All Saints’ Day, All Souls Day…. And Halloween..
Today is All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day is tomorrow. And there is “something” with those days…. We asked a number of people on the street what is celebrated.
The first thing that comes to mind is that they remember the people who have died (Father, Mother, Grandpa, Grandma etc.) and there is nothing wrong with that. Grieving is processing a loss, for example the death of a partner, child, father, mother or other loved one, and that definitely has a function. If that would be it at All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day it would be fine, but there is more….
Officially it is two days, in practice we hear in the answers that those two days are intertwined, but for the sake of convenience let’s keep them separate.
Day 1: All Saints’ Day:
All Saints’ Day commemorates all “saints”… so that they ask the “saints” to intercede / advocate with God for you, so you have a clear way from the dark forces (ghosts, witches and other dark images) so that you can pray freely the day after that (All Souls’ Day) so that you are not hindered in your prayer… for your dead loved ones.
Right, that sounds complicated and the more you look at it the more complicated it gets.
Let’s look at that from a biblical standpoint:
The Bible does not teach us anywhere(!) to ask anyone to intercede (to advocate) with anyone other than Jesus alone. Jesus has already done that for us.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 2:1-2
Jesus is your “advocate” / “intercedeer” / “mediator” so that you can pray and come to God. So, not some “saint” we made up.
Jesus alone. Full stop. The Bible is very clear about this:
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
To make it even clearer:
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity–the man Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:5
So whoever came up with this “All Saints Day”… it’s not biblical. On the contrary. It goes against everything in the bible. But…. it gets even more complicated. The second “feast” day:
Day 2: All Souls Day:
All Souls Day is in memory of deceased loved ones. But how do they do that?
With Prayers (we get back to what prayers), cemeteries are visited (everything is cleaned up and candles are lit and flowers are placed), and gifts are given remembering the faithful held in purgatory in the hope that their souls will be released to heaven. The rest of November is also spent praying for the dead.
What is that “purgatory”? A place or condition of temporal punishment (between earth and heaven) for who are not wholly free from daily faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction for their transgressions. That would be a place where you temporarily sit between heaven and earth to atone for your sin…. and only(!) when you are done with that do you go to heaven.
Let’s look at that from a Biblical standpoint too. Because that “purgatory”… is nowhere in the bible. It does not exist. Because there is good news!
Jesus died to pay the penalty for all our sins:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this While we were still sinners Christ died for us.
But he (Jesus) was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Jesus suffered for all(!) our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. To say that we also have to suffer for our sins in purgatory is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient. That purgatory… doesn’t exist.
To say that we must atone for our sins by “cleansing in purgatory” negates the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice (1 John 2:2). The idea that those who are saved (Christians), have to suffer a little more temporarily after death to get rid of their sins, is contrary to everything(!) the Bible says about salvation.
But where does that purgatory idea come from????
The Bible passage referred to as proof of purgatory is 1 Corinthians 3:15, which says:
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.
It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15
The section uses an illustration of things passing through fire as a description of the works of believers being judged. If our works of good quality are “gold, silver, costly stones”, they will pass through the fire unharmed, and we will be rewarded for it. If our works of poor quality are “wood, hay or straw” they will be consumed by the fire and there will be no reward.
It does not say that believers pass through fire, but that a believer’s works pass through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15 refers to the believers who are “escaping through the flames”, it does NOT say that they are “cleansed by the flames” / cleansed in purgatory.
But we go even further, there are also prayers to the dead…so that they can be an “intercession” for you when they (eventually) arrive in heaven….
What does the Bible say about this?
If you look at the biblical story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) you will see that praying for the dead is not a Biblical concept. Our prayers do nothing to someone who has passed away.
The reality is that at death one’s eternal destiny is established. Either he is saved through faith in Christ and is in heaven experiencing rest and joy in God’s presence, or he is tormented in hell. There are no other flavors, and no going back.
Jesus clearly used this story to teach that the unrighteous are separated from God forever after death, that they remember their rejection of the gospel, that they are tormented and that their condition cannot be remedied.
He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’
There is no “talk” between heaven, hell and earth. You also cannot pray someone out of hell (which does exist) or purgatory (which does not exist, see above). You die, once, after that is the judgment and no way back or forth:
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.
So, here too, whoever came up with this “All Souls’ Day”… it is not biblical. On the contrary. It goes against everything in the bible.
And now the good news! The biblical truth is a lot less complicated than these two “holidays”:
Heaven exists, hell exists… and if you believe that Jesus died for your sins… you go to heaven. No “purgatory” or hell for you, but eternal life. Without pain… without loss or grief… Wow. And it is that simple. Full stop.
And now finally…. back to today’s world. All Saints’ Day is also called Allhallows. Halloween is a derivative of Allhallows… know what you are “celebrating”… and read your bible. In context. Give it a thought, pray for it and act.
Let’s take a look at this bible passage:
If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
It is written:
“As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
Romans 14: 8-13
So, no, I am not going to judge you on what you do or don’t do. That judgment is up to God. But please do not put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
What if somebody got out of the false beliefs about All Saints day and All Souls day… and he / she sees us celebrating Halloween… Just give it a thought…. and this is just one example…
If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Celebrate life, the life of Jesus. He died for you, so that you can live.