Purgatory a spiritual bermuda triangle
From the 2nd Vatican Council, p. 63, "The truth has been divinely revealed that sins are followed by punishments. Gods holiness and justice inflict them. Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all, through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments."
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1030, "All who die in Gods 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."
In Catholicism there awaits for those who die in a state of grace a time period where they must be purified by suffering for unrepentant venial sins, to satisfy the demands of divine justice. This is a temporary punishment to convert and prepare them making them worthy so they can enter heavens glory.
Catholics have some persuasive and convincing arguments by for purgatory as they prove it by reason. 1 Cor. 3:12-15 teaches a purification by fire for believers after death. Heb.12:14, "holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, "which means we must be made absolutely pure to enter heaven. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Mt 5:9). All these encompass works, since no one is perfect in this life , we to be perfected in a intermediate state so we can enter heaven? What about such Scriptures? If this is a teaching that is so clear how could millions have missed it for almost two thousand years?
1 Cor. 3:10-15, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
In I Corinthians 3 it is the believer's works, not the believer himself, that will be tested by fire. Paul is not speaking of literal fire any more than he is of literal wood and gold. He is speaking metaphorically, calling some works wood, hay, stubble (which fire burns combustible) and others gold, silver and precious stones (which fire purifies). There is nothing here (or anywhere else in Scripture) to support Catholicism's view that flames in a spiritual zone purge the individual expiating the sins that were not cleansed while they were alive taking the sacraments ( Eucharist. ) Whatever is not built on the true foundation will be burnt. It says nothing of punishments but of the quality of ones works related to their rewards.
Paul is teaching on the quality of works one has done for Christ and what if any rewards will be received. If one reads this text correctly we find that ones works can all be burned up and they can still be saved and enter heaven. Why? Because he himself was a on the sure foundation. This destroys the preconceived notion that one must have a certain amount of good deeds for salvation. It also proves justification by faith alone and not by works also. The Day is a reference to the great day of the Lord when he comes again and all the works of men will be judged to see if they are acceptable to God, will they go into eternity or will they vanish. Its a test of whether the work was done on the right foundation by the H.Spirits motivation to be eternal.
Paul says, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done ( works) in his body, according to that he bath done, whether it be good or bad." In Revelation 22:12, Christ says, "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be." Our entrance into heaven is not the question, but the reward the Christian will receive in heaven. There are degrees of heavenly rewards. Once we receive the crowns we will cast them to his feet because the Lord who redeemed us was the cause of all we did.(Rev 4:10).
Paul likens the Christian life to running a race for a prize: "They (athletes) do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible [crown]" (I Cor. 9:25). Paul called his converts his "crown of rejoicing" (I Thess. 2:19; Phil 4:1). There are other crowns to be earned as well: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness" (2 Tim 4:8); "ye shall receive a crown of glory" (I Pt 5:4); "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10). It is possible to cruise in ones Christian life and lose out, not in salvation, but a crown we had previously won: "hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev 3:11). Salvation is by grace alone, but the reward we receive is based upon our works, which will be tested and their quality revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ.2 Jn.8 John the apostle warns of deception which can lead to loss of a full reward--of grace not of debt. The reward meant is that of their "work (of faith) and labor of love."
What of Col.1:24, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the sake of his body the church." This is used to show Paul suffered for his salvation. But this is not showing that Paul suffered for his salvation. He is speaking of suffering for the sake of righteousness in his course to fulfill his ministry. The sufferings of Christians should never be confused with the redemptive suffering of Christ for our sins. Remember when Paul was called in Acts 9:15 the Lord said "I will show him how many things he must suffer for my names sake." Our suffering cannot add one benefit to Christ's perfect work of redemption. Trials are to test our faith not to purge sin, only the blood of Jesus can do that. There is no biblical connection between our suffering now or later in purgatory to lose our sins. (Jm.1:3, Rom.5:3-5 1 Pt.3) it is there to develop faith which is trust in God. Were saved by faith and we mature by faith.
