Saturday, July 24, 2010

Facinating facts about Spurgeon

I bet you didn't know some of these facts about Charles H. Spurgeon. Below are a from this article by Eric W. Hayden, a former pastor of Metropoliton Tabernacle, where Spurgeon preached for 38 years:

  • Charles Haddon Spurgeon is history's most widely read preacher (apart from the biblical ones). Today, there is available more material written by Spurgeon than by any other Christian author, living or dead.
  • One woman was converted through reading a single page of one of Spurgeon's sermons wrapped around some butter she had bought.
  • The New Park Street Pulpit and The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit—the collected sermons of Spurgeon during his ministry with that congregation—fill 63 volumes. The sermons' 20-25 million words are equivalent to the 27 volumes of the ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The series stands as the largest set of books by a single author in the history of Christianity.

Praise the Lord for powerfully gifted men like Charles Spurgeon! Read the rest of the article (click here) to learn how many times Spurgeon preached before the age of 20 (hint: if you guessed 500, think higher!) ... and many other interesting facts.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Free audio of Joni Eareckson Tada/PRAY for her!

Just wanted to share this offer to get a portion of Joni's new book on Pain and Suffering free!

Also, please continue to pray for Joni as as she is battling breast cancer and yet continuing her ministries. Remarkable lady!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Can you be a Christian and be free from persecution?

A friend sent this video with the disclaimer: "This will jack you up." Indeed it did.

Three Scriptures come to mind.
  • Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11)
  • Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12)
  • Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:31-33, cf Matthew 10:16-33)
Ask yourself what I'm asking myself right now. Am I willing to be persecuted for being a follower of Christ? If I'm not being persecuted now, why not? Sure, we live in America, but there are subtle forms of persecution that make us silent (i.e. the religion of 'tolerance'). Certainly we should not seek persecution, but what is hindering me from living a godly life in Christ Jesus which will ultimately lead to persecution? Should I not be more fearful of my Father in heaven than to be looked at sideways by someone who is offended by the Cross of Christ?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How important is the local church?

Our culture doesn't put a high premium on the local church. Many people look at church as something you 'do' or 'go to' on Sundays. But if you read the New Testament the emphasis is much more pronounced. This article by David Doran clearly and powerfully demonstrates the Biblical necessity for a Christian to be plugged into a healthy local church.

In fact, he goes as far to say that service done in and through the local church is a believer's primary responsibility.

Although we live in a day that focuses almost exclusively on the believer’s personal relationship with God, we cannot forget that every genuine believer has been saved and placed into the Body of Christ. It may seem radical, but I would like to suggest that service to God in the local assembly is every believer’s primary obligation in life.
Parents, consider that you can't raise your children the way God intends apart from the local church (Eph 6:4). In fact, the good works we are called to do (Eph 2:10), our marriage, our parenting, careers, indeed all of the aspects of our life are to be reflections of the importance we place in the local church. Doran says this much better:

Marriage and family are temporal concerns that should not supplant our devotion to Christ (including our service for Him). God does not keep this planet spinning for the advancement of our careers, pursuit of our life goals, or the enjoyment of our families. The world continues on because the mission of Jesus Christ has not yet been fulfilled, and that means the mission should be our supreme concern. All of these other things are good gifts from the Lord for our enjoyment and a means by which we may glorify Him, but when they become the supreme concerns of our life they can become idolatries. (emphasis mine)

Please check out this short article. It is well written and clearly communicates Biblical truth.

Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine? Part 3

Scripture Against Purgatory

Having defined Purgatory, and examined the Scriptures used by Roman Catholicism to justify a belief in Purgatory, we now turn to consider the Biblical evidence against it. There are primarily three arguments used by the Reformers to clearly demonstrate that purgatory is not only absent from Scripture, but is contradictory to it.

1) Only two soul-states are given in Scripture (Heaven/Hell)

Consider this quote: “The Bible always describes the state of the dead in terms of two conditions not three. The Bible knows of heaven and hell, the place of the righteous and of the wicked after death, bliss and torment, but of no third place. In the Lord's parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus in Luke 16, again the beggar is in paradise and the rich man in torment. This is the alternative. If there is a third it is astonishing that the Bible never says anything about it.”

