Scripture Disproves Purgatory?

Q . Regarding, 1 Peter 2:5 and “spiritual sacrifice”it is my understanding that this is an act of giving up and offering to God our time and effort in a way that is pleasing to Him. A spiritual sacrifice must be offered in an attitude of obedience, humility, and reverence. These sacrifices need to be acceptable to God THROUGH Christ. Through= something we do in relation to our relationship with Christ. Is that right?

A. Yes it is, absolutely right.

Q. But the verse you quote clearly states that our sacrifices are something we do through Christ. According to the Catholic explanation we are purified through fire and not through Christ.

A. No, you are misunderstanding. All purification is “through Christ” in a universal or global theological sense. But He uses various methods to purify or discipline us. The idea of fire comes directly from sacred scripture:

  1. Matthew 3:11
    “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

  2. Matthew 3:12
    “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
  3. Mark 9:49
    “For everyone will be salted with fire.
  4. 1 Corinthians 3:13
    each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
  5. 1 Corinthians 3:15
    If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
  6. 1 Peter 1:7
    so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
  7. Jude 1:22-24 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh

The above verse we see as a fire of purification for our God is a consuming fire. He will purify us. Fire may be literal or not but it images for us better than anything else how this purification is accomplished. It is not pleasant, fun and easy. The impurities are burned up including many things we cling to and work so hard for in this life.

Q. The tense of the verse is in the present not in the future. If it referenced an event to come, the tense of the verse would also reflect that. “Offer spirtual sacrifices”

A. I am not sure what tense the Greek is in but there is a Greek tense that is present with effects into the future. But it doesn’t really matter because the present tense surely does not render us incapable of offering spiritual sacrifices now and in the future. You see, in Catholic theology, it is NOT that we believe Purgatory is ONLY in the Future. Our purification or Purgatory can begin right now in our lives as we strive to rid ourselves of every sin that clings to us and offer our suffering up to Christ. The concept of Purgatory being in the future is because, after death it is likely that we will still be in need of purification, before we enter into the GLORY AND HOLINESS OF GOD.

Q. But our purification occurs through our relationship with Christ here on earth.

A. Agreed.

Q. Hebrews 10:26-31 “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, THERE NO LONGER REMAINS A SACRIFICE FOR SINS, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will DEVOUR (it doesn’t state purifiy) the adversaries…..

A. “…if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin.”

This verse needs careful interpretation because I don’t think either of us believes that any Christian who commits a willful sin, after he becomes a Christian is damned b/c “THERE NO LONGER REMAINS A SACRIFICE FOR SINS”.

We do believe that if the sinner repents he will be forgiven and restored to life. v. 18

So what is the apostle saying?

That if one has truly received the knowledge of the Gospel but goes on sinning that ONE sacrifice is useless for him.

We KNOW that it cannot possibly mean NO OTHER SACRIFICES EXIST because this would contradict

1 Peter 2:5

you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Q. You said that accepting Jesus as Savior “DOES NOT MAKE YOU HOLY” But please read :

Heb 10:10 And by that will we are sanctified [made holy] through the offering [sacrifice] of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

I believe that God states we ARE in fact made Holy through Christ’s sacrifice.

A. Of course, in one sense we are sanctified, set apart, and made holy because we are now children of God. However, we still are not suddenly transformed into sinless human beings. He could have zapped us and removed our sin nature, our fallen nature, but according to His perfect wisdom He desires that we, with His grace struggle against sin in order to progress in holiness.

  1. Ephesians 6:12
    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
  2. Hebrews 12:4
    In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Now we believe that those who demonstrate heroic virtue, by the power of God and their obedience to Him have attained to a state of holiness in no need of Purgatory. But even the Saints sin venially. But for most of us something is going to need to be done, for most of us after death, in order to perfect us in holiness.

Q. That “something” was already done on the cross by our Lord and Savior Christ. Your use of the words “most of us” implies that some people on earth don’t require purification, but the Bible clearly states that ALL have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. That term ALL really means everyone. There is no exception, no rank in church office will save a person from the judgement of our Holy God.

A. I beg to differ of course that All have sinned has no exceptions. Please see my post All Have Sinned, Except Mary?

Protestants believe sanctification or holiness is optional but we believe it is required in order to enter into God’s presence.”

Q. You belittle Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary with this sort of theology. Please do not be fooled into thinking that His sacrifice was not enough. This way of thinking is exactly the “trampling underfoot the blood of Christ” that Hebrews 10:26-31 is referring to, and God makes clear that there is horrible judgement that will follow this line of thinking and insulting the Spirit of Grace.

A. I understand that from your perspective it seems like we belittle Christ’s sacrifice because of your theology. But, remember, your understanding of scripture is only 500 years old. But that is just not at all true. In the Catholic Church every single mass, every single day, in every church, in every country around the world we celebrate Christ’s ONE sacrifice on the cross.

And every single Sunday around the world the Catholic Church celebrates His resurrection. And every single Friday we offer some little sacrifice in union with Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday. We even have crucifixes in every single Catholic Church. They are REQUIRED to be present and visible at every mass. The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the Source and Summit of our faith. If you had any real first-hand understanding of the Catholic Faith you would never have said that we belittle His sacrifice. On the contrary we honor it far more than any other religion.

Q. If you dig deep enough into the realms of “historical Christianity”, you will find the truth.

A. That is exactly what I did nine years ago. And I discovered that the Church that existed, in the first centuries after Jesus, was… lo and behold…Catholic!!!! It was just not Protestant in any way, shape, or form. I dearly wanted it to be. But it was not. So, I had no choice but to enter into the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH founded by Jesus Christ Himself.

Q. The truth does not lie within the words and traditions of men, but in the word of God.

A. Amen!

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