What the Bible says about Purgatory!
Recently, I read that the Pope said that if you follow him on twitter you'll get time off from purgatory. This article caused quite a controversy when I posted it on my facebook page. Consequently, I decided to write an article explaining exactly why the false doctrine of purgatory is unbiblical and why it is a dangerous doctrine.
I was raised Catholic. My whole family with few exceptions are Catholic. I, however, am not Catholic. One of the doctrines of the Catholic faith that seems to persist tenaciously is the idea of purgatory. Purgatory is the place, according to the Catholic church, where people go who aren't bad enough to be sent to hell but aren't good enough to get into heaven. I don't think the Catholic church talks about purgatory very much today because well, I'm not sure why. In my mind it might be because it completely flies in the face of the sufficiency of Christ's work on the cross and they just don't want to call attention to that. But, that's just my opinion, maybe they do talk about it, I haven't set foot in a Catholic church in decades so I could be wrong. However, I digress, let's look at why the concept of purgatory is unbiblical shall we.
The Bible teaches that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 8. Also, in the book of Revelation chapter 20 verses 12 - 15 scripture states:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Moreover, the book of Revelation in chapter 22 verses 18 & 19 comes with a warning: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Therefore, those who would say that there are some things that we just don't know about that could be true about where we go after we die are stuck with a warning. God has already said that if your name is not written in the book of life that you will end up in the lake of fire and that anyone who takes away or adds to this is deadly mistaken.
Catholic doctrine describes purgatory as such:
Thus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "All who die in God’s grace and friendship, 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. The Church gives the name purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned" (CCC 1030–1).
So, according to the Catholic church the concept of purgatory comes from the need for some people to undergo purification. Let's explore this a bit.
Do we need purification if we are saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The book of Romans in chapter 8 verses 2-4 says:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Furthermore, Jesus said in John 5:24:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
If we have no condemnation then why do we need purification? If we are not saved then according to Jesus we are condemned already:
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The danger of the doctrine of Purgatory is two-fold. One it dilutes and therefore nullifies the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and two it teaches people that they have to work for salvation. Both ideas are unbiblical and heretical.
The scripture clearly states that
Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Heb 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
It is Christ's finished work on the cross that enables us to have salvation, our works cannot bring us salvation.
Heb 9:25 -28 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Hebrews 10: 10-14 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
These verses are crystal clear, Christ offered his blood on the cross ONCE and we who accept that sacrifice are perfected forever. If we are perfected forever in God's eyes then why would someone have to pay for their own sins in purgatory?