Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

The Father William Most Collection

Jesus Paid for All

[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]

Many today say that Jesus paid for all. Therefore, they claim His work is infinite. I cannot add. I do not need to add. I just believe.

And they add: Where in the Bible can you find anything else?

So they have two points: 1) Bible alone; 2) Jesus paid for all.

We will take up each of these separately.

1. As to the first: we reply: First, such people have no means of proving which books belong to the Bible, or, are inspired. In the first centuries, there were many gospels with name of Apostles on them--they are not inspired. How can one know? There is only one way, and these people do not have it.

So, before they can use the Bible, they must prove what is the Bible. They cannot do that. So if they were logical, they would give up trying to use the Bible.

Furthermore, to try to use the Bible without help is against the Bible:

The Second Epistle of St. Peter, speaking of the Epistles of St. Paul, said in 2 Peter 3:16: "There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do to the other Scriptures."

All Protestants try to claim Scripture is fully clear by itself: they need no help. They contradict St. Peter. And they do twist things.

There is help: 2 Timothy 2:2 told Timothy: "What you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well."--This is making provision for the ongoing teaching of the church to keep people from twisting St. Paul and the other Scriptures. Otherwise, Protestants have to imagine that Jesus said: Write some books - get copies made--pass them out - tell people to figure them out for themselves. -- Then we will fall as Peter warned they would fall.

Rather, Jesus Himself said several times: Luke 10:16: "He who hears you, hear me". In Mt 16:19: after saying He would give Peter the "keys" - a sign of authority - Jesus added: "Whatever you shall bind on earth will be bound also in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth will be loosed also in heaven." There is a similar saying to all the Apostles in Matthew 18:18: "Whatever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in heaven. Whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven." Some Protestants say this authority was given to all, and it means they should preach justification by faith. There are three things wrong: 1) We know historically how the words bind and loose were understood in the time of Christ. They meant a decision by authority as to what was right or wrong. 2) These words bind and loose never meant preaching justification by faith - no hint of that at all in the text or context. Two fine Protestant scholars, W. F. Albright (in his day often called "Dean of American Scripture scholars) and C. S. Mann, in their commentary on St. Matthew in Anchor Bible (p. 198) wrote: "Peter's authority to 'bind' or 'release' will be a carrying out of decisions made in Heaven. His teaching and disciplinary activities will be similarly guided by the spirit to carry out Heaven's will." 3) Peter is given the keys, a sign of authority. The keys are not given to all, not even to all the Apostles. -- Therefore to refuse to recognize the teaching authority to bind and loose of Peter and the Apostles and their successors is to go against the Bible. The result is what St. Peter warned of (2 Pet 3:16):"The ignorant and the unstable twist them to their own destruction, as they do also the other Scriptures."

This same grant of authority is repeated at the Last Supper in John 13:20 to the Twelve: "He who receives the one I send receives me: he who receives me, receives the One who sent me." He spoke only to the Apostles, who were the only ones present. For people today to ignore this grant of authority is to contradict the Bible.

Again not long before the ascension (Mt 18:18-20): "All power is given me in heaven and on earth. So go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world." - So Jesus commanded them to go and teach -- He did not tell them to write some books, pass out copies, tell people to figure them out for them selves. To do what would result in what St. Peter warned about: The ignorant and the unstable twist them to their own destruction as they do also the other Scriptures."

To suppose the Church was so far from having they help of Christ, which He promised until the end of the world, that it for most of its existence it could teach a false way to salvation - this makes nonsense of the promise of Christ to be with them all days. And then to suppose an immoral man like Luther was the one to put the church right- this staggers the imagination.

The first Christians understood this grant of authority well. In Acts 2:42 the people "devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles." They did not establish Bible study groups to figure things out for themselves - they would then "twist them to their own destruction." Acts 5:13 also reports: "No one of the rest dared to join himself to them [the Apostles] but the people magnified them."

He who rejects those to whom Christ gave authority to teach, and tries to teach himself is indeed ignorant - ignorant of the Gospels -- and unstable - and twists things to his own destruction.

In John 20, right after the resurrection Jesus told the Apostles: "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you shall retain they are retained." This was spoken to the Apostles only. There is no hint it meant just preaching justification by faith. Rather, the Apostle would need to learn - by confession - the state of a soul, so as to know whether to forgive or to retain.

2. Jesus paid for all. His merits are infinite. So I cannot add. I do not need to do anything.

BUT: Even the Bible says there is more to it than that:

Romans 8:17: "We are heirs of God, fellow heirs with Christ, provided that we suffer with Him, so we may also be glorified with Him." This is part of the large syn Christo theme ("with Christ") of St. Paul. Cf. Rom 6:3-8 - we are baptized into His death, and so should rise with Him. Col 3:1-43: Since we have been raised up with Christ, we must think of the things that are above. Cf. Ephesians 2:5-9.

So can we just settle down and do nothing, saying Christ paid for all? St. Paul - if anyone ever took Christ as his Savior it was Paul - wrote in 1 Cor 9:27: "I chastise my body and lead it into subjection, so that after preaching to others, I may not be rejected at the scrutiny." Even after his heroic work for Christ, Paul knew His body might lead him into sin, and so he could lose salvation. In 2 Cor 10 Paul gives a long list of prefigurations, forecasts in action, of things in the NT. The original people of God had these, but that was not enough- God was displeased with and slew many of them.

Similarly Paul warned the Galatians (Gal 5:16-25) that they must follow the Spirit or they do not belong to Christ (cf. Rom 8:9). And Paul gave them two checklists in that passage to see which way they were living. It as not enough just to have taken Christ as their Savior.

In 1 Cor 6:9-10 Paul gives a list of the chief great sins and sinners and warns they who do such things "will not inherit the kingdom of God." So it was not enough to take Christ as their Savior.

We note too the word inherit which Paul uses several times, in the context of saying God is our Father. We indeed can get heaven without earning it, it is our inheritance, since we by grace are transformed into children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19 and 3:16). But we could earn to lose it: Romans 6:23: "The wages [what we can earn] of sin is death, the free gift of God [what we do not earn} is eternal life."

How does this all fit with the fact that Jesus earned all forgiveness and grace? Not difficult. It is one thing for Him to earn it, another for me to be open to receive it. He of course can specify what is needed for me to receive. He has done that through the Bible, which shows me how to be open to receive.

What of the Mass? It does not, need not earn all forgiveness and grace. That was done once for all on Calvary. But it obeys His command, "Do this in memory of me." Why? He wanted us to have a place to join our dispositions of heart with His, for as we explained, that is needed for us to receive what He wants to give. We learn from Isaiah 29:13 what sacrifice is. God complained that this people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. So we see a sacrifice entails two things, outward sign, and interior dispositions. The outward sign is there to express and perhaps promote the interior. On Holy Thursday the outward sign was the seeming separation of body and blood, to express His obedience to the will of the Father that He should die the next day. On Friday the sign was the physical separation of body and blood, still expressing the same interior disposition of obedience. In the Mass He is present with the same interior disposition of His Heart, so we may join with Him, to become open to receive what He wants to give. It is a sacrifice not that He dies again, or earns again what was bought and paid for, but that He provides the means of giving out what He once paid for.

It is not that we earn salvation by our own power - not at all - but it is His will that we join with Him - cf. the syn Christo theme, with Christ. Insofar as we are not only His members but like Him we get in on the claim He generated, as His members who are like Him. Cf. Romans 8:17: "We are heirs together with Christ provided we suffer with Him so we may also be glorified with Him." And cf. Mt. 16:24:" If anyone wills to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Cf. also Mt. 10:38.



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