Question: Is there any scriptures that support the idea of a Purgatory or any other place of similar function?
Answer: The short answer to your question is ‘no’, but to be fair to those who believe in Purgatory, I will give their arguments. Then, I will give the scriptural answer to your question.
Here is a definition of the word Purgatory. Purgatory (Latin, ‘purgare’, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Roman Catholic teaching it is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial [minor in nature] faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.
Here is what the Roman Catholic Church teaches: “The faith of the Church concerning purgatory is clearly expressed in the Decree of union drawn up by the Council of Florence (Manse, t. XXXI, col. 1031), and in the decree of the Council of Trent which (Sess. XXV) defined:
“Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii,iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful” (Denzinger, ‘Enchiridon’, 983)
“Further than this the definitions of the Church do not go, but the tradition of the Fathers and the Schoolmen must be consulted to explain the teachings of the councils, and to make clear the belief and the practices of the faithful.” (CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Purgatory)
“All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God’s law. On the other hand whosoever comes into God’s presence must be perfectly pure for in the strictest sense His “eyes are too pure, to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13). For unrepented venial faults for the payment of temporal punishment due to sin at time of death, the Church has always taught the doctrine of purgatory.
“There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” According to St. Isidore of Seville (Deord.creature..c.xiv.n.6) these words prove that in the next life ‘some sins will be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire.’
“St. Augustine also argues ‘that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come’ (De Civ. Dei. XXI.xxiv). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial..IV.xxxix).
“A further argument is supplied by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15: ” For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 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.
14 “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
“Jews, [Roman] Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox have always historically proclaimed the reality of the final purification. It was not until the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century that anyone denied this doctrine..” (Roman Catholic Answer)
I think I have given a fair overview of the beliefs of those who hold to Purgatory. If you want more on their arguments, you can go to their websites and read more.
Basically though, you get the picture. We are told by these people that if there is unconfessed sin in your life when you die, you will need to suffer for awhile before you can be let into heaven. These beliefs they say are based on Scripture, Tradition, Church Fathers, and Jewish writing.
Let me say here that it is too bad that people hold to such a view because it is taught nowhere in Scripture. Take for example the above verses they use from 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, nowhere does it say in these verses that people will suffer, just that they have works that will be burned up, for which they will not receive rewards. It does not say they themselves are burning or suffering.
The clear teaching of these verses in 1 Corinthians 3: 11-15 is that they will be saved but some of the works done from the wrong motive will be lost. Also, we know that good works do not save us, but good works come as a byproduct of our salvation.
Scripture says in Ephesians 2:8-10, ” For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
We are not saved by our good works, but by faith in the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross. Therefore, unconfessed sin, or bad works, cannot undo our salvation!
Another argument they used was the writings of St. Augustine and the other Church Fathers. These men were not perfect by any means, nor were their teachings, as much as we respect them that does not mean that they are infallible in everything they said. Nor am I infallible, but the Bible is, so we will go to it for our answers on this and every subject.
First, you have to understand that we are all sinners in need of salvation.
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God , 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)
Then, we need to realize that the wages of sin is death: “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23)
You will need to repent (turn from your sin to God) “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
Next, we need to confess Jesus as Lord and receive Him as Savior: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:8b-13)
Nowhere in these verses did we see any mention of unconfessed sins causing a person to suffer before they could go to heaven. Salvation is a free gift we need only to receive it. (For more on this subject look at our Romans Bible Study.)
Let us look at some other verses that show us that once we have received Christ as our own personal Savior all our sins are forgiven past, present and future. Yes, we need to confess our sins when we sin (1 John 1:9), this has to do with our fellowship with the Lord, it does not mean if we miss some sins in our confession we will be suffering in Purgatory.
Someone even asked if God could forget about our sins. My answer is, yes. This is the reason He casts them into the depths of the sea! “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19)
He chooses to forgive and forget. Yes, it is a figure of speech, because obviously, you cannot take sins and put them anywhere. However, the point God is making is that He forgives and forgets. We need to forget the past when we get saved and move on. We should not go back ‘fishing up’ past sins of our own or our spouses.
This theme of forgiveness is all through the Bible in the Old and New Testament. It is interesting to note that no other religion, not even Islam has this, where God can forgive sins. In Judaism and Christianity we admit we have sinned, and ask God to forgive us. We as Christians know that this forgiveness of sins can only come through the sacrifice of Christ, God’s Son on the cross. Our pardon comes only through the blood of Christ!
When we are forgiven we have these promises in the Old and New Testaments that our sins are gone. There is even a Christian song we sing. “Gone, Gone, Gone, Gone, Yes, my sins are gone. Now my soul is free and in my heart ‘s a song, buried in the deepest sea. Yes, that’s good enough for me. Now I’ll live eternally, praise God, my sins are G-O-N-E, Gone!!!”
Have you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, if you have you can know for sure your sins are gone. It doesn’t matter what religion you are in now, if you repent (turn from your sins) and ask Christ to come into your heart and life He will save you, and take away your sins. [Look at our tract What Does It Mean to Be Born Again ? or What Happened to Shorty ? ]
Here are more Old Testament verses on the same theme of forgiveness of sins: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions [sins] from us.” (Psalm 103:12) “Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Here are some verses from the New Testament: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13) [For more on this look at our Romans Bible Study.]
So to answer your question again, no, in the Bible there is no reference to Purgatory or any other such place! God forgives and forgets, and so should we. When we get to heaven He is not going to say,”Now, I have forgiven you your sins, but you have to suffer for those you forgot to confess.” How foolish this teaching is!
Satan loves to confuse Christians and he loves to cause them to fear. When we die it will be wonderful. Jesus said to Thomas, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (St. John 6:1-4)
St. Paul says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 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.” (Romans 8:31-39)
Jesus confesses any sins we have forgotten and St. Paul makes this clear by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures he has written, as he says, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8:33, 34)
Stick to the Word of God, it will not let you down! Notice, I didn’t have to go to some Church Father’s or dusty Church books to get the answer. We just needed to go directly to God’s book the Bible for the answers.
God does not expect you to be some kind of scholar to understand His truths. We do not always have to have someone to tell us what it says; we can go to the book ourselves and read it for ourselves.
This is my answer from God’s book,
Gary T. Panell
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