Q. I also don’t see any biblical evidence for purgatory.
A. Well, the word purgatory does not appear anywhere is Sacred Scripture. However, the words trinity and incarnation also do not appear anywhere in Sacred Scripture. So, the fact that a word does not appear in scripture does not categorically exclude the truthfulness of the doctrine it conveys. If it did we would all need to join the Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, the Doctrines of the Trinity and Incarnation are clearly found in scripture. And so is the Doctrine of Purgatory.
Matthew 12:32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Here Jesus implies that some sins will be forgiven in the “age to come.” We know that sin cannot be forgiven in Hell and there is no need for any sin to be forgiven once you are in Heaven. So, there must be some other state/age/place where sin CAN be forgiven after this age or this life. We call this Purgatory. This word comes from the Latin word for pure–> purigare. It is an intermediate state between life in this world and Heaven in which the soul is purified.
1 Corinthians 3:15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
You might want to look at this whole passage in context. Again, we know that once someone is in Hell, there is no escaping. And we also know that in Heaven there is no suffering, so this passage must be talking about a purification before Heaven is attained.
1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison 20 who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.
1 Peter 4:6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
Luke 16:22-26 “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23″In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.24″And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’25″But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.26′And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.‘
From these passages Sacred Scripture speaks of a “place” that is neither Heaven nor Hell. As a Protestant I was taught that until Jesus died and rose again Heaven was closed to everyone. So, the souls of the godly people of the OT went to Sheol or Hades, a kind of holding tank until the work of Christ was completed and these souls could enter Heaven. So, even many Protestants believe in some sort of place/state that was neither Heaven nor Hell.
Jesus went to this place to preach the gospel to Old Testament spirits who were disobedient so they might live. In the Luke passage we see that the Jews of Jesus’ time must have been familiar with the idea of Abraham’s Bosom, as opposed to the “prison” of the I Peter passages or the flames of the rich man, where the just were comforted while awaiting Heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
From this verse we see that something happens to change us, presumably before we reach our final destination. And finally,
Colossians 1:24 Now 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.
Christ did His part, perfectly. And we must do our part. We must be holy as He is holy in order to be in the presence of God. We can seek this holiness diligently in this life and what ever is still impure at our death will be purified by Christ until we are completely HOLY. We say this purification takes place in Purgatory.
II Maccabees 12:44-45 …if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.
This passage shows that the Jews before Christ practiced prayer for the dead so that they might be purified of their sin
Q. 1 John 1:7, and Rev. 1:5 tells us Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin.
A. What you are not understanding because you have never been taught, is that there are two consequences for sin. Eternal and Temporal. Jesus died for the Eternal consequences of sin but we must suffer and be purified of the temporal consequences of sin
CCC 1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand 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. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.
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 and many other evils would be visited on David, 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 not just a disguised pile of poop.
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