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Scripture Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5
Christian: Not Catholic or Protestant
1. Someone asks you what religion you are, what do you say? (We have heard, “I am Church of Christ”; “I am Protestant”, etc.) Why not, “I am a Christian” (Acts 11:26)?
2. What does “Catholic” and “Protestant” mean? Do these designations have any standing in the NT? (Matt 28:18; Col 3:17)
I. CHRISTIAN: Follower of, belonging to Christ (of or pertaining to), Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet 4:16.
A. A Christian is a Disciple of Jesus Christ, Acts 11:26.
1. Learns from and follows Jesus Christ, Lk 6:40, 46.
2. Continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, etc., Acts 2:42.
B. Being a Christian is not
1. Wearing a name, but about living a life. (Titus 1:16)
2. Joining a club, but about being added to the church. (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor 1:12-13)
3. Selfish conduct, but about
self-sacrifice. (Lk 9:23)
4. Not about worn out “rules”, but the law of love. (1 Jno 5:2-3)
C. One Becomes a Christian by being Obedient to the Faith, Acts 10:34-35; Heb 5:9. (Mk 16:15-16; Matt 28:19-20)
1. Example of priests becoming disciples (Christians), Acts 6:7.
2. One is not a Christian unless he has obeyed the faith (gospel)!
D. A Christian is Added to the Church of Christ by Christ, Acts 2:47.
1. The universal church; the body of saved, Matt 16:18; Heb 12:23.
2. Christians joined together (local churches), Acts 2:41; 9:26; 14:23
E. A Christian Departs from Iniquity, 2 Tim 2:19; cf. Titus 1:15-16.
1. The Christian is a convert, Acts 3:19; cf. Rom 12:1-2; Col 3:1-4.
2. Complete contradiction of Christ for a Christian to continue in sin after becoming a Christian, Rom 6:1-2.
3. Christ does not know those who work iniquity, Matt 7:21-23.
II. WHO ARE CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS? (Catholic – “universal”)
A. Catholic: Member of the Catholic Church – An Apostate Church.
1. The Catholic Church gradually developed from A.D. 200-600 by Christians fell away from the faith! 1 Tim 4:1-3
2. Apostasy in Organization:
a. Elderships (Acts 14:23): local, “bishop”, city/country…
b. Diocesan concept: Regional bishoprics (Bishops viewed as successors of apostles).
c. Worldwide: Bishop of Rome – Papacy (papa, Vicar of Christ), Pope the representative of Christ on earth.
d. The Great Schism in A.D. 1054. (Orthodox Churches)
3. Apostasy in Doctrine:
a. The plan of salvation:
1) From immersion of repentant to sprinkling on death bed.
2) From personal sin to original sin and infant baptism.
b. Worship (Jno 4:24):
(1) Clergy/laity distinction developed; Priesthood
(2) Ceremonial pomp, the mass, etc.
(3) Eventual introduction of mechanical instr. of music.
(4) Transubstantiation; Sacraments.
4. Apostasy in Morality (unbridled immorality).
a. Licentiousness increased as pagan traditions were co-opted.
b. Corrupt clergy, led by papacy, left immorality unrestrained.
c. Indulgences and their abuse.[i]
B. Protestant: Protestant Reformation (1517-1648): Protest against RCC.
1. Martin Luther (1483-1546): German monk and leader of the German Reformation. He spoke out against the RCC’s practice of indulgences in his “Ninety-five Theses,” October 30, 1517 (an indulgence was considered to release a repentant person from punishment for a sin after God had forgiven his guilt). He was later excommunicated (1521), translated the Bible into German, and developed his views on justification by faith and the ultimate authority of the Bible. His teachings became the basis of the Lutheran Church.
2. Protestantism kept and increased the corruptions of organization, doctrine and immorality grew more and more.
3. Hundreds (thousands) of denominations are distinguished and divided by creeds, confessions, councils... (Jno 17:20-21; Eph 4:3-4)
1. Which “Christian” is genuine? Which is following Christ? (Acts 11:26)
2. Christians are named after Christ: Not named after an organization (“Catholic”), a tradition (Orthodox) or after a movement (Protestant Reformation) or a man (Lutheran).
3. Only a “Christian” – without any allegiances to the doctrines and commandments of men, Col 2:20-23; 2 Cor 6:17-18.
[i] The indulgence is granted by the Catholic Church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution. The belief is that indulgences draw on the Treasury of Merit accumulated by Christ’s superabundantly meritorious sacrifice on the cross and the virtues and penances of the saints. They are granted for specific good works and prayers.
Indulgences replaced the severe penances of the early Church. More exactly, they replaced the shortening of those penances that was allowed at the intercession of those imprisoned and those awaiting martyrdom for the faith.
Abuses in selling and granting indulgences were a major point of contention when Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation (1517). (Wikipedia)