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Joshua H. wrote:

Hi, guys —

The subject of purgatory is kind of confusing to me because I am a Baptist and I have never
in church or elsewhere, been taught about Purgatory.

I understand that it is not directly in the Bible but is "hinted" to.

  • So who goes there?
  • Why?
  • How can we pray for those who are there and how do we even know if they are there?

I hope you can give me clarity.

Thanks so much for your help,

Josh H.

  { Can you answer certain questions on Purgatory for a Baptist? }

John replied:

Hi, Josh —

In brief, the condition Catholics call Purgatory is simply the final work of sanctification which a soul must undergo prior to being able to fully enjoy the presence of God. This process is described by St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.  If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

This process has been described in terms of time, but only for the purpose of describing a Mystery in human terms. We don't know how long it lasts; bearing in mind that time is going to be experienced differently in eternity.

The process of purification is a work of God's grace. It should not be understood as a soul earning his salvation. Rather it is a fulfillment of God's promise as recorded by Paul to Philippians:

"He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it."

Philippians 1:6

Baptists and Catholics both agree that we are saved by grace through faith. We also both agree that sanctification is a process. Catholics have always understood that the process of sanctification or purification often continues after this life is over. That said, Purgatory is not a second chance. It is strictly a place or condition for those who are saved. It is not a second chance for those who have knowingly rejected the Gospel and grace in this life.

John

Mike replied:

Hi, Josh —

I just wanted to add to John's answer.

Many non-Catholic Christians have difficulty with the doctrine of Purgatory because they mistakenly believe it is somehow connected to ones own salvation or justification.

Purgatory has NOTHING AT ALL to do with ones salvation or justification. It has to do with ones personal HOLINESS. (Revelation 21:27: Nothing unclean will be allowed to enter into heaven.)

Although the souls in Purgatory have been saved and are destined for Heaven, they still have self-love from this earthy life that must be purified to satisfy God's justice.

Purgatory in no way takes away from the finished work of Christ, rather it medicinally applies the finished work of Christ to the Christian.

You said:
How can we pray for those who are there?

We can pray personally for the Holy Souls or gather a group of like-minded Christians to pray for the Holy Souls. My other web site is dedicated exactly for this purpose. The goal is to start Purgatory Prayer Programs across America in every state. You can check it out at:

Helpers of the Holy Souls

I would also recommend checking out my Scripture Passages web page for Purgatory.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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