods word’ or who twist the scriptures for their own benefit. It always amazes me to see well meaning believers/teachers go thru the entire corpus of the New Testament and never see these things. It’s so easy for preachers/teachers to read the scriptures with blinders on. Here Paul taught that the many sufferings [both physical and spiritual] were an honorable thing, they were his way of sharing in the sufferings and death of Christ. They were ‘death in him, but life in you’ he saw his difficulties thru a redemptive lens. He says the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us. The first verse of this chapter says seeing we have received this great ministry, we don’t faint. I like Eugene Petersons Message version, he says ‘just because times get hard, we don’t throw up our hands and walk off the job’ I like that.
GALATIANS 2- Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. https://youtu.be/Ld07s54F3M4 Galatians 2 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/12-27-16-galatians-2.zip ON VIDEO- .What Jerusalem visit was it? .Did Peter quote Paul in Acts 15? .Hearing and believing justifies .Paul rebukes Peter .God chose us .The faith itself is a gift .Justin Martyr .Legalism .Law versus grace .God rested the 7th day .The ‘Way’ .Catholics and Protestants .Great Schism- 1054 ad .Reformation- 16th century .We all have ‘traditions’
NEW- As Paul makes the argument that ‘his gospel’ is the true message of grace- He recounts a story about Peter. One time Peter visited the gentile Christians of Antioch [the region] and when Peter was with them he ate and fellowshipped with them- Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. Galatians 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. Galatians 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. Then Paul says when some from ‘James’ came down- he separated himself from the gentiles- and started going back to the old ways of the law [The Jews saw the gentiles as unclean]. Paul says he withstood Peter- to his face- and said this- Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? Ok- it looks like Peter learned a lesson this day. The same lesson God himself showed him in Acts chapter 10- Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Now- we read about a visit Paul made to Jerusalem- ’14 years’ after the encounter he mentioned in chapter 1 [of Galatians]- Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. Galatians 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. I don’t want to get too much into the weeds here- but bible scholars have different views on the visit to Jerusalem mentioned in this chapter. Some think this is talking about a visit we read about in Acts 11- others think he is speaking about the acts 15 council. On the video I talk about the different reasons why this is so- but it really makes no difference- The main point Paul is making is the fact that the leadership of the Jerusalem church knew he was preaching grace to the gentiles- and they were ok with that. He spends a lot of time in chapters 1 and 2 defending himself- and talking about his interaction with the leaders of the church at Jerusalem. The reason he is doing this is because the Judiazers [the believing Pharisees out of Jerusalem] were going around behind Paul’s back and telling his converts that Paul was teaching in rebellion of the ‘main church’ at Jerusalem. Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. Acts 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. He in fact was not. At the end of the chapter we have another clear argument for why people are indeed justified by faith in Jesus- and not by the works of the law. Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. Galatians 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. Galatians 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I mention- quote a lot on today’s video [Galatians 2]- I’ll try and add some of my past teaching on the key chapters [Acts 10- etc.] Because they fit In with the whole story of what’s going on- The New Testament is to be read in context. When we read thru the whole bible- it helps us see the bigger picture. One note on why I think it might be possible that the visit talked about in this chapter might not be the Acts 15 council- When Paul recounts his rebuke to Peter – these are the same words Peter uses when defending Paul at the Jerusalem council- Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? Acts 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. Acts 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; Acts 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Acts 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Sort of like Peter remembered the earlier rebuke by Paul- and it stuck with him. Another reason it might be the earlier meeting- is Paul says the only ordinance James gave them- was to remember the poor- Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. Yet- in the famous Acts 15 meeting- there were actually 4 things James and the leaders told them- and in the Acts 15 meeting- it leaves out the part about taking care of the poor- Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. Either way- the main message is the same. That the gentile believers did not have to get circumcised and come under the law in order to be saved- In the words of Paul himself- this would make the death of Christ ‘vain’- Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. PAST TEACHING I DID THAT RELATES- https://ccoutreach87.com/acts/ [see chapters- 10- 11- 15- I talk about them on today’s video- Galatians 2. GALATIANS [Links] https://ccoutreach87.com/2016/12/26/galatians-1/ https://ccoutreach87.com/2016/12/30/2nd-samuel-3-homeless-friends/ I also mention- quote from these books- here are my past commentaries on them- https://ccoutreach87.com/ephesians-highlights/ https://ccoutreach87.com/romans-updated-2015/ https://ccoutreach87.com/john-complete-links-added/ https://ccoutreach87.com/hebrews-updated-2015/ https://ccoutreach87.com/james-2015/ https://ccoutreach87.com/protestant-reformation-luther/
[parts] Part of the achievements of Constantine was his development of the eastern half of the Roman empire- whose capitol was named after him- Constantinople.
