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Is Peter the Rock Upon Which the Church is Built?

Is Peter the Rock Upon Which the Church is Built? poster

A sermon preached in The Moody Church by Dr. H.A. Ironside in reply to a radio sermon by Dr. Shean of Washington, D.C.

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias: and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee, That thou art Petros and upon this petra [“Petros” is diminutive and means a piece of rock or stone; “Petra” is the great foundation rock itself] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven” —Matthew 16:13-19

This passage of Scripture has been the source of a great deal of contention, of difference of opinion among theologians for many years. In fact, ever since the third century of the Christian era there has been a debate as to the exact meaning of the number of expressions used here. For most of us commonly known as Protestants these questions have been settled long ago. We do not have any perplexity about them, we have learned to go to the Word of God itself for the explanation of its own terms. We believe with Chillingworth that “The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants” and so are not very much concerned about traditions or about the decisions of church councils or the declarations of popes, fallible or infallible. We turn from all these to the Book itself.

I have been reminded that this is not true of a great many people, people who are just as honest, I take it, just as eager to know what God’s will is, and just as desirous of doing His will as those of us who are called Protestants, but they have been taught to decide questions from an altogether different standpoint. In the first place they have been taught not to search the Bible themselves for direct instruction in regard to any doctrine. That may seem like a rather broad statement but I believe that I can show you that it is true. They have been taught that inasmuch as Saint Peter has told us that “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), it is a very reprehensible thing for any individual Christian to sit down over the Bible itself without asking the help of the priesthood, of the councils of the church. Of the fathers, and of others who are supposed to speak with authority.

The story is told of an Irishman who all of his life had been, as so many of his nation are, a member of the Roman Catholic church but some one had given him a New Testament and through reading it he had been brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had learned that a man may have eternal life in this world and know it, that he may have all his sins forgiven and be certain of it, that he need not go to any human intermediary but may go direct to the blessed Lord Himself to confess his sins and obtain forgiveness. The result of his study gave Patrick great joy and happiness. He did not know any one like minded with whom he could have Christian fellowship so when others went to the parish church, he remained at home poring over the sacred pages of his New Testament, a Book which he had never seen before but which now meant so much to him. Finally the parish priest missed his erstwhile faithful parishioner so he arranged to visit him. He came on a day when this happy convert was reading his New Testament and as the priest entered the room Patrick rose to meet him with the Book in his hand. “What book is that?” the priest asked.

And Patrick answered, “Well, sure and your Reverence, it’s the New Testament.”

But Patrick don’t you know that that is not a Book for an ignorant man like you to be reading without instruction and help? You will be forming your own private judgment about things and making all kinds of mistakes and going off into some heresy.”

But Patrick said, “Well sure, I have just been reading here, and it’s the blessed apostle Peter says it, ‘As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby’ (1 Peter 2:2), and sure, your Reverence, I have just been born again and I am a babe in Christ and it is the milk I’m thirsting after and I am reading the Word to get it.”

That is very good, Patrick, but you need help and instruction, and the Almighty has appointed the clergy to be the milkmen; He has given them the knowledge of the truth and when you want instruction, you should come to the church and we will give it to you as you are able to bear it. You get to studying for yourself and you are sure to go wrong.”

But Patrick said, “Out there in the shed I have a cow and when I was sick some time ago, I had to hire a man to milk her and I soon found he was stealing half of the milk and filling the bucket with water, but when I got well, I discharged him and took to milking me own cow and now I am getting the rich cream. When I was depending upon you, it was milk and water stuff you were giving me, now, thank God, I am milking me own cow and it’s the cream of the Word I am getting.”

Another story is told of a little lad sitting on the curb in Johannesburg in South Africa, reading a New Testament when the priest passed by and, recognizing him as a child of a family belonging to his flock, said, “My boy, what is that book you are reading?”

It is the New Testament, father,” he said.

But that is not for an ignorant little boy like you to be reading.”

The lad replied, “Sure but I have a search warrant to read it.”

A search warrant! Why, what do you mean?”

It says here, ‘Search the Scriptures,’ and so I am after doing what I am told.”

How can any one say that Christians are not capable of reading the Word of God and getting the mind of the Lord when the Holy Spirit has been sent from heaven for the express purpose of opening the truth to those who honestly seek that truth and are prepared to walk according to it?

Our blessed Lord said of the Holy Spirit, “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). Imagine a man cast out on a desert island with nothing but a copy of the Bible, no teacher, no clergy man, no priest, no church, no other books of any kind to instruct him. Do you mean to say that that man is left without the possibility of acquiring sufficient truth for the saving of his soul because he is beyond the reach of the visible church? Surely not. Wherever a man honestly seeks to know the mind of God, the Holy Spirit is there to reveal the truth to him.

