When choosing to observe Lent, Christians exhibit a very popular, Chinese-buffet mentality — which is to cherry-pick their favorite traditions from various religious systems. Giving very little thought to the spiritual wickedness that often follows such practices.
Lent is merely one small facet of the Catholic system of rituals and sacraments that must be followed in order for the faithful Catholic to gain forgiveness of sins and merit the joys of heaven.
Most people think that Catholicism offers some guarantee of heaven. But this is not really the case — even for the faithful Catholic. Because, when a Catholic dies, he must still face the punishments of Purgatory.
All because of sins that have not been forgiven in this life.
Suffering in Purgatory
One of the foundations of Catholicism is its teaching that the suffering of a Christian, during his time on earth, helps to pay for his sin. And, practically speaking, reduces his time in Purgatory.
(It is important to note that the scriptures do not teach anything about Purgatory. This is a belief based entirely on Catholic tradition rather than biblical truth.)
To Catholics, Purgatory is the intermediary state between this life and a person’s ultimate destiny in either heaven or hell. Catholicism teaches that every person must spend an indefinite period of time in Purgatory in order to pay for his sins. A time that might be a week or maybe a billion years.
Who can really say how much suffering is required to pay for a single sin? Even for a common, garden-variety sin? Like going 51 mph in a 50 mph zone?
Catholic tradition teaches that payment for sin may be made in a few different ways:
- By ones own sufferings in Purgatory by fire, etc.
- By the application of spiritual benefits dispensed by the Catholic church from the Treasury of Merit (also called, the Treasury of the Church). Which is composed primarily of the sufferings of Christ, the sufferings of the Apostles, and the sufferings of other Saints. However, additional benefits may also be added to this Treasury in the following ways:
- They may be in the form of prayers made by living Catholics on behalf of those who are suffering in Purgatory.
- They may be in the form of masses, paid for by Catholics, conducted by priests for the specific benefit of a loved-one who is in Purgatory.
- They may be by indulgences that Catholics pay before they die in order to reduce their future time in Purgatory.
The Necessity of Suffering
All of the above Catholic teachings help us understand their basic view toward suffering in this life. A view that suffering is necessary in order to pay for sin. That a person’s own personal sufferings, in combination with those of Christ and the saints, are a vital and necessary component to salvation.
This salvation is procured thru a process of installments.
These installments include a lifelong reception of the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Which include baptism, confession of sins to a priest, regular attendance at church masses, good works, prayers to God and to Mary, taking of the Eucharist (the host and the wine), and the Final Rites conducted by a priest at death.
Plus many other requirements not listed above. All of which keep a person in spiritual bondage to the Catholic system and authority.
Christ Has Set Us Free
All of this is said, not to beat up on Catholics, but to help us all understand that true, born-again believers in Christ are freed from such rituals and requirements. Salvation and forgiveness are a free gift from God.
They are freely given by God, according to His word, and not dispensed by any religious authority.
This wonderful salvation was purchased entirely by the blood of Jesus Christ which He shed once for all men on Calvary over two thousand years ago.
“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; . . . Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10: 12,18)
This amazing truth is meant to set every person free who is held in bondage by false religious traditions — whatever those traditions are and by whatever religious authority presumes to add to the finished work of Christ.
The Bible warns us not to submit to any authority outside of a local pastor and elders. And even then, to only follow that authority based on our having faith and a good conscience toward that authority as they are faithful to the word of God.
The word of God holds final and absolute authority in all matters. It reigns above all traditions, all rituals, and all ecclesiastical powers. Which means that all authority flows solely from God’s word.
To Be Continued . . .