Apostolic succession – says who?

Once again, from the Catholic Catechism, we read:

“In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them ‘their own position of teaching authority.'”35 Indeed, “the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.”36

This is a VERY important claim of the Roman Catholic church. But may we ask: by what authority is this claim made? Such an important claim is nowhere found in the Bible. It is true that Jesus taught his disciples to make disciples and teach them to observe all things Jesus commanded them (Matthew 28:19). But this is not the same thing as saying that the church leaders appointed by the apostles would have the same position of teaching authority as the apostles. These church leaders could not and did not write Scripture. Furthermore, many of them clearly disagreed amongst themselves as to what constituted true doctrine and teaching, and they spent a lot of time fighting about what was heresy and what was not. Eventually, the eastern and western branches of the traditional church split and severed completely.

Furthermore, sad to say, it didn’t take more than 100 years from the death of the original apostles for the church to abandon the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to EFFECTIVELY set people free from demons and disease by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, there are exceptions and references to these things in the writings of the early Church Fathers (so-called) but these things were not the rule, but rather the exception. Ecclesiastical power brokers had grieved the Holy Spirit, as many do today, even in pentecostal churches, which are pentecostal in name only in many cases, having squashed the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for many years now.

The church down through the years has not replicated the teaching ministry of Jesus, because very rarely has the institutional church produced men of such character and divine charisma as to be anything like the original apostles or to do as they did. A few shining examples stand out nonetheless, but even most of these men did not demonstrate the same kind of authority over Satan’s works as did the early apostles and disciples.

The source given as 35 in the Catholic Catechism website is ‘St. Irenaeus’. This man was a bishop in the church of Lyon. Church history says he was a disciple of Polycarp, bishop of Smyna, who was in turn a disciple of the apostle John. Some scholars argue that Irenaeus was only a boy when he heard Polycarp preach. We don’t know for sure. Irenaeus DID write some useful theology and did combat the gnostic heresies well. But does that mean all that he wrote is gospel truth? We have a bishop saying, “We were given authority to determine church doctrine”. How do we know that he was precisely and absolutely right on this? Just because he said so? Just because some other church leaders agreed with him? I contend that this Irenaeus was speaking on his own authority here. If you are going to credit his statement with divine authority, on what basis do you do it? Do we have to agree with EVERYTHING this Irenaeus wrote? Just because some religious teacher CLAIMS authority to speak from God does not mean he really has it from God. Did Irenaeus do the same kind of works as Jesus did, which would back up his claim to be a true believer in Jesus Christ (see John 14:12). If not, why not?

The split of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic church is proof that bishops can and do go astray, because they can’t all be correct. All of these guys can trace themselves back to earlier bishops of the church. So why did they end up disagreeing amongst themselves? Because they were not inspired by the Holy Spirit with the same kind of teaching authority as the Scripture writing apostles of Jesus Christ, that’s why.

In contrast to Irenaeus’ ideas about elders never going astray, in the Acts of the Apostles, Paul told the Ephesian elders that some of them would actually speak wrong things and draw disciples after themselves! (Acts 20).

Act 20:30 “Also from among you yourselves will arise men speaking things having been distorted, in order to draw away the disciples after them. “

Paul told Timothy that in the latter times men would depart from the faith and start to forbid people to marry.

1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit explicitly says, that in latter times some will fall away from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
1Ti 4:2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having been seared with a hot iron as to their own conscience,
1Ti 4:3 forbidding to marry, commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who are believers and have come to know the truth.

In the book of Revelation, chapters 1 to 3, Jesus was already revealing to John that some of the churches in Asia Minor (Turkey) were starting to get off course. Jesus threatened to take away their lampstand, if they did not repent. The abysmal state of the church in Turkey today if evidence that this threat was fulfilled.

So much for the idea that being a disciple of an apostle, or the disciple of a disciple of an apostle made one a true teacher in all things. Irenaeus DID combat some deadly gnostic heresies and did teach a lot of truth, but it doesn’t mean he was inspired by God in all his theology or statements.

For example, Irenaeus writes concerning Christ:

So, likewise, he was an old man for old men … Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while he still fulfilled the office of a teacher … those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. … Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2:22:4-6)

Irenaeus seems to be saying here that Jesus was into his forties when he died. So is Irenaeus infallible? I don’t think he is an infallible source for us on doctrine. Seems like he didn’t even always get his facts straight.

The Scripture is a surer source than Irenaeus, and the Scripture warned that an apostasy would and could happen in the church.

If this claim of the Roman Catholic Church about apostles vesting their teaching authority fully in bishops is not fully true, then all the claims of Roman Catholic authority over the faith of true believers also fall. All pretensions of the so-called Magesterium of the church to define the parameters of true doctrine cannot be trusted.

The sad fact of history is that just as the Scribes and Pharisees departed from the pure teachings of Judaism by adding their own traditions, rules and regulations to the Law of Moses (Matthew 15, Mark 7), so church leaders down through history have polluted and corrupted true Christian doctrine and practice by means of various additions and flagrant omissions concerning the practice of Christian faith.This is not to say we can learn nothing from them. But we have to always go back to Scripture and to the witness of the Holy Spirit to test the spirit by which people are speaking. Any Tradition which contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture is clearly in error. It doesn’t matter whether this tradition is found in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical or Pentecostal churches.

This falling away happened gradually, by degrees, and not all at once. The warnings of Jesus in the gospels about clinging to Tradition and laying aside the commandments of God in Scripture ARE THERE FOR A REASON. The significant attention given to the nature of the Scribes and the Pharisees, the “authoritative” religious teachers of Jesus’ days on earth, is ALSO there for a reason. The reason is that you and I can avoid being duped by religious traditionalists who dress up in fancy clothes and pretend authority to speak by the Holy Spirit’s authority when really the source of their authority is actually MEN.

Unless YOU spend a lot of time reading and studying the Scripture, and praying, you are unlikely to be able to tell when a religious teacher is teaching something that cuts across New Testament revelation.

Take the time to seek God for yourself. Don’t just take it on my word or the word of any Bible teacher. Embrace a living faith which produces the fruit of a holy and empowered Christian life, and then the Holy Spirit will further guide you into all truth, just as Christ promised.

What do YOU think?

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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  1. bobmanacop says:

    A strong anti-thesis statement to this topic is by using God’s word followed by comment/s will surely refute their claim. Jesus promised that this infallible successor would abide with us forever: “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;” John 14:16. Jesus being the first Comforter delivered His formal declaration to His disciples about the next Comforter that will take care of us till the end of time, who will come after Jesus is the Holy Ghost, a position no man, not even an angel can and will never ever fill. It has to be someone with infinite power and wisdom, will endure (stay there thru all generations) till the end of time, worthy of praise, honor and worship or else the gates of hell will prevail. Just this verse alone is way way overwhelming that apostle succession is way way impossiblity. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you…” John 14:26. Jesus told His disciples what the next Comforter will do at turnover. “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…” John 16:13. Jesus said the Holy Ghost is the same as the Spirit of truth, “truth” was specified for there many other kinds of spirit like for example as seducing spirits to name one among the many). Let us reasonably discern according to the will of our living God, if the apostolic succession vehemently claimed by RCC is so, Trinity: which every “true Christian” believed will be in vain and that Jesus was replaced by the pope thru Peter’s first succession. That will not work. God will not allow this to happen by preserving His “Pure Word” notably called the Holy Scripture or the “uncorrupted” Bible, to expose all their deceits, lies and wickedness. The Holy Scripture will provide us wisdom to oppose the deep knowledge of the Devil and his demons. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Mathew 28:18 this passage alone will not agree by what RCC said about the pope being the visible head of the church. Jesus still rules His church on earth without vicarship of any man. Obviously the RCC is trying to reason out apostolic succession by false means to make it appear to be true by using bible verses of Matthew 16. There was no formal turnover of overall authority from Jesus to Peter. In military terminology it is called change of command for transferring certain covered or territorial authority. The President of the United States serves as The Commander in Chief of all branches of services on national level only not the whole world. Jesus even rebuked Peter as possessed by Satan for being an impediment and not understanding the will of God but his human side only. Peter lost faith when Jesus said He will resurrect on the third day after being killed under elders, chief priests and chief scribes. In Mathew 16:19 do not take the literal meaning of “keys”, it represent the ministerial knowledge for salvation given for every human being with sincere heart . Jesus’ words to Peter is binding, and to all the disciples, by his ministry of the Word of life, would keep unbelievers outside the kingdom of God; and admit those who believed, for the Holy Ghost will give them power to discern, to preach, convert, heal and reject those with no good intentions. Jesus referred to the hardness of rock will be the foundation of His church He will build and certainly it is not Peter to be the rock foundation as founder just to make apostolic succession appear to be true. Peter will not and cannot stay through all the generations. Jesus Christ is the rock foundation and the Head of the Church for He said “I will build my church”. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder (Mathew 21:44). It means to say if you say a lie about this stone you will have nothing (loose everything includes your salvation) and if you usurp the use of this stone it will pulverize you with its full weight. In Acts 10:25-27 25And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. Peter feared the Lord for he knew he will be in trouble if he allowed that. No angel or man who was loyal to our living God has accepted worship from men even when misunderstood. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men (Acts 14:11). Paul had just healed a crippled man from Lystra in Turkey but Paul quickly responded they were also men. And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: (Acts 14:15). Read this carefully Acts 8:1-28 on the KJV. There was a Samaritan (who was the hidden culprit in this passage) named Simon The Sorcerer or Simon The Magician or Simon Magus as recorded in history undeniably (he is not Simon Peter) who at first believed the gospel but later on was rebuked by Peter for not showing his real good intentions. Simon Magus witnessing the preaching of Philip and Peter in Samaria, saw the potential to “Christianize Pagan Theology”, resulted in the mixture of paganism and Christianity. Every sorcerer is definitely and unquestionably possessed by demons and all kinds of seducing spirits to make people believe. It is forbidden by God in the bible. Upon being detected by Peter by what he was doing Simon escaped to as far as Rome to avoid a curse. Simon Magus, who contaminated Christianity with pagan beliefs and practices with help and approval of other sectors of Christianity in Rome. (local Christians so called his fans) founded a rival universal religion called catholic religion. Corinthians 5:6 says Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? and this is the result, the true Church of God in Rome ceased to exist; and a huge counterfeit , universal church was solidly fixed in place with a successive line of bishops or “popes” tracing their sacerdotal office back to Simon Magus. Simon Magus is not Simon Peter. The Catholic Church was founded on the Primacy of Simon Magus. In fact there was an image or statue of Simon Magus inside St Peter’s Basilica in Rome as an evidence of his primacy. So Simon Magus was the first Pope of Rome for he was regarded there as god by his believers. Intentionally they used Simon Peter to make it look true Christian, attract more people, even Christians for their favorite motto is “One Fold One Faith” in the name of ecumenism. Their main objective is to attain one world religion and world political power, control and rule to enforce the worship of their big boss Lucifer through his son the reigning pope.

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever Psalm 111:10. RCC omitted the second commandment of the Lord and made the tenth into ninth and tenth instead for they fear not the Lord and they fear not the consequence of it found in Revelation 22:18-19.
    18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
    19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
    No matter what they do the word of God is sealed by these respective consequences. These are not threats to scare for these are from written testaments of God, these will surely happen whether you believe it or not.

    “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it; For how should My name be profaned? And I will not give My glory to another…” Isaiah 14:11. Note: glory here refers to worship: being worshipped will not be shared by our God to anyone, not to Peter, not to Pope, not to Virgin Mary, not to any saint, not to any human being and not to any angel but to God alone. “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images…” Isaiah 42:8. God said how you will worship Him, worship God not by any graven images represented to show signs of respect and most certainly worship God not by any graven images represented to worship !!! Remember the second commandment of the Lord, it appears to be their one lie leads to another even if they omitted it. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth…” John 4:24. Jesus said true worshippers worship not by images of any form that represent. Worship God in spirit and truth is worshipping done from (your faith) your sincere heart, mind and soul according to the dictates of the word of God which is the truth. “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven…” Luke 12:10. A good example of this is usurping authority that belongs only to the Holy Ghost and claiming to be God is a clear blasphemy against the Holy Ghost and therefore unforgivable, this is the truth (as was said it is written) this will surely come to pass. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell…” Matthew 10:28. (the invented word “limbo” will stay with them). Let us not forget: mankind and angels are only creatures created by our living God. Satan, his angels called demons and his human partakers called wicked collaborators forgot they also are creatures. No servant is greater than his master. They are aware of these facts and are trying desperately buy their time to gain more accompany. They want to take the whole world for the glory of their lord and master Lucifer. Certainly you do not want to go with them. Come out of Her if you are there. Flee to a true bible believing church. “Add thou not unto his words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar…” Proverbs 30:6. Satan was the first one to do this by adding the word not, telling Eve she will not surely die if she eats the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil found in Genesis 3:4. You may say this exposition is now veering away from the main topic. No, perfectly not, it just largely portrayed the fallacies of the so called apostolic succession as one only of the fruits of successions of lies and deceits against God’s will. This is just the tip of an iceberg. You will know them by their fruits they bear (Mathew 7:15-23) by comparing them with the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:16-23. Satan’s collaborators on earth followed suit without fear of consequence of being thrown into a quagmire. One particular fruit is their doctrine, know all their doctrines and compare it with what the word of God says. To name some other fruits are the Jesuits, the Illuminatis, NWO, Secret Treaty of Verona, Opus Dei, American Jesuit Temporal Coadjutors, CFR, Round Table Groups, Jewish Holocaust, Bilderberg Group, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, American Civil War, the sinking of the Titanic, the arsenic poisoning of William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor, fascisms, communism, nazism, dictatorships, the great depression, current depression, new age movement, control of major media, genocides, subversion, authoritarianism, WW1, WW2, federal reserves bank, Islam, the assassination of JFKennedy, Knights of Malta, death of JFK Jr, slavery, bondage, another gospel, Jews as scapegoats. With PCs several millions of “true Americans” knew all about these facts already otherwise these will not be known by the ordinary people at all. At great white throne judgement we who truly believe will have Jesus Christ as our Advocate. Not a reason to explain when you are judged by the living God for He knew everything that has transpired. Plain and simple that is final. With fervent and unceasing prayers, while there is still time left, let us all true believers (you know who you are) labor together to share and spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ as our only Lord and savior, for all those people who are willing, for those who have their change of mind, who have opened their eyes about this truth. Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty Job 5:1. Apostolic Succession is only an imaginary hope to those who are unwise, fanatics, blinded, scared, blind followers, suppressed and brainwashed. Note this lastly about the word of God: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart…” Hebrew 4:12. Read the Holy Scripture for the Spirit of Truth will reveal you all the truth. John 8:32 says “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Thank you Lord for your word that opened our eyes to know the entire truth leading to our salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

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