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  Tuesday July 22nd, 2014    

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Purgatory revisited (01/19/2014)
From: Bob Williams

Trempealeau, WIs.

Regarding Mr. Hesse’s question posed on January 12, 2014, to Mr. Foss (for whom I do not presume to answer) on faith and Scripture alone, the Bible states in Romans 10:17 that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This statement is clear and complete with nothing needing to be added. The Lord Jesus Christ in Mark 7:3-13 rebukes the Pharisees for “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” thus “making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.”

The Pharisees were adding to the written Word of God thereby subverting the Word and the hearers. Deciding to accept extra-biblical material or the traditions of men as being equal to God’s revealed Word has eternal consequence. Who wants to tell God His Word needs supplement or man’s doctrine is equal to His?

The reference to Paul’s writing on traditions in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 must be considered in its context. Like the Pharisees Christ rebuked, Paul responded to people corrupting the teachings and doctrine Christ revealed to and through Paul as seen in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5. Paul was encouraging his hearers to stick with what they had learned. Since the full Word of God was yet incomplete, the spoken word and letters (epistolary) were relied on to convey truth. Paul warns in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

On the doctrine of purgatory, the key issue is whether the Bible is God’s complete revelation to us. Those believing it is true accept the Bible’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” In addition to dying as complete payment for our sins, He “was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Being in Christ is the only way we can stand without sin (justified) before a righteous God. Colossians 2:10 says believers are “complete in him,” meaning nothing can be added to what we have in Christ. Therefore, if purgatory with its suffering were necessary, then the Bible would not be true when it says we are “complete in Him.”

At the time we die, our eternal destiny has already been determined by whether we are in Christ. Believers, or those in Christ having their sins forgiven, will immediately go to Heaven to ever be with the Lord; as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” At physical death, our “spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7) This happens immediately at death with no intermediate state. The Word says unbelievers still in their sins go to a real place called Hell and be tormented forever.

Unfortunately, many well-intentioned people believe otherwise. The Bible teaches the very instant a person hears the Word of Truth and believes, that person is “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) Not only sealed with the Holy Spirit Himself, but Christ also indwells believers: “Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who …gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) With Christ being God (where no sin can exist in His presence) living in me and the Holy Spirit of God sealing my inner man (soul and spirit), what could possibly necessitate purification?

It is interesting that Christ did not give us the Bible in that He is the Living Word and said, “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me.” (Hebrews 10:7) God authored the Book, or inspired it; and preserved it. Psalms 137:2 tells us, “For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name,” which shows how God views His Word. Psalms 119:89 also tells us, “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.” Christ said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”

The Lord and the Word last forever, with no mention of any denominational church lasting for eternity. Would God give us His Bible through anything that will pass away?

 

 

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