Friday, February 24, 2017

A Gospel Test For The Jehovah's Witnesses!

Biblical Refutation Of Purgatory

  • Introduction:
          -Purgatory: the place of punishment where the souls of Christians suffer a temporary period of punishment in flames if they die in an imperfect state of grace (spiritually impure).
          -Indulgences: the "key" used to help people shorten their "sentence" to time in Purgatory.
          -These are granted to people who pray certain prayers and get mass ceremonies done in memory of the dead (a relative or friend).
          -Interestingly, the only professing Christian group that embraces this concept is the Roman Catholic Church. But we must ask how long it takes for a person to be thoroughly cleansed from sins in purgatory? How many indulgences does it take to release somebody out of there?
1.) Not A Scriptural Concept:
     -Scripture passages discussing the eternal destiny of believers and non-believers mention heaven and hell without any implication of Purgatory (i.e. Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15). In fact, the Word of God plainly tells us that our eternal destiny is sealed at the moment of physical death (Psalm 49:6-9; Luke 16:22-26; Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, there are no additional opportunities for further cleansing of the soul.  Furthermore, the concept of a sin purifying fire is utterly foreign to the Holy Scriptures. Our hearts are purified by faith in Christ, not Purgatory (Acts 15:7-11; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 9:13-14; 1 John 3:2-3). In fact, we never see sacrifices for or the offering of prayers on behalf of the dead as being prescribed by the Book of the Law. 

2.) Purgatory Denies The Sufficiency Of Christ's Sacrifice:
      -Jesus' death is sufficient to pay for all sins (Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 10:10-18; 1 John 1:7-9). In other words, Christ paid the infinite price for our sins by dying for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). He made the once-for-all atonement sacrifice (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). Thus, we do not need anymore purification. If we must in any way pay for, suffer, or atone for our own sins, then Jesus Christ did not make the perfect and complete sacrifice necessary for the redemption of mankind. We do not need to offer any atonement sacrifice for sins by suffering in purgatory or by offering indulgences.
       -The idea that we are able to atone for our sins undermines the message of the gospel because if we are able to do such, then the work of Jesus Christ is either moot or supererogatory. He made a sacrifice to save those who are unable to redeem themselves, for the Scripture has concluded that all are under sin (Romans 3:23). But if we are capable of atoning for our own iniquity, then what is stopping us from simply atoning for all of our sins?  We would either not need the work of Christ to rescue us from the flames of hell or it must be insufficient to redeem mankind from sin.

3.) Works-Based Implications:
      -Finally, we will conclude this portion of the discussion by addressing the works-based nature of Purgatory. The Scriptures are abundantly clear that justification is by faith apart from the merit of works (i.e. Psalms 78:15-22; Luke 18:9-14; John 5:24; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:20-28; Galatians 2:16-21; 1 Timothy 1:16). Since all have fallen short of God's perfect standard of morality, He sent His Son into the world to remedy the problem. Atonement for sin requires a perfect substitute (Hebrew 7:25-28; 10:14). According to Scripture, there are no punishments for genuine Christians in the afterlife (Luke 23:39-43; Romans 4:2-8; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:21-23). The only after death punishment (for the unrepentant and unbelieving) that the Bible mentions is hell, and ultimately, the lake of fire. But, if we are forgiven for a sin and there is still some sort of punishment for us to endure, then we are not really forgiven. In essence, the idea of Purgatory is contrary to everything that the Bible says about salvation.
  • Alleged "Proofs-Texts" For Purgatory:
1.) 1 Corinthians 3:15:
     -This text is not about punishment for sins. It talks about eternal rewards (or lack thereof). In other words, the context is about testing the quality of each believer's work which determines his or her heavenly rewards (v. 10-14). It is not about any kind of punishment. Just because a Scripture passage mentions the word "fire" does not mean that it is about Purgatory. 
     -1 Corinthians refers to the believer "escaping through the flames", not "being cleansed by the flames".

2.) Matthew 12:31-32:
      -The parallel passage makes this one crystal clear (Mark 3:28-29). It simply means that a person who commits the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will NEVER receive mercy.

3.) Matthew 5:25-26:
    -The context is about anger and settling disputes in relationships (v. 21-24).
    -Nobody can deny that this passage is speaking about hell because it is mentioned in the context (v. 22). A person in hell would be there "until he had paid the last cent", meaning that his or her stay there would be permanent, since he or she could never pay for it.

4.) Job 1:5:
    -Job's sons were alive during this time. Moreover, this sacrifice is completely different than praying for souls in Purgatory. All biblical sacrifices (that is, in the Protestant Bibles) were offered to the living, without any mention of Purgatory. So, Job 1:5 fails the test to prove the concept to be in Scripture.

5.) 2 Maccabees 12:39-46:
    -These dead soldiers were struck down by God because of their idolatry (v. 40). According to the Catholic Church, idolatry is a mortal sin (CCC 1857; 1858). Mortal sins send someone to hell (not Purgatory). Purgatory is for "venial" (lesser) sins. Thus, we have no evidence of a purifying fire and damage has been done to the claims of inspiration regarding 2 Maccabees. 

1 Corinthians 4:6 And Sola Scriptura

  • Scripture Passage Being Exegeted: 
         -"Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sake, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other" (1 Corinthians 4:6)
  • Why This Epistle Was Written By The Apostle Paul:
          -The Church of Corinth was starting to obey the teachings of men, rather than the teachings of God as presented through sacred Scripture. As a result, the Corinthian Christians were divided into factions over morals, doctrine, and who their rightful leader was (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).
A.) "I have figuratively transferred...":
      -In the previous context of the epistle, the Apostle Paul figuratively spoke of the apostles as being servants and custodians of the gospel so that the church would properly understand their designated purpose. While Paul described himself and other Christian fellow laborers of the first century as planting the seeds of spiritual conversion, he gave all credit to God for the salvation of souls by attributing all of their success in ministry to God (1 Corinthians 3:5-15). It is only by the power of God that the apostles were able to carry out their mission in the effective manner as they did.

B.) "That you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written...":
         -The Corinthian Christians needed to depend on the wisdom of God, not man. In other words, they needed to learn how to keep their thinking in alignment with the inspired writings, and to only use the Word of God as the standard of judging the apostles or other leaders in the church.
          -Many in the church today evaluate the quality of teachers by using factors such as humor, how they persuade or entertain, how they look, or by their intelligence. These are completely unbiblical standards and thus violate the principle set forth by the Apostle Paul in this text. Furthermore, we have been instructed to formulate every doctrine off the teachings of the Bible. Hence, this is the reason for Paul uttering the phrase "not to think beyond what is written". If people truly stayed within the boundaries of Scripture, then religious corruption would gradually fade away.

C.) "That none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other...":
          -The Church of Corinth was beginning to follow unbiblical standards to judge the apostles. This led to the church being divided over who was the best. But if Christians occupy biblical standards to test the truthfulness of church leaders, then schisms would not develop because nobody could have the arrogance of joining sides behind prominent church leaders. Scripture is what keeps our thinking in accordance with God's will.