Problems With Purgatory: Part 3

5 07 2016

 

 

What about the argument of antiquity? We often hear the church fathers quoted or as one ignorant man told me, “I read books hidden in caves and it proves people in the early centuries believed these things.”

Does Scripture or human tradition set the standard for belief? I’m sure Jews who wanted to worship a golden calf could point to the antiquity of it and say, “Well when they left Egypt one of the first things our fathers did was make a calf and worship it so it must be right after all they did it way back then.”

Corruption was already setting in during the time of the apostles. John pointed to the slide in Ephesus.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” (Revelation 2:4)

We saw John also warn about a man who as clergy/laity distinctions were being introduced was known to take control over a church.

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receive us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (3 John 1:9-10)

We see John continue his warnings to the church in the first century.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

We see Paul make a warning that not only would false teachers arise but that they would arise from the very people he was talking to.

“For I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30)

Paul said that some of those who he taught would err from the faith and draw away disciples after themselves. The true test of truth is not whether or not the Jews did it, or how long it has been taught, or who trained the person who taught it. The only valid test for the truth of doctrine is does the unchanging, infallible, and inspired Word of God teach it? If not then it cannot, should not, and must not be considered truth.

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)

If anything is taught it needs to be in line with what the apostles taught through the inspiration of the Spirit. Paul said:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8)

Paul was not accidentally inspired, he was aware of the inspiration upon him when he penned the Scriptures. This verse proves that. He said that the gospel he preached under inspiration was so sure that even if he were to come back and correct or add to anything he said then he would be accursed.

If the church fathers believed baptism, penance, almsgiving and the mass add to our salvation and make us righteous before God then they are adding to the Gospel Paul preached which was by grace through faith. They are not only wrong but accursed. Paul goes on to say:

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)

Paul said in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel was the power of God unto salvation but then said in 1 Corinthians 1:17 that Christ sent him not to baptize but to preach the Gospel. Paul is thus signifying that baptism has nothing to do with salvation. He said in the verse above that his revelation was from Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ says this about salvation it matters not to me the great mountain of church fathers, priests, councils, or men who teach otherwise they are all accursed.

Likewise the Scripture reveals through Jesus Christ that the redeemed live forever in Heaven and the damned are punished eternally in hell. It matters not to me how many so called fathers, or church councils declare a third place it does not make it valid or true. All that matters, all truth, and all authority are contained in the Scriptures.

Purgatory is a hill in the southern hemisphere and souls who obtain a second chance end up on Mt. Purgatory where they face two levels. The seven deadly sins are depicted in seven levels all with fitting punishments. This is the depiction in the 14th Century work The Divine Comedy by Dante. Many over the years have held this image as being partially if not entirely accurate.

In a papal audience from August 4th, 1999 Pope John Paul II called purgatory a “condition of existence” lending to the idea that it is less an actual place. In a general audience talk from January 12, 2011 Pope Benedict XVI spoke concerning St. Catherine of Genoa (1447–1510). He said the purification of souls in Purgatory was pictured as a location in space in her day but that she did not agree and saw it as a purifying inner fire, the kind like she experienced in her sorrow for sins committed, when they are compared with the infinite love of God.

He basically likened it to a process that could happen in life more than a place where one goes after death. The church continues to take prayers and offerings for departed loved ones. This shows an amazing disconnect.

The Second Edition of the Catholic Catechism says, “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 Pope himself seems to be in some conflict here as he sees it more as a process not a place where one goes after death. In this catechism it states that people can be friends of God and assured of eternal salvation but may still need purification. This is a foreign thought to Scripture.

“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15:3)

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)

The Bible says that Christ purged our sins Himself. The catechism says that we are imperfectly purified. The Bible says that He washed us from our sins in His own blood and yet the Romanist dare claim we are imperfectly purified.

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Revelation 1:5)

The above verse does not say that He washes us a little but then sends us to purgatory to purge us the rest of the way. It does not say He washes us only of former sins but sins committed after salvation must be atoned for by the fires of limbo. It gives us no hint of anything but a complete and perfect cleansing by Christ for us of all sins to God be the glory.

The doctrine of purgatory is a statement that what Christ did for us is imperfect or incomplete and that more must be done to purify us and make us ready for Heaven. This is not only a blatantly false doctrine but utter blasphemy and disregard for the work of Christ. The Roman Catholic Church has declared those whom Christ says He redeemed as imperfectly purified.

