This Week's Focus Passage

‘That ye abound more and more.’

Focus Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:1

‘That ye abound more and more.’

To superabound! To go above and beyond! “to superabound (in quality or quantity), be in excess, be superfluous; be more abundant, be the better, enough and to spare, exceed, excel, increase, be left, remain (over and above). If we ‘abound more and more, does that mean that we have more than enough? Does it then allow of supererogation? Have we done more works than necessary so that our ‘abundance’ is available for other believers to ‘tap into’? Is this from whence Rome supports its doctrine of supererogation? What exactly is supererogation; what does it mean? Supererogation, simply put, is the performance of more work than duty requires. Works of supererogation are, (In the Roman Catholic Church), actions believed to form a reserve fund of merit that can be drawn on by prayer in favor of sinners. Is this passage, or verse, something that Romanists can lay hold upon to support their doctrine of supererogation? One has written with regard to this false teaching, that,

“One error always leads to others. When the Church of Rome began tampering with the Scriptures, it started on a road to error and false doctrine which calls constantly for new errors to support the former ones. Thus, purgatory called for indulgences, and indulgences called for works of supererogation.”

One may well inquire, ‘what is the teaching of works of supererogation; it is simply this, at least as Rome teaches:

“It is possible for some souls to accumulate and excess supply of good works which can be credited to souls in purgatory who failed to satisfy God’s demand for good works. Thus certain people—not only monks, priests and nuns—can live lives of sacrifice and devote themselves to an unbroken life of reciting prayers, reciting the rosary, repeating Hail Mary’s, attending masses, etc., etc., until they build up a store of good works far beyond their own needs.”

The short answer to the many questions that would arise in our minds—that is in the minds of those who have been brought to an understanding of grace apart from any works whatever, may be found in the 1764 Methodist Articles of Religion. These articles are found, among other places, in Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom. The 11th Article found in this document is Of works of Supererogation, and refutes the Roman Catholic doctrine most pointedly, when it avers that:

Voluntary works—besides, over, and above [something perhaps, like, abound more and more] God’s commandments—which are called works of supererogation, can not be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that is commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.

This is marvelous in our eyes; that is, to read a document espoused by such rampant Arminians as these Methodists basically denouncing any value at all in any works of man whatever. The chief architect of these articles was John Wesley, the chiefest among Arminians, if there ever was one. And yet, here, in this 11th article, likely because of his antipathy toward Rome, he largely supports the truth that the works of man are devoid of any merit; Wesley, who taught that it was possible in this life for sinful man to attain unto perfection. O Lord, what is man?

It is maintained by many that the doctrine of supererogation was the natural outworking of Rome’s teaching regarding indulgences. Their repugnant teaching of indulgences is supposedly supported by Christ’s having given to the priests the right to absolve sins; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

‘Soon the idea of purgatory was developed. “Purgatory” was a part of the temporal penalty for sin. Indulgences were made possible through the meritorious acts or the gifts of the living whose account could be transferred to the account of the departed and used for the benefit of the soul in purgatory. The door was now opened to the notion that it involved a promise of eternal forgiveness of the grossest of errors for a price or a deed. It made the possible the worst of superstitions and was encouraged by the Church to fill its coffers.’

“The Church found it necessary to teach that ‘the voluntary works over and above God’s commandments which had been performed by the saints, and which were not needed for their own salvation, were not lost or wasted, but went into the treasury of the Church…………these works of supererogation formed a deposit of super abundant [there is our word; ye abound more and more] good works, which the Pope, as holding the keys of the kingdom could unlock and dispense for the benefit of the faithful, so as to pay the debt of the temporal punishments of their sins, which they might still owe to God.”

Satan himself could not have devised a more wicked system than this which has been formulated by the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters. Such teaching has robbed many men and women of their eternal souls as they have embraced this particular form of easy-believism. What great multitudes have thought they would fall into a temporary place of purging, only to learn in a flash that they are in the hell of fire where the worm dieth not and the flames are not quenched? Only to discover that there is not the least merit in the works of ‘saints’ any more than in their own; to learn too late that Jesus Christ is the only one who has any merit for sinners.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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