Bible Study: Purgatory


In Roman Catholic theology, purgatory is an intermediate state after physical death in which some of those ultimately destined for heaven must first “undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” holding that “certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.” And that entrance into Heaven requires the “remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven,” for which indulgences may be given which remove “either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin,” such as an “unhealthy attachment” to sin.

Catholic statement on Purgatory

All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (1030).

Knapp The Ethics of Eternal Punishment is a single chapter work on the everlasting or eternity of hell. Christopher Knapp is a brethren author.
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Actually, what this Catholic blogger writes is true. The problem is in the interpretation of these words. People here on earth sinful. Everybody without exception. The only exception to this statement is 1) Adam and Eve before they sinned did not have sin. 2) Jesus Christ did not have sin. To make you think about things, Adam and Eve sinned at one point, and our sinfulness is actually like Adam’s. Secondly, Jesus Christ never committed any sin, nor was he sinful. Being “without sin,” Jesus took on the sin of the world. So although Jesus did not have ANY SIN of himself, he bore the sins of the world. That is how we get salvation.

So to summarize, all people here now are sinful.

But some people have their sins forgiven. They have sinned, but God forgives them their sins. That is different from being sinless. Being saved, they still sin on this side of heaven. Once they die, God will purify them completely not only of the legal penal guilt of sin, but of the actual presence of all sin. Those saved in heaven do not sin any more. That is because God does not permit sin in his presence.

To be truthful, the Bible is not explicit in how, when, and the steps or processes of this final complete purification before entering heaven. But there are some points to be considered, and we apply these points to considering purgatory, and it is not a biblical concept.

See Christ’s Atonement

No Condemnation

Rm 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Rm 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

So there is a state of some people at least that God will not condemn them. The grave problem with the Catholic doctrine here is that they believe that even though God forgives sinners, He still requires that they pay through suffering for their sins. This casts a horrible shadow over death and funerals.

Purgatory is just like hell

The point is, purgatory is just like hell, except you get out after a time of suffering. Even this idea of a Christian suffering is exactly biblical, but the Christian suffers here on earth, not in the afterlife.

Lazarus entered into eternal bliss immediately

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus presented us with a parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Immediately, and without any intermediate state or place of suffering, Lazarus was with Abraham. Good things happened to Lazarus immediately. No Suffering.

So Christians do suffer, and this is presented often in the Bible, but all their suffering is before death, not after death.

Only Catholics are in Purgatory

To be fair and truthful, only the Catholics are the ones who believe in purgatory, and according to them, only good faithful Catholics will go to purgatory. Recent Popes have presented that nobody, not even the Apostle Paul, Peter, or John have suffered enough to get out of purgatory.

The sad thing is that they are probably exactly right. All Catholics will go to heaven, but there is only one thing they get wrong. They will never get out of purgatory/hell ever for all eternity. The other thing is that true Christians will never go to hell, nor anywhere like hell. They go directly to the Lord.

2Co 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Paul’s understanding of the afterlife was that when a New Testament believer dies, he is immediately with the Lord.

He 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

The Bible does not speak of intermediate suffering for the Christian. Like Luke 16 teaches, there are two destinations, heaven and hell, and when a person dies, he is either saved or not saved, and being saved means he goes to hell. Being unsaved means suffering and punishment.

Can we pay for our sins?

For those who teach purgatory as a person paying for his own sins, there is a choice. Either Christ paid for all of our sins, or we and Christ pay for them. How can we pay for our own sins?

Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

The point here is that Christ’s suffering was sufficient in God’s sight because Christ suffered for sinners, but Christ was perfect in his own life. To teach that each person will suffer in a hellish purgatory for his own sins, well, this presumes that the suffering of a sinner for his own sins will appease God’s wrath. It does not. In recent years the Catholic church’s official teaching has extended purgatory’s length of suffering indefinitely. (Sorry folks, that is the definition of hell, suffering forever). But this has been lengthed until Christ returns, and this is because even they refuse to see a long period of time as sufficient for some of their own people.

So there are two problems here: 1) Can our own suffering pay the price of wrath that God puts on sin? (NO it can not). 2) If Christ suffered and died for our sins, isn’t that sufficient? (Yes it is). Even if we could suffer after death for our own sins, to do so, or to teach this would be to undermine the value of Christ’s suffering.

1John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The Bible does not insert our own suffering with Christ’s suffering as being the propitiation for our sins, it just teaches Christ’s suffering. He is the propitiation for our sins. (period)

Catholic’s “proof” for purgatory

1Cor 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

But if we study the context, we find that this is not talking about what they say it is talking about.

1Cor 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 1Cor 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 1Cor 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 1Cor 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Paul was talking to Christians about how they build their spiritual lives, and they develop their own ministries. He was not talking about salvation per se. As Christians, everything is going to be evaluated by God, and the things that are deemed good in His sight will be rewarded and the things that are not pleasing to God will not be approved. Although as a Christian, we will not lose our salvation, we can lose our rewards. Besides this, God chastises his own children while here on earth.

This is where the Catholics err. They have a works salvation system, and they believe and teach that good works will get you into heaven, and evil works will keep you out. But they also change that foundational principle that is Catholicism, you have to be under their authority and obey them, and then good works will get you into heaven etc.

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