Daily Archives: July 28, 2014

Catholic Questions: What Is the Catholic Understanding of Baptism?

 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (or CCC), water baptism is the first sacrament and gives access to the other required sacraments. It is also the act that forgives sins, grants spiritual rebirth, and makes one a member of the church (CCC, 1213). The Catholic Church also believes that Jesus requires one’s baptism in order to receive eternal life.

Catholics view baptism as the means by which one receives the Holy Spirit. The sacrament is called “the gateway to life in the Spirit” (CCC, 1213). The “washing of rebirth” in Titus 3:5 is interpreted as a literal washing by water and is associated with the rite of baptism. The same is true for Jesus’ mention of being “born of water” in John 3:5. Even non-Catholics who have been baptized are considered “justified by faith in baptism” (CCC, 1271) because baptism incorporates all into Christ.

According to Catholicism, a long process precedes any hope for “salvation.” Required are a “proclamation of the Lord, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion” (CCC, 1229). Baptism is necessary because, according to Catholicism, “By baptism, all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sin” (CCC, 1263).

CCC 1274 teaches, “The Holy Spirit marks us at baptism with the seal of the Lord for the day of redemption.” However, there is no security in this seal, for the baptized Christian must be “faithful” to keep the seal “until the end.” Only then will he “be able to depart this life in the hope of resurrection.”

Catholics practice infant baptism, which they consider a gift of God’s grace. Infants and young children are “baptized in the faith of the Church” (CCC, 1282). So important is baptism in the Catholic faith that they teach that an unbaptized child who dies either goes to hell or to purgatory.

Catholics use verses such as Luke 18:15–16 and 1 Corinthians 1:16 in support of the practice of infant baptism. However, these passages are misused. The Bible does not teach infant baptism. In Luke 18, parents are bringing their children so that Jesus might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for it. Christ told His disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The Lord said nothing about baptizing infants here; He only said not to forbid children from following Him. To draw a teaching on baptism from this verse is incorrect.

In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul speaks of a family (a household) that was baptized. He says in verse 16, “I also baptized the household of Stephanas.” Do we know if infants or very young children were in Stephanas’s household? No. We do not know the ages of anyone in the household, and it is unwise to base a doctrine on assumptions.

So, we have some key differences in the Catholic doctrine of baptism compared to Scripture. One is that the Bible says to be baptized once we have faith and repent of our sins (Acts 2:38; Mark 16:15–17); no one should be baptized “in the faith of the Church,” their parent’s faith, etc. The Bible says we receive the Holy Spirit when we have faith in Christ (Ephesians 1:13–14; Galatians 3:2–3). There is no other way to receive Him but by faith. Works, even the work of baptism, are not the reason a person is saved (Titus 3:5).

Catholics teach that a baptized person begins participating in eternal life at the moment of baptism, but they also teach he loses that “eternal” life and the Holy Spirit when he sins. The Bible says that a Christian might “grieve” the Holy Spirit, but the “seal” the Spirit places on us cannot be broken (Ephesians 4:30).

In all instances of baptism in the New Testament, the act always followed a person’s faith in and confession of Christ, along with repentance (e.g., Acts 8:35–38; 16:14–15; 18:8; and 19:4–5). Baptism is not what gives us salvation. Baptism is an act of obedience after faith.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Life Decisions: Should a Christian Be Involved with Cosplay?

 

“Cosplay” (or cos-play) is short for “costume play.” It is the practice of dressing as a real or fictional character, typically from a video game, comic, TV show, movie, or even from history. Cosplayers often gather at a science fiction, game, or anime/magna conventions, but they also like to attend Renaissance fairs and historical reenactments. Some may participate for fun or to compete in contests, others are paid to advertise a product such as a video game or comic book, while a few dress up to promote their own costume supply business.

Cosplay costumes vary. Many are based on pre-existing characters while others are adaptations of a genre. It’s also common to combine one or more genres or characters, for example, a steampunk Darth Vader. Quality varies, as some cosplayers throw on ears and a tail and call it good while others spend hundreds of dollars and several weeks hand-making a single costume.

There is nothing inherently anti-biblical about dressing up with a bunch of other people. Many of the considerations are the same as for other pastimes (see 1 Corinthians 10:31). Cosplay can be very expensive; a custom-made outfit can cost several hundred dollars. Most cosplayers make some or all of their costume, which can be extremely time-consuming. When travel, hotels, and convention admissions are included, cosplay can suck up time and money that could be used for better purposes.

