Before I looked at Scriptures for myself, I was part of the denomination that some refer to as "The Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth." Of course they tell us that we cannot understand Scriptures, but the Bible reveals a different answer. Paul stated, "... it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..." (Romans 1:16) Everything we are told, we can cross check with Scriptures just as Paul commended the Bereans for doing to him. (See Acts 17:11) Paul knew the importance of a good Bible lesson as He wrote to Timothy, "... the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (1 Timothy 3:15-17) So if "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105) let us check this claim with God's Word as well. This will be a 2 part article dealing with the claim that this denomination makes from the phrase that "The Church we seek must be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," found under the website page of "The Pillar of Fire, pillar of Truth."
The Church Is One! -Jesus established only one Church, not a collection of differing churches (Lutheran, Baptist, Anglican, and so on). The Bible says the Church is the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:2332). Jesus can have but one spouse, and his spouse is the Catholic Church.
Biblical Answer - They are correct in that Jesus formed only one Church, but it isn't any denomination. His Church are those who have placed their faith in His finished work done at Calvary for their sins. John 3:16 tells us, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." and verse 36 tells us, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." The Church is consisting of all of the believers as Paul tells us this in 1 Corinthians 3:9, "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."
His Church also teaches just one set of doctrines, which must be the same as those taught by the apostles (Jude 3). This is the unity of belief to which Scripture calls us (Phil. 1:27, 2:2).
Biblical Answer- Jude 3 tells us that He ".... exhort(s) you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Likewise Philippians 1:27 tells, "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ ... that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." So right they are, in quoting these verses. However show me where in Scriptures does it have the many unbiblical practices of this particular church? You won't find the apostles doing any of their unbiblical "traditions."
Although some Catholics dissent from officially-taught doctrines, the Church?s official teachers?the pope and the bishops united with him?have never changed any doctrine. Over the centuries, as doctrines are examined more fully, the Church comes to understand them more deeply (John 16:1213), but it never understands them to mean the opposite of what they once meant.
Biblical Answer - This is not true because by using the Bible without twisting Scriptures nowhere can one find your many teachings and traditions that go against God's Word. One cannot find the many examples that this church "claims" as evidence to back up their beliefs as my many articles have attempted to illustrate.
The Church Is Holy (Eph. 5:2527, Rev. 19:78, CCC 823829)
By his grace Jesus makes the Church holy, just as he is holy. This doesn?t mean that each member is always holy. Jesus said there would be both good and bad members in the Church (John 6:70), and not all the members would go to heaven (Matt. 7:2123).
Biblical Answer - That is stretching the point quite a bit. John 6:70 tells us "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" and Matthew says, "He never knew you" in the quoted verses at Judgment Day. How does either Scripturally verify that His church is holy? Although we know God's Church is holy, neither of these verses say that a particular denomination is His church.
But the Church itself is holy because it is the source of holiness and is the guardian of the special means of grace Jesus established, the sacraments (cf. Eph. 5:26).
Biblical Answer - Granted the Church is Holy because its source comes from Jesus, but the Bible never teaches that Jesus started the sacraments as the means to convey graces nor for us to merit grace through them. He died for that very purpose. Romans 11:6 tells us that it is either by works or by grace. It cannot be both and Ephesians 2:8,9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." If sacraments were the means to merit grace, then our salvation would depend upon our participating in them, how often we would do them, then we'd no longer be saved by grace.
The Church Is Catholic (Matt. 28:1920, Rev. 5:910, CCC 830856)
Jesus? Church is called catholic ("universal" in Greek) because it is his gift to all people. He told his apostles to go throughout the world and make disciples of "all nations" (Matt. 28:1920). For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has carried out this mission, preaching the good news that Christ died for all men and that he wants all of us to be members of his universal family (Gal. 3:28). Nowadays the Catholic Church is found in every country of the world and is still sending out missionaries to "make disciples of all nations" (Matt. 28:19). The Church Jesus established was known by its most common title, "the Catholic Church," at least as early as the year 107, when Ignatius of Antioch used that title to describe the one Church Jesus founded. The title apparently was old in Ignatius?s time, which means it probably went all the way back to the time of the apostles.
Biblical Answer - Although the word catholic means universal, it is rather presumptuous to assume that this church that "probably went back to the time of the disciples" is the Roman Catholic Church of today. The Galatians 3 verse simply tells us that believers are one, not different nationalities in God's view. This proves nothing about the Roman Catholic Church, neither does Matthew?s verse, nor does Revelation, both of which state about how Christ's Church will be, but neither verse mentions Roman Catholicism as His Church. This part simply implies or plants the thought into a reader's mind, "that this must be my Church." They may be the biggest, but that isn't evidence either for Scripture tells us "... narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:14) Furthermore the Bible does say that "For every tree is known by his own fruit...." (Luke 6:44) Therefore, when examining the many points of a particular Church with Scriptures, one can see if they are in or out of Christ's Church. Historically, the truth is more like the fact that many of the "traditions" of today's Roman Catholic Church actually came into practice in the 4th century when Constantine declared Christianity to be acceptable. This is precisely when many of their unbiblical practices crept into their teachings that we now see, eventually setting up the need for the reformation.
In closing I again recommend reading my articles to know what I mean on each topic. Call or check my web address at http://www.freewebs.com/gospellightmin/ for the articles. Next month we'll check out their claim to being Apostolic.