Over a period of years the early Roman church fought over whose bishop would have more influence- the bishop of Rome [Pope] or the bishop in the east.
Many bishops in the Catholic Church have disagreed over the influence of one bishop being greater than the others [the idea that all the bishops should have an equal voice at the church councils is called Collegiality].
This has caused splits within the Catholic Church thru the centuries [the last big one in the 19th century].
Eventually the early church split- and the Eastern Church separated from Rome.
The eastern empire [called Byzantium- the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church] officially split in the year 1054.
Now- in church history we call this the Great Schism- even though the Protestant split which took place in the 16th century was greater in effect.
Okay- the Protestant reformers split over various issues- I have an entire study on the blog about this.
But the main issue became what we call justification by faith.
Over the centuries many good men- and average church goers- lost the main message of the New Testament- which was a message of being saved by the grace of God.
Many well meaning Christians were struggling to do penance in a way that sort of earned them their salvation thru works.
. Let me cover some church history. I have had someone argue with me about the history of Islam. Not a Muslim, but a Christian who was saying ‘why do you say Islam started in the 7th century, it started around the 11th’. My answer was ‘Muhammad lived in the 7th century’. Not to hard to see this. So I thought I should cover some history. During the time of the rise of Islam, the Christian church was already dividing from east and west. After Constantine [4th century Roman emperor] consolidated the Roman Empire in the 4th century he set up the capital city of the eastern empire, Constantinople [named after him]. As time progressed the western church would take on the form of Roman Catholicism, the eastern [Constantinople area. Modern day Turkey-Istanbul] would be known as ‘Orthodox’. Though the official split of eastern and western [Catholic-Rome!] churches occurred in 1054 AD, yet the division started years before. The official split is called ‘the great schism’ of the 11th century; it would not be until 500 years later that the church would have her ‘reformation’. The official reason for this split was over a rather silly thing. For centuries the Catholic church had an expression that said ‘the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father’ than they included ‘he proceeds from the father and the Son’. Well the eastern brothers didn’t like Rome telling them what to believe and used this as the official reason to ‘have the schism’. To be honest the divisions were coming for years. After the Roman Empire consolidated under Constantine, he tried to strengthen the eastern territories of his empire and for centuries you had the struggle for which region would be the most influential. At first you had 5 major areas that were divided under 5 main Bishops. As time went on the argument would be ‘which bishop has the most say so’ and it was really a power struggle. Finally Rome said ‘the bishop of Rome is the FIRST AMONG EQUALS [a term that many in the Protestant strain of the discipling movement would later embrace] he holds Peters seat’ and this is really where the divisions started. Eventually Muhammad would rise and Islam would take control of the eastern capital. This later became the reason for the crusades. The Catholic church wanted to regain the territories that she lost in the east. The eastern churches are very much Catholic in many ways. They also hold to a view of Christianity that sees man being ‘joined’ with God and becoming pleasing to God thru Christ’s grace uniting with us and making us like him. A perfectly scriptural view, but a different emphasis from the strong intellectual power that you read about from the western fathers of the church. The Catholic church is noted for her social action in ways that the eastern church is not. So both of these communions have good things to bring to the table. The Orthodox [eastern] churches would not be affected by the major social and political upheavals that took place in the west. The Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment had major impacts on western Christianity, while not affecting the eastern church in the same way. During the 13th- 15th centuries you would have ‘pre reformers’ rise up in the western church. John Wycliffe, the great Catholic Priest who was at the center of learning in France would become known for his translating the scriptures into the common language. Then you have John Huss and John Knox [3 Johns, scripture says 3 fold cords are not easily broken!] who would have their own influence in western Christianity. At this time you had whole movements of believers who would be seen as neither ‘western or eastern’ but restorationist [the restoring of the early practices and beliefs of the church] Peter Waldo would be the Father of the Waldensians and in the 12th century you would have the Albigenses in the south of France. These groups would be looked upon as ‘cults’ [though the term was not used yet] by the traditional church. So you can see how the church has been growing and reforming ever since the first century. Even though we see many divisions that exist till this day, there are strides being made for unity. The eastern and western church are very close to‘re uniting’ once again. While I do not personally hold to the doctrine of the Pope being the occupier of Peter’s seat, I also see him as a Christian man who is striving for unity in Christ’s church. Some believe the whole attempt for outward unity is futile. The more ardent Protestants see it as ‘the one world church of the anti christ’ I reject that language out of hand. Well I hope you got something out of this short overview of world history [real short!].