They tell us that we must not use private judgment but must accept the judgment of the council and the church. But how are we going to decide to accept that? Must I not use my private judgment and decide that I will forego the reasonings of my own intellect and let the councils tell me what to believe? Is that not private judgment, after all? I remember reading Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua years ago. He tells how up to the day that he decided to submit himself to the church of Rome and accept the dictum of that church as his guide, he had very grave doubts as to many of the so called Catholic doctrines such as the position given to the pope, the place given to the blessed virgin Mary, the doctrine of purgatory, the intercession of saints and so on, but he said, “When I decided to submit my judgment to the church, all these things were settled for me.” But do you not see, he had to make the decision himself. Was not that private judgment? I have investigated these things. I have read much Roman Catholic theology, I have examined a great many volumes put out by Catholic publishers and after having compared them with the Word of God, my private judgment tells me that I dare not trust the salvation of my soul to the decision of popes or councils if they go contrary to the Book. I am resting upon what this Book reveals as to God’s way of salvation and if it tells me that Peter is the rock on which the Church is built and that there is no salvation except for those who are in the church founded by Peter, I want to know it, but I must find out from the Book.

Now let us examine the account given in Matthew 16. Our blessed Lord was nearing the end of His testimony here on Earth. He had been practically rejected by Israel and was looking out upon the great world of Gentiles. That is what is implied in his thirteenth verse, “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi.” Caesarea Philippi was the first great Gentile city just north of the land of Palestine, about twenty miles beyond the border of Palestine, and Jesus had gone up into the northernmost part of Galilee and was looking out toward that great Gentile world thinking of the untold millions who were still in their sins to whom His salvation was yet to come, the men for whom He was soon to die and He realized that so much depended upon men having a correct understanding of the dignity of His person. You will notice in the New Testament that invariably faith is linked with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in one instance does it seem to be linked with His work. It is, “He that believeth on him is not condemned;” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved;” “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest;” “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” It is the person that saves, and trusting Him we go on to learn more of His wonderful work but we begin with faith in Christ Himself. And so He turned to His disciples and interrogated them in this way: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” And they told Him what the common report had been. “Some say that thou art John the Baptist.” This, you recall, was Herod’s first re-action when told of His miracles and testimony. Others said He was Elias, for it is written, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5). Some said He was Jeremiah, for some of the Rabbis held that Jeremiah was the unnamed sufferer of Isaiah 53. And others said he was at least a prophet. Then the Lord asked the question directly, “But whom say ye that I am?” Oh how we honor Simon Peter for his great confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Does the church of Rome honor Simon Peter? They cannot honor him more than I do. I thank God for his wondrous testimony and for the ministry of this great servant of the Lord; but I would not think that Simon Peter was a sufficient rock upon which the Church could be built. I find as I read on in the Word that there was too much frailty, too much failure, too much sin in Simon Peter for me to rest my soul on him, but I do honor him as the first one who made this great confession, one in which I gladly join, “Blessed Lord, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

It is always a divine revelation when one is brought to a saving knowledge of Christ. It is not merely a natural thing. We do not arrive at this conclusion by any intellectual process alone. There must be a work in the soul by the Holy Spirit of God before people can recognize the true blessedness of our Lord Jesus. “Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Because of this a Roman Catholic theologian has declared, “It is evident from these words that our Lord wishes us to understand that Simon Peter had secrets with the Father in which Christ Himself did not share. Therefore, we can conceive of circumstances where it might be safer to go to Peter or to his successors than to Christ Himself.” That is the conclusion that one came to when he swung away from the plain testimony of the Word of God and subjected his mind to the decisions of the councils and to church traditions. Safer to go to Peter than to Christ! Every Christian has the same revelation. It is God the Father’s revelation to every trusting soul and we get it through the mediatorial work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Then the Lord adds, “And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter—a piece of rock, a rock-like man if we dare paraphrase—and upon this rock I will build my church.” What rock? Upon Peter? No, not upon Peter. Then what rock? Let one of the greatest doctors of the Church tell us if they insist that we must not use our own private judgment in determining the meaning of holy Scripture. St. Augustine, of whom there is no greater doctor in all the Church, in his comment on the verse, says, “So then, Christ, not Peter, is the rock on which the Church is built.” Clearly, what our Lord is saying is, “This glorious revelation the Father has given to you, Simon Peter; this great truth that you have confessed—upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell—the gates of hades—shall not prevail against it.” You say, “But that is your private judgment.” Let me turn to an authentic letter written by the apostle Peter himself and learn from him what he understood the Lord to mean that day. Undoubtedly if he understood the Lord to say that the Church was to be built upon him, he would tell us so. Popes today are not at all bashful about telling us that there is no salvation outside the church that is built on Peter and that they are Peter’s successors. If Simon Peter believed that, he certainly would not leave his disciples in any doubt regarding it; he would tell them the truth about a matter like this. First Peter 2:1-7: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.” Peter tells us that God is building a house and this house rests upon a living stone and that living stone is Christ! He is the foundation upon whom this glorious house rests. This house is the Church of the living God. Peter further tells the members of that Church that they are living stones, built upon this foundation. Does not that exactly correspond with our Lord’s words to Peter on the coasts of Caesarea Philippi: “Peter, you are a rock-like man and you are built upon this rock, the confession that I am the Son of the living God.”

