Biblical Exposition

Mass with 2 Protestants and 1 Crucifix

by Steve Ray on November 21, 2020

CrucifixionChurch.jpgA while ago we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, as big as life — a CRUCIFIX with the Body of Our Lord hanging over the altar.

I knew what the Protestants were thinking — I used to think the same — “CATHOLICS ARE WRONG, JESUS IS NO LONGER ON THE CROSS, HE HAS RISEN FROM THE DEAD AND IS IN HEAVEN.”  Of course they think Catholics are wrong to keep Jesus on the cross as though he had not risen and ascended into heaven.

Are they right?  Well, YES and NO.  Jesus DID rise and ascend into heaven and He IS glorified at the right hand of the Father and we are mystically seated there with him (1 Pet 3:22, Eph 2:6).  BUT the Catholic Church is ALSO correct to show Jesus on the Cross — not only to remind us of His suffering and death and to show what happens during the Mass — but because in a mystical way He IS STILL on the Cross.

God the Father sits on His throne in heaven.  And what does God see from his throne every time he “opens his eyes”?  He sees Jesus on the Cross!  Really?  Yeah, really!

PassoverLambBlood.jpgJesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7).  In the Old Testament the lambs were slain on Passover to save the Israelites from death.  The lamb was held over the altar, his neck was slashed with a knife and the blood was drained onto the altar.

This is why we have an altar in the Catholic Church! The altar represents the Cross (among other things). An Altar is where a Sacrifice takes place!  Jesus was slain as our Passover Lamb to save us from eternal death and to appease the wrath of God.  That sacrifice is re-presented at the Mass (see my talk Defending the Eucharist!).

Take a look at Revelation 5:5 and ask yourself — what John is telling us?  It reads,

Between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain . . .

LambInHeaven2.jpgWho IS the slain Lamb that is still standing?  Jesus is the Lamb!  Standing on a altar before the throne of God the Father is a Lamb still bearing the wounds of slaugher.  Jesus is that Lamb and he still bears the wounds of His sacrifice. That is what God sees when He “opens his eyes” — Jesus the sacrifice — Jesus on the altar — Jesus on the Cross.

Charles Wesley, the great Methodist minister and hymn writer agrees. In his hymn “Arise, My Soul, Arise” in which he says the very same thing in very poetic terms.

“Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears; The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears, Before the throne my surety stands, My name is written on His hands. He ever lives above, for me to intercede; His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead: His blood atoned for all our race, And sprinkles now the throne of grace.”

But wasn’t Jesus crucified once and for all, never to sacrificed for sins again?  Yes, of course!  In   space and time  Jesus was crucified once and for all in AD 30.

In God’s eyes — in eternity which is not limited by space and time — Jesus was crucified before the foundations of the world (see endnote 1) and in “eternity future” He is still seen by the Father as a slain lamb on the alter in heaven, as the crucified Lord on the Cross. All salvation past, present and future is based on this one historical event.

In the Mass, Jesus is NOT re-crucified, but we partake in a mystical way in the re-presentation of the ONE ETERNAL SACRIFICE which is ever before the eyes of the Father (see Endnote 3).

I used to say “Jesus WAS our sacrifice. He cannot be crucified again on Catholic altars, so Catholics are wrong!”  But the Bible says, Yes, he WAS our sacrifice, but he also IS our Sacrifice. Look at what John says in his first epistle:

“[Jesus] is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (RSV-Catholic Edition).
The Protestant NIV renders this “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

ThomasWounds.jpgThe Greek word for IS (eimi) is in the present tense. Today, right now He IS our propitiation, our sacrifice. After His resurrection with His new spiritual body Jesus still has the wounds of his crucifixion (Jn 20:27). He has a body in heaven and still bears the wounds of the Sacrifice. He is presented before God as slain sacrifice — yet now alive.

So, what does God see when He “opens his eyes”?  He sees Jesus on the Cross!  If this is what God sees in heaven, then it is certainly proper for us to show Jesus on a Cross to remind us what he did for us — and to see what God sees every day and has from eternity.  So Catholic are right after all. Suprise!  Surprise!

