The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that rules on the forgiveness of sins, has said that indulgences may be given to those who follow the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media. (from http://www.independent.co.uk)
The official teaching of the Catholic church is that indulgences can reduce purgatory sentences.
In other words, following the Pope on Twitter can now earn you forgiveness of sins and get you closer to heaven.
Anyone else wish this were a farce from The Onion?
Think about what this would have to mean:
Romans 3:23-- “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” really means, “All have sinned, but some lucky people in the 21st century will have the chance to come closer to God’s glory with only the simple push of a button!”
Ephesians 2:8—“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith” should be changed to, “It is by the gracious gift of the internet that God has enabled you the chance to earn yourself forgiveness in a hip, new, modern way.”
John 3:16—“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and Only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life,” would read, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him and subscribes to the new pope on Twitter will be a bit closer to possibly, maybe, having eternal life.”
It’s confusing. Perplexing. Saddening.
Yes, you can certainly read an online devotion that reminds you of the forgiveness Christ earned for us. You can definitely glance at a Bible passage Tweet that strengthens your faith in Jesus, your Savior. You could even receive a quick text message from your local pastor telling you that the Bible says you are forgiven in Christ!
But to imply that it is possible to slowly earn God’s forgiveness by subscribing to some kind of cyber allegiance?
Here’s a quick reminder of what the Bible says:
1) No one can earn God’s forgiveness or heaven! Afterall, God said, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Leviticus 19:2) James added, “Whoever keeps the whole law, yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 4:20) Paul concluded, “There is no one who is perfect. Not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good; not even one.” (Romans 3:18-20)
2) Jesus died to earn forgiveness for the sins of the whole world. God spoke through Isaiah, “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Paul wrote, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them...God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) John the Baptist cried, “Look the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) Scripture also says, “When this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12)
3) Those who believe in Jesus as their Savior are forgiven and will be in heaven. Paul wrote, “Righteousness is given through faith in Jesus to all who believe.” (Romans 3:22) Again he said, “The Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Jesus himself said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
The Bible teaches that no one can earn heaven. It is a gift won by Jesus and given through faith in Jesus!
The truth is that the Pope’s new message teaches differently. It says that people can earn heaven by their own work, simply by adding the Pope on Twitter!
Take a look at what the Apostle Paul said about a similar attempt in the early 1st century. Then, a group of people had begun to teach that people needed to do things in order to earn themselves forgiveness. Specifically, they were teaching that people needed to be circumcised in order to earn forgiveness. Paul wrote in Galatians 2:
We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified...I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
May I paraphrase that last sentence? "If righteousness could be earned through a few simple taps on your iPhone, then Christ died for nothing!"
To those who were troubled by the statements of the papacy, then, may I encourage you to cling to Christ. Because there is "no other name under heaven, given to men, by which we must be saved!" (Acts 4:12) Christ died for you! His work is complete. Your salvation is complete. Put your faith in him, not your own works!
Your going to heaven is not in jeopardy if you haven't added the pope to your Twitter account.
In fact, it probably will be if you do!
Because Paul says, "Watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them." (Romans 16:17) His point: Why negatively influence your faith by reading things that point you away from Christ for your salvation? Why make yourself doubt Christ's power to save? Why make yourself worry that his sacrifice didn't count? Why put your faith in danger? Why act like the work of your salvation isn't finished?
Because it is.
Jesus said, "It is finished." With that he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
Feel free to Tweet that.