Was Mary Sinless?

Virgin of the AnnunciationA lot of focus during the Christmas season gets put on Mary as well as Jesus since she was his mother. There is a lot of incorrect theology about Mary, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church. One of these doctrines is the idea of the Immaculate Conception.

The immaculate conception often is misunderstood to mean the supernatural conception of Christ in Mary’s womb. I also misunderstood this in the past. But that is not what this term refers to at all. In fact, the immaculate conception has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Instead, the immaculate conception deals with Mary. Specifically, it teaches that Mary was sinless and free from original sin.

There are two primary texts that Catholics use to make this claim. The first is Genesis 3:15.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:15 English Standard Version

The main problem with using this text to define anything about Mary is that Mary is not found in this verse. The woman here is Eve, not Mary. Yes, Mary is part of Eve’s distant offspring through her descendants, but the only people mentioned in this verse specifically are Eve, Satan, Christ, and God the Father. So we can automatically throw this verse out with having anything to do with supposed sinlessness of Mary.

The other major text used by Catholics for the Immaculate Conception is Luke 1:28

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

Luke 1:28 (ESV)

In this verse they use the term favored one to claim that Mary was sinless. But how do they come to this conclusion?

First we must look at the underlying Greek for the term favored one and see whether or not it means sinless. The term is κεχαριτωμένη, which is pronounced kecharitomene. It is derived from the lemma χαριτόω (charitoo). But what do these words mean, and if they mean sinless, why are they translated as favored one?

The underlying Greek has a meaning of showing kindness, favor, giving grace, showing favor. So translators have gotten it right with favored one. But Catholics focus on one portion of this definition, giving grace. In fact, they argue that Mary was so full of grace that she did not receive original sin because she was “fully endowed with grace perfectly.”

But there is a problem with this viewpoint. First, being fully endowed with grace does not mean that you are sinless. All Christians are full of grace and favored and blessed. That is part of being the elect of God. Ephesians 1:6 uses the same word, charitoo, to describe all believers. Yet, all believers have original sin, and continuing sin that must be dealt with. Mary is no different.

The point is that there is no Scriptural basis for the Immaculate Conception. This is an invention and false doctrine of the Catholic Church. Mary was favored only in the sense that she was chosen to have the very special honor of giving birth to the Savior. She is not to be worshiped, not to be prayed to, she is a sinner saved by grace just like everyone else who is a part of the kingdom.

That’s What Christmas is All About!

As we are in the height of the Christmas season, I think back each year about the true meaning of Christmas. Yes, we have the lights, the gifts, the toys, the FOOD, the wonderful Christmas music. We have parades and parties. We have candlelight services and Christmas plays. But what is Christmas all about? What is the real significance?

It may surprise you that I am not going to say it is not about Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in a manger. That is certainly the main focus of what we remember, but that is not the real meaning and significance of Christmas. That scene is only a small part.

In fact, I do not even focus on Luke 2 at all for the underlying meaning of Christmas. I actually focus on John 1:14.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 ESV

The focus of Christmas is that God the Son took on flesh and became a man. He came into this sinful world to dwell among the wicked human race. He came to live a life that would end in tremendous suffering, pain, and death.

Christ came into this world to die for those who would believe in Him. To save them. To give them eternal life. To keep them from depths of Hell.

That is what we celebrate at Christmas. So, while we have all of our fun with our parties, movies, food, lights, presents, and everything else that goes with Christmas, let’s not forget what the real celebration is all about. After all, in the words of Linus Van Pelt, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”

Will Roe v. Wade Be Overturned?

Yesterday the country was in a stir over a case being heard by the Supreme Court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. Pro-Life conservatives see this as a legitimate chance to finally undo the damage caused by Roe v. Wade back in the ’70s.

But for Christians, this should not even be a debate. All people are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). We are unique among creation. We are the crown jewel of creation in the eyes of the Lord. That does not mean we are perfect, no, we have perverted God’s creation with sin. But there is something to be said about the sanctity of life. Psalm 139 says that God crafted us in our mother’s womb. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. That is not just something a mother gets to destroy because of convenience.

The idea that abortion is about women’s health is shameful, sinful, and wrong. Abortion is about the murder of innocent life. People can try and justify it all they want. But at the end of the day, it is murder. It is a premeditated, intentional, often violent, killing of a human being. It is the most heinous of acts. The situation does not matter. It does not matter if the mother made bad choices or if she was the victim of equally heinous circumstances, she does not have the God-given right to kill an innocent child. Period.

These truths are reality no matter what a court or a legislative body decides.

Christians are hopeful that abortion in this country is stamped out. But even if it is not outlawed legally, we must continue to call abortion what it is, murder. We must continue to support the women who feel like that is their only option by giving them alternatives. We need to be willing to support financially, to adopt, to foster, and to help in any way we can so the unborn can live their lives, a true God-given right.

