Message from Mary
God in these last days is visiting His people in a glorious way through His Spirit. Each Church receives an appropriate message from Christ the Head (Rev 2 & 3). The Roman Catholic Church is the largest single segment within Christendom. Thereís a sound of the wind of the Spirit among the Roman Catholics all over the world. God is impartial. In every nation (and denomination) whoever fears Him and does right is accepted by Him (Acts 10:34,35). But without a clearcut message of salvation, people may be deceived. No one should wake up on the Resurrection morn to an unpleasant surprise. I have brought out here five important lessons on salvation and Christian life from the very words and experiences of Mary. I plead with every Roman Catholic friend to read the following paragraphs carefully.
1. Receive the Gift of Salvation.
Mary said, "My spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour" (Lk 1:47). Mary accepted that she was a sinner and thatís why she called God her Saviour. Only the sick need a physician. Only a sinner needs a saviour. The Bible says, "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23). That "all" includes Mary and Joseph and anyone other than Jesus.
We cannot earn or merit the salvation of God with our religious deeds or social service. "All our righteousness is like filthy rags" (Isa 64:6). Saul was a highly religious man. He was circumcised on the eighth day. He belonged to the stock of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews and a law-keeping, blameless Pharisee (Phil 3:4-7). But whatever was advantageous to him was counted by him as loss for Christ. You also might have been born to Christian parents, baptised in your Church going through all the rituals and regulations of your Church and may be doing your best to live a good life. These and one hundred and one other things will not earn you salvation. The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is "the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph 2:8,9).
The Church will not save you. The priests and your rosary prayers will not save you. Your offerings and participation in Mass will not save you. Christ alone can save you and He does it when you believe on HimóHim alone. Cry to God right now, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" Believe in your heart that Christ died for you on Calvaryís cross and rose again on the third day by the power of God. Receive Him as your personal Saviour by a definite act of faith. "As many as received Christ, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name" (Jn 1:12).
Christ is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5,6). He is the sinless Saviour. A sinner cannot mediate between a holy God and sinful men. Mary lived a God-pleasing life but she was not sinless like Jesus the Son of God. Jesus said, "I am THE way... No one comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn 14:6). And He did not prescribe another way or mediation to come to Him. The idea that we can go to the Son through His mother is entirely human and it is not from God. It is one of devilís master tricks because he is good at adding to what God has said and making it appear harmless. Beware!
Repent and receive Christ today as your Sin-bearer and Saviour and then like Mary you too can "rejoice" in Godís great salvation.
2. Surrender to Godís Word.
Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to Your Word" (Lk 1:38). The "maidservant" is also translated as "handmaid" and "slave." Mary acknowledged the supreme authority of Godís Word and submitted to it as a willing slave even though she did not "understand" what was told her by the angel.
The Bible says God has magnified His Word above all things (Psa 138:2). Heaven and earth will perish but His Word will never! There is no appeal or authority beyond Godís Word. The Bible with its 66 books is Godís Word. It is Godís very voice. Godís Word never changes and God never contradicts His written Word. It is eternally established. Jesus says that the man who builds his life on His words lays a solid foundation and he is a wise man (Mt 7:24-28).
Jesus emphasised the absolute and ultimate authority and verity of the Scriptures several times. Look at these references: "Did you never read in the Scriptures?" (Mt 21:42). "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled...?" (Mt 26:54). "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God" (Mt 22:29).
The Apostles also always turned to the Scriptures for truth and understanding. Peter asserted, "It is contained in the Scriptures..." and "No prophecy of Scripture is of any private origin" (1 Pet 2:6; 2 Pet 1:20). Paul asked, "What does the Scripture say?" (Rom 4:3; 11:2; Gal 4:30). James challenged, "Do you think that the Scripture says in vain...?" (Js 4:5).
Religious traditions, however good they are, must be set aside before the unchanging Word of God. Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for nullifying the Word and commandment of God by their traditions (Mt 15:6; Mk 7:13). Peter says we are redeemed "from" the aimless conduct received by tradition from our fathers, "by" the Word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Pet 1:18,23). The Bible must be first in our lifeónot the Pope or the Bishop or Priests or the Church. The Church gets its authority from the Bible and not vice versa. "In the beginning was the Word"ónot the Church! (Jn 1:1).
