Is There A Purgatory

by Tony Warren

Pur·ga·to·ry, pur'ga·tor'e, n. pl. pur·ga·to·ries. [L. purgatorius.] Roman Catholic Church Tradition; The doctrine that posits that there exists a state of purification, where the soul that has fully repented of its sins, but that has not fully expiated them, goes to have removed from itself the last elements of uncleanness. In purgatory, it is said that all who die guilty of venial sin, suffer punishment for sins not atoned for, and have all remaining love of self transformed into love of God. This doctrine states that, "At death one's soul goes to either heaven, if it is completely fit for heaven (as the saints); to purgatory, if it is not quite fit for heaven, but not worthy of condemnation; or to hell, if it is completely unfit for heaven." It is said to be a temporary state, and everyone who enters it will eventually get to heaven. After the last soul leaves purgatory for heaven, it will cease to exist, and there will remain only heaven and hell. --pur·ga·to·ri·al, pur"ga·tor-e·al, pur'ga·tar'e·al, a.

    That, in a nutshell, is the general description of the doctrine of Purgatory. But is there a Purgatory? It is true that the Roman Catholic Church formulated this doctrine by an article of faith at the Council of Florence in 1439, and at the council of Trent. But is there really scriptural warrant for a place called Purgatory, and why would there need to be an official explaination of an alleged place that is never referenced in holy canon? It is inconceivable that the Holy Bible should inform us of Heaven and earth, propitiation and Hell, and yet leave out an important doctrine such as Purgatory or Limbo. Yet the Roman Catholic Church found the need to create an age that is not found anywhere in the Bible, where the say Christians will be purged of their sins? Even when the Bible itself declares that Christians are presented perfect before God, this extrabiblical teaching is that there is some additional purging required. The existence of Purgatory is authoritatively taught, and generally believed among Roman Catholics. Yet it is a doctrine that has absolutely no Biblical validation, and that consistently contradicts God's holy word. Neither Christ, nor the Apostles ever taught that Christians must go to a place of purging to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of eternal heaven. Neither in the Old Testament, nor the New is there any such teaching documented. Indeed, it is found to be the product of Church humanism and an active imagination borne out of the fallacies of dubious books such as Maccabees, and other legends of men. Though it has become Roman Catholic dogma, it is self evident that in Christianity, no uninspired book or tradition of man can become an authority over God's word. Nor can God's word be made antithetical to itself by extrabiblical teachings of the Church. It is therefore beyond question that any teaching that does so, is spurious and of no authority over God's people. All doctrines of Biblical Christianity must come from the word of God, which are inspired in the sixty-six official inspired books of the universal Church.

In reality, the very nature of all and every teaching that is not the true gospel, inevitably is one that ends up rejecting God's word "alone" as the final authority over Church doctrine. In rejecting the Bible as the sole "ultimate" source of God's word today, man frees himself to add, subtract, or circumvent biblical truths by alleging oral traditions. Because if the word of God is not the divine final authority, then man can add other authorities with impunity. But when we reject the "word of God alone" as our final or ultimate rule of law, then by definition God alone is not our authority. We have forsaken trust in the Lord's word and have made man to rule in stead of God. Because when Church leaders decide to make up their own doctrines, based upon their own understanding (rather than God's word), they are failing to acknowledge His word of guidance, authority and supremacy.

    Proverbs 3:5-6

Without the word of God as authority to direct us, we are leaning unto our own understanding. When man postulates that there is another way to atone for our sins, apart from what the word of God says was full atonement, then they have departed from the God of the Bible and become gods unto themselves. And let's not mince words here, the extrabiblical belief in Purgatory is based upon our purging sins therein. All false teachings have this same common denominator, which is the fact that their "source" is not the written word of God alone, but the Bible plus some other additional authority over it. That additional authority could be a Holy man, the Church hierarchy, another book, or even divine revelations. By contrast, the true gospel of Christ is prescribed by the Christian's dependence upon the unadulterated, unassisted word of God alone as the ultimate authority for truth.

    2nd Timothy 3:15-17

Clearly, the faithful man of God is made perfect and thoroughly furnished unto all good works by the divinely inspired Holy Scriptures. The scriptures are God's inspired instruction on how we are made righteous (sinless), how to hold fast to sound doctrines, and to correct us when we err. The sign of false Christianity is that it does not take correction from God's word, it will instead turn to the right hand and to the left, in order to avoid what it actually says.

    Deuteronomy 5:32

In unrighteousness, God's law is looked upon as something to get around, not something that must be observed and faithfully followed. And the way that they get around correction of the word is to feign other authorities that supercede God's word alone as the final arbiter and ultimate authority.

    Proverbs 3:11-12

God corrects those whom He loves by chastening them that they repent of their transgressions of the law. But the Church that will not repent nor turn away from unfaithfulness to the word, God will judge. Just as Old Testament Israel rejected the correction and instruction of scripture and God judged them. Those judgments they faced are the very same judgments that we will face if we turn aside from God's holy word concerning sin and how it must be purged.

    Ezekiel 18:4

The penalty for man's sin is death. Nowhere does the word of God teach of purging sin in Purgatory. Obviously because it is blatantly antithetical the very nature of Christianity to claim sinners can get "purged" of their sins after death. In fact, to be perfectly honest it is blasphemous, and against all that God Himself teaches of the atonement for sin. The subject of the purging of all of man's sins is dealt with extensively in the word so that it shouldn't even debatable how it "must" be purged!

