Does God Forgive Us and Then Punish Us in Purgatory?


Q. If Jesus died for our sins on the cross then why does the Catholic Church teach that we still need to be punished in Purgatory?

A. The non Catholic view of salvation says that Jesus died for our sins and if we repent and believe:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins …

End of story. However, we see in Sacred Scripture that there is more to the story. For instance, in this very verse it goes on to say:

.…and purify us from all unrighteousness.

This is the Catholic Doctrine of Purgatory in a nutshell. We see in scripture and in our everyday life two aspects or dimensions of sin. By offending the eternal God we commit a sin that has eternal consequences. We being finite are completely unable to make reparation for the eternal consequences of sin. Only an eternal being is able to do this. So, God incarnate, suffered and died on the cross to save us from the eternal consequences of sin. And we appropriate this gift by baptism, faith, repentance of sin in general and particular etc.

However, there remains the temporal consequences of sin. All sin, large and small, has consequences. These consequences are more obvious at times than others. If I speed and suddenly notice red lights flashing in my rear view mirror, confessing and repenting of my sin of speeding does not make the police car disappear. I still get the ticket. I still suffer the consequences of my sin. If I have sex outside of marriage and get an STD, going to confession does not make the STD disappear. The consequences of other sins may not be as obvious. But they all need to be suffered by us either in this life or the next. This is how we are purified of the temporal consequences of sin.

As with all the stories of God dealing with His children, He does His part and His children do their part.

  • God warned Noah about the Flood but Noah had to build the ark.
  • God promised to make a nation out of the seed of Abraham but Abraham had to go.
  • God told Moses He would set Israel free but Moses had to lead them out.
  • God promised Israel the land of Canaan but Israel had to conquer it.

We clearly get a glimpse of the eternal and temporal consequences of sin in 2 Sam 12:13-14:

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD ” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD has taken away your sin; you shall not die.14″However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”

In this passage David is confronted by the Prophet Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. David, repents. And Nathan announces that God has forgiven him for this sin. But, his child would die as a consequence of his sin. So God’s forgiveness did not negate a temporal punishment for his sin.
Martin Luther taught that we are covered over with the righteousness of Christ as a blanket of snow on a pile of dung and that is how we enter Heaven–still impure inside. However, the Catholic Faith teaches that we are completely purified of all sin, both temporal and eternal before we can enter into the presence of God in Heaven. So, using Luther’s analogy, when we enter the presence of God we are pure and white through and through.

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10 Responses

  1. God is not a human and therefore does not have the same ideas of punishment that we have. God is actually LOVE. This s force or energy and LOVE gives UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. The is no “sin” that is unforgivable. There is no hell, no pugatory and no devil – these are all concoctions of the various churches and previous kings. You cannot die as you are a spirit being a human and simply change back in energy (the vibration rate speeds up) to bring you back to who you are – a spiritual being.

    BFHU: Another KEN HURRY wants us to know:

    I am Ken Hurry, translator, in Italy, and I have just found the comment quoted above in my name posted on May 13th 2007. Although I understand it may be a case of homonymy, I wish it to be understood that I personally never posted the said comment and that it does not reflect my views

  2. Dear Ken,
    Have you ever heard of Pascal’s Wager? Here it is from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager:

    The Wager is described by Pascal in the Pensées this way[2]:

    Let us consider the paraphrased translation of Pascal. “God either exists or He doesn’t. Based on the testimony, both general revelation (nature) and special revelation (Scriptures/Bible), it is safe to assume that God does in fact exist. It is abundantly fair to conceive, that there is at least 50% chance that the Christian Creator God does in fact exist. Therefore, since we stand to gain eternity, and thus infinity, the wise and safe choice is to live as though God does exist. If we are right, we gain everything, and lose nothing. If we are wrong, we lose nothing and gain nothing. Therefore, based on simple mathematics, only the fool would choose to live a Godless life.” Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have nothing to lose. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

    In his Wager, Pascal provides an analytical process for a person to evaluate options in regarding belief in God. As Pascal sets it out, the options are two: believe or not believe. There is no third possibility.

    Therefore, we are faced with the following possibilities:

    * You believe in God.
    o If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
    o If God does not exist, your loss is nothing.

    * You do not believe in God.
    o If God exists, you go to hell: your loss is infinite.
    o If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

    With these possibilities, and the principles of statistics, Pascal has demonstrated that the only prudent course of action is to believe in God. It is a simple application of game theory (to which Pascal had made important contributions).

