In search of a new (to us) church…

We’ve been looking for the church God would have us attend.

I’ve been burned out and wasnt really looking all that hard, I must admit. We had been looking for a church for a while, and had found one we enjoyed. The preaching was sound, the music helped us connect to God in worship, the church did outreach and worked to help those less fortunate. So we attended it for a long while, but when I prayed about placing membership, I kept feeling like God did not want that for us. So we didnt. But it was a place to recooperate. Then God closed that door for us (a minor thing many would have not seen as a door closing, but it was clear to us that God said “no”).

So then we were looking for a church again. I hate being in the looking mode. I dont like not being connected to a family of believers. I’m not a church shopper. I feel I attend church to minister to others, not for what it can provide me or my family. But even so, when I’m looking for a church, I would LIKE it to have certain things: the Holy Spirit’s presence, great practical and solidly biblical preaching, welcoming people (not perfunctory welcome, but really smiling and inviting – I hate to be made to stand up and say hello to folks I dont know, it feels fake),  families with young children so my kids can hang out with them, children being taught the word of God, contemporary Christian music for worship (so I can connect to God easier during praise and worship time), not too loud music (same reason), people who are loving of God and who express that love to others,  and a good discipleship program.

We’ve visited some churches where we were ignored. We’ve visited some which had great music, but the preaching wasn’t anywhere near biblical. We’ve visited some with kids running wild. We’ve visited some with music where it looked like the praise band was there to put on a rock concert or have a ‘gig’ – but not lead people into worship with God. We’ve visited some with no outreach. We’ve visited some with no discipleship. We’ve visited some where there was good outreach and discipleship programs, but were not what I consider biblical in other areas I consider important.

Sigh.. yeah, I hate not being connected to a community of like-minded believers who love God and others, but not as much as not being in the church God has called us to…. So we continued to search… much prayer and visiting…

Last week my wife mentioned a church she had seen while on one of those I-gotta-get-outta-here drives. We started to go to it the next Sunday and ended in an argument. Neither of us REALLY wanted to go… so we didn’t.

We tried again this week. Again an argument before service. This time both of us just shut up and mustered. Sometimes that’s the best you can do. On the way, had to buy shoes for my oldest – he’d somehow ripped the sole of one of his shoes off. While doing so, we had to buy pants for someone else. ARGH…. does it never stop? If you’re looking for the answer to the rhetorical question, its NO. But we made it to church.

First sight: small church building, full parking lot, folks in their mid-thirties to forties outside, and a couple of older folks going for service,  some not-white-haired-men smoking outside before service. First impression once inside: LOTS of white haired folks, but WOW were they smiling and welcoming and kind; there’s an organ and a piano, and a choir. Music was hymns only. NO contemporary Christian music at this place. Didn’t see any kids, or even teens (but I think my kids noticed a couple of each, not sure). Wondered if they had a children’s or youth church service I didn’t know about (they dont). But the people were so so so friendly. My pianist son was fascinated by the woman playing the multi-level organ (especially the part where she had to press pedals that looked like big keys with her feet). The message was right on, biblically sound, with a great application. I loved the deep theological meaning behind the hymns.

More thoughts:

The pastor and I spoke after the service and I really liked him. He said he was in need of help – and offered me a place to preach (once I mentioned I was licensed to the ministry), though he didn’t go into details. I told him my style was really more of teaching, and he said he needed a teacher, as he was not much of a teacher.

My wife was invited by a couple of younger ladies to go with them to a Casting Crowns (a contemporary Christian band) concert next month.  When she said she played piano, they high fived each other said “Yes! We’ve got a band!” Apparently they are trying to introduce some contemporary praise and worship music to this church.

My kids went and spoke with the organist and mentioned to her that one of them played piano. He was then invited to play, which he did. He astounded everyone. The folks who were leaving came to the front of the church to watch. People asked how long he’d been playing and how long had he studied, and were shocked when we told them he’d had 3 or 4 lessons (he’s mostly self-taught and has only played less than 2 years). But when the pastor said he had a great gift from God there, his response won the hearts of all who heard – “I know, and I thank God every day it.” I was so proud of him, so grateful to hear him give the praise and glory to God. He was invited to play next Sunday. When he said he didn’t know how to play any Christian songs (all he plays is classical music), they said it would still bless the congregation to see how God is working in his life with this gift. So he’s got about 15 minutes of play time next Sunday morning.