    Hebrews 9:22

The law of God states that there is only one thing that can purge man from his sin, and that is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Despite what Roman Catholicism teaches, there is absolutely nothing else that can take away any sin fom man. It is actually pagan to think that man can be punished, and thusly be purged from sin. If that were really the case, we wouldn't need a Saviour in the first place. But we do need a Saviour. And if we have become saved by His shed blood, then Christ has purged us from all sin. If His blood does not completely save us, then we are not saved by Grace and we will die in our sins and face the wrath of God's judgment. The point here is that there is no sin that remains for the person that is cleansed in the blood of Christ. All his sins have all been taken away in his bapotism in the Holy Spirit.

    John 1:29

The blood of Christ doesn't cleanse us from some sin, or even from most sin. It cleanses us from all sin. Anyone who puts forth the untenable argument that Christ only paid for our past sins, is frankly, dabbling in absurdity. For that would assuredly mean that Christ has died in vain. For if we needed Him for our past sins, how then do we not need Him for any future sins? And if we don't really need Him for any future sins, then why did we need Him for past sins? It makes no sense. Moreover, if we say that we never commit any transgressions or sins after we are in Christ, we are a Liar and the truth is not in us. Because we all sin on a daily basis. And if we could pay for our own future sins, we wouldn't have needed Him to pay for our past sins. The wages of sin is death, and any sin at all will send a man to that judgment. Whether past, present, or future, our sin requires just payment, unless it has already been paid for in Christ's shed blood. Some of David's worst sins were after he was called and chosen as a man of God. Did that mean he had to go suffer in Purgatory for those sins? God forbid! For, as it is written, Christ paid for "all" of the sins of man at the cross (including David), and was raised to live as intercessor for all for whom He died.

    Hebrews 10:14

Christ didn't make us temporarily perfect before God, but made us holy before God forever. For if but one future sin had been left unpaid, then we would all face the second death as payment for that sin. Purgatory is contradictory to grace, and is no more than a myth invented by man to placate grieving souls, and fill coffers. The fact is, no one can purge the sins of those who have died. No gift of life has ever come by man's own works in paying for his own sins. It is preposterous to even imagine that by man's works he could pay for his sins. Neither does our imperfect works on earth cause for us to think that Christ's purging was insufficient.

    Galatians 3:2-6

These Christians had received the gospel of justification with joy, and the Apostle Paul is rebuking them for their error in thinking that after they were justified, they should believe in their own works for sanctification. God forbid, for justification and sanctification are all by the sovereign grace of God. They had to come to realize that our righteousness was not at all of human ability or merit, but even as Abraham believed and his faith was counted to him for righteousness. Righteousness means "no purging necessary." This doctrine implies that justification is not by faith alone when Christ's gospel is that the atonement for sin came from His work in paying the cost "in full." And if He didn't pay for all your sins, then you must stand before God and pay for them yourself. And that payment required is clearly not Purgatory.

    Romans 6:23

Scripture tells us that the wages [opsonion] or payment for sin is death, not a stint in the state of purgatory. And it doesn't teach that further purification is necessary to merit heaven. As we see in Romans 6:23, it declares that our eternal life is a gift of God. And that gift is without cost to us, and justifies our entrance into heaven.

    Romans 5:18

The plain, simple, and often unpalatable truth is, this false teaching of Purgatory makes God's authoritative word, a lie. There cannot be a purging of venial, or any other (supposed) non-deadly sin by man. For if the wages of sin is death, then there are no non-deadly sins. And we must account for all sin at the judgment at the last day.

    Matthew 12:36-37

    John 12:48 No one can purge their own sin in the mythical state of Purgatory, all those who sin and reject Christ as their redeemer will be judged of God "in the Last day!" Every sin, every idle word, every evil thought will be judged before God in that day. And that is precisely why Christ had to pay for "all" of our sins, and why this doctrine is a house built upon a foundation of sand. All sin, by the law of God, must be judged of God, or purged by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if Christ is not man's Saviour, then man will be cast into the lake of fire to suffer the wrath of God for them. And God has been abundantly clear about this.

    Hebrews 10:30-31

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth because of the wrath of God, not a time of purification. The question is often asked, "if there is no Purgatory, then where do the souls of people go after they die?" It's almost as if Purgatory was invented to fill the gap. There are actually two answers to that question, depending on if the individual who dies was saved, or unsaved. When a saved (those washed in the blood of Christ) person dies, his soul goes to live and reign with Christ in Heaven. When an unsaved person dies, his soul goes into a state of unconscious existence in darkness and silence to await the 2nd Resurrection where it will stand for judgment. The soul of the unbeliever who dies doesn't live again (have conscious life existence) until the time that it stands before that white throne judgement before God.

    Revelation 20:4-5

Here we see in God's word of the souls of both those who died for the cause of Christ (Martyrs), and the souls of the rest of those who died (the unsaved). It says the souls of those believers who were martyred lived and reigned with Christ upon thrones. Note carefully what it says in the next verse about the rest of the souls. It says, "but the rest of the dead lived not again until the 1000 years were finished." Who are the rest of the dead? The answer is elementary if we understand that the first souls of the dead were believers. Then the rest of the dead has to be the unbelievers. These verses are contrasting the souls of believers who die, over against the souls of the rest of the dead. One group dies and yet goes to live and reign with Christ in Heaven, but the rest of those who die do not live again "until" the millennial reign is finished and the 2nd resurrection occurs. This phrase, "lived not again until," is the state of the souls of the unsaved who die. They are in a non-life or no life-consciousness. Scripture defines the dead as being in silence, where they know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5). And they won't have conscious (knowing) existence again till they are raised up at the last day. The next thing the "rest" of the dead consciously knows is that it is the judgement. While the souls of the saints live, speak, they praise God, and they reign with Him. We can get some insight into the unsaved who die, from the Psalms.