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' (Luke 16:19-31)

2) Death is described anticipated in glorious good news, not a passageway into suffering and torment.

Scripture clearly teaches that when the believer dies, they are in the immediate presence of Christ. “The apostle Paul said, ‘I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better’ (Philippians 1:23). Paul is saying that the very moment after physical death occurs, he will be with Christ. … Moreover, for believers ‘to be absent from the body’ is to be ‘at home with the Lord. (2 Cor 5:6-8) (Rhodes, p 239)”

“The Bible often openly and emphatically asserts the glorification of the Christian's soul at the moment of death. (Phil 1:23, 2 Tim 4:7,8; 1 Cor 15:55) Could Paul possibly have meant that Christ has removed the sting of death, but that death ushers the believer into perhaps centuries of suffering for his sin? (Rayburn)”

Consider also this line of reasoning by Ron Rhodes (p 237)

“Consider what Roman Catholics are saying in regard to the doctrine of purgatory. Let’s say you are a good-hearted Catholic, and you do all the things required of your Church throughout life. You regularly attend Mass, you work hard to maintain sanctifying grace in your soul by being faithful, and you confess your sins to a priest when you do wrong. You are always careful to participate in the sacrament of penance after committing what you think may be a mortal sin. … You do all this and more, in keeping with what your Church tells you. When you die, you will likely still have to go to purgatory before being granted entrance into heaven. Throughout someone’s lifetime he or she could attend over a thousand Masses and still die not fully purified from sin. Protestants respond that this hardly seems like the “good news” of the gospel (Ephesians 2:8,9).

So we have seen that the Scriptures describe two places in the afterlife, heaven and hell. We have seen that in the Bible, death for the believer is described as a glorious passageway into the presence of Jesus, not a portal to suffering. But most importantly, this belief that we can suffer to pay for our own sins in this life or in purgatory, is an affront to the Gospel of the blood of Christ, which is sufficient to cleanse us from our sin.

3) Purgatory is a rejection of the sufficiency of Christ’s complete and perfect work on the Cross for our sins.

From a scriptural perspective, when Jesus died on the cross He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus completed the work of redemption at the cross. No purgatory is needed for those who trust in Christ. In His high priestly prayer to the Father, Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4 NIV, emphasis added). First John 1:7 (NIV) says, “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (emphasis added). Romans 8:1 (NIV) says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (emphasis added).

We are cleansed not by some alleged fire of purgatory but by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:14). Jesus “Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2). It is through Jesus’ work on the cross that we are made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). The apostle Paul spoke of this life as “not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:7-9). It is through this wonderful work of Christ on the cross that believers are “blameless,” and hence are in no need of some alleged purgatory (Jude 1:24; see also Ephesians 1:4).

Rhodes then points to a key verse to share with Roman Catholics who argue for purgatory.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

“In other words, no further purging is necessary because Christ has perfected ‘for all time’ those who have believed in Him. That which is already perfect ‘for all time’ needs no further purging. There is no need for purgatory for those who have truly trusted in Christ as Savior. (Rhodes, 239)”

Our sins are cleansed in the blood of Christ at the moment He died for us, absorbing the Father’s wrath on our behalf. As the Reformers point out, “The notion that we must satisfy for our sins by paying the price for them, enduring punishment for them, was an insult to the perfection of the redemption of Christ, of his sufferings for our sins, and assumed the fundamentally erroneous notion that we could pay for our sins -- even their temporal penalties -- if we had to.” Rayburn continues, “It is crucial to the entire biblical teaching of salvation and of Christ's redeeming work to understand that for the man or woman who is in Christ by faith, "there is, therefore, now no condemnation." As the author of Hebrews puts it in 1:3, "After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the Right Hand of the Majesty in heaven!" The work was finished. Or, as the same author has it later, "Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." [Heb 10:13-14]

As the Scripture says it in a hundred different ways, we are healed by his stripes, not ours; the chastisement of our sin fell on him, not us. There is no sense in which the afflictions of believers, in this life, "pay" for their sins in the sense that they remove the guilt or penalty of those sins. They are only chastisements by which we are taught to love and fear God. They are discipline not satisfaction. They have no virtue to remove guilt or to remit penalty. Christ alone, the infinite and infinitely perfect sacrifice, can do that!

