Biblical Exposition

Grilled salmon sizzled on his plate as Andy and his family sat down for dinner. No sooner had they crossed themselves to bless the food than the doorbell rang. Andrew dragged himself to answer the door while his family began eating.

Two smiling faces peered in the door. “Good evening, we hope we’re not interrupting your dinner.” Rolling his eyes, Andy responded, “Can I help you?”

door-to-door-salesmanThe first smiling face said, “We are from the local Baptist church and stopped by to see if you are born again.”

Andy had been a Catholic all his life and remembered hearing that phrase somewhere in his past, but at this moment he hesitated. “Well, ahh, I’m a Catholic.”

The second smiling face displayed a hint of glee, “Can we come in and share the Gospel with you?” Andy blurted out, “Actually, we are in the middle of dinner – maybe another time.” “OK”, said the delighted Baptists, “how about next Tuesday evening?”

Andy sighed and agreed. Sitting down to cold salmon, he realized he had his work cut out for him. After dinner, he retreated to his den, grabbed his Bible and Catechism and got to work.

Take a few minutes and study along with Andy as he prepares for the Tuesday visit and the inevitable debate on the much-abused phrase “born again”. Andy started by reading the third chapter of St. John’s gospel. Open your Bible and read along with Andy. Andy began his mission with a barrage of questions.

Is the phrase “born again” in the Bible (Jn 3:3)? Does the Catechism mention this “new birth” (CCC 720, 591)? To understand, Andy thought about Nicodemus. What do Nicodemus and his legalistic system represent (Ro 7:5-6; CCC 1963)? Can the Jewish Law bring new birth and salvation? Is being born of the seed of Abraham sufficient for salvation (Mt 3:8-9; Jn 8:33-47)? What is Jesus bringing to Mankind (Heb 9:15; 12:24; Lk 22:20; CCC 292)?

For the whole article and lesson, click here. Prepare yourself and your children for the inevitable question.

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Since we are on the Mount of Olives today I thought I would address a common concern.

One of our past pilgrims wrote to me expressing an apparent contradiction in the Bible about what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion.

Acts 1:12  “[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.”

Luke 24:50–51  “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.”

So, did Jesus ascend into heaven from the Mount of Olives or from Bethany?

Church of Pater Noster

On pilgrimages, I take my groups to the top of the Mount of Olives to the Church of Pater Noster (the “Our Father”) where Jesus taught his disciples to pray in “the Grotto of the Teaching” — a cave beneath the front of the church. It is here that the oldest traditions inform us that Jesus was raised into heaven. Here Constantine built a church in the early 300’s. Here we celebrate Jesus’ departure and pray the Rosary’s 2nd Glorious Mystery of the Ascension.

Muslim Chapel of Ascension

There is a Muslim mosque five minute’s walk away (called the Chapel of the Ascension) that most Protestants visit but I don’t patronize Muslim sites and don’t accept this as the authentic place of the Ascension.

No one knows the exact square inches where his feet left the ground. But the Church of Pater Noster has the oldest tradition, is on the Mount of Olives and very near Bethany.

If we had had the time, and there was not the big wall separating Jerusalem from Bethany like it does Jerusalem from Bethlehem, in a few minutes we could walked into Bethany from the the top of the Mount of Olives. We used to walk people there to go into the tomb of Lazarus. That is how close Bethany is to the top of the Mount of Olives.

However, I can’t do that with groups anymore because there’s a big wall that keeps us from walking from the Mount of Olives into Bethany.

Bethany is on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about 2 miles from Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley. At the time of Jesus there was nothing on the Mount of Olives but olive trees (even until the late 1800’s, see picture black and white picture from about 1900). If you left from Jerusalem, heading to the Mount of Olives, it was perceived you were headed to Bethany.

 The picture shows that even until the turn of the 20th century there was nothing outside the old walls of Jerusalem. That meant there was just trees and open space between Jerusalem and Bethany. Bethany, though not seen on this map, was on the Eastern slope of the mount.

The other two maps show the proximity of Bethany, the the top of the Mount of Olives and the short distance from the walled city of Jerusalem. Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.  He obviously saw no contradiction in referring to both places as the general location of Christ’s ascension.

It is easily explained this way. First, some suggest that he went as far as Bethany to say good-bye to the family he loved – Lazarus, Mary and Martha, then came back to the top of the mount and departed to heaven. However, there is no need to stretch things that far. Being on the eastern slope of the mount, Bethany is virtually on the Mount of Olives, especially from the perspective of Jerusalem.

If someone asks me where I’m from, I always say “Detroit.” But those who have been to my house know I really live 40 miles east of Detroit in Ypsilanti. But since no one knows where Ypsilanti is – I say “Detroit.”

If there is nothing but trees and bare land on the Mount of Olives and you’re heading east from Jerusalem, people would say you are going to Bethany. Jesus left Jerusalem and went over toward Bethany to ascend into heaven.

So if the geography is understood there is no conflict. Scripture can be trusted.

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A Baptist antagonist claimed he had the proper view of God’s plan of salvation – working through dispensations.

I explained to him the more substantial, biblical and Catholic concept of covenants. I think you will enjoy the chart which makes salvation history easy to visualize and comprehend.

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Hello Jerry:

It was good talking with you on the phone. Sounds like your summer is about as busy as ours. Anyway, . .

. . . . following is a chart describing my understanding of the Catholic teaching on the Covenants, followed by a few paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). They relate to the covenants which I told you I would send over when we talked on the phone the other day.

