Relics Anyone?

When Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire recently, it was reported that early in the fire they were able to move religious relics to safety. You may be asking “What are religious relics?” The following from Martin Luther (1897) by Miss Whately throws light on this unbiblical practice in the 1500s (AD):

In those days of superstition and ignorance people were taught that holy men could perform miracles, cure the sick and even raise the dead. Therefore, they often gave large sums of money for part of the leg or arm, even the tooth of a saint. These relics sold for very high prices, and, indeed, a great part of the wealth of the church [Roman Catholic Church] came from selling of relics. Some of the most precious relics were said to be a part of the cross upon which our blessed Lord was crucified, and the crown of thorns which he wore when the people mocked him…. They also pretended to show some of the hay in which Christ lay in the manager in Bethlehem, and the head of John The Baptist, though it is well known, from history, that the Saracens [Arabs and Muslims] opened his tomb and burned his remains to ashes. (Page 49-50)

We see that a religious relic was, and still is, body parts of the people the church considered holy and items supposedly associated with the Lord’s life on Earth. In the Middle Ages, whichever church had the most religious relics was considered to be the holiest. Martin Luther, being a Catholic Doctor of Theology who started reading and preaching the Bible, knew that relic veneration was not of God and was not based on biblical truth. Like indulgences, he knew it was a money making racket. He tells the following curious story about a relic:

A German, making his confession to a priest in Rome, promised to keep secret whatsoever the priest should impart to him, until he reached home. Whereupon the priest gave him a leg of the donkey on which Christ rode in Jerusalem very neatly bound up in silk, and said, ‘This holy relic on which the Lord Christ did sit, with his sacred legs touching this donkey’s legs.’

Then was the German wondrous glad, and carried the said holy relic with him into Germany. When he got to the borders, he boasted of his holy relic in the presence of four others, his comrades, when, lo! It turned out that each of them had likewise received from the same priest a leg, promising the same secrecy. Thereupon all exclaimed, with great wonder, ‘Oh, had that donkey five legs?

Page 50: The Story of Martin Luther edited by Miss Wheatley (1897)

The spiritual gloom created by the teaching and commandments of men produced this erroneous practice of relic veneration ….and they both are going on today.

Jesus Christ said,

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32

May His word set you free from the religious teachings and commandments of men.

Carl

In Honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

It has been 500 years since the German priest Luther nailed his 95 theses or propositions on the Castle Church door (above) at Wittenberg, Germany. Little did he realize then the far reaching impact of what he had done. The Reformation was born and Christianity and all of Western civilization was changed. The other night we watched online as one of our daughters participated in a very large Reformation anniversary celebration in one of the European capital cities. It was a glorious event. They even sang my grandmothers favorite hymn in their mother tongue. It was quite moving.

To celebrate this august occasion, I offer this quote from Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley:

“Luther’s greatest contribution to history, however, was not political. It was religious. He took four basic Catholic concerns and offered invigorating new answers. To the question how is a person saved, Luther replied: not by works but by faith alone. To the question where does religious authority lie, he answered: not in the visible institution called the Roman church but in the Word of God found in the Bible. To the question – what is the church? —- he responded: the whole community of Christian believers, since all are priest before God. To the question — what is the essence of Christian living? —- he replied: serving God in any useful calling, whether ordained or lay. To this day any classical description of Protestantism must echo those central truths.”

And you know what? The Bible today still says the same things. Thank you Lord Jesus for the Bibles we have. It is really a miracle. Let us remember the men, such as John Wyclif and William Tyndall, who translated the Greek NT manuscripts into our mother tongue, so we, the common man, could understand what God had said.

Thank you for your time. God Bless you.

Carl

God’s Rescue of Man (Part One)

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If you have been reading this blog, you probably know that “lust” in the Greek New Testament means either good or evil “passionate cravings”. Today we are starting a four  part blog on God rescuing us from this present evil age. I thought this picture was appropriate since the Pernicious One (Satan) and our flesh (old sinful nature) want us to follow our evil passionate cravings resulting in enslavement and destruction, ruining our Christian testimony and robbing us of God’s blessings.  May this study be a blessing and warning to you as it was to me.    Carl

“… Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age…”  Galatians 1:4

The Lord Jesus willingly gave Himself on the Cross for our sins. This scripture states that the purpose  was to “rescue” us “from this present evil age”.  The word translated “rescue” means “to pluck out, to draw out, to rescue, to deliver”.  In 1522 Martin Luther referred to this in the preface of the first German language New Testament:

This gospel of God or New Testament is a great message, good news, sounded forth into all the world by the apostles, telling of a true David who strove with sin, death, and the devil, and overcame them, and thereby RESCUED all those who were captive in sin, afflicted with death, and overpowered by the devil. Without any merit of their own he made them righteous, gave them life, and saved them, so that they were given peace and brought back to God.” (Emphasis mine)

As we will see, the gospel is truly emancipation from bondage.  Our opening scripture says He came to rescue us from the ethical characteristics of the present age.

“Age” (aion) is defined as a “period of time” and is sometimes translated “world” in the NT.  Here it is defined by its moral characteristics. Trench says the following about it:

“All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale.”

Notice that it is called an “evil” age. The Greek word for this evil is poneros as opposed to kakos.  A kakos man is satisfied to perish in his own corruption but a poneros man “is not content unless he is corrupting others as well, and drawing them into the same destruction with himself.” (Wuest).  The English word best describing poneros is the word pernicious,   “causing great harm or damage often in a way that is not easily seen or noticed”.  A perfect description of Satan’ activity.  He is known as The Pernicious One. Let us praise God The Father for sending the Lord Jesus to destroy the works of Satan in our lives, setting us free from the dominion of darkness positionally and experientially (I John 3:8 & Col.1:13).

This ends Part I of God’s Rescue of Man.  Part 2 will discuss the pernicious influence of the age and the Lord Jesus’ command to “Have salt within yourselves…” .

Thank you for your time and God bless you and your family.

Carl