Grace Community Church (San Antonio, Texas) Sunday School, August 24, 2014 – James Jennings: Would Paul Thank God Because Of You? (Phil. 1:3-8)
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Grace Community Church (San Antonio, Texas) Sunday School, August 17, 2014 – Scott Hayne: Eternal Life Or Condemnation (John 3:16-18, 36)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Please do not say the Elizabethan language used. This is serious.
O, Son of my God, and my blessed Savior; as a beggar, all wounded and sore, presents himself before a great king, so do I present myself before thee, who art the King of heaven and earth. From the lofty throne on which thou sittest, disdain not, I implore thee, to cast thine eyes on me, a poor sinner. God has made thee so rich that thou mightest assist the poor, and has constituted thee King of Glory in order that thou mightest relieve the miserable. Behold me then, and pity me: behold me and abandon me not, until thou seest me changed from a sinner into a saint. I know well that I merit nothing; nay more, that I deserve, on account of my ingratitude, to be deprived of the graces that, through thy means, I have already received from God. But thou, who are the King of Glory, seekest not merits, but miseries, in order to help the needy. But who is more needy than I? O, exalted Son, well do I know that thou, who are King of the universe, art already my king; yet I am determined to dedicate myself more especially to thy service, in order that thou mayest dispose of me as thou pleasest. Therefore, do I address thee in the words of one of my ancestors in the faith: “do thou govern me, O my King, and leave me not to myself.” Command me; employ me as thou wilt, and chastise me when I do not obey; for the chastisements that come from thy hands will be to me pledges of salvation. I would rather be thy servant than the ruler of the earth. I am Thine; save me. Accept me, O Jesus, for thine own, and as thine, take charge of my salvation. I will no longer be mine; to thee I do give myself. If, during the time past I have served thee ill, and lost so many occasions of honoring thee, for the future I will be one of thy most loving and faithful servants. I am determined that from this day forward no one shall surpass me in honoring and loving thee, my most amiable King. This I promise; and this, with thy help, I hope to execute. Amen.
The problem? Well, as written above, we would not find a problem. We have edited this prayer slightly for publication. Why? This prayer was written by St. Alphonsus Liguori, an 18th Century Roman Catholic bishop. Mr. Liguori was canonized as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church in 1839 and he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871. Thus, his writings are of great import and carry great doctrinal weight amongst Roman Catholics.
The prayer above appears in the book, “The Glories of Mary.” How have we edited this prayer? The original contains no references to Christ at all. None. All references to Christ shown above are, in the original, references to Mary. Here is the original prayer:
O, Mother of my God, and my blessed Lady Mary; as a beggar, all wounded and sore, presents himself before a great queen, so do I present myself before thee, who art the Queen of heaven and earth. From the lofty throne on which thou sittest, disdain not, I implore thee, to cast thine eyes on me, a poor sinner. God has made thee so rich that thou mightest assist the poor, and has constituted thee Queen of Mercy in order that thou mightest relieve the miserable. Behold me then, and pity me: behold me and abandon me not, until thou seest me changed from a sinner into a saint. I know well that I merit nothing; nay more, that I deserve, on account of my ingratitude, to be deprived of the graces that, through thy means, I have already received from God. But thou, who are the Queen of Mercy, seekest not merits, but miseries, in order to help the needy. But who is more needy than I? O, exalted Virgin, well do I know that thou, who are Queen of the universe, art already my queen; yet I am determined to dedicate myself more especially to thy service, in order that thou mayest dispose of me as thou pleasest. Therefore, do I address thee in the words of St. Bonaventure(1): “do thou govern me, O my Queen, and leave me not to myself.” Command me; employ me as thou wilt, and chastise me when I do not obey; for the chastisements that come from thy hands will be to me pledges of salvation. I would rather be thy servant than the ruler of the earth. I am Thine; save me. Accept me, O Mary, for thine own, and as thine, take charge of my salvation. I will no longer be mine; to thee I do give myself. If, during the time past I have served thee ill, and lost so many occasions of honoring thee, for the future I will be one of thy most loving and faithful servants. I am determined that from this day forward no one shall surpass me in honoring and loving thee, my most amiable Queen. This I promise; and this, with thy help, I hope to execute. Amen.(2)
To be rather blunt, this prayer is blasphemous. It ascribes authority to Mary which belongs to Christ alone. Our Roman Catholic friends will state they they merely “venerate” Mary and do not elevate her beyond a proper biblical place. One would be hard pressed to find biblical justification for such a prayer.