This is not just a doctrine where the Protestants disagree with Roman Catholics. It hits at the very center of the Gospel. As Sauer puts it, “purgatory must lead men away from God because it leads men away from the cross.”

We must put our complete and total trust in the Perfect Work of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only basis for our entrance into Heaven. Purgatory does not exist. If it did, the Holy Spirit would have been sure to include it in the Scriptures.

We have seen how the few Scriptures that are used in support of purgatory do not hold up in light of Scripture as a whole. We have seen also, that there are many passages which contradict the concept of Purgatory (Romans 8:1, Hebrews 10:13-14, Hebrews 1:3). Finally, we have seen that the idea of Scripture denies the sufficiency of the Perfect, once for all cleansing from sin that Christ’s death on the Cross brings to the believer. Please listen to this plea by Joe Mizzi.

Perhaps up till now you have hoped to go to a place of suffering to undergo cleansing from sin. The opportunity to experience purification and complete forgiveness is now, while you are still living. God is compassionate and He really forgives and cancels the debt of all those who turn to Him by faith. Look to Jesus the Deliverer, whose death on Calvary is a full and adequate payment for the sins of His people. His blood was not shed in vain; it actually purifies the soul from all defilement. Do you believe in purgatory? I hope you will affirm, 'Yes, I believe in God's purgatory. My purgatory is the Lord Jesus Christ!"

I close with the words of the great hymn, Jesus Paid it All:

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Isaiah 1:18

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)”

-Rev. Dr. Robert S. Rayburn, Roman Catholicism: Purgatory (Sermon preached at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) on March 15, 1998
-Dr Joe Mizzi; Purgatory

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What is this 'little faith' business?

The good doctor sets us straight on what Christ means in Matthew 6:30 by 'O you of little faith'. Man, this was helpful to me:

What then is this condition which is described by our Lord as being 'little faith'? ... We can say ... in general that it is one which is confined to one sphere of life only. It is faith that is confined solely to the question of the salvation of our souls, and it does not go beyond that. It does not extend to the whole of life and to everything in life. This is a common complaint among us as Christian people. On the question of the salvation of our souls we are perfectly clear ... We have seen ... that the only way of deliverance is in the Lord Jesus Christ ... And we believe on Him, and have that saving faith with regard to the present and to all eternity. That is saving faith, the thing that makes us Christians, and without which we are not Christian at all. Yes; but Christian people often stop at that, and they seem to think that faith is something that applies only to that question of salvation. The result is, of course, that in their daily lives they are often defeated; in their ordinary lives there is very little difference to be seen between them and people who are not Christian. They become worried and anxious, and they conform to the world in so many respects. Their faith is something that is reserved only for their ultimate salvation, and they do not seem to have any faith with regard to the everyday affairs of life and living in this world. Our Lord is concerned about that very thing. These people have come to know God as their heavenly Father, and yet they are worried about food and drink and clothing. Their faith is confined; it is a little faith in that way; its scope is so curtailed and

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, p. 127

On a side note, I am thrilled to have found MLJ's Sermon on the Mount at a Book Sale over the weekend at our church. What a blessing! An 'antique-roadshow-esque' bargain at $2! I don't expect to sell it at auction, but the spiritual treasure is incalculable!

Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine? Part 2

Today we consider our look at the Roman Catholic (RC) doctrine of Purgatory, and whether it is a Scriptural concept. We will consider a few of the main texts used to establish the text as Scriptural.

