By Richard Bennett and Abner Araujo
Nowadays, on a popular level, the word “idol” means only an image of a false god, or a heathen deity. However, in Bible and theology dictionaries, the word “idol” means “the worship of Jehovah by means of images,”1 or “the worship of Jehovah under image or symbol.”2 “Idolatry, strictly speaking, denotes the worship of deity in a visible form, whether the images to which the homage is paid are symbolical representations of the true God or of the false divinities which have been made the objects of worship in His stead.”3 Baker’s Dictionary of Theology says, “Because God was unseen and transcendent, men set up idols as a materialistic expression of Him. Soon the created thing was worshiped as a god instead of the Creator.”4
Everybody knows that the golden calf of Exodus 32 was an idol, but most people do not realize that it was made intentionally to represent God; i.e., “Elohim,” He who had brought the people up out of Egypt. Exodus 32:4-5 states,
“And he [Aaron] received them [gold] at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.”
In I Kings 12:28, Jeroboam, fearing that the people would return to the house of David, devised a plan: “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them [the people], It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Both passages of Scripture make it clear that the people who made and used those images used them as images of the LORD God, the God who delivered Israel from Egypt. Even though our English translations call the images “gods” with a small “g,” the Hebrew word used, “Elohim,” is the same word that is elsewhere translated as God (e.g. Genesis 1:1).
The Bible will not give God’s name to any image. The context shows that the people intended to use these images to represent the “Elohim” who delivered them from Egypt. Every attempt to make a similitude of God, representing Him in some materialistic form, is basically a practice of the same sin as making the golden calf.
Through the Roman Catholic Church idolatry came to be mixed with Christianity
The Apostles, whose epistles and gospels are the very oracles of God, are men that said: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life.”5 They never gave a physical description of Christ, rather they proclaimed what He said and what He did. They emphasize His death and resurrection, explaining the significance of these events, and the necessity of faith in them in order to be made right with God.6
In the year 313 A.D., the Roman Emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Empire. Thus pagans, by governmental edict, and not regeneration, found themselves to be Christians. Not knowing God, or the Gospel, they flooded the Church with idols in their arms, in their homes, in their minds, and in their hearts. True believers, however, opposed pictures and statues as representing Christ. The controversy raged back and forth for several centuries, and there was much turmoil over the matter. In the midst of this battle, Pope Gregory the Great (604 A.D.) presented a seemingly innocent and compellingly plausible argument in their favor. Gregory wrote to Bishop Serenus of Marseilles, who had destroyed the images in his diocese saying, “What books are to those who can read, that is a picture to the ignorant who look at it; in a picture even the unlearned may see what example they should follow; in a picture they who know no letters may yet read. Hence, for barbarians especially a picture takes the place of a book.”7 Such carnal reasoning usurps authority from the Word of God. But in truth, if the illiterate cannot read, they can certainly “hear” and “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,8” because “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”9
Then in the year 754 A.D., a large council of bishops declared that such pictures are not biblical and therefore are not acceptable in the Church. However, twenty-three years later another council of bishops reversed that teaching. The Second Council of Nicaea (Nicea), which met in 787 A.D., required the use of pictures and statues as signifying Christ. This inexcusable idolatrous act of the Roman Catholic Church led the church into the Dark Ages. When the Reformation came, and with it the return of the true Gospel, there was also a condemnation of the evils of idolatry. To escape idolatry, many people left the Catholic Church, and Bible based churches sprang up in many countries. At the time of the Reformation both pastors and laity realized that everything respecting God that is learned from images is both futile and false.
The sinfulness of idolatry
The issue at stake in the making of idols is clearly presented in Scripture. God declares, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything…Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”10 Then Scripture explains how this is to be understood, “and he [God] declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even Ten Commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake…Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure….”11 Hence, there is to be no similitude (or likeness) of God made by mankind. That which is forbidden in Scripture is the making of any likeness of Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church, however, rationalizes that one can indeed practice idolatry. And so, one finds Catholic churches and houses permeated with icons by which the likeness and similitude of God the Son and God the Father are attempted to be visually represented.
