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Author Topic: Can you drink the cup?
Ed Fisher

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Can you drink the cup?" (Mark 10:38)
We've all read fairy tales about a baker or a woodsman who was granted three wishes and squandered all three of them. And we've all thought: "My first wish would be to have an unlimited number of wishes!" This is the mentality that lies behind James' and John's request: "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you" (Mark 10:35). It's as if they were treating Jesus like an appliance existing only to do their bidding. When Jesus challenged them, they quickly claimed to be willing to pay the price for the honor they sought. But they had no idea what "drinking the cup" entailed.
How easy it can be to approach Jesus in the Eucharist in the same way &mdashwith a wish list of sins we want forgiven and favors we want granted, but with little sense of being connected to him. Such an approach may appear to honor him, but it falls short. Perhaps a better "May your compassion come quickly, O Lord!" &mdashPsalm 79:8 question to ask is: How does Jesus approach me at Mass?
"The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). At Mass, Jesus is the victim whose body is broken for us. He is the Servant who stoops down and washes our feet. He is the Lover whose relentless gaze exposes the deepest needs of our hearts and stands ready to fill them. He is the Shepherd who invites us to take up our cross and follow him on the road of trust and obedience.
Instead of coming to Mass just with a list of petitions, try this approach. Offer to Jesus everything you have: the work you did last week, your talents, and your accomplishments, along with your needs and requests. Come to him the way he comes to you &mdashas one who gives instead of one who receives. Then sit quietly after Communion, resting in his presence and his grace. Just like Jesus, you will be lifted up by your Father in heaven.
"Jesus, help me to empty myself and admit my need for your unconditional love. My greatest desire is to be a fellow servant with you in the household of faith.

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Many people wrongly think that the Mass is a commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ, much the same as the Lord's Supper in Evangelical churches. It is not; the Mass is something more than a memorial. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Mass is a real sacrifice for sin. Please read carefully the following citations from Catholic sources.


If anyone says that the sacrifice of the mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema (Council of Trent, session 22, canon 3).

The Mass is the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ...The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross because the offering and the priest are the same - Christ our Blessed Lord; and the ends for which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered are the same as those of the sacrifice of the Cross...The ends for which the sacrifice of the Cross was offered were to honor and glorify God; to thank Him for all the graces bestowed on the whole world; to satisfy God's justice for the sins of men; to obtain all graces and blessings (Baltimore Catechism).

As often as the Sacrifice of the Cross in which 'Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed' (1 Corinthians. 5:7) is celebrated on the altar (i.e. during the mass), the work of our redemption is carried on (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church).

The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1366).

The august sacrifice of the altar, then, is no mere empty commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice, whereby the High Priest by an unbloody immolation offers Himself a most acceptable victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the cross (Mediator Dei, Encyclical of Pope Pius XII)

It is a good idea to recall at the very outset what may be termed the heart and core of the doctrine, namely that, by means of the Mystery of the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of the Cross which was once carried out on Calvary is re-enacted in wonderful fashion and is constantly recalled, and its salvific power is applied to the forgiving of the sins we commit each day (Mysterium Fidei; Encyclical of Pope Paul VI).

So, the Catholic Church officially teaches the Mass is a sacrifice -- indeed the very same sacrifice of Christ on Calvary -- and it is offered to satisfy God's justice and atone for sins. During the Mass Christ's sacrifice on the cross is not only remembered but it is also carried on, perpetuated, renewed, re-presented and re-enacted.

The Catholic doctrine on the Mass is a distortion of the biblical doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. The Bible describes the Eucharist as a "memorial" or "commemoration" of Christ, and a "proclamation" of His death, and not as a sacrifice for sin. More seriously, the Mass is the denial of the perfection and sufficiency of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary. If it needs to be carried on, perpetuated, renewed re-presented and re-enacted, the implication is that His once-for-all sacrifice was not enough for the forgiveness of His people. Let's say that I go to my friend's house. If there is no answer when I knock at the door, I will renew my efforts and keep on knocking. If, however, the door is opened, I would stop knocking because my purpose would have been achieved. Even so, having accomplished the redemption of His people by His death on the cross, Christ ascended into heaven and is now seated on the right hand of God. His mission is accomplished!

Please read the following passages from the book of Hebrews and note carefully how the author emphasizes that the sacrifice of Christ is done once for all:


Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself (Hebrews 7:25:27).

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another - He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation (Hebrews 9:24-28).

By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin (Hebrew 10:10-18).

The Bible repeats over and over again that Christ offered His sacrifice "once" and "once for all." He "does not need daily to offer up sacrifices." He is in heaven "not that He should offer Himself often." Today "there is no longer an offering for sin." His purpose was achieved: by His once-for-all sacrifice, He "put away sin" and thus He "sanctified" and "perfected forever" His people.

You have two choices. You can either continue to attend Mass, thus showing that you do not really believe that Jesus can save you to the uttermost by His once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. Or else, if you are certain that His sacrifice is finished, perfect and complete, put your trust in Him, and join a Christian community where the Gospel is faithfully preached, and Christ's ordinances (Baptism and the Eucharist) are observed according to the pattern and teaching of the New Testament. It is the great privilege of all believers to meet together to remember the Lord and proclaim His death by observing the Lord’s Supper together.