Matthew 12:31-32

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:31-32 ESV, emphasis mine)

The Catholic Church focuses in on this last phrase, “either in this age or in the age to come” as evidence for the case for purgatory. “Roman Catholics sometimes reason that if certain sins like blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven in the 'age to come,' then other sins may be forgiven in the 'age to come.' The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. (Rhodes, 247-8)"

I was happy to hear this verse came up in our discussion, because there is a rather simple response. Rhodes summarizes:

When this text says that the sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this age or the age to come, this is simply a Jewish idiomatic way of saying that the sin will never be forgiven. This becomes clear in the parallel account in Mark 3:29: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (emphasis added). Hence, there is no support for the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory to be found in these verses. (Rhodes, 248)

James White adds, “Jesus is not, then, referring to the possibility of cleansing in the future, but is instead speaking of an "eternal sin," one that has no forgiveness whatsoever. If the Roman interpretation of Matthew 12 is valid, *then Mark's rendition is not.* Obviously, this cannot be, hence, it is the Roman interpretation that must be rejected. (White, Online Debate).”

Luke 12:59

I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.

This same concept is also found in the parallel passage in Matthew 5:26. “Some Roman Catholic theologians such as Ludwig Ott believe this parable lends support to the doctrine of purgatory, teaching a “time-limited condition of punishment in the other world.”

Rhodes’ response is given here (p 249-50): “The Roman Catholic interpretation is completely foreign to the context. That Jesus is referring to a physical prison during earthly life and not a spiritual prison in the afterlife is clear from the previous verse: “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison” (Matthew 5:25) Jesus is simply giving a practical teaching about reconciliation of human conflicts and the avoidance of situations that naturally lead to anger and personal injury (see Matthew 5:21-26).”

So this passage is referring to a physical prison, not a spiritual one after death. Not only that, but the idea of a prison-like purgatory, Rhodes points out, is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture that Christ on the cross paid for all the consequences of our sins. We will see many passages in the next section.

For now, let us look at the next verse used in support of the RC idea of purgatory.

Revelation 21:27

But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

RCs interpret this as supporting the doctrine of purgatory, for “only completely pure souls [can] be assumed into Heaven (Apoc. 21:27).” (Rhodes, 252)

We see again that purgatory is being read into the passage when it is not there. “It is true that “nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into” God’s kingdom, but that does not thereby mean that purgatory is the instrument through which people become purged of uncleanness. … our cleansing and purging from sin is based entirely on the finished work of Christ (1 John 1:7, Rom 8:1). (Rhodes, p 252)

1 Cor 3:10-15

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Ludwig Ott tells us that the Latin fathers took 1 Corinthians 3:15 “To mean a transient purification punishment in the other world” Vatican II described purgatory as a place where the souls of the dead make expiation “in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes purgatory as a place of “cleansing fire.” (Rhodes, 244)

James White offers this excellent resource on the passage we’re now considering. In it, he gives a thorough exegesis of the passage. Then he gives several reasons why it cannot be used in support of purgatory. Finally, he responds to the misuse of the passage by many leading RC apologists, especially Robert Sungenis. Here is the section listing the arguments against purgatory in 1 Corinthians 3.

First, the passage is about Christian workers, not all the Christian faithful.

Next, the passage says nothing about the purification of individuals. Works are tested in this passage. Rome teaches souls are purified from the temporal punishment of sins by suffering satispassio in purgatory: but there is nothing about temporal punishments, satispassio, or suffering of individuals for their sins, in this passage. All these are extraneous to the text itself.

Further, the insertion of the Roman concepts into the passage turns it on its head. Remember, those with works of gold, silver, and precious stones (i.e., Christian workers who had godly motivations) appear in this passage: their works are subject to the same testing as the others. If this “fire” is relevant to purgatory, then are we to assume that even those with godly motives “suffer”? Are there no saints involved in building upon the foundation?

But most telling is this: the fire of which Paul speaks reveals. It does not purge. If this were the fire of Rome's purgatory, it would not simply demonstrate that gold is, in fact, gold, or hay is truly hay. The sufferings of purgatory are supposed to sanctify and change a person’s soul, enabling them to enter into the very presence of God! If this passage supported Rome's position, it would speak of purifying the gold, making it more pure, spotless, precious, and ready for God's presence. It would speak of the fire removing wood or other "impurities" from a person's soul, not simply telling us that the works a Christian minister did were or were not done with God's sole glory in mind. But the text speaks of a revelation of the quality of a man's work, which is wholly incompatible with Rome's use of the passage.

