The Gospel Rejected

A few months ago I sent a little paper that explained the gospel of Jesus Christ to a gentleman who lives in a little beach community where I spent many a summer day. The gentleman, whom I will call Tom, is a faithful Roman Catholic. Always goes to Mass, prays the rosary and does what the priests tell him to do. Something he has done religiously for nearly 70 years. Yet with all his faithfulness and devotion to Mother Rome he is dead in trespasses and sin and does not even know the simple gospel message or power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Instead all he has is rote, ritualistic, dead religion. Dead for it has no power to save, no power to change a life, and no power to raise from the grave. A hard reality that his life bears abundant witness to.

The little tract I sent is from Richard Bennent at Berean Beacon. It is compassionately written where it compares the teachings of Rome verses those of the Bible. No chaff, just the wheat from the Scriptures pointing the reader not to councils or encyclicals but rather the Bible; that is, the Catholic Bible. Truth hidden from the eyes of most Catholics as it is obscured under the veil of ceremony and tradition. Yet even so, by God’s grace truth can be found in the Bibles that most Catholics have in their homes. Hence, I sent the tract to help my friend, if God so willed, to discover such truth.

The reply I got is tragically characteristic of those who have religion but not salvation. Something endemic with Roman Catholics but certainly not limited to them. His response speaks for itself where I have added a few words in brackets [ ] to help in clarifying what he was trying to convey. Everything else is word for word.

Yes, I [was] reading [the] little paper Bible [you sent which was] very nice but I always go to church every Saturday 5:00 P.M. or Sunday 8:00 A.M. I never reading Bible book by the pew, I used my rosaries all the time so I set down [in the] chair, I prayer [i.e. pray] 15 minutes and 20 minutes with my prayer book Bible every morning. I[t] was my First Holy Communion little prayer book [from] 1941 – 67 years ago I used prayer book. (bold added)

Really no commentary is needed for his response speaks for itself. Nothing about Jesus. Nothing about how he repented from sin and believed the gospel (Mark 1:15). Nothing about how he takes up his cross daily and follows Jesus (Matthew 16:24-25) living not by bread alone but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Nothing about how he was buried with Christ and is now raised from the dead walking in newness of life (Romans 6:4) as a new creature where old things have passed away and all things are now new (II Corinthians 5:17). Nothing because these truths are as foreign to him as Greek is.

So it goes for Tom. What about you? Do you have a similar defense when someone presents the gospel to you? Do you stand strong on your religious faithfulness and devotion to your religious traditions, and if a Catholic, to Mother Rome? Are you also faithful in praying the rosary and reading prayer books? Do you faithfully attend Mass/Church and perform all of the requisite bowings and kneelings and crossings and standings? Is this the extent of what Jesus “did” for you? Is this the power of the gospel and the risen Lord in your life?

If so, you would do well to examine yourself (II Corinthians 13:5) for you have nothing more than religion and certainly not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ or the requisite new birth (John 3:7). A religion which enslave you to tradition and ceremony just as it does Tom and just as it did unto the Pharisees who heard Jesus’ words yet rejected them in order to hold to their traditions.

This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. (Mark 7:6-9)

This day you can be free to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23) or you can stay in bondage to the traditions of men. You can continue to trust in your religious devotion to make you right with God as Tom is doing, or you can cry out to God that he have mercy on you a sinner. The latter God will justify, the former will he will not.

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)

Choose this day reader whom you will serve, God or Rome, for you cannot hold to the traditions of Rome and keep the commandments of God.