Purgatory – A Grave Rejection of the Gospel

By: Mike Gendron; ©2001
Was the atonement of Jesus Christ sufficient to purify all sins? The Roman Catholic Church says an emphatic “No!” In this article Mike Gendron explains what the Roman Catholic Church teaches and supplies Scriptures which answer their claims.

Purgatory—A Grave Rejection of the Gospel

Was the atonement of Jesus Christ sufficient to purify all sins? The Roman Catholic Church says an emphatic “No!” They deny what the Scriptures have clearly affirmed con­cerning the expiation of sin. Rome dares to say that purgatory is necessary because Jesus is unable to fulfill His promise—“to present the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing… holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:27). The new Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) defines purgatory as a place where those “who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified…undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (1032). The Catechism teaches: “every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the ‘tem­poral punishment’ of sin.” (CCC 1472)

Many Catholics say their church no longer teaches the existence of purgatory. Let us put that notion to rest with the very words of Pope John Paul II. In a message he delivered on June 2, 1998 entitled: “I Urge Catholics to Pray for the Dead,” he not only affirms purgatory but, at the same time, rejects the sufficiency and necessity of Jesus Christ for salvation:

Those indeed who are in ignorance of Christ’s Gospel and of his Church through no fault of their own, who search for God in sincerity of heart, and who, acting according to conscience, strive under the influence of grace to fulfill his will…can obtain eternal salvation. Others have died and are being purified, while still others are in glory. During the Eucharist, through the Memento for the dead, the assembled community presents to the Father of all mercies, those who have died, so that through the trial of purgatory they will be purified, and attain eternal joy. The Church believes that the souls detained in purgatory “are helped by the prayers of the faithful and most of all by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar” as well as by “alms and other works of piety.” I therefore encourage Catholics to pray fervently for the dead, for their family members and for all our brothers and sisters who have died, that they may obtain the remission of the punishments due to their sins. As I entrust the faithful who will pray for the dead to the intercession of Our Lady and of St. Joseph, patron of a happy death, I cordially grant my Apostolic Blessing to them. I willingly extend it during the millennial year to all…who offer sacrifices for the dead (emphasis mine).

Purgatory was first defined as a dogma by the Council of Florence. The essential com­ponents of the doctrine of purgatory are: (1) that a purification after death exists, (2) that it involves some kind of pain, and (3) that the purification can be assisted by the prayers and offerings of the living to God.

It is obligatory for all Catholics to accept and believe the existence of purgatory under the threat of anathema. From the Council of Trent we read:

“If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema” (Canon 30).

Rome’s Invention of Temporal Punishment

The doctrine of purgatory is based on Rome’s denial that all sins are mortal. In one of the many traditions that oppose God’s word, the Catholic Church creates another classification of sin called “venial.” They are “small” less serious sins that bear only temporal punishment which can be purified by personal charity or purgatory. (CCC 1394) Purgatory is said to be under the jurisdiction of the pope, who has the power and authority to transfer merit from an invisible treasury to those who are being purged. This transfer of merit is done in the form of indulgences and is said to shorten the time of suffering. The most common indulgence is the sacrifice of the Mass—a re-presentation of Jesus as a “victim” on Catholic altars. The Catholic Church defines an indulgence as the means of remitting the temporal punishment for sin. (CCC 1471-1479)

Rome’s Distortion of Scripture

The Vatican would want Catholics to believe that its doctrine of purgatory is confirmed and supported by Holy Scripture. However, the Roman Catholic Church makes invalid attempts to do so by misconstruing the following Scriptures and Apocryphal writings:

Under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia. Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out. He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin. (2 Maccabees 12:40-46)

The book of Maccabees, along with the other Apocryphal books, were never included in the Jewish canon because they contain historical, geographical and theological errors. The Vatican added these books to its canon in the 16th century in a futile attempt to validate its doctrine of purgatory. It only shows the ignorance of the Jews regarding the unchanging destiny that awaits those who die in sin. For the Catholic Church to support a dogma based on this heretical practice of the Jews only perpetuates the error. Furthermore, in Catholic theology, the sin of idolatry is mortal and punishable in hell, not purgatory.

Paul wrote: “…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. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

Paul is clearly teaching that man’s “work” will be judged and tested by fire. He does not say man must suffer a temporal punishment in order to be purified from sin. The teaching here is about loss of rewards not punishment. Whatever works a man does for Christ and His glory will survive the fire and bring reward while whatever works are done for self glory and personal gain will be burned and lost.

Peter wrote: “…the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perish­able, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:7)

Peter is explicitly teaching about a man’s “faith” being tested by fire, not the purging of the man’s sin. It is faith that is more valuable than gold which has to reach a certain tem­perature to be purified. Peter uses gold as a metaphor for faith which grows stronger when it encounters the heat of certain trials and tribulations.

Jesus said: “I say to you, you shall not get out of there until you have paid the very last cent.” (Luke 12:59)

In this passage Jesus is exhorting his listeners to get right with God the judge. Otherwise, when He comes they would be found guilty and condemned to pay an eternal punishment. When Jesus says they would not come out until they had paid the very last cent, He means they would never come out because it is impossible to satisfy the eternal debt for sin.

“And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32)

Jesus is saying the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. He then makes it emphatically clear what “never” means: neither in this age or the future age. For Catholics to suggest that sins can be forgiven in a future age after death violates Scripture.

Finally, Rome points to this verse for the necessity of purgatory: “nothing unclean…shall ever come into it (heaven.)” ( Rev. 21:27)

Rome interprets this verse correctly but incorrectly teaches that purgatory is what puri­fies and cleanses souls for entrance into heaven. The Scriptures conclusively and irrefut­ably teach that only Jesus and His shed blood can purify sin.

He (Jesus) has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach. (Col. 1:22)
When He (Jesus) had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3)
He (Jesus) is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
(Jesus) who gave Himself for us, that He might… purify for Himself a people for His own possession. (Titus 2:14)
…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
And according to the Law…all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a ransom for him, for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever. (Psalm 49:7-8)

With its doctrine of purgatory, Rome not only denies the blood of Christ is sufficient and necessary to purge sin but it blasphemes the efficacy of Christ’s blood with this common funeral prayer:

O gentle Heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on them. Be not severe in Your judgments, but let some drops of Your Precious Blood fall upon the devouring flames. And, Merciful Savior, send Your angels to conduct them to a place of refreshment, light and peace. Amen.

It is time for all who love the Lord Jesus Christ to stand on the authority of His word and renounce the doctrine of purgatory as a blasphemous substitution for His precious blood.

The truth must be proclaimed to set Catholics free from this terrible bondage. The consequences for believing in purgatory are eternal not temporal. To believe in purgatory is to reject the perfect sacrifice of Christ and thus be lost for all eternity. Catholics must repent and believe the glorious Gospel of grace.

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