This is the time of the year when a smile or an act of kindness can go a long way in encouraging someone.
Years ago a young man was selling products door-to-door to work his way through medical school. Tired, discouraged & broke, he knocked on the door of a young lady. She immediately went to the kitchen and got him a tall glass of milk. He was so refreshed & encouraged that he never forgot this act of kindness. Even though he was broke, he asked her what he owed her. She said nothing! He said, “I thank you from the bottom of my heart!” The young man, Howard Kelly, went on his way.
Years later this same lady was stricken with a rare disease which baffled the doctors. She was in critical condition, when the local doctors sent her to the city to medical specialists, who were also baffled. Finally, they called in Dr. Howard Kelly. Dr. Kelly immediately recognized this wife & mother as the lady who years earlier had done him such a favor. He applied his expertise, solved her case, treated her successfully and watched her recover.
Dr. Kelly instructed the hospital to send her bill to him. He wrote a message on the bill and sent it to the woman’s room. She opened it with trembling hands, thinking she would spend the rest of her life paying it off. On the bill, the words were written — “PAID IN FULL — with one glass of milk.” (Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly
This is a true story. Dr. Howard Kelly was one of the four founders of America’s first medical research hospital, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
Let’s each of us do something kind for someone this Christmas season!
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.
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.