Christians must also consider some problems more specific to cosplay. Many of the women’s science fiction, fantasy, and anime costumes are very revealing—either skimpy or skin-tight. It should go without saying that Christian women should not chose a costume that is blatantly sexual (1 Timothy 2:9), and Christian men should not attend an event if they find such costumes distracting (Romans 13:14). Also, it is natural that putting on a costume encourages a person to act in ways he wouldn’t normally act; even if the costume makes the cosplayer unrecognizable, a Christian should always act in a way that glorifies God. Christians should also take care in what character they portray, staying away from anything based on demons or otherwise blatantly endorsing a non-Christian lifestyle.

Cosplay is not all bad. The level of craftsmanship elevates many costumes to an art form. Cosplay can be a family activity, whether the parents support their kids’ hobby or the entire family dresses up for a Ren Faire. The cosplay community can be very supportive, as players swap manufacturing tips and encourage newcomers. There are even opportunities to share Christ with fellow players.

Whether a Christian should get involved in cosplaying is a personal decision. Dressing up for a Renaissance festival or a steampunk ball is mostly harmless fun. Dressing as a demonic anime character or Slave-Leia at a comic-con, however, is not a good choice. As with any kind of entertainment, cosplayers should seek God’s will first and foremost.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about God: What Is the Grace of God?

 

Grace is a constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus (John 1:17). The word translated “grace” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word charis, which means “favor, blessing, or kindness.” We can all extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.

Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves.” The only way any of us can enter into a relationship with God is because of His grace toward us. Grace began in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). He could have killed the first humans right there for their disobedience. But rather than destroy them, He chose to make a way for them to be right with Him. That pattern of grace continued throughout the Old Testament when God instituted blood sacrifices as a means to atone for sinful men. It was not the blood of those sacrifices that cleansed sinners; it was the grace of God that forgave those who trusted in Him (Hebrews 10:4; Genesis 15:6).

The apostle Paul began many of his letters with the phrase, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:3). God is the instigator of grace, and it is from Him that all other grace flows. Grace can be easily remembered by this simple acrostic: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

God shows both mercy and grace, but they are not the same. Mercy withholds a punishment we deserve; grace gives a blessing we don’t deserve. Consider this illustration: you were stopped in your old clunker for going 60 mph in a school zone. The ticket is high, and you can’t pay it. You appear before the judge with nothing to say for yourself. He hears your case and then, to your surprise, he cancels your fine. That is mercy. But the judge doesn’t stop there. He walks you outside and hands you the keys to a new car. That is grace.

In mercy, God chose to cancel our sin debt by sacrificing His perfect Son in our place (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But He goes even further than mercy and extends grace to His enemies (Romans 5:10). He offers us forgiveness (Hebrews 8:12; Ephesians 1:7), reconciliation (Colossians 1:19–20), abundant life (John 10:10), eternal treasure (Luke 12:33), His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and a place in heaven with Him some day (John 3:16–18) when we accept His offer and place our faith in His sacrifice.

Grace is God giving the greatest treasure to the least deserving—which is every one of us.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

IRS makes deal with militant atheist group to monitor sermon content

WINTERY KNIGHT

From Life News.

Excerpt:

The next time your pastor delivers a pro-life sermon or urges the congregation to stand up for pro-life values in the political or public arena, he could be taken to task by the IRS.

Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Internal Revenue Service Tuesday to release all documents related to its recent decision to settle a lawsuit with an atheist group that claims the IRS has adopted new protocols and procedures for the investigation of churches.

ADF submitted the Freedom of Information Act request after learning of the IRS’s agreement with Freedom From Religion Foundation in a press release the group issued on July 17 concerning its lawsuit Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Koskinen, which accused the agency of failing to investigate churches the way the atheist group would like.

“Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving…

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Jesus Wants Loving Obedience

Joe Quatrone, Jr.

ObedienceEvery true Christian wants to have a winning witness, a testimony that demonstrates Jesus makes a difference in their life. They want the world around them to see Jesus in them. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. All too frequently the image the world has of Christians is one of hypocrisy and compromise.

I have found many people today who profess to be Christians are living lives that are not significantly different from the world around them. I have read survey after survey, which demonstrates evangelical Christians are as likely to embrace lifestyles every bit as hedonistic, materialistic, self-centered, and sexually immoral as the world in general. Divorce is more common among born again Christians than in the general American population. Noted Christian apologist Josh McDowell has pointed out sexual promiscuity of evangelical youth is only a little less outrageous than that of their non-evangelical peers.

As much…

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My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but…

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