Sunday School Lesson 49
THERE IS NO PURGATORY
MEMORY VERSE: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” – Hebrews 9:27
BIBLE PASSAGE: 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
INTRODUCTION: Some church denominations believe that all who die in God’s grace and friendship but still imperfectly purified are indeed assured of their eternal salvation but will undergo the process of purification which they call purgatory, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. According to them, Purgatory is also a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from forgivable faults, or have not fully paid the price due to their transgressions. Is this doctrine of purgatory in agreement with the bible? Absolutely not!
1.WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT PURGATORY?
2.DEBUNKING THE WRONG CONCEPT
1. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT PURGATORY?
The doctrine of purgatory was falsely formulated by reference to biblical verses that speak of purifying fire (1Corinthians3:15 and 1Pet.1:7) and to the mention by Jesus of ‘forgiveness in the age to come’ (Matthew 12:32). The analogy made in 1Corinthians 3:11-15 affects only believers that have made it to heaven and are awaiting their rewards at the judgement seat of Christ. Sinners or unbelievers are not included here, they go straight to hell.
The eternal destination of everyone is determined instantly after death (2Corinthians 5:6-8). Apostle Paul wrote that believers are “builders” whose quality of works, on the foundation of Christ, shall be tested “by fire” on the day of Judgement (2Corinthians5:10) 1Corinthians3:11-15 does not say that believers pass through the fire for cleansing. Rather, it is the believer’s works that will pass through the fire. Fire, in this context, is symbolic of the test of motive or objectivity behind the believer’s works.
The statement made by Jesus”… it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world , neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:32)was a proverbial expression among the Jews for a thing that will never be done. This scripture does not paint a picture of a chance of forgiveness of sins after death. God’s wrath shall overtake any sinner who refuses to genuinely repent before death (Psalm 9:17; Matthew 13:49-50). Hence, it is baseless to pray to God for the forgiveness of sins on behalf of the dead.
2. DEBUNKING THE WRONG CONCEPT
Purgatory, like many other heretical beliefs, is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. The proponents of purgatory fail to understand that Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient (Hebrews 7:27). They view meritorious works as contributing to salvation due to a failure to recognize that Jesus’ sacrificial payment has no need of additional “contribution” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Similarly, Purgatory is understood by them as a place of cleansing in preparation for heaven because they do not recognise that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are already cleansed (1John 1:7-9). They also base their teaching on the practice of praying for the dead because they fail to recognise that Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay the penalty for ALL of our sins. Jesus, who was God incarnate (John 1:1, 14), paid an infinite price for our sins. Jesus died for our sins (1Corinthians 15:3). Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1John 2:2; Romans 5:8, Isaiah 53:5). The idea that we have to suffer for our sins after death is contrary to everything the Bible says about salvation.
CONCLUSION: There is no basis for purgatory in the bible. Therefore, make your ways right before you die.