PURGATORY

 

By Atif Himadeh

 

Catholics have defined purgatory as a place of “temporary” suffering resulting from an inability to see God and a series of other tortures intended to relieve the soul of all the remains of sin and to render it fit to see God.  The Catholic Church declared the existence of purgatory at the seventeenth Ecumenical Council of Florence in 1438.  In doing so, the Catholic Church was belatedly issuing a new doctrine with no Biblical basis, as will be shown in this article.

           The most important piece of evidence presented by the contemporary Catholic Church to support the existence of purgatory is 2 Maccabees 12:13-46.  What the modern church failed to notice was that the Maccabees were not part of the Bible in the year that the Catholic Church declared the existence of purgatory.  The Maccabees   were added to the Bible in 1564, but they are not recognized as part of the Bible or as inspired books by over half of Christians worldwide.

           How dare the Catholic Church base one of its teachings on books that the Catholic Church itself did not consider to be inspired for approximately 1500 years?  Even the Jews did not consider them to be part of their holy books.  This suggests that every opinion based on the books of the Maccabees   is the opinion of man, not the opinion of God.

           The Bible says in Matthew 12:32, “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”  Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

           This does not mean that there is forgiveness after death.  There is not one verse in the Bible that states that sins can be forgiven after death.  Luke 12: 58-59 says, “When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.  I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.”  Certain ignorant people have interpreted prison here to refer to Purgatory and hell at the same time.

           The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  Even one sin, whether accidental or intentional, small or big, is punishable by death, i.e. separation from God.  The Bible says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

           The punishment of even one sin – no matter what kind of sin it is – is eternal death and separation from God in the lake of fire and brimstone.  The sinner cannot escape hell as payment for the sins he has committed.  God did not say that the wages of sin is “temporary” suffering in Purgatory.  God did not say that there are two kinds of sin, one whose punishment is Purgatory and one whose punishment is hell.  God did not say that a minor infraction leads to Purgatory while a grave one leads to hell.  God simply said, “The wages of sin is death.”

           The Bible also says, “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  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

           At the seventeenth Ecumenical Council of Florence, these words of Paul were understood to refer to the fires of Purgatory.  However, those who held that belief failed to notice that the text says that the fire will test the work of man and not man himself.  They did not pay attention to the words “so as by fire.”  Man will be saved “as by fire” and not “after being purified by fire” as those at the Council of Florence read the verse.  No man has the right to alter the text of the Bible to suit his opinions, deviating from God’s clear message. 

           There is only one way for man to be purified from his sin, and it was mentioned by John the Beloved: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  If the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (i.e. purifies or purges us), then why should Purgatory exist?  If Purgatory cleanses people from sin, then why does the Bible say, “The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin”?

           If the fires of Purgatory are able to cleanse people from venial sins, then why is it unable to cleanse them from other kinds of sin?  If the fires of Purgatory can cleanse people from sin, then why can the fires of hell not do that?  The Bible says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).  The Bible says that sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ and not the fires of Purgatory.

           Jesus Christ came to earth from the heights of heaven, was born of a virgin, and shed his blood on the cross to purchase us: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).  Christ has purchased the saints with the blood that He shed on the cross.  Whoever says that man can be purified by the fires of Purgatory is denying the Lord Jesus Christ and the blood that He shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.  The Bible says, “…and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  The only true purifier is the blood of Jesus Christ, which is able to cleanse us from every sin.  Whoever teaches anything else is denying Jesus Christ, who purchased us with His blood.  Peter said, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).  Some people say, “The blood of Christ is not able or sufficient to forgive all of my sins, and that’s why I need to be purified in the fires of Purgatory so I can stand before God.”  This is a flawed opinion, because God is able to forgive every sin and the blood of Jesus Christ is fully able to cleanse us from sin.

           The Bible says, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrew 10:14).  That one offering is the death on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His blood to cleanse us from all sin.  That one offering is sufficient and able to purify us from all sin; we do not need a Purgatory or a fire to purify us.

           If you would like to be cleansed of your sins, ask the Lord Jesus to forgive your sins with the blood that He shed on the cross.  Pray this prayer with faith: “Lord Jesus, I am a sinner.  I ask you, the all-powerful God, to forgive my sins with the blood that you shed on the cross.  Come into my heart, and give me eternal life.  In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.” 

If you have received forgiveness of your sins and have accepted Jesus into your heart, write to us.

 
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