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Benny LeGaspe wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is there Scriptural proof for the existence of Purgatory?

I am now 70 and don't remember the Bible verse. I believe it was Matthew 18:34-35 and also a passage that reads:

26 Settle with your opponent before you face the Judge lest you go to jail and pay the last penny. (Matthew 5:26)

or something like that.

My Protestant friends and some Catholic friends and relatives do not believe in Purgatory.
They sometimes mention Limbo and say Catholics finally relented and said there is no Limbo.

This is very confusing.

  • What is the truth?

Benny

  { What is the truth about Purgatory, Limbo, and indulgences and is there Scriptural proof for them? }

Mike replied:

Hi Benny,

You said:
My Protestant friends and some Catholic friends and relatives do not believe in Purgatory.

My humorous reply: They will when they get there : )

Here is my web page of Catholic Scripture verses that defend Catholic doctrines.

Here is a posting on Limbo that may help clarify the issue.

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 (osv.com) 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 injures where we cut ourselves and require stitches and more severe injures, 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 injures 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.

2 Samuel 12:13-14
David, though forgiven, is still punished for sin.
2 Maccabees 12:39-45
"Next day, they came to find Judas (since the necessity was by now urgent) to have the bodies of the fallen taken up and laid to rest among their relatives in their ancestral tombs. But when they found on each of the dead men, under their tunics, objects dedicated to the idols of Jamnia, which the Law prohibits to Jews, it became clear to everyone that this was why these men had lost their lives. All then blessed the ways of the Lord, the upright judge who brings hidden things to light, and gave themselves to prayer, begging that the sin committed might be completely forgiven. Next, the valiant Judas urged the soldiers to keep themselves free from all sin, having seen with their own eyes the effects of the sin of those who had fallen; after this he took a collection from them individually, amounting to nearly two thousand drachmas, and sent it to Jerusalem to have a sacrifice for sin offered, an action altogether fine and noble, prompted by his belief in the resurrection. For had he not expected the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead, whereas if he had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end, the thought was holy and devout. Hence, he had this expiatory sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin."

Note: Though this book was rejected by the Protestant reformers and therefore is not in Protestant Bibles, one can not ignore the historical reality of this event and the reality of the words which were said.

Matthew 5:25-26
"You will be thrown into prison and not be released until you have paid the last penny."
Matthew 5:48
Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. (Perfection is to be strived for on earth.)
Matthew 12:32
Sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, in this age, or the next.
Matthew 12:36
You will have to account for every idle word on judgment day.
1 Corinthians 3:10-16
"If someone's work is burned ... the person will be saved, but only as through fire."
1 Corinthians 15:29-30
Paul mentions people baptizing for the dead.
2 Timothy 1:16-18
St. Paul prays - asks that God have mercy on his dead friend, Onesiphorus.
Hebrews 12:14
Strive for that holiness without which one cannot see God.
Hebrews 12:29
For our God is a consuming fire.
James 1:14-15
When sin reaches maturity it reaches death.
James 3:2
We all fall short in many respects.
1 Peter 3:18-20 to 1 Peter 4:6
Jesus preached to the spirits in prison.
1 John 5:16-17
Distinction made between deadly sins and one that are not deadly.
Revelation 21:27
Nothing unclean will be allowed to enter into Heaven.
See also:
Leviticus 26:41-43, Isaiah 4:4, Isaiah 6:5-7, Isaiah 33:11-14, Micah 7:8-9, Zechariah 9:11, Malachi 3:2-4, Matthew 18:34ff, Luke 12:58ff, Luke 16:19-31, 2 Corinthians 5:10,
2 Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 4:8-10, Philippians 2:10-11, 1 Peter 4:6, Revelation 5:3, 13

Interested in what the very first Christians thought, taught, and died for?
Check out what they said on this topic.

Related to your question:

On discussion  topics like Purgatory and Limbo it is also common for the subject of indulgences to come up. For that reason I've included a Catholic Answers Primer below.

The scandal of selling indulgences is thought to be the precipitating cause of the Protestant Revolt. The Catholic Church forbade the sale of indulgences at the Council of Trent (abuses of the practice were previously condemned in Council in 1215, 1245, 1274 and 1312). But Martin Luther went beyond a critique of the abuse of indulgences, and declared the entire practice null and void and contrary to the Bible. This is not correct:

Many saints suffer more than enough to satisfy God's justice. Jesus Christ (and Mary in Catholic theology) didn't have any sin and yet suffered greatly. The Catholic Church gives credit for this suffering to persons who have repented. Thus it indulges these persons, not in their sin, but in taking away punishment for the sins. This act is called an indulgence. The Catholic Church will not do away with this beautiful concept and practice (rightly understood) because of the occasional criminal misuse of it in the past. The doctrine of indulgences is closely connected with the Communion of Saints. The transfer of merit through an indulgence is a profound act of community and a taking seriously of the communal and unified nature of the Mystical Body of Christ.

In a papal decree given in 1968 by Pope Paul VI, it was made abundantly clear that the pious disposition of the seeker of an indulgence was of paramount importance. In other words, an indulgence was not a piece of magic which existed apart from the spiritual state of its user. It is inconsistent for Protestants to find fault with the Catholic Church for mitigating the austerities of penance in granting an indulgence since their own fundamental principle is the notion of faith alone without good works (as pertaining to the nature of salvation). Thus, indulgences are merely a limited application of a concept which Protestantism raises to universality.

All the main ideas upon which an indulgence is based are found in the Bible: the Church's power to bind and loose, vicarious atonement among members of the Church, and penance. Although the doctrine has developed, like all others, it is not unbiblical in the least. In fact,

St. Paul himself issued an indulgence by lessening the temporal penance for sin of a straying brother (2 Corinthians 2:6-11), which he had previously imposed on him (1 Corinthians 5:3-5).

The Catholic Church adds no more in essence to the practices and theological presuppositions of indulgences then these two passages.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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