World Religions - Catholics

When Jesus Christ said, “You shall not call anyone ‘Father’ here on earth because you have your heavenly Father which is in heaven,” what was He referring to? Does that mean I cannot call my dad here on earth “Father?” And what about the priests in the Catholic faith where they are called fathers?

No, He certainly is not implying that you cannot call your dad here on earth “Father.” And He’s not saying that we shouldn’t have spiritual fathers, because Paul said, “You’ve had many teachers, but you’ve only had one spiritual father. I’ve been a spiritual father to you in the gospel.” So, we know that God wouldn’t have allowed Paul to say that and put it into the Bible if Jesus was conveying that we can’t look at people and see them as fathers in our life.

But what He’s saying is, “don’t put your trust completely in anybody other than God, except God. God is your heavenly father. God is your source. God is the one who is going to love you like nobody can love you and heal you like nobody can heal you and provide for you like nobody can provide for you. There’s one ultimate relationship between men and God and that is to know God as our Father.

Philip said in John 14:8, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we ask, and then we shall be satisfied.” The heart of every man and of every woman is to know God as their Father and to be in right relationship with God as their Father. And Jesus was pointing to that relationship as their Father and saying that nobody should be a substitute for your relationship with God. People can be father figures in our lives, but not a substitute for God as our father.

As far as priests, again, Jesus is referring to substituting a person in place of God as our father. And if somebody looks to a priest and calls him “father,” there’s nothing wrong with calling him that out of respect. But you shouldn’t be looking to him as a substitute for God. No priest or minister should be a substitute for God. We should be able to go directly to God through Jesus Christ and that’s what Jesus was referring to.

World Religions - Catholics

Is there a difference between the Catholic Bible and the Christian Bible and if there is, what is it?

The answer is yes. Now, the differences are minor, but there are some differences. And the differences are that some books are added to the Catholic Bible. The Catholic Bible doesn’t take away from the authenticity of Scripture, but it does add a couple books that are not in the original canonized Scripture that we have in the main accepted, theologically approved translations.

The one book that I know of that’s in the Catholic Bible that’s not in the traditional Bible is the book of Maccabees. And although it’s harmless, it’s not in the original language. So what we need to do is to stick to what’s original.

Now, I could take a Catholic Bible and I could use a Catholic Bible to preach my sermons. I could use a Catholic Bible to lead somebody to the Lord because in the Catholic Bible, John 3:3 is the same as in my Bible. John 3:3 says, “Unless a man is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” And so, for that purpose, I believe that it’s okay if someone’s reading a Catholic Bible. But just to be safe, you ought to read a Bible that is more accepted by the historians around the world. That is the Protestant Bible.

And again, I’m not coming against the Catholic Bible because it includes the entirety of the Protestant Bible, but it just adds some books that didn’t pass the criteria of the rest of the sixty-six books that are in the Bible. I hope that answers your question. And I hope I’m not offending my Catholic brothers and sisters because I certainly don’t mean to do that. And I’m not criticizing their Bible because it includes everything that my Bible includes.

World Religions - Catholics

What’s the difference between asking a friend to pray for me and asking a “capital-s” Saint to pray for me?

That’s a great question. The reason is because the Bible clearly teaches us to pray for one another, but it doesn’t teach us to request the prayer of somebody who is already home in heaven. The fact is, is to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, and it says that we have only one intercessor and only one mediator between God and man, and that is the man Jesus Christ, in 1 Timothy 1.

So that’s the difference between asking a friend to pray for you, which is clearly validated in the Bible, and asking a Saint that is already home in heaven to pray for you, because there is no one in heaven, the Bible says, that will mediate for us and no one in heaven that will pray for us, except Jesus Christ himself, Hebrews 7 declares. And so that would be how I answer that question. But it’s a great question.

We have to make sure, again, that we go to the Bible. Man, I grew up Catholic. I love some of the Catholic tradition and some of the Catholic faith—the whole concept of family, and the whole concept of communion, and the whole concept of the holiness of going to church. I think it’s fantastic and I urge people to embrace those elements.

But not everything that is taught in the Catholic church, and not everything that is taught in any church is right. That’s why we have to always go back to the Bible as the foundation for what we believe. Let us not offend the Catholics, but let us not offend God. Okay? Let us go to the Bible, let us make sure that we honor God, not man, not a pope, not me, not anybody. But God himself is to be honored. And the Bible is to be honored. And when man adds to the Bible or takes away from the Bible, then we put ourselves in a position where we are making ourselves equal with God. And we must not do that. We must humble ourselves and accept what God has given us. God has given us the Word of God.

