Posts Tagged ‘roman catholic’

On Pennies, Paupers – and the Pope’s Recent Visit to Glasgow

September 23, 2010

I had occasion to travel over to Glasgow in Scotland recently, to visit my daughter who will be spending a year in that city. When I discovered that my visit there was to coincide with that of the Pope’s, I immediately thought of a certain tract that I have in my possession… “This is my Story – a Personal Testimony by converted priest Henry Gregory Adams,” has been printed in tract form and used extensively in Ireland but now I felt led to bring a quantity to Scotland. This tract is taken from one of the shorter testimonies in a book of ex-priests testimonies: “Far from Rome, Near to God – the testimony of 50 converted Catholic priests.”

I feel that the change in my original plan, which would have meant flying over the previous week, was no accident, because a week later I found myself on a plane where my fellow passengers included some young nuns. The young man who sat nearest to me during the flight refused a tract and then my attention was drawn to the young nuns and somehow, one in particular. She smiled and thanked me for the tract as I made my way down the aisle to disembark at Prestwick Airport. I pray with all my heart that somehow the message of salvation would dawn on the souls of these young women.

My witness for the Lord, for the couple of days that I stayed in Glasgow was to continue in this manner. I didn’t somehow feel led to stand on the street giving out tracts, as the quantity that I had was limited anyway, but wherever possible I gave them to those I came in contact with. The airline pilot, the taxi driver, the owner of the B&B where I stayed, shopkeepers and many people on the street who kindly gave me directions all accepted one. I even left one in a Roman Catholic Church.

One incident stands out from all the rest, concerning my tract distribution. It was my last morning, bright and breezy with a warm sun glinting on some fallen leaves and I was dragging my case around to my daughter’s accommodation to spend the last day with her, when a young woman came out of a side road and smilingly said “hello, isn’t that a lovely morning?” I had been praying just then that the Lord would show me who to give that last morning’s tracts to and I felt that this young woman should get one. However, she walked briskly on, overtaking me and I felt that I really could not shout after her. “Lord,” I prayed as I vainly tried to walk faster, “please help me to reach her.” Then something unexpected happened. I saw her hesitate and stare down at the footpath, after which she bent down to pick something up. Waiting for me, she turned to me with it in her hand and cheerfully said: “Here take this. It’ll bring me good luck, if you do.” She held a copper coin out to me, a two pence piece, not worth much these days – although most people appreciate every penny in a recession! “Thank you,” I said, “but you keep it. After all it was you who found it.”

“Oh no,” she said, “if you don’t take it, I won’t have good luck.” Not wanting to make an issue of the ‘good luck’ theory, I saw my opportunity, accepted the coin and said: “Will you then, take this from me?” I held out the tract and she happily accepted it. After thanking me, she resumed her fast walk in the morning sunshine. The Lord had answered my little prayer in an instant in this city where there is often hostility towards the gospel!

The previous evening I had been thoughtful after watching a televised account of the Pope’s visit to Glasgow. I remembered words referring to Jesus that had very recently been part of my daily reading: “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords;” (1Tim. 6v15) In the Bible the term “Holy Father” (John 17v11) is only used to address Almighty God. All men (including every Pope who ever lived) “have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3v23) Why then, do men revere an unregenerate man like themselves? He is a man who has been elected by other men to the position known to men as ‘pontiff,’ but like all men he needs to come the humble way, by admitting his need of a Saviour.

What would happen if the Pope discovered that he was in error? Somehow I sincerely believe that he would be in a very dangerous position. Yes, his life would definitely be in danger but… “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Matt. 16v26) On my first day in Glasgow, my daughter and I had visited a museum which displayed some artist’s impressions of the paupers of the time. Many well-known characters in Victorian Glasgow relied heavily on the mercy and generosity of passers-by, who would take pity on the fact that they were blind or crippled and so had to beg for a living. ‘It would be better to be a pauper upon this earth and know the Saviour,’ I thought, ‘than the most acclaimed person in the world who has never found the truth of salvation.’ All the applause; all the worldwide fame, riches or accolade of a lifetime can never make up for the eternal loss of my soul – or yours.

Praise God for the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ – the ultimate and final sacrifice for the ransom of all the souls of mankind. How, then, “shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Heb. 2v3) and “what shall a man give in exchange for his soul…?” (Matt. 16v26)

Advertisements

My Recent Visit to Albania

August 21, 2010

Albania… In the 1970’s the very mention of its name conjured up images in my mind of a forsaken, mysterious land where worship of God was forbidden. I am old enough to remember Albania as it was during that dark era when it was declared an atheist state, the first of its kind in the world. This was the era of Enver Hoxha’s regime and this was an era when tourists were not normally welcomed to Albania’s shores, perhaps because of the influence that they might have had. I remember reading about the experience of one traveller back then who somehow managed to get across the border, only to be confronted with a cold sign in a railway station which simply read: “There is no God.”

