What's Wrong with the Picture? (Part 1)
What's Wrong with the Picture? (Part 1)
While on the Internet, I came across a series of “YouTubes” in which a Jack Chick tract is carefully examined by a gentleman named Vic Scaravilli. This article will be the first of a series in which I’ll take you through that examination. Scaravilli plants seeds of doubt at the beginning by asking the class if what he’s about to read is correct when the tract says, “The only way to know what’s right is by sola scriptura.” Of course the class, a group of Catholic believers, says no, to which he adds that the Catholic church has always believed in sacred traditions as well as in sacred Scripture. He also adds that the Catholic church has given us the Bible and has determined which books belong in the Bible.
My response to this is as follows. No church gave us the Bible. The Bible, as 1 Thessalonians 2:13 tells us, is “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.” Why do Catholic leaders treat the Bible as if they wrote it and, furthermore, what is actually in their Bible? If they have some other book or manuscript of equal stature, they should show us what they have to try to prove their point. Does knowing that their Bible contains the Deuterocanonical (meaning “added later to the canon”) books give them more evidence of Catholicism’s superiority? No, because the Deuterocanonical books were not canonized until after the Reformation, despite claims to the contrary. As for the sacred traditions, careful observation reveals that many of the church’s traditions actually go against Scripture. Is a church really above Scripture? No, because no individual or group of people can disregard God's Word as less than what it claims to be and still believe they are being obedient and are following God.
The problem starts with the belief that Peter was given authority over the church, which is taken from Matthew 16:18: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” However, the verse needs to be read in context. In Matthew 16:16, Peter had just proclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It is upon that statement of Peter’s that Jesus told us that He, Jesus, the Rock of faith, not Peter, would build His church, not that He would build Peter’s church or the Catholic church.
Furthermore, the Catholic church has determined that because Jesus says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church, they, being the church, must also be infallible. But does this line up with Scripture either? No, because Scripture does not equate the idea of the gates of Hades not prevailing against the church with infallibility. Only God and His Word are infallible.
The contradiction between this belief and what Scripture actually says is even more stark when we realize, as pointed out in an earlier article, that there are other things as well that the Catholic church says and does that are contrary to Scripture.
Vic Scaravilli continues with Jack Chick’s tract which tells us that babies are sinful, while the class chuckles, as they obviously are thinking only of cute, cuddly infants. Never does he consider how selfish children naturally are or what Scripture tells us about all people, children and adults. Jeremiah 17:9 says that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” Isaiah 64:6 reminds us, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.” And in Romans 3:10 and 23, Scripture says, “There is none righteous, no, not one;.... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Next Scaravilli is about to address the topic of baptism but brings up the question of the “once saved, always saved” belief of many fundamentalists instead. To the question, “Are you saved?” he asks them to look at the Scripture verses of Ephesians 2: 8 - 9 that say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Philippians 2:12 states: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” When you look at the phrase “have been saved” in the Ephesians passage, combine it with the Philippians verse telling us to “work out your salvation” - indicating present tense - and join these verses with Romans 8:24 which say, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?” - indicating past tense - we begin to see the bigger picture. Now add in Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” which talks of a future tense, and Scaravilli concludes, as does the Catholic church, that salvation is an ongoing process. By doing this, he reaffirms the church’s idea that some sins can cause us to be separated from Christ and that our salvation depends upon how well we behave and how our sins are removed. This, in turn, leads to the Catholic belief that a priestly confession is needed as intervention, which undermines the “crazy fundamentalists’” camp, as he points out.
The Bible, on the other hand, acknowledges the finished work of Jesus Christ and recognizes that it isn’t about what we do. Look at Titus 3:5: “not by works of righteousness which we have done,” but rather it’s by what Jesus accomplished on the cross. John 6:28-29 adds, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answers and says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” And the work of God was Him sending His Son to save sinners (1Timothy 1:15). Jesus took our sins to the cross and after having purged us of sins by His blood, He now sits at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). He did this so that whoever believes in Him would have eternal life (John 3:16).
I close this part of the message by pointing out some Scriptures of God’s promises to us as believers in Him. In John 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:28-29 tells us, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13–14). Do any of these verses sound like we can never know for sure if we’re saved? It comes down to what or who we are trusting in for our salvation. At the cross, Jesus did it all. Sounds pretty sure to me.
Watch for Part 2 coming next month.