Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
May 23, 2005
Last Updated :
February 12, 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 As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Biography Of Cardinal Ratzinger, His Conservative Background, Points Of Agreement Between Protestants And Catholics, False Catholic Doctrines, All Have Sinned, Wages Of Sin Is Death, God's Intolerance For Disobedience, God's Patience And Mercy, Blood Sacrifice And Remission Of Sins, Jesus As The Testator Of The New Covenant, Penalty Of Sin, Jesus Paid Our Ransom, Christ Died For All Of Our Sins, One-Time Sacrifice Of Love, Universal Nature Of Salvation Plan, Jesus Christ The Only Way
The following four-part series is a mini-biography, as well as an exposé, of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who is known to most people as Pope Benedict XVI. The comments you are about to read will more than likely garner some supporters on my behalf -- although that is not really my intention in writing them -- as well as raise up new enemies, particularly within the Roman Catholic Church, and undoubtedly within Jewry as well. Regardless of the negative reactions which some of my readers may have, given the extreme importance of this issue, I feel motivated to share this information with you. While the series begins by discussing certain events which took place eight years ago -- and thus may be of little interest to some of you -- they do set the stage for the primary topic of discussion, which should be of concern to every Christian who esteems the Bible as the inspired Word of God, because it exposes a dangerously deceptive doctrine that is embraced by Pope Benedict XVI, and apparently by the Vatican itself.
As I write this commentary, a little more than one month has passed since 78-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a native of the small Bavarian town of Traunstein, Germany -- although he was actually born in Marktl am Inn to the northeast -- was unanimously elected by the Sacred College of Cardinals, to become Benedict XVI, the 265th Bishop of Rome, and Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, following the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005. Cardinal Ratzinger is the oldest man to occupy the coveted papal position in two hundred and seventy-five years, and he is the first Pope with roots in what is now Germany, since 1057 AD when Pope Victor II died.
Cardinal Ratzinger's rise to the pinnacle of power within the Vatican has been long and steady. Following seminary studies, as well as alleged involuntary military involvement with the Hitlerian war machine of Nazi Germany, Ratzinger was ordained a Catholic priest at the age of twenty-four in 1951 in Munich. From that time, until 1977, when he became the archbishop of Munich and Freising, Ratzinger engaged in additional studies, and held a variety of teaching positions at the universities of Bonn, Muenster, Tübingen, Regensburg, and Munich, where he received his doctorate in theology in 1953. From 1962 to 1965, Father Ratzinger also served as a chief theological advisor to Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne, Germany, during all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council.
Three months after being selected the archbishop of Munich, Pope Paul VI elevated Ratzinger to the status of Cardinal. Four years later, in 1981, Pope John Paul II named him the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an extremely powerful post, the job of which is to establish and safeguard Roman Catholic doctrine. This body was formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition. While the name of the office has been softened, perhaps for the sake of political correctness, we must truly wonder if its purpose and function has really changed.
For over twenty years, Cardinal Ratzinger was John Paul II's most trusted theological adviser, as well as a close friend. He had private audiences with John Paul II twice a week. In November of 2002, Ratzinger took the final step to becoming the next Pope, when he was appointed the dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals, the very body which elected him as the 265th Pope, on April 19, 2005. Prior to that, he had been the vice-dean of that same body since 1998.
Prior to becoming the 265th Pope, other positions which were held by Cardinal Ratzinger include serving as a member of the Congregation of Bishops, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Council for Christian Unity, the Council for Culture, the Commission Ecclesia Dei, and the Commission for Latin America.
By any definition of the word, within Roman Catholic circles, in a theological sense, Joseph Ratzinger has been considered an ultra-conservative and traditionalist for not quite four decades. While a spirit of liberalism has swept across many parts of the Vatican's far-reaching empire, most notably in Europe and the United States of America, Cardinal Ratzinger has staunchly defended, promoted and enforced principal Roman Catholic positions concerning marriage and divorce, abortion and birth control, stem cell research, the gay and lesbian agenda, women in the priesthood, etc.; even at the price of losing friends, and making new enemies, even in his native Germany.
