I really enjoy reading your weekly column. I have a bit of a problem and I am wondering if you might be able to help. A close friend of mine recently got saved and escaped from a lifetime of indoctrination in the Roman Catholic Church.
I spend a lot of time with her but she is still having an issue with some of the false teaching. I don’t know that much about the intricate details of Catholic doctrine. She keeps talking about purgatory; how she is still worried that she will end up there.
I told her there is no such place but she is still carrying on about it. Can you give me anymore information that could help her better understand the problems with the purgatory concept and hopefully put the subject to rest?
Thank you for your letter and your kind words. This is a topic I have studied for a very long time. I will do my best to help give you some insight into the Roman Catholic’s misleading and false teaching of the concept of purgatory.
The Roman Catholic Church holds to the position that baptism removes all previous guilt, both original and actual, so that if a person were to die immediately after baptism he would go directly to heaven. All other “believers,” except the Christian martyrs but including even the highest clergy, must go to purgatory to pay the penalty for sins committed after baptism.
The sacrifices made by the martyrs, particularly those who reflect honor upon the church, are considered adequate substitutes to avoid the fires of purgatory. Eternal punishment is cancelled by the sacraments of baptism and penance, by almsgiving, by paying the priest to say mass, by indulgences, etc., which reduce the temporal punishment for mortal sins that would have been suffered in purgatory.
In addition, even if all mortal sins are forgiven in confession by a priest and the “believer” does not perform enough good works, he will go to purgatory and remain there in torture until his soul is completely purified. The doctrine of purgatory rests on the assumption that while God forgives sin, His justice demands that the sinner must suffer the punishment due to him for his sins before he can enter heaven.
Purgatory is supposed to be under the special jurisdiction of the Pope, who is considered by this apostate church, to be Christ’s representative on earth — who has the power to grant indulgences (relief from suffering) as he sees fit. It is exercised by the priests, within limits, as representatives of the Pope.
As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “The least pain in purgatory surpasses the greatest suffering in this life. Nothing but the eternal duration makes the fire of hell more terrible than that of purgatory.” Knowing this, it is not surprising to hear Roman Catholicism described as a religion of fear.
There is fear of the priest, fear of the confessional, fear of the consequences of missing mass, fear of the discipline of penance, of death, of purgatory and of the righteous judgment of an angry God.
Tragically, money is a huge motive behind the purgatory doctrine. It is generally held that purgatory can be shortened by gifts of money, prayers by the priest, and masses—all of which can be provided by the person before death or by friends or relatives after death.
It is astounding to me how gullible so many dear and kind people are; many who pledge their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. They are enslaved to a belief system that essentially erases Christ’s blood sacrifice on the Cross, and instead empowers a group of fallen sinful men to determine the eternal destiny of church members.
Even after the priest administers extreme unction and the person dies, money is extracted from the mourning relatives after death. The Roman Catholic Church in effect sells salvation for money. How many estates have been willed to the RRC? And is a poor person helpless and doomed to an eternity of purgatory because he cannot pay the church fees?
The doctrine of purgatory has become the cash cow of the Catholic Church. No one knows how long, or when, a person is released from purgatory. A question we can ask is this: If the Pope or the priest acting on his behalf really have the power to modify or terminate the suffering souls in purgatory, why do they not render service freely and willingly as “Christian” Catholics, to help humanity?
In hospitals, the doctors and nurses try every way possible to relieve the pain and misery of those who come to them. If money can pay for a soul’s release from purgatory, why does the Pope or priest keep those poor souls suffering horrible pain in the fire, if at any time either one of them could pay all the debt for those who cannot? They could easily do so from the enormously rich treasury stored inside the vaults in the Vatican bank.
Now how does all this legalistic ideology line-up with Scripture? Christ never made one passing allusion to purgatory. He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John 5:24).
Jesus said this to the thief on the cross:
“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Christ’s words, “It is finished,” indicate that His payment for sin is complete.
“The apostle John wrote: “ But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John7, 9).
The apostle Paul did not anticipate a purgatory, but said to depart was to “be with Christ,” and that it would be “far better” (Philippians 1:23).
“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
In answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer is straightforward:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). There is no reference to confession to a priest, penance, purgatory or any other thing which a religion of works attaches.
Paul said, “If it [salvation] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6).
Again Paul says, “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
The overwhelming amount of Scripture against the concept of purgatory (and all the rest of manmade doctrines) is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church through the ages has kept the Bible from the people. The “bible” they use is a corrupt version heavily edited by their church.
How striking is the dissimilarity between Jesus and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church! Jesus was a humble itinerant preacher, but the Pope rides into the church on the shoulders of 12 men having Eucharist and Marianistic congresses, with priests, bishops and cardinals wearing lavish robes and jeweled mitres.
The jewels in the Pope’s triple-decked-crown are said to be worth about $1, 300,000. What a startling contrast from the words of the alleged founder of the Roman Catholic Church, the apostle Peter, who said to the lame beggar, “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:6).
(The apostle Peter did not start the Roman Catholic Church. That is a huge lie perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church by twisting Scripture.)
Peter warned against “wearing [flaunting] of jewels or gold” or putting on [extravagant] apparel” (1 Peter 3:3). Paul too, could say, “I coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel” (Acts 20: 33).
Pagan Rome and Jewish Jerusalem had ceremonials but when Christ came He did not copy them but disdained them. He founded His Church not on a hierarchy, but a simple brotherhood of saved souls commissioned to preach the gospel to the entire world. The early church lived in catacombs for about 300 years and had no ceremonials.
Christ rebuked the Pharisees because they were particular about keeping the feasts but neglected obedience to God (Matthew 6:16). And Paul warned against manmade commandments as a mark of apostasy (1 Timothy 4:3).
The use of the Latin language in the mass is another doctrine with no foundation in Scripture. It has been stated that it is better not to celebrate mass at all than to do so in the language of the people. This is the opposite of Christ’s teachings. Christ spoke the language of His day, Hebrew.
Yet the Roman Catholic Church teaches it is sacrilege to commemorate that experience (the mass) in anything but Latin. Paul said, “But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power” (1 Corinthians 14:19).
Sharon, I hope by sharing this information with your newly converted friend, she will better understand how purgatory is a false teaching that controls innocent believing Catholics who ultimately worship the Catholic Church and not Christ. The purgatory teaching is a way to subjugate the parishioners, rob them blind and line the pockets of the demagoguery at the top.
I could say much more on the unscriptural teachings of the Roman Catholic Church but you have enough material here that should help your friend understand that as a blood bought born-again believer, she has nothing to fear upon death.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any more questions or concerns.
In God’s love,
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8)