What made me prouder was that my other kids were the ones who mentioned the pianist kid plays, and they did not say “and I play x”! It was not until they were questioned that it came out that one plays the drums and another the guitar. They were proud of their brother.

But what really impressed me was that after we left the church, the whole family spoke of how they enjoyed the service. We all had something to contribute to the conversation, and the kids had actually payed attention to the preaching! They were able to articulate what they should give up to be able to walk closer to God (the message had been about things that get in the way of listening to, hearing, and obeying God)!   The kids said they had liked the friendliness of the people, and liked being spoken to as young adults, rather than little children, and they were able to apply the message to their own lives!

Even more strange was that when I decided to go to the Sunday night church service, all the kids wanted to attend with me. I hadn’t given them any heads up, so there really was no time for them to prepare themselves. Also, I had wanted to visit alone to see what services were provided and in case I felt like hanging around. So I left everyone at home, and they were really disappointed.

I spoke more with the pastor and found they have Sunday School, for kids and youth and adults. But they have no faithful attendees of children or youth. So this church basically has little/no children or youth at this point. This church has no contemporary Christian music. They seem to have few adults who are not white haired – mostly apparently children of the white haird folks (*grin* I’m almost one myself).  The congregation is not even 60 people. They have no discipleship program.

When I mentioned I speak/teach/preach in Spanish, the pastor said he needs to learn Spanish and needs a teacher. He also said he needs someone to lead a disicipleship program.  Me thinks he wants company. :)

We’ll be going back Wednesday night. The kids really want to go.

We’ll be back next Sunday as well.

We’re praying to see if this is where God wants this to be where we attend. The kids are positive we are. My wife is not sure – there are things this church does not have that she wants. But she said she does not feel like this is NOT the church for us – she’s just not sure. I’m not sure either. While I feel the need to minister, I’m not sure I’m ready to leap back into it like this. We’ll see what God wants….


57 Responses

  1. wb, as you may have noted, I have challenged the biblobloggers, and have got nothing! This again, is not Joel so much, or you…but the whole idea of the nature of the blog.

    I am certainly at peace with the history of the conservative Anglican Church, and the Thirty-Nine Articles. Both Catholic & Reformed. But where are they here in the US?

    Good luck, and blessings,
    Fr. Robert

  2. Maybe God is calling you to come home to Rome…

    Sure, maybe you’d need to wrap your head around some ideas, but almost any move requires that.

    What I don’t understand about protestants is this: When you get tired of one form of Protestantism (for example, you’re not being fed…) why do you search for something, another thing, that’s only the partial answer?

    The Catholic Church has the fullness of Jesus, WB…instead of either/or, why not both/and?

  3. Wb, glad you seemingly have found a place

  4. Fr. Robert, I have NOT noticed a challenge. Please, expand on what you said.

  5. Hi David.

    No. God is most definitely not calling me to Rome – God would have to show me in Scripture where Rome is right about certain things and in fact has shown me the opposite. I do not believe Rome has all the answers. In fact, I am positive they are wrong in certain areas of deep importance to me.

    The Church Universal is made up not of Rome, but of all people who believe in Christ as Savior. This would include some people in the church of Rome, but it would also include people of all Christian denominations who trust in Christ as their Savior, sent by God the Father to suffer and die for their sins.

    Its not that I left my previous church because I was “not getting fed” (in fact, I really enjoyed the preaching), but because of a number of reasons. In fact, the main reason I leave churches is because I feel God wants to use me elsewhere.

    If we choose to attend this church, it will not be because we are “being fed” (although that is a preference both my wife and I have). I tend to not “be fed” when I go to church anyway – I tend to do a lot of the feeding. I get most of my connection with God through personal prayer and Bible study. If it was just preference that determined where we would worship, we would have stayed where we were.

    No, if we choose to go to this church on an on-going basis, it will be because my wife and I both feel it is where GOD wants us to be. We try to put the will of God above our own desires, especially when it comes to where we need to go to church.