Thus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares,
“The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, ‘the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype’, and ‘whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.’”12
The reason given is that one venerates the person portrayed by the image and not the image itself. Yet, this is exactly what the Bible forbids and why God’s second commandment had forbidden Aaron from making the golden calf.13 The second reason given by Papal Rome to justify the practice of idolatry uses an 8th century council; it states the following,
“Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (787A.D) justified…the veneration of icons of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new ‘economy’ of images.’”14
When the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicaea decided that the incarnation of Jesus Christ introduced a new “economy” of images, the unstated logic of their decision required them to maintain that God changed His mind regarding the Second Commandment. This reasoning is blasphemous. God does not change His mind when it has to do with decrees.15 Jesus Christ and the Apostles were equally forceful in condemning idolatry, as were the commandments in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church claims that a “tradition comes from the Holy Spirit,” which justifies the making of graven images and that these are to be publicly displayed. In its Catechism, Paragraph 1161 states,
“Following the divinely inspired teaching of our holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (for we know that this tradition comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her) we rightly define with full certainty and correctness that, like the figure of the precious and life-giving cross, venerable and holy images of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, our inviolate Lady, the holy Mother of God, and the venerated angels, all the saints and the just, whether painted or made of mosaic or another suitable material, are to be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on sacred vessels and vestments, walls and panels, in houses and on streets.”
This is idolatry plain, simple, and condemned by the Lord God. Furthermore, saying that Mary is the mother of God is nothing less than blasphemous. She is limited to being the mother of Jesus’ humanity. Upon her conceiving, God incarnated Himself within that humanity through the power of the Holy Spirit – without the aid of Mary. Flesh begets flesh…divine begets divine. As the Scripture teaches, “For God so loved the world, that He has begotten His Own Son….”16
The Holy Spirit is forthrightly blasphemed in the council’s claim that He established tradition to justify the use of images. Rather, the Bible makes abundantly clear that God hates idolatry and forbids a representation in art of what is divine (Exodus. 20.4-6). Making images to represent God corrupts those who use them (Deuteronomy 4.13, 15-16). Images teach lies about God (Habakkuk 2.18-20). God cannot be represented in art and all who practice idolatry are commanded to repent (Acts 17. 29-30). The command of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is the command that He gave in the Old Testament, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”17 The evil fruits of bringing into the worship of Holy God the idolatry that He hates are the many pagan superstitions and traditions of Roman Catholicism. But the worst fruit of the idolatry that Roman Catholicism offers under the guise of being Christian is its “false gospel.”
What God precisely forbids
What is forbidden is the similitude of God Himself. No similitude of the Divine was ever given to the people and none was to be made. In the New Testament we see that no similitude of Christ Jesus was given, and the commandment must remain intact. Any similitude or image of Father, Son, or Holy Spirit is sinful, and it is insulting to the majesty of the Lord God. And what of those who seek balm for their conscience in preferring pictures over statues, as if the lack of one dimension transforms the image into a thing acceptable unto God. They well imagine that they have acted more nobly toward God because theirs is not a “graven image.” The fact that they honor pictures just as the Greek Orthodox reverence icons means that they do not honor statues as the Roman Catholics do.18
However, before God’s law it is a transgression to make a “representation” or “semblance” of anything in heaven or upon the earth to delineate God. The Lord God calls those who break this commandment “those who hate me,”19 and those who keep the commandment “those who love me.”20 Punishment for iniquity is promised to the transgressors, while blessing is pledged to its adherents. From God’s perspective idolatry is spiritual adultery. So with the indignant reaction of a betrayed husband, He continues, “for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”21
Images of Christ and the person of Christ
The topic of idolatry is of utmost importance as many Bible-believing churches in the present day attempt to justify pictures and videos of Christ’s person. They argue that both we, and those who cannot read, can come to a fuller understanding of the person of Christ from these images. Yet, the Bible clearly states that such images lie. Jesus Christ is the only one with two distinct natures – both divine and human – in one body. Therefore, to attempt to make an image of Jesus Christ of any kind, whether graven, two dimensional, or moving, still falls under the Second Commandment. No image can portray Christ’s divinity, for He “is the brightness of his [God’s] glory and the express image of his person,”22 “in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”23
Picture as a mediator opens the door for Pantheism
The picture is a part of creation. The creation is not God. To picture a created man and to label that picture with the name of the Creator is to confuse the Creator with the creation. Any attempted portrayal of Christ transforms the medium itself into a mediator between God and man. The viewer who is restricted within the confines of this humanistic plane, imagines that he knows the Lord, at least in some measure. With this inculcated image of Christ throbbing within his mind, the viewer is allowed to wander, silently thinking his own thoughts, constrained by an impression that is not Christ. Thus, the viewer’s mind continues to be conformed to the world by the created image and by his own subjectivity. Although such visual presentations appeal strongly to the sensual impulses, they do not present explicitly to any man the objective truth concerning the Lord. Our knowledge of Jesus Christ must be formed from the truths in Scripture and not by subjective impressions of artistic interpretation. In the latter, the artist and the viewer coalesce God and His creation into a single entity within the picture, and this is the visible expression of idolatry. This spurious image lays the foundation for a pantheistic concept of God.