Modern Roman Catholics have started to move away from the term “fire” (though this was, inarguably, what attracted the attention of Rome to the passage in the first place), and seek to focus more upon the suffering of a loss, so that only the second group is seen as being relevant to purgatory. Of course, this is made possible by the constant repetition of the assertion, “Rome has never officially declared the meaning of this passage, nor that there is fire in purgatory, nor that purgatory is a place, nor that we experience time in purgatory...” etc and etc. The fact that one can go into history and determine with great clarity what was taught and believed only a few centuries ago does not seem to matter.

Finally, it should be noted that in Roman Catholic theology, a person sent to purgatory has already been judged to be in need of further purging (sanctification) before entering into the presence of God. Yet, there is no mention of such a judgment here; in fact, most RC interpretations see this as the judgment itself. (White, 1Cor3)

There are several other obscure passages (i.e. 2 Tim 1:18, Col 1:24) used in defense of purgatory, however most are again ‘read into’ the passage as we have seen, so no space will be given for them here. We will instead turn to the passages which contradict the idea of suffering in a transitional state so that a ‘saved’ child of God can be purged of sin before being accepted into Heaven.

Tomorrow we will turn the to the Scriptures which contradict the idea of Purgatory.

-White, James; An online debate
-White, James; 1 Cor 3:10-15: Exegesis and Rebuttal of Roman Catholic Misuse

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is Purgatory a Biblical Doctrine? Part 1

I have several Catholic friends. They’re good peeps. In fact, I’ve never met a truly devout Catholic who was not sincere and zealous for good works, to my own shame. I share many beliefs with my Catholic friends; things I get excited about like the deity of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and a belief in the bodily return of Christ and the Resurrection to name a few.

I owe this post to a Catholic friend, who agreed to meet and consider some doctrines of Catholicism in light of Scripture. We begin this journey to simply answer the question, “What do the Scriptures say?”

I don’t remember why ‘purgatory’ was the first topic chosen but it is, to me, a good start because a) I feel purgatory is a doctrine grossly lacking in Scriptural evidence, and b) it clearly demonstrates the divide between Roman Catholic (RC) teaching and the Gospel of faith alone.

Introduction/Roman Catholic position on Purgatory

To begin, let us describe what we mean by Purgatory. According to RC teaching:

Purgatory may be defined as “a place or state in which are detained the souls of those who die in grace, in friendship with God, but with the blemish of venial sin or with temporal debt for sin unpaid. Here the soul is purged, cleansed, readied for eternal union with God in Heaven.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” The Roman Catholic teaching on purgatory was pronounced as Church dogma in A.D. 1438. (Rhodes, 233)

So to summarize, purgatory is a temporary hell for “saved” Christians who die while they still have not worked off the ‘temporal punishment’ for sins committed after baptism, so that one can enter heaven (sins can be forgiven through penance but still require temporal punishment). My friend told me that ‘very righteous’ people can forgo purgatory; people like saints. Purgatory brings my friend comfort because if she were to die before she had a chance to go to confession for a given mortal sin, this offers hope that she can pay for this sin through purgatory and not be eternally lost. I see no hope in suffering centuries of suffering in hell after the many pains and suffering here on earth. Even worse, this is a denial of the sufficiency of the Cross of Christ, (more on that later).

First, let us consider the Scripture used by the RC church to defend this doctrine. Then we will look at Scriptures that contradict the view.

Scripture in support of Purgatory

There is no clear Scripture supporting the view of Purgatory. Catholic apologists lean to tradition, not Scripture, in defense of the concept of purgatory, because Biblical evidence is lacking. Consider the Catholic Encyclopedia:
"In the final analysis the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is based on tradition not Sacred Scripture." (Sauer)
As Dr Rayburn, who preached a sermon on purgatory at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) on March 15, 1998 adds:
Roman Catholic writers have tried to argue for purgatory from a few biblical texts, but those arguments are contrived and even they put little weight on them. The fact is, the entire doctrine is without biblical warrant. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray and what to pray for, he mentioned nothing about prayer for the dead. He said nothing, nor did the prophets and apostles about purgatory, about indulgences, or about the church's authority to remit punishments being suffered by the righteous dead in purgatory. All of this is completely lacking from the Bible and that, surely, is important. For these are not small matters to have been omitted from Holy Scripture. (Rayburn)

Nevertheless, tomorrow we will examine some of the main texts used in favor of a view of purgatory: Matthew 12:31-32, Luke 12:59, Revelation 21:27, and 1 Cor 3:10-15. Go to these passages and look them up along with their contexts. See if you ‘see’ purgatory in them. We will examine them in detail tomorrow.