  6. Joel,

    Thanks. I’m not convinced yet, but it certainly looks like we may have.

  7. The Roman Catholic Church is certainly far from perfect. One would have to be quite nave to accept that. But she is no doubt fillled with many regenerate Christians. But again sadly, her theology lacks that place that only scripture and the Holy Spirit can give, the certainty of one’s salvation thru grace in faith Of course this salvation must be brought to the end inside (the interior heart & mind) of the believer. The “elect” or chosen saints do “persevere” until the end or Eschaton.
    Fr. R.

  8. “The Church Universal is made up not of Rome, but of all people who believe in Christ as Savior. This would include some people in the church of Rome, but it would also include people of all Christian denominations who trust in Christ as their Savior, sent by God the Father to suffer and die for their sins.”

    Agreed. All Christians, in fact, all religions, have some part of the truth. The question is “What part?”

    I believe we go to Church to worship God, not to be fed ourselves, though that will certainly happen. Like you, I do a lot of reading to get fed.

    • David,

      I think all churches (or denominations) have weaknesses and doctrinal problems (we’re human). Some are more right than others.

      For me, the keys are 1) what does GOD want me to do and where?, 2) what does the Bible say about X, 3) how close is this particular assembly in what it teaches.

      The questions of the purpose of a church, attending a church, and one’s role within said church are huge. But I’d agree with you, in that part of the reason to go to church is to worship God. One would HOPE that one would get fed while worshipping – whether in a corporate body like a church, or in an individual worship time.

  9. The Catholic Church is perfect, in spite of the humans that run the church, because the Holy Spirit guides it, Fr. Robert. I don’t see any lack in her theology. We can only be saved by God’s grace through our faith. But as St. James says “Faith without works is dead.” And exactly what you say “brought to the heart and mind” is what that means.

    WB, you’re right, all denominations do have doctrinal problems. But Christ gave us one perfect church. His church. And promised that it would exist until the end of the age. Only one can claim to fulfill that prophecy…

    • David,

      I would agree the Universal Church is perfect. I would not agree the Roman Catholic Church is perfect.

      The Roman Catholic Church has doctrinal problems, just as all other denominations do.

      Yes, God gave us one perfect Church – this is not made up only of the Roman Catholic Church, but is made up of all believers in Christ in all denominations.

      The RCC teaches the need to pray others into heaven but this would mean our righteousness is dependent upon the works of others. In fact, our righteousness is only in faith in Christ. IF we have that faith, we are have the righteousness of Christ and are saved. If we do not have that faith, we do not have the righteoussness of Christ and are not saved.

  10. I have a pretty high church view myself, and would agree with everything David said – except the Rome part.

  11. Joel I didn’t say anything about Rome.

    WB, we believe that all other Christians are a subset of us. We have the fullness of truth, all others have some part of it. Again, this isn’t by anything man has done. By God’s grace alone.

    We don’t need to pray for others for their sake necessarily, but for ours. Most of our intercessory prayers are to God for those who have nobody praying for them. God decides at death who goes to heaven or hell. If they’re in hell, no amount of prayers can help. If they’re not in hell, but not in heaven, our intercessions can help them through their time in purgatory.

    • David,

      You can believe that all other Christians are a subset of the Roman Catholic Church, but its not true.

      And you make my point about not having the right doctrine when you go against what the Bible teaches. We are saved through faith alone – not the prayers of others.

  12. OK, I believe it.

    But we’re not saved through faith alone. We’re saved by God’s grace alone. Intercessory prayer helps.

    So please pray for me

    • Saved by grace through faith. If you dont have the faith, you arent saved.

      Ephesians 2:8
      For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

      •  Jesus said if we don’t believe, we are condemned.

        John 3:16-18
        16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

        Romans 10:9
        That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

        Without that faith, one does not get into heaven. We are not saved through anyone else’s faith but our own. If we have faith, then we’re saved. Praying for a dead person will not bring them closer to God. Their choice has been made.

  13. WB, we receive everything from God’s grace. Even our ability to believe in Him. Without God’s grace, we are but dust.

    So I think we’re saying the same thing. But it’s our choice to reject what God gives us.

    • I agree, it is by God’s grace that we live physically and spiritually.

