Good News About Purgatory

Some think there is a stopping point before getting to heaven so we are absolutely clean to get there. To them it sounds logical. Here are the facts.
Good News About Purgatory
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2017 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).

Depending how one looks at things many would say heaven is a most pure place and a person has to be pure to get in there. However, some would also say that those who “are not bad enough for hell” but “not good enough for heaven” need to spend some time in a place called, or a place like, purgatory where they can be purified from sins and faults.

If we look throughout the Holy Bible we will not find anything about purgatory. However, those that say it exists point to a few passages they feel indicate its existence, and the

Catholic Church will also cite 2 Maccabees 12:39-45. Let us first look at these before we get to the crux of the matter.

Passages Where Some Think Purgatory Is Meant

Let us first deal with 2 Maccabees 12:39-45. Now you probably know that I, as a born again Christian, would bring up the fact that 2 Maccabees is not Holy Scripture. Some Catholics would still state that passage has historical value. First let me briefly explain why it is not Holy Scripture and then we shall address what it says.

2 Maccabees belongs to a group of books classified as the Old Testament Apocrypha (OTA) {1}. To be very brief at this point, the Jews in the time of Jesus did not consider the OTA as inspired by God {2}. Jesus did not speak of them as Holy Scripture, and the early Church did not consider the OTA to be Holy Scripture. The book itself declares portions of it to be fancy of its author {3}, and thus casts doubt on much of its content.

So even its historical value is in question. Nonetheless, let us take it as a fact that the Jews prayed for the dead. 2 Maccabees is recording a practice that occurred more than a century before Christ died on the cross. In Luke 16:19-31 we see that before the death of Christ everyone, whether they would inherit Eternal Life or not, went to the grave, or better expressed perhaps as “Sheol”. We see in this passage a man who had a very sad life on earth was being comforted in “Abraham’s bosom”. A great distance away was a rich man being tormented in flame. Both groups remained there until Christ died on the cross for all sins and sinners. We then read in 1 Peter 3:18-20 what Christ did before He rose from the dead:

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”

We get further insight of this visitation by the quickened Christ in Ephesians 4:7-10, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.’ 9 (Now this expression, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)”

Considering these passages from 1 Peter and Ephesians and applying these to the Luke 16 passage where Christ described the afterlife before His death upon the cross, Abraham and Lazarus were taken “on high” with Christ after His visitation, while the rich man remains in that prison. “Abraham’s bosom” is no longer existent there, and all that is left is a place of torments whose occupants will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).

Matthew 5:25-26 and Luke 12:58

Beginning at Matthew 5:21 . . .
“You have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and -'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. 23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 25 Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.
27 You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

For the convenience of all, I have provided much of the general context of Matthew 5:25-26. In these two verses we have a person “in the wrong”, their opponent (“adversary” in some versions and translations), a judge, and an officer. This passage, like those before it, focuses upon earthly issues from the Kingdom of Heaven (God) perspective. It is an example, to a degree, of Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

The Kingdom of Heaven (God) way when one has something against another is to deal with it immediately, and not let it fester. That is the reason for the statement in Matthew 5:23-24. If someone has an issue against us they might just grapple with it, and if they do not leave it go over the course of time it may worsen their spiritual condition. It may even destroy them. We should attempt to bring reconciliation. If they repeatedly refuse we might have to cease trying (as led by God), but at least we followed His Word. If we make no attempt at reconciliation things can escalate as described in verse 25.

I would also like to add that Matthew 5:24-25 is the “flip side” of Ephesians 4:26 where Christians are exhorted to not let the sun go down on their anger. Christ is teaching us in Matthew 5:24-25 to help our opponent to not let the sun go down on his anger.

Yet, to me, “pay" is the most striking word of verse 25. The whole council of God is clear we can never pay for sin. Many also tend to rank sins. To some, stealing a nickel is not as bad as stealing a thousand dollars. As a Roman Catholic I was taught there were all sorts of sin, but if a Catholic dies with only the lesser sins on their account they will not go to hell, but they would spend time in purgatory until purged. One’s term in purgatory could be shortened through indulgences in acts and prayers they prayed while on earth, and by those on earth acquiring indulgences on behalf of the departed. So we thought pay was made, but I cannot recall if it was ever explained to me how any would know when things are “paid up.”

We take up this issue of “paying for sins” later, but before we continue, think of Adam and Eve. What did they do so horribly bad that not only affected them, but the rest of humanity? They did not rob a bank, commit murder, or anything we would consider really horrible. They “simply” disobeyed God. Now, is that not what all sin is about? Another thing is they sinned against the eternal God. All of this is true for any sin you or I might commit. The essential truth in all of this is that we can never “pay up” to get out of hell, so that is one reason any type of purgatory would be equally useless.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Beginning at 1 Corinthians 3:5 . . .
“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

It is to be remembered that “fire” in the Word of God does not always mean punishment. Hopefully most people reading this know that the Holy Bible at times speaks of gold refined by fire. There is also the sense of trying, testing. This passage has nothing to do with sins in the sense we have so far spoken about. It has everything to do with how Christians bring others to Christ and then mutually edify one another. “Preacher” or not, each Christian will have to give account of what they did in Him.

This is what is referred to as the judgment seat of Christ. It is written in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “ For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Preacher or not, each true Christian ministers in some way, whether they know it or not. There are times Christians will do things their way, or according to an idea by someone else. Other Christians may see this and do the same. Also, sometimes motives are not pure. However, when we stand before Christ all things will be revealed. 

Matthew 12:32

It is written in Matthew 12:32, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” Some look at this and feel there is forgiveness available after death. However, Hebrews 9:27 says, “. . . it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”

Just as “work” was a guiding word in 1 Corinthians 3:13 and other verses, so is “age” in this verse. Looking at the whole Word of God one might see at least seven time periods. Some Holy Bible scholars refer to them as dispensations. While God remains the same, He may do things differently in various time periods. For example, we are in the Church age and the Church, like Christ, is to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). However, before that time, Israel was to be a priestly kingdom. So blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven now nor will it be forgiven after the Church age. To our knowledge, as of when this article was first published in mid-September 2017, until the rapture of the Church occurs, earth will continue to exist for over 1,000 years. And, to my knowledge, there are two more ages until the destruction of the earth. Until then, other people will be born. Those born now will not be forgiven of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, nor will those who will be born in the age or ages to come.

Here Is The Good News About Purgatory

Sadly, though the Catholic Church with its over twenty rites will state they believe in Jesus Christ and that He died for our sins, they do not fully believe in His finished work of atoning for all sins: past, present,


and future. They have ignored Holy Scripture and have trusted in unscriptural theology. This is partly why they feel why Christ has to be resacrificed (the central point of a mass) and though one might be a very good Catholic there is a good chance they will spend some time in a purgatory before ever entering heaven. They continue to do works and offer prayers for the dead, never knowing for sure if a loved one made it out of purgatory. And, because they do not believe in Jesus Christ to the extent of His complete atoning work, many remain trapped in a cycle of sinning, never coming to the personal knowledge of the remission of sins.

However, the Holy Scriptures are full of the fact that the work of Jesus Christ was totally complete. They also point out that each person is totally corrupt (Romans 3:10, 23) and because each of us has sinned against the eternal God Who is only completely most pure and holy, not one of us can ever pay for our sins (Psalm 49:7-9).

When Christ died, and He died for everyone’s sins, just before He took the last breath while on the cross He cried out “It is finished!” To underscore precisely what He meant by that there was an earthquake and the veil in the Temple, which shielded the most holy section, was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38). Not one more animal was required for sacrifice. Those who did not believe in Christ continued to do so until Rome destroyed the Temple in 70 AD. Sadly, many use indulgences, something the Holy Bible never established, because they do not believe in Christ like they should, that is, trusting in His finished work from His birth to resurrection and applying it to their lives.

The atonement of Christ is a most beautiful, awesome, liberating truth that permeates the Word of God. Christ made the one, the only pure, fully appeasing sacrifice to the Father for each person’s sins. Consider, hopefully with a heart full of love, this from 1 John 2:1-2: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

“Propitiation” means {4} an appeasing and a means to appeasing. This means the Father is completely satisfied with the work of Christ. It is also all that we need for salvation and ongoing forgiveness. Before I present one passage in closing for each of us to apply, in love for God, to our lives, here are just a few Holy Scriptures that show the entire work of Christ is completely sufficient for salvation:

John 1:29 -- The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 -- Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Hebrews 7:25 -- Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 7:27 -- Who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Hebrews 9:12 -- And not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 10:10 -- By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

1 Peter 3:18 -- For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

1 John 3:5 -- You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

As you see, Jesus Christ did it all and He does not have to do it again. Within Him there is salvation that includes immediate forgiveness of sins, powerful remission of sins, and a fountain of new life which brings the disciple into eternal life with Him. Purgatory does not exist because Christ Himself is all sufficient. Someone that is truly born again is in Him. Each true disciple is crucified with Christ and He lives in and through those who put their trust in Him and not in self or religion.

Enter Into 1 John 1:9

I have presented many Holy Scriptures to show there is no need of purgatory because Christ paid for all sins for all time. However, if I had to select one passage that would bring a firm hope and assurance to a truly hungry soul it would be 1 John 1:9, which is as follows:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we confess our sins: A previous verse tells us that there are times real Christians sin. This verse tells us that due to the complete and finished work of Christ our sin can be immediately and fully dealt with. First, we must admit to God, tell Him, that we have sinned. Sure, He would already know that, but we must agree with Him what we did or did not do in thought, word, deed or anything else, was a sin and bear our responsibility for it. The balance of the verse would indicate we should seek His forgiveness and cleansing.

He is faithful: The Holy Bible attests to the fact that Christ is faithful in all of His ways. And a true Christian will know that more experientially, and affirm that more in word and deed as they grow in Him.

And righteous: He is righteous to forgive us our sins for a number of reasons, but staying with the theme of this article He is righteous to forgive our sins because He took each of our places on the cross, and took all our sins past, present, and future. He paid the full penalty. Even if we sin now there is nothing we could ever do to appease the righteous requirements of God. Christ met those righteous requirements and therefore is completely righteous to forgive us.

To forgive us our sins: It does not matter if we consider the sin big or small. He will forgive us. In so doing He remembers them no more. Notwithstanding by sinning we may have set other things in motion that might “come back to bite us.” For example, in the past there have been numerous ministries that were really in the will of God. However, when the leaders fell into sin, and although they sincerely repented, and God restored them to their ministry, their outreach was reduced in a number of ways. God forgives and forgets, but some people do not.

And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness: If we follow this verse, and verses 5 to 8, when we confess our sins to Him we are restored to the righteousness we are to have in Him. As Galatians 2:20 states, a true Christian is crucified in Christ, and though they are still physically alive Christ lives through them. So when the Father looks at us He beholds His Son, Who is righteous. This is not God overlooking our imperfection, but it is God looking at His perfection in us through the Son.

1 John 1:9, all the verses I presented that show the sufficiency of Christ’s saving work, and more, bring assurance within the true disciple of Christ. I was raised Roman Catholic, but when I surrendered my life to God through Christ it was a blessing to know that if I would sin I was to go directly to God, be surely forgiven, and be surely cleansed. I rejoiced there was no need for a place like purgatory, and no longer did I have to wonder when I would get out of it, nor wonder if I passed from this life if someone had the mind to say a few prayers or do some good deeds on my behalf to get me out of purgatory sooner. I had an assurance and peace with God that could only be found in Christ and not in religion.

It must be said, that though Christ did die for all sins past, present, and future, this does not give us permission to sin. In fact, the exact opposite should occur. Because Christ, out of love, did all of this and more for us we should love Him enough and not sin. One must also keep in mind that grace is the ability to do those things that please God.

While 1 John was written to Christians, we must keep in mind that God is ready to forgive those outside of Christ when they surrender to Him through Christ. This is true for anyone and it matters not if they feel their sins are big or small.

If you are a Catholic I encourage you to trust only Christ. Some of you know very well the teachings and practices of the Catholic church. Sadly, a large part of those things are contrary to the written Word of God. This is also true of many Protestant groups. Many times religion is a way to hide from God. Do not do that. He loves you. Turn to Him now and trust Him fully through Jesus Christ alone, the author and finisher of the only saving faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Notes:

{1} A reader of my articles might ask if I have read the Old Testament Apocrypha. I have read about half, if not more than half, and could not finish the rest due to time constraints. I did some research on it and made an analysis of it for a term paper when I attended what was once was Northeast Bible Institute. 

{2} Unger, Merrill F.: Unger's Bible Handbook (Moody Press, Chicago, IL: 1967), p456

{3} 2 Maccabees 15:38-39: “And if I have done well, and as is fitting the story, it is that which I desired: but if slenderly and meanly, it is that which I could attain unto. For as it is hurtful to drink wine or water alone; and as wine mingled with water is pleasant, and delighteth the taste: even so speech finely framed delighteth the ears of them that read the story. And here shall be an end.”

{4} From an electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong incorporated in the Online Bible program, and so throughout the article whenever the ancient language is referred to and no other authority is cited.

Find more apologetics information at http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/ , and please visit this ministry’s apologetics index at http://sapphirestreams.com/life/api.html .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates and adding “(The Existing One)” to readily express the meaning of His Name without making repeated explanations in articles. * = For other versions the spelling of some words is updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates.

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.



Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Posted on 13-09-2017 44 0

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