    Psalms 115:17

Here once again, we see the contrast of the reprobates who die, over against the saved who die. The reprobates are in a state where they can't repent, praise the Lord, or work off their sins. They have gone down into silence where they can't even speak, much less praise God. It's important to understand this verse tells us that the unsaved dead don't praise the Lord, neither any that go into silence, but that we (the saved) will praise the Lord now and for evermore. In other words, we will never go down into silence, never see death, never stop praising the Lord, whether living in this life or after we die. Because in truth, as Jesus said, even in death, yet shall we live. That is what Christ told us when speaking to Martha of our Resurrection in Him (The First). Jesus explained that He was the Resurrection and the Life and that if we were raised with Him, we would never die, even when death came upon the body physically. That's the contrast between the saved who die and yet live and reign with Christ versus the rest of the dead. The only mystery of where people go after death is the one that the proponents of Purgatory perpetrate in order to attempt to support a Biblically untenable tradition. But When a house is built upon a foundation of untempered mortar, it will not stand the weight of scripture. The prophesy was the sure word of a Saviour who would take away our sins, not of our ability to purge them ourselves.

    2nd Peter 1:19-20

Having been purged of "all" our sins in Christ, after death our souls are able to go directly to heaven to live and reign with Christ. Just as the thief crucified with Christ who found grace in the sight of God:

    Luke 23:43

God's word points to something entirely different from Roman Catholicism. It doesn't suggest man goes to a place of purgation before he is with God, rather it illustrates the work of Christ instantaneously purges man from sin and makes him holy and acceptable that he can be presented to the Father. If anyone needed to get some uncleanness purged from himself before going to the Kingdom Paradise, it would have been this thief. But Christ's words assure us that it wasn't necessary, for Christ cleanses us of "ALL" sin when He redeems us. Thus this thief could go straight into the paradise with God that very day of his death. Christ made him totally pure, perfect, washed as white as snow before God. Believers aren't washed 99.9 percent clean, He cleanses us from "all" our sins.

    1st John 1:7-9

And that is why Christ could tell the thief on the cross that today he would be with Him in Paradise. Because after his body died, he would go directly to live and reign in heaven with God. All souls of Believers go to live and reign with God after they leave the body.

Even the Apostle Paul reiterated this declaring that while we are in this body, we are in a sense as absent from the Lord. But when we leave this body in death, we are then present with the Lord. He did not say that when we leave this body in death, we must go to Purgatory before we are present with the Lord because that is not true. The Roman Catholic Church may hypothesize that Christ didn't wash us clean from certain venial sin, but those are the private interpretations and traditions of men. As Paul, we are "willing" rather to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord.

    2nd Corinthians 5:6

Paul knew where the souls of the believers' go once they are absent from this body of sin. And that is why we labor in this world, that no matter if we remain here on this earth (in a sense, absent from the presence of the Lord) or die and be transported directly into the presence of God in Heaven, we may be accepted of Him. And that's what the context of 2nd Corinthians chapter 5 illustrates.

The Roman Catholic sacrament of penance, along with her related doctrines on satisfactions, indulgences, purgatory, and the supererogatory merits of the saints (which would include Mary's prayers and intercession), are nothing less than a blatant denial of the sufficiency of the merit of Christ! True Christianity believes the work of Christ was totally sufficient to cleanse us from all sin. The atonement totally expiates the sin of the believer, totally discharges our indebtedness to God's wrath in respect to judgment for our demerits. It thus fully satisfies the demands of God's punitive justice. We are justified and saved from any judgment of sin by His blood, not Purgatory.

    Romans 5:8-9

Moreover, the perfect obedience of Christ fulfills all righteousness, earning all the merit needed to save those who are Chosen of God. But since Roman Catholicism adds the prayers and good works of Mary, the saints, as well as their own merits to the merit of Christ, they cannot then contradict themselves in attempting to also proclaim they believe that Christ's atoning work was sufficient. That makes no sense whatsoever, and we all know it.

    Proverbs 26:7

Inconsistency is the hallmark of error, and contradiction is a token that something is not true. For the word of God is not a word adrift in a sea of confusion. The word of God is our anchor, not something that can be moved around from place to place in order to conform to our own traditions. Many of these theologians go to great lengths rationalizing and explaining away when the doctrine of Purgatory came into being. It's as if when, is an answer to why we would choose to believe it. If something is not only unbiblical, but also anti-biblical, it doesn't matter when someone came up with the idea, it cannot be righteously validated. I read one paper that went three pages long about how most religions pray for their dead, and more pages on just when the Catholic Church teaching started. And when finished, I understood less why they would believe this, than I did before I started. Because I was looking for Biblical backing and didn't really care about when the doctrine was established. For it's not in scripture, it is in fact antithetical to scripture, and it is a doctrine bankrupt of consistency, logic, or even simple reasoning in the scriptures. God never spoke about it, His prophets didn't write about it, Jesus didn't teach of it, the Apostles didn't mention it, it's not in any of the books of the Old Testament, it's not in any books of the New Testament, indeed it's not found in Church writings anywhere. And the reason is because it is not part of the word of God. Why then should serious Christians waste time worrying about exactly when the Roman Catholic Church added this doctrine, or the non-canonical books they believe that speak of it? The scriptures prescribe Christian religion, not by the traditions and catechisms of men. For the scriptures are the pathlight for our feet.

