Monday, September 21, 2015

What In the World Is Going On? The Pope vs. the Scriptures

The battle between Roman Catholic theology and its traditions vs. Biblical truth (given to us by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit through the prophets and apostles) has been raging since before the time of the Reformation. This article is in no way attempting to resolve that dispute.

This article is being presented in order to look at what Scripture says with regard to forgiveness of any and all sin, with only one exception – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (a subject for another article).

Having been raised as a Roman Catholic for the first 19 years of my life and having attended Roman Catholic schools for 12 years, the issue of forgiveness being granted by a mere man wearing a black, white or red robe was one of many issues that caused me to, literally, walk out of St. Patrick’s Church 40 years ago. By God’s gracious calling, He led me to the truth of His Word, for which I am eternally grateful.

Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church around the world, is once again in the news. According to the Wall Street Journal (Sept.1, 2015):
“Pope Francis will make it easier for the [Roman] Catholic Church to forgive women for having had abortions, one of several outreaches planned during a “year of mercy” starting in December . . . . .”

“Under church law, anyone who willingly participates in an abortion—including the pregnant woman, the abortion provider and any assistants—incurs automatic excommunication, which normally can be lifted only by the local bishop.”

“But in a letter, the pope said he would grant all Catholic priests authority to ‘absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.’”

“The power to lift the excommunications would extend during the year of mercy, which starts Dec. 8 and ends Nov. 20, 2016. The church observes so-called jubilee years for pardons and the remission of sins every 25 years and on other occasions designated by the pope . . . .”
The question becomes, is the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church the arbiter/dispenser of forgiveness? Or is real forgiveness made available, solely, through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary?

The Truth from Jesus and the Apostles:
The Scripture passages below speak Truth with regard to sin and its complete forgiveness for the true believer in Jesus as their Savior:
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:31-32).

“Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin — because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit’” (Mark 3:28-30).

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:21-25a).

“In Him [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us” (Eph. 1:7-8a).

“For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

“. . . but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:8-14).

As is clear from these few passages, the true believer in Jesus Christ, the person who is, by faith alone, trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection as the means to obtain forgiveness for sin, all of their sin has been forgiven and, by God’s grace, they have been given the free gift of eternal life (Eph. 2:8-9).

This gracious forgiving work of God cannot be performed by or carried out by any man or woman as a representative of any denomination. To make that claim is to call God a liar. No human being has the “authority to absolve” people of their sin. To make that claim is to elevate an individual to a position of equality with God. No wonder the Reformers were so polemic in their writings and discussions with the Church of Rome.

If you are a true believer, struggling because you participated in some way in taking the life of an innocent unborn child, know that there is forgiveness and freedom from guilt and shame. That freedom and forgiveness can only be found in coming before God with a humble and contrite heart in honest confession of sin.

Reconciliation has already been accomplished for the believer (Romans 8:1). Grab a hold of the truths of God’s Word and know that you are forgiven. The Father completely accepted the sacrifice of His Son on behalf of all those who will believe and receive Christ as their Savior.

If you are not a believer in Jesus as your personal Savior, your struggle with guilt and shame will go on until you recognize that you are sinner in need of forgiveness for all your sins. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He is the one who suffered, died and rose from the dead on your behalf. He is the one who took your sin upon Himself so that you could be forgiven, restored to a right relationship with God and receive the free gift of eternal life.

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (Hebrews 3:15).

By His Grace,
Gary T. Dromi, Ph.D.