MT. HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17

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Letter 1 - Edward Gratsch Replies To John Niehaus


May 26, 1982

Dear Mr. Niehaus,

  I received the letter which you sent me recently. It reflects much
thought. Two comments come to my mind after reading it.

  I believe with all my heart in the sufficiency of Christ's death on
Calvary. The Mass adds nothing to it. But it is through the mass, the
memorial of Christ's death, that I unite myself to his death and share in
its sufficiency. The Mass is, as it were, a channel communication to me
the merits of Christ's death.

  In the first three gospels Jesus refers to the consecrated bread and
wine quite matter of factly as his body and blood. The Council of Trent
called this change transubstantiation. When Jesus spoke of the
consecrated liquid in the cup as the fruit of the wine (Mt. 26:29),  
he was using a common literary device to designate the origin of that which had been changed.
Cordially,
  Edward Gratsch                           Top

Letter 2 - John Niehaus Replies to Edward Gratsch


June 1, 1982

Dear Rev. Edward Gratsch,
  
  Thank you for your reply, dated May 26, 1982. I am always glad for
any response to my literature.

  You seem very sincere, but you are placing your hopes for eternity
upon that which cannot save. It is unfortunate that you are misleading so may people; especially when you yourself are, by your action, proving the invalidity of the central act of your Church- the Mass.

  If the Mass could validly apply the Infinite merits of Christ's
sacrifice to men, of application, by one Mass, would suffice for eternity
since His salvation is perfect. The fact that you offer Mass for the same
people every Sunday proves that last Sunday's Mass was invalid, for it
accomplished no Divine Eternal work. Repetition proves incompleteness. The Mass can only say, "This will be continued," Jesus said, "It is finished." Hebrew 10:12,14,17,18 testify to the unique completeness of His work, a work which can never be continued, repeated, or re-enacted.

  Matthew, chapter 26, verse 29, reads" "But I say unto you, I will
not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I
drink it new with you in my father's Kingdom." The verse said, "fruit of the vine" not "fruit of the wine". Christ never drank any wine at the
Last Supper. Isaiah 65:8 says that new wine is found in the cluster, thus
grape juice was used at the Lord's supper not fermented liquor.

  If that wine you took at Communion is real blood, and you drank it,
do you know what you would be doing? You would be violating the entire Word of God. Three times God told you not to put blood in your mouth (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14; Acts 15:29). If you eat Jesus Christ on Sunday and then have to eat Him again on the next Sunday, what happens to Him in between times? John 6:53-54 says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you...whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life." If you have eternal life by eating His flesh and drinking His blood, how come you have to go back every Sunday and eat Him again?

  Salvation is a present possession (Ephesians 2:8,9), it is not a
future aspiration, you can have instantaneous salvation right now. What you have to do is receive what God did for you, and He did it once, finally, for all, for ever, and it is finished, and it is perfect. By His death on Calvary, Jesus Christ accomplished all that is necessary for your salvation.

Very sincerely yours,
    John Niehaus                            Top


Letter 3 - Edward Gratsch Replies To John Niehaus


June 4, 1982

Dear Mr. Niehaus,

  Again two thoughts come to my mind in response to your letter of
June 1st.

  As I said, I believe in the sufficiency of Christ's death on Calvary. I apply the infinite merits of Christ's death to myself through the Mass which is the memorial of his passion and death. I celebrate the Mass regularly not because Christ's death or the Mass are insufficient in some way, but because I am a sinner and I must regularly cleanse myself of newly committed sins.
                                   
  In my previous letter to you I wrote "fruit of the wine." I mean to
write "fruit of the vine" (Mt 26:29). A slip of the typewriter. I am
confident that Jesus used wine at the Last Supper because he ate in the
context of a Jewish paschal meal for which wine was required.

Cordially,
   Edward Gratsch                          Top

 
 
 

Letter 4 - John Niehaus Replies to Edward Gratsch


June 10, 1982

Dear Rev. Gratsch,
  
  Thank you for your letter dated June 4. I appreciate your
correspondence. As I said, the Mass could validly apply the infinite merits of Christ's sacrifice to men, one application, by one Mass, would suffice for eternity since His salvation is perfect. The fact that you offer Mass for the same people every Sunday proves that last Sunday's Mass was invalid, for it accomplished no Divine Eternal work. Note especially Hebrews 10:18- no more offering. Malachi 1:11 speaks of a pure offering; the imperfection of the propitiation effected at Mass prove it does not mean the Mass (see Hebrews 13:15,16; Romans12:1). The Atoning Work of Christ is our propitiation (see Romans 3:25, I John 2:2; 4:10).