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes.

A Servant of Christ,

1 Tim. 3:
16: And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh..

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Carol Swenson
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Are the seven Catholic sacraments Biblical?

“Sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification” (taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia). The Roman Catholic Church teaches that while God gives grace to man without outward symbols (sacraments), He has also chosen to give grace to man through visible symbols. Because God has done this, man is foolish to not make use of this God-provided means of gaining sanctification.

In order to qualify as a sacrament, the Roman Catholic Church states that it must meet the following three criteria: a) the external, that is a sensibly perceptibly sign of sanctifying grace, b) the conferring of sanctifying grace, c) the institution by God or, more accurately, by the God-Man Jesus Christ. Thus, sacraments are not merely a symbol, but are believed to actually confer sanctifying grace upon the recipient. The Roman Catholic Church believes that all of their seven sacraments were instituted by Christ Himself. There are seven Roman Catholic Sacraments, and they are as follows:
1) Baptism, which the Roman Catholic Church teaches removes original sin while infusing it with sanctifying grace.
2) Penance, in which one confesses his/her sins to a priest.
3) The Eucharist, considered the reception and consumption of the actual body and blood of Christ.
4) Confirmation, a formal acceptance into the church along with special anointing of the Holy Spirit.
5) Anointing of the sick, performed by a priest using oil, anoints the sick person´s forehead and hands with oil; associated not only with bodily healing but with forgiveness of sins. When performed on a dying person it is called Extreme Unction (last rites, final anointing).
6) Holy Orders, the process by which men are ordained to clergy.
7) Matrimony, which provides special grace to a couple.

Following are verses commonly cited to support the Roman Catholic belief concerning the sacraments: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands." (2 Timothy 1:6). "Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5). "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," (Titus 3:5). "that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word," (Ephesians 5:26). "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”" (John 20:23). "And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." (James 5:15). "Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." (Acts 8:17). "Whoever 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." (John 6:54-55).

In view of the above Scriptures, it might seem by looking at those verses by themselves that indeed they do convey some benefit (such as eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, the presence of the Holy Spirit, or His power or spiritual gift of service, etc.). However, when taken in the context of Scripture as a whole, there is no foundation for the belief that God ever intended these passages to be taken as support for rituals as a means of conveying grace. In other words the whole idea of "sacraments" that convey saving grace upon people is unbiblical.

There are two of the main sacraments that specifically are said by the Roman Catholic Church to be necessary for one to partake of in order to gain eternal life: baptism and communion. Because of the Roman Catholic Church belief that baptism is required for salvation, they maintain that it is important to baptize infants. But nowhere in Scripture can you find even a single example or command to do so. Some Roman Catholics use Acts 16:33 as a possible example because it states that the Philippian jailor "and his family" were baptized. But taking this verse in context, we note two things:

(1) When the jailor asked Paul what he must do to be saved, Paul did NOT say, "believe on Jesus and be baptized and take communion." Rather Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household" (v. 31). Thus, we see that it is faith that is the ingredient necessary for salvation. It was understood that one who believed would be baptized, but baptism was not necessary for salvation. If it had, Paul would have given it more weight in his missionary journeys (1 Corinthians 1:14-18).

(2) We see that the "family" could not have included infants or toddlers as it states in verse 34, that the jailor had "believed in God with all his household." Infants and toddlers cannot exercise faith in God in such a fashion.

Again and again throughout Scripture, faith, not faith PLUS baptism, is seen as the means through which one receives salvation (John 1:12; 3:14-16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:19-26; 4; 10:9-13; etc.).

Turning to communion, the Roman Catholic Church makes it clear that they take John 6:54 literally when Jesus says, "unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." The problem is that their belief that Jesus is speaking literally here is not in keeping with the context of the passage in which Jesus repeatedly states the importance of faith in Him and His coming atoning death for their sins (see John 6:29,35,40,47 and how they are in keeping with the whole message of the Gospel of John as stated in John 20:31).

When one examines the remaining sacraments in context, one finds that the belief that they convey "sanctifying grace" is not in keeping with the context of the rest of the Bible. Yes, all Christians should be baptized, but baptism does not infuse us with grace. Yes, all Christians should partake of the Lord’s Supper, but doing so does not confer sanctifying grace. Yes, we should confess our sins, not to a priest, but rather to God (1 John 1:9). Having a formal training program and formal acceptance into the church is a good thing to do, but it does not convey saving grace. Being approved as a church leader is an honorable thing, but it does not result in grace. Marriage is a wonderful and blessed event in the life of a couple, but it is not the means of how God graces us. Praying for and with a person who is dying, and being in their presence is a godly thing to do – but it does not add grace to your account.

All the grace we will ever need is received the moment a person trusts Jesus, by faith, as Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). The saving grace that is granted at the moment of genuine faith is the only saving grace God’s Word calls on us to receive. This grace is received by faith, not by observing rituals. So, while the seven sacraments are “good things to do” when they are understood in a Biblical context – the concept of the seven sacraments as “conferring sanctifying grace” is completely unbiblical.

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