While some of my non-Catholic readers may find the previous mini-biography of Cardinal Ratzinger's life boring, I have shared it with you for a very specific reason; and that is to clearly demonstrate Ratzinger's conservative background. Even though I am not a Catholic, and in fact, am personally in disagreement with a number of different Roman Catholic doctrines -- as some of my other articles will indicate -- when the news of Ratzinger's election was announced a month ago, I initially adopted the attitude that the development might be a good thing; at least for Roman Catholics who have helplessly watched as modernism and liberalism have slowly eroded some of the long-standing positions of their faith; some of which I happen to agree with.
For example, whether we are Catholic or Protestant, if we truly accept the Bible as being God's inspired Word, then we must agree that abortion is a modern evil which has resulted in the deaths of literally millions of innocent children all across the world during the past several decades. In similar fashion, the Scriptures clearly present God's view concerning homosexuality; so this is another common point of agreement between Catholics and Bible-believing Protestants. Likewise, the Bible instructs us, that except in clear-cut cases of adultery, divorce is to be frowned upon; and even then, when such is evident, forgiveness and reconciliation is the godly option. God's Word also promotes the sanctity of life, and makes it plain that our lives not only proceed from God, but that He in fact knew us before we were born. Thus, the fact that modern science creates human life, and then callously destroys it, through stem cell research, cloning, and other forms of genetic engineering, in the hope that some day it may be able to save other lives, can only be viewed as being wrong and immoral.
In short, whether we are Protestant or Catholic, if we truly view God's Word as being the correct model to follow, then we are pro-life, pro-family and pro-children. These are just a few examples where many Protestants and Catholics can find common agreement; which is why I stated a moment ago, that looking at the situation from this perspective, the election of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new Pope of Rome, looked like a wise choice; because he would help to preserve these healthy family values, which have been long-embraced by conservative Protestants and Catholics alike. All of these positions were likewise embraced by John Paul II, which is why significant numbers of Catholics were enthusiastic with Ratzinger's rise to the Holy See, as he promised to continue in the footsteps of his predecessor.
Sadly, while I have strived to present some common areas of agreement between Protestants and Catholics, as I mentioned earlier, a great gulf still exists between us, as a result of other traditions and practices, which are promoted by the Church of Rome. As I point out in some of my other articles, these include the belief in the infallibility of the Pope; the erroneous doctrine of transubstantiation, whereby it is believed that the bread and wine of the Eucharist become the actual body and blood of Christ; the alleged superiority of the Roman Catholic Church, and the misguided view that it is the only true source of Salvation available to all people everywhere; the fanatical worship of Mary and the Saints; and idol worship, to name a few.
But, it may surprise you to know, that it is not the former differences which motivated me to write this current series. There is an even more important issue, which further reveals, -- at least to me -- that all is not well within the halls of the Vatican. This issue concerns the manner of Salvation of mankind, as it is explained to us in God's Holy Word, the Bible.
Concerning God's Plan of Salvation, all Bible-believers know that the Scriptures clearly teach us that all men everywhere are sinners. Not only did we inherit our sinful nature from the Original Pair, that is, Adam and Eve, but we continue to freely sin, of our own accord, throughout our entire lives. Thus, we find verses like the following in God's Word:
"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
Psalm 51:5, KJV
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
Romans 3:23, KJV
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
Romans 5:12, KJV
As I point out in a few of my other articles which deal with the topic of Salvation, such as "Message to the World", as a result of our sin, that is to say, our rebellion against, and our violation of God's Holy Laws, under normal circumstances, as in any court of law, we would be forced to face the sad consequences of our foolish actions. As one of the previous verses reveals, the Bible tells us that the consequences, or "wages", of our sin, is death, plain and simple. We are on death row, and we are condemned to die, as we see by these additional verses:
"Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come . . . I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."
John 8:21, 24, KJV
"For the wages of sin is death . . ."