  The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8,9 "For by grace are ye saved through
faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works,
lest any man should boast." When a Roman Catholic thinks of being saved by grace, he believes grace is the enablement by God for man to do the things necessary for salvation. They are religious works, but as God gives them grace to do them, thus they claim they are saved by grace. The Scriptures teaches us that God poured out His Grace to us in the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that He saves us without regard to any work, prayer, or religious observance we may or may not do. He does not force His salvation on us, but gives us salvation when we individually put our faith in the finished work or redemption in Christ as the sole ground for our being regarded not guilty before God. We must freely accept the gift of Christ, which is eternal life (Romans 6:23).

  God saved me at the age of 21, may 1974, as I turned from works,
merits, and sacraments and trusted totally in the finished once for all
blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for me. God's judgement of sin was satisfied on my behalf, by my Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He died for me on Calvary. Therefore, the moment of death will be, for me, the moment of final Victory. A truly substitutionary Atonement produces a completed salvation, not to be supplemented by human religious devotion, I live for Him because He saved me.

  If you do believe in the sufficiency of Christ's death on Calvary,
then your salvation depends on the work Jesus did for you on Calvary and not on your religious works or merits. You should have the full assurance of salvation because it is not possible that His work would fail, because He is a perfect Saviour. Assurance of salvation is a vital biblical concept (see Hebrews 10:14; John 5:24; Ephesians 2:8,9) Any uncertainty or denial is maligning the person of Christ, for if the Saviour be perfect, there is no cause for lack of assurance. Christ is our worthiness, we are accepted in Him (Ephesians 1:6).

  I John 5:13 says, "These things I have written unto you that believe
on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

  If you were to die in 3 weeks, would you go to Heaven? Do you have
eternal life? If you do, then you are forever saved, if not you need to
trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your all-sufficient Saviour.

Assured of Heaven, I am

Very Sincerely yours,
     John Niehaus                             Top

 
 

Letter 5 - Edward Gratsch Replies To John Niehaus


Dear Mr. Niehaus, 

   I have been out of town for two weeks; hence, my delay in responding to your letter of June 10.

  We both agree upon the sufficiency of Christ's death on Calvary. I
see the Mass as one means of uniting me to Christ's death.

  You seem to suggest in your letter that once a person is saved, he
is always saved. I must disagree with this suggestion. I think of several
persons in the Bible who were friends of God and then fell away - such
persons as Adam, Samson, David, Solomon, Peter and the other apostles. Had they died in their sin, they would have been lost. I think of Paul who chastised his body lest, preaching to other, he himself might be lost. All this indicates to me that a saved person can lose his salvation. I do not doubt the sufficiency of the Savior's work on my behalf, but I am fearful of my own freedom which may lead me to abandon him. If I do abandon him, and we are all sinners, then I must have regular recourse to the means which unite me to his saving death.

Cordially,
   Edward Gratsch                           Top

 
 

Letter 6 - John Niehaus Replies to Edward Gratsch



June 28, 1982

Dear Father Gratsch,

  Thank you for your recent letter. One is not untied to Christ's
death through the Mass because the Mass does not accomplish what the sacrifice of Calvary accomplished, that is, perfecting forever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). If the Mass did unite us with Christ's death then one Mass would suffice for eternity since His salvation is perfect. Therefore, the benefits of Calvary are not received through the Mass because there is no redemptive transaction in the Mass, and if there were, then only one Mass would be necessary, rather than continual repetition.

  One can be saved and can be sure that he is saved. All he has to do
is to trust in the finished work of Christ and to receive from Him the gift of eternal life. For His Word declares: "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come in to condemnation, but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). Here Christ clearly teaches that, 1) The believer now has eternal life, 2) He does not come into condemnation, and 3) He has passed from death unto life. John 3:36 says, "He that believeth on the Son hath (present tense) everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of god abideth on him." Eternal life is given by the Infinite Saviour. Once this infinite life is received, it never has to be received again. You only need one dose of God's infinite salvation because it is eternal.

  Furthermore, Christ is able to keep His people saved, not because of
their goodness or faithfulness, both of which are very erratic, but because of His power and grace: "And I shall give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand" (John 10:28,29). This is the true "perseverance of the saints"-not that we persevere in holding on to God, but that He perseveres in holding on to us.

