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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, July 23 2020

What is purgatory?

The concept of purgatory clashes with biblical truth in its assertion that sins can be erased by punishing the sinner.

by Gary Petty

We get a lot of questions that people send here in to Beyond Today, and one that we get is, “What is purgatory? Is purgatory real?” Now, purgatory is basically a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. Let me just read from the Roman Catholic Encyclopedia. It says, “Purgatory is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing from this life and God’s grace, are not entirely free from menial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due their transgression.” The idea is that some people have lived lives not good enough to go to heaven, but not really bad enough to go to hell. So they go to a place where, for many, many, many years, they’ve suffered – or they suffer, and they struggle as their sins are purged from them in this place of purgatory. Eventually, they get to move on up into heaven.

Well, a couple of things. One, understand the Bible has no teaching about such a place. It just doesn’t exist. So it is a non-biblical doctrine. In fact, what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes is that the dead know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5). And in the New Testament we see that people who are dead are repeatedly – it is said that they are asleep, and in fact they wait a resurrection.

Now, so, we have two reasons why this doctrine has no validity. But there’s actually another reason that’s very important, and that is according to the scripture, you and I can’t pay for our own sins. The penalty for our own sins and corrupt human nature is eternal death. The only way we can pay for our sins is to have God send a substitute, which He did, in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to die for our sins, to be resurrected to return to the Father and do the work of having our nature changed through God’s Holy Spirit. This is a remarkable truth. This is very important. And the problem is that the concept of purgatory actually goes against this incredible biblical truth.