World Religions - Catholics

I don’t understand the significance of the Ten Commandments if sin is sin and that one sin isn’t any worse than any other sin. And I don’t understand the significance of Venial sin and Mortal sin.

Well, the significance of the Ten Commandments is that God gives us a measure in our life so that we can understand what is right and wrong and be restrained by that. He gives us the commandments so that we know the difference between good and evil, so that we understand the difference between obeying God and disobeying God.

Obeying those commandments doesn’t save us. What saves us is believing in Jesus Christ. But those commandments reveal to our heart and reveal to our conscience that we need a savior. So the Ten Commandments were given to restrain society so that society had boundaries and society had morals by which to live.

And secondly, and not necessarily in this order, the Ten Commandments were given to expose the sin inside of men’s hearts and to reveal to men that they couldn’t keep the commandments. The commandments force men to recognize their own frailty and their own weakness and their own sin so that they would then look to God and look to a Savior to save them from that sin.

That’s why God gave us the Ten Commandments. Because living by those commandments will always bring greater joy and greater fruitfulness in our lives. Recognizing those commandments exposed our utter weakness and our utter sinfulness, therefore putting a demand on us to call out and to cry out for a savior and recognize our need for a savior. Everybody knows they have sinned. Why does everybody know they’ve sinned? Because we have the Ten Commandments. That’s why everybody knows that they have sinned.

What about Venial sin and Mortal sin? I don’t believe that there is a difference between any kind of sin. To God, sin is sin. It all was paid for through the blood of Jesus. And only our faith in Jesus Christ and in His blood will save us from sin, whether it’s Venial or whether it’s Mortal or whether it’s immortal. Jesus’ blood will cleanse us and forgive us from all unrighteousness according to 1 John 1:9.

And the only sin that we cannot be cleansed from is the unpardonable sin, which is to reject Jesus Christ. That’s the only thing that cannot be pardoned. You cannot be pardoned for rejecting the only sacrifice for our sins.

World Religions - Catholics

I was raised Catholic, but am now a Christian. My family believes in idolatry: they pray to the saints, they pray to the virgin Mary, they say the rosary. I get into arguments with members of my family when I try to tell them that it’s in the Scriptures that we’re not supposed to worship any other idols. Is that including the virgin Mary, the saints, the rosary, those things? Is that correct?

First of all, the word “idol” and the word “idolatry” do not just refer to statues and different people. Many people idolize their own problems. So, idolatry is bigger than just what you and I are talking about right now.

In other words, if somebody is talking about their problem all the time, worried about their problem all the time, afraid about their problem all the time, they’re basically idolizing their problem because they’re exalting that problem above God and above what God’s Word has to say to us. That’s idolatry.

So if somebody exalts Mary, the Virgin Mary above Jesus, then, yes, that’s idolatry. If somebody who’s Catholic honors her because of the contribution she made to Christianity by giving birth to the Son of God, then that’s not idolatry. But if they exalt her equal to or above Jesus, then yes, that is idolatry just as if we exalted Martin Luther equal to or above Jesus. The same is true for the saints as well. If we exalt Paul the Apostle to the same level of Jesus or above Jesus, then that is idolatry. If we exalt our own opinions above Jesus and above the Bible, then that is idolatry also.

Here are some Scriptures to look up. 1 Timothy chapter one says that “there is no mediator between God and man except Jesus Christ.” The Bible says in Mark 3:34-35 that His mother and His brothers and His sisters came to greet Him. They had questions for Him while He was preaching. And it was said, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are out waiting to talk to you.” And Jesus said, “Who are my mother and brothers and sisters? Those who hear the Word of God and obey the Word of God, they are my mother and my brothers and my sisters.”

Now, be careful, because you don’t want to start an unnecessary fight with people over those Scriptures. You need to just relax and if they have questions, then just answer them, but don’t go on the offensive with them. You’re not going to change them right now in their life. But you know what will be the best thing is to show them love and compassion. And live what you know to be true before their eyes.

And then if they ask questions, then kindly and gently answer them. The thing you need to ask any Catholic or any Presbyterian or anybody is, “Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead? And if you do, and you put your faith in Him with all your heart, then that is the prerequisite for salvation, not whether you’re Catholic or Presbyterian or Methodist or anything.”

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