This immediately brings to mind the words of Psalm 14v1… “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…” How marvellous that dictatorships and regimes may come and go upon this earth – “but the word of the Lord endureth forever.” (1Pet. 1v25) And His Spirit is not subject to the will and restraining influences of mankind!

This summer I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit Albania for the very first time. At the first faint view of its shores across the sparkling sea, I smiled with delight. After all these years of wishing for the opportunity, at last my dream had come true! As our ferry approached the Port of Sarandё, I took in the pastel-coloured apartments and a lovely stretch of sandy beach with parasols, where Albanians were sunbathing.

Once we had boarded the coach which would take us to the archaeological centre of Butrint, however, I could see clearly that here was a country in transition. Our Albanian guide apologised for the state of the unsurfaced road… “The government said it would be finished in June,” he said, and then added jokingly… “but they didn’t say which year!” And so, after a rough sea journey, I was again feeling a little ‘on the wobbly side,’ as the coach dipped up and down through potholes and giant craters on the unsurfaced roads. At one point I noticed the strange sight of a lone bullock with a bell around its neck walking ahead of us on the terrible road. ‘Poor thing,’ I thought as I observed the bones protruding from its back. Strangely there were many half-erected dwelling places en route, which looked like the ‘leaning tower of Pisa.’ “They’ve been asked to pull those down again,” explained the guide, “they didn’t really have permission.” My fellow travellers nodded silently and raised their eyebrows.

On our arrival at the beautiful area of Butrint, I admired the nearby lake, where a lone fisherman sat in his boat. I loved the atmosphere of this historical place which reminded me, in a sense of my own native Ireland. As we descended from the coach little children ran to us with lovely handmade colourful bracelets at €1 each, while hanging from the branches of nearby trees were more handcrafted articles for sale. The archaeological area of Butrint, our guide told us, was inhabited in prehistoric times and there was once Roman colony there. As we followed him around this place where history had left its indelible mark, I thought about the Roman Empire and the Apostle Paul… Hadn’t my recent reading in Romans 15 shown how Paul had preached the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum and hadn’t I discovered that Illyricum was in ancient Albania?

We returned from the archaeological centre along the rocky road where a pleasant meal was waiting for us in a hotel in Sarandё and then we had just a short time of freedom to explore some of the nearby streets. I had so many of my free handcrafted bookmarks (with John 3v16 inserted in Albanian) to give out – and so little time to do it! It was rewarding, that particular experience, and I will never forget the gratitude (for the most part) of those who received them.

I would ask prayer for the souls of Albania, which today consists of 70% Muslim, 20% Albanian Orthodox, a small number of Roman Catholics – and an even smaller number of Evangelical Christians. May Albania’s men, women and lovely little children awake to the good news that the Lord Jesus Christ has come to give them life – and life that is more abundant! (John 10v10) 

The Virgin Mary – and the Bible versus Roman Catholicism

April 30, 2010

May is normally one of the most beautiful months in our Irish year. We live in a rural area and I recall one particular morning in May when the fields were alive with birdsong, butterflies – and ladybirds which are said to be the promise of a lovely summer ahead! As I stood there alone that early morning, happily pegging out the wet washing, I heard the cry of a cuckoo far away across the dewy meadows – something that I have never heard since. In May our hedgerows and apple trees are cloaked with pink and white blossom, with the special radiance of Cherry Blossom gracing urban and rural gardens alike. However, May is also a month which is traditionally associated with Mary – mother of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Most of us are aware that May is a month which the Roman Catholic Church has set aside to pay special tribute to her. It is on the subject of this unique person, Mary, that I now wish to turn.

God’s Word reassures us that Mary was indeed a blessed person. In Luke 1v28 we read the words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary… “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:  blessed art thou among women.” Without a doubt Mary would have to have been a virtuous woman to have been chosen by God for such a wonderful calling. In Proverbs 31v10 we read… “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” Mary was surely such a woman, and yet she too, like every other human being born into this world, needed a Saviour.

Of the fact that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus, the Bible leaves us in no doubt, for the angel of the Lord reassures Joseph in Matthew 1v20 & 21… “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” In Matthew 1v24&25, we also learn that Joseph had no marital relations with Mary until the birth of Jesus. “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” Note the little word “till” here, for the little words in the Bible are every bit as significant as the big ones! 

Therefore it is evident that Mary remained a virgin until after the birth of Jesus. Now there are many who believe that Mary remained a virgin for her entire marriage and for the remainder of her life. Furthermore they also believe that Mary (like Jesus) was immaculately conceived, and that eventually (like Elijah of old in 2Kings 2) she was taken up into Heaven. This doctrine, known as the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary,” is celebrated on the 15th August. Let us now look at what the Bible has to say about each issue in turn. 