Get a copy of the Bible immediately in a good translation and read for yourself Godís message to you. When you receive Christ as your Saviour you become a child of God. Therefore the seed of God is in you. God by His Spirit will teach you His Word and lead you into all truth. Reject anything contrary to the Bible and embrace all that is Biblical. Be bold. God honours those who honour His Word. Your friends may insult and ridicule you. Turn a deaf ear. The devil is afraid of Godís Word and so if he frowns on you, donít be surprised. Memorize selected Scripture passages and use them against the devil when he tempts you. Follow the example of Jesus (Mt 4:1-11).
Christian life is a life of faith and obedience. Believe the promises of God and obey His commandments. If we love God we will obey His commandments and they are not burdensome (1 Jn 5:3). Read the New Testament carefully and mark down the commandments of Jesus. Obey them one by one by His grace and strength. One of the basic commandments of Christ is to be baptized in water (Mt 28:19; Mk 16:16). Peter said the same thing: "Repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38). Any ritual you have gone through before repentance and faith is vain and void. The order is repent and then be baptized; believe and then be baptised. No one has the authority to change Godís order. Go to a Spirit-filled servant of God at once and follow Jesus in the waters of baptism.
When Mary submitted herself to the authority of Godís Word as a willing slave, God used her as a channel of the greatest blessing to mankind. Abraham believed and obeyed Godís Word. He was blessed and he became a blessing to all the families of the earth. Emulate these examples. Maryís distinct message on this point is unmistakableó"Whatever HE says to you, do it!" (Jn 2:5).
3. Be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Mary conceived when the Holy Spirit came on her and the power of the Highest overshadowed her (Lk 1:35). This was an unique and blessed experience. But when Jesus commanded His disciples to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit in baptismal power, Mary was one of the 120 humble and obedient believers who tarried in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14). She received the baptism with the Holy Spirit like the other disciples and spoke in new tongues the wonderful works of God in praise and worship (Acts 2:4). Mary needed the power of the Spirit to witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). She could not do it apart from the power of the blessed third Person of Trinity.
When a multitude of Jews, who were wonderstruck by the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples on the day of Pentecost, asked Peter and the other apostles what they should do, Peter instantly replied that they should repent and be baptized and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. He further said, "The promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:37-39). Yes, beloved, the promise of the Holy Spirit is good for you if you are His child.
We need the power of the Holy Spirit in our life for several reasons: (a) The Holy Spirit makes us "holy." He gives us strength to overcome the temptations of the devil. He produces in us His fruit. He transforms us daily into the likeness of Jesus Christ. (b) The Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible. He leads us into all truth. He opens our eyes to understand the mysteries of God. He reminds us of the words of Jesusóthe right word at the right time. (c) He helps us in our prayers. We do not know how exactly we must pray. He prays from within us. He makes the presence of Christ real to us. (d) The Holy Spirit is Godís Comforter. He encourages and strengthens us in times of trials and sufferings. He quickens our mortal bodies. (e) He enables us to find Godís will and directions for our life. ( f ) The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness for Christ boldly. He gives us His gifts to be used for the blessing of others. (g) In all circumstances He keeps us in the assurance that we are Godís children and all things work together for our good. O, the blessed Holy Spirit!
How to receive the Holy Spirit? Know for sure you are washed by the blood of Christ and have the assurance you are a child of God. Come to Him in prayer with childlike faith and sincere thirst. Mary said, "He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich (that is, those who think they have enough) He has sent away empty" (Lk 1:53). Ask God to fill you according to His promise: "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Lk 11:13). Praying with Spirit-filled believers will be helpful.
4. Worship God in spirit and truth.
Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord" (Lk 1:46). She worshipped the Lord for His might, mercy, strength and faithfulness in keeping the promises. The entire song of Mary in Luke 1:46-55 is one of worship and praise. She worshipped God "in spirit" (v 47).
Jesus has given us a clearcut instruction about true worship: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:24). Any form of idol worship is sin because it is direct disobedience to the commandment of God. One of the main reasons why Godís judgment came on the people in the Old Testament was their sin of idolatry.
