What is Purgatory? What are Indulgences?

🌺 Published by Brittany Ann

What is Purgatory? What are Indulgences? Pin

This post is post 10 in a series entitled Letting God Lead: My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Beliefs. While you certainly can read this post by itself, I highly encourage you to check out the rest of the series as well. Find more about this series and a list of all of posts here. *This post contains affiliate links.

 

Growing up Protestant, I had heard of Purgatory, but knew very, very little about it. In fact, when my Catholic husband and I first got married, I made the joke: “Well, great. When we all die, my family (that I grew up in) is going to get to fast-track it straight to Heaven (because they are Protestant), while I’ll be stuck sitting at a table waiting my turn to get in with you!”

 

What is Purgatory?

 

According to official Catholic teaching, Purgatory is a state of being wherein those who are definitely going to Heaven are purified on their way there (since nothing “unclean” can enter Heaven). We do not EARN our salvation in Purgatory–we already have it because of Christ’s work on the cross. Purgatory is just a state of sanctification/purification where any remaining attachments we have to sin are broken.

 

 

What Does the Church Teach About Purgatory?

 

God has given us free will. We use this free will every day as we choose to follow or reject God. Once we die, however, we are held accountable for how we choose to live our lives. Did we seek every day to follow Jesus to the best of our ability, even when it was hard? Or did we just call ourselves Christians without actually being one?

 

After examining our lives, God will judge whether we were true followers of His or not. Those people who did seek a closer relationship with Him will be allowed to have that relationship with Him in Heaven. Those people who chose not to have a relationship with Him will be allowed not to in Hell. God doesn’t force someone to be in Heaven who doesn’t want to be there. 

 

(Up until this point, Protestants and Catholics should pretty much all agree.)

 

However, AFTER we are granted salvation and we are 100 percent for sure going there, Catholics believe we undergo a sort of purification process to get us ready for Heaven. After all, nothing unclean can enter Heaven, and no matter how hard we try, most of us are going to leave the earth pretty soiled by sin. Purgatory removes this sin and attachment to sin we still have so we can be fit for Heaven.

 

Again, Purgatory does NOT earn or give us a second chance for salvation–we already have it–Purgatory just gets us ready for Heaven. (The same way you wouldn’t show up to your wedding in your old stinky gym clothes–you’d shower first.)

 

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Catholic Teachings on Purgatory:

 

  • Purgatory is a state of purification that happens after death (not a physical place)
  • It generally involves some sort of pain or discomfort (but it is not ALL pain)
  • Its purpose is to prepare Christians for Heaven
  • It is NOT a second chance (we’ve already received our judgement)
  • It does NOT earn our salvation (we already have it because of Christ’s death on the cross)
  • It is not a literal fire
  • Purgatory is God’s mercy, not judgement
  • God helps us through Purgatory
  • The prayers of the saints (Christians) help us move through Purgatory faster
  • Time works differently in Purgatory than it does on Earth
  • Not every Christian has to go to Purgatory (though most probably do)
  • People who die without any sin could potentially skip Purgatory altogether (for example, if they confessed on their deathbed)
  • Many people undergo purification here on Earth as well

 

James Akin gives this analogy:

“Purgatory is the boot-camp of heaven. The purpose of purgatory is to bring you up the level of spiritual excellence needed to experience the full-force presence of God. It doesn’t matter where you start from, there will be no sinning in heaven, and you have to be brought up to that level during final sanctification, before you are glorified with God in heaven.” (source)

 

And Dummys.com gives this analogy:

“It may help to think of the purgatory in terms of a major operation to save a life. Say a doctor performs surgery on someone’s heart or brain and removes a cancerous tumor. The surgery achieves the main objective, but the wound needs to heal, and the incision needs to be cleaned and rebandaged. Purgatory is like that secondary part of recovery — the healing, cleaning, and bandaging.” (source)

 

 

Three Reasons Protestants Typically Don’t Believe in Purgatory

 

Aside from the most practical reason–which is that most Protestants know very little about what the Catholic Church actually teaches about Purgatory and why–Protestants typically give one or more of these three reasons as to why they don’t believe: 1. Needing purgatory assumes that Christ’s work on the Cross isn’t sufficient, 2. it offers a second chance at salvation and 3. it isn’t in the Bible. But as you’ll see in a minute, these three objections aren’t really accurate.

 

Objection #1: Purgatory Assumes Christ’s Saving Work on the Cross Isn’t Sufficient

 

Protestants will be happy to know that official Catholic doctrine also teaches that Christ’s work on the cross is 100 perfect sufficient for our salvation. Like I discussed in the previous series post “Is Faith Alone Enough,” Catholics do NOT believe we have any power to save ourselves through works. Purgatory in no way makes us any more or less “saved.” It doesn’t affect our salvation even an iota. Instead, it is a process we undergo because we are already saved, but we still need to be purified for Heaven.

 

At this point, many Protestants would counter: “Well, Jesus’s blood covers our sins and He makes us holy.” To which Catholics would respond: “Yes it does. BUT a sinful person covered in holy blood is still a sinful person and unclean at the core.” Purgatory is the process by which God makes us holy, sinfree and spotless through and through.

 

Objection #2: Purgatory Offers a Second Chance for Salvation

 

Once again, this is not accurate. The Catholic Church teaches that we receive our judgement sentence when we die and there are no second chances. At judgement time, we are handed our sentence: either Hell or Heaven (passing through Purgatory on the way). Judgement happens first, then Purgatory. Not the other way around.

 

Objection #3: Purgatory is not in the Bible

 

Once I dove into Scripture for myself to see what it actually says, I was surprised to see that there are actually several verses which could very well point to Purgatory. Sure, it doesn’t explicitly spell out “You will die. You will go to Purgatory,” but as we discussed in Who Has the Ultimate Authority? A Biblical Look at Sola Scriptura, the Bible was never meant to be a comprehensive guide and just because something isn’t there doesn’t mean it isn’t true. BUT to ease all of our Bible-loving minds (mine included!): here are your verses 🙂

 

Bible Pin

 

Where is Purgatory in the Bible?

 

The Catholic belief in Purgatory is based in part on the following verses:

 

He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.

Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin. –2 Maccabees 12:43-46

 

(For more information on why Catholics consider this book Scripture, don’t miss the section on the apocryphal/deuteroncanonical books at the end of the previous series post A Brief Look at the History of Christianity Whether or not it is Scriptural, however, it does offer a historical account that people in that time made sacrifices for the dead.)

 

“Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?” -1 Corinthians 15:29

 

(Paul is arguing the existence of Heaven here, but this passage shows that the early Christians believed that our actions here on Earth could help those who have already died–ie, those who are in Purgatory)

 

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” –Hebrews 12:14

 

and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” –Revelation 21:27

 

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. –Matthew 12:32

 

(in other words, sins can be forgiven both in this age and the next–ie, Purgatory)

 

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” –Heb 11:39-40

 

“For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble each mans work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any mans work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

 

“for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:29)

 

 

The Historical Case for Purgatory

 

In addition to all of the Scripture verses above, which collectively seem to suggest that there is a process of purification that happens after death, we can also find evidence for Purgatory in History as well.

 

  • Prayers for the dead are recorded in the catacombs (the tombs of the earliest Christians).
  • Some of the earliest non-Scriptural Christian writings also refer to the practice of praying for the dead.
  • Catholics don’t like change. (Sorry, it’s true.) So if the practice or belief had sprung up one day out of nowhere, there would have been some kind of Protest or debate. None is recorded.
  • Purgatory is not a Catholic invention. Orthodox Jews today still recite prayers for the dead (the Mourner’s Kaddish) for eleven months after a loved one dies. The Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish people all believe it–just not Protestants.

 

So, in other words, the Catholic Church didn’t just make this doctrine up out of nowhere, they didn’t invent it, and they aren’t just using it to scare people into the church. They believe it because it is a longstanding belief that has been handed down both from the earliest Christians (and the Jews before them).

 

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What are Indulgences?

 

Okay, so if we accept that Purgatory exists, and we accept that we get more/less Purgatory depending on how much we need to be purified before we can get into Heaven, it only makes sense that we would want to purify ourselves as much as possible now so that we have less time in Purgatory later. Enter the Catholic Doctrine of indulgences.

 

Indulgences may be best explained with an analogy: Say one of my children does something naughty (lying, hitting, stealing, etc) and then they come to me and ask for my forgiveness. I love my children, so I would forgive them. BUT I’m still handing out consequences. Maybe if they were truly, truly sorry and completely torn up, I’d skip the consequence. But otherwise, they are probably going to get one. Not because I don’t love them, but to help them learn and grow and not do it again.

 

Indulgences work the same way. When Catholics go to confession, they are 100 percent forgiven for their sins BUT they still have consequences. Indulgences are spiritual acts of discipline that Catholics do for sins they have already been forgiven for in order to relieve some of the punishment for or attachment to that sin.

 

(By attachment to sin, I mean–think about all the fun times you had when you were young and carefree and sinful. You *should* regret them fully. But you don’t. You know they are wrong, but you still look back and smile. That’s an attachment. That sin still has some mastery over you.)

 

Indulgences make us better Christians, a little more holy, a little more Christ-like, etc. They are simply good spiritual things most Christians should want to do or are already doing anyways.

 

Now yes, there was a brief time in history when things got out of hand and a select few priests were selling indulgences. BUT just because a few people did a very bad thing does not mean that the official church teaching behind it was incorrect. It was the people who were wrong–not the teaching. And you’ll be happy to know that due to that scandal, the Church has since forbidden charitable giving as a way of obtaining indulgences.

 

(When done in the spirit, giving absolutely can refine our spirit and make us more Godly, but the Church chose to get rid of it altogether rather than deal with the drama, and really–who can blame them?)

 

 

What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Indulgences?

 

  • Mass and the sacraments are THE best sources of sanctification and purification, but indulgences can help too.
  • Completing indulgences better disposes Christians to take part in Mass and the sacraments.
  •  You can receive a plenary or partial indulgence. Plenary indulgences remove all temporal punishment due to sin. Partial just removes some.
  • Your heart and spiritual formation matter way more than the action itself.

 

Indulgences come with certain qualifications/requirements:

  • You must be baptized
  • You must not be excommunicated
  • You must have the intention of receiving an indulgence (can’t do one on accident without realizing it)
  • You must follow the stipulations for the indulgence
  • You can only receive one plenary indulgence a day
  • Except at the hour of your death–then you could get another one
  • You can receive partial indulgences several times a day
  • Indulgences must also be accompanied by confession, the Eucharist and a prayer for the Pope’s Intentions (typically one Our Father and one Hail Mary–but it doesn’t have to be).

 

So you can’t just collect them like postage stamps. You actually have to DO stuff and get holier. Not just rattle off a few prayers real fast.

 

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Examples of Indulgences

 

Real indulgences taken from The Handbook of Indulgences: Norms and Grants. **Remember, these must also be accompanied by confession, the Eucharist and a prayer for the Pope’s Intentions. So there is more to all of these than just doing the simple action.

 

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

“A partial indulgence is granted the Christian faithful when they visit the Blessed Sacrament for the purpose of adoration. When this is done for at least half an hour, the indulgence is a plenary one.”

 

Visiting the Patriarchal Basilicas in Rome

“A plenary indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly visit one of the four patriarchal basilicas in Rome and there recite the Our Father and the Creed:

  1. on the basilica’s titular feast;
  2. on Sundays and the other 10 holy days of obligation
  3. once a year on any other day chosen by the individual Christian faithful.”

 

Retreats

“A plenary indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who spend at least three full days of spiritual exercises during a retreat.”

 

Use of Devotional Objects

“The Christian faithful obtain a partial indulgence when they make devout use of a devotional object (such as a crucifix or cross, a rosary, a scapular, or a medal) which has been rightly blessed by any priest or deacon.

