Biblical Exposition

Salvation by Faith Alone?

by Steve Ray on July 30, 2015

Since the days of Martin Luther it has been popular to reduce salvation to a sound bite. Salvation is not by works but by “faith alone.”

However, the Bible seems to have another idea. In my book CROSSING THE TIBER I mention a few passages from Scripture to give a more biblical perspective.

Here is a section from page 100 in my book:

“One last comment, even though it will be discussed in more detail later: there is no attempt here to pit baptism against faith, or belief against baptism.  Things are rarely that simple.  Faith and baptism are two sides of the same coin.  Are we saved by faith or by baptism?  Are we saved by believing or by the Spirit?  These are false dichotomies that should have no place in our thinking.

screen-capture“How does one receive salvation, justification, new birth and eternal life?

By believing in Christ (Jn 3:16; Acts 16:31)?
By repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Pet 3:9)?
By baptism (Jn 3:5; 1 Pet 3:21; Titus 3:5)?
By the work of the Spirit (Jn 3:5; 2 Cor 3:6)?
By declaring with our mouths (Lu 12:8; Rom 10:9)?
By coming to a knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim 2:4; Heb 10:26)?

By maintaining the faith (Col 1:22-23; Mt 24:13)?
By works (John 5:28-29; Rom 2:6, 7; James 2:24)?
By grace (Acts 15:11; Eph 2:8)?
By his blood (Rom 5:9; Heb 9:22)?
By His righteousness (Rom 5:17; 2 Pet 1:1)?
By His cross (Eph 2:16; Col 2:14)?

“Can we cut any one of these out of the list and proclaim it alone as the means of salvation?  Can we be saved without faith? without God?s grace? without repentance? without baptism? without the Spirit?  These are all involved and necessary; not one of them can be dismissed as a means of obtaining eternal life.  Neither can one be emphasized to the exclusion of another.  They are all involved in salvation and entry into the Church.  The Catholic Church does not divide these various elements of salvation up, overemphasizing some while ignoring others; rather she holds them all in their fullness.

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The Holy Family Ate those Pesky House Sparrows

by Steve Ray on July 12, 2015

The Holy Family was not wealthy. When you had a firstborn son in Israel you were required to take a lamb to the Temple for the redemption of your firstborn son but if you were poor you could take to turtledoves instead. Mary and Joseph took the two turtledoves or pigeons which demonstrates they were not a wealthy family (Lk 2:24).

Another food that was common among the people of Israel and the Middle East, and still is today, were grasshoppers, locusts and crickets.

According to the law of Moses insects and swarming things were unclean. But of all the insects these three were kosher (Lev 11:22). These were the crickets, locusts and grasshoppers. John the Baptist would not have eaten them if they were not clean according to the law of Moses. But we know that he did eat them (Mt 3:4) and so did I

Janet and I were sitting on our back porch yesterday morning drinking our coffee and discussing the Mass readings for the day. Jesus said “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny…”

I am mediately interrupted my reading and said to my wife, “Why would anyone sell two sparrows? And why would anybody want to buy them?” This sent me on a quest. 

My first bird book when I was a kid

My discovery amazed me!

My father moved us out to the country in 1961. I was only six years old when we moved to a little farm forty miles west of Detroit Michigan. My father instilled in me a love for watching birds and I have been an avid birdwatcher around the world ever since. I still have my books from 10 years old marking the dates and list of all the birds I’ve seen and when I saw them. 

One of the birds that we find everywhere and I’ve always called it a “rat with wings” was the ubiquitous House Sparrow. They always destroyed the eggs of the beautiful Bluebirds in the bluebird houses we had built. In every way we have considered them pests and I cannot recall how many I have shot with my pellet gun.
That all changed yesterday morning when my wife and I were drinking our coffee and reading the daily readings of the Church.

With Jesus’s words about sparrows being sold two for a penny or three for two pennies (Mt 10:29; 12:6) my questions popped up.

My first inquiry was what the word “sparrow” meant. I discovered the word was usually used generically for any small bird, but presumably and most likely the House Sparrow (passer domesticus) which originated in the Middle East! Surprise, Surprise! They are a biblical bird! I was always under the impression they were from Europe, but nope. They immigrated to Europe and America.

My second inquiry was “Why would anyone want to buy the sparrows?” And then I found the big surprise — they were used as food by the poor people among the Jews because they were considered a clean food — kosher. Entrepreneurs would trap them and sell them. The purchaser would kill them, pluck them and cook them.

According to a popular Jewish commentary on Deuteronomy we read, “In practice, only a limited number of birds (and their eggs) are considered permissible [kosher]: chicken, capon, Cornish hen, turkey, domestic duck and goose, house sparrow, pigeon, squab, palm dove, turtledove, partridge, peacock, and, according to some authorities, guinea-fowl, quail, and what is today called pheasant.” Jeffrey H. Tigay, Deuteronomy, The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996), 139.

Emperor Domitian had a special price limitation on food items and the sparrows were the cheapest among those food price limitations he set. 

