Churches up and down the country will be holding special Christmas services throughout the month of December, but the Church of Ireland in Ballymoney will make use of this time of year to strengthen ecumenical relationships with the Roman Catholic Church.
An “inter-denominational” carol service was held in the County Antrim town on Monday, 3rd December.
It started, as so often is the case with ecumenical events involving travelling between churches, in the Protestant church, in this case St Patrick’s Church of Ireland, before finishing up in the Roman Catholic church, in this case Our Lady and St Patrick’s.
Even the name of that Roman Catholic church should have been sufficient to dissuade any so-called Protestants from going near it, as it alludes to the unscriptural veneration of Mary which is a key characteristic of Roman Catholicism.
Rome teaches Mary is to be prayed to as she intercedes on our behalf with Christ and that she herself was immaculately conceived and was without sin, taking characteristics which alone belong to Christ and transplanting them on to a sinful (for we are all sinners), though saved and honourable woman.
When the angel told Mary that she was blessed among women, this seems to have been taken as a free rein by Rome to invent all manner of lies and blasphemies surrounding her, lies which would be appalling to her.
Let’s see what Mary said about herself in Luke 1:46-47: “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
If Mary were without sin she would not have needed a saviour, but she has personally stated how she rejoiced in the God Who saved her.
Prayer to Mary is utterly unbiblical as well, with 1 Timothy 2:5 clearly stating our prayers are to be addressed to God and no other.
1 Timothy 2:5 says: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”.
So, before one even considers entering that church, there is a huge theological difficulty already facing anyone taking part in or attending that event.
When one considers the event itself, there can be no Scriptural defence for attending or participating in such a service.
Christmas carol services are, ostensibly, supposed to celebrate the incarnation of God the Son, one of the three persons of the Godhead, as man.
His purpose, as outlined to his earthly father, Joseph, in Matthew 1:21 was to “save his people from their sins”.
1 Timothy 1:15 says that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” and Ephesians 2:8-9 explains that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works that we have done.
The Bible’s own exposition of the way to eternal life runs entirely contrary to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
Rome teaches that works are necessary for salvation, despite the Bible also driving home the opposite message again in Titus 3:5-7: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
We are justified, or made righteous in His sight, by His grace and our salvation comes not by works of righteousness which we have done.
Rome teaches that church attendance, paying into the church and following its sacramental system will get you into heaven. The Bible knows nothing of such meritorious ritual.
In David’s great Psalm of penitence, this theme is touched on, when he says in Psalm 51:16-17: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
What God truly wanted from a soul seeking forgiveness was a broken and a contrite heart, not religious formalism, which, sad to say, Rome abounds in.
That same point is made by God through his prophet in Amos 5:23-25: “Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?”
The children of Israel didn’t observe the Passover while they were in the wilderness, yet God desired righteousness far more than empty sacrifices.
Worse still, there are overtly blasphemous sacrifices carried out by Rome in the name of Christ, and it is done thousands of times every day around the world.
In particular, there is the Mass, where Rome blasphemously holds that the elements of bread and wine are actually transformed into the body and blood of Christ, making a sacrifice of Him again and again and again.
This is clearly a perversion of God’s Word, as we are told in Hebrews 10:10-12: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.”
That being the case, why does St Patrick’s Church of Ireland in Ballymoney seek to engage in worship with that which is contrary to God?
It would be a question for them to answer, as they lead their followers into Rome’s clutches in a polluted celebration of the incarnation of Christ.
Their minister, Rev Andrew Sweeney, has serious questions to answer for leading his parishioners into fellowship with Rome.
His duty as a minister is to sound the alarm and warn the people of the dangers they are facing.
When he fails to do that, and indeed leads them into fellowship with the enemies of Christ and deniers of his wonderful salvation, then he is guilty of a grievous folly.
He, and all other ministers tied up in ecumenical conduct, need to remember the words spoken through Ezekiel by God.
Ezekiel 3:17-19 says: “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”
The blood of the unsaved and unwarned is on the hands of any preacher who fails to perform his duty to protect the flock.
Dear reader, don’t let your blood be on the hand of a preacher who has failed in his duty to warn you against the sins of the age and failed to direct you in the proper way to Christ.
Instead, challenge any worker of ecumenism and apostasy whose ministry you have had the misfortune to be sitting under and earnestly contend for the faith.
1 Samuel 2:30: “…for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”