"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
No, Virginia, There is No Purgatory
In Hebrews 1:3, that writer tells us, "He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His
nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After
making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the
Majesty on high." I am especially focusing on the first clause of the second sentence: "After making purification for sins..."
Most people have heard of Purgatory. In the Catholic Catechism, it is defined as "purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy
of heaven," which is experienced by those "who die in God’s grace and
friendship, but still imperfectly purified." That is, when a regular Christian (regular, as opposed to a "saint"), he has sins of which to be purged after death. Thus, it is actually a condition, though we usually think of it as a place.
Let's compare that doctrine to the verse cited above. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus made purification for sins. Who was that? The Catholic Church says the Christian makes purification. Hebrews says Jesus made purification. When is that? The Catholic Church says that the Christian will do so, future tense, after death. Hebrews says that Jesus did so, past tense, before the writing of that epistle, almost two thousand years ago.
To my mind the contrast produces a very easy conclusion that the Catholic doctrine is not only unscriptural, but antiscriptural. But what is worse is that the Catholic doctrine implies that the redemptive work of Jesus was a failure, insufficient. "Yes," Rome says, "Jesus intended to purge the sins of His people, but He didn't quite make the curve. We, the pope and his assistants, figured that out, and came up with a way to finish what Jesus failed to do."
Can that be considered anything less than blasphemous? And further, just by itself, is it not sufficient grounds for saying that no born-again Christian has no place in the Catholic Church? I certainly say so, and so does Scripture: "Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from
the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the
LORD" (Isaiah 52:11), "Go out of the midst of her, my people! Let every one save his life from the fierce anger of the LORD" (Jeremiah 51:45), "Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the
Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you" (II Corinthians 6:17), and "Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my
people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues'" (Revelation 18:4).
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at email@example.com.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43