We do not see Jesus Christ the divine with the physical eye. This is the whole meaning of faith. The excellence of the object of faith is the unseen Jesus. While sense deals with things that are seen, reason is a higher plane. Faith, however, ascends further still, and assures us of the abundance of particulars that sense and reason could never have found. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”24 Faith nourishes itself upon the power and promises of the unseen, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord….”25 We can then understand the logic and consistent purpose of why the Lord God forbids images.
Pictures of “Jesus” corrupt true worship of Christ
People who use pictures of Christ deny that they worship the pictures, but rather that the picture helps them to worship Christ. This is essentially justifying the use of a medium, a practice well established in the Roman Catholic Church. In rationalizing her setting aside of the Second Commandment, the Roman Church in its Catechism heretically states,
“…the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype, and whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.”26
This attempt to justify idolatry is an attempt to corrupt what man is to believe concerning God as given to us through the Scriptures. The pictures eventually impact and change the meaning of “salvation” and the “church.” What follows is people first accept the false pictures as representing Christ, and then they use it as mediators for “knowing” Christ.27 Then, with the use of the pictures, rituals are developed. The representative pictures need a special priesthood to officiate in the development and performance of a suitable liturgy. The Roman Catholic Mass is a classic example of such a go-between priesthood. In the Mass, the highest point of Papal Rome’s liturgy, she claims “worship which is due to the true God” for the Communion bread.28 Roman Catholicism claims this is done in God’s name. The end result is that Jesus Christ is replaced, as people look to the image. The Bible, however, accepts no such man-made picture as being a picture of Christ, neither should we.
Christ is the all Holy God incarnated “with” His humanity. In His earthly days, His humanity contained the fullness of His divinity, but that humanity is now no longer on earth. As the Scripture says, we know Him no longer after the flesh; rather we know Him now in spirit and in truth, for we know spiritual things spiritually,29 and it is in God’s light that we see light.30 God’s Word is crystal clear on the Second Commandment; the clarion call is as the Apostle Paul declares, “not to think beyond what is written….”31
God, knowing the evil inclinations of men and their struggle to justify their ungodly deeds, has declared, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”32 Whatever theologians may debate concerning this verse, one thing is clear, if you give a physical representation to Christ’s face, then you have defined and defiled the immeasurable and divine glory of God. Any attempt to replicate that glory is simply idolatry.
The uniqueness of Christ Jesus coupled with the command not to practice idolatry is given in the strongest terms in the New Testament. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”33 There can be no doubt that He of whom it is said, “in the be-ginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”34 and “all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made”;35 Who Himself declared “I and my Father are one,”36 was worshipped as “my Lord and my God.”37 He is “very God of very God.”38 This is a condensed way of saying that Christ is fully God as is the Father and the Holy Spirit are each fully God.
Images of Saints and Angels
What about images and pictures of saints, angels, the disciples of the Lord, and His earthly mother? We must deal with the question: Does praying to departed saints or angels with the visual help of images (statues, paintings, mosaics, etc.) constitute idolatry? If it is not idolatry, is it nevertheless sin? Can we differentiate sin from idolatry?
It is sinful to address prayer to departed saints and angels
The Roman Catholic Church, which has approved and sanctioned prayers to be addressed to departed saints and angels, contradicts Scripture. By asserting that which the Bible declares as practices of heathen, as something accepted in God’s sight, as well as commanding its members to exercise themselves in such practices, is utterly sinful. This, however, is what the Papal Church does. Thus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:
“The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints… They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were put in charge of many things. Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.”39
In contradistinction to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, we learn in the Bible that not only the use of images as visual aids in prayer is idolatry, but also the practice of addressing prayers to departed saints and angels itself is a great sin!