      But then you threw in that bit about purgatory and praying people into heaven. God’s word is clear that we are each responsible for our sins and that it is only through faith we are saved.

  14. So it does no good for me to ask you to pray for me?

    By the way, if people are in purgatory, they are in heaven, sooner or later. God has already judged them. The question is “How long?” although heaven, hell and purgatory are outside of time. 1 Cor 3:15 is a reference to purgatory.

    • Your view of purgatory does not match my understanding of what the RCC teaches.

      But let’s look at that verse you mentioned in context.
      1 Cor 3:12-15

      12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

      No, 1 Cor 3:15 is not about purgatory, it is about Judgement Day. All who trust in Christ will get the crown of righteousness.
      2 Timothy 4:8

      8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

      2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

      7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

      Paul was clear that if we have faith, God will keep us so we will be blameless on that day.
      1 Cor 1:4-9

      4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

      There is no earning one’s way into heaven, through prayer or works or money or anything. The only thing that gets us into heaven is faith in Christ. If you have that faith in Christ, you will be in heaven when you die. If you dont have that faith, you will not.

      • hmmm. did more reading on the RCC of purgatory. While I was taught as a child it was a place where the souls of people who do not make it into heaven or hell go and then either improve or not, in fact the RCC doctrine states it is the purification before final judgement.
        RCC doctrine states,

        1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

        1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. the tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire

        If we have the righteousness of Christ, then we are saved. That righteousness is imputed to us when we come to faith in Christ. If we do not have the righteousness of Christ, then we are not saved. Yes, we will answer for what we do – in fact will receive rewards. But those who believe are purified by the blood of Jesus.

        Titus 2:13-14

        13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

        1 John 1:7

        But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

        It is whether the quality of our works are worthy of reward that are measured in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

        12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

        It has nothing to do with additional purification.

  15. Bore it in wb, “the Word & Spirit”, without such we have nothing, know nothing, and are nothing! There might be some form of purgation at the death of the redeemed at the “Bema Seat” of Christ, but thereafter, glory and glorification thru the sweet grace of God!
    Fr. R.

    • Fr. R.,

      I see nothing in the Bible teaching about purgatory. I only see going to be with Christ for those who believe and the second death for those who do not.

  16. The reason I know we who trust in Christ go to be with Christ upon death is found in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

    1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

  17. I’m very glad to once again improve your understanding of Catholic doctrine…

    Christ refers to the sinner who “will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:32), suggesting that one can be freed after death of the consequences of one’s sins. Similarly, Paul tells us that, when we are judged, each man’s work will be tried. And what happens if a righteous man’s work fails the test? “He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:15). This loss, this penalty, can’t refer to consignment to hell, since no one is saved there; and heaven can’t be meant, since there is no suffering (“fire”) there. The Catholic doctrine of purgatory alone explains this passage.

    Then, of course, there is the Bible’s approval of prayers for the dead: “In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the dead to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin” (2 Macc. 12:43–45). Prayers are not needed by those in heaven, and no one can help those in hell. That means some people must be in a third condition, at least temporarily. This verse so clearly illustrates the existence of purgatory that, at the time of the Reformation, Protestants had to cut the books of the Maccabees out of their Bibles in order to avoid accepting the doctrine.

    Prayers for the dead and the consequent doctrine of purgatory have been part of the true religion since before the time of Christ. Not only can we show it was practiced by the Jews of the time of the Maccabees, but it has even been retained by Orthodox Jews today, who recite a prayer known as the Mourner’s Kaddish for eleven months after the death of a loved one so that the loved one may be purified. It was not the Catholic Church that added the doctrine of purgatory. Rather, any change in the original teaching has taken place in the Protestant churches, which rejected a doctrine that had always been believed by Jews and Christians.

    • David,

      While the RCC might hold certain doctrines, what they mean to individuals and how they are taught will vary from person to person. I was taught it was a place. Further reading shows it is a condition where one needs purification. Some hold that is a place, like heaven or hell, where one resides until such time as one is sufficiently purified to enter heaven. I was merely differentiating between what I was taught and what the RCC officially teaches. Practically, I dont think many would be able to discern much difference between the two. It certainly has not changed my mind concerning it.