Does John 3:16 Prove Jesus Died For All?

One of the most controversial subjects in all of theology is the subject of the atonement. For whom did Christ die? Did Jesus die for every person who ever lived or did He only die for those who would place their trust in Him?

One verse that those against the doctrine of limited atonement point to is John 3:16.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 3:16.

The argument is that because of the use of the word world we see that Christ died for every individual who ever lived.

But there is a problem with this assertion. John 3:16 does not say that Jesus died for the entire world. What does the verse actually say? It says God loved the world. But what does world mean?

The Greek word, κόσμον (kosmos) does mean world. And in the context of John 3:16 it is referring to creation. The argument can be made, legitimately, that it is also referring specifically to people of the world. I agree with this assessment. However, that still does not say that Jesus died for every individual.

The next part of the verse says that God gave His only Son. God loved the world and, as a result, He gave his Son up. But for what purpose did He give Christ? It was not to pay for the sins of every individual. At the end of the day, if you argue for Christ dying for all individuals that is your logical conclusion, that He paid for the sins of everyone. No, it says that whoever believes.

Now, I will say that I do not believe that this verse actually deals with the question people try to make it answer. I do not believe it deals with who Christ died for. But we know from other passages, which will not be dealt with in this article, that He laid His life down for the sheep (John 10:15). The only thing John 3:16 tells us is that Christ, at minimum, died for those who would believe in Him.

Breaking Free: 2021

It has been a while since I have written about the United Methodist Church, life has been crazy. But in June of this year our church finally broke free from the church. This was a long time coming as the UMC has lost hold of biblical truths and have decided to follow the world.

The church is going strong. We have a solid statement of faith and a great group of members who love the Lord and love biblical truth. It was not an easy process but one that we decided to go through as we took a stand for truth. God has blessed our efforts!

Book Review: Sanctification

In Sanctification, Pastor John MacArthur reminds pastors of the need to care for the sanctification of those who are under their care. Sanctification, he argues, is an area that is often forgotten in the American church today. He focuses on the calling of pastors to be actual shepherds of their local flocks.

But MacArthur does not only focus on pastors. He calls on individual believers to also work on their sanctification stating that we should be striving to be more Christlike each day.

After making the initial case for sanctification, MacArthur spends the rest of the book discussing what true sanctification looks like in the life of the believer. First, sanctification looks like Christ. Christ was the ultimate embodiment of sanctification as shown in chapter four of the book titled, “Christ, the Embodiment of True Sanctification.”

But MacArthur does not hold punches either. He attacks the thought of many churches and Christians today that we are saved, following Jesus and that is it. He attacks the idea that we don’t really need to pursue total sanctification or that we cannot attain it (noting of course that total sanctification does not happen on this side of Heaven). He attacks the lawlessness of many new Christian movements and attacks the seeker-sensitive ideals that court the ways of the world just to put bodies in the pews. MacArthur makes a plea for the church today to return to a true biblical worldview.

The book finishes by taking a look at what grace really is and what grace really entails. It’s not just a “get out of Hell free card.” Grace means we get a chance to live our lives holy and acceptable and pleasing to God. It is a chance to strive to be like Christ. It is a chance to live set apart from the world.

Overall, Sanctification is a quick an easy read and a refreshing call to the church and believer’s today to live better lives for their king. I give the book four out of five stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

Be Anxious For Nothing

In the past week we have heard many reports about the instability in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Iran. We hear about wars and rumors of wars. We hear about the politics. We hear about imminent attacks. The 24/7 news cycle puts us in a state of fear, anxiousness and worry.

But in these troubled times we need to remind ourselves what Paul said to the Philippian church. Be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6-7).

So what are we to do? The answer is simple. Pray. We are to pray and read the Word of God. We are to rest in His arms knowing that He is the one who makes the decisions. He decides our futures. He decides what will or will not happen to us. Our lives do not rest in the arms (or weapons) of men but of God.

What did Jesus say?

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:26–34 (ESV)

We do not need to worry about what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow will take care of itself. All we need to concern ourselves with is that we are right with God and that we are spreading His Gospel to a weary land.

The Word Became Flesh: John 1:1-18

The Gospel of John

Starting a new series on Sunday Nights on the Gospel of John, David Taylor preaches on the Word became flesh.

The Gospel of John shows the majesty of the deity of Christ. This is found no better than in the opening prologue of the Gospel. Jesus is the Word, the Word is God. That Word, Jesus, is the Light of the world. However, the Word was rejected by most unless they were granted to Him by the Father.

David goes verse by verse through this glorious section of Scripture to bring out the truths of who Christ is, and what our relation is to Him.