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Universal Salvation

It is surprising how prevalent the false idea of universal salvation is in many religions and even Christian denominations. Universal salvation is the idea that everyone ultimately is going to go to heaven — that God’s house is big enough for all views and that there are many ways to heaven. It carries the idea that no one is such a sinner that they will not eventually go to heaven. Universal salvation goes hand-in-hand with the idea of purgatory — where eventually all sins are purged or washed away by a benevolent God.

Both are false teachings, according to the Bible.

The Bible teaches there is only one way to heaven and that is by faith in the complete sacrificial death of Christ on the cross for our sins. (Ephesians 2:8-9) And faith in Christ is the only way to heaven. Every sinner needs a Savior. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) This is why those of us who believe the Bible are committed to evangelism and missions.

No Scripture teaches that God is going to gather everyone together for a second chance, to understand the truth after death, and then all ultimately end up in heaven. Contrary to that, the Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27) The Bible knows nothing of a second chance after death.

The Apostle Paul warns us all in II Timothy 4:4 not to turn aside to “fables.” Both purgatory and universal salvation are fables.

Pastor Jim

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Purgatory

I was at a dinner meeting with several ministers of various denominations recently, when a discussion of the doctrine of “purgatory” took place. I listened attentively, and finally the question was posed to me: “Rev. Wigton, what is the view of Baptists regarding purgatory?”

I did not hesitate to answer that Baptists believe the words of the Apostle Paul, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” (II Cor. 5:8) Furthermore, I answered, the Apostle Paul says, “For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

There is no Scriptural basis for purgatory, which makes the teaching of purgatory a false doctrine. The Christian doctrines that we believe today come from the Bible and have been articulated for some 2,000 years. The doctrine of purgatory became popular in the 12th century and became official in 1245 A.D. It is a man-made doctrine, not pretending to come from Scripture but from the authority of the “Church.”

In recent years some have tried to find vague Scriptural foundations for purgatory, but there are none. The verses cited have so little to do in establishing purgatory that it is not worth our time to refute them. There is simply no biblical basis for purgatory.

The concept of “purging” or washing away our sins is biblical – but always such purging is based upon our faith in the completed work of Christ on the Cross and the effectiveness of His blood. The Apostle John tells us, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) And if we confess our sins, He cleanses us. (I John 1:9)

To believe one must face further penance or purging of sin after death is to deny the sufficiency, authority, and completeness of Christ’s death and shed blood. John tells us Christ is the “propitiation” (or satisfaction) for our sin. (I John 2:2)

The Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27) We will be judged, John says, on whether we are in Christ. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (I John 5:12) And there is no second chance – no purgatory. We die once – in Christ or not in Christ.

We are not in Christ through the church nor through baptism. We are in Christ by voluntarily putting our faith in Him as one’s only Savior. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power (right) to become children of God.” (John 1:12) Every sinner needs a Savior, and only Christ qualifies to cleanse away our sins and save us.

Pastor Jim

 

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Supreme Court Nomination

As a preacher, I have always maintained that the answers to life are found in the Bible. Our English and American judicial system is based on English common law, which is based on books of authority, especially including the Bible. You can see Judeo-Christian principles all throughout our law. If we would follow such tradition carefully, we would have an easy answer for the confusion in Washington over the accusation(s) brought against Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh.

The answer is simple. Scripture teaches that no accusation should be brought against anyone without two or three witnesses. The confusion we have in Washington is all based on “she said, he said.” How are we possibly to know whom to believe? Far too many people believe one or the other based on their prejudices coming into the issue.

But Scripture has the solution. The accusation should not have been entertained by the Senate committee, especially in public. From the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” By following that principle, we take pressure off of everyone trying to figure out who to believe. Then the New Testament says, regarding people in positions of leadership, in I Timothy 5:19, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.”

The logic is obvious. I wrote a similar article to this years ago when the Anita Hill uncorroborated charge was brought publicly against Judge Clarence Thomas. I would apply the same test of fairness to Democrat or Republican alike. We should not receive these wild unsubstantiated charges, without multiple witnesses for corroboration.

Someone says, well, a rapist could go free — rarely are there witnesses. Police seek evidence other than witnesses all the time — including forensic evidence and circumstantial evidence, etc. It takes more than one accusation to convict someone. To our shame, in our American history we have seen young men lynched on one false accusation.

Someone says, what if it were your daughter? Well, what if it were your son? We need to go by evidence, not emotion.

My view is truly non-partisan. And far too many of us still base our view on political preference or prejudice. We should apply fairness to everyone. And we certainly see that the Bible does have the answer.

Pastor Jim

 

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Hope

Hope is a strange thing. Even when you try to ignore it, it can pop up. When there seems to be no hope, hope whispers to us and revives.

Hope can do damage, such as the gambling addict who is spurred on by the hope of a win. On the other hand, hope can rescue someone who is on the verge of despair.

Consequently, it is important that we have hope in the right thing. We do not want to hope in vain — we want to base our hope on truth. The Psalmist says the Lord is our hope, that we are to rejoice in hope, and that we are to hope in God’s Word (or promises). The word “hope” is used no less than 143 times in the Bible.

Ultimately, our hope is in Christ. As we put our faith in Christ and come to know Him as personal Savior, hope is fulfilled in us. In fact, the Apostle Paul, in Colossians 1:27, assures us of “Christ in you — the hope of glory.”

Pastor Jim

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God’s Blessing This Week

Wow, what a great VBS we have had this week at First Baptist Church of Cape Coral! I love VBS. I have been intimately involved in VBS for years. Our family pastor, Jonathan Phillips, has done a masterful job of organizing VBS, and we have had an outstanding team of volunteers.

We have the best attendance we have had in the 6 summers I have been here at First Baptist Cape Coral. Our missions offering for Brazil has been excellent. And we have seen a remarkable number of children come to Christ as their personal Savior!

Thank God for VBS!

Pastor Jim

 

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Upward Basketball

Wow, what a great week we had with our Upward Basketball camp here at First Baptist Church of Cape Coral. The atmosphere was festive. We had four basketball teams of children. It was boisterous, exciting and happenin’! We had a full-house Friday for the closing banquet and play-off.

Our family pastor, Jonathan Phillips, and his entire team did a great job! Pastor Jonathan clearly presented the gospel, and a number of young people opened their hearts to Christ. Hugh Morgan put on an outstanding Friday evening banquet.

What a week! We give God all the glory for what He is doing here at First Baptist.

Pastor Jim

 

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