My Journey to the Catholic Church: Scriptures I Couldn’t Ignore (part 1)

There came a moment in my walk with God, back when I was questioning the reason behind so many denominations and where I fit in all that, in which I asked myself why I believed what I believe. In the past, I simply ignored these scriptures and focused on what I did know, but when God began to reveal to me His Church, there were certain scriptures that I simply could not ignore.

Of course, I have referenced this scripture multiple times in my previous blogs: Matthew 16:18-19 “For I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.”

This verse was pretty much overlooked by myself when I would read my Bible. It didn’t make much sense to me. Once God began to teach me, however, and I truly looked at this verse, it could not be more clear. From everything I know about Jesus, He would not want to ascend back into Heaven without leaving His flock (that’s us, Christians) under someone’s care. He was giving Peter the job to seat in His seat until He returned.

Although Peter was a sinner, He graciously entrusted him to look over His Church and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit make decisions on His behalf, so that Christ’s people may grow and be happy as follower’s. Think about a mother of a young child who has to go to work during the day: she may entrust her child under someone else’s care until she returns. The person who is caring for the child will then follow the mother’s instructions in caring for her child, and if something comes up that the mother did not specify in her instructions, she will make a decision on the mother’s behalf. However, the caregiver is not the mother of the child. In the same way Peter and the modern day pope and bishops are not God, but in Christ’s absence they have the responsibility to guide us and the authority to make decisions on issues that arise over the years, on behalf of Christ and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit over the Church (remember the second part of the verse: “whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven, whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven”)

If I was still skeptical, the prophetic Old Testament scripture that directly mirrors Matthew’s words appears in Isaiah 22:21,22:  I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the House of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

I have always known that the “Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed”, as they say. Much of the words of the New Testament come directly from Old Testament prophecies, and the act of Jesus forming His Church and creating a teaching office and authority is one of them. Notice that in both the Isaiah prophecy and the Matthew recollection, the words “keys” are used. In this time period, “keys” were given to the prime minister when he took office (that is what is happening in Isaiah). Jesus was not handing Peter a literal set of keys, but signifying that He was establishing an actual office, not just a role that was to end when Peter died.

Another Scripture that MAJORLY stood out to me was Matthew 23:2,3: The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. (words of Christ)

A lot of people, myself included at this time in my life, find it hard to believe that the Church that Jesus established can be infallible, because over the years many of the leaders have made grave mistakes. It’s true, many of the leaders of the Church have done ungodly things. One century old example is the selling of indulgences, which was the product of some parish priests and their greed. At this time, there was no media as there is today and it may have taken weeks or even months for the local bishop to get wind of what was going on and take action against the priests, which explains why it seemed to have been condoned. A modern day example is the scandals of priests who have committed molestation. Please understand: neither of these issues are condoned by the Church or a part of Church teaching. These were mistakes made by men. Jesus did not promise that the men themselves would be perfect: indeed, they are sinners just like you and me. Jesus promised that the Teachings of God spoken through the Church, and the Church’s role of sitting in the seat of Christ, would be infallible.  This is the same concept as the fact that the writer’s of the books of the Bible made mistakes, that were just as sinful as the aforementioned mistakes committed by church leaders, but that does not make the Bible any less infallible.

However, just as the pharisees sat in the seat of Moses in the Old Covenant, here in the New Covenant the Church that Christ established, and the teaching office that guides it, sits in the seat of Christ. And just as Christ commanded the Jews to follow the teachings of the Pharisees (just to not follow them in the sinful acts they committed, which were not the teachings of God, or claimed to be), in the same way we as followers of Christ are supposed to respect and follow the guidance and leadership of the God ordained leaders of the Church which sits in the seat of Christ.

One major point of contention Martin Luther had with the Church when he initiated the reformation was the selling of indulgences, which, as mentioned before, were mistakes made by men and not condoned or taught in Church Teachings. I think if Martin Luther and the other leaders of the Reformation would have meditated on this verse and spent more time in prayer about what Jesus meant when He said this, they may have rethought their decision to separate from the Church and create imminent division, which would continue for centuries after his death. Jesus’ words in Scripture were meant to speak to us today. I believe that Jesus’ words to the Jews about obeying the Pharisees who sit in the seat of Moses was also meant for Martin Luther and the father’s of the Reformation.

I’m going to pause here for now. I have several other Scriptures that I’d like to share what God has showed me through them, but I don’t want one post to be too terribly long, so they will come later.

Of course, anyone can take one scripture and interpret it to mean whatever they want it to mean (that is why there are so many different Christian sects), and this fact strengthened my faith in Christ’s Church even more. Christ established a teaching office on Earth and sent His Holy Spirit over it so that what His words would remain consistent. When I realized this, I chose to reject man’s numerous interpretations of Scripture and only believe God’s own interpretation of scripture, which He allowed to be spoken through His Church over three centuries before the New Testament canon was even finalized.

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