Below are some of the sources I will use in putting this argument together. Disclaimer: I don't claim this as a scholarly work. I only have one book on the topic besides the Bible, though I have found some helpful sources online (sources below). I trust this look at the Scripture will be profitable nonetheless.

-Rev. Dr. Robert S. Rayburn, Roman Catholicism: Purgatory (Sermon preached at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) on March 15, 1998
-Rhodes, Ron; Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics
Sauer, James; Purging a Problem

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Is America God's Chosen Covenant Nation?

Nothing very profound this morning. Was just reading Jeremiah and thinking about how many people look at America as God's chosen covenant nation and apply many of the passages meant for Israel to the United States (i.e. 2 Chron 7:14).

These lines are to me striking. If God judged His own covenant people of Israel, how much more will He severely judge America, that has so much sin!

“How can I pardon you?
Your children have forsaken me
and have sworn by those who are no gods.
When I fed them to the full,
they committed adultery
and trooped to the houses of whores.
8 They were well-fed, lusty stallions,
each neighing for his neighbor's wife.
9 Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord;
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this?
Jeremiah 5:7-9

They do not say in their hearts,
‘Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.’
25 Your iniquities have turned these away,
and your sins have kept good from you.
26 For wicked men are found among my people;
they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.
They set a trap;
they catch men.
27 Like a cage full of birds,
their houses are full of deceit;
therefore they have become great and rich;
28 they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no bounds in deeds of evil;
they judge not with justice
the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
29 Shall I not punish them for these things?
declares the Lord,
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this?”
Jer 5:24-29

America is not God's covenant people. Certainly there are a few that He has chosen out of Her, but we cannot expect the blessing of God because some of our founders were God fearing men (though many were deists and Universalists). Tim Juhnke preached a helpful message on this topic, and John MacArthur of course has written 'Can God Bless America?'

The point of this is that we should not set our hope in America, but in Christ who alone can save us from the thing that is most fearful: the wrath of God against sin. God's chosen nation is His church (1 Peter 2:9).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Download A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God audiobook for free!

I am downloading the audiobook of A.W. Tozer's Pursuing God, free in July from ChristianAudio. Click here for details. If you want to skim the book before downloading, you can read it online here.

Here is a quote to spark your interest:

How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of 'accepting' Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him. This is set before us as the last word in orthodoxy, and it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise. Thus the whole testimony of the worshiping, seeking, singing church on that subject is crisply set aside. The experiential heart-theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of Scripture which would certainly have sounded strange to an Augustine, a Rutherford or a Brainerd. (pp. 16-17)

I have heard Tozer quoted countless times so I look forward to hearing this classic.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Completely Done song by Sovereign Grace

he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
(Ephesians 1:5 ESV)

I'm working on a post about the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory; hope to post here soon. In the meantime here is a song that has taken on increasing significance as I have studied Scripture that tells of the perfect, once for all, complete sacrifice of Christ. One that does not not require our effort in purging ourselves of sin in this life or in an intermediate state of torment after death.

Enjoy the video here complete with lyrics, which I will also post below. If that is not enough, Sovereign Grace makes the song available for a free download here.

What reason have I to doubt
Why would I dwell in fear
When all I have known is grace
My future in Christ is clear

My sins have been paid in full
There’s no condemnation here
I live in the good of this
My Father has brought me near
I’m leaving my fears behind me now

The old is gone, the new has come
What You complete is completely done
We’re heirs with Christ, the victory won
What You complete is completely done

I don’t know what lies ahead
What if I fail again
You are my confidence
You’ll keep me to the end
I’m leaving my fears behind me now
from Sovereign Grace Worship

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike