Catholic / Protestant Dialogue

“Believe” Is A Verb (A Work), Part II

Yesterday I pointed out that when Paul referred to “works” in Ephesians 2:8-9, he referred specifically to works of the Jewish law in the Torah.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works [of the Jewish law], so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

No Surprise

This should come as no surprise because the question of whether Christians must first become Jews is present elsewhere in the New Testament, and elsewhere in the New Testament the question is answered with a “no.” Works refers to works of the Jewish law. It does not refer to every verb in every language, as it is incorrectly applied (in my opinion) by many Protestants including me when I was Protestant. As his example of a work of the Jewish law that does not save the soul, Paul uses circumcision.

“Believe” Is A Verb

I pointed out that Protestantism teaches that there is nothing we can do to cooperate with God’s saving grace, and that we must only believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior to be saved, and that Protestantism often uses Ephesians 2:8-9 as a proof text for this interpretation of the Gospel. Finally, I pointed out that although Protestantism teaches that there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, it also teaches that we must believe in Jesus, and that I believe this is a contradiction because “believe” is a verb, an action word. It is something we must do.

New Priest, New Law

Catholicism does not believe that there is nothing we can do to cooperate with God’s saving grace. Catholicism believes that we must obey the New Testament’s commands concerning salvation, and that obedience to these commands is how we cooperate with God’s saving grace. The 600+ commands of the Old Testament do not instruct us toward sufficient cooperation with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, but the handful of commands in the New Testament do. We have a new law, but a law nonetheless, and law must be obeyed.

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood [works of the Jewish law] (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest [Jesus] to come — one in the order of Melchizedek… For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law… For it is declared: “You [Jesus] are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” ~ Hebrews 7:11-17

We have a new priest, and a new law. One of the primary commands of this new law is that we must eat Christ’s flesh and drink his blood. This is not symbolic or optional if you have access to it. Christ is present in the bread and wine, and unless your hands are literally nailed to a cross and you are seconds away from death like the thief on the cross, or your hands are figuratively nailed to a cross and you have no access to consecrated bread and wine like those in Islamist and Leftist nations, consuming the body and blood of our Lord and Savior is mandatory for eternal life.

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. ~ Jesus Christ, John 6:54

To whom much is given, much is required. I learned to stop using the thief on the cross as my example of all that is necessary for eternal life. I looked at my hands, and since they are not nailed to a cross literally or figuratively, the thief’s example does not apply to me.

Eating the flesh of Christ and drinking his blood is the Catholic Sacrament of Holy Communion (Eucharist), during which the bread and wine become the real presence of Jesus Christ. As the verse I listed above from Hebrews says, Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. But how quickly we forget what Melchizedek did.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine…  ~ Genesis 14:18

Bread Of Life, Lamb Of God

The theme has not changed from Old Testament to New. Jesus is the bread of life who was born in Bethlehem (which means “house of bread”), and he was placed in a manger (a food bowl for sheep). Jesus is the bread. We are his sheep who must eat him.

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” ~ Luke 22:14:15

What happened at the first Passover? The people inside the houses marked by the lamb’s blood on the doorposts were required to eat the spotless lamb whose bones were not to be broken. What happened at Calvary? The Roman soldiers broke the bones of crucifixion victims except those of the lamb of God, whose bones remained unbroken, and whose flesh we are required to eat, in a stunning fulfillment of the prophecies of the first Passover.

As a Protestant, I believed that God was present in a burning bush, a pillar of cloud, and a baby in a manger, but I refused to believe that he could be present in bread and wine.

Just Do It

The old law was our schoolmaster. It could not save us. It is the new law that saves us, and not just “believing” the law, but doing it!

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does. ~ James 1:22-25

If you live in a nation where Catholic Churches are still legal, and you can get to one, start attending Sunday Mass and join the Church. If you are a Catholic who has left the Faith, return. Confess your sins to a priest and receive the life-giving Eucharist. If you have never been part of the Catholic Church, join now.

The Bible is always proven true.

Eucharist Stained Glass - Copy 1

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