 

Sparrows on skewers for cooking

Sparrows were sold in the marketplace and eaten frequently enough for Jesus to mention them as something that everyone would commonly know. Sparrows were eaten as a common food. 

I found lots of quotes from historical sources but way too many to add here. 

But one thing is for certain, we have very little idea of the Holy Family’s day-to-day living and what they experienced  000 years ago — and what they ate. Grasshoppers, sparrows…?

Next time I have all the grandkids here at our home — I doubt they’ll eat the grasshoppers — but I’ll bet they enjoy the sparrow pie – especially if I don’t tell him what’s in it :-)

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I was excited about my appearance today on the Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio.

We  discussed the RAINBOW – what it is physically, what it symbolizes, it’s biblical use and it’s perversion by modern less-than-savory groups.

I have had a great time researching this today and was anxious to share my findings, musings, and conclusions.

You can listen to the archived show on-line HERE. My interview begins at 29 minutes 30 seconds into the recording.

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Catholic World Report Interviews Steve Ray on his new Documentary “Abraham, Father of Faith & Works”

June 5, 2015

This was a very comprehensive interview with Carl Olsen. Enjoy! To get the movie, visit SteveRaysStore.com. Click on the image below to go to the full article.  

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Steve and Liz in Roman Forum Discussing Ancient Rome and the First Christians – and Biblical Literacy

May 31, 2015

I have provided two short 6 minute video clips of me (Steve Ray) and Liz Lev as we talked to my group in the Ancient Rome Forum today.  First, Liz spoke about the clash of empires: the Roman Empire and the Kingdom of God. The key line is this: Rome had just claimed that the [...]

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Mary, Ark of the New Covenant & the Visitation to Elizabeth

May 31, 2015

Read my article about Mary, typology and reading the Bible with the Fathers of the Church and the Visitation. It was published in Catholic Answers Magazine. Click on the image or HERE for the whole article.

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Crap, Castration & Two Creations – Colorful New Testament Wording

May 30, 2015

We miss a lot when reading the English Bible. We’re at a great disadvantage. The early Christians read the writings of the apostles in the original language – they understood the words and expressions must better than we do. The original language of the Bible is full of rich imagery, stark reality, and colorful terminology. [...]

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Jesus Was A Jew – So What is That To You?

May 24, 2015

 Jesus was a Jew. This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus and the book written about him—the Bible. Unhappily, in 21st century America we are far removed from the land of Israel and the ancient culture and religion of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors.  [...]

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Mary, Queen of Heaven

May 22, 2015

A while ago a man called in to say my argument for the Assumption of Mary including references from the Old Testament was wrong. I had quoted 1 Kings 2:19 where Solomon had raised his mother up to a throne to be Queen of the Kingdom. He said that was the ONLY case of a [...]

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Interesting Explanation of Baptism from Protestant Dictionary – “baptism…in itself is unimportant”

May 20, 2015

I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they [...]

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Are You Born Again?

May 19, 2015

 Since we are all renewing our Baptismal Vows at the Jordan River today, thought this post from a year ago might be appropriate :-) It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way – with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following: 1) The [...]

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Stop Eating Animals! It is Against the Plan of God!

May 12, 2015

IF YOU EAT ANIMALS YOU ARE VIOLATING THE PLAN OF GOD. YOU SHOULD BE A VEGAN AND EAT NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, INCLUDING FISH, EGGS, MILK, YOGURT, LOCUSTS OR MEAT. IS THIS **REALLY** GOD’S PLAN? MY RESPONSE TO A VEGAN CRITIC (updated 4/22/11) The original blog and comments An added comment. It was asserted that many [...]

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Luke’s Gospel: Greek Physician, Historian & Friend of Mary

May 8, 2015

Her face shone as she related the stories—the words were vibrant, and though older now, her memory was excellent. He sat enraptured as she brought the past into living color. He had traveled a long way to see her and he sat motionless, with furled brow, taking careful notes on his parchment. He spent hours [...]

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Interesting Pictures of Mary – Can You Figure them Out?

April 16, 2015

Question 1 Do you understand why this is a picture of Mary? (Hint: Catechism paragraph no. 724.) Question 2 Is Moses kneeling to worship the bush? Question 3 Why is the picture to the left a “statue of Mary” (Hint: Heb 9:4)? Question 4 What is in the womb of Mary? (Hint: Jn. 6:48-50; Jn. [...]

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Meet St. Paul as he Writes to the Romans; A Brief Study to Make it Easy

April 12, 2015

I love St. Paul and love to write about him and his epistles. I also enjoyed traveling through six countries filming his life story and theology. St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is often seen as impossible to understand except by theologians — and most skip right over this masterpiece. With hopes that you will [...]

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Did Catholics Invent Pilgrimages?

April 7, 2015

No, it was something the Holy Family did at least once a year! Look what the Catechism says: “[Jesus'] public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts” (583). And the Psalmist wrote: “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage” (Psa 119:54 in RSV-Catholic [...]

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