    Proverbs 4:26-27

Is there a Purgatory? It is not unreasonable to ask where these people got their specific information about purging sins in the afterlife in order for them to formulate the doctrine of Purgatory? Following scripture faithfully means to not turn away from it to the right hand or to the left. And nowhere does scripture mention Purgatory. And would the holy God who cannot lie declare salvation an eternal free gift, and then after death send you to suffer to earn it?

    Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation and the righteousness it carries is quite clearly a gift, not something that can be earned in Purgatory. The traditional teachings of the Roman Catholic Church stand as a testament to their inconsistency:

"All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven." -Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1030.

"The truth has been divinely revealed that sins are followed by punishments. God's holiness and justice inflict them. Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all, through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments." -Second Vatican Council, p. 63.

Their own traditions testify against them in how unscriptural these ideas are. And there is no getting around the fact that it is a doctrine that is extrabiblical, as opposed to Biblical The most common Catholic response to this fact is to point to the discredited books of Maccabees (of the Apocrypha books) as an authority. Some in their Church use other religions' beliefs that their exists a place called limbo (a place of conscious existence) for the dead, as evidence. But this is not evidence of anything except that spurious religions hold to pagan beliefs. And why would anyone want to equate the rituals and beliefs of other false religions to the doctrines of God's Church anyway? And the argument that we should believe it because, "The Church teaches it," is circular reasoning, since the Roman Catholic Church has no authority to create a doctrine apart from the scripture, and then teach that we must believe it because by their authority it's deemed true.

Another claim of proof for Purgatory's existence is that 1st Peter 3:19 speaks of this state, a place that is neither heaven nor Hell where souls are in prison. Sadly, some misguided souls have actually been deceived into thinking 1st Peter actually refers to such a place. But when one builds their beliefs on extrabiblical ideas, the penchant is to try and "mold" the scriptures to make them conform to whatever one wants to believe. Regardless of what a scripture actually speaks about, it can be twisted to appear to speak about something else. However, when we base our beliefs on the unadulterated word of God, then we know that we have truth. Try as people may to place Purgatory into the scriptures, they inevitably fail miserably. Because this doctrine will not stand the test of the "Light" of scripture. And I think that it is incumbent upon us to take a careful look at man's use of this verse in attempting to justify Purgatory. And let the Holy Spirit of truth reveal God's word to whom it will.

    1st Peter 3:18-20

Is there a Purgatory and does this passage confirm it's existence? The true understanding of this comes only through comparing scripture with scripture to let the Bible interpret itself. We first search the scriptures to find out just who the spirits in prison are. We cannot just guess at it, or presuppose, we ask God by our careful examination of His word. When we do this, we find conclusively that scripture identifies the spirits in prison as the unsaved. Indeed, it is the spirits in prison for whom Christ came to set free. Look at where God instructs us to try or prove the spirits.

    1st John 4:1

Who are these spirits that we instructed to test and are not to believe if they are not of God? They are the spirits in prison. In other words, they are those who are still held in Satan's house of bondage. And these are the spirits that 1st Peter tells us that Christ, "by His death," preached deliverance to. The death He suffered was on the cross, the debt He paid was for our sins, and the spirits He set free by the preaching "thereby," are all of us (who become saved).

    Acts 2:31

This is the first Resurrection, that if we have part in it, we will never die. The death that Christ suffered at the cross was more than simply physical death, and more than simply the grave. For what many people do not "really" understand is the "real work and accomplishment of the cross." And that is what this passage in 1st Peter is referring to when we read it carefully, "in context."

    1st Peter 3:18

The key words here are, "by which!" By His death and suffering for the unjust and His being quickened (Resurrected), He preached the gospel to the spirits in Prison who were sometimes disobedient. The efficacy here is in the death and resurrection of Christ, which preached to the spirits and set them free from that prison. The anointing of the Spirit of the Lord is that which "preaches to all of us," and is by the death and resurrection of Christ. We have all received that preaching of the Spirit by Christ's death.

    1st John 2:27

Who is in you and who is teaching you, proclaiming (preaching) the truth of the gospel to you? Is it man, or is it the anointing of the Spirit of Christ in you, which was acquired by Christ's death? Who preached peace to the spirits in Prison, and how was that accomplished?

    Ephesaians 2:15-18

This is how Christ came and preached peace to those far off (Gentiles) and those near (Jews). This is an undeniable truth that through Him, we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. This is how Christ preached peace unto the spirits in prison. By the one Spirit that came to dwell within us and set us free from bondage to Satan. We were risen up with Christ when He was quickened, and receive this spirit in Him, the fulfillment of prophecy. He brought the gospel of deliverance to man. And the efficacy of the cross reaches all the way back to Noah. He also (as all saints) needed to be set free from the prison house of bondage to Satan. For Satan keeps men's spirit in that prison house of darkness, and it was only by Christ's death and resurrection, that he bound Satan and spoiled his house. Indeed, it was for this reason that Christ came as the Deliverer. To set these spirits free! And Jesus Himself says it as plain as it can get when He quoted His fulfillment of this prophecy:

    Luke 4:18

Is this talking about some imaginary sojourn to Purgatory to preach to spirit captives there? No, not at all. It's talking about Christ's mission and what it would accomplish in salvation. He came to deliver those who were held captive in Satan's Prison house of darkness, that they might be set at liberty and made to see. This is the spirits in Prison that 1st Peter says He preached to by His death. This is the accomplishment of His death and quickening. When Jesus read in the Temple those words of Isaiah (recorded in Luke) and said that He was the fulfillment of this, He is shedding light upon just whom the spirits in prison were.

    Isaiah 61:1

    Isaiah 42:6-7 It was for this purpose that Christ came to lose the spirits in prison. Is God saying here that the prison houses of that day didn't have enough light in them, and their doors needed to be opened, or that Christ was supposed to go to the literal prisons and free the people there? He had the perfect opportunity to free John the Baptist in Prison, but John remained there. That was because the Prison house that is in view in all these prophecies was the Prison house of Satan. The spirits in "this" Prison house is the spirits that Christ came to preach deliverance to, and to set at liberty. This is what Christ meant in Luke chapter 4 when He said He came to preach deliverance to the captives. He, by His death and resurrection, preached deliverance to these spirits who were sometimes disobedient (being in bondage to sin), and thus had the penalty of death hanging over their heads. He delivered not just you and me, but Noah and the eight souls in the ark as well. He set "their" spirits free just as He did you and me, because the efficacy of the "real work and accomplishment" of the cross reaches all the way to the beginning. Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) because His blood covers those who were saved before the cross (as Noah) in the Old Testament times. That's what 1st Peter is talking about. The Spirit of Christ that those Christian men like Noah had, was because of His effective work on the cross. Christ's Spirit testified to their spirits in prison beforehand. And what He witnessed or preached of would be made effectual when their redeemer would come to earth in the flesh. In fact, in studying 1st Peter, if we would only read a few chapters before this verse about Noah, we can see where God speaks about these great prophets and how the spirit of Christ was indeed in them. And yes, this Spirit preached (testified) of His sufferings. But don't take my word for it.

    1st Peter 1:11-12

Noah had the Spirit of Christ within him, and He preached to Noah's spirit in prison just as He does to our spirit when we became saved. So clearly, by the death of Christ were the spirits in Prison preached deliverance, and that efficacy reaches all the way to the old testament prophets, to whom the spirit of Christ testified beforehand of it. Truly, without Christ dying for them as well as us, they would remain spirits in prison. These Old Testament prophets were saved by the work of Christ by faith, looking forward to the efficacy of the Cross. We are saved by the work of Christ by faith, looking backward at the efficacy of the Cross. Both of us are risen with Christ, His Spirit preaching to ours, which was in the bondage of Satan's spiritual Prison.

    Romans 8:15-16

The spirit of bondage is gone, we are risen with Christ having now the Spirit of adoption. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit! It preached to our spirits in prison and set it at liberty. We no longer have the spirit of bondage to fear. When Jesus Christ said, this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears (Luke 4:21) He was talking about His mission to free the unsaved from the prison house of Satan. If we look at it carefully, without the blinders of Church tradition or preconceived notions, we can see clearly what it means by, by His death, Christ went and preached deliverance to the spirits in Prison.

    Mark 3:27

In the exegesis of this parable we can see that Satan is the Strong Man, and Jesus is the one who came to the strong man's house to spoil (take, by Conquest his possessions) it. So what are the possessions of this house of Satan that Christ came to take by conquest? It is those chosen by Grace to be delivered. When we become saved, we have been taken from the prison house of Satan. We are no longer spirits in bondage to him. We no longer serve him, we become servants of God by right of His victory at the cross.

    John 8:34

The Jewish people didn't understand Jesus (like many today) and protested that, "we be Abraham's seed and were never in Bondage to anyone." They didn't understand that Jesus was talking about the prison house of Satan that He came to deliver them from. That's the House that Mark 3:27 and Matthew 12:29 talks about that Jesus came to spoil or seize the goods from. The Prison House where Satan held the spirits in prison.

So looking at 1st Peter 3:18 in light of the testimony of the rest of scripture, we can now get a clearer, and more importantly, more Biblical perspective of what is being said there about the spirits in Prison. This is bible doctrine, rather than extra-biblical traditions and ideas. The spirits in Prison that 1st Peter says Christ went and preached to "BY" His Death, are our spirits. His death and resurrection is how He preached deliverance unto the spirits in prison, spoiling both principalities and powers. And of course, that deliverance of the spirits in prison by His death includes the old testament Saints, Noah, and all others who were sometimes disobedient (we all have sinned and need deliverance by Christ's death) and so also had to be set at liberty. It's just what Matthew 12:29 and Mark 3:27 illustrates. Christ spoiled the Prison House of Satan, and the spoiling reaches all the way back to the Noah, indeed, to the Beginning. We are all saved the same way. The blood of Christ that delivers our spirits from Prison saves old covenant believers, and new Covenant believers.

    Hebrews 10:10

It was done for Abel, Noah, You, and and for Me, Once, and for all. And the death and resurrection of Christ did it. That's what 1st Peter is telling us. There is not a word there about man purging his own sin, a place called Limbo or Purgatory, man praying for dead Saints, and Saints praying for us. Christ died once, for all. God inspires the same truth declared to the Corinthians.

    1st Corinthians 6:11

Thus it is evident that the true believer is already purified and made holy that he can enter heaven, because Christ put away all sin by His death on the cross. Doctrinal truth comes from following scripture faithfully, not in the Church attempting to lead it. Roman Catholicism attempts to lead scripture in constantly in trying and prove the doctrine of Purgatory. One such instance how they handle Matthew chapter twelve:

    Matthew 12:32

Roman Catholics read this passage where our Lord declares there is a sin that will not be forgiven in this world, or the world to come. And they claim that this "implies" that there are sins that will be forgiven in the world to come. But there is no such implication made by this text. This is a plain case of "reading into" scripture what is not there. That's like me making the comment that, "if the children are bad, there will be no presents handed out in this Party, nor in the Party to follow," and then someone retorting that my words "imply" that in the Party to come, there must be presents handed out. That would be absurd. What I am simply stating "emphatically" is that there will "not" be any presents given out at either Party. My form of expression implies nothing more than that. And That is what God is declaring to those who blasphemy the Holy Spirit. He is simply emphasizing the unpardonable nature of the sin against the Holy Spirit. In other words, don't ever expect forgiveness, because there is none anywhere, or at anytime. And we can see this by comparing scripture against the parallel verse found in Luke:

    Luke 12:9-10

Clearly God is simply saying this sin will never be forgiven, there is no implication whatsoever that there is forgiveness for sin after death. Moreover, that would contradict other scriptures that clearly teach exactly what the wages of sin is, how eternal it is, and why we needed a Saviour to avoid it.

But even with such evidence, there will always be a segment that will delude themselves in thinking that there is a second chance after death. I received the following message some time ago from someone who was sure that it justified his belief that there must be a Purgatory. But carefully note that while on the surface he may appear to make a good point, once compared and tested by the word of God, we see that it is based on sloppy exegesis, and reading "into" scripture, rather than reading out of scripture. It has no foundation whatsoever on which to stand.

    Check 1 Cor. 3:15, "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. "Now, the only place that Protestants know of there being fire after this life is in Hell. But once a soul is in Hell, there is no hope of salvation. But this passage speaks of men being "saved; yet so by fire." Can't be Heaven. They're already saved. Has to be this third state we call Purgatory.

And there is another passage in the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Bible. 2 Macc 12:46, "It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they might be loosed from their sins."

It is these kinds of interpretations of passages by Roman Catholics that are a danger to babes in Christ who may not yet be able to see through their self-justifications. 1st Corinthians does not say one word about Purgatory, and it isn't basis for anyone to believe that man can suffer the wrath of God to pay off his own debt of sin. It is your typical "Straw Man" argument, where they declare the scriptures say "A," and "B," (true) and then conclude that it actually proves "C" (not true). But this is no defense for Purgatory, it is handling scriptures deceitfully or dishonestly.

    Colossians 2:8

1st Corinthians chapter three is talking about the Christian's work or labor in their building up the Temple of God, which is the Church. Our Job is to bring the gospel to the world that we might build the Temple of God, brick upon brick. Every time we preach the gospel and someone hears our witness and becomes saved, by efficacy of Christ we have worked and laid another brick in the corporate Holy Temple of God.

    1st Corinthians 3:11

This verse tells us we build the Church on the foundation Rock, which is Jesus Christ! In our labor to bring people into the corporate Church, we bring both true Christians, and those who merely profess to be Christian. God signifies these true believers as Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones. And He speaks of those who profess Christ, but are not really born from above, as wood, hay and stubble. These diverse types of building material denotes different types of people in the Church. But each and every one of these living stones (professing Christians), must stand before the throne of God at the last day, and it will be made manifest (known) if they were truly saved or just professing salvation. Because they are tried (proved) by fire. And only the truly saved are tried by fire and shall not be burned. For Christ went through the fire for them and purged out all their sins.

You will note that Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones are Precious or valuable materials that do not burn up in a fire. They represent the people of the Church building who are truly saved. On the other hand, Wood, hay, and stubble are worthless materials that will burn very easily. These represent the people who have come into the Church building because of our evangelic work, but who are not truly precious (saved). Thus we better understand the language in the next verse of our being builders, and of the types of building material we placed in the Lord's house.

    1st Corinthians 3:12-13

We learn here that it's talking about "our works" being tested to see what kind of material we brought into the building, not the burning of one's soul. If it is worthless, it will be burned up, and we suffer the loss of what we built upon Christ. In other words, we may have labored (worked) to bring someone to Christ and "thought" that they were truly saved, but the fire of God will reveal that he wasn't saved at the last day. So our work of bringing that man in, is our loss. It was done in vain. On the other hand, we are not then lost ourselves because our labors were not successful. Because our salvation is not a works based salvation where it is dependent on our work of successfully bringing people into the Church. We are saved by fire, not by our own labors or works.

    1st Corinthians 3:14-15

Note again, the continual emphasis on "our work" which we have accomplished in bringing these materials in, not on Purgatory, or on Limbo, or on anyone having ability to purge themselves. The emphasis here is on the people we laid into the Temple building, and how this affects them who were built, and us who are the builders. The reward [misthos], or hire that we receive for our labors, is eternal life. And each one of us recognize it is our own duty, but its all accomplished in Christ. As also is illustrated in verses 7 and 8.

    1st Corinthians 3:7-8

i.e., we all receive a full and perfect reward according to our labor because Christ in us makes our labor perfect. It is not us, but God that gave the increase, and we labor or work because He worked within us. Thus the reward according to our work means according to the work of Christ within us. Thus we are saved not by our own works, but according to the work of Christ within us. And this is also what is illustrated in the verse that declares, "we will suffer loss, yet we ourselves are saved." The phrase "yet as so by fire," is the method of our salvation. We may have worked, and not been the perfect preacher, the perfect builder, and so will suffer loss of what we thought was a solid building material, yet it's not laid to our charge, because our works are made pure through the fire. So when our works are tried or tested, we are saved by fire just as those whose work remains, because our works are made perfect in Christ.

The suffering of the cross was not simply the death of a man, it was Hell. The Hell that we deserved for our imperfect works, Christ endured for us in order to make us Holy and Unblamable before God (2nd Corinthians 5:21). It is being pure and unblameable that is the reason we are without fault, though our work be burned. The fires of God purified us, because our sins (our impurities) were burned up in Christ, and we come out the other end of the fire, pure. That's why the Believers are spoken of there as Gold, Silver and Precious Stones. We won't burn because we're precious to God and have already been tried and purified in the fire. We are Precious because Christ brought us through the fires of Hell (that we deserved) and purified us as Gold and Silver. This beautiful Spiritual picture is illustrated clearly in the prophecy of Zechariah.