The devil has duped Christians down through the ages that worshipping images of Christ or saints is alright. But look at the crystal-clarity of the second of the Ten Commandments: "You shall not MAKE for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not BOW down to them nor worship them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me" (Ex 20:4,5). That nothing is exempted is seen clearly from the repeated use of the word "any." God calls image worship as "iniquity" because it amounts to "hating" Him. Yes, reducing the Spirit-God to the form of a picture or an image is nothing but dishonouring His Name. Nobody photographed Jesus. The portraits of today are simply guesswork and tradition. Paul says pointedly, "From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer" (2 Cor 5:16).
The celebration of Mass is another contradiction of the simple teaching of the New Testament. Christ was crucified once and for all for us and His sacrifice is not to be repeated in any sense, but only remembered spiritually. "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever sat down at the right hand of God and the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us" (Heb 10:10-15).
The Lordís Supper is only to "remember" the Lord with thanksgiving and joy. The bread and wine are just emblems of His body and blood. They remain as bread and wine even after blessing them and it is false to say they actually become the flesh and blood of Jesus. In fact in the early apostolic church there was not even the practice of a servant of God "giving" the bread and wine to the believers. It was a corporate exercise. "The cup of blessing which WE bless... The bread which WE break" (1 Cor 10:16). Christ alone could say, "Take and eat" because it was symbolic of HIS own body and HIS own blood. He did not tell the apostles to "give" bread and wine like Him to the saints, but simply said, "Do" this in remembrance of Me. Itís because, all men, whether ministers or members in the Church, have equal standing before God as "priests and kings" and there is no difference. Also there is no sacred place called altar in the New Testament Church. In the New Testament everything is gloriously spiritual! Why do we need shadows after the reality has come?
Another practice you must forsake is the worship of Mary. She was human, not divine. Her blessedness was a sheer gift of God through His grace and favour. The secret of her blessing was the presence of the Lord with her (Lk 1:28,30). The conception of Jesus was by a power outside of heróthat is, the power of the Holy Spirit which came on her. She had no redemptive virtue, but she looked to God for her own salvation. Worshipping Mary is opposed to the message of the Cross of Christ, because no one is co-redemptrix with Christ. The wise men from the East did the right thing. They saw both Jesus and Mary but they worshipped Him only! (Mt 2:11). They brought three gifts and all were presented to Himónot one to Mary, one to Joseph and one to Jesus! Mariology, that is the doctrine of Mary, is not determined by any reference to the Bible or to Christ. It is an invention of man. "There is a way which seems right to men, but its end is the way of death" (Prov 14:12).
5. Join a fellowship of believers.
One day the brothers of Jesus and His mother came to see Him. Standing outside they sent word and called Him. The huge crowd which was sitting around Him told Him, "Lord, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You." But He answered them, "Who is My mother or My brothers?" And He looked around at those who were sitting with Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and My mother" (Mk 3:31-35).
The word "Church" comes from the Greek word ecclecia which means those called out. Yes the church is the company or fellowship of those who are called out from the idolatrous and adulterous world to serve the living God and follow His will. It is the family of God because the members were once the children of the devil but now the children of God. It is the Body of Christ because each one is an organ by rebirth and incorporation by the Holy Spirit. Look at the following unmistakable commandment of God: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers... What part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God... Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord... I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor 6:14-18).
Say bye to idols. Find a fellowship of believers who sincerely follow the simple teaching of the New Testament and walk in love. Away with dead rituals. Worship with Spirit-filled believers. Your friends and relatives may persecute you for this act. But remember the words of Jesus: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Mt 5:10-12). The Church history is stained with the blood of thousands of believers shed by Romanism because they refused to bow to unscriptural authority but stood for the unadulterated Gospel, proclaiming, "The just shall live by faith!"
Donít hide your new-found faith and joy but share it with others. Though Mary and Joseph could not fully understand Jesus, He gave top priority to God and His kingdom in His life. He said to His parents, "Did you not know that I must be about My Fatherís business?" (Lk 2:49,50). Testifying for Jesus does not mean you must become a pulpit preacher or a fulltime pastor. If you are a student, endeavour to win your fellow students for Jesus. If you are a businessman, influence the business community for God. Everyone without Christ is lostóeternally lost! Think of your responsibility and privilege to lead them to the living water!
Daily prayer and Bible meditation are food for your soul, but witnessing for Christ is the exercise. The more you witness the stronger will you grow. There is no joy like the soulwinnerís joy. Your reward in Heaven will be great. We read in Daniel 12:3, "Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever!"