Thursday, February 15, 2007

Romans 4


What is Romans ch 4, talking about. And what can we learn from it?


You don't ever give me the easy ones do you?

First of all, the main point of the body of Romans is a defense of Paul's ministry of giving the gospel to the Gentiles without them needing to become Jews first. In the first part he talks about how sinful gentiles are, and then how sinful Jews are. Then he says that the solution-- how we get connected to God-- is by faith (by committing ourselves to God's kingship through Jesus.).

The question Paul is dealing with in Romans 4 is, "So you are saying that the Law is pointless? That we never needed the Law in the first place?" Paul replies, "I'm not getting rid of the Law-- instead, I am affirming what the Law itself taught!"

So he talks about Abraham, one of the central saints in the Law, about how he was made right before God through faith, and that before he was circumcised. Thus, Paul was saying, Abraham was exactly in the same place as modern Gentiles are-- he wasn't a "Jew" in the religious sense, and he was saved by his commitment to God's kingship.

Then Paul goes on to say that this is exactly how everyone is saved, whether Jew or Gentile, and that this was the point of the Law to begin with.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

How Are Catholics Wrong?

How do you know that Catholicism is wrong? I ask because until the age of 18 I was not very religious but I tended to be more protestant in belief, but for the last 3 years I have been in the Catholic Church. I have had several fall outs, but I always seem to return. This is very confusing for me and my biggest fear is going to hell because of all this confusion amongst Christians as to who is correct in their teachings. I have several books by Catholics that seem to prove to me by using scripture and history that Catholicism is the original and true branch of Christianity, but a small part of me tends to be skeptical of this. I go through phases of faith, for a few months my faith will be so strong I seriously consider joining the Catholic priesthood, but then at other times my faith is weak and I start to doubt Catholic teachings. I know you are a pastor, so I figure your knowledge on this subject could help to steer me in the right direction. Thank you,
God Bless,Mark

Thanks for putting your trust in me on this subject, although I doubt that just because I'm a pastor that I would necessarily be correct on the subject.
I never asked the question, "Is Catholicism wrong" in my search for God. Rather, I wanted to know in what way Jesus was right. My focus has never been this denomination or that, and even though I did choose a denomination for myself, it is not because I thought that all the other denominations are "wrong". There are some things about the Catholic beliefs that I find problematic-- Maryism, the focus on the Pope as the leader of the visible church, especially-- and so I couldn't openly join that church myself. However, some of the greatest saints that have ever lived, and some that are still alive, were and are part of the Catholic church. Jesus is clearly active in that church, even if I find some of the leadership to be questionable.
My point is, I guess, is that Jesus isn't limited to a particular church. I have talked to a number of our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox tradition, and they have a very good way of seeing the churches-- that each church is a manifestation of the Spirit of God, and we don't either want to exclude one, nor hold one up as greater than the others.
Does this mean that there is no such thing as right or wrong doctrine? Yes, of course there is. We should always be comparing what we believe to what Jesus taught to see if it is accurate with the only Teacher who spoke all the Truth. And the Spirit is still in the process of teaching me what is true and what I need to avoid. But I trust that the Spirit is doing the same in the hearts of those who truly trust in Him, no matter what visible church they are a part of.
There are many in each visible church who are not trusting in God and the Spirit as well. And we need to avoid those folks, especially when they are in leadership in the churches. But I don't want to limit God's work in my life by denying his word to me through a Catholic or a Protestant or an Orthodox or a Conservative or a Liberal or whatever church they are a part of. I want to hear what God has to speak to me, no matter which vessel He chooses to use, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I hope that makes sense.
Steve K.