Firstly there is the matter of Mary’s “perpetual virginity.” Does the Bible support this doctrine? In Matthew 13v53-58 we read the familiar account of how Jesus taught in the synagogue, in the place where he had grown up. We can see clearly from this account how ‘familiarity can breed contempt,’ and why Jesus “did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13v58)  “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.” (Matthew 13v55-57)

The Bible clearly shows us in this account how, after the birth of Jesus, Mary went on to have more children. We learn that His brothers’ names were James, Joses, Simon and Judas and that He also had sisters, although these are not named here. Now, some would say that “brethren” can also mean “cousin” and this is so. Nevertheless, further confirmation that they were His brothers and not His cousins can be seen in Galatians 1v19. “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” Apart from these clear references which indicate to the contrary, there is no evidence anywhere in scripture to support the doctrine of “perpetual virginity.”

In 1854 Rome declared the doctrine of the “Immaculate Conception,” which is celebrated on December 8th. This commonly held doctrine holds that Mary, like Jesus, was born without sin. However, nowhere in scripture can we read anything which supports such a view. On the contrary, there are many portions of scripture which reveal that only Jesus was born and lived without sin in this world. In Romans 5v12 we read… “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Also Romans 3v23 declares: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Note again, an important little word… “all.” With David, the psalmist, each individual born into this world (with the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ) can say: “Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51v5) So we see that because of one man, sin entered into the world – but thank God for the Person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, of whom we read that He… “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Peter 2v22-24) The Bible makes no such claims for any other person in history. Only the blood of the perfect Son of God “as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Pet. 1v19) was (and is) able to take away sins. 

Note too, that in God’s Word we are exhorted to pray to no one, but the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1Tim.2v 5&6) Here too the little word “all” is important, as is the word “one.” This verse clearly dispenses with the view that Mary is a “mediatrix,” according to a lady I spoke to on one occasion. Jesus is the One and Only Mediator between God and men!

As for the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” which was declared by Rome as recently as 1950, there is no scriptural foundation for this doctrine either. In 2Kings 2 we may read that unique account of how Elijah and Elisha conversed, and how Elijah “went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (Verse 11) In Genesis 5v24 we learn of Enoch, that he “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Again, in Hebrews 11v5 we read: “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” The latter are unique accounts of two individuals who did not see death, but no account exists to tell us that Mary, unlike most people, did not see death. If she had been taken up into heaven in such a manner, then I have no doubt that the infallible Word of God would have recorded such an important event.

Therefore, having viewed scripture in association with man’s declarations on the subject of Mary, that unique (but misrepresented) lady, we must conclude that man would wish to draw attention away from the greatest Person who ever walked the face of this earth – the sinless Person of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

In Luke 1v46-55 we read Mary’s famous words… “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.”

These are the words of a woman of faith – faith in her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ the promised Messiah of old. Although Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elijah and many others did not live to see those days of grace, they too would be justified by faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11v6)

And so, in this, the ‘Day of Grace,’ we are most honoured to have an Advocate and sole Mediator, the risen Saviour, who now sits with His Father in Heaven, awaiting that day and hour which no man knows, when He will return “as a thief in the night” (1Thess. 5v2) to “judge the quick and the dead” (2Tim 4v1). But time is running out, and many today are being deceived. As each hour brings us closer to eternity are you ready for that Day of Judgement and is your name written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life?” (Rev. 21v27)

Somehow that glorious May morning (which I have described earlier) stands out in my mind, and my thoughts very often return to it on a bleak winter’s morning! Life too, can often be bleak, but if we have repented of our sins; put our trust in the shed blood of Jesus alone for salvation; and are walking in the light, as He is in the light – then Heaven will be our destination. In God’s Word we find no such place as ‘Purgatory.’ As someone once said “there is a Heaven to be won – and a Hell to shun.”

Was Purgatory (a doctrine proclaimed by Rome in 1438)   introduced as a means of extracting money from the vulnerable at a time of bereavement? Surely these people, for whom the Lord died, really need the love and comforting arms of the Saviour, as they grieve for their loved ones? Jesus said: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I am come not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (John 12v46-48) If His words are to judge us in the last day, it is imperative that we read them – and obey them.

In 1545 Rome decreed that man’s tradition was to be equal in authority to the Bible. Please do not be deceived. Pray directly to God today, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and ask Him to show you the truth in its entirety. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8v32)

If you turn to Him now, repenting of all that previous life of sin (and no matter how seemingly good and respectable we are, we all have sinned) He will come into your life with His presence and deliver you from that sin. His presence in a life floods that life with joy and a reason for living; you will have someone to confide in; someone you can trust with every problem, as well as decisions, large and small. Above all His Word, the Bible, will take on a whole new meaning. The best place to start reading is in the New Testament and then read the Old Testament – and the best version to read is the Authorized Version. (1611) 

While many today are only interested in the material, they neglect their soul’s salvation – but what could be more important than the issue of where we spend eternity? May God bless you as you search the scriptures and may you experience that joy and assurance of knowing that your sins are forgiven and that you will have a home in Heaven. Jesus said: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)

©Elizabeth Burke 2007