By Nathan Jones
Do people have to earn their way into Heaven by enduring torment in a place called Purgatory?
If you've ever said a prayer for the dead, if you've ever lit a candle for a lost loved one, or if you call out to a patron saint to reduce the time a special person has to endure a purifying torment, then you most likely grew up in the Catholic Church. For us Protestants, the idea that there is a place called Purgatory where the dead in Christ endure punishment to make them worthy of Heaven seems alien to us. And yet, such a concept is the bedrock concept behind the Post-Tribulation Rapture view, placing Purgatory on Earth during the Tribulation.
Dr. David Reagan in his newest book, Eternity: Heaven or Hell?, explains more in detail what Purgatory is and shows us from the Scriptures and history that suffering for Christ to gain entry into Heaven is totally unbiblical. I recently interviewed Dr. Reagan concerning this very topic. Here now is the fourth question in this interview series concerning what to expect in the afterlife.
Dr. Reagan: The concept of Purgatory is an absolute and total myth. There is no such thing as Purgatory.
The place called Torments where the unbelievers go is not Purgatory. Purgatory is the idea that believers have to go to a place of torment and believers have to be tormented to be purged of all of their sins before they can be taken into the presence of a Holy God.
To me, Purgatory is a blasphemy of the Lord Jesus Christ, because the Bible teaches that Jesus did everything necessary for us to go to Heaven on the cross. We don't have to do anything except reach out and receive that gift by putting our faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We are told in 1 John 1:7 that the blood of Jesus is sufficient to cleanse us of all sin. We don't need to be purged and we don't need to be tormented, as Jesus delivered us from all of that. The blood of Jesus is sufficient.
Even those who believe in Purgatory, even those who defend it, realize and will admit there is not one verse in the Bible, not one, that substantiates Purgatory. The only place they will point to is the Book of Maccabees where there is a statement about going back to Jerusalem and praying for the souls of the dead people who had died on the battlefield. But, that is one of the many reasons that Maccabees was never accepted by the Jewish people as a canonical book, as a book that was part of the Bible. It was added later on by the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, partially to substantiate the concept of Purgatory. But, there is no biblical basis for Purgatory, and the very idea is a blasphemy of Jesus.
Nathan Jones: I'm thankful I don't have to have relatives light candles to make sure that I get out of Purgatory! Jesus cleansed us on the cross, and that was the only suffering work needed whereby we can go to Heaven.
Read on for an answer to Question #5 on whether unbelievers get second chances to accept Christ after death!
Eternity: Heaven or Hell? Book