Socrates was born around 469-470 BCE.
He is famous for introducing a way of learning that engaged the students in a dialogue- the question would be put on the table- and thru rigorous debate- you would come to an understanding thru the process of questioning.
This is referred to as the Socratic Method.
Socrates came on the scene during the famous Spartan wars.
The other day I watched the movie 300- which depicts the battle between the city state of Athens against the city/state of Sparta.
As you know- the Athenians suffered a great defeat at the hands of the Spartans.
The Spartans were outmanned by the Athenians- but their motto was ‘come back with your shields- or on them’.
They were a true warrior nation- trained to fight from their youth- and this defeat sent the people of Athens into a time of disillusionment.
They questioned the power of their gods- and a sort of malaise fell over Athens after the defeat.
This was when Socrates entered the fray- when the people had many questions about life.
He was called the Gadfly of Athens- a title that would also be given to the 19th century Danish father of existentialism- Soren Kierkegaard.
They were called Gadfly’s- because they were like flies that would pester you- and elicit a response.
The leadership of Athens saw Socrates as one that was stirring up the youth of his day- and creating discontent among the populace.
He rejected the many god’s of the day- but did have a belief in a single deity- he- like the Christians 4 centuries later- would be accused of atheism- because of his rejection of multiple god’s.
He was sentenced to death in 399 BCE- and his form of execution was drinking Hemlock.
His most famous student- Plato- spoke with him before his death.
Many were surprised at how willingly Socrates faced his demise- and this willingness had a great impact on those who witnessed it.
Socrates never wrote anything- but most of what we do know about him comes from the writing of others- most notably from Plato’s Dialogues.
Plato wrote down what Socrates taught- In his writings we see Socrates engaging in this method with various people- thus the name of Plato’s works- Dialogues.
There is a debate about how much of what was written about him was actually true- Plato did add his own ideas into these debates- and the controversy about this is so strong that we actually have a name for it- the ‘Socratic Problem’.
During the time of the disillusionment of the Athenians- there were a group of philosophers known as the Sophists.
The word comes from Sophia- meaning wisdom.
Philosophy itself means The Love of Wisdom.
In our day the words Sophomore- Sophistry and Sophisticated are derived from this root word.
The Sophists were the original Pragmatists.
Pragmatism is a form of belief that says ‘do what works- regardless of the ethical implications’.
We will get to Pragmatism at the end of this whole series on Philosophy.
But for now- we see the division between what Socrates taught- and the Sophists.
Socrates did indeed teach a form of Ethics- which contrasted with the Sophists.
He said that the pursuit of virtue was better than the pursuit of wealth- much like the words of Jesus ‘what does it profit a man if he gain the world- and lose his soul’.
His most famous saying is ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’.
He emphasized the importance of mind over body- which inspired Plato’s philosophy of dividing reality into 2 separate realms- the world of senses and the world of ideas.
Socrates actually challenged the Democratic process- he believed it better for the wise men- the Philosopher Kings- to run the show.
Athens did have a form of Democracy at the time- and because of the rise of the Sophists- and the itinerant teachers- you had sort of an election process- much like in our day- where those who would attain office were those who spoke the best- and made the best public argument.
We elect judges and stuff in our day- and even presidents- not because they are the most capable- but because they ran the best campaign.
So- in a way I agree with Socrates- at times I think we need a better process of electing those to higher office- then the one we have now.
It’s important to note that even though we started this study with Thales- and in the study of Western philosophy it’s commonly understood to have started with Thales.
Yet- Socrates seems to be the Father of philosophy in many ways.
He probably has had the most influence in the field philosophy- and the 2 great philosophers that we’ll get to next come right out from the heels of Socrates [Plato and Aristotle].
Why is this important to note?
As we progress in this study- and get closer to the 19th/20th century philosophers- we will see a trend- away from the idea that there are actually any ethical values- moral virtues- or ‘right or wrong’.
These philosophers dabbled with the idea that values themselves are the cause of man’s problems [Freud].
So- keep in mind- one of the main streams of thought in the early stages of philosophy was that values were indeed the main thing- Socrates challenged the Sophists of his day- he said that moral virtue was very important- that to live life with the values of courage- honesty- self-denial- these were the things that made men good- noble.
The bible says ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ ‘those that seek the Lord understand all things’.
Christian tradition would agree with Socrates in many ways- Jesus showed us that the virtue of service to others- to love your fellow man- to honor God- that these were indeed the heart of the matter.
Socrates feared the loss of virtue in society- that if we simply lived for the present time- with no higher values [a form of hedonism] then the foundations of society will erode.
He also believed that it was good to question things- not to simply believe a thing for the sake of believing.
