There are different beliefs circulating about Purgatory and they seem to change over time. In my experience, many that believe in this dogma really don’t understand its purpose. The most thorough explanation I have found, and one that refutes my position, can be found at Catholic.com.
I’m not hesitant to provide a resource for an opposing position to mine. I do this to prove that my motives are sincere in trying to provide you with the truth. When it comes to your destination after this life, the truth must be the focus of your thinking. Not to do so will have eternal consequences. The Lord said in John 8:32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
There’s not enough time to debate every point Catholic.com makes in defense of Purgatory, but the site does provide a concise explanation as follows:
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC 1031)
The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.” (Catholic.com)
According to the above, Purgatory is a place of punishment. It should be noted that the document supporting this belief is the Catechism and not the Bible. While the Catechism may be a helpful resource for some, it is, nonetheless, a man-made document. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, which the Catholic Church also acknowledges.
When we search the Bible for evidence about the existence of a place called Purgatory, we find none. Catholic.com does reference some Scripture in defense of its position, but none of the references apply.
The one Scripture account that should settle this debate unequivocally is found in Luke Chapter 23:39-43 and reads as follows:
“One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!'”
“But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?”
“And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”
“And he was saying, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!'”
“And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'”
Interestingly, Matthew and Mark indicate that both criminals were insulting and mocking Christ initially. This would mean that at some time during the six-hour ordeal one of the criminals “changed his mind” regarding Jesus. To change one’s mind is the meaning of the word “repent.”
Stay with me here. In verse 40, it’s indicated that the repentant criminal had a fear of God. In Proverbs 1:7, we read, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” And in Proverbs 9:10, we read, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
This criminal began to exhibit knowledge and wisdom and his newly-found wisdom told him that Jesus is God. In verse 41 he confessed that he was a sinner, when he acknowledged that he deserved to be crucified for his crime.
In verse 41, he acknowledges Jesus’ innocence. Then, in verse42, he utters these words of faith: “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”
Next, we read, these most precious words of Jesus: “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Here is an example of Heaven Assured that is far better than any I could offer. This criminal repented, he acknowledged that he was a sinner, and publicly demonstrated his true faith in Christ as savior. Herein lies The Way of salvation:
1) Change your mind about the Lord.
2) Admit that you’re a hopeless sinner.
3) Trust in Christ only for your salvation.
Jesus told the criminal that TODAY he would be in paradise. There is no mention of Purgatory in this dialogue. Do you think the Lord was lying to the criminal and that he would have to go to Purgatory for “purification” before paradise?
Have you noticed the absence of any reference to mortal or venial sins or having the debt of “…temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven?” (Catholic Catechism) If there is still a debt for sins already forgiven, then the sins were never really forgiven.
To think or say that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not complete and sufficient regarding our sins is not only arrogant, but it depicts our loving God to be less than what He says He is. And, it implies, at the very least, that He did not do that which He said He did.
You deny God His glory when you proclaim salvation by self-effort. “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Psalm 146:3) Mortal man cannot alter God’s plan of salvation. Does it not strike you as even a little odd that, if Purgatory was a real place, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy spirit, as well as the apostles, would not include it or make some reference to it in all of Scripture.
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) If you have to suffer in Purgatory, then you are not free indeed. Either Jesus was lying or there is no such place as Purgatory.
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9) When God saves, you can be sure the salvation is complete.
The dogma of Purgatory is nothing more than man’s arrogant and prideful attempt to demonstrate that God saving us by grace alone is too easy and that we must have to contribute something to our own salvation. This attitude presupposes that man has something of value that God needs or wants.
This is not the first account of God completely saving people without any contribution on their part. One only has to read the incredible account of God saving the people of Israel from the bondage of slavery.
If you take a moment and read this wonderful account in Chapters 3 – 19 of the book of Exodus, you will see that the people of Israel were not required to aid God in their salvation in any way. All they had to do was walk across the Red Sea when Moses told them to do so.
This is all God ever asks, that we believe what He says to be truth and then to put our complete trust in that truth.
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