"So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit," John 19:30.
Recently, this has become very personal to me. A loved one told me that they were paying the Catholic Church to perform Masses for their loved one in Purgatory. My wife and I both expressed our incredulous disbelief. Yet, this person was unwavering in their understanding of the Hellish doctrine of Purgatory. Even more, I came across this writing from popular Christian author C.S. Lewis,
"Of course I pray for the dead...At our age, the majority of those we love best are dead...I believe in Purgatory...Our souls demