Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Purgatory is Scriptural, Pt. 1

Revelation 21:27 says that nothing impure shall enter Heaven. Purgatory, then, seems necessary because entire sanctification does not always happen in this life.

Luke 23:43 can't really mean that the thief went directly to Heaven, since Jesus was not in Heaven that day, and wasn't there for about another 43 days. "43 And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'"

A common misunderstanding is that Purgatory is some kind of middle destination between Heaven and Hell. Purgatory is not a second chance for salvation after physical death. Rather, it is the purification of those who are already saved and destined to be in Heaven.

I have recanted my view that 1 Corinthians 3:10-17 cannot refer to Purgatory. I consulted a kind, faithful Protestant who said that "The first passage is dealing with rewards lost or received by the Christian's works. The fire is not referring to the person by his or her works being tried or purified in God's refining fire. If his works are burned up (as wood, hay or stubble), "he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." It is not the loss of salvation but of reward. (This has no reference to a place of purgatory)." At first this seemed true, but then I had second thoughts. The Greek word zemiothesetai ("suffer loss") used in this context means tha when God judges the quality of each man's work by fire and purifying him, this purification relates to his sins (not just his good works). Protestants denying Purgatory hold to the view that Paul is only writing award God rewarding good works because punishing and purifying a man from sins would be admitting that there is a Purgatory. However, this view is not tenable because 1 Corinthians 3:17 proves that the purgation after death deals with punishing sin. "10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 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. 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are."

I have a cool book by Richard Bewes called "The Top 100 Questions" which I highly recommend. In the chapter on Purgatory, Bewes states that "Purgatory implies that Christ's sacrifice is imperfect." However, Catholics have a good response to that assertion. Dave Armstrong, in More Biblical Evidence for Catholicism, states that "He has completed the work and done everything necessary in Divine Providence to efficiently save everyone who will be saved, but this work is not yet actualized or appropriated in terms of true sanctity in most of us." Hence, the need for Purgatory as the final stage of sanctification.

** Scriptural citations from the New King James Version (NKJV)


Gavin said...

The problem with that is you are denying God's work of sanctification. We have an agreement that nothing impure enters heaven, however the distinction is that as protestants we believe we are both a) pronounced pure by the Father and b) made actually pure by sanctification. Despite Catholic claims, simple evidence to the contrary shows that sanctification does not happen in full on earth because of the flesh. In essence, purgatory then becomes unjust because it is the punishment of the soul for the sins of the flesh (which will be purified at the General Resurrection)

Will Huysman said...


In Revelation 21:27, the word "unclean" comes from the Greek word "koinon" which refers to a spiritual--not merely physical (flesh)--corruption.

You correctly say that we are made actually pure by sanctification. Yet you also say that we are not fully sanctified on earth. Since sanctification is incomplete in this life, it is completed during Purgatory and then we get to Heaven.

When you say "pronounced pure by the Father," I assume you mean that that God just declares us righteous (imputation). This belittles the Holy Spirit's role in our lives, who continues the work of Christ through His work of justification and sanctification (infusing His grace into souls and changing the inner person). I am convinced that infusion is the Biblical position.