  3. I agree with the reasoning that there are temporal consequences to our sins. True forgiveness, which can only be given by God, does not mean the he will remove the consequence for sin in this age, but the spiritual consequence is removed through true repentance and accepting Christ as your Savior.

    I am not Catholic and therefore do not believe in purgatory and believe the scripture verses you quoted on a previous post in regards to purgatory do not hold water. I do believe that God makes clear the things we are to know for certain and He states them more than once. Interpretation of scripture must face up to scripture itself. I have compiled a list of verses that state Christ’s sacrifice was given “once and for all” that no other sacrifice for sin is required, that includes purgatory. (emphasis mine, NKJV)
    Hebrews 10: 17-18 “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember NO MORE” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
    Hebrews 9:25-28 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another- He would then have to suffer often…..but now, ONCE at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself………so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many…..
    Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your trespasses, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven ALL your trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us….And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
    Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I WILL NOT remember your sins.
    Psalm 103;11-12 For as the heavens are high about the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He REMOVED our transgressions from us
    1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered ONCE for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit….
    Here are some more. I am afraid that there are too many to list them all:
    Ephesians 1:7, 4:32
    1 John 1:9
    Psalm 32:1-2

    In all of the scripture verses that I found was there a stipulation about the “after world” and earning our way out of purgatory. God clearly states in His word multiple times that our debt as believers has been paid, that our salvation is not something of our own, or anything that we can do to earn! It is a FREE gift from God to his children. All that we have to do is believe and turn from our sins. It is as simple as that. Offering a faith that is anything other than the true gospel is blasphemy.
    Galatians 1:6-10 (NIV)
    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

    Let us all aim to please God. Thank you for reading.

    Blessings

  4. …but the spiritual consequence is removed through true repentance and accepting Christ as your Savior.

    I am not clear on what you mean by “spiritual consequence”. Of course, repentance and the death of Christ WE believe erases the eternal consequences of sin. But we need to make reparation for the temporal consequences of sin.

    I am not Catholic and therefore do not believe in purgatory and believe the scripture verses you quoted on a previous post in regards to purgatory do not hold water.

    The reason they do not hold water for you is because you derive your doctrine from Scripture alone. I do not mean to say by quoting scripture that I can prove Purgatory from scripture alone in a way that would be satisfying to a Protestant. But since Protestants tend to reject anything except scripture as authoritative, Catholics try to give Protestants what scripture we can.

    We too believe that Christ died once for all. But you need to realize that you are interpreting all of those verses to fit your theology. The fact is the Christian Church has always believed in Purgatory. It was not rejected until the Reformation a mere 500 year ago. On what authority do you trust this new religion invented in the 1500’s that rejects Purgatory and many other Christian doctrines?

    How do you interpret

    Col. 1:24Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

    1 Peter 2:5
    Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

    In all of the scripture verses that I found was there a stipulation about the “after world” and earning our way out of purgatory.

    We do not “earn our way out of Purgatory”. We are purified completely before we enter Heaven and the Presence of God.
    You know that your repentance and acceptance of Jesus DOES NOT MAKE YOU HOLY enough to enter into His presence. And that is what scripture says we must be. We can grow in holiness in this life but if we cannot enter into His presence unless we are Holy as He is Holy then something is going to need to be done for most of us after death.

    God clearly states in His word multiple times that our debt as believers has been paid, that our salvation is not something of our own, or anything that we can do to earn! It is a FREE gift from God to his children. All that we have to do is believe and turn from our sins. It is as simple as that.

    What you have stated here is what is needed for salvation but not enough for complete purification. You no doubt believe in sanctification. Protestants believe sanctification or holiness is optional but we believe it is required in order to enter into God’s presence.

    Offering a faith that is anything other than the true gospel is blasphemy.
    Galatians 1:6-10 (NIV)
    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

    But on what authority do you believe Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII taught a different gospel than what had been believed from the beginning? Historical Christianity?

  5. “I am not clear on what you mean by “spiritual consequence”. Of course, repentance and the death of Christ WE believe erases the eternal consequences of sin. But we need to make reparation for the temporal consequences of sin.”

    Sorry for not being more clear. By spiritual consequences I simply meant spending eternity in Heaven of Hell. “reparation for the temporal consequences of sin” Isaiah 53 I would suggest you read the whole chapter, but I will emphasize verse 5 “By his wounds we are healed”. The term “healed” cured: freed from illness or injury. Another verse; Luke 23:43 “TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE” Jesus does not go on to say after a couple hundred years of purification. JESUS states, “today”. Is Jesus capable of lying? misquoting the truth? Or is the son of God simply mistaken?