What of Matthew 5:8 and Hebrews 12:14, the Scripture is clear that we cannot attain to a personal holiness or purity that would qualifies us to enter heaven. Heb. 12:14 actually says to pursue peace with all people and holiness. This is referring to ones relationship to others not a personal holiness to have salvation, but for obedience. If we are to have holiness in the way Catholicism claims than we must have peace with all people. Eph.1:1-14 tells us we are holy and blameless before him because of Christ vs.4 not because of our achieving a holiness by our own work through his grace. suffering cannot purge us of sin not here now or in some spiritual zone of purgatory later. It is through faith in the blood of Christ that washes our sins away: "when he (Christ) had by purged our sins" (Heb 1:3) "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son purges us from all sin." (I Jn 1:7) Heb. 9:22, "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission (purging of sin)." Rev. 7:14, "they ... washed (purged) their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Christ)."
Peter declared, "For Christ also bath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (not to purgatory)" (I Pt 3:18). Catholicism challenges the biblical teachings saying that though Christ endured the eternal punishment for sin, Christ's death, couldn't permanently purify us because personally suffering for our sins is required to become pure enough to enter heaven. Not only does the doctrine of purgatory contradict the Bible, but there is an obvious internal contradiction within the churchs dogma. They teach that after death, people hold masses, rosaries are said, the good deeds and suffering of the living on ones behalf being said for them. They can reduce or even eliminate purgatorial suffering entirely so you don't have to personally suffer after all ! Incredible as it seems, what the redemptive death of Christ on the cross couldn't accomplish, the repetition of the mass, prayers, rosaries, penance, good works can. One can only hope they have left friends and family behind to do theses things on their behalf while they continue to suffer waiting to be purged by their actions from the living. Nowhere in the O.T. or through N.T. give any examples where believers pray for the dead.
2 Pt. 2:9, "The unrighteous are kept under punishment unto the day of judgment." There are only two places of destination, If one is not righteous enough to go to heaven they go to Hell. Obviously its not a personal righteousness but the righteousness of Christ we are clothed in. 2 Cor. 5:21 "we have the righteousness of Christ by faith." Rom.5:19, "For by one mans disobedience all were made sinners so by one mans obedience all will be made righteous." This does not excuse someone who lives unrighteously to do so. But this doctrine can promote that since they can depend on others later to fund their bail.
For what its worth the early Church did not teach such a doctrine Athenagoras, 177 AD." We are persuaded that when we are removed from this present life we shall live another life, better than the present one . . . Then we shall abide near God and with God, changeless and free from suffering in the soul . . . or if we fall with the rest [of mankind], a worse one and in fire; for God has not made us as sheep or beasts of burden, a mere incidental work, that we should perish and be annihilated." (Plea for the Christians 31).
The Bible does not teach perfect holiness in the body or in a intermediate state. We dont have to be perfect to go to heaven because Satan and his angels appear before God in heaven and they have no purity in works or nature to be allowed before God. If the trials of fire didn't perfect you while you lived in your body what makes you think fire can burn away impurities afterward?
Alexander Hislop in the book the two Babylons which he traces the ancient systems of paganism says. In every system therefore except that of the Bible the doctrine of purgatory after death and prayers for the dead has always been found to occupy a prominent place. Pagan religions always had fire to purge ones sins. It was the earthly representative of the Sun God that would bring (Lev.18:21, Jer.32:25) perfection by burning (passing through the fire).
We walk by faith not by sight. Our confidence is knowing when we leave this earth we are in his presence. Paul considered himself the chief of sinners. If anyone needed to be purged from sin he would. Yet he never says to pray for him, even when he wrote to Timothy before he died, he never mentions purgatory for himself or for anyone else. Or Stephen who was not an apostle in Acts 7:55-60 was stoned to death, before he died his last words were "Jesus receive my Spirit." And Jesus stood up in heaven to receive the first martyr. The Catholic church has a way out of at least some of these passages by saying all martyrs go to heaven. Like Islam the only sure way to heaven is to die (for Jesus). The Biblical definition of salvation means you are forgiven and saved from the penalty of sin. Jn.8:24 Jesus said, "unless you believe I Am you will die in your sins." Jesus solution, believe he is the I Am and when you die you will not be in sin. No sin, no suffering and no purgatory. Jn.5:24, "Whoever believes in him will not come into judgment but has passed from death to life." Jn.8:58, "whoever keeps my word shall never taste death." Death is the sting of sin.
To a Catholic eternal life is a merited reward that he has gained by cooperating with God by his works. While we are to do this, the motivation is very different, one is for salvation the other is because one has it already. Rom.8:1, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Purgatory is condemnation . As believers we are judged for our conduct and work in relation to rewards not to our destination. Because salvation is a gift that has already been settled. For a Catholic the only difference between ones experience in hell and purgatory is the length of time. What of the O.T. saints that were in Hades for thousands of years. If they were suffering in purgatory how did they have their sins purged. Their were no masses said. No one was praying for them. How does someone know how long they are to pray for them and when to stop. Who knows when enough money has been given to the priest. What if someone has been released and money is still given. If purgatory is for someone to purged their sins and make one perfect for heaven by suffering. And this prompts people to pray rosaries, have masses and indulgences to cleanse them. Then they dont really need to suffer to be purged you can have others do the alternatives. Yet we are told you are not able to purge your sins without suffering, so which is it. What happens to all the people that are supposedly in this mythical place when Jesus comes and their purging is not complete. And what of those who never entered purgatory to be purged when he comes back, how do they get accepted?
Is this the reason why Pope Benedict the 15th granted an indulgence for 500 hundred days if people were found wearing the brown scapular. Pope John the 22nd sold salvation for money. The bigger the crime the more one paid. This meant the more money one had the more they could sin and be assured to pay their way out. This is nothing less than bribing God.
Does ones rituals of money become more powerful and effective then Jesus Christ who is God. This means everything he did and was said about his blood is for nothing. In Mk.2:7 the Pharisees said who can forgive sins but God." They were right. No matter how much prayer or money is spent it cant shorten anyones time in the afterlife. Deut.26:13-14 speaking of tithes says "he has not given any of it to the dead". The bible says no such thing, the Apocrypha says different. So the decision comes down to who one will believe.
Catholics are taught that "it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins"
2nd Maccabees7:43-46 Judas, the commander of the forces of Israel,"making a gathering...sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead,thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead). And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may beloosed from sins."
The Catholic Church used 2nd Maccabees for validation but they excluded 4th Esdras 7:105 "Speaking of death declares no one shall ever pray for another on that day." they rejected this because it went against their own new doctrine.
The Bible is even clearer Ps 49:7-9, "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him-- For the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever--That he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit." There is no payment for sin except the blood of Gods Son on the cross this is what God the Father accepts, nothing less, nothing else.
Heaven is not a reward for doing good deeds but a gift to us because of what Christ did. To see it any other way is to miss the very reason Christ died. He purchased for us something we could never do on our own even if we live a million years and do good works it still would not be enough.
Rom. 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Paul said of all believers in 2 Cor.5:8, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. He makes it even clearer to be at home with the body is to be absent from the Lord."
Phil.1:21,23 says "It is far better to die is gain (not pain) his desire to be with Christ is far better." (Christ is in heaven).The thief on the cross went to paradise not to purgatory, where Jesus was, he was also. He didnt have time to burn off a lot of sin of which he probably had plenty. He was accepted by grace just as we still are today.
There is only one way to be cleansed by Christ blood this what he came for he suffered in our place. The bible teaches that in Heb.1:3 after he purged our sins he sat down at the right hand of God Heb.10:11-12 A high priest never sat down unless his task was completed. Can our own prayers and money accomplish what he supposedly failed in. Is Christs death insufficient or sufficient? Heb.9:22, "without the shedding of blood their is no forgiveness of sins." There is no more sacrifice for sin . It was completed, almost 2,000 years ago. 1 Jn.1:7, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The O.T. sacrifices were given over and over because they could never take away our sin. This is what the mass is claimed to do. One must continually repeat it because of its temporary affect. Christ sacrifice is permanent only he as a person can bring us to God not through a wafer or any other means. Col. 1:20 having made peace through the blood of the cross."vs.22 In the body of (Jesus) his flesh through death to present yourselves holy and blameless and irreproachable in is sight." Because of what he did we are accepted. The father accepted the payment now its up to you to do the same.