      You seem to have a misunderstanding of what the Mourner’s Kaddish is. It is not a prayer intended to help the dead, but to glorify God and ask for peace. From

      Kaddish is commonly known as a mourner’s prayer, but in fact, variations on the Kaddish prayer are routinely recited at many other times, and the prayer itself has nothing to do with death or mourning. The prayer begins “May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed. May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days …” and continues in much that vein.

      There are various Jewish positions on what praying does. But In general, it is to show the merit of the one who was deceased because for someone (a parent) to praise God in times of such pain shows they love God, and if they love God, then the deceased must also have.

      As for trying to use 2 Maccabees 12:43-45 to show the need to pray for the dead, no knowledgeable Jewish believer in God would have offered prayers for anyone who was an idol worshipper.

      But regardless, Christ is clear we will be judged based upon faith in HIM. That faith must be evidenced in our lives. As Paul wrote, it is Christ’s blood which purifies us – not any actions of any person.

      As I said before, “It is whether the quality of our works are worthy of reward that are measured in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15”. It is not a purification, but a testing of our works. We either have the righteousness of Christ, or we do not. If we do not have faith in Christ as our Savior (and thus the righteousness of Christ) when we die, then we will be in hell. If we do, then we will be in heaven. There IS no middle ground.

  18. wb,
    There seems to be a real place of “purgation” for the regenerate Christian at the Bema Seat of Christ. It is the believers judgement. And has nothing to do with heaven or hell, but reward for faithfulness, etc. I could quote verse but I’m sure you know them. And this is not a “dispensational” tenent. Works certainly don’t save us, but they show both our true regeneration, and what grace has made us! Calvin taught that grace changes nature! Here, I would not be typically or modern Reformed, but what I call Anglican Reformed. And for myself, some of the Reformed historic Creeds are just too scholastic also (The Westminister etc., I like the Belgic much better) We must always include the mystery of God. Here Rome has had some great Saints…Bernard of Clairvaux to name just one. Both Luther and Calvin thought highly of his faith and works.
    Fr. R.

    • “There seems to be a real place of “purgation” for the regenerate Christian at the Bema Seat of Christ. It is the believers judgement. And has nothing to do with heaven or hell, but reward for faithfulness”

      That’s what I said, essentially:

      It is whether the quality of our works are worthy of reward that are measured in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15…. It has nothing to do with additional purification.

      You wrote, “Works certainly don’t save us, but they show both our true regeneration, and what grace has made us! ”

      I could not agree with you more.

  19. Regarding the Kaddash, it is what it is.

    And yet, this is exactly what Maccabees says:
    42: and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. 43: He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. 44: For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45: But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

    Regarding salvation, it’s through grace alone that we have faith. James tells us that faith without works is dead. The passage in Corinthians shows us how we will be measured. But you’re right, we will be measured on our faith.

    Purgatory is not about a middle ground. It’s a subset of heaven. If you find yourself in purgatory, you will eventually have the beatific vision. If you’re in hell, you never will.
    God bless you. (this is an intercessory prayer, btw)

    • As I said, no one who loves God and knows what he teaches would speak up for people who were idol worshippers.
      Isaiah 44:9

      All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.

      Its clear no idol worshipper gets into heaven – in both the Old and the New Testament.
      Deuteronomy 27:15

      “Cursed is the man who carves an image or casts an idol—a thing detestable to the LORD, the work of the craftsman’s hands—and sets it up in secret.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

      1 Corinthians 6:9-10

      9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

      It is also clear we are each responsible for our own sins.
      Ezekiel 18:20

      20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

      No, 2 Maccabees was not included in the canon for a reason – it teaches something that goes against what is taught in God’s word. No, purgatory is a making of the RCC – not something taught in the Bible.

    • BTW, I find Biblical evidence for praying for others who are living.

    • David,

      BTW, this statement, “Purgatory is not about a middle ground. It’s a subset of heaven. If you find yourself in purgatory, you will eventually have the beatific vision.” lends credence to the idea that the RCC teaches purgatory is a place.

  20. Further, I believe that we have to place Judah Maccabeus must be placed in his context. Let us not forget context

  21. wb,
    You and I agree for the most part here. Since it is a blog, and our friend and brother David is listening I hope, I write too for him. Least on purgation at death, the Bema Seat.

