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"Pope Offers Catholics Time Out Of Purgatory By Y2K Indulgences"

The above was the headline of a recent article in the HOUSTON CHRONICLE (Nov 28, 1998, p. 26A).

The article said:

"Pope John Paul II announced Friday that throughout the millennium celebration, penitents who do a charitable deed or give up cigarettes or alcohol for a day can earn an 'indulgence" that will eliminate time in purgatory...

"The medieval church sold indulgences, a practice that drove Martin Luther to rebel, leading to the Reformation...

"The pope said individual sinners would be granted 'plenary indulgences," a full pardon for sins as opposed to a shortening of the time spent in purgatory...He included personal acts of penitence or local charity as a way of earning an indulgence.

"Throughout the period, believers will be offered a wider selection of ways to receive a plenary indulgence. They may follow tradition and attend a Mass in one of several designated churches and perform such devotions as the rosary or the stations of the cross. Or, as an appendix to the pope's letter explains, they may visit the sick, the imprisoned, or the handicapped, or give to the poor. Or they may choose an act of private sacrifice...This would include abstaining for at least one whole day from unnecessary consumption (for example, from smoking, or alcohol, or by fasting)."

Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't it be great if we could receive "a full pardon for sins" by simply going to see someone in prison or on their sickbed, or ... imagine this Christian brothers and sisters ... if we could give up our sinful practice of drinking alcohol for only a day!!! Wow! Think about it. That would mean we could avoid the painstaking instructions given by the INSPIRED JOHN when he said, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Too, we could ignore James' admonition to "confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed" (Js 5:16). "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

Please don't misunderstand, we are for doing good deeds (Mt 25:31-46). We are for people giving up their sins, but for more than a day (Col 3:5-10). However, when you read the Bible "from cover to cover" you will never read of a thing called "indulgences." It is purely a tradition of man, established by man's authority, not from God in heaven (Mt 15:1-9; cf., Acts 8:18-24; 1 Jn 1:10; Js 5:16).

Moreover, there is no such thing as purgatory. Again, we submit that nowhere in God's inspired word will one find the doctrine that says people leave this world and enter purgatory to cleanse themselves before they get to heaven. Rather, the Bible teaches that upon our death, we will either go to paradise or torments, and can never cross over to the other, to await the final judgment (Lk 16:19-31).

Further, the article mentioned "rosary" and "stations of the cross," two things which are not as the oracles of God (1 Pet 4:11).

It is worth noting that Martin Luther was right to rebel against the Catholic church and its teachings, but he went FROM BABYLON PAST JERUSALEM TO EGYPT. His disgust for Catholic perversions drove him to an equally sinful extreme--faith only. The Bible teaches that one must OBEY, DO, FOLLOW, and WORK in order to be pleasing to God (Heb 5:9; Mt 7:21-27; Jn 10:27; Mk 8:34-38; 2 Pt 1:10-11).

God's word foretold of those who would set themselves up as God and teach perversions of truth (2 Ths 2:3-4, 9-12; 1 Tm 4:1-3). These men and their doctrines are to be rejected (Gal 1:6-9; 2 Jn 9-11). Therefore, let us abide only in the doctrine of Christ!

(S. F. Deaton)


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