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An open letter to Mr. Stephen A. Baldwin, Actor, and “born again” Christian.
Dear Mr. Baldwin,
Praise God, you have become a strong voice in winning souls for Jesus as one who has experienced the saving grace of the Redeemer. May you always use your notoriety to spread the Good News.
It has been my experience that when an individual submits themselves to Christ, they undergo a deep conversion of heart. A tremendous weight is lifted, and they receive a sense of inner peace and joy. There is also the need to share this wonderful experience with others in the hope that they too will come to know Him intimately.
“Jesus said to them, … “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
What an extraordinary promise — Believe in Him and we will have eternal life.
But, what does it mean to truly believe in Him? Does it not mean that we must believe that everything He said is true? Does it not mean that we must be in total submission to His will in our lives? Does it not mean that we must obey His every command?
Many Christians believe that when Jesus died on the Cross He paid the ultimate price for all of man’s sins and therefore nothing is required of us except making a “personal commitment to a personal savior.” Let’s take a more in-depth look at what the New Testament Scriptures teach on this subject.
Belief is necessary.
Rom. 10:9, “Because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
We must do God’s will.
Matt 7:21, "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
We must obey Jesus.
John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.”
Baptism is necessary for salvation.
John 3:5, “Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
See also: Mark 16:16; Titus 3:5-8.
We must also love God completely and our neighbor as ourselves.
Luke 10: 25-28, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live."
We must keep the Commandments.
John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
See also: Matt. 19:16-17,
Good works are necessary for salvation.
Romans 2:7, “For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
See also: James 2:14,26; Phil 2:12.
We must hold out to the end.
2 Tim 2:12-13, “If we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself.”
See also: Mark 13: 13; 1 Cor 10:12, 27.
I write to you as one Christian to another in order to share with you the opportunity to experience a deeper dimension of intimacy with our Lord and Savior.
We must also eat His body and drink His blood.
Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." (John 53-59).
Would Jesus command us to do something impossible? Jesus would have had to have made some provision for His followers to carry out the command to “eat His flesh and drink His blood”.
One of the fundamental differences between Catholics and the hundreds of different denominations is how the above verses are understood.
Isn't it true that all Christians are taught to interpret the Bible literally, except where the use of symbolic or figurative language is obvious? So the issue is: “Did Jesus really mean that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood?”
“The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52).
The fact that the Jews questioned the words of Jesus tells us that they understood Jesus’ words literally.
The Catholic Church has always taught that Jesus was speaking literally, and this can it be proved by the Bible and Church history.
Let us begin with the creation story in Genesis 1:1-31:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
And God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so.
And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.
And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so.
And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so.
Everything God said came to pass.
"So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is the Word, and the Word was and is God (John 1:1).
As God, Jesus performed numerous miracles. He cured the sick, gave sight to the blind, made the deaf to hear, and raised people from the dead. Whatever He declared came to pass.
Jesus declared that His flesh is real food: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (Jn. 6:51; 53-55).
During the Last Supper, as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Lk. 22:19-20).
Who, not what, was Jesus holding in His sacred hands at that moment? He was holding Himself! At that moment, the bread became His Body, simply because He said it was His Body.
He then took a cup of wine and declared it to be His Blood.
Once again, Jesus held Himself in His own hands! At that moment, the wine became His Blood, simply because He said it was so.
I repeat, As soon as he declared the bread and wine to be His Body and Blood, they became His Body and Blood. As you may know, Catholics call this food Eucharist.
He then commanded His disciples to do the same, “Do this in remembrance of me”, thereby empowering them to do so. This was the beginning of the New Covenant Priesthood.
St. Paul was certainly a believer in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist:
And St. Paul said, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
And St. Paul said, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27).
And the Early Church Fathers said,
Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of the Apostle John for over thirty years, before suffering a martyr’s death in the arena in Rome.
And St. Ignatius of Antioch said, “Pay close attention to those who have wrong notions about the grace of Jesus Christ, which has come to us, and note how at variance they are with God's mind. They care nothing about love: they have no concern for widows or orphans, for the oppressed, for those in prison or released, for the hungry or the thirsty. They hold aloof from the Eucharist and from services of prayer, because they refuse to admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins and which, in his goodness, the Father raised [from the dead]. Consequently those who wrangle and dispute God's gift face death” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 6, 19-20, [ca. A. D. 104 / 107]).
And St. Ignatius of Antioch said, “You should regard that Eucharist as valid which is celebrated either by the bishop or by someone he authorizes. Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church”. (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8, [ca. A. D. 104 / 107]).
And St. Ignatius of Antioch said, “Be careful, then, to observe a single Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and one cup of his blood that makes us one, and one altar, just as there is one bishop along with the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow slaves. In that way whatever you do is in line with God's will” (Letter to the Philadelphians, 4, [ca. A. D. 104 / 107]).
And St. Ignatius of Antioch said, “Try to gather together more frequently to celebrate God's Eucharist and to praise him. For when you meet with frequency, Satan's powers are overthrown and his destructiveness is undone by the unanimity of your faith” (Letter to the Ephesians, 13, [ca. A. D. 104 / 107]).
“You must not let anyone eat or drink of your Eucharist except those baptized in the Lord's name. For in reference to this the Lord said, ‘Do not give what is sacred to dogs’" (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, Commonly Called the Didache, [ca. 70 / 80 A. D.]).
St. Justin Martyr:
Justin Martyr, an early Church Father (105-165 A. D.) is the first person to furnish us with a complete description of the Eucharistic celebration (c. 150). He speaks of it twice, first in regard to the newly-baptized and secondly in regard to the Sunday celebration.
And St. Justin Martyr said, “But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to ge'noito [so be it]. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion” (I Apol. 65).
Justin goes on to specify that the bread that has been consecrated by the prayer formed from the words of Christ.
“And this food is called among us Eucharisti'a [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn” (I Apol. 66).
A second description of the Eucharist complementing the first is found a little later in his Apology with regard to the Sunday liturgy.
“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration” (I Apol. 67).
St. Irenaeus of Lyons
And St. Irenaeus of Lyons said, “And just as the wooden branch of the vine, placed in the earth, bears fruit in its own time-and as the grain of wheat, falling into the ground and there dissolved, rises with great increase by the Spirit of God, who sustains all things, and then by the wisdom of God serves for the use of men, and when it receives the Word of God becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ-so also our bodies which are nourished by it, and then fall into the earth and are dissolved therein, shall rise at the proper time, the Word of God bestowing on them this rising again, to the glory of God the Father” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, [Inter A. D. 180 / 190]).
It is clear from the words of Jesus, St. Paul, and the Early Church Fathers that Jesus meant it when He said that we must eat His body and drink His blood.
There is an avalanche of evidence is support of the Catholic understanding and absolutely none to support the Protestant contention. Jesus was not speaking symbolically. The only refutation offered by Protestantism is opinion, as no proof exists.
To be fully Christian is to believe in these words of Jesus and come home to the Catholic Church. There is no greater intimacy than eating His flesh and drinking his blood.
I invite you return to your Catholic roots and invite all “Bible Christians” to explore the truth of Catholicism.
Jesus came that we may have life, and have it abundantly. This can only be fully experienced in the Catholic Church.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of Christian service.
In the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Victor R. Claveau, MJ
The Evangelization Station
P.O. Box 267
Angels Camp, CA 95222