    “But since Protestants tend to reject anything except scripture as authoritative”

    Revelation 22:18-19 “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book”
    Proverbs 30: 5-6 “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
    Isaiah 8:20 “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to THIS word, it is because there is no light in them.”

    If you would, please provide me with scriptural evidence in which God states men will come after the completion of the Bible and create other inspired writings.

    “How do you interpret”

    Col 1:24, “lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions” references Christ’s limitations on this earth. Christ had to die for our sins which left his message with the apostles or the saints (body of believers). Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary wasn’t “lacking”, but his time on earth to complete God’s mission was. If you believe, God meant Christ’s death wasn’t enough then you believe, God to be a liar and a hypocrite. For God’s word clearly states that Christ’s sacrifice was enough “once and for all” (see scripture verses I posted previously).

    1 Peter 2:5 A “spiritual sacrifice” is an act of giving up and offering to God our time and effort in a way that is pleasing to Him. A spiritual sacrifice must be offered in an attitude of obedience, humility, and reverence. These sacrifices need to be acceptable to God THROUGH Christ. Through= something we do in relation to our relationship with Christ. By Catholic explanation we are purified through fire, but the verse you quote clearly states that our sacrifices are something we do through Christ. The tense of the verse is in the present not in the future. If it referenced and event to come, the tense of the verse would also reflect that.

    “We are purified completely before we enter Heaven and the presence of God”

    We sure are and our purification occurs through our relationship with Christ here on earth.
    Hebrews 10:26-31 “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, THERE NO LONGER REMAINS A SACRIFICE FOR SINS, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will DEVOUR (it doesn’t state purifiy) the adversaries……Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing and INSULTED the Spirit of GRACE?…….It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    “DOES NOT MAKE YOU HOLY”
    Hebrews 10:10 Heb 10:10 By the which [And by that] will [,] we are sanctified [made holy] through the offering [sacrifice] of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    I believe that God states we ARE in fact made Holy through Christ’s sacrifice.

    “something is going to need to be done for most of us after death”

    That “something” was already done on the cross by our Lord and Savior Christ. Your use of the words “most of us” implies that some people on earth don’t require purification, but the Bible clearly states that ALL have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. That term ALL really means everyone. There is no exception, no rank in church office will save a person from the judgement of our Holy God.

    “What you have stated here is what is needed for salvation but not enough for complete purification. You no doubt believe in sanctification. Protestants believe sanctification or holiness is optional but we believe it is required in order to enter into God’s presence.”

    You belittle Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary with this sort of theology. Please do not be fooled into thinking that His sacrifice was not enough. This way of thinking is exactly the “trampling underfoot the blood of Christ” that Hebrews 10:26-31 is referring to, and God makes clear that there is horrible judgement that will follow this line of thinking and insulting the Spirit of Grace.

    If you dig deep enough into the realms of “historical Christianity”, you will find the truth. The truth does not lie within the words and traditions of men, but in the word of God. Christ established the catholic church (small “c”), not the Catholic church. Does the “Church” since the time of the Council of Carthage on look like the church of Christ? No. Purgatory was not taught until the 4th century and was not formally recognized until the 16th century. If the Catholic church is governed by “infallible” men, then the church traditions and doctrines would never change. Popes would not be excommunicated if they were infallible. God is the only infallible One. He is the same today as he was yesterday, and will remain the same for all of eternity. I pray that you will put your complete faith in Christ and in Christ alone. For He is the Way, the Truth and the Light. No one comes to the Father except through Him. May God bless you and the Spirit of Truth lead you forward. I thank you for such a kind intelligent debate!

  6. Sarah,
    Just want to let you know that I am responding to you via posts on my site. I have four short posts so far. they can be found Here, Here, Here and Here.

    Thank you for you honest questions and comments.

  7. I have finished responding to your comments. Please see my posts Here and Here.

    Oops, not the one you just posted. This will take me a little while.

  8. […] click HERE for scriptural evidence of the necessity of […]

  9. What’s up, I recently found this blog – thanks for writing. Just wanted to let you know that it’s not displaying correctly on the BlackBerry Browser (I have a Bold). Anyway, I’m now on the RSS feed on my laptop, so thanks!

  10. Thank you for sharing the details. I found the info quite helpful.

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