These paragraphs appear early on in the Catechism and are in the context of the progressive revelation of God to His people. The Catholic Church has always taught the covenants of God are ever-expanding as he reveals Himself to an ever-expanding group of people in His plan to redeem back for Himself members of every tribe and nation.

I have an extra copy of the Catechism which I will give you; it is a fascinating piece of work. The New Covenant, ratified by the blood of Christ Himself, the Creator, brings all parties within the scope of salvation and the New Covenant – Jew and Gentile.

sheepJesus tells us in John 10:16 that “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold [non-Jews]; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice, and they shall become one flock with one shepherd.” Paul tells us that the great mystery is that the plan of God is to include not just the Jew but also the Gentile (Eph 3:3-6) – the whole world.

They would have a new covenant and offer a new and pure sacrifice (Mal 1:11) which has been understood from the first century to refer to the Eucharist: “My name will be great among the nations [gentiles], from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.” (Endnote 1)

Below is a brief overview of my understanding of the progressive covenants by which the Catholic Church teaches that God revealed Himself and brought His redemption to the world. I put it in a table format for ease of reading.

For the chart and the whole letter, click here.

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Is Faith Alone the Basis for the Final Judgment?

February 16, 2019

Dear Jerry: I had no intention of writing you again this soon but after having dinner with your brother the other day and picking up a copy of a booklet you gave him entitled Studies In Contrasts: The Doctrine of Salvation (by Herb Vander Lugt and published by the Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, MI.), […]

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Hundreds of my Audio and Visual Presentations & Radio Shows

February 15, 2019

Some have asked me how to access my talks and radio shows. First, you can search YouTube with “Steve Ray” and there are scores of them for free. We also have a webpage with links to hundreds of past talks, radio interviews, etc. Hope you find them helpful to build and support your Faith in […]

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Pastor Bob “Preaches the Word” (Discussing A Sermon on Baptism)

February 13, 2019

Pastor Bob Preaches The Word (or does he?) By Steve Ray Josh left Sunday services full of excitement, anxious to discuss Pastor Bob’s sermon with his sister Jennifer who had recently converted to the Catholic Church. The pastor had explained how salvation was by “faith alone” and not by rituals and works. He was anxious […]

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Cross vs. Crucifix

February 11, 2019

(A letter Steve wrote to an Evangelical friend asking for an explanation of the Crucifix) Dear Protestant Friend: You display a bare cross in your homes; we display the cross and the crucifix. What is the difference and why? The cross is an upright post with a crossbeam in the shape of a “T”. A […]

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A MUST READ: Cardinal Müller issues Manifesto: A quasi correction of Pope Francis’ pontificate

February 9, 2019

“February 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) (News also released by Catholic News Agency) – Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, has released a Manifesto which reads like a correction of many of the doctrinal errors Pope Francis has taught during his tenure as Pope…. …Pope Francis removed Cardinal Müller from his post as […]

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Catholic Doctrines in Scripture by Topic. Save or print 87- page Resource

February 8, 2019

Catholic Doctrines in Scripture, Compiled by Greg Oatis            Click here for document Introduction                                                          3 Preface                                                                 4 Church Authority and Papal Infallibility                     5 Peter as First Pope                                                 8 Apostolic Succession                                               11 Ordination and Priesthood                                       12 Salvation Not By Faith Alone/Not Assured                  14 Doctrines                                                              21 Free Will                                                              21 Abortion                                                               23  Contraception                                                        24 Homosexuality                                                       […]

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Baptist in a Protestant Bookstore – Interesting Conversation

February 7, 2019

Dear Jerry: I am writing a short letter to thank you for approaching me in the bookstore yesterday to talk, and to make a few comments on our earlier discussion. As always it was fun talking with you Jerry. I always look forward to such times; they are a high point in my week. I […]

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Pictures of the Presentation

February 2, 2019

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. I did a show on Relevant Radio’s Morning Air on the presentation. You can listen to the podcast here. My interview begins 15:15 into the show. It was mandated in the Old Testament because after the exodus God had required the first born son to […]

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My Show on Catholic Answers Live – “Old Testament Saints”

January 17, 2019

We had a great time on Wednesday discussing Old Testament saints. Where were they before Christ died and rose, did Mary have OT heroes, are Adam and Eve saints and much more. I hope you enjoy this podcast. Click HERE to listen to the show. “The patriarchs, prophets, and certain other Old Testament figures have […]

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Who Chose the Books of the Bible? Are the Books “Self-authenticating”?

January 8, 2019

Are the Books of the New Testament “Self-Authenticating” or was the Catholic Church Necessary to Define the Canon of Scripture? By Steve Ray Hello Protestant Friend: I was very happy to receive your twenty-five-page letter which claimed that sola Scriptura (Bible alone) and sola fide (faith alone) were the faith and teaching of the Apostles. […]

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Epiphany? So What?

January 6, 2019

 What is Epiphany anyway? And why should I care? The Feast of the Epiphany – the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus and the Miracle of Cana all combined – is really quite fascinating. It was actually a celebration in the Church long before Christmas was celebrated and eventually overshadowed Epiphany. John Paul II gave 52 […]

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Mass with 2 Protestants and 1 Crucifix

January 5, 2019

A 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 […]

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Debunking 4 Biblical Myths Accepted by Many as True

December 29, 2018

There are three “truths” I have been asked about many times. Often people tell me these as though they’re explaining to me something I’ve never heard before. However, in each case, there is no historical, biblical or actual basis to any three of them. In each case they started being taught in recent times and […]

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