By Robert J. Thomas; Director of Calvary Ministries to Catholics
As we begin this study let me first state that part of our ministry is to examine the doctrinal differences between Roman Catholicism and Biblical Christianity by comparing official Catholic doctrines with the clear teachings of the Bible. The world needs to know that the majority of Catholic doctrine is at variance with the clear teachings of the Bible. The Catholic Church pronounces anathemas (curses) on all who oppose their false and heretical teachings.. For instance Council of Trent SIXTH SESSION CANONS ON JUSTIFICATION CANON 9 “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.”
My dear friends, what the Catholic Church has actually done in this Canon and others is condemn the very Gospel. I am reminded of what Paul clearly stated in Galatians 1:8-9
“But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him by accursed. As we said before, so say I again. If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Having been born and raised in a Roman Catholic Church, I learned at an early age that attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist was the most important sacrament a Catholic could receive. It is the Mass and Eucharist that the Church of Rome points to with great pride to distinguish herself from other denominations. The very life-line of the whole religious system rests upon the Mass. I was taught that it was the foundation-the pinnacle- the very heartbeat of Catholicism. In the Book, The What and Why of Catholicism, the Mass is described as follows: “The Sacrifice of the Mass forms a pivot upon which all else turns. If it is what Catholics believe it is, then here is the greatest external manifestation of the love of God for man and the most magnificent testimonial to the validity of Catholicism; but if it be false, it is the worst farce and blasphemy ever perpetrated upon God or man and the Catholic faith collapses into nothingness.”
John’s Gospel has a total of seven “I am’s.”
John 10:9-“I am the door.”
John 15:1-“I am the true vine.”
John 8:12-“I am the light of the world.”
John 10:11-“I am the good shepherd.”
John 11:25-“I am the resurrection and the life.”
John 14:6-“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
John 6:48-“I am the bread of life.”
All seven of these I am sayings are clearly figures of speech. It is interesting that our Catholics friends will usually readily admit that the first six are figures of speech; however, they insist that the last one “I am the bread of life” must be taken literally. All seven of these statements are figurative or symbolic statements and are meant to convey literal truth regarding the Lord Jesus; that He is the source of spiritual life and salvation. So, let’s examine John 6 and see if this chapter establishes the Mass.
Roman Catholics refer to verses 51 to 58 to try to prove the Mass.
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove amongst themselves, saying, How can this man give us
his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread that came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.”
Let’s once again remember that Scripture always reaffirms Scripture. Our Catholic friends pull this passage of Scripture out of its context and use it in an attempt to establish and prove the Mass. In order to fully understand what Jesus is talking about in verses 51 to 58, we must look at the context of the entire sixth chapter of John. Taken as a whole, John chapter six has both literal and spiritual aspects.
In the Old Testament, there are many examples of God speaking figuratively in regard to eating and drinking. For example, in Hosea 10:13, we see, “ye have eaten the fruit of lies.” Again we read in Proverbs 4:17-“they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.” Isaiah 30:20-“The bread of adversity, and the water of affliction.” Psalm 34:8-“O taste and see that the Lord is good.” One final passage is Psalm 60:3-“Drink the wine of astonishment.”
Let me set the stage by looking at several Old Testament passages dealing with the drinking of blood.
Leviticus 3:17-“It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.”
Leviticus 7:26-“Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings.”
Leviticus 17:10-12-“And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Therefore, I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.”
Deuteronomy 12:16-“Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.”
Deuteronomy 12:23-“Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.”
Deuteronomy 15:23-“Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.”
I Samuel 14:33-34-“Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the Lord, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day. And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the Lord in eating with the blood.”
How often does God have to say not to eat or drink blood before it is so?
JOHN 6 occurs Twelve Months Before The Death of Jesus.
To set the stage for John 6, we need to first examine that miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 in verses 1 -14. There was a lad that had five barley loaves and two small fishes. Jesus performed a miracle and fed the 5,000 with loaves and fishes. The Jews were all filled; they had their needs met; and that was all they cared about. They were not even aroused by the fact that Jesus had performed a miracle. They had gotten a free meal and that was all that was on their mind. Next in verses 15-21, Jesus sends the apostles across the sea of Galilee and he comes to them walking on the water in the midst of a storm.
Beginning in verse 22, the Jews are searching for Jesus the next day for one purpose and one purpose only. They want another free meal. This is very evident by the words of Jesus in verse 26-“Jesus answered and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” This statement of Jesus is literal.” In verse 27, Jesus speaks to the Jews on a spiritual basis. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the father sealed.” These Jews that Jesus was speaking to had absolutely no spiritual understanding. They were unregenerate individuals and therefore they could not understand the spiritual aspects of what Jesus was teaching.