    Zechariah 13:7

This is how we are saved so as by fire! These verses about the Gold and Silver have nothing whatsoever to do with Purgatory and 1st Corinthians is simply saying that all in the Church are not truly saved. And the fires of God will try each brick that is laid in the Church to see if it will stand as a precious stone, or be burned as wood and worthless stubble. This wood and stubble we brought in by our works don't effect our salvation, for we are not saved by our works, but as through the fire. We are blameless. This is to "signify" that we are refined so that we are without impurities, the like-figure of Gold and Silver being refined in a foundry, so that it is without impurities.

    Malachi 3:2-4

If you've ever been to a foundry, you'll know that when raw gold or silver ore is heated with fire, the impurities of dirt, rocks, and useless gunk rises to the top, and these impurities are scooped off, and what is left is the Pure Gold or silver. Well, that is the analogy that God is using here to show how our sins were purged from us in the fire. Our sins are equated with this worthless dredge burned off in the refining process. We need no further purging, because Christ took on Himself our sins, and went through the wrath of God in our place to make us pure and righteous.

    2nd Corinthians 5:21

Our sins were put on Christ and when He went through the fires of Hell enduring the wrath of God for us, all our impurities (sins) were burned away so that what was left was Precious and pure, without sin. That is the analogy of the refiner's fire making pure gold and silver. This is just another of the many marvelous spiritual pictures of "the Real work and accomplishment of the cross." Any idea that the verse that speaks of us being saved by fire is talking about Purgatory is wishful thinking at best, or a deceitful handling of the scriptures. 1st Corinthians 3:12-15 is declaring that if our works or labor in this life has brought in bricks of poor quality (wood, hay, and stubble) they will be burned when they pass through the fire. But the believer whose works are all burned up will still be saved. i.e., all their works in building the Church will be burned up and only the true believer themselves will escape through the flames.

As for the passages they speak of from the book called Maccabees (the unlawful and spurious additions to scripture), it is a stirring example of exactly why these books are not God inspired, and were rejected as Holy Canon not only by the Jews of the Old testament, but by the faithful early Church fathers which grew from them.

    Hebrews 9:27

Scripture doesn't say that it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this they have another chance in Purgatory. It says there is death, and afterward judgment. When we die, the next thing we will consciously know (if we're unsaved), is the judgement throne of God. And we are judged for all the sins we have committed in this life. Indeed, how could we think that we could pray someone out of judgement when they are beyond the grave, when the wages or payment for sin is death? It can only be the same way man can purge his sins after he dies and goes to Purgatory. In other words, "Only" in a fantasy world where doctrines are not by authority of the word of God, but are any pagan idea or imagination of man's heart.

    Jeremiah 23:16-17

Purgatory is the doctrine that says, no harm shall come to you, because you don't need to follow God's word, you can purge your own self out of hell. And we should all understand this error, and the folly of using these sundry passages to justify Purgatory. The non-reliance upon the word of God for interpretation of scripture is a carnal product of the flesh. The lack of understanding that the Bible alone and in its entirety is the word of God today, is at the root of man's delusion. The lack of understanding that words of Church leaders are not words of God, is the same mistake that man has made for centuries. Israel learned that the hard way. If we search the scriptures for truth, God in His mercy will guide us into what is truth, and show us what are man-made doctrines. How can we know the difference? Because what is truth is "in" God's word, and what is not truth comes from the extra-biblical sources. You won't find it in God's word anywhere, and that is your "key" not to follow after it and be deceived. We keep the word of God faithfully (1st John 3:24) by the Spirit within us. We will not follow what is the not word of God because we know it's not the voice of the Good Shepherd. This is the principle that some professing Christians just cannot understand.

    John 10:4-6

Just as these people didn't understand how we can only follow the authority of the word of God, so many today cannot understand it. The whole question boils down to this. Do we trust that God paid for "all of our sins" as He unambiguously declared, or do we deny His "finished work" by declaring we ourselves must purge some venial sins that are left, ourselves. The word of God makes no distinction as Roman Catholicism does of between venial and mortal sins. God's word is very clear that all sin is mortal (The wages of sin is Death), and unless washed away in the blood of Christ, will result in sinner's eternal condemnation. When Christ went to the cross, did He pay for a few sins, a lot of sins, the majority of sins, or did He pay for "all" of our sins? I can tell you this, if He didn't pay for all of our sins, then we are of all men most pitiable for believing in Him as Saviour, because there is no way we are going to pay for them ourselves and free ourselves from the penalty of Hell. For Hell indeed is the penalty for sin. It is the penalty of any sins. Despite nonsensical untenable claims to the contrary by some, "the wages of sin is death!" It never has been spending a time in a spirit bound Prison wistfully called Purgatory, purging our own sins. It is not being bound in this place until we can cleanse ourselves (Which is Heresy) of our venial sins. It is not until some Saint prays for us to be delivered from that place. These are all man's rationalizing words, and they are worth absolutely nothing. God's word is that the wages of sin is death. And the final sigh from those who refuse to condemn such unrighteous practices is that they grasp at straws in attempting to justify it. One person wrote to me:

"what's the big deal about Purgatory, and why do you speak out so forcefully against it when it seems to be, at best, a harmless doctrine. For if it doesn't help, what harm has it done?"
Truthfully, this doctrine is about as harmless as a poisonous snake. For it makes God a liar, it gives man a false sense of hope for man that spends his life in sin, and it denies that Christ is the only propitiation for our sins. The Heresy of Purgatory is simply a rejection of Christ as having made us perfect by His blood.