Creche.jpgBy the way, once a Baptist said to me, “You are wrong, Jesus is no longer on the cross, He is in heaven.”  It happend to be Christmas and I noticed they had a Manger Scene (creche) on their table.  I said, “Why do you have Jesus in the manger?  He is no longer in the manger — he is in heaven.

“And oh,” I said, “isn’t that a cute statue of Mary!  I thought you Protestants considered statues to be idols?  Why do you have a statue of Mary in your house?”

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Endnote 1: There are two ways to translate this verse, but either way it comes out making the point. The best Protestant translations of Revelation 13:8 read: “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (NIV – New International Version).
“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (NKJV – New King James Version).

Endnote 2: Pictures: 1) Crucifix; 2) Passover Lamb slain by the modern day Samaritans; 3) Image of Jesus the Passover Lamb sacrificed on an altar before the Throne of God (could not make out the name of the author) 4) Caravaggio’s famous painting “Incredulity of St. Thomas.”; 5) Creche scene.

Endnote 3: Catechism paragraph 1367:  “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: ‘The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.’ ‘And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner. . . this sacrifice is truly propitiatory’.”

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Are You Born Again?

by Steve Ray on November 20, 2020

I posted this for the listeners of Catholic Answers Live on Wednesday evening, March 21. I will post the audio link as soon as it is available and a list of all the questions we answered.

It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way — with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following:

1) The first creation came from the earth which was covered with WATER and the SPIRIT hovered over the waters and from the water emerged land and man and God’s first creation (Gen 1:1-2).

NoahsArk3.jpg2) A new humanity was started with Noah through WATER and SPIRIT. The ark went through the water and a dove (representing the Spirit) hovered overhead with an olive branch. Peter said this represents baptism which “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:18-21).

pillar of fire3) The nation of Israel was created through the WATER of the Red Sea (baptism) with the cloud and fire of the Holy SPIRIT overhead — my oh my, again we have water and Spirit (Ex 14).

4) Ezekiel then describes what the New Covenant will look like and he said we will be sprinkled with clean WATER and his SPIRIT will be placed in us (Ez 36:25). Born again, I suspect.

5) Then Jesus, right before saying you must be born of “water and the Spirit” had just gone down into the WATER of the Jordan and the SPIRIT came down and landed on his head. Again, water and the Spirit (Mt 3:16; Jn 1:29).

6) Jesus teaches Nicodemus that he must be born again, or from above which is accomplished through “WATER and the SPIRIT.“

Jesus-Baptized-077) When Jesus finished these words what was the first thing he did? He went down and baptized people in the Jordan with his disciples (Jn 4:1-2).

8) At the first Holy Ghost Gospel Revival meeting :-) Peter stood up at Pentecost and said,  “Repent, and be baptized (WATER) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy SPIRIT“ (Acts 2:38).

9) Peter also says “Baptism now saves you“ (1 Pet 3:21), and Paul is told “Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16), and Paul writes that we are saved “by the washing of regeneration (WATER) and renewal in the Holy SPIRIT“ (Titus 3:5).

Other verses you should know — click here!

For my article on Infant Baptism, click here

My book Crossing the Tiber has over 50 pages on Baptism from the Bible and the Church Fathers.

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JordanSm.jpgToo bad many Evangelicals and Fundamentalists refuse to see it but the Bible is pretty clear about new birth through the sacrament of baptism. Jesus is not ambiguous in this matter and he is alluding quite clearly to new beginnings in the Old Testament. The Early Church is also very clear and so is the teaching of the Catholic Church today.

(Picture to right is the place in the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. Click for larger image.)

St. Augustine said, “Who is so wicked as to want to exclude infants from the kingdom of heaven by prohibiting their being baptized and born again in Christ?”

When someone asks me “Have you been born again?“  I simply answer “Absolutely, but I’ve been born again the Bible Way!“

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50+ of the Best Catholic Bible Experts Conference

by Steve Ray on November 18, 2020

Stay tuned! 50 of the top Bible scholars and teachers yours for FREE. January 8-10. More info soon.