Romans 8:7-“Bccause the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
I Corinthians 2:14-“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
In verse 28, the Jews inquire as to what they need to do to please God. In verse 29, Jesus addresses their spiritual condition. “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” What does Jesus clearly state the solution to their spiritual problem is? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Plain and simple! They were lost in sin and needed to believe on Jesus. They needed to be saved
by grace through faith alone. Why? Because salvation is in Christ and Christ alone. Their Jewish religion would not save them. No religion has ever saved a single person. That is why the Roman Catholic Church is in error when she makes the statement, “The one true holy mother church without which there is no salvation.” Please don’t waste my time by telling me that the Catholic Church does not teach this. I can post multitudes of official information from the Catholic Church including direct quotes from Benedict XVI that will prove my point. In fact, I am looking at a statement that Benedict XVI made on July 7, 2007: “All non Catholic congregations are not true churches in the Biblical sense of the word. There is absolutely no salvation outside of the Holy Catholic Church.”
In verses 30 and 31, the Jews once again show their obvious lack of spiritual understanding. They want Jesus to give them a sign (another miracle). They remind Jesus about the physical manna that their fathers had received while they were wondering forty years in the wilderness. The Jews were merely looking at the literal aspects of the manna for food and not the spiritual significance that God had provided the manna. In verses 32 and 33, Jesus reminds them that God gave them the manna and not Moses. This manna from God took care of their physical needs. However, Jesus wants to take care of their spiritual needs. In verse 34, the Jews still with no spiritual understanding, desire an everlasting buffet. They want to be provided with literal food on a daily basis just as their fathers were in the wilderness. They were completely missing the spiritual aspects.
The pivotal part of the entire chapter is in verses 35 and 36. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.” In verse 35, Jesus is speaking spiritually. In this chapter Jesus is clearly teaching about salvation. Jesus is referring to the spiritual hunger in man for salvation. He promises to everyone who will “come to him” that he will satisfy their spiritual hunger for salvation forever. Likewise, we also drink to satisfy thirst. A one time coming to Jesus and believing on Jesus will satisfy man’s spiritual need of salvation forever. This is accomplished by grace through faith alone. (Rom. 10:9-10, 13: Eph 2:8-9; John 3:16) According to verse 36, the Jews have seen Jesus and all the miracles that he has done (including the feeding of the 5,000); however, they are still spiritually ignorant.
Jesus once again in verses 37 to 39 is speaking about the results of salvation. All who come to Jesus by grace through faith alone seeking eternal life will receive eternal salvation. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father except by me.”
Now let’s look at verse 40 very carefully and compare it with verse 54.
John 6:40-“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:54-Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
According to verse 40, anyone who sees the Son and believes on him has everlasting life. This verse is literally true. All who come to Christ by grace through faith alone have eternal life. According to verse 54, all who eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus also have eternal life. If verse 54 is to be also taken literally as our Catholic friends insist, we have a real dilemma. I often put the following situation to my Catholic friends and have yet to receive a satisfactory answer. According to verse 40, I have seen the Son and I have laterally by grace through faith alone believed on him. Therefore, I have eternal life and will never perish. I do not accept the Roman Catholic premise that I must literally eat Christ’s flesh and literally drink his blood to experience eternal life (the Eucharist). According to Catholic teaching then, I do not have eternal life. However, according to verse 40, I have eternal life because I have believed on Christ unto salvation. Solve my dilemma. No, my dear Catholic friends, verse 54 is not to be taken literally, Jesus is merely conveying a spiritual truth. The only possible solution to this dilemma is for us to understand that Jesus was speaking figuratively or spiritually in verse 54 to explain what he had literally taught in verse 40.
In verses 43 to 47, Jesus is very clearly speaking about salvation and once again the Jews don’t have a clue. Verse 47 sums it up, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” In review, Jesus very clearly told the unbelieving Jews in verses 28, 29 and 30 that they needed salvation. Next, in verses 48 to 51, Jesus is speaking spiritually again and comparing Himself spiritually to the manna that came down from God in the wilderness. Just as the Jews physical needs were met by the manna in the wilderness; just as their physical needs were met the day before when the 5,000 were fed, Jesus can and will meet their spiritual needs if they will believe on him unto salvation.
Verse 52 once again clearly demonstrates the lack of spiritual understanding on the part of the Jews. They were only thinking about physical food when they asked, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” In verses 53 to 58, Jesus is comparing the physical manna in the wilderness to his spiritual flesh and spiritual blood. We must remember that this event occurred one year prior to his death. According to verse 58 the fathers ate the literal manna in the wilderness and are all dead. However, if anyone believes on Jesus and experiences eternal life by grace through faith alone, they can spiritually partake of his flesh and blood because they have eternal life. Remember that the Jews certainly knew and understood the Old Testament warnings against drinking blood!
It is quite interesting that beginning in verse 60, many went away because they did not want the spiritual aspect of Christ’s ministry and only desired the physical bread. They had the wrong motives. Let’s finally look at verses 68-69: “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” The disciples had correctly understood the teachings of Christ because they had eternal life and therefore had spiritual discernment. They understood completely that salvation was in Christ and in Him alone.
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