The following are shocking truths that every Christian should know. Surprisingly, many Christians are completely unaware of these things, especially in North America, and a great many Christians have no interest in learning them at all. However, they are essential to our faith as believers in Christ, and no Christian should be without knowledge of them. Read on to learn the shocking truths that every Christian should know...
Did you know the Bible says we are NOT saved by Faith Alone?
The Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther (AD 1483 - 1546), made "Faith Alone" (Sola Fide), one of the "Five Solas" of Protestant theology. He even added the word "alone" to Romans 3:28, in his German translation of the Bible, thereby changing the whole meaning of the verse.
Original Greek version…
λογιζόμεθα γὰρ δικαιοῦσθαι πίστει ἄνθρωπον χωρὶς ἔργων νόμου.
Common English translations...
(NIV) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
(NRSV) For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
(ESV) For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
(NASB) For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
(RSV) For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.
(KJV) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Martin Luther's German translation…
So halten wir nun dafür, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein durch den Glauben.
English equivalent...Do you see how he added the word "alone" here. It changes the meaning of the verse. Most Christian denominations today developed their salvation theology (soteriology) around Martin Luther's Five Solas, which means that most Christian denominations, particularly those in the United States, teach some form of salvation by Faith Alone. But what does the Bible really have to say about this. We see above how Martin Luther mistranslated Romans 3:23, but to do this, he had to completely ignore James 2:24…
For we account a man to be justified by faith alone, without the works of the law..
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.Throughout the whole New Testament, the authors speak of faith and works operating together in the life of the Christian believer, and that in the end, Christ will judge us not only by our faith, but by our works of love as well…
For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body. -- 2 Corinthians 5:10
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. -- Galatians 5:6
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. -- 1 Corinthians 13:2
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. -- John 14:15
And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” -- Matthew 19:16-17
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. -- Philippians 2:12
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. -- John 14:21
For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. -- Romans 2:6-8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. -- Ephesians 2:8-10Salvation (justification) does not come by "faith alone." It never did. The whole thing is based on a mistranslation of the Bible from one man back in the 16th century. Does your church or denomination teach salvation (justification) by "faith alone?" If so, your church is going against the plain and clear teaching of the Bible. Sadly, many Christian churches in North America do just that.
Did you know that nowhere does the Bible say to use the Bible Alone?
That's right. There is not a single Biblical passage that says the entire Christian faith is contained solely in the Bible Alone. Go ahead and try to find one -- just one. You won't be able to. Yet, the majority of churches in America teach that we must only believe what is written in the Bible Alone. Where did they get this idea? Obviously, it didn't come from the Bible, because it's not in there.
Actually, the got it from a single man living in the 16th century. Yep, it's Martin Luther again. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) was another one of his Five Solas. He had not a single verse of Scripture to back it up, but in spite of that, millions of people embraced the idea. So what does the Bible actually say about this?
I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you. -- 1 Corinthians 11:2
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter. -- 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. -- 2 Thessalonians 3:6
But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. -- John 21:25As you can see, the Bible plainly teaches that the word of God is revealed to us not only through the pages of the Bible, but also through the oral traditions handed down from the apostles. But how can those oral traditions be known today? The early Christians, specifically those of the early Church, who suffered persecution for their faith at the hands of the Pagan Roman Empire, recorded for us how this works...
"The teaching of the Church has indeed been handed down through an order of succession from the apostles, and remains in the churches even unto this present time. That alone is to be believed as the truth which is in no way at variance with the ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition."
-- Origen, Fundamental Doctrines 1:2, written in AD 230.So there you have it. This was written back when Christians were being fed to lions in the Roman circuses and burned alive as torches for Caesar's gardens. The early Christians followed not only Scripture, but also the oral tradition of the apostles, handed down to them through an order of successors. These successors were known as bishops. We read about them in Scripture...
The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. -- 1 Timothy 3:1
For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain. -- Titus 1:7You see, a bishop is a "little apostle" in the sense that the apostles gave the bishops their apostolic authority, entrusting them not only with proper interpretation of Scripture, but also with the oral traditions not contained in Scripture.
It helps to understand that the Bible itself wasn't compiled as a single book until the late 4th century. Prior to that, the Bible existed in separate scrolls, and each church had a different number of them in different regions of the world. So for example; prior to the late 4th century, Christians in Spain might have a completely different Bible from Christians in Italy, and Christians in Greece might have a completely different Bible from Christians living in Egypt. Everyone had a different Bible, and this is why three church synods were held in Rome, Hippo and Carthage, in the late 4th century, to determine once and for all what the Christian Bible is supposed to look like. After this, the Bishop of Rome (sometimes called the Pope) took the recommendations of these three synods and made the Bible we know today as the official Christian Bible for all Christians. Its the same Bible most Christians use today, except for many Christians in North America. They often use a shorter one.
So does your church teach that we must only believe what is in the Bible Alone? If so, your church isn't following the Bible.
Did you know that most Christians in North America don't even use the complete Bible?
Yes, it's true. Many Christians in North America today don't even have a complete Bible. It's been shortened and truncated -- specifically missing seven books from the Old Testament, and entire chapters from the books of Esther and Daniel. It's very sad, you see, because most of these Christians don't even know their Bible is incomplete. Here are the books most Christians are missing...
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
- Chapters 10 - 16 of Esther (including the dream had by Mordecai, contents of the decree against the Jews, and a copy of the decree in favour of the Jews)
- Chapters 2, 13 and 14 of Daniel (including the prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon)
You see, these books were part of the Christian Bible for over 1,500 years. It's only been in the last 500 years that these books and chapters have been removed by certain Bible publishers after promptings from Martin Luther. If you want the complete (unabridged) Bible, you can read it for free here. Or you can purchase a copy of one here or here or here.
Does your church use a complete and unabridged Bible? If not, your church doesn't have the full Scriptures.
Did you know that literally ALL CHRISTIANS prayed to Mary and the Saints prior to the 16th century, just 500 years ago?
It's true, and there is so much historical record to support this, that it seems almost silly to post it here. Feel free to check your local library to see if this is true. You'll probably be shocked to discover that literally ALL CHRISTIANS prayed to Mary and the Saints prior to the 16th century, and even that first generation of Protestant Reformers (including Martin Luther) held to strong Marian devotion. So for simplicity's sake, I'll just cite a few references from the ancient Church...
"For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against His Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word. The former was seduced to disobey God, but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve. As the human race was subjected to death through [the act of] a virgin, so it was saved by a virgin." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V:19,1 (written in AD 180)
"Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God. Do not reject our supplications in necessity, but deliver us from danger, [O you] alone pure and alone blessed." -- Sub Tuum Praesidium, Egypt 3rd Century, From Rylands Papyrus
"O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides." -- Athanasius, Homily of the Papyrus of Turin, 71:216 (AD 373)
"Recalling these and other circumstances and imploring the Virgin Mary to bring assistance, since she, too, was a virgin and had been in danger, she entrusted herself to the remedy of fasting and sleeping on the ground." -- Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 24:11 (A.D. 379)Why did they do this? It's simple really. You see, true and authentic Christian theology teaches two things. The first is that physical death has lost its sting and means nothing to Christians. Our place in the Mystical Body of Christ remains intact even after our death. The second is that all Christians are connected to each other through the Holy Spirit, and that those who have died are more in tune with the Holy Spirit in death than they ever were in life, which means they can hear our prayers and requests. So just as one living Christian asks another living Christian to pray for him/her, so to a living Christian can ask a deceased Christian (such as a Saint) to pray for him/her as well. To deny this is to deny the power of Christ over death.
Sadly, in recent centuries, following the Protestant Reformation in Europe, many Protestant Christians gradually adopted Muslim-like beliefs that there is a vast separation between Christians who are living and dead, and there can no longer be any communication between them. This defies the plain teaching of Scripture and the Early Church, and denies the power of Christ over death, but sadly, that's what many Christians believe now, especially many in North America.
Does your church encourage prayer to Mary and the Saints? If not, your church isn't following the Bible or the faith of the early Christians who suffered and died for the faith.
Did you know that up until just 500 years ago, literally ALL CHRISTIANS believed the communion bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ?
Yes, that's right. All Christians believed this, up until just 500 years ago, when some Christians began denying it. Now, in North America, most Christians deny it entirely, in spite of what the Bible says...
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. -- John 6:52-57
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” -- Matthew 26:26
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? -- 1 Corinthians 10:16
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself. -- 1 Corinthians 11:23-29The early Christians, who died for their faith in the Roman Coliseum and circuses, firmly believed this, and even wrote it down for us in their own words...
"For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." -- Justin Martyr, First Apology 66 (AD 110-165)
"He acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as his own blood, from which he bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of creation) he affirmed to be his own body, from which he gives increase to our bodies." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies,V:2,2 (AD 200)
"They [heretics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again." -- Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 7,1 (AD 110)Again, these were the Christians who suffered and died for their faith at the hands of the Pagan Roman Empire. They died believing the bread becomes the literal flesh of Jesus Christ, and the wine becomes his literal blood. In fact, that was one of the charges the Pagans levelled against them -- cannibalism.
Does your church teach that the bread and wine in communion are the literal body (flesh) and blood of Jesus Christ? Or does it teach that its only symbolic? If its the later, your church is not following the teachings of the Bible or the early Christians who died for the faith.
Did you know that up until just 500 years ago, all Christians confessed their sins to a presbyter or bishop (priest)?
The practise comes straight from the Bible. Jesus entrusted his apostles, and their successors (the bishops, as well as their presbyters), also known as "priests," with his own power to forgive and retain sins...
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” -- John 20:20-23Yes, it's true, and there is so much historical information to prove this, that it would be ridiculous to cite it all here. Again, just go to any local library to look it up and see for yourself. Instead, I'll just cite one of the earliest sources from a Christian who lived during the time when Christians were dying for their faith in the Roman Coliseum and circuses.
"In addition to these there is also a seventh, albeit hard and laborious: the remission of sins through penance... when he does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord." -- Origen, Homilies on Leviticus, 2:4 (A.D. 248)Does your church offer private confession opportunities with a presbyter or bishop, who has the authority to forgive sins on Christ's behalf? If not, your church isn't following the faith or practise of the early Christians.
Did you know that all the early Christians followed the Successor of Saint Peter, who is known as the Bishop of Rome (a.k.a. The Pope)?
Yes, it's true, and this comes from Jesus Christ's words to Peter when he said...
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. -- Matthew 16:18-19Keys were a Biblical symbol of authority, which a Jewish king would give to his prime minister. (See Isaiah 22:21-22) How was this interpreted by the early Christians, who gave their lives for their faith in the Coliseum and circuses of Rome? Read it for yourself, in their own words...
"The Church of God which sojourns in Rome to the Church of God which sojourns in Corinth....If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger." -- Clement of Rome, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians 1,59:1 (AD 96)
"Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the Church which has obtained mercy, through the majesty of the Most High God the Father, and of Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son; the Church which is sanctified and enlightened by the will of God, who formed all things that are according to the faith and love of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour; the Church which presides in the place of the region of the Romans, and which is worthy of God, worthy of honour, worthy of the highest happiness, worthy of praise, worthy of credit, worthy of being deemed holy, and which presides over love..." -- Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans, Prologue (AD 110)
"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorised meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organised at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere." -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:3:2 (AD 180)
"And he says to him again after the resurrection, 'Feed my sheep.' It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church's) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly should we hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcopate itself to be the one and undivided." -- Cyprian, The Unity of the Church 4-5 (AD 251)
"Stephen, that he who so boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid...Stephen, who announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter." -- Stephen I of Rome, Firmilian to Cyprian, Epistle 74/75:17 (AD 256)The earliest Christians, the most faithful among us all, who gave their lives to lions in the Roman Coliseum and circuses, and allowed themselves to be burned alive as torches in the gardens of the Caesars, all professed obedience to the Bishop of Rome (The Pope) as the Successor of Saint Peter the Rock. Their testimony is undeniable. This was part of the faith they died for. Does your church profess loyalty to the Bishop of Rome (The Pope) as the Successor of Saint Peter? If not, your church isn't following the example of the early Christians who sacrificed everything for the faith. Sadly, many North American Christians profess no loyalty to the Bishop of Rome, and are ignorant of both the faith and sacrifices of the early Christians.
Did you know the early Christians called their churches "Catholic?"
The word "Catholic" is Greek and means: whole, complete, unabridged and universal. In other words, a Catholic Christian is one who believes the whole, complete, unabridged and universal faith taught by Jesus Christ and his apostles. If we likened the Christian faith to a salad bar, the Catholic Christian is one who goes through the bar and takes a little helping over everything offered on the bar, leaving nothing behind. Many Christians, especially those in North America, are not "Catholic," which means they pick and choose from the salad bar that which they like and don't like. They treat Christianity as if it were a buffet, wherein one can pick and choose what to belief based on personal preferences. That's why there is only one Catholic Church, but many different kinds of non-Catholic (or Protestant) churches. There are as many Protestant churches as there are different opinions about what to believe and reject. This problem is nothing new. The early Christians dealt with it as well. But for those who chose to accept the whole and complete Christian faith, leaving nothing out, the word that was used to describe them was "Catholic."
See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. -- Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8 (AD 110)Ignatius was a bishop in the Early Church who oversaw the Church of Antioch. He was ordained a presbyter in his youth by Saint Peter the Apostle, and then later made a bishop by Saint John, the youngest Apostle. The words you just read above were written by a man who was made a bishop by the same man who wrote the Gospel of John, three Biblical epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Ignatius was captured by Roman authorities during one of the early persecutions of the Church. He wrote these words as he was being taken back to Rome to be executed in the Coliseum. These were some of his last words, before he was mauled to death by lions. You have just read above, the last words of a man who died for the Christian faith, and was made a bishop of that faith by a major author in the Bible. Now you know the shocking truth.
What will you do now?
Will you ignore his words? Will you just pass them off as irrelevant? Will you ignore everything written here, including the writings of others who suffered for the faith, and the words of the Bible itself? What will you do now?
Sadly, many Christians will just ignore all this. It's easy. Many have been doing it for some 500 years, and in North America for some reason, many Christians find ignoring history and the Bible especially easy. Some however, a few of you, will not ignore these things. Some of you will take action. Some of you will make the necessary changes in your lives. I don't know who you are, but I do know you're out there, somewhere.
If you would like to learn more about what you can do, I encourage you to talk to a Catholic Christian priest about it. I will make some recommendations below...
- First, check and see if there is one of these parishes near you. I recommend trying to go here. (click here)
- Second, if nothing is available nearby, I recommend going here. (click here).
- Third and lastly, if none of the above are available nearby, I recommend going here. (click here)
Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.
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