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Bernie Dehler wrote:

Hi, Mike —

  • Do you know where you're going to go when you die?

You probably think you're going to Purgatory to get cleaned up first. I bet you would say you wouldn't go directly to Heaven, because you're not good enough.

I was raised a Catholic and this is the bottom line with what's wrong with Catholicism. I'm glad I learned the truth through the Scriptures.


  • What do you think Ephesians 2:8-9 means?

    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Please don't answer by explaining what it doesn't mean, as if to explain away the verse,
but explain what it does mean.


  { Do you know where you're going when you die and can you explain what Ephesians 2:8-9 means? }

Mike replied:

HI, Bernie —

Thanks for the  questions.

You said in your question:
Do you know where you're going to go when you die?

Yeah, the John Everett funeral home here in Natick. : )

Seriously. I have a moral confidence that I will be going to Heaven. I can't have an absolute assurance of going to Heaven, because then I would be denying that I have the free will to sin and offend God. Catholic Christians believe we have our own free will to choose God or Sin.
This is a choice no one can take away.

Any Baptized Christian can go straight to Heaven after death. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong. It is very hard, but in the history of the Church, saints and other holy men and women have done it.

The issue here, Bernie, is choice. In many faith sharing conversations on Purgatory, this is one of two critical issues that is left out; the other being, the purpose of Purgatory: Holiness versus Salvation. (See the last paragraph in this web posting.)

  • When I sin and offend God, whose choice was it?
  • God's choice or my choice?

The Catholic Church teaches it is my choice. I offended God. Since I offended God, I have to make amends with the Lord God Almighty and the members of His Church who are also wounded by my sins.

The only other answer to this question is: It was God's choice. If God is responsible for my sin, then you end up calling God a sinner who does not appear to be interested in my salvation; something I would not want to say : )

If one dies in a pure state of holiness, one will go straight to Heaven. If one dies in less than a 100% holy state, God in his mercy demands that our self love be purged as a requirement before entering Heaven, which is all holy. Scripture attests to this:

But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Revelation 21:27

In many Protestant denominations, they would say, Mike, no one can be perfect or holy. But Christ tells us: Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) Our Lord is telling us holiness is the goal. (Hebrews 12:14) Nevertheless, I believe, many good hearted disciples have reached and will continue to reach high levels of holiness, but many have also come a little short. (James 3:2)

  • Do they go to Hell?

Obviously not. St. Paul tells us they would suffer loss, though as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15) St. Theresa tells us there is no love in Hell.

The CCC states:

CCC 1030 All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

CCC 1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire: As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.

CCC 1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabees] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." 2 Maccabees 12:45

Important side note: Many still refute this by saying that Maccabees isn't in their Bible but that's not the point we are making. This passage still attests to a historical reality that this event really happened, as attested to by the Jewish people and their history.

The CCC continues:

From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead: Let us help and commemorate them. If Job's sons were purified by their father's sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.

Where does the Bible teach about Purgatory?

1 Corinthians 3:15 speak of being saved but through fire.

15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.

1 Corinthians 3:15

The term fire means purification. See also 1 Peter 1:6-9.

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. 9 As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6-9

It won't say Purgatory in the Bible because we get the word Purgatory from Latin which is
"the language of the Church" and Greeks aren't going to give us a Latin word.

You said:

  • What do you think Ephesians 2:8-9 means?

Please don't answer by explaining what it doesn't mean, as if to explain away the verse, but explain what it does mean.

Did you miss verse 10? It's kind of important. : )

RE: Ephesians 2:8-10 states:

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

A Commentary on Holy Scriptures by Totus Tuus Ministries states the following on
Ephesians 2:8-10:

Biblical Fundamentalism, today, refers to interpreting the Bible with a rigid literalism that wrenches a text from the context of the passage, the whole of Scripture, and the living Tradition of the Church. This method of literalistic interpretation, literalism, should not be confused with the literal meaning of Scripture, which the Church has always affirmed.

An example of literalism is the misuse of Ephesians 2:8-9.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works lest any man should boast."

Fundamentalists often cite this passage as a proof-text that one is saved by faith alone, thus rejecting the necessity of good works. However, the verse never asserts that one is saved by faith alone. That false idea is explicitly rejected in James 2:24: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

What St. Paul teaches is that we are saved by grace through faith, which is exactly what the Catholic Church teaches. Concerning the misuse of Ephesians to reject the necessity of good works, that interpretation falls apart once verse 10 is considered. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works"
(Ephesians 2:10).

I recommend you read the whole page here:

Here are other related questions we have answered that touch upon the question you asked:

Many Protestants are confused about this teaching of the Church.

Catholic Notes:

When talking with friends and family on Purgatory, it’s important they know the basics:

  • Purgatory does exist.
  • Purgatory is not a third place along with Heaven and Hell nor it is a second chance.
  • Purgatory has nothing to do with Limbo, which was only a theological opinion and was never a doctrine of the Church.
  • Purgatory is like the Holy Hospital of Heaven.
  • Souls in Purgatory have been saved just as much as the souls in Heaven.

Purgatory refers to a temporary state of purification for those who have died in the state of grace but still need to get rid of any lingering imperfections (venial sins, earthly attachments, self-will, etc.) before entering the perfection of Heaven.

Purgatory has nothing to do with one's justification or salvation. Those in Purgatory are justified; they are saved.  Purgatory has to do with one's personal holiness and the burning away of remaining self-love.  Revelation 21:27 It's our personal holiness because each person uses their free will differently in life to make good or bad choices on our pilgrimage to our particular judgment.

This article by Emily Stimpson from Our Sunday Visitor ( September 29, 2013 will also be helpful.

If you struggle to understand the Catholic view of Purgatory, this analogy may help:

Think of sin as a self-inflicted wound in your life.

When we physically hurt ourselves, many times we have to be brought to the hospital and the doctor or nurse will put an alcoholic disinfectant in our cut or wound. It will hurt ... a lot!!! but it's a good hurt; it's a holy hurt, that is needed to make us physically better.

We also have to distinguish between less severe physical injuries where we cut ourselves and require stitches and more severe injuries, like a NASCAR racing driver who gets into a major collision and ends up with third or fourth-degree burns over 90 percent of their body. There are varying degrees of damage that we do to our bodies, not only physically, but spiritually too!

Because Revelation tells us that nothing impure can enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27) and because God Himself is all Holy, we too, have to be all Holy to enter Heaven. To achieve this, any remaining self-inflicted spiritual wounds (meaning self-love) from our pilgrimage on earth has to be burned off, healed, and purified.

  • If our spiritual injuries are along the line of just needing stitches, that healing period where our self-love has to be burned off will be short;
  • but if our self-inflicted injuries are along the line of third or fourth-degree burns, the healing process will take longer.

Saints in the past have had private revelations from the souls in Purgatory. They [the Holy Souls in Purgatory] have shared that, while the [healing|burning] fires of God’s Love in Purgatory are painful (Hebrews 12:29, Exodus 3:1-6), at the same time they had an internal, burning joy because they knew they were being conformed to the image of God and their final destiny would be total union with Him.

Instead of the good healing pain that the alcoholic disinfectant gave us under a doctor’s care to prepare us to re-enter the earthly world again, in Purgatory, we experience a holy, healing pain under Jesus’ Care which purifies our souls and prepares us to enter eternal life with God who is all Holy.

Hope this helps,

Mike Humphrey

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