Friday, May 6, 2011

Your Preacher Said What?!?

WARNING: This posting will probably offend many of you. Read at your own risk!

This week as I watched the news I saw images of people getting very excited over a dead man. People were hanging on every word that was said about him. I am not talking about the people who are celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden, I am talking about the people who are eager to declare Pope John Paul II a saint.

As I watch and soak all of this in I am hit with the thought that we seem to focus way too much attention on what man says and not enough attention on what Scripture says! What I mean is that we/the world are all too eager to elevate a frail, sinful, fallen, broken, error prone, shall I continue, man to some lofty position or give him or her some special title. Whether that man/woman be a pastor, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher or yes, even a Pope we are setting ourselves up for disappointment if we expect perfection from them. We also do not have a solid understanding of Scripture. Let me show you what the Catholic church says about praying to saints
Since saints led holy lives and are close to God in heaven, we feel that their prayers are particularly effective. Often we ask particular saints to pray for us if we feel they have a particular interest in our problem. - Catholic Online - www.catholic.org
What! Does this line up with scripture? Based on what verses are they close to God in heaven?! Where does it say that saints are our intercessors between us and God?  Is this a Biblical truth or just feel good theology? Let's take a look.
I Timothy 2: 1-5 - 1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
We are clearly taught to pray but to whom or through whom do we pray? Not to one of thousands of saints or not to one mediator unless you think he does not hear you, one mediator period. Let's look at another passage:
Romans 8: 26 - In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
The Holy Spirit Himself intercedes for us. I don't know about you but I think the second and third persons of the Godhead will do a much better job of hearing and responding to my prayers than some man or woman who was a sinner like me.

Let's look at another angle on this, our warped view of heaven. What goes on in heaven? What is heaven like? Is Grandpa Jones really looking down on little Billy as he plays little league baseball? Is Granny Smith really smiling on her granddaughter as she walks down the isle on her wedding day? Is Saint Whoever really listening to people here on Earth? NO! But that is cruel, that is a harsh thing to say! How dare you say my dead relative is not consumed with what is going on down here! Again, let's look at Scripture.
Revelation 4

1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. 4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Does this mention anyones name? Does John say "I saw the twenty four elders and and oh yeah, Mary over to the left of them" or "I saw the twenty four elders and beside them were St. Peter and St. Christopher praying to God on our behalf"? No!

Let's look again at Scripture:
Revelation 5: 11-14

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they sang:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Look at the passage again. Is anyone asking God for anything? Did John call out anyone by name? Peter, James, Paul, anyone? No, because the sole purpose of those thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand was to worship God! Whenever anyone came into the presence of God they immediately fell on their face. They were not up there saying "Most Holy God, sister Betty is struggling with her health, I am not sure if you know that or not but I wanted to make sure you did not forget about her and that you make sure you heal her." Or "Most Holy God, my granddaughter's wedding starts in about an hour. If you could stop the rain so they can take the outdoor photos I would really appreciate it." How insane is that! But yet millions of people believe this. Why? They have chosen to listen to what man says instead of search out truth in the Scriptures. We are shown an example of what we are to do when we hear someone "teach" Scripture. Take a look at a passage in Acts:
Acts 17: 11 - Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
They did not just take his word for it. They did not say "well Paul said it and he is a holy man so it is what it is!" They searched the Scriptures to verify what he said was true. If Paul misspoke they would have caught it and would have confronted him or told him not to come back and teach any more.

I am afraid we have gotten lazy spiritually. We have placed many things ahead of seeking the truth. We have made traditions and the words of our parents or our preachers more sacred than the scriptures. This is not unique to the Catholic Church. You can find similar beliefs in all denominations just listen to what "religious" people say, you will be amazed.

God help us to seek the truth!

5 comments:

  1. very well said indeed. I regret to say that I was in fact one of those people for a period of time, but truth was sought and found.

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  2. always like to read your perspectives Lamar--right on it, as usual. Keep on pressing on my friend!

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  3. The truth shall set you free. Our Lord God is great.

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