Romans 6:23a, KJV
"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"
Ephesians 2:5, KJV
It becomes rather clear in the Scriptures, that God simply does not tolerate any form of rebellion or disobedience within His Kingdom. Consider the sad example of King Saul. He lost the blessing, and the kingdom, as a result of doing certain things which he thought were right in his own eyes. God apparently saw things differently; so He basically fired King Saul, and He found a more obedient servant in the person of a young shepherd boy by the name of David. Saul, and his three sons, eventually all died in battle, and the Scriptures make it plain that this was by the Will of God, as a result of Saul's pride and disobediences.
Yet, at the same time, the Bible also informs us, that like many earthly parents, and in actuality, even more so, God is extremely patient and merciful with His wayward children. He gives us plenty of time to come to our senses, and to repent of our misdeeds, before the proverbial axe falls. Thus, in the Bible, we find such verses as the following:
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9, KJV
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him."
Psalm 103:13, KJV
"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23, KJV
Thus, thankfully, all is not lost. In spite of the looming sword of death which hangs over our lives, as a result of our own sins, there is hope; and that hope is provided by God Himself, through the loving Sacrifice of His own dear Son, Jesus Christ.
As I point out in a number of other articles, such as "The Blood Atonement: In Jesus' Own Words", God's Law required that a sacrifice of blood be made for the remission of sins. But, that blood could not come from just any animal. It had to come from an unblemished, unspotted lamb. In other words, it had to be physically perfect. This practice was followed by the Israelites throughout the Old Testament period, and was merely a foreshadow of greater things to come, when the son of a Jewish carpenter would present Himself before His real Father in Heaven, as the unblemished Lamb of God, of the New Testament period, who would take away the sins of the world. Through the spilling of His own innocent Blood, Jesus willingly became the Testator of the New Covenant between God and man, as we see by these verses:
"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
Matthew 26:28, KJV
"And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many."
Mark 14:24, KJV
"Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
Luke 22:20, KJV
"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."
1 Corinthians 11:25, KJV
"Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."
2 Corinthians 3:6, KJV
"But now hath he [Jesus] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away."
Hebrews 8:6-13, KJV
"And for this cause he [Jesus] is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."
Hebrews 9:15, KJV
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Hebrews 12:24, KJV
So to reiterate, Jesus took our sins upon Himself, thereby relieving us of the same, and redeemed us from the penalty of sin; that is to say, eternal death. In short, He became a ransom for our sins, by willingly surrendering His own life to the Father. In essence, He paid the price for us, and took our punishment for us, as we see by the following verses:
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Matthew 20:28, KJV
"Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."
1 Corinthians 7:23, KJV
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
1 Timothy 2:5-6, KJV
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV
Over and over again, the writers of the New Testament tell us that Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins. From John, to Peter, to Paul, the message is made exceedingly clear: Jesus died for you and for me. Following are some additional verses which amply prove this point:
"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;"
1 Corinthians 15:3, KJV
"Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:"
Galatians 1:3-4, KJV
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."
1 Timothy 1:15, KJV
"Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"
Hebrews 1:3, KJV
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
1 Peter 2:24, KJV
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 1:7, KJV
"And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
1 John 2:2, KJV
"And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."
1 John 3:5, KJV
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"
Revelation 1:5, KJV
Unlike the high priests of the Old Testament era who had to repeatedly offer sacrifices for the sins of the people, the New Testament Scriptures also make it clear, that Jesus died but once for the remission of all sins of all times, and He did it for all people everywhere, without exception, because we have all sinned. Please consider these additional verses:
"Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself."
Hebrews 7:27, KJV
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us."
Hebrews 9:12, KJV
"Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Hebrews 9:25-28, KJV
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Hebrews 10:10, KJV
Finally, as we have already seen, Jesus made this Great Sacrifice, as the Ultimate Demonstration of His love for, and obedience to, His Father, as well as His deep, abiding love for us, His wayward children. Again, this point is verified by Scriptures such as the following:
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep...As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."