Let us see whether other apostles understood it that way. But first let us ask whether our Lord himself had anything earlier that might suggest the exact meaning of this text. Turn back to the seventh chapter of Matthew’s gospel, verses 24 to 25, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.” What rock was that? It was the rock Christ Jesus for the man who built upon that rock was the man who kept His sayings. Turn to the writings of the apostle Paul, the first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter three, and let us see whether we have any light as to the rock upon which the Church is built. In verses 9 to 11 we read, “For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Is there any question as to what that means? Do you need a church council to expound this to you? Do you need an infallible pope to tell you the meaning of the words, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ”? But let us look elsewhere—the second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, verses 19 to 22: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” We do not read here, “Simon Peter himself being the chief corner stone.” It should read that way if the other teaching is correct. But it reads, “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” And so, whether you listen to Simon Peter, to the blessed Lord himself or to His servant, the apostle Paul, you will find that the Church’s one foundation is not a man however noble or excellent he may be, but it is Christ Himself.

But then what of the other things that the Lord said to Peter? “I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” It is assumed that Peter is the rock upon which the Church is built and that the church built upon Peter will never come to grief. In other words, the church built upon Peter is an outward organization. But it is perfectly clear that the Church is a great spiritual company, not necessarily visible to men but one that includes all real believers, and against that Church the gates of hell shall never prevail.

But did not the Lord say unto Peter, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven”? Therefore, has he not committed to Peter the right to close the doors of heaven against any who do not submit to him and to open to those who do? That is what is commonly thought in Romanist circles. But observe, the Lord did not say to Peter, “I will give unto thee the keys of heaven.” Christ never gave the keys of heaven to Peter not to any one else. He did say, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” But is not the kingdom of heaven heaven itself? “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:1-13). Is that heaven? Surely not. The kingdom of heaven is that sphere on earth which we commonly speak of as Christendom. When Christ said, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” it was because of Peter’s great confession, and he was to have the single honor of opening the door of the kingdom of heaven first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. On the day of Pentecost it was he who opened the door of faith to the Jews and in Cornelius’ house it was Peter who opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Now that the door is open; it stands ajar and whosoever will may enter in.

Did not the Lord give special authority to Peter when he said, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”? He did give authority to Peter but the same authority is given to the entire Church. In the eighteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel, verses 15 to 18 he is speaking of any who offend and he says, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Is this authority given particularly to Peter? Not at all, it is given to the Church of God as a whole. What is the meaning of this passage? If a professing member of the Church of God falls into sin, he is to be carefully dealt with and if he will not repent of his sin, the Church is authorized to bind his sin upon him and put him away from her fellowship. If he comes back a broken-hearted man, confessing his sin and failure, the Church is authorized to forgive him and receive him back into her fellowship. In that sense the Church has been binding and loosing all down through the centuries. But some one says, “Surely Peter had some special place over and above others.” Turn again to his own epistle, 1 Peter 5:1, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder.” Think of that for a moment. A literal translation would be, “The presbyters among you I exhort who am a co-presbyter,” or one on the same level as the rest. If Simon Peter was ever pope, he never knew it for he speaks of himself as a “co-presbyter” with all the rest of the elders in the Church of God! He assumed no place of authority over them.

What a solemn thing it is when you turn back to the sixteenth chapter of Matthew to find that within a short time after making his confession, Peter proved an absolutely untrustworthy guide. “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Is this Peter, an infallible pope, rebuking Christ and saying: “Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee?” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou art an offence unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God but those that be of men.” Is the Church built on a man that Christ called Satan? What a strange Church that would be! We were having an open air meeting years ago out West. A friend of mine was preaching most earnestly and a great big Irishman, half drunk, stepped out and tried to break up our meeting. He kept shouting out as he followed the preacher with his fists doubled, “What did the Lord say to Peter? Why don’t you tell us what the Lord said to Peter? That is what we want to know.” The man who was preaching perhaps did not have wit enough to answer him quickly and so tried to go on with his preaching, but a very dignified looking friend, a typical New Englander standing next to me, listened until he could not stand it any longer. He stepped up to this fellow and said, “The Lord said to Peter, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’” and the man almost dropped in his tracks. He wanted him to say, “I give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” and he forgot that the Lord said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

