Discover the Book - Jan. 19, 2009

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Traditions and Images

 

 

The Deadliness of Images in Worship

I remember during the time of my life when I was able to live and minister in Eastern Europe when it was still communist. Although I think it still is communist they just have changed the names and they’re still doing the same things. But, during that time in the orthodox churches, which were rarely open, the people would go and they would lay down on these images of Mary that were only a raised picture. It would be covered with glass and it would be solid gold underneath there, and people would just thrown themselves down. Their tears would flow profusely down these images and they would pray for themselves, their family and for departed people. The Bible calls that worship. We’ll see that and look at that scripturally.

 

The Doctrine of Salvation

Let me quickly take you to your Bibles, and first of all, I share with you in the book of Hebrews the truth of the sacrifice of Christ. And for those of you that weren’t with us, the book of Hebrews, starting in chapter nine, is a crucial book for you to understand. And I share with you from the depths of my heart that the most important truth for you to know is not what some church affirms, or what some church has always believed, but what the Bible says. Because no church is going to stand with you before the judgment seat of Christ. No church is going to stand with you when you come into the afterlife, into the eternal realm of God. No church will be there. No building, no clergy, no order of anybodies will be there. It’ll just be you and your life, whether or not it was in obedience or disobedience to God’s word; not to some church, not to Quidnessett and not to St. anything, but to the word of God.

Hebrews 9:12 Jesus Died Once

Look at the word of God, starting in chapter nine, because chapter nine really shows clearly of the book of Hebrews what has happened to the Roman church. And what we find in the Roman church is that they have taken the once and for all sacrifice of Christ and they have made it to be ongoing, ever-repeated. Starting in verse 12 it says,

“And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood He entered the holy place, once for all.”

What are the last three words? Once for all. That’s why there are so many hymns that emphasize that, within the body of hymns of the faith. Once for all, oh blessed Redeemer. Once for all, Christ died for me. Not twice. Not four times. Not 200,000 times a day. That’s how many times the Mass is performed in Roman church around the world. But once Jesus Christ died. And look what that twelfth verse says,

“…having obtained eternal redemption.”

Hebrews 9:22

Jesus must not be offered again and again

Okay, continuing on down to verse 22.

“And according to the law, one may almost say all things are cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there’s no forgiveness. Therefore it was necessary for the copies of things in the heavens to be cleansed themselves, but the heavenly things, with better sacrifices. For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy, but into the heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us. Nor that He should offer himself often.”

That’s one of the most glaring errors of Romanism. The ongoing sacrifice of Christ. That’s why it’s very difficult for me to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in some ecumenical stance against some current issue. Why? Because if I stand next to a Romanist, I am saying that we are both Christians. But I can’t say that because the Bible says that a Christian believes, look at verse 26, that Jesus Christ, in the middle of the verse,

“…but now once in the consummation of the ages He has been manifest to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this comes the judgment, so Christ also having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation to those who eagerly await Him.”

The ones who are going to be saved are the ones who believe in the once and for all sacrifice of Christ; not those that believe they have to add to it and keep offering Him over and over again.

 

God's Word Forbids Any Worship of Images

Well, the Bible plainly forbids making any image for worship and bowing down to any image. If God would go to the extent of saying that anyone who makes an image and bows down to it is to be stoned to death and the image burned, and if people actually were killed for worshipping images, I don’t think God has changed at all.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”

Did you know God is jealous? Jealousy is good. Why? Because God wants intimacy with us.

 

Continuing in Exodus 20…

”For I the Lord thy God am a jealous god. I visit the iniquity of the fathers and the children to the third and fourth generation of those that hate me.”

 

Jesus Forbids Any Worship of God by Images in the New Testament

You say, “A-ha, that’s in the Old Testament.” Okay, let’s look in the New Testament then. Let’s look first of all at John’s gospel, chapter four.

John 4:24 –

“God is spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth”

not in holy hardware and formality, not in liturgy and all types of incantations and pagan rituals. In spirit and in truth.” We have to be careful that we don’t attach vestments or some type of sequence of events or some type of external appearance of the building we’re in, with worship. Those have nothing to do with worship. Some things can detract from worship, yes.

The scriptures tell us that God is abundantly concerned with modesty in worship. That’s all the way through the Old Testament. He says, “Don’t come before me unless you come modestly.” God is very concerned that we come reverently. So that means we don’t come in here joking and carrying on, and thinking about everything, and comparing all the sports scores, and talking about your favorite whatever, and then think you can click instantly into worship. Worship takes time. We have to prepare our hearts.

This day of worship begins really on Saturday night when you decide you’re not going to stay out so late on Saturday night. When you decide you’re going to prepare your children for worship on Sunday

But that has nothing to do with holy hardware. That’s reverence and that’s respect to God. But the Roman Catholic church not only has images but it encourages people to pray to images, to crucifixes, to images of Mary and saints. They are encouraged to wear them around your neck, and in crisis times to grab those images and hold on to them, or to rub them, and feel like there’s some power coming from rubbing that medallion of a saint.

Images have always been a snare

Things really got out of hand in Martin Luther’s day and, by the way, they’re still out of hand now with images. But in Martin Luther’s day, and one of the reasons for the reformation was his soul was so grieved at how devout people would bow down before an image and beseech that image to set loose their uncle who had died. And that they would offer a Mass before an altar where a host was elevated, and believe that that took time out of someone’s purgatory time and that grieved his heart - not only because there’s no purgatory, but because they were bowing down in worship.

Well, the Roman church tells us that there are to be images, that they are to be venerated, and that tradition violates the Bible, and the commandments of men take the place of the commandments of God. Whenever the commandments of men supercede the commandments of God, that’s sin.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”

 

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit  discoverthebook.org.

 

 
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