It is sin first because it supposes the departed saint or angel to be everywhere present (omnipresent), or to know at once the hearts and minds of all men individually (omniscience); or else the one who prays pretends to know when the saint or angel is present and available to hear him, and when not (psychic). It also supposes the saint or angel to be all-powerful (omnipotent) and thus able to respond and grant the favorable answer to the request. But all such presumption is deceit! Only God Himself is all knowing, present everywhere at the same time, all powerful, and thus able to hear, examine, and answer the prayers of all those who pray to Him from all corners of the world at the same time. To attribute to a creature, be it man or angel, omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence is to grant to them divine attributes, and thus elevate such creatures to the level of God, making them equal with God, which plainly is idolatry. We ask, is this all not but sinful superstition? The Bible clearly declares, “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he have not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.”40 And, “I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things. Then said he unto me, See thou do it not… worship God.”41
Second, it is sinful because Scripture nowhere signifies that God would have us pray to any such saints or angels; but signifies enough to satisfy us of the contrary. We read neither in the Old Testament nor in the New of any prayer directed to a departed saint or angel, but all prayer is strictly directed to God the Father, and in the New Testament to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Chris; and so we are told: “In whom [Jesus] we have boldness and access with confidence [to the Father] through faith in Him.”42 There is no access to the heavenly realms outside the mediation of Christ Jesus; there is no access to God but through His Son alone. We are commanded to direct our prayers to God alone through Christ Jesus alone.43
Third, it is sinful because it runs counter to, as well as ignores, the fact that all prayer is veneration and worship; for it is a conscious recognition that the one to whom we pray is worthy of our respectful reverence and is powerful to answer our petitions. Prayer directed to God is worship directed to God. It is recognition that He alone is Almighty, worthy of our praise and affection, that He is always present, and that He is “a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”44 Thus, all worship offered through prayer is to be given to God alone, and this renders all prayers to saints and angels as sinful presumption and idolatry.
Fourth, it is sin against God to pray to departed saints or angels for forgiveness of sins, to justify, sanctify, redeem, or do anything which belongs to God alone; it is no better than idolatry. The teaching of Scripture is emphatic throughout – that deliverance and salvation come only from God: “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord,”45 “Salvation is of the Lord.”46 The saints of God in Heaven now can testify of it, and they themselves give all credit to God alone: “I beheld, and lo, a great multitude… of all nations, and kindreds, and people… stood before the throne, before the Lamb [Christ Jesus] clothed with white robes [the redeemed saints]… and cried with loud voice, saying, Salvation [belongs] to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”47 Salvation is a direct gift bestowed from the hand of God upon those whom He saves, “for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”48
Fifth, it is sinful because it ignores the fact that all prayer is conditional. It is conditional because it has to be made in Christ’s name to be accepted by the Father. Praying in Christ’s name does not mean merely saying the name of Jesus at the end of a prayer, but it means that one’s access into God’s presence in prayer rests wholly on Christ’s merits and intercession.49 And to depend wholly on Christ’s merit in order to be accepted by God, means that the one who prays has already come to Christ for reconciliation with God; for God the Father has established His Son, the Lord Jesus, as the only way by which sinners may be reconciled with Him. “I am the way… no man cometh to the Father but by me,”50 said the Lord Jesus, whose statement teaches us by simple logical reasoning that no one is accepted before God for salvation by the intermediation of a departed saint, or an angel of God, or disciple of the Lord Jesus, or His earthly mother, or any other – “but by me,” said He.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ alone who intercedes in the prayer of a repentant sinner who prays to God for salvation. And for this truth we have clear, emphatic, and abundant proof in the words of the Holy Spirit speaking of Jesus Christ, “Wherefore [Jesus] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them…such high priest [the Lord Jesus] became us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”51 After a person is saved, Christ continues as his representative before the father, as it is written: “My little children these things write I unto you that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”52 And the Holy Spirit of God intercedes in the prayer of a redeemed sinner, “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us… And He that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because [the Spirit] maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”53
Conclusion of the Matter
What is idolatry but the “religion of sight” in opposition to the “life of faith”! Instead of the unseen, invisible Creator, men in ancient times regarded that which was visible – the sun, the moon, the stars, and the hosts of creatures on earth – as the cause and the ruler of all; or they assigned to everything its deity, and thus had many gods and many lords; or else he converted his heroes, real or imaginary, into gods. The worship of heavens, the worship of nature, or the veneration of departed men – are heathenism and idolatry. This has always been the tendency of sinful man, and something that always recurred, even throughout those periods of history when God revealed Himself to man and gave them His laws, as in the case of the people of Israel.