    You have the time and energy, bore in my brother. Rome still has some tremendous errors!
    Fr. R.

  22. Fact is, though, that the (proper- named) Deutero-canonical books are canonical and were for 1500 years. But Luther didn’t like them (along with some NT books which are also canonical) because some of the dogmas and doctrines of a church he was forsaking were explicitly revealed.

    I guess we’ll all see when we get there…BTW, I am not trying to say that, if you don’t believe in purgatory, you’re going to hell. That’s really not my call, it’s His. I’m only explaining what and why we believe it.

  23. David,
    I perhaps know the Roman position and Church better than you do? Just a point, but I don’t have the time and energy to debate this historically. But I will on certain scripture issues. Your take on Luther is simply old school R. Catholic, many, and even most Catholic theolog’s have now moved from your statemants (on Luther). Simple fact.

    Fr. R.

    PS I will let wb speak for himself, but I bet he knows Rome very well too?

  24. It’s hard not to, in concrete terms. Heaven is to be fully in God’s embrace, Hell is to be fully out of God’s embrace. Those in purgatory are in heaven, having no stain of mortal sins on their souls, but still not as they need to be to be worthy of God.

    Fr. R, read a book called “Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger”. It’s not as old school as you might think. Luther didn’t like Revelation, Jude, and one of James’ letters either, and wanted them out of his canon.

    • David,

      Either you have Christ’s righteousness or you dont. If you do, you are worthy. If you dont, then you are not.

      • David,

        You either believe God or you dont. It is Christ who purifies us when we believe. God said there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. CHRIST took the punishment on the cross for our sins. If we believe in Christ as our savior, then we are in Christ. If we are in Christ, no

        Romans 8:1

        Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

        Acts 15:9

        He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.

        Hebrews 1:3

        The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

        Believers are purified from sin through faith in Christ or not. If not, then nothing they or anyone else does will get them into God’s presence.

  25. That’s your reading, and belief. We believe that you are worthy or your not, but you’re a sinner to the day you die. Minor sins are cleanse-able.

    WB you think that since your profession of faith in Christ you haven’t sinned?

    By your logic, if you have sinned, you’re not worthy and are going to hell. By our belief, your minor sins don’t hold you back from God’s grace.

    • No, by my logic, it is the faith in Christ that purifies us of all sins. Yes, we are imperfect sinners, saved by grace through faith in Christ. We are justified (declared righteous) when we come the faith in Christ, because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. It is not that WE are worthy of it, but that by God’s grace CHRIST’s worthiness is counted as our worthiness. On our own, by our power, no one can be sufficiently righteous before God. It is only the grace of God that allows people to believe and be counted worthy. This is what Scripture says, not me.

      Romans 3:20-22  

      Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,

      Romans 4:5 

      However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

      If we are in Christ, then it is CHRIST who is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
      1 Cor 1:30  

      It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

      Christ died for all our sins to bring us to God. It makes no sense to try to say He brought us to heaven, but we (or someone else) must then do something to bring us the rest of the way (i.e. through purgatory to God in heaven), especially when it is the Righteousness that is Christ that each believer has.

      1 Peter 3:18

      For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,

      2 Timothy 4:8

      Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

      Titus 3:5 

      he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

      This is not to say we will not sin, but if we have faith, then those sins are forgiven, past, present, and future. By asking forgiveness, we show/live the faith we claim to have. It is because of that faith exemplified through the act of asking forgiveness that we are purified and forgiven.

      1 John 1:9

      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

      None of our sins are forgiven because of what we do, but because of Christ.

      1 John 2:12 

      I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

  26. David,

    Luther’s Textual picks were in line with his understanding of grace. He did not want to rid the Church of certain books, as he thought they were not as fully revelatory. No, the Church loses without Luther! God called the man, and kept him!

    As I mentioned, there are some good books by Roman Catholics now about Luther. Interested?