Over time- thru debate and the discourse of other people- he believed you would get to the truth.
The bible says ‘in the multitude of counselors there is safety’.
Yeah- as people have a conversation- as they dialogue- often times they themselves come up with the answer to the question.
The apostle Paul penned the letter to young Timothy- he said ‘preach the word- in doing this you will save yourself- and those that hear you’.
Yeah- when you engage- and even try and teach others- this will have an effect on you too- the actual act of engaging- of teaching- often brings more insight to the one doing the communicating- then the ones who hear.
Yeah- I like Socrates- he believed in what he taught- he drank the Hemlock- knowing full well that his life would pass- but he had belief- faith- that after death man would pass over into another realm- a much better one.
No- he was not ‘Christian’ in the traditional sense of the word- but he was about as close as you could get- for his time.
TREASURY OF MERIT
Let’s pick up where we left off 2 posts back. We were talking about Martin Luther and the events that led up to the Protestant Reformation.
In order to understand the key act that caused the protest- we will have to teach some Catholic history/doctrine.
In the 16th century Pope Julius began the effort to build St. Peters basilica in Rome. He got as far as laying the foundation and died. Pope Leo the 10th would pick up after him.
The church needed to raise money for the project- and the German prince- Albert- would play a major role.
It should be noted that both Catholic and Protestant scholars agree that the Popes of the day were pretty corrupt. They came from what we call the Medici line of Popes.
If you remember last month I wrote a post on the Renaissance- I talked about the Medici family and how they played a major role in supporting the Renaissance that took place in the 13th century in Florence Italy that would spread to the region.
Well this very influential family also played a big role in who would get top positions in the church.
At the time of Luther and prince Albert- if you had the right connections and the money- you could literally buy a position in the church.
Albert already held 2 Bishop seats- and there was an opening for an Archbishops seat in Mainz [Germany] and he wanted that one too.
It should be noted that official Canon law [church law] said you could only hold one seat at a time- Albert was bidding on his 3rd one! And he was too young for all of them.
So even the Pope and the officials held little respect for what the church actually taught at the time.
So Albert opens up negotiations with Leo- and the bidding starts AT 12,000 Duckets [money] Albert counters with 7,000- and they agree on 10,000. How did they justify the numbers? 12- The number of Apostles. 7- The 7 deadly sins. 10- The 10 commandments.
Yes- the church was pretty corrupt at the time.
So Albert works out a plan with Leo- he will borrow the money from the German banks- and pay the banks off by the Pope giving Albert the right to sell Indulgences.
What’s an Indulgence?
Okay- this is where it gets tricky.
The ancient church taught a system called The Treasury of Merit. This was a sort of spiritual bank account that ‘stored up’ the good deeds of others over the years.
You had the good deeds of Jesus at the top- but you also had Mary and Joseph- the 12 Apostles- and other various saints thru out time.
The way the ‘bank’ worked was you could tap into the account by getting a Papal indulgence- a sort of I.O.U. that had the Popes guarantee that it would get so much time out of Purgatory for a loved one.
The actual sacrament that accesses the account is called Penance [confession].
When a penitent does penance- he confesses his sin to the priest- and he is absolved by the authority of the church that the priest has. The priest usually tells the person ‘say so many Hail Mary’s- Our Father’s’ and that’s a form of penance.
One of the other things the church practiced was called Alms Deeds. This term is found in the bible and it means giving your money to the poor- it is a noble act that Jesus himself taught.
In theory- part of the sacrament of penance was tied into Alms Deeds- you can access the account thru the practice of giving to the poor- which also meant giving to the church that helps the poor- and in the hands of the Medici line of Popes- meant outright giving money to the Pope.
So now you see how the abuse worked its way into the pockets of the faithful.
Albert now had the permission from Leo to sell these indulgences in Germany- and he would pick a certain corrupt priest to sell them in a place called Saxony- the region where Luther operated out of.
It should be noted that the Catholic Church never taught the crass act of ‘buying your way out of Purgatory’. The practice of including giving money as a part of the sacrament of penance was tied into the biblical principle of giving to the poor- a good thing.
But Tetzel and others abused the official meaning of the indulgence- and did make it sound like you could by your way out of Purgatory [in theory- a loved one might be in Purgatory for so many years- and through the indulgence you are actually getting time off for them- because the good deeds of others are now applied to the account].
The money Albert would raise- half would go to Rome for the building of St. peters- and half would go to pay off the banks in Germany- it was a sad system- and a sad time for the church as a whole.
It would be wrong to judge the entire church at the time as being corrupt- you did have many sincere Priests and Catholic men and women who saw the abuses and did not take part in them.