  I go to church three times a week, teach Sunday School, visit
shut-ins, I don't cheat or steal, I pay my debts and love my neighbor; but none of these factors contribute I any way to my salvation. My assurance of salvation is based solely on the perfection of God's redemptive act on my behalf and His infallible Word concerning this completed work. I have a perfect Saviour; therefore I have assurance. I am trusting the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and I know I have everlasting life because God said so. If you have doubt about your salvation, there are only two things you can be doubting. Fist, you are doubting that you are fully trusting the sufficiency of Christ as Saviour, or, second, you are doubting that God meant what He said. I don't doubt anything. I know I have eternal life. God said so and God can't lie.

  The assurance of salvation comes from the written Word: "These
things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God" I John 5:13.

  If you are trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as your all-sufficient
Saviour, you have eternal life. God wants us to be saved, and he wants us to know that we are saved. The Bible speaks of a salvation that is complete, a salvation that meets all the needs of the sinner.

  Let me close by asking you a personal question, What are you counting on to keep you out of Hell?
 
Cordially,
   John Niehaus                                 Top

 
 

Letter 7 - Edward Gratsch Replies To John Niehaus


Dear Mr. Niehaus, 

   In your letter of June 28, 1982, you wrote about the surety of
salvation. You quoted various passages from the Johannine literature. In general the quoted passages reflect the well-known "realized eschatology" of John. By this I mean the teaching of John that already in this life we possess many of the blessings of the life to come, blessings such as the indwelling of the Holy Trinity and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Of course, I accept this. But in my judgement the realized eschatology of John does not mean that we Christians have been lifted entirely out of the conditions of this life. We remain mortal and sinful, and we can come short of the goal. This, I believe, is the teaching of the other books of the New Testament and of John himself. For example, John himself notes the defection of certain disciples of Jesus (6:66), the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter (ch.18).   One question of a different nature: How do you reconcile Mt. 25:31-46 (reward and punishment on the basis of works) with the teaching of
Paul about justification through faith?

Cordially,
   Edward Gratsch                           Top

 
 
 

Letter 8 - John Niehaus Replies to Edward Gratsch


July 11, 1982

Dear Rev. Gratsch,

   Thank you for your recent letter. The Bible clearly teaches that God poured out His Grace to us in the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that He saved us without regard to any work or religious observance we may or may not do. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8,9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."

  God gives us salvation when we individually put our faith in the
finished work of redemption in Christ as the sole ground for our being
justified before God. When we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our
all-sufficient Saviour, God gives us the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

  Eternal life is, of course, eternal. If one has it now, he will have it a week from Tuesday, next month, next year, in 1000 years. If what one has now is something that can be lost, it is not eternal life.

  If you receive the merits of Christ's death (eternal life) when you go to Mass, then loose "eternal life" if you sin, then do you get some more
eternal life" when you go to Mass again? What happens if you die before Mass? Can you get "eternal life" at Confession? Or at other sacraments: It seems there is a lot of "eternal life" floating around, and none of it is eternal life.

  Matthew 25:31-46 is not a doctrinal statement on justification by faith, but is a judgment of nations. Notice Matthew 25:32 "And before him
shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them (the nations)
from one another."

  Do you accept literally the following statements of Paul on
justification by faith alone?

Romans 3:24-28 "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."

Romans 4:2-6 "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,"

Romans 5:1,2 "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

Galatians 3:6,8,11 "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying In thee shall all nations be blessed."
"But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."

  The only way a person can ever be righteous before God is to have
the imputed righteousness of God Himself, which is "by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe" (Romans 3:22). A man is eternally saved by trusting Jesus Christ as his Saviour. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone.

  Let me close by asking you the same question I asked you in my
previous letter, that you did not answer; what are you counting on to keep you out of Hell?

Sincerely,
   John Niehaus                              Top


Letter 9 - Edward Gratsch Replies To John Niehaus


Dear Mr. Niehaus,

  After reviewing our correspondence, I see that I did not explicitly
answer your question, What am I counting on to keep me out of hell? In response to your question, I must say that I am counting on the death of Christ on Calvary to keep me out of hell. At the same time I hope to unite myself to the death of Christ on Calvary by employing the means that he himself prescribed, that is to say, repentance and belief in the gospel (Mk 1:15), prayer (Mk6:9-13), love of God and neighbor (Lk 10:27-28), baptism (Mk 16:16), the Eucharist (Lk 22:19-20; I Cor 11:23-29), and so on. In this way I trust Christ as my personal savior. It is he who has made all these things available to me as free gifts. Only in this way can I reconcile the teaching of Christ with the teaching of Paul.

  You quote several passages from Paul about justification by faith.
Paul is drawing an antithesis between faith and the Law. During Paul's
apostolic career it was not yet clear to everyone that faith in the Lord
Jesus relieved the Jews from the obligations of the Law; but it was clear to Paul that those who had never been under the Law and had no need to undertake its observance, since faith in the Lord Jesus saved them effectively. Still, for Paul, faith meant obedience to God and Jesus Christ in all they commanded (Rm1:5; 16:26). Again, only in this way can I reconcile the teaching of Jesus with the teaching of Paul.

  In your letter you also returned to the subject of eternal life. In
response, I can only ask you to read once more what I wrote in my two last letters. Eternal life on this earth is not eternal in the sense that it
cannot be lost; it is eternal in the sense that it shares certain elements,
that is, righteousness and the society of the Holy Trinity, which are
characteristic of eternal life in heaven.

Cordially,
   Edward Gratsch                          Top

 
 

Letter 10 - John Niehaus Replies to Edward Gratsch


August 15, 1982
 
Dear Rev. Gratsch,

  Thank you for your letter of July 25.  I have been on vacation; hence, my delay in writing.

  Roman Catholics like to think that Paul was referring solely to the Jewish Law in passages about justification by faith.  This was his immediate thought, but the Holy Spirit makes it plain that there is an utter contradiction between Law and Grace (Romans 11:6).  Also, the expression “obedience of faith” is interpreted by them as meaning faith plus obedience.  That is not even good grammar (Romans 16:26).
 
  Romans 3:28-30 says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  Is he the God of the Jews only?  Is he not also of the Gentiles?  Yes, of the Gentiles also:  seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith”.
 
  In these verses Paul shows that as all alike had sinned, both Jews and Gentile, and the plan of salvation by faith was adapted to sinners, so God could save all on the same terms – “by faith”.  Faith in Jesus Christ alone saves (justifies).
 
  The basic and fatal error of Roman Catholicism is the denial of the sufficiency of Jesus Christ as Saviour.  It denies the efficacy of His sacrifice on the cross.  Romanism has a Christ, but He is not sufficient as a Saviour.  What He did on Calvary must be repeated (in the mass) and supplemented (through works of penance).
 
  One inherent attribute of Deity is Infinity.  If God is not infinite, He is not God, he is “a god”.  To express belief in the infinite person of God, and then to deny the absolute infinity of God is a contradiction in terms.  Jesus is God, He is Infinite, the things He does are infinite.  To profess belief in His infinity and at the same time to think His work of salvation has to be implemented, supplemented and completed is maligning His Name and denying His essential Deity.  Roman Catholics have the Mass as a perpetuated sacrifice to take away sins they need it because their “Christ” did not perfect the work of salvation.  They have an involved structure concerning Confession and Penance, because their “Christ” did not do a complete work in absolving them from sin.  They have a dreaded, yet hoped for, ordeal in the future, after death.  They call it “Purgatory” (a place of cleansing).  They need such a place because their “Christ” did not fully purge them from sin.
 
  When one is building any structure, the foundation is vital (Matthew 7:26, 27).  This scripture outlines what happens when an insecure foundation is relied on.  The Christ of God is the chief foundation of the building of God, His Church.  The “Christ” of the Roman Catholic Church is the chief foundation stone of their religion.  Having a “Christ” who is not the Christ of the Bible is the basic error of Roman Catholicism; they have the wrong Christ!
           
  The Christ of the Bible is the One who performed one full and complete sacrifice for sins’ the One in whom, by virtue of the perfection of His work for us, we have assurance of salvation.
 
  You may answer infinity, or everlasting life, is the sum total of Christ’s work plus our work.  In that case, His Work was not in itself infinite, and it is impossible to add finite quantities and get infinity.  What is the sum of Infinity plus 5?!
 
  Will you consider the Christ of the Bible?
 
Very sincerely yours,
     John Niehaus                              Top



Letter 11 - Edward Gratsch Replies To John Niehaus


August 22, 1982

Dear Mr. Niehaus,

  I would prefer to break off our discussion at this time.  It seems to me that our discussion has come full circle.  The discussion has been useful to me.
I understand your position better; and I have had to reexamine my own.  Thank you!
  
Cordially,
   Edward Gratsch                              Top
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