If the devotional object has been blessed by the Pope or by any bishop, the Christian faithful can obtain a plenary indulgence while making devout use of it on the solemnity of the holy apostles, Peter and Paul, provided they add to its use a profession of faith made in any legitimate formula.”

 

Sign of the Cross

“A partial indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who devoutly sign themselves with the cross while saying the customary formula: ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.'”

 

The pope also has the authority to issue new indulgences at any time. For example, when he granted an indulgence for participants in World Youth Day 2013.

 

 

What do you believe happens to us after we die? What are you doing today to prepare for it? Do you believe we even need to prepare?

 

Letting God Lead: My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Beliefs: Great Series! Must read for any Christian! Pin

 

Enjoyed this post? Don’t miss the rest of the posts in the series!

 

The Day I Realized My Religion Got it Wrong

10 Common Catholic Church Myths that Critics Believe

Is the Eucharist Really Just a Symbol?

Is Faith Alone Enough?

Who has the Ultimate Authority? A Biblical Look at Sola Scriptura

A Brief Look at the History of Christianity

What All Christians Should Know About Priests, the Pope and Confession

What Do Catholics Really Believe About Mary, Saints and Statues?

Infant Baptism or Believer’s Baptism? Which is Correct?

What is Purgatory? What are Indulgences?

Why Do Catholics….? Honest Answers to Your Burning Questions

Protestant and Catholic Beliefs Series Conclusion

 

 

Resources and Further Reading

 

I’m not asking you to believe because I say so. Please DON’T take my word for it! The purpose of this series is only to share what I’ve learned on my journey in order to inspire you to begin a journey of your own. Here are a few helpful resources to get you started.

 

The New Catholic Answer Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Handbook of Indulgences: Norms and Grants

http://www.catholicscomehome.org/two-minute-answers/

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/purgatory

http://www.catholic365.com/article/183/how-to-explain-purgatory-to-a-protestant.html

http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/apologetics/the-burning-truth-about-purgatory.html

Brittany Ann

Brittany Ann is an author, speaker, and founder of EquippingGodlyWomen.com, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping women be “all in” in faith and family.

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  1. Brittany, Alex and Bryan, thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful replies to my comments. I appreciate them, and, as always, they help me understand Catholic positions better. I’m Protestant and not Catholic, but I do respect Catholic ideas. As I believe Alex noted, some of the disagreements between Catholics and Protestants on issues like those in this thread boil down to definitions of sanctification. Protestants understand sanctification differently and that, along with other aspects of our understanding of Scripture, causes some of us to question the necessity of purgatory. Definitions of sanctification and purgatory aside though, part of my concern about the concept of indulgences has to do with their purpose, and each of you were helpful in explaining the Catholic position to me. One aspect of what I was trying to get at in my original comment on this thread is that if indulgences are merely a means of spiritual growth and sanctification and are not really a means of punishment, I’m unsure why they are designed as they are. If I read the New Testament, I see a path to spiritual growth outlined with basic acts such as studying Scripture, showing love, praying, confessing sin, baptism, etc. There don’t seem to be formulas as specific as using a devotional object, going on a three-day spiritual retreat, or participating in a World Youth Day, or anything along those lines. I’m unsure why adding these as special means of obtaining indulgences would be needed. However, as I think was noted in the thread of comments, some of the activities associated with indulgences (such as spiritual retreats) are themselves obviously good means of spiritual growth. Looking at the subject from that angle however, I don’t see why something like a three-day spiritual retreat would be rewarded with a partial indulgence when a one-day or two-day retreat wouldn’t. And I don’t see why World Youth Day 2013 would garner a special indulgence when many other spiritually-important church events wouldn’t. The basic activities outlined in the New Testament seem sufficient for spiritual growth without adding any other rules. I know we’ll disagree on the need for my concerns, but I appreciate you all (especially Brittany as owner of this blog) letting me express my concerns.

    1. DCal, you’re a gracious and sincere questioner, and a searcher for truth! I think Brittany’s whole series has inspired so many to learn, and ponder.

      The truth which seems to be frustrating you a little (as it did to me, a Methodist before coming home to the Catholic faith) has to do with “ecclesiology” – what is “the Church?” If those Christians in union with each other are the “Body of Christ” then the Church is, in a special way, Jesus Christ himself. He speaks to us through the Church. The very scriptures we live by come to us through the Church. The sacraments (the rivers of grace which Jesus Christ pours out on us) are dispensed by the Church. So, when the members sin (and we all do), we do harm to the whole Body. Even my own private sins harm the Body – Christ’s Body. So the whole body contributes to the healing of the parts. Our penances, sacrifices, devotions, retreats, do more than bring us personally closer to Christ, they build up and strengthen other parts of the body, just like working my abs is also good for my heart. Jesus, in his (literally) infinite wisdom, gave the Church – ONE Church (because he only founded one Church) – the authority to speak and act for him in this life. He invested her with the Holy Spirit to guarantee her integrity, and promised that she would never fail. Since sin harms the Church, the Church must administer ways to heal herself and her members. This is the authority of “binding and loosing.” The Church doesn’t grant an indulgence (reparation, “repair” for the Body) for attending World Youth Day because its spelled out in the Bible. She grants it because she is divinely appointed to do so. I don’t eat meat on Fridays of Lent because the Church says so. Priests in the Roman tradition don’t marry because the Church says so. This authority to “bind and loose” precedes the Bible, and is what gave us the Bible, otherwise we would have no “canon” (rule) of what books belong in it and what books don’t belong. The same Church which gave us the canon of Scripture also gives us other “rules” for living and gaining the effects of grace – some very broad (like prayer, scripture study), some very specific (like plenary indulgences for specific acts). We don’t need Biblical evidence to authenticate what the Bishops of the Catholic Church, in union with the Pope/Bishop of Rome (the “Magisterium”) declare to be true. In the same way, the Christians in Jerusalem did not need Biblical evidence to authenticate the truth that Gentile Christians did not need to follow Mosaic law (Acts 15). The Apostle Peter, in union with James and the other apostles, declared it to be true.

      There was a deep and comforting peace which came to me when I submitted myself to the Church of St. Peter, the original apostles, and those apostles who have succeeded them to this day (including my local bishop).

      I pray that you’ll continue searching and questioning, and seeking the truth about the Church. Study the early Church, the writings of the Church Fathers, and the development of the canon of the Bible. I think you’ll find it a beautiful and enlightening journey. God bless you during the upcoming Easter season!

      1. Love this line: “This authority to “bind and loose” precedes the Bible, and is what gave us the Bible, otherwise we would have no “canon” (rule) of what books belong in it and what books don’t belong” That realization was a huge one for me, and one that many Protestants never think about.

    2. I think that goes back to the fact that the Catholic Church is a HUGE organization and they have to draw the line somewhere. It’s the same with schools. They have a lot of very specific rules because they have to. Otherwise, students would be trying to get away with everything and no one would know what was acceptable or not. (For example–shorts have to be fingertip length for girls. That isn’t going to be equally modest on everyone, but it’s a lot better than a vague “be modest.”) If the Church did not spell it out, opinions would vary WIDELY and no one would know what to believe. Perhaps the things they’ve chosen aren’t the best for every single person, but that’s kind of how you have to run a HUGE organization sometimes. (At least that’s my best guess. Completely my opinion though.)

    3. DCal,

      I think one of your difficulties comes from thinking of indulgences as punishments. Purgatory is certainly a form of punishment, but indulgences are not meant that way. There are meant as ways to avoid punishment. Let’s say I break my parents’ window. Rather than making me pay to replace it they do it for me, but we agree I’ll do some extra chores around the house or something to make up for it.

      As for why some events like World Youth Day and not others, I can’t answer with any authority. I suspect it has to do with encouraging participation in these events which aren’t a normal part of Catholic life. They require extra sacrifices to participate. That would also explain why a three-day retreat can obtain an indulgence, but not a one day. As to why not a two day, maybe three is significant because it’s how long Christ was in the tomb?

      Again, these are just guesses and I have no idea why this and not that.

  2. Thanks, Bryan. I also wondered about whether the three days were related to Christ being in the tomb. Not personally knowing much about indulgences, that sounds like a plausible guess to me. I agree that I wasn’t sure at first to what extent I should regard indulgences as punishments, but the explanations from you and others help me better see the modern Catholic position. However, my problem with regarding indulgences simply as a means of spiritual growth/sanctification is that I don’t see why anything that contributes to spiritual growth wouldn’t be counted as an indulgence. In other words, every Christian spiritual retreat, every World Youth Day, etc., would count to some extent. I know that we have different views of what sanctification means, but even so, it seems the New Testament outlines a broad category of ways to grow spiritually–through prayer, confession of sin, repentance, corporate worship, and others. Some activities will help spiritual growth more than others, but anything that falls under the basic categories should contribute to some extent and there would be no need to designate certain ones as granting indulgences when other similar ones don’t. I know we’ll probably have to agree to disagree, but I appreciate you discussing the matter with me in as much detail as you have.

    1. Ah, you’ve nailed it! Thank you for patiently reading all our posts, you have just reasoned it out beautifully. In fact, ALL of those spiritual pursuits you bring up – whether its bible study, prayer, other spiritual retreats totally unrelated to “official indulgences,” penance, corporate worship – do very much contribute, and do most certainly accomplish exactly what indulgences accomplish, that is, personal sanctification, growth in holiness, that might render one’s “purgation” unnecessary.

      It’s the same issue as personal confession directly to God in private prayer vs sacramental confession to a priest. The sacrament, administered according to the law of the Church (by virtue of her Christ-given authority) gives ASSURANCE OF ITS MERITS. In other words, we don’t leave the confessional HOPING that God has forgiven us, we leave KNOWING BEYOND DOUBT that he has, because the Church guarantees it. Similarly, I can devote countless hours to worthy spiritual pursuits (most Catholics and non-Catholics do), or I can courageously and lovingly endure sufferings for the sake of or in union with Jesus Christ, and I will PROBABLY be purifying my soul, “as if through fire” (1 Cor 3:15). The official indulgences, if I meet all the conditions (and they are not easy to meet), just take away that “PROBABLY.”

      Again, it comes down to the Holy nature of the Church, instituted by Christ and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, which I know I can trust in official declarations. An indulgence is simply an official, guaranteed remission of “temporal punishment for sin” (or consequences, or suffering if you prefer). I can go about my life and never acquire an indulgence, and probably remit all of those consequences through worthy spiritual acts. That guarantee and Church stamp of approval, however, is really nice. It takes out some of the guesswork and brings great peace of mind.

  3. A couple more verses that help to show Purgatory.

    Revelation 20:14, Hades is thrown into hell, so it is something different from hell, and is not heaven nor earth.

    1 Peter 3:19, Jesus went to preach to the spirits in “prison” on Holy Saturday while He was dead. Those in hell can’t be saved, and those in Heaven are already saved, so who was He preaching to and where are they?

    Luke 16, Abraham’s Bosom. This is not heaven, not hell, and not earth. So it must be something else.

    Matthew 5:26 “…until you have paid the last penny”. Jesus isn’t speaking about earthly prisons here.

    And one extra verse for indulgences:

    2 Samuel 12: King David confesses his sin to the prophet Nathan (just like Confession) and his sin is forgiven. But notice something VERY important. David still must suffer punishment AFTER his sin is forgiven.

    Great post, loved it!

  4. Oh my…being raised Catholic, I am 61 now and born again. It is sad. There is no purgatory, no indulgences, and Mary was worshiped. Priests did forgive sin we were taught. Apparently over the years the Catholic church “changed” their wording again as more and more people left the catholic teaching. Get a real Bible a Geneva or KJV. Read it. Ask God to show you His truth. It is not found in the Catholic teaching. No harm meant here just truth.

    1. There’s just so much confusion isn’t there? I’m not sure about purgatory or indulgences personally, but the rest of my opinions from this series have actually come from reading the Bible for myself.