    Fr. Robert

  27. wb,
    As to “Justification”. I would see and accept some of the newer ideas of the so-called “New Perspective” on St. Paul. N.T Wright, James D.G. Dunn, E.P. Sanders, etc. See Tom Wright’s new book: Justification (IVP). But in the end, both Justification and Sanctification (in all forms) are God’s work. Even St. Paul’s pneumatology is God’s “supernatural” work. And we cannot get outside of St. Paul’s eschatology either! All is God’s work, we are the players however, and always responsible moral agents in the midst of our sinful selves and fallen world. The New Man in Christ gives us this, (2 Cor.5:17).

    Fr. R.

  28. I doint know the people you have mentioned, nor the book. I only know what I see in Scripture.

    There was a time when all I did was look at books about Scripture and God. Now, I tend to only look at Scripture and God. :) I ought take time to review other works, but I dont usually find it profitable.

    I’m finding even with blogs, I am getting tired of argument for the sake of argument. I dont like reading to refute, yet I often find I must do exactly that. I must always be on guard against the philosophies of the world coming into the community of Messiah. There are so many more avenues for that to occur these days that it gets tiresome.

  29. wb,
    Believe me, we are on the same page here! But myself, as an Anglican and presbyter (and myself once a professor & active theologian), I must at least know what is on the horizon in both culture and theology. When St. Paul says we are to be diligent workmen (2 Tim.2:15), he includes both the culture and theology of any present day. We see this in St. Paul himself…(“the books, especially the parchments.” (2 Tim.4:13)
    Fr. R.

  30. I think its tiring to defend the blogosphere against those who would put it in a neat box. If you don’t want to participate don’t. It’s a free world.

    If you don’t want to argue. Don’t. It’s your blog. If you don’t like a certain blog. Don’t go. It’s still a free world.

    The blogosphere can be used for good, and evil. Wb, your blog is one of the best, the most Christ-centered because that is how you plan it. You use this blog not merely as an outlet, but as a sermon with every post. This is excellent, and those who want to partake of it, they will find great wisdom on this blog.

    On the other hand, I use the blogosphere for a wide range of things. I like to discuss, and start discussions, and participate, and respond, and suggest. I like to use it as a trumpet. I have learned a lot from a wide range of blogs, and found great people on a few of them – namely, Wb, you and your blog.

    But if everyone blog was the same, then those who need other food would not be so well fed.

    Your blog is a high end steak house, Wb, specializing in the best steak around, served with a minimal of distractions, but always the best desert.

    Me, I like buffets – and try to provide a variety.

    • Joel,

      I ignore much of the blog world. Some of it I take in bits and pieces. Some of it I have nothing to do with.

      My problem is the defense of the faith is ever part of my calling. I am called by God to evangelize and disciple. To do so, I simply must teach truth and refute error. There are so many errors promulgated by people, often out of ignorance. But some of the errors have the capability to be extermely harmful. While I can ignore some, some of them simply must be refuted.

      I am praying for God’s refreshment. He’s cool that way – giving us what we need when we need it. I appreciate the compliments regarding the nature of this blog.

      I DO hate the confrontation sometimes. It is wearying. But it really does not matter what I think or desire. If people are willing to dialog, then I must – I have to get the word of God out to the people, to evangelize, teach, correct, disciple. THis is one avenue for doing so.

      It may be that there are people who read what is written here and never comment, but share it with someone else and somehow lead someone to Christ or for them to “recommit” their lives to Christ. I can ask for nothing more than to be used by God so others may come to accept the work of Christ on the Cross for their own lives.

      I love to talk about God, and unfortunately, sometimes that entails having to confront error. I only pray I am able to do so in love and with patience. I think sometimes I fail in that, and its a shame. I want to help others understand God more, but sometimes I get in the way. Part of my prayer is that I am able to get out of the way more and more of God working.

  31. wb,
    Wait until 60 is staring you in the face, and the Bema Seat is closer! lol Every day is new and exciting! I am perhaps no doubt in a personal renewal, and just loving my new ESV Study Bible! Life is good right in the middle of carrying my little crosses in Christ!
    Fr. R.

    • I pray God will renew my spirit as your is being renewed. I pray He create in me a clean heart.

      Of course, right now, I really just want to know the church He would have us attend (which of course means serve). :)

  32. Wb, I for one would miss the blogging world without you in it. I am serious. You provide for me an anchor.

  33. Amen to that for wb!

  34. Thanks, Fr. Robert

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