Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Sacrifice of the Catholic Mass, and Its Offense to the Gospel

"If anyone saith that the sacrifice of the Mass is only a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, or that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice, or that it profits him only who receives, and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema."
The Council of Trent

The above statement is a quote from the decrees of the Council of Trent, chapter 9, canon 3. This council was called by the Roman Catholic Church to address the crisis created by the budding of the Reformation. It defined, officially and infallibly (Rome claims), Catholic doctrine, in perpetuity. I have highlighted in boldface the key phrases in that statement. They claim for this statement the support of Malachi 1:11, "For from the rising of the sun to its setting, my name will be great among the nations, and, in every place, incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering."

When dealing with Catholic apologists, I find that they consistently claim that the Mass is not a sacrifice. For example, Dave Armstrong writes, "It is crucial to understand that the Sacrifice of the Mass is not a 're-sacrifice' of Christ, as is the common misconception. Jesus does not die every time a priest offers Mass, since He died once, in history, on earth" (A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, p. 95). Yet, he says in the very next paragraph, "in the Mass, Jesus Christ ultimately offers the sacrifice of Himself (just as at the Last Supper), with the priest merely acting in His stead, as a purely secondary, instrumental agent." So, as Trent says, it is a sacrifice, but it's not, because it is Christ sacrificing Himself, not the priest sacrificing Him. To me, that sounds like Rome is trying to play both sides of the matter.

However, whether Christ is supposedly sacrificing Himself, or the priest is sacrificing Him, the claim should be anathema (to reclaim their word) to any true Christian.

The writer of Hebrews (10:5) quotes Jesus Himself, using the words of Psalm 40:6, "Sacrifice and offerings You have not desired." So, in His own words, Jesus is telling us that we do not need a continuing sacrifice, whether offered by Himself, or "with the priest merely acting in His stead." Why is that? Because (Heb. 10:11, emphasis added) "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." The whole point of this chapter of Hebrews is to establish the superiority of Christ's priestly offering of Himself over the Jewish Aaronic priests exactly because their sacrifices had to be repeated. In contrast (Heb. 10:12-14, emphasis added), "when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God..., for, by a single offering, He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." And I think that the final nail in the coffin is seen in verses 17 and 18: "'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.' Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no longer any offering for sin."

By claiming a continuing sacrifice in the Mass, the Catholic Church is claiming that it must complete an insufficiency in the sacrifice of Christ. And, as the writer of Hebrews (10:1) points out, "it can never, by the same sacrifices, that are continually offered every year [or every Sunday], make perfect those who draw near." That is, if the sacrifice must be continually offered, then it is never sufficient to achieve the purpose of sanctification. The Catholic has no assurance that he has partaken in the sacrifice of the Mass enough times to know when he has been saved from his sins.

That is bondage of an horrific sort! That is why the Reformation was necessary! And it is why bible-believing Protestants must never cease to point the finger at Rome and denounce it as a perversion of Christianity.

On which will you rely, Catholic reader? A Savior who gave His life for His people, once for all, or a Mass with nothing but the claims of the Pope, contrary to the Scriptures themselves?

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