Q:  Is there a "purgatory" or place of
purging after death?


A:   Purgatory is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible; it is an invention of man.

         A.   Scripture teaches that there is, at death, an immediate transfer of the spirit of man

                to either heaven or hell.

               1.   Jesus spoke repeatedly of heaven, and even more often referred to hell; but He

                     never once mentioned a middle state or place of spiritual purging after death.

                               Matthew 25:5-10; Luke 16:26-31; Revelation 3:15, 16

                     a.    Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross next to Him that "today thou shalt be

                            with Me in Paradise."   Luke 23:43

                     b.    He told the story of Lazarus who "died and was carried by the angels into

                            Abraham's bosom," and the rich man who died and suffered torment in Hades.

                           A "great gulf," He said, separated the two and was "fixed: so that they which would

                           pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from

                           thence."   Luke 16:19-31

                     c.   The apostle Paul said that to die is to be "with Christ." He never indicated or implied

                           the existence or possibility of an intermediate state of any kind.   Romans 14:8, 9;

                           2 Corinthians 5:6-9; Philippians 1:21, 23, 24; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 5:9, 10

               2.   There will be no "second chance" for anyone. We have the choice in this life to accept or

                     reject Jesus Christ. Our status in the after-life will be based upon that decision.

                     a.    After death: judgment.   Hebrews 9:27

                     b.    Parable of the ten virgins: ".... and the door was shut."   Matthew 25:1-10

      B.   The doctrine of praying for the dead is based not on scripture, but has its roots in the Old

             Testament Apocryphal books of the Bible. (See 2 Maccabees 12:46 "It is a holy and wholesome

             thought to pray for the dead.")

             1.    2 Timothy 1:16 (the scripture used by some to support this doctrine) does not say that

                    Onesiphorus, for whom Paul prayed, was dead. In fact, the same man and his family

                    are even mentioned later in the same epistle (chapter 4:19) in the form of a greeting.

             2.    No restitution can be made of the living for the dead. "None of them can by any means

                    redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him."   Psalms 49:6, 7

             3.    David fasted and wept while his son was sick; but when the child had died he

                    recognized that there was no longer any place for doing so.   2 Samuel 12:21-23

             4.   Prayer to or contact with the dead (termed "necromancy" in scripture) is strictly forbidden

                   and condemned by God. The punishment for consulting the spirits of dead persons is

                   very severe.  Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 1 Samuel 28:3-20; 2 Chronicles 10:13, 14;

                   Isaiah 8:19-22

             5.   We are individually accountable to God and can't "get to heaven" on someone else's

                   spiritual experience.  Matthew 26:1-10

     C.   There really is no need for a purgatory.

            1.   The doctrine of purgatory denies the completeness of our redemption and forgiveness

                  through the work of Calvary, and it rejects the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

                  a.   Jesus declared on the cross, "It is finished!"  

                               John 19:30

                  b.   "Ye are complete in Him." Paul said.

                               Colossians 2:10

                  c.   The sacrifice was made for us "once for all ... forever ..."

                                Hebrews 9:11, 12, 25-28; 10:9-14; 1 Peter 3:18

            2.   The only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

                         Mark 3:28, 29

            3.   We are saved not by "good works," but by grace (God's "unmerited favor").

                         Romans 4:2-6; 9:11, 16, 31-33; 11:6; Galatians 2:16, 21

                         Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5

            4.   When we confess our sins, He cleanses us "from all unrighteousness."

                         Colossians 2:13, 14; Titus 2:14; 1 John 1:9

                   a.   He forgets our sin. He will not hold it against us at some future date.

                                 Isaiah 43:25, 26   "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own

                                            sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance; let us plead together;

                                            declare thou, that thou mayest be justified."

                                 Jeremiah 31:34   "... for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

                                 Hebrews 8:12; cp. 10:17   "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their

                                             sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."

                  b.   He casts our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18, 19) and blots them out as a

                        thick cloud (Isaiah 44:21, 22).

                  c.   He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:11-14); he casts

                        them behind His back (Isaiah 38:17).

                  d.   We are washed whiter than snow.

                              Psalms 51:7; Isaiah 1:18

           5.   We can know that we have eternal life.

                         John 3:36  "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ..."

                         John 5:24  "... He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting

                                 life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."

                         John 1:12  "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the pons of God,

                                 even to them that believe on his name."

                         John 6:37, 47  "... He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."

                         John 14:21

                         Romans 8:16, 17  "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the

                                 children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ ..."

                         Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:18, 19, 24

                         1 John 4:13  "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath

                                 given us of his Spirit."

                         1 John 5:10-13  "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself ...

                                 God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life

                                 ... that ye may know that ye have eternal life ..."

           6.   Jesus Christ is our "advocate with the Father ... And He is the propitiation for

                our sins."

                            Acts 10:43; Hebrews 1:3; 1 John 2:2

Copyright © 1977, 1997 by Diane S. Dew in "Fundamentals of the Faith--Studies in Basic Bible Doctrine"

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