    2. Hello ma’am Joan, I’m glad you had the courage to tell the truth , former Catholic here, once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see, Praise the Lord..before my conversion I’ve akel God to reveal to me the truth faithfully He did, when I first learned about the gospel , it was foreign to Me, I got confused and was shocked , my entire life I have never taught about gospel of grace , all I thought that my goodworks will earn myself to heaven. I’m born again..I have no religion , I have a personal relationship with Jesus . What Jesus did on the cross is all sufficient to cover all the sins of the world, sadly catholics strongly believe in purgatory which is a BIG lie, it diminishes the finished work of Christ on the cross, we are justified through faith alone , when we put our faith in Jesus for our salvation alone His rightiousness is imputed in each believer.God sees Jesus’ rightiousness in me as a perfect holy adopted child of God, not because I deserve it but simply because I believe in the His son’s death , burial and resurrection , my faith is counted as rightiousness suited for heaven, justification and sanctification are two different things, justification is by grace through faith alone , sanctification is a process in which God does the changes in believer’s characters and attitudes to conform them into His son’s ..it is true in my experience God changed me from the inside out, I started to notice changes in my life,in my behavior, I began to see things things in God’s view point , sins become the things I don’t wanna do anymore..notice I do not try to be good, it’s God who changes me .through the work of the holy spirit , He enables me to obey , love Him as I should and to do the things He ask me to do (of course not perfectly)when I disobey He disciples me like a Father who loves His children .I know I’m going to heaven no matter what, when I stand before God on the Judgmen Day, I have nothing to boast any goodworks( the good works I do , it’s Actually God who’s doing them through me) I did but His Grace and unconditional love ..it’s all about what Jesus did , not what we do or will do..He gets all the glory and honor..because of His grace given to me” a wicked vile sinner , motivates me to follow and obey Him out of love and gratitude towards Him..yes I still do sin, as long as I live in this carnal body I will never be perfect until God calls me home.my body is dead because of sin but my spirit is alive because of Jesus, I’m saved and forgiven for all eternity.. hope this brings enlightenment..God is so awesome…rest in His grace everyone. There is no purgatory or indulgences ..ask God for the truth yourself, He surely will grant it..be blessed!

  5. “After examining our lives, God will judge whether we were true followers of His or not. Those people who did seek a closer relationship with Him will be allowed to have that relationship with Him in Heaven. Those people who chose not to have a relationship with Him will be allowed not to in Hell. God doesn’t force someone to be in Heaven who doesn’t want to be there.”

    But…that isn’t salvation as we are taught in the Bible. Salvation is a free gift and accompanies being born again through the work of the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with “seeking a closer relationship with Him.” Has God done a work in your heart? Or are you just trying to be a good person on your own?

      1. Thank you for the response. I know this is an old article, but my wife just came across this website and I was reading some of your posts in this series.

        What you said in your reply does sound more in line with what we read in the Bible, particularly in the book of James. Still, there is plenty of questionable theology here, including your whole discussion of indulgences which fails to include a single verse of Scripture (since it’s obviously not a biblical concept). It is somewhat similar to the Pharisees in the Bible, who added a lot of their own rules but missed the whole point of God’s Word.

        That is what is most concerning about the Catholic Church–all the things they add to Scripture, and the fact that they declared that anyone who believes salvation comes through faith alone–which is the gospel presented in the Bible–is anathema (Council of Trent, 1563). Martin Luther did not simply decide to start a new church in 1517. Protests against the incorrect teachings of the Catholic Church began hundreds of years before, with people such as John Wycliffe and John Huss.

        Like them, Luther’s goal was to reform the church, not start a new church. But as Catholic leaders continually failed to listen–and in some cases, even put those protesters to death–the “Protestants” ultimately had no other choice but to go out on their own, as the church itself refused to be reformed and admit its errors.

        Much more could be said, but I will stop there. I hope I do not come across in a negative way; I simply am passionate about the truth. I believe you are as well, though I think you have been misled in some areas. May God continue to help us all grow in knowledge and obedience.

  6. Hello! I am coming across your articles a few years late, but I am finding them so helpful and informative. Thank you for covering many of the same questions and issues I have been encountering in my own quest for truth and worship.

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