Ecclesiasticus 4:28

"Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side."

Ora pro nobis,

Most Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Dominic. Amen.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Response to CQ--Christ, Our Full Salvation

This chapter from is the final one in the booklet delivered to my mom's mailbox (though it is not the final chapter on their website, nor the final chapter that I'll respond to). It is also one with which I have pretty much zero disagreement. That makes my job a lot easier in replying to it. As such, the format will be slightly different than usual. Yes, their words will still be in blue, and mine in white, but basically, I'll post their entire article without commenting on it (or at least, very little comments), and then, at the end, I'll add to it.

Chapter 7: Be Careful of Protestant Teachings
Christ, Our Full Salvation

With such a strong emphasis upon the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, and its centrality to human salvation, it is surprising that most Protestants have little understanding of the High-Priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. The book of Hebrews, particularly, expounds in great detail the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. In this book we discover many aspects of Christ's heavenly-sanctuary ministry that enhance our knowledge of the principles of salvation. Other biblical writers also elucidate Christ's High-Priestly ministry.

Actually, in defence of my Protestant friends and family, and on behalf of my own Protestant upbringing, I would contend with this point. It is not so much that Protestants have an incomplete understanding of Christ's priestly ministry per se, but more that they have an incomplete understanding of Covenant, which in turn leads to the limited understanding of the priesthood. As such, below provides no new key understanding to Christ's ministry, but rather ends this chapter just as the going gets good, which is why rather than replying to it, I'm adding to it instead.

(1) Christ is our sacrifice.

But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:12).
(2) He is our High Priest.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building (Hebrews 9:11).
3) He is our Advocate.
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 (1 John 2:1).
(4) He is our Mediator.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).
(5) He is our Intercessor.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12).
(6) He is our Judge.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick [living] and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom (2 Timothy 4:1).

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son (John 5:22).
It will be noted that at least six terms are used in the Scriptures to define the High-Priestly ministration of Christ: Sacrifice, Advocate, Mediator, Intercessor, High Priest and Judge. The High-Priestly ministry of Christ is essential to rounding off our concepts of the salvation acts of God for the human race.

It will be recalled that the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were symbols and types of the heavenly sanctuary, and the priesthood was a type of Christ's ministry.
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it (Exodus 25:8,9).
Exodus, chapters twenty-five through twenty-seven, provide precise details of the earthly tabernacle. That the earthly sanctuary was but a type of the heavenly, and that the ministry of the High Priest is but a type of the heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ is declared in the book of Hebrews.
...We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.... For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount (Hebrews 8:1-5).
Protestants proclaim that the cross is the center of our faith and they are correct in so doing. However, the sacrifice of Jesus, without the emphasis upon the High-Priestly ministry of Jesus, provides an incomplete understanding of all that Jesus has and is accomplishing for the salvation of His people.

Paul links the sacrifice of Christ with His High-Priestly ministry and its relationship to our salvation.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 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 9:11,12).
Sorry, I have to interject here, just to point out that most likely St. Paul did not in fact write the epistle to the Hebrews, and in fact, no one knows who did.

His ministry is wonderfully detailed in the same chapter.
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Hebrews 9:23,24).
Thus, Christ is ministering in the courts of heaven today on behalf of his people. The sacrificial atonement accomplished on the cross is completed in the heavenly sanctuary above. Everything that Jesus did on Calvary and He now is accomplishing in the heavenly sanctuary is essential and pivotal to our salvation.

If He had not been born a babe in Bethlehem, we could not be saved. If He had not lived a perfect life upon the earth, we could not be saved. If He had not died the death of reconciliation, we could not be saved. If He had not been resurrected from the dead, we could not be saved. If He had not ascended to His Father in heaven, we could not be saved. If He were not now our ministering High Priest, we could not be saved. If He did not return to take home His faithful people, we could not be saved.

The understanding of the High-Priestly ministry of Christ gives us a clearer picture of the total commitment of God through Jesus for the salvation of men and women. It helps us to understand the justification of God's people. It helps us to understand sanctification and the eradication of sin from God's people. It helps us to understand the time gap between Christ's death and His Second Coming.

I'm not entirely sure in what way Christ's high-priestly ministry helps explain the time gap between His first and second comings, since His heavenly priestly ministry would take place outside of time and not bound by time. But other than that, I'm good.

Most Protestants have tended to minimize this critical part of the salvation acts of God. Yet as we read through the Old Testament and into the New Testament we discover that the sanctuary service is intimately linked with the sacrificial services which preshadowed both the death and priestly ministry of Jesus Christ. Just as the priest of Old Testament times sprinkled the blood of sacrifices before and in the sanctuary built on earth, so Christ in the heavenly sanctuary is sprinkling the blood of His sacrifice for the forgiveness and cleansing of the human race.

I'll add my comments here, and allow to have the last word, since I couldn't state their conclusion any more truly or eloquently.