John 10:11, 15-18, KJV
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13, KJV
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16, KJV
"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."
1 John 3:16, KJV
"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:8-10, KJV
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8, KJV
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:38-39, KJV
Taking into consideration this preponderance of Scriptural evidence, it should be clear to you, the reader, that the Forgiveness of sins, Redemption, Salvation, and Eternal Life, can only be achieved through unswerving faith in the atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ; the only-begotten Son of God, who by His own choice, was born into the world of sinful men, and lovingly died for the same.
What I would also like to bring to your attention, is the clearly universal nature of God's Plan of Salvation. As we have seen, the Bible plainly states over and over again, and in a variety of ways, that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God", and that there are no exceptions to this rule. Either the word "all" really means all, or else it doesn't. In other verses we have examined, the words "the world", or "the whole world", are used, which again point to the universal nature of God's Divine Plan, as well as to the universal nature of sin.
Now, if we humbly accept the truth, and recognize that we are all sinners, then we must also logically conclude, based upon the previous Scriptures, that we are all in danger of facing eternal death, because we are plainly told that "the wages of sin is death". If "a" is true, then "b" must also be true.
If we continue along this same line of thought concerning the universal nature of God's Plan of Salvation, we're forced to also conclude that if we are all sinners, and if we are all in danger of facing eternal death, then we must likewise all need to recognize, accept and turn to God's appointed Savior, if we hope and expect to find a reprieve from our sentence of death. In short, we cannot say that yes, we are all sinners, and yes, we will all face a certain death because of it, but no, we do not all have to recognize and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, if we expect to receive remission of our sins, and gain Eternal Life. We simply cannot have it both ways.
In short, either all of God's Word is true, or else all of it is not. The Lord tells us that "a + b = c"; He doesn't say that "a + b = something else". If "a" is true, and if "b" is true, then "c" is likewise true. It is that simple. Sin + Jesus = Salvation. Sin - Jesus = Eternal Death.
So either the Plan of Salvation applies to all men, or else it applies to no one. If even one person can gain Salvation without professing faith in Jesus Christ, then we would be forced to conclude that Jesus died in vain. If even one race of people can claim that they have achieved forgiveness of sins, and have found some other way to achieve Eternal Life, then again, we would be forced conclude that all of the men and women of God down through the ages, beginning with the Disciples and Apostles of the First Century, who have been persecuted, who have been tortured, and who have sacrificed their lives as a result of preaching the Gospel to the lost, truly did so in vain. I mean, let's face it. If people don't really need to believe in Jesus in order to be saved, then why even preach the Gospel, right? Why sacrifice our lives, and put our families through such hardships and risks? Why suffer so much ridicule? Why face being ostracized from society because of our beliefs, if it isn't necessary?
Now, of course, I am sure you realize that all of my previous remarks are purely rhetorical in nature, because I personally remain utterly convinced that none of it has been, or is, in vain. Furthermore, I firmly remain persuaded, that there is no other way, than the Way of Jesus Christ; for as the Lord Himself taught us:
". . . I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 14:6b, KJV
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."
John 12:32, KJV
". . . if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."
John 8:24b, KJV
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
John 3:36, KJV
And as the Apostles would also later proclaim:
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Acts 4:12, KJV
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
1 Timothy 2:5, KJV
So the issue concerning the way to Salvation and Eternal Life, for all men, is very clear in the Scriptures. As far as I am concerned, it is a black and white issue, and there are no shades of gray, or ambiguous areas to discuss. What applies to one person, must necessarily apply to all. Either we accept and believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, or else we don't; in which case, we will eventually reap our due rewards for our sins of rebellion and unbelief. I simply do not believe that God plays favorites when we are discussing the issue of Salvation. I do not believe that He is partial in His Judgments, or in His Love. It is my belief that His Righteous Nature prevents Him from acting in such a manner. As the Apostle Peter stated in the tenth chapter of the Book of Acts: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons".
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .