Authored By :
Published On :
May 2, 1997
Last Updated :
January 22, 2013
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Roman Catholic Practices: Praying To Mary, Worshipping Mary, Street Processions And Kissing Statuettes, Rightly Divide The Word Of Truth, Test All Doctrines And Beliefs With The Word, Powerful Anointing Of The Holy Spirit Fuels Great Commission, Persecution Results In Widespread Propagation Of The Gospel, Gospel Of Salvation Was Delivered To The Jewish Nation First, Gospel Preached To All Nations, Conversion Of Saul Of Tarsus, Apostle Peter's Vision Results In The Gentile Believers Being Embraced By The Church, Persecution Of First Century Church, Disciples First Called "Christians" At Antioch, First Century Sects And Damnable Heresies, False Doctrines, False Brethren
A number of years ago while engaging in some messageboard conference browsing, I came upon the following remarks, which I assume were made by a member of the Roman Catholic Church:
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"Catholics would agree that the Blessed Virgin Mary should not be worshipped; that is taught by the Catholic Church to be a sin."
"There is no reason to suppose that it is inappropriate to ask for her prayers, though. The word "pray" means "ask, beg, petition or entreat." There is nothing that limits our requests, petitions or entreaties to the mighty Triune God only."
----- End Quote -----
In my view, it appears that these two statements contradict each other. If, as the first quote states, the Roman Catholic Church does not condone the worship of Mary, why then do we see so many processions throughout the world -- such as where I live -- where statues of Mary are carried on shoulders, or on a platform, down city streets, or from door-to-door? In my locale, it is a common practice for the locals to kiss Mary's statuette when she is taken from house-to-house each year. Is this not a form of blatant idol worship which the Holy Bible explicitly warns us against? Is it also not a form of worship when fervent prayers are made to Mary, in the vain hope that a particular petition may be granted?
As I explain in a number of other articles such as "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth", in discussing any matter which concerns our Christian faith, it is very important that as Believers, we try -- or test -- each doctrine or belief in order to determine if it conforms with and agrees with the doctrines which were taught and promoted by Jesus Christ and the Apostles and Disciples of the First Century. After all, it is only God's Word -- that is, the Bible -- which serves as the sole valid source of authority for our beliefs. It is the foundation of our faith, and a clear record of what was said and taught almost two thousand years ago. Furthermore, the reason why we test all things against the Scriptures in order to determine whether or not they are true, is because God's Word is Divinely Inspired. Consider these verses:
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
Acts 17:10-11, KJV
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1, KJV
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
2 Timothy 3:16, KJV
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
2 Peter 1:21, KJV
Having stated the above, we are now going to delve into the Scriptures in order to determine whether or not worshipping Mary, praying to Mary, and creating statues and figurines in her supposed likeness truly conform to God's Word and Will.
In the Book of Acts -- which is also known as the Acts of the Apostles -- we learn about the early history of our Christian faith, and how it first began to be propagated from Jerusalem immediately following Jesus' Ascension into Heaven. As many of my readers will know, this propagation was a result of the First Century Disciples being anointed with the Power of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. The primary purpose of this wonderful miracle of God was to give them the boldness, power and wisdom to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom in the known world of their day. Consider these verses:
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."
Acts 2:1-11, KJV
However, even though the Apostles had received this mighty and wonderful anointing from on high in Acts chapter two, and had witnessed to literally thousands of people in their native languages in Jerusalem on that Day of Pentecost, it really was not until Acts chapter eight -- when they were persecuted by Saul of Tarsus and the other Jewish legalists who accompanied him -- that they actually began to obey and fulfill Jesus' Great Commission of going into all the world. As I mention in articles such as "The Mystery of Cornelius the Centurion", their procrastination at that time was due in part to the fact that the Apostles still believed that the Gospel -- and thus Salvation -- was only meant for the Jews of their own nation. This is because this is precisely what Jesus had previously instructed them to do. Consider the following verses:
"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Matthew 10:5-6, KJV
"And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."
Matthew 15:22-28, KJV
"Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews."
John 4:22, KJV
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only."
Acts 11:19, KJV
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."
Romans 1:16, KJV
Please note that in the previous verses where Jesus says "the children's bread", He is referring to the Jews; and where the word "dogs" is used, He is referring to the Gentiles. While the Lord's words may seem harsh to some of you, please know that in reality, Jesus was simply testing this woman's faith with His comments. He obviously already knew that the Gospel of Salvation would eventually be taken to the Gentiles -- that is, to all men -- in due time, in perfect accordance with His Father's own plans. Thus, the Lord also said the following in the Gospels:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Matthew 24:14, KJV
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"
Matthew 28:19, KJV
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
Mark 16:15, KJV
"And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Luke 24:46-47, KJV
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
John 12:32, KJV
If you are interested in acquiring additional information which is related to this subject, please consider reading such articles as "Not Everyone Is a Child of God", "All Are Give a Chance, But . . ." and "Is the Message of Salvation Meant for All Men?". At any rate, as I stated a moment ago, it was not until the Lord actually sent serious persecution in the form of Saul of Tarsus and his companions, that the Apostles and Disciples of the First Century finally got the message that they were really supposed to decentralize their operations, and take the Gospel into all the world. Consider the following verses, and take notice of the reversed verse references here. We see Jesus' order in the first verse, and then the actual fulfillment of the same in the second verse:
"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Acts 1:8, KJV
"And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."
Acts 8:1, KJV
As you may already know, it was not long after this that Saul of Tarsus was himself converted to the faith, following his terrifying and miraculous encounter with Jesus as he traveled on the road to Damascus, Syria, where he had every intention of persecuting the Christian Church. As I more amply discuss in "Biblical Cafeteria, or the Whole Course?" and in a number of other articles, Saul eventually became known as the Apostle Paul. Not only did he become the Apostle to the Gentiles, but along with his various traveling companions, he was in large part responsible for preaching the Gospel to the people who inhabited the vast region between Syria and Spain, as well as the island nations of the Mediterranean Sea.
In addition to Paul's outreach to the Gentile nations of the First Century, as I likewise mention in the article entitled "The Mystery of Cornelius the Centurion", once the Apostle Peter likewise acquired the understanding that the Gospel of Salvation was meant for the Gentiles as well -- which was the result of a vision that the Lord gave him in Acts chapter ten -- the Great Commission was at last in full swing. Both Jews and Gentiles were welcomed into the Church, despite protests from the Jewish legalists. Being as I discuss these topics at length in other articles, I won't be dwelling on the specifics in this current article.
As we have already seen, as a result of the mighty spiritual explosion which occurred in Acts chapter two, which was later followed by Paul's conversion to the faith, and the Apostle Peter's vision, serious persecution arose against the Church in Jerusalem. Suffice it to say that being a follower of the sect of the Nazarenes during the First Century was not a very popular occupation. As had occurred with Jesus Himself, being a follower of the Carpenter from Galilee quite often resulted in being ridiculed, hated, despised, persecuted, imprisoned, beaten and even being put to death. While I discuss the issue of persecution in other articles such as "Civil Disobedience and Christian Persecution", allow me to share some related verses here:
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
Matthew 10:34-38, KJV
"Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another."
Matthew 24:9-10, KJV
"Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
Mark 13:12-13, KJV
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law."
Luke 12:51-53, KJV
"But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess ye your souls."
Luke 21:12-19, KJV
"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me."
John 15:18-21, KJV
"For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."
1 Corinthians 4:9-13, KJV
"But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;"
2 Corinthians 6:4-5, KJV
"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness."
2 Corinthians 11:23-27, KJV
"If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:"
2 Timothy 2:12, KJV
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12, KJV
It is in Acts chapter eleven where we discover that some time after Paul and Barnabas arrive, the congregation of Believers in Antioch are first given the name of "Christians", as we see here:
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
Acts 11:19-26, KJV
Some sources claim that the designation of "Christian" was originally meant to ridicule the First Century followers of Jesus Christ. Let us not forget that the Jewish religious authorities did in fact view Jesus as a blasphemer, a son of Beelzebub, a lawbreaker, a false prophet, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber. So it is possible that the word "Christian" may have been used in a derogatory sense by them. The Jewish political and religious leaders of that period both viewed the Nazarenes as a new sect. However, unlike today, the word did not have a negative connotation. It simply meant a group of men who adhered to a particular set of tenets. In fact, as you can see by the following verses, even the Sadducees and the Pharisees were viewed as sects. In other words, they were basically two different denominations of Judaism:
"Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,"
Acts 5:17, KJV
"But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."
Acts 15:5, KJV
"For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:"
Acts 24:5, KJV
"Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."
Acts 26:5, KJV
"But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against."
Acts 28:22, KJV
What you may find equally interesting is the fact that the word "sect" is derived from the Greek word "hairesis". As you may possibly deduct, it is likewise from this word that we obtain our English word "heresy", which does in fact have a negative meaning. However, in the truest sense of the word, according to Thayer's Greek English Lexicon, all a heresy is, is a different opinion from what someone else believes. These differences of opinion can -- and in fact did and still do -- result in doctrinal dissensions. The end result of such major differences of opinion and doctrinal dissensions is the birth of different denominations. In the case of those beliefs which contradict the doctrines of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Peter refers to them as "damnable heresies", as we clearly see by the following verse:
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
2 Peter 2:1, KJV
It is evident that Satan did not waste any time before he began his dirty work. Similar to the above verse, there are other warnings in the New Testament regarding false brethren and false doctrines, because the bitter and divisive root of denominationalism had already infected the Early Church. Let me share some additional verses with you:
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;"
1 Timothy 4:1, KJV
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV
"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:"
Ephesians 4:14-15, KJV
"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein."
Hebrews 13:9, KJV
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
Romans 16:17, KJV
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him . . . For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15, KJV
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Galatians 1:6-9, KJV
"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself."
1 Timothy 6:3-5, KJV
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
2 John 1:9-11, KJV
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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