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Paul Prayed for the Dead; we should too

November 2, 2020

Does the Bible record St. Paul praying for a dead man? Does the New Testament relate an incident of prayer for the dead? It seems quite certain that it does. Let’s begin with Onesiphorus—a faithful Christian who cared for St. Paul while he was in prison and who took great personal risk to serve the […]

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Will the Gates of Hell Prevail in the USA?

October 30, 2020

“The gates of hell shall not prevail!” I have heard this affirmation many times in the last year. There seems to be a certainty that we will prevail as a church even as our country spirals into chaos and confusion  pours out of the Vatican. Is the church’s success something that we can take for granted […]

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Segment on Spirit Catholic Radio on Works of the Law

October 29, 2020

I was just called with a 10-minute warning and asked if I would fill in to talk on Spirit Catholic Radio’s “Good Book Club” discussing Galatians 2″11-21. So I did! To understand the New Testament one must place themselves in 1st-century Jewish-Roman culture. Here is a picture of the Jewish St. Paul, which is probably […]

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Biblical Meal…Sparrow! Should we Try?

October 4, 2020

I wondered why Jesus made the comment that two sparrows were sold for a penny (Mt 10:29) and five sparrows sold for two pennies (Lk 12:6). Well after a little research, I found out and we gave it a try :-) Earlier post about eating grasshoppers and also mentioning sparrows.

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Why Did God Allow Man to Sin? “O Happy Fault of Adam”

September 9, 2020

This is a question that has puzzled people from the beginning. If God is good and all powerful why didn’t he stop Adam and Eve from sinning? Fair question. Of course we all know that he took the risk of giving us free will so that we could choose to love him. I don’t want […]

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The Pain of Stolen Honey – John the Baptist was a Manly Man who Teaches us Many Things

September 8, 2020

A painful price is paid when one reaches his hand into a swarm of bees to swipe some of their honey. Stingers fly and welts flare. I know. I raised hives of bees as a boy and once I was stung 35 times in one day. And that was with protective equipment! Wild honey is […]

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Are Verses Left Out of Modern Translations of the Bible?

August 16, 2020

Bible Verses Missing in Modern Translations? By Steve Ray       (PDF version here) There are a lot of people today that are what we call “King James only“ Christians. They believe that the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is the only inspired version and that modern translations are modernist. One argument for […]

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Mary, Assumed into Heaven as the Queen

August 15, 2020

A while ago a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary including references from the Old Testament was wrong. I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother up to a throne on his right hand to reign as Queen of the Kingdom. The man arguing with me […]

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How Can Mary Be Sinless if She Rejoices in “God my Savior”?

August 14, 2020

A deacon wrote a question the other day about the sinlessness of Mary. Here is his question and my simple response in two parts. “Hello Steve!  I received a question this morning from a very wise and astute co-worker regarding our Blessed Mother. He is NOT Catholic. He asked, “Well!!  If the Blessed Virgin Mary was […]

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Riddle: What is the New Testament?

August 12, 2020

This is a question that very few people think about. The natural reaction to the question, “What is the New Testament?” is that it is a collection of books in the Bible. But before you say the New Testament is “a book” ask yourself what the book says the New Testament is. A hint is […]

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Questions I Answered on Catholic Answers Live: St. John & his Gospel

August 8, 2020

Great fun on Catholic Answers Live! St. John and his gospel may not sound that interesting but it was a lively and VERY interesting show. We started off:  1) Who wrote the gospel and what do we know about him? 2) Tell us about your books “St. John’s Gospel” and how you have gotten to […]

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Am I Sick? Naw, I Don’t Think So, Just Feeding the Turkey Vultures

July 31, 2020

The lady at the pet store told me I was a sick individual. I didn’t think so, but then again I am biased and think I’m OK – and my wife tends to agree with me. The whole thing started because of a small hobby of mine. When I was a little boy my dad bought […]

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Feast Day of St. Martha, loved by Jesus

July 29, 2020

Martha is often given the short shrift. She lived with her brother Lazarus and her sister Mary in Bethany where Jesus lived when he was in the Jerusalem area. She worked hard, cared for people but was criticized by Jesus, or so it seems. I don’t think Jesus was criticizing those who serve guests and take […]

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