Friday, September 09, 2005

Purgatory

It's been a long time coming... truth be told I've been ducking writing on the subject, but when I noticed somebody had read my "Lost" blog, I was reminded that I had said I would. So I thought now would be the right time.

So lets examine what it is first, before we lay into it. Basically, Purgatory is supposed to be a kind of disciplinary waiting room before you receive eternal life. It is supposed to be between heaven and hell, a place of purification where a soul is made perfect before meeting God. The length of your stay varies according to the quantity and gravity of your sins.

What is wrong with it, is that it doesn't exist! The idea wasn't based on scripture, it was a fantasy invented to make cash for the church of the middle ages... and BOY did it make cash! There was an "economy" for sin. Certain sins cost you bad, so you had to make reparations for it by praying for absolution. Trouble was... the clergy set some sins at ludicrous rates. You might expect to be locked in purgatory for eons. Help was at hand though... if you were wealthy, just build loads of churches, give stacks of cash to the abbot and the monks would pray for your sins... that should shave a few millennia off.

So where does Jesus fit in with this theology? Well we know that:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Now it wouldn't be very loving of God, to send Jesus to pay for our sins... and then despite all that... say "well boys and girls, you can still bubble away for a few thousand years for what you've done". That is not forgiveness. God's forgiveness is complete. As it is written:

"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him."

That verse doesn't make Purgatory look very likely, does it? i think that makes it quite clear that the death of Christ is meant to be the one factor that reunites us with the Father.

Christians believe that Jesus died in FULL payment for the sins of mankind. There was one sacrifice made for all. That was Jesus. We believe we are washed of all our evil deeds and darkness... by his willing death on the cross. THAT is why the idea of purgatory (as invented by the Roman church in the Middle Ages) should be so abhorrent to Christians, and why it is an affront to God... the author of salvation.

You might be feeling that you have strived all your life to attain a salvation that is freely on offer. If you wish to know how to attain it, I have added a few short pointers.

All you need to do to receive that salvation is:

  • Believe Jesus is who he says he is.
  • Recognise that we have offended God by our rebellion against him in our daily lives.
  • Genuinely turn away from that wilful rebellion.
  • Accept that your "sins" were paid in full by Jesus death on the cross, and that God
  • acknowledged this by raising Jesus to new life (you can call that your proof of purchase).
  • Finally you need to let God take a central and more active role in your life through the Holy Spirit. If you want suggestions: Meet other Christians, pray and read the Bible.

Don't believe it's that simple? Well, the Bible puts it like this:

"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

Or as Billy Graham has said:

God said it (in his Word), I believe it (in my heart), that settles it (forever). No getting relatives to pray for your soul until judgement day... just a solid assurance that God loves you so much, that he sent his Son to die for you... in order that you might live with Him forever.

After reading this... you might want to take a step forward. Here is a short prayer that I would encourage you to say to God:

"Father in heaven, I know that I've sinned against you by my thoughts, actions and inaction. I don't want to be that person any more... I want to be the person YOU made me to be. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die for me. Please forgive me through his death and resurrection. Come and live in my heart God. I ask it in Jesus' name. Amen"

Remember... God said it, you believe it.... that settles it!

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