We are cleaned in Christ’s blood and declared righteous before Him. Abraham was declared righteous by faith. Scripture says that likewise all who come by faith are declared righteous.

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

Silver and gold would be faulty. Any corruptible things would leave a further need of cleansing but we have not been redeemed with such things. We have been redeemed with the precious, perfect Lamb of God to whom be glory forever Amen. Let me just throw a few more Scriptures in to settle the point.

“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)

“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.” (Hebrews 9:12)

Let’s look briefly at the few inspired texts that are used to justify this doctrine.

“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.” (Matthew 12:32)

The argument that they try to grasp is that when it says that those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in this world or the world to come that it implies some things can be forgiven in the world to come.

There are several faults with this argument. First of all in the first part of the verse it says that those who speak against Christ will be forgiven. It makes no mention of being forgiven in this life and in the world to come. What is being shown here is the severity of the offense of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. It is not telling us some sins will be forgiven and some won’t. We see no evidence at all that forgiveness is attainable after death. We are told that after death comes our judgment.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:21)

Consider the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. After death we see them in Paradise and Hell exclusively and their destinations were decided during their lifetime. We do not see any forgiveness being offered after death.

The second problem is that forgiveness is predicated on simply confessing and asking in this life. Logic would follow the same would apply to the life to come. The payment is then applied not by asking but by others doing stuff to obtain it.

Purgatory is not just “another place” people go after death. It represents an entire change to the program of God’s forgiveness. Just finding a verse to show there may be another destination after death is not enough. The Bible never indicates a change to God’s plan of salvation.

It thirdly must be realized that if you look further into the text we see judgment being talked about not the possibility of forgiveness.

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

Those who blaspheme Christ can be forgiven and those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit are not forgiven but are to face condemnation. This is the clear meaning of the text.

The next Scripture that is used and all I can guess is that this one is used out of utter ignorance or desperation and that is 1 Peter 3:19.

“By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.”

I won’t insult your intelligence by staying here too long so let’s go to the next verse and see where this prison is.

“Which sometime were disobedient” are you ready? Wait for it now, “when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” (Vs. 20a)

This is speaking of hell not purgatory these were not imperfectly purified friends of God. What were these people? Wicked, sinners, condemned eternally.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” (Genesis 6:5-6)

The next passage is from the writings of the apostle Paul.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 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 3:11-15)

They use this passage because it speaks of fire and it’s clearly not talking about hell so they figure this is a good place to fit their doctrine. They say that “being saved yet so as by fire” means they go to purgatory and fire burns away their sin and yet they are saved. The problem is that the thing being tried by fire here is not a person, neither is it sin. It is the works of the believer.

Our works are judged some being worthless, others with some worth and others shining as gold. The fire tries those works and only those of great worth make it through to be rewarded. Some will have their empty works burn up in God’s fires. They will be saved themselves but have little or nothing to show for the gift God has given them.

Another interesting point is the context of the passage in 2 Maccabees. The people he was making sacrifices for had been killed by God for idolatry. This according to Rome is a mortal sin which would send them straight to hell. Even in the context it was written it can’t refer to purgatory.

False religion not Scripture puts a relationship between the living and the dead. The only clear glimpse of the dead we are given is in Revelation 6:9-10:

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”

Here we see no evidence of prayers to them or them having knowledge of happenings on earth. We see no evidence in the Bible of praying to the dead. When we examine it in light of the Old Testament it is strictly forbidden.

What we see when we examine prayers for the dead is a long history of paganism. We see again and again Rome mixing paganism with Christianity. We see a pollution of idols being added to the clear Gospel given by the apostles. We see another Gospel being preached under the authority of a church that has usurped God’s throne, name, and power over His flock.

We see in purgatory a mechanism to obtain offerings and to control their followers all in the hope of possibly helping their loved ones get into Heaven although such hope is never realized officially. We see a Church that claims Christ imperfectly finished redemption and claim that they can complete what He lacked not just in His sacrifice but in the purification of the faithful. We see a system that gives the hope of eternal bliss but they themselves are the servants of corruption. They neither go into the kingdom themselves nor do they allow their followers to enter.


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