In the above paragraph, criticises Protestants for minimising the priestly aspect of Christ's sacrifice and salvation acts, and yet, in this article, I fail to see how CQ is not itself guilty of the same. Let me explain:

Above, listed 6 key roles of Christ as our high priest and our sacrifice: 1) Sacrifice, 2) Advocate, 3) Mediator, 4) Intercessor, 5) High Priest and 6) Judge. I would add a Seventh: Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. Now, one could suggest that by calling Him the Passover Lamb, I'm merely specifying what sort of Sacrifice Jesus was, and really am restating the first point. If that is true, it is because has incompletely treated that aspect, or else incorrectly treated it. Again, it comes down to the idea of Covenant (which, as I said, is a concept that is often overlooked in Protestant circles, and, when we deal with CQ's treatment of baptism, seems to be rather lacking with them, as well).

Rather than discussing at great lengths the idea of the Covenant, I will zoom in on that part that is contained within the idea of the Passover. When God, in the book of Exodus, liberated His people from the oppression of Egypt, He did so through a great display of His power, in the form of 10 plagues. After each plague, however, the wicked Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. That is, until the 10th plague. During the 10th plague, God unleashed His angel of death to strike down the firstborn male children in Egypt. The only way to save your oldest son, was to celebrate the Passover. The instructions for celebrating the Passover are found in Exodus 12:
Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 'This month must be the first of all the months for you, the first month of your year. Speak to the whole community of Israel and say, "On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock for his family: one animal for each household. If the household is too small for the animal, he must join with his neighbour nearest to his house, depending on the number of persons. When you choose the animal, you will take into account what each can eat. It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old; you may choose it either from the sheep or from the goats. You must keep it until the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter it at twilight. Some of the blood must be put on both doorposts and the lintel of the house where it is eaten. That night, the flesh must be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with the head, feet and entrails. You must not leave any of it over till the morning: whatever is left till morning you must burn. This is how you must eat it: with a belt round your waist, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. You must eat it hurriedly: it is a Passover in Yahweh's honour. That night, I shall go through Egypt and strike down all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike, and shall execute justice on all the gods of Egypt, I, Yahweh! The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. When I see the blood I shall pass over you, and you will escape the destructive plague when I strike Egypt. This day must be commemorated by you, and you must keep it as a feast-day for all generations; this is a decree for all time (Ex 12:1-14).
It was the Passover Lamb that bought back (redeemed) the firstborn sons of Israel. It had to be pure, with no broken bones, and a year old. It had to be killed and its blood sprinkled on the doorway. Finally, it had to be eaten. If these things were not carried out, then the firstborn child was forfeit and would be killed. Notably, this feast was to be commemorated for all time. The Covenant between God and His children was renewed in this fashion.

Fast forward nearly 2000 years, and we come to Jesus Christ, whom St. John the Baptist called "The Lamb of God (John 1:36). Jesus lived a life without sin (without blemish), ministered for one year, and died at the Passover. St. John even tells us that Jesus was condemned to death at the moment when the sacrificial passover lambs were being slaughtered (John 19:14). More, John tells us that while the other two thieves with Jesus had their legs broken so as to die and come down from their crosses before the Sabbath, Jesus did not, since He had already died: "When they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water.... Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture: 'Not one bone of his body will be broken'" (John 19:33-34,36). Jesus sprinkled His blood upon the Cross, the door of our salvation. But there is more. The blood of the lamb on the doorpost wasn't enough to fulfil the life-saving action of the Passover. The lamb had to be eaten; and as the Passover was drawing near, Jesus taught the crowds that "if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person up on the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink" (John 6:4, 53-55).

The night before He died, Jesus showed His disciples just what He meant by that teaching: "Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you'" (Luke 22:19-20).

In the Eucharist, we celebrate this same event--the event of our salvation! But it is not simply a memorial, as the original Passover was. Instead, it goes beyond that, as we receive Jesus Himself, as His sacrifice on our behalf is represented to us, so that we might participate in the Once-For-All Sacrifice of the Cross, and appropriate its saving power to our lives! As rightly points out above, "Thus, Christ is ministering in the courts of heaven today on behalf of his people. The sacrificial atonement accomplished on the cross is completed in the heavenly sanctuary above. Everything that Jesus did on Calvary and He now is accomplishing in the heavenly sanctuary is essential and pivotal to our salvation." This is why St. John, in his Revelation, describes Jesus as "a Lamb standing that seemed to have been sacrificed" (Rev. 5:6). Jesus continually presents before the Throne the one-time sacrifice on the Cross, and in the Mass, through the Eucharist, we are taken before that same Throne and receive Jesus Himself from the Heavenly Altar! In the Eucharist, the fullness of Jesus' Seven Priestly Duties are fulfilled and applied to our lives:

He is our Sacrifice; He is our Advocate; He is our Mediator; He is our Intercessor; He is our High Priest; He is our Judge; He is our Passover.
For our Passover has been sacrificed, that is, Christ; let us keep the feast, then, with none of the old yeast and no leavening of evil and wickedness, but only with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
How wonderful is the love of God and the ministry of His Only-Begotten Son. The more we plumb the depths of divine salvation, the more the matchless love of God and Christ reaches our hearts and "We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

(Category: The Church: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus--The Church and other Christian denominations.
Catholic Distinctives: The Sacraments--The Eucharist.)

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