Both heathen nations as well as Israel (the people to whom was given to know the true God Jehovah and His laws), when in a state of apostasy, did not deny that Jehovah was God, but tried to place Him on a level with other persons and false deities. And we must ask, is it not exactly the same as what Catholic friends do when they address their prayers to departed saints, angels, or the earthly mother of the Lord and use images? For though they recognise from the teaching of the Bible that there is but one true and living God, yet in their practices they put Him on a level with created persons and thus rob Him of the glory that belongs to Him alone.
Similar to the practice of using a photograph of a relative’s photo to aid the memory and warm the affection, the excuse which argues that the use of images is “only a visual help for the one who prays, to bring to mind the person of the saint or angel to whom or through whom he prays,” is sinful and specifically idolatrous, for it goes directly against God’s commandment.
Not all sin is idolatry, but all idolatry is sin. Therefore the Bible-forbidden practice of addressing prayer to a departed saint, angel, or the earthly mother of Jesus is clearly sin, just as the use of icons (paintings, statues, mosaics, etc.) as a visual aid in prayer is idolatry. For it robs God the Father of His glory and God the Son of His office as Mediator while giving it to others.
Contrary to the teachings of Roman Catholicism, the Bible is emphatic in affirming that there is no access to God in prayer but through the person of Jesus Christ, as we have the records of His own words “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”54 This clear teaching of the Lord affirms that we should in no wise pray to any departed saint, angel, or the earthly mother of the Lord to plead to God for us; but we should come directly to God mediated by Jesus Christ Himself. It bears repeating, they that attempt to come to God otherwise will get the door closed, for “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
What then do we do?
As we read of the “high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,”55 and “the better promises”56 that He has for His people in the New Covenant than in the Old, we have a great well-founded hope for true conviction on this fundamental issue. The promise given is explicit and most encouraging. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”57 The efficacy of Christ Jesus’ blood is very great. It is sufficient to reach to the very soul and conscience. A soul defiled with idolatry can be purged; its conscience assuaged and enabled to serve the living God. The blood of Christ shed for sinners in His atoning death, through the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit, not only convicts but also absolves the true believer enabling him to serve the living God in a worthy manner.
If this is your situation friend, you must repent of your past practices of praying to the departed, angels, or any other mediator apart from Christ Jesus alone, and of ignorantly committing idolatry; and “return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy… and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”58
You must put all your faith and trust – as God’s written Word the Bible teaches us – on Jesus Christ solely, as the only One ordained and accepted by God for the salvation of your soul and acceptance of your repentant prayers. To do so is to push aside and abandon all your previous confidence in religion and traditions and in any other mediator as the means to come to God, and to put all your trust in Jesus alone, submitting and trusting your soul’s safety to His care.
Why is it necessary to do so?
For as it is written in Scripture, God “has appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world… by that man [Jesus Christ] whom He has ordained; wherefore He has given assurance to all men [that it will be so] in that He has raised him [Jesus] from the dead.”59
The Bible declares that the “wages of sin is death.”60 The payment of a life lived in disobedience to God and His commands, lived in preference to manmade religious tradition rather than God’s clear Word, and in the service of “King Sin,” is death: which means separation from God and condemnation in the great day of judgment.
However, despite our ignorance and sin, God in His mercy and love, has provided the way to forgive sins and reconcile sinners to Himself. Therefore, if the offended part, God, is willing to reconcile His enemies to Himself, should we carry on believing and practicing against His laws? For, since there is a way – though a single way – why should we miss it, and err through ways that will only lead to condemnation, as declared by God Himself? If He is commanding us to come, should we disobey? If there is an invitation of compassion and love, should we sneer at it? If the time is now, the message is clear, and the result is promise guaranteed, should we doubt? If God is above man, and His words surer than man’s word, should you not rather trust His Word than theirs? You must surely respond to God!