Long after the day of Pentecost when one would have thought that Peter would have been utterly beyond failure, that he could have been trusted in everything, we find that he turned aside from the truth for a time. In Galatians 2:11 we read, “But when Peter was to come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” What do you think would happen if one of the bishops should withstand the pope to his face in the presence of all the rest of them? But the apostle Paul did not recognize any superiority in Peter; he did not see in him the head of the Church or the rock on which the Church was built; but saw him misbehaving and said, “I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” The Greek word is “hypocrisy.” The apostle Peter is here branded as acting the part of a hypocrite. The Church built on a hypocrite and even Barnabas carried away by the hypocrisy! And Paul goes on to say, “When I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even as we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Here, then we see Peter failing, sinning, needing repentance; surely unfit to be the rock on which the Church is built.

The whole tradition about Peter being in Rome and being the first pope is absolutely unsubstantiated. According to a tradition that had its rise in the latter part of the second century after Christ, we are told that Peter went to Rome until the year A.D. 42 and founded the Church there and then remained as bishop of Rome until the year A.D. 67, when he was martyred, led out of the city to be crucified. They were going to crucify him in the ordinary way, but he said, “No, I denied my Lord once, He was crucified like them, crucify me with my head downward,” and tradition says he was crucified that way. We have no way of knowing whether he was in Rome to be crucified or not. There does seem to be a measure of testimony that would intimate that possibly that was true, but when they tell us that he was in Rome from A.D. 42 to 67, we have positive evidence to the contrary because those very years are covered largely by the book of Acts.

We know that the apostle was not in Rome in the year A.D. 50 because in that year the apostle Paul with Barnabas went up to Jerusalem and the council of Jerusalem decided that the Gentiles did not have to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved. Peter was there and the apostle Paul says that after discussing things, it was decided at that council that Peter should work among the Jews and Paul among the Gentiles. Just imagine Peter supposed to be bishop of Rome, a great Gentile city, and yet it was definitely settled there that his work was to be among the Jews.

Peter could not have been in Rom in A.D. 58 for in that year Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans and sent greetings to a great many people, but there was not a solitary reference to Peter’s presence in Rome. Neither could he have founded the church there, because Paul was to go there and he stated himself that he did not build upon another man’s foundation. The work there was commenced without any apostle.

Peter was not in Rome in A.D. 61 to 63 for in those years Paul was there in prison, and he wrote those four wonderful prison letters and there is not the slightest recognition of Peter’s presence in any of them. Paul sent greetings to other Christians and you can imagine how ready he would have been to say, “And Peter, the apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ, sends greetings.” But Peter was not there so he could not do it. We have some letters from Peter which were written between the years of A.D. 60 and 67 and the second of these was written from Babylon where he was laboring among the dispersed of Israel. We have not the slightest evidence that he was ever in Rome, that he was ever a bishop of Rome but we can be very certain that the contrary is the case.

Did not our Lord give to Peter and also to the other apostles special authority such as only the priests of Rome have today, when He said to them, as recorded in John 20, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). Did not the Lord give unto His apostles as the first bishops of the Church special authority to forgive and to retain sins? The best way to answer that question is to see whether we can find an explanation of remission of sins from somebody who was there. When we turn to the tenth chapter of Acts, we get just such a testimony. Peter, preaching in the home of Cornelius, said, “And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree; him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly” (verses 39 and 40). And now verse 43: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” How does Peter proclaim remission of sins? Through faith in Christ. If Jesus had given to Peter and to the rest of the apostles the authority to forgive sins, when men came and made their confession, Peter would have said to Cornelius, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through certain authorized ministers of his you may receive remission of sins. If you will come and make a good confession and make proper penance, your sins will be forgiven.” But this was not the case; in the clearest possible language he showed that all men who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ have remission of sins. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” And Peter proclaimed remission of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I come to you as a genuine successor of Peter; I come to you in the direct apostolic order. All down through the ages saints of God have been following in the line of the apostles; and as a Christian minister I say to you, by divine authority, if you want remission of sins, come to Jesus, not to a priest; acknowledge your guilt to Jesus; tell Him you are the sinner for whom He died, and I dare declare to you on the authority of the Son of God, when you do that, you have remission of sins, for Jesus says, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted.” If you refuse to come, if you do not turn to Christ, your sins remain upon you for all eternity, for Jesus says, “Whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” If you are a weary, sin-sick soul, anxious to enter into peace with God, come to Christ and find salvation in Him.