But there was corruption at the top- and this would eventually lead to the breakup of the church- and the launching of what we now call the Protestant Movement.
As a side note- it should be said that many Catholics and Protestants are not aware of the whole treasury of merit system- and the church never officially changed her position on the doctrine.
There were 3 Church councils since the time [Trent- 1500’s, Vatican 1- 1800’s and Vatican 2- 1962-65]. The Treasury of Merit never came up for change.
Obviously Protestants don’t believe in Purgatory- and it’s not my purpose in these posts to change Catholics into Protestants or vice versa- but to give all sides a clear view of the issues that divided us- and to try and be honest- and respectful during the process.
Does the bible teach anything like a Treasury of Merit? Well actually it does. The bible teaches that the righteousness of Christ is the treasury that people can access- by faith- and become righteous in the sight if God.
The idea- applied to Christ- is good.
But in the hands of the Medici Popes- and the ambitious prince of Germany- it would lead to disaster.
The 6th session of Trent was the one where the church dealt with justification [how we become saved in Gods sight].
Rome made a distinction between mortal and Venial sin in the council- the church said that Baptism is the INSTRUMENTAL CAUSE of justification. Yet faith is the Root- Foundation and Initial act that justifies.
Rome also taught that Mortal sin kills the grace in the soul that brings justification- and when a person commits a mortal sin- they need the ‘2nd plank of justification’ in order to be brought back into a state of Grace.
This 2nd Plank is the Sacrament of Penance [confession]. Catholic Moral Theologians use an example to show the difference between Mortal and Venial sin.
Drinking- if you take a drink [alcohol] not a sin. If you get tipsy- Venial- and if you get flat drunk- mortal.
This is a true teaching by the way- not making this up.
Catholic scholars are not in total agreement on all the Mortal/Venial sins.
Some teach that missing Mass on Sunday is a Mortal sin.
I just threw this in to show you the debates that take place.
The teachings from Trent are referred to as Tridentine.
The Protestants [early on] rejected the belief that a person can lose Gods grace once he has it- later on the Protestants would divide- severely- over this teaching- Predestination and the Perseverance of the Saints.
But early on all the major Reformers did indeed teach this.
Luther believed in the doctrine of Predestination just as much- if not more- than John Calvin.
But sometimes in these history shows they get this wrong and say Luther and Calvin disagreed on it- that’s a common mistake that you hear every so often.
Luther actually wrote a book dedicated to the subject [The Bondage of the Will] Calvin never wrote a book solely on the subject.
Okay- as we end this brief study of the Protestant Reformation- you could also call it a primer on Catholic doctrine [short one].
Why is it important that we study this?
In John chapter 17 Jesus said that he desired unity for all of Gods people- and many of these divisions- which date back 500 years- are commonly misunderstood on both sides.
It is common in our day to run across an ex Catholic who might say ‘you know- I left the church because I don’t believe I need to confess to a priest’ or ‘the Catholic church teaches you are saved by works’.
The original Reformers did not have a problem with confession- the Lutherans carried the practice over into their communion.
And like I just showed you- the Catholic church rejected the doctrine of being saved ‘by works’ [Pelagianism] and simply emphasized the teaching found in the bible- the book of James- and focused more on James than Paul [who the protestants focus on].
So yes- there are still differences- but if we are not informed- then it makes it harder to strive for unity- and at the end of the day God does desire unity for all his people.
The other day I quoted the great Civil rights leader- MLK. In one of his famous speeches that’s played when we celebrate his life- you hear Martin say that not only was he seeking unity among the races- but also in the church.
He said he wanted to see Catholics and Protestants- as well as Blacks and Whites- sit down together- he referred to us all as Gods kids.
I think we should strive to achieve the desire of Martin- and Jesus.
VERSES [These are the verses I either quoted or taught from on today’s post- other videos below]
2Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:
2Corinthians 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
2Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
2Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2Corinthians 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
2Corinthians 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
2Corinthians 1:7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
2Corinthians 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
2Corinthians 1:9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
2Corinthians 1:10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
2Corinthians 1:11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
2Corinthians 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
2Corinthians 1:13 For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;
2Corinthians 1:14 As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are our's in the day of the Lord Jesus.
2Corinthians 1:15 And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit;
2Corinthians 1:16 And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea.
2Corinthians 1:17 When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?
2Corinthians 1:18 But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.
2Corinthians 1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea.
2Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
2Corinthians 1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
2Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
2Corinthians 1:23 Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth.
2Corinthians 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
John 6:41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
Psalm 78:24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.
1Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
1Peter 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
Philipians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: