Recently following a sermon, some friends at our church asked:
The concept of Purgatory was of interest. In Catholic faith, our understanding is that when a person passes away, their soul goes to Purgatory. Then, basically, family and friends pray for this individual so that the soul can ascend to God. In the Presbyterian view, if the individual proclaims Christ as their savior, they are accepted by God. What about the book of Revelation, in regard to the Last Judgment? Are soul’s judged again? And where are the souls in the meantime?
That’s a great question. Here’s how I replied. What would you say?
The Bible teaches that those who belong to the Lord Jesus are saved completely.
Hebrews 7:23-28 23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest meets our need– one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
The clear picture is that “the one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 1:15) is the one who prays (intercedes) for us. Therefore we do not need any more “help” from other saint’s prayers to get to heaven.
As for the timing, that is another aspect which leads some to the notion of purgatory. That is, the delay between death and final judgment is the season of purgatory. However, this is not actually what the Roman Catholic Church teaches either. They teach that upon completion of purgation, the person goes from purgatory to heaven. Why penalize those who died earlier in history with a longer term in purgatory. In contrast, the Protestant view is that between death and the second coming, believers who die are present with God in their spirit (not their body). At the second coming when all are raised with resurrection bodies, those who loved Jesus and followed him are publically acquitted (declared righteous), at the final judgment. They were already present with God (in heaven) before this time, but now their body and soul are reunited to enjoy the new heavens and the new earth in resurrection bodies.
AS for the time in heaven after death, Paul writes:
2 Corinthians 5:4-8 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
But of the final judgment scripture records:
Revelation 20:11-15 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Hope that helps advance our mutual understanding. Let me know what other questions this raises!
8 responses to “Purgatory and Final Judgment”
Well thought out, Tim – Thanks!
I sometimes say to people that this “covenant” given to Abraham was before God gave the law of the 10 Commandments, but that “Covenant” rested on God Himself, with Himself, that is His own Eternal Internal Counsel before He created him, and before the foundation of the world. So that in time (the “temporal”, this was given to Abraham and is told us this way;
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
God swore by Himself who would and would not be saved, before He created, and is what is being talked about in Romans 9 with Jacob and Esau.
That is how Paul could say in Romans 9 that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, because as he goes on to explain in Romans 9, it is not anything in God’s creation which determines that, but decided upon before that (as stated above by His Own Eternal and Internal Counsel within Himself. That same love Jesus talks about having with God before the foundation of the world, is along the same lines as what I’m saying, and Paul is saying. We were “In Christ” before the foundation of the world, when God set His love upon the elect, not based upon their “works,” but His Sovereign call (and that is seen in the temporal in God’s time, for the elect). So Christ says in John 17, the “glory which You have given me, I have given them.” God in other places says along the lines of I will share my Glory with no one,” and it is really not our “glory,” but God’s, and we become “partakers in the divine nature” through that call in time for the elect. We are indeed on one level saved by a “law.” First Christ’s keeping of it, but really, God laid down the “law” of how it would be, and that from His Own Sovereign Eternal and Internal Counsel, from all Eternity. It is a much more “higher law” than those given in the 10 Commandments in the temporal, although they bear witness to such for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. I sometimes tell people to be ashamed of the True God Who clearly lays out how He operates and Has ordained things, is to be ashamed of the very True Gospel itself. One may say that the “iniquity” talked about departing from here, is that very thing, that God knows and Has Sovereignly chosen (such as explained in Romans
9), and to depart from that is iniquity in the highest degree (“You shall have
no other gods before you);
2 Timothy 2:19 RSV
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
It’s God’s “firm foundation” (Himself) and not man, and anything built on
that foundation that is not such, is wood, hay and stuble (as Jesus praying for the disciples and so us also tells us, which is what drives the “perseverance of the saints” ! It is God’s “Name,” and Holy and
Sovereign is His Name! Christ’s once and for all sacrifice in time (seen by and ordained by God for His elect only from all eternity) is completely sufficient. No “purgatory” is needed, since you can’t get any better than
perfect imputed righteousness, which is all that saves (again, belief in that is given to God’s elect in the temporal, in His time, which He also has ordained for each of His own).
Hey Brother Tim,
And no, I’m not suggestion “antinomialism” with my last comment about how I sometimes explain these things (depending on where a person is at, I do hit them harder than they would like, though, wherever they are at, at least they percieve the life giving message as “hard” as people were saying in John 6 “this is a hard saying?!” No, the elect look at God’s law as “good,” as Paul explains still sess it in even Romans 7.
I do like the way you laid it out also, and I was just saying a lot of what you were saying also!
May I suggest the Sovereignty of God in the election of His from eternity is what Jesus is talking about in “Come to Me all you who are burdened, take My Yoke upon You…etc. It does save us from having to figure out why we are here and what God’s plan is, in a “general” sense. Look at what Jesus is speaking of just before in that context. That is His easy yoke and light burden!
The “easy yoke and light burden,” which gives us “rest,” also answers these
things about a “purgatory,” that is there is certainly no such thing, because God does not need to add anything on to the perfect work of Christ on behalf of His own, and if you don’t think God is big enough to translate our
lowly bodies instantly into sin free gloried resurrected spririts and then bodies, then your “god” is too small! One needs to see the “Big-ness” of God’s Glory of what I said here, which is the “easy yoke and light burden.”
Are you giving thanks for what Christ gave thanks for? If not, I suggest you make your calling and election sure! It is His gracious will that God’s own also give thanks for what He is giving thanks for in that passage;
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes;
26 yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.
27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
His so called “burden” is “light” indeed. It is also “heavy, man, heavy!” in the way of “mind blowing.” It is also “light,” in the way that those whom the Father does not choose to reveal Himself and His Sovereignty over His creation from start to finish, or “blinded by that light.”
Really, what I said above is asking the question “do we really want to be one in mind (God’s “revealed mind” in His word) and spirit and heart as Jesus
prays that we will be in John 17. The Matthew 11 passage I included above ties in directly to these;
28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
Granted, this does not give liscence for “antinomainism” as mentioned
above. First God asks us to be “Holy, as He is Holy.” Well, since we can’t
be that perfectly in these lowly bodied, which are still hampered by the residue of the fall, we can be “Holy” in mind and thought the way I said above. It is “different” or “sanctified” from any of this worlds “gospels.”
The world hates it (because it hates the Sovereignty and Holiness of God), and so Jesus says they will hate us for proclaiming it in John 17 also. The “you must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” Jesus is speaking of in the Sermon on the Mount is in the context of Him speaking about God’s Sovereignty (“He lets His sun shine on…gives rain to…, etc.).
People will slap us on one cheeck for proclaiming this, and we turn the other
cheeck and proclaim it still! I think Lukes rendering of the Sermon on the Mount has “you must be merciful, as your Heavenly Father is merciful.” First of all, we don’t start killing people like the radical Muslim’s do because they don’t believe what is True (nor can they, unless acted upon by God’s Gracious Spirit. You really do wish He’d knock down more on their butts like He did to Saul before he became Paul, on the road to Damascus, but apparently, it is not His gracious will to do that to most!). By the way, the passage above in Matthew 11 about Jesus being “gentle,” well, He was not that with Paul, although He was being merciful by blinding him and incapacitating him so there was no where to wriggle to like the slimey worm
he was before! We can’t do that, though (though it does make some people, like myself, laugh when people are all up in arms about such things as interogating, under very, very controlled conditions, slime balls with such things as water-boarding in order to save lives!). Some people really will think we are being unmerciful and cruel to them when we speak the word of God, because the Light does hurt the unregenerate.
Todd, thanks for writing. You should aim to be more concise. Love ya brother,