Here's A Thought...

Here are some "THOUGHTS" that will hopefully answer some of the questions that you may have about what the Bible has to say about our everyday lives. These articles are here to provoke thought; provide answers, guidance and resources; all in an effort to bring you into a closer relationship with your Heavenly Father!


Monday, January 3, 2011


Well, I have found it to be difficult that when you spend any length of time discussing religion or theology, the subject of purgatory will eventually come up. In recent conversations with a friend of mine it has come up again. Being the opinionated man than I am, and to those that know me, I always have something to say (about everything); I felt obligated to attempt to give an answer to this question.

I was raised Catholic and even spent a summer at a Seminary School as I searched out the possibility of becoming a Catholic Priest. So to just give you an understanding of my upbringing and foundation; I was brought up in the Catholic faith and did complete all my sacraments. My full Catholic name is Michael Joseph Paul; talk about having names to live up to!

So anyway; the Catholic Church strongly believes in the concept of purgatory. There are several versus and references used to support this ideology. One is in the second book of Maccabees. (Before I go on, I must clarify that Christians outside the Catholic Church consider the book of Maccabees to be part of the Apocrypha, which is considered to be useful Hebrew text but not part of the accepted canonized texts of the Bible; however the books of Maccabees is included in the texts of the Catholic Bible.) In the 12th chapter of 2 Maccabees, Judas Maccabees had just led his army in victory against an opposing army led by Gorgias, governor of Idumea. After honoring the Sabbath, Judas went to collect and bury the dead per their custom. Upon recovering the dead he found each of them to be wearing an amulet sacred to a false idol Jamnia which was forbidden under Jewish law. They determined that because of their sin, that is why they had been slain during the battle. Judas 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.” (2 Maccabees 12:43) “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin.” (2 Maccabees 12:46) This reference is made to point to the possibility of a place between heaven and hell where sins could be atoned.
Ludwig Ott (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma) writes that purgatory is the place where the souls of believers go to be further purified from sin until they are ready to be admitted into heaven.
Scripture used is in Revelations 21:27, speaking of heaven; “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” This passage is used to state that we are born of sin, live in a world of sin and therefore we are unclean and suggests that we must first be cleansed before we can enter into the Holiness of God’s presence, suggesting a need for a place like purgatory.
Other scriptures for your reference are; Mathew 12:31-36, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelations 20:12-13, 1 Peter 1:15-17 all point to a day of judgment. These are used to imply that with judgment, there will be a punishment which is used to imply a need for purgatory.

Those who do not believe in purgatory point to some of the following scriptures: Paul writes in the 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 referring to our Heavenly dwelling; “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the lord.” (2Cor 5:8) Paul writes to the church at Philippi (Philippians 1:18-30) while he was in prison. He was torn in his desire to serve in this life and his desire to be with Jesus in heaven. My favorite is in Luke 23:42; Jesus is hanging on the cross between two thieves, only one of which who recognized him as the Son of God. He simply asked Jesus to remember him and Jesus replied, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believed in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

My parents are Catholic and I have close relationships with a lot of people who believe whole heartedly in the idea of purgatory. Some have even adapted to believe that purgatory does exist but it happens in an instance at the moment of death as we enter into the presence of God.

This is what I believe; God is a just God, and where there is justice, there is choice and consequence. I believe there will be a day of judgment and we will stand accountable for every act, every thought and every word. I also believe in Jesus Christ. I believe he was sent by my Father to bear the punishment for my sins and in Him I have been made righteous. I am not righteous nor am I free or clean of sin. But in Jesus Christ, I have been cleansed and made worthy to enter into the kingdom and the presence of my Father. “For as by the one man’s disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

In finishing, this is what I want you to take away from this. I am not her to praise or condemn one opinion or the other. Maybe I have given you some references to further your own research. If anyone that would tell you of your own salvation based on your belief on this subject should further search their own heart. If this subject is stumbling block for you; earnestly pray, prayerfully read, and ask the Holy Spirit to grant you discernment and peace. As our search is not for wisdom and answers; our ultimate goal is to seek a better understanding and a closer relationship with our Father.

May the Grace and Peace beyond understanding be with you as you further pursue a better understanding of God’s plan for you in this life and may all of God’s blessing be with us as we seek and desire a greater relationship with HIM!

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