One of the stranger news stories from yesterday, which became a laughing stock in social media circles, was that the Vatican is offering a reduced stay in Purgatory for those Roman Catholics who engage with the Pope’s tweets from Brazil on Catholic World Youth Day. It has brought an abominable heresy back into the open and it must remind true Christians to hold fast to biblical doctrine rather than those of an Antichrist (Pope Francis).
Pope Francis has attracted some positive reaction from Protestants: in the words of the Canadian newspaper National Post, he is ‘a pope even evangelical Protestants can love’. This status is thanks to rejection of opulence and his outward good works, but these things – though a good example for a Christian lifestyle – actually aid his deception of the masses. His recent assertion that even atheists can earn eternal life if they do good saw him branded as enlightened. But doctrines such as these are precisely what is dangerous, for it completely misses the point of the gospel and nullifies Jesus’ victory on the cross. The Pope has taken upon himself a role in the place of Christ, has spoken on his behalf and has accepted the worship that is due to God alone.
The only Vicar of Christ is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible – without any distorted ‘Tradition’ – is sufficient for knowledge of salvation and holiness. One of the issues with the latest offering from the Romish Church is the mere concept of Purgatory: the Bible nowhere speaks of Purgatory or of any intermediate stage between death and heaven. It became necessary to invent Purgatory as a means to account for the perverse mix of faith and works as a fundamental principle of their doctrine. The Bible says that no man apart from the Son of God is righteous and so none of us may hope to earn salvation; instead, our works are to be a demonstration of our faith, a gift from God in themselves. The minute that works are introduced to faith, however, salvation becomes uncertain and the scales tip in the balance of valuing our own morality highly and God’s grace much less because of this.
So do not be deceived by the friendly face and visible charity of the papacy, but think of the devastating effect that it has had theologically over the years. At first, the Romish Church banned translations of the Bible so that those who could not read it for themselves were taught corrupted doctrine by those abusers of power. Part of this corruption is the so-called ‘indulgence’, which is supposed to absolve sins. At the time of Martin Luther, these indulgences were offered for sale and he was prompted to publish his Ninety-Five Theses to expose the scandal of the Vatican. Since that time, indulgences can no longer be bought, yet they are still on offer and still deceiving millions.
It is not only in indulgences, but the very way of thinking behind them has permeated society. The layman of non-Christian background has it ingrained in his mind that he must earn his way to heaven. This creates two kinds of person: the first will be apathetic towards God and ignore his idolatory, thinking that if heaven is real, he can reach it by being a decent law-abiding citizen. The second will think (and rightly so) that he is simply not good enough for eternal life, but will then proceed to ignore the mercy and love of God for his creation and convince himself that he must enjoy what he has. Both kinds of thinking has been reinforced by the Romish Church for centuries and that is why modern-day Christians must not forget the work done by the reformers and must perpetually teach their principles which come from real scripture. We must also beware of making concessions to the papacy and becoming infatuated with its outwardly friendly face: we must instead resist its evil and demonstrate the true nature of the living God. That is, none of us is righteous and therefore none of us has the right to eternal life, but naturally deserve death. Nevertheless, there is a great hope, that if we confess we have sinned, repent and trust in Jesus, then he alone has redeemed us. Works come second, but never be convinced that you earn salvation by works – this is a fact about which to rejoice, for our salvation is secured in Christ and nothing can undo it if we persevere by God’s grace.
To summarise, if you feel that you have sins requiring absolution, why look to the frail man on his throne in Rome? Forget following tweets, which merely indulges Satan as he tempts man to idolatory in veneration of the Pope and his beatified saints. But you can have real, complete absolution of your sins simply by trusting in the promise of the gospel, repenting of sin and therefore seeking reconciliation in Christ. This is the requirement – easily found by reading the Bible – for eternal life, a free gift fully from God.
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’ Ephesians 2:8-9.
‘“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”‘ John 3:16-18.
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