Is this the thinking of one lone Roman Catholic from years gone by? Hardly. Let us cite the Last Will and Testament of Pope John Paul II, dated March 6, 1979 (emphasis mine):
“Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (cf. Matthew 24, 42) – these words remind me of the last call, which will happen at the moment the Lord wishes. I desire to follow Him, and I desire that everything making up part of my earthly life should prepare me for this moment. I do not know when the moment will come, but like everything else, I place it too in the hands of the Mother of my Master: Totus Tuus(3). In the same maternal Hands I leave everything and everyone with whom my life and vocation have linked me. In these Hands I leave, above all, the Church, as well as my Nation and all humanity.
First, given that the Roman Catholic Church is apostate, there is no “Church” to leave anywhere or with anyone, much less in the hands of Mary. But to whom does the Church belong? Mary? No, the Church is Christ’s. The Church is a people given to the Son by the Father – and the Son will lose none of them but raise them up on the last Day (John 6).
Doctrine matters. Truth matters. I write this not because I hate Roman Catholics, but because I love them and desire to see them leave a system of salvation behind which is based on a little faith and a lot of works for salvation by faith alone in the finished work and Person of Christ alone. The New Testament knows nothing of the Roman system of salvation – I call on Roman Catholics to leave false religion behind and come to Christ and Christ alone.
(1) The prayer at the top was edited here because using “St. Bonaventure” would have been a giveaway.
(2) “The Glories of Mary,” (Brooklyn: The Redemptionist Fathers, 1931), pp. 45-46.
(3) Totus tuus means “totally yours.”
Perusing used book stores in South Texas is not quite like doing so in the Shangri-La of used (theological) book stores, that being Grand Rapids, Michigan. One can still smell the racks of 19th Century commentary series available at Baker Book House….the biblical dictionary/encyclopedia sets lining the walls at Reformation Heritage Books…and the treasures at Credo Books in an old warehouse antique shop downtown. The “Religion/Philosophy” section at Half Price Books pales in comparison, although a treasure may be found if one looks hard enough, such as F.F. Bruce’s New International Commentary on the New Testament volume on Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians for $3(!). Perhaps one of the brethren at Grace Community Church has a lead on a good bookstore or two in San Antonio…. ;)
Having access to quality books at good prices was something we did not take for granted because many do not have such access. Almost every used book store will have titles, however, which are less than worthwhile (Reformation Heritage is the exception. They have absolutely no lightweight stuff in their new book section, nor is there any pap in the used book selection. Highly, highly recommended). Whilst perusing the selections at Half Price Books today, I ran across a book that, shall we say, is not one I will move to the front of the wish list ahead of Turretin or Bavinck. The book?
If ever there were an oxymoron, this is it.
Let’s see, when does the Bible become a book of theology? We must wait until Genesis 1:1 before theology enters the Scripture:
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
If ever a statement of theology was written in history, that is it. If the Bible is a book without theology, then it must by definition be a book without God. And, from the descriptions on the back of the dust cover, it may well be a book without God. “He…challenges scholars’ assumptions of Scripture as monotheistic…” It is not just “scholars” who read Scripture as monotheistic – it has been the clear understanding of the people of God from the beginning that God’s revelation of himself is one which is monotheistic and in no way polytheistic.
Then, the author “proposes treating biblical narrative as myth rather than historical fact.” Once one opens up that can of worms, one cannot hold to any truths at all if narrative passages are not in fact narrative, but mythological. Were Adam and Eve in fact removed from the Garden? If a narrative passage such as that is mere myth, then what meaning could a prophetic passage have such as we see in Revelation about a form of return to Eden with the coming of the New Jerusalem – is that beyond myth? Did Cain kill Abel? Did the Israelites really cross the Jordan? Where does this end?
Also, the author assumes that only that with whom he differs have presuppositions: he “advocates stripping away the theological and historiographic biases that underlie modern biblical scholarship in order to arrive at a nontheological historical reading of the Bible.” A “nontheological historical reading of the Bible?” Yet, he brings no “biases” to the interpretive table? Not having read the book, I would assume there is a fair degree of hyperbole in the title, possibly meant as an attention-getting means for those disaffected with theological study. Even so, what appears to be implied here is that nobody has gotten the meaning of the Bible correct until the author of this book came along. Nobody? Well, when one removes “theology” from the study of Scripture and when one determines narrative passages to be mythological, well, then, one probably can have a Bible without theology. In that case, then, what one ends up with is neither the Bible nor theology.
Theology is not something to avoid for the one who claims to have bowed the knee to Christ – it is something which will enhance worship and which will result in affirming Paul’s “Oh, the depths of the riches” concerning God in Romans 11. Praise God that he (God) desires us to be students of theology – to be students of him, as we are also children of his!
Grace Community Church (San Antonio, Texas) Sermon, August 3, 2014 – Mack Tomlinson: Enduring Suffering (1 Peter 1:6-7)
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.