    Psalms 51:7

    Psalms 79:9     Isaiah 1:25 Here again, the token of purging, as metals are purged from their impurities, God purges us from all our tin. He has purged away all our sins. Saying that we need further cleansing in Purgatory is like saying Christ didn't do a good enough job getting rid of our sin when He was on the cross, so we have to "help him out with the remaining portions." It's blatantly denying the "finished" work of Christ in making us Clean, Pure, White, Unblameable, Without Spot, Holy, and Without Fault before God. Many people, even some true Christians, do not really comprehend the absolute heresy and horror of this doctrine. It denies that Christ purged us from sin, past, present, and future, and worse, it declares that there is another "way" for man to get rid of sin and get right with God. Think about that for a while. Once again, in reality, once examined, there is no other word to describe this teaching in the name of Christ, except that it is Anti-Christ!

There will always be those who will move heaven and earth to try and support the doctrine of purgatory, but the fact is, it's unsupportable by scripture, or even by rational Christian thinking. In fact, it's unsupportable even by simple human logic. It is totally against all that God declares about the COMPLETE and Finished (John 19:30) work of Christ on the cross. If Christ's work was not a finished work, then who could be saved? Such a position would leave no one saved because we all sin, whether in word, thought, or deed. God says, "Whatever we do, do all to the Glory of God." Therefore, if we spend one milli-second doing something that is not to the Glory of God, then we have sinned. But praise God, "all" our sins are forgiven. The idea that a saved person still has some sins left over that will keep him out of heaven, or that an unsaved person can purge some sins himself in Purgatory, is an Antichristian denial of the gospel of Christ.

    2nd Timothy 3:5

The power of God in the world is the Spirit, and the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. When we deny the word of God, we are in a real sense denying Christ. For He is the Word of God, made flesh, in whom we must believe.

God tells us, "whosoever is born of God, does not commit sin. -1John 3:9" That is because all of his sins are washed away, so that he "has no sin" in God's eyes. We are deemed righteous by God because we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and cannot come into condemnation. The only sin we have is in the flesh. And as long as we are in this body of flesh we will have that sin of the flesh. But we praise God for assuring us that flesh and blood shall not inherit the Kingdom of heaven. It will be left here as dust when our souls go to be with the Lord. We will receive new bodies. So it is self evident that if we leave our sinful flesh when we die, and our soul has been cleansed, washed clean in the blood of Christ, then when we go to meet the Lord we are presented perfect before in, clothed in white.

    Colossians 1:27-28

If we are in Christ Jesus the hope of glory, then we clothed in His righteousness and presented perfect before God. The unanswerable question for Roman Catholicism then is, "what is there left to purge?" In truth, the only thing man needs to purge from himself is this bankrupt idea that we can purge sins after death. We need to purge it "now" while there is time to repent and receive the hope of Glory. Man needs to cast off this senseless unchristian idea, which is nothing more than an invention of those who are insecure in Christ, or living in humanistic reasoning. We cannot purge our own sins, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. If we could, we wouldn't need a Saviour.

    Romans 6:23

We will only see eternal life by the propitiation of our sins through Jesus Christ. Roman Catholicism is really teaching its people not to have any confidence in the full forgiveness of their sins through the death of Christ alone. But the gift of Christ, rather than penance in Purgatory, is the only assurance of eternal life. It is the confusion of this doctrine manifested in how an act of penance, is claimed to not really be an act of penance as much as an act of God (according to Roman Catholicism). The claim that Purgation is administered by God, this, "as if" Christ's atonement for our sins was worthless after we died. It's like alice in wonderland getting curious-er and curious-er. It is self-attesting that the damnable doctrine of purgatory must be defended against, and dismissed as heretical. For the entire concept of after-life purging is based on a doctrine that is antithetical to Grace. Namely, that in the end man must be purified by his own suffering after death. The gospel of Christ teaches us that being in the kingdom is not about human worthiness, it is about divine imputation of righteousness and sovereign grace. Which means we don't earn it, merit it, or suffer in order to get it, the Kingdom is given freely of God. Purgatory implies that there was something further necessary in order for us to be cleansed of all our sin.

    Hebrews 9:14

By the blood of Christ we are already thoroughly purged when death comes. In truth we will never suffer in the after-life, and we suffer for Him in this life only because we live for Him and that is antithetical to this world. It is salvation by His Grace alone! It is bestowed in this life, and this is why the Apostle Paul stated that we labor that, "whether present or absent from the body, we may be accepted of him." There is no condemnation of God for any sin that we would need to be purged of.

    Romans 8:1

    We humbly pray that the Lord, who is Gracious and merciful above all, would give us the wisdom to discern His truth, and the strength to turn away from all unrighteousness of the doctrines of men.


printer Print Page


Copyright ©1995 Tony Warren
For other studies free for the Receiving, Visit our web Site
The Mountain Retreat! http://www.mountainretreatorg.net

Feel free to duplicate, display or distribute this publication to anyone so long as the above copyright notice remains intact and there are no changes made to the article. This publication can be distributed only in it's original form, unedited, and without cost.

Created 10/3/95 / Last Modified 03/07/01
The Mountain Retreat / twarren10@aol.com

[ Top | Eschatology | Bible Studies | Classics | Articles | Other Articles | Sermons | Apologetics | F.A.Q. | Forum ]