In the first article in the series, we described Purgatory and provided quotes from Catholic writers, so the reader can become acquainted with the doctrine.
One quote was particularly astounding and needs to be carefully addressed:
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “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.”
How can someone die “in God’s grace and friendship” and not go to heaven? This is clearly antithetical to everything the New Testament teaches and can only be understood through a prism of works-oriented Christianity.
If God’s grace and friendship are insufficient to get us into heaven, then the only thing that still exists is our works. How can man do enough good works to be saved?
Jesus tells us a story about a Master coming home for dinner. Regardless of what the servant has to do that day, he will still be called to prepare dinner for the Master, as a part of his responsibilities.
Jesus concludes by saying:
“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'” (Luke 17:10, NKJV).
We cannot ever hope to do enough good deeds in order to be saved. If so, we would put God in the untenable position of being forced to save us or be shamed. That is impossible to conceive!
Jesus came to die on the cross so that we could be saved.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
Humanity lacked the spiritual strength necessary to attain salvation. Only Christ had that strength and honor (Roman 5:6; Revelation 5:1-5).
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:9).
Because we were inadequate to save ourselves, God required a sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:11-14). The grace of God is the only way we could ever attain salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
We understand that works are a requisite part of Christianity (James 2:26). However, they are not works of merit. These works enunciate our faith and Christian life (Ephesians 4:1; Galatians 5:22-26). God’s people are called to good works (Ephesians 2:10) to glorify Christ, not ourselves (Ephesians 3:20-21).
To claim that we can do something above the blood of Christ to be saved means that his blood was inadequate. On the cross, Jesus said his work was “finished” (John 19:30).
The following is illuminating:
“In Greek the term ‘it is finished’ was used in legal contexts to state that a debt had been paid in full. Papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered with the word written across them, meaning ‘paid in full.'”
Once we are in Christ, through baptism for the remission of sins (Galatians 3:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13), we cannot be lost if we continue to walk in Christ (Romans 8:1).
When we enter Christ’s body (Ephesians 1:22-23), there is no way to be separated from Christ unless we choose to leave (Hebrews 6:4-6).
If we are in Christ’s body and household (Ephesians 2:19), we will be in the joys of heaven rather than a purgatory of extreme pain.