You must respond to God’s truth as you learn it from the Bible, for responding leads to conversion; i.e., forgiveness of your sins and acceptance with God. It is very important for us to learn that the very first words of the Lord Jesus Christ as He initiated His public ministry, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, were “Repent ye and believe the Gospel.”61 This is the only way to respond to God and for acceptance before Him, Repent ye and believe the Gospel.
To believe is to receive God’s Word, even if it contradicts man’s teachings and religious traditions. It is to give God’s Word, the Bible, all credit above anyone else’s words and even above our feelings. To believe is to yield to His Word and obey its commands. It is to surrender up pride and any other confidence for salvation apart from the meritorious life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. To believe is to grasp our distance from God because of our sinfulness and because of His holiness. It is to desire God’s forgiveness and our conversion.
To believe is to come to Him in repentance, turning away from our sins and ignorant ways. It is to ask Him to forgive our sins as we confess them to Him in prayer. And as we do so we put our faith, our complete trust, in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for representing us before God the Father, believing that Jesus’ perfect life and voluntary sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary is accepted by Him on our behalf for the forgiveness of our transgressions, for our pardon, for our acceptance before God. So then, it is as Scripture says, “That if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”62 Come to Him without delay, friend, and come while you may – come and live.
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1 Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 368.
2 Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 512.
3 Peloubet’s Bible Dictionary, F. N. Peloubet & Alice D Adams, Eds. (Philadelphia, PA: The John C. Winston Co., 1925) p. 271.
4 Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, “Gods” (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1960) p. 248.
5 I John 1:1
6 II Corinthians 5:16 “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.”
7 Ep. ix, 105, in P. L., LXXVII, 1027 http://landru.i-link-2.net/shnyves/Catholic_Tradition_art.html 3/15/04
8 Romans 10:17
9 1 Corinthians 1:21
10 Exodus 20:4-5
11 Deuteronomy 4:13, 15-16
12 Paragraph 2132 of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church.
13 Exodus 32:4-9
14 Paragraph 2131 of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church.
15 For a discussion of “Does God Change His Mind,” see http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/02-exodus/Text/Articles/Chisholm-ChangeMind-BSac.pdf
16 Emphasis added
17 1 John 5:21
18 The Greek Orthodox honor and kiss icons. These are pictures and not statues. They state “use of icons was
defended and upheld at the Seventh Ecumenical Council. The end of that council is still celebrated as the
‘Triumph of Orthodoxy’ in today, and icons remain a central part of Orthodox faith and practice.”
19 Exodus 20:5
20 Exodus 20:6
21 Exodus 20:5
22 Hebrews 1:3
23 Colossians 2:9
24 Hebrews 11:1
25 Psalm 27:13
26 Paragraph 2132 of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church.
27 A Gnostic type of knowledge of Christ
28 Vatican Council II Documents, No. 9, Eucharisticum Mysterium, Vol. I, Sec. 3, p. 104
29 1 Corinthians 2:13-14
30 Psalm 36:9
31 I Corinthians 4:6
32 2 Corinthians 4:6
33 1 John 5:20
34 John 1:1
35 John 1:3
36 John 10:30
37 John 20:28
38 From the Nicene Creed: see http://www.creeds.net/ancient/nicene.htm
39 Paragraph 2683 of the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church.
40 Colossians 2:18
41 Revelation 22:8, 9
42 Ephesians 3:12
43 John 16:26
44 Hebrews 11:6
45 Psalm 3:8
46 Jonah 2:9
47 Revelation 7:9,10
48 Ephesians 2.8
49 Ephesians 2:18, Hebrews 10:19
50 John 14:6
51 Hebrews 7:25 (emphasis added)
52 1 John 2:1,2
53 Romans 8:27-28
54 John 14:6
55 Hebrews 8:1
56 Hebrews 8:6
57 Hebrews 9:14
58 Isaiah 55:7
59 Acts 18:30
60 Romans 6:23
61 Mark 1:15
62 Romans 1:9,10