Why am I not celebrating with Rick Warren over the entrance of a new pope? The celebration of the ascension of Pope Frank to the role of the false vicar of a false christ seems like it would be counter-productive and hypocritical for a person who believes in the Bible and the doctrines of grace as taught in the Word of God. This has motivated me to take out a series I have written on the book of Galatians. I will add some of the Canons of the Catholic ‘church’ as an introduction. As we can see in the canons from the Council of Trent, the apostle Paul would be anathema.
CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.
Galatians 2:15-16 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
CANON X.-If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.
Galatians 2:20-21 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.
Galatians 3:1-9 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Jesus Christ paid the ultimate penalty to set us free from sin and from death and from the yoke and slavery of the law. This penalty was paid with His precious life, as the ultimate demonstration of love, mercy and grace from God the Father above. He did it for His glory ultimately, to make us trophies of His grace, demonstrating to all the world that He is a God of Justice and a God of love. As a secondary benefit, we are delivered from our sins, redeemed out of slavery, and adopted as sons of God. All of this is for God’s glory first and our benefit that He would take those who deserve His wrath and treat us as though we do not because of His payment on our behalf for our sins. Jesus Christ paid this penalty so that we could be set free, and so that we could experience the freedom of having our sins forgiven and have the penalty paid. Paul exhorts us to stand firm in this freedom, for It is the ultimate insult to this gift to resort back to the old slave-master, the one who treated us so cruelly and abused us so greatly to ask him to give us this gift of righteousness. He cannot and he would not, for the slave master of the law is cruel and demands our constant attention and obedience. He holds the fear of failure over our heads at all times, holding our feet and our lives to the fire if we fail to perform perfectly the requirements of the slave-master.
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
Paul wants his readers to clearly understand that if you attempt to use the law or works of the law to gain salvation, Christ is no advantage to you. To start with, he is saying that if you accept circumcision as the means to enter into right relationship with God, then there is not place for Christ. He is not saying it is wrong to be circumcised, however, he is saying that to rely on circumcision to save you makes Christ of no effect. In his commentary about Galatians, Martin Luther notes:
“Paul does not condemn circumcision in itself. Circumcision is not injurious to the person who does not ascribe any particular importance to it. Neither are works injurious provided a person does not attach any saving value to them. The Apostle does not say that works are objectionable, but to build one’s hopes for righteousness on works is disastrous, for that makes Christ good for nothing.”
Paul is very vehement here, because he sees that the problem with trusting in circumcision makes one obligated to keep the whole law. When you fail in one part of the law, you are guilty of the whole law. In the same way, when you submit to the law in one part, you open the door to have to keep the whole law. If you are resting on one tradition or keeping one set of rules in order to be saved and you fail in that, you are in big trouble. Worse than that, for those who have heard the Gospel and know the Gospel to return to dead works and law-keeping for salvation severs you from the life you have in Christ. It makes him of no effect. John 15 says that Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. If we are not getting our life from the vine, if we are cut off, we cannot get the life giving energy from the vine. We cannot bear fruit. We are worthless and ready to be gathered up and burned. The law does not give life, it can only bring us to an awareness of our need for Christ. If we go to the law for our life that we can only have in Christ, we have fallen away or fallen out of grace. We are now under the penalty (death) for not keeping the whole law, we are cursed (Deut 27:26) and we are like those who have no hope for we have rejected the way that was provided for us.
Thomas Boston, in his work The Marrow of Modern Divinity rightly encourages us here. It is often hard, in our Christian walk, to be able to distinguish between law and gospel.
“Let us consider and take this for a note, that when in Scripture there is any moral work commanded to be done, either for eschewing of punishment, or upon promise of any reward, temporal or eternal—or else when any promise is made with the condition of any work to be done, which is commanded in the law—there is to be understood the voice of the law.
“Contrariwise, where the promise of life and salvation is offered unto us freely, without any condition of any law, either natural, ceremonial, or moral, or any work done by us, all those places, whether we read them in the Old Testament, or in the New, are to be referred to the voice and doctrine of the gospel ; yea, and all those promises of Christ coming in the flesh, which we read in the Old Testament ; yea, and all those promises in the New Testament, which offer Christ upon condition of our believing on his name, are properly called the voice of the gospel…”
“Briefly, then, if we would know when the law speaks, and when the gospel speaks, either in reading the word, or in hearing it preached ; and if we would skilfully distinguish the voice of the one from the voice of the other, we must consider : “And now, knowing rightly how to distinguish between the law and the gospel, we must, in the fifth place, take heed that we break not the orders between these two in applying the law where the gospel is to be applied, either to ourselves or to others; for albeit the law and gospel, in order of doctrine, are many times to be joined together, yet in the case of justification, the law must be utterly separated from the Gospel. “
5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor un-circumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Those who have been born again place no hope in anything that they do to become righteous. They understand that their righteousness is a present reality. Justification is the active verb of being declared just or ‘not guilty’ This righteousness comes when you turn to Christ for salvation. You are declared righteous by faith in Christ’s righteousness and God’s promise, not based upon your good or bad deeds. Now, the reality is that in the physical we are not completely righteous. This is where Sanctification comes in. Though we are seen as righteous based on the righteousness of Christ, we become more and more like Jesus as we give ourselves over to the Holy Spirit day to day and moment by moment. The Spirit makes us more righteous as He changes us into the image of Christ and allows us to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Finally, one day we will become righteous either when Jesus returns for his saints:
1 Corinthians 15:49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Or when we die and go to be with the Lord
Hebrews 12:23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
The promise is that we will be like Jesus, we will finally be righteous like Him. There will be no more sin, no more sorrow, no more death. All of this is not accomplished by the works of the flesh. As Paul puts it, circumcision or non-circumcision makes no difference in this reality of righteousness. It is about being in Christ Jesus, the result of having faith in Him and trusting His righteousness alone to save you. As the Apostle John says:
1 John 4:17-19 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.
When we love Him, we have no fear of judgment, no fear of Hell. We only have the hope of being made righteous in Him. Of course, between now and then there is life, and that life is not easy because we believe. But in Christ we have a wonderful hope, and an everlasting joy. We are seen as righteous, are becoming righteous, and will one day be righteous because He is faithful and His promise is true. Let us keep the promise by believing on Him alone, casting aside the idea of works for righteousness and trusting alone the promise of Christ. Anytime you begin to think you are not doing enough, or begin to fear for death and judgment, remember that is not the Gospel. And the Catholic church preaches a false Gospel- a Gospel that requires Jesus plus sacraments, attendance at mass, holy days of obligation, prayers, indulgences…It is no Gospel at all.
The only prayers we should say for the Pope is that he would repent and believe the Gospel, and that he would burn all the traditions and dogmas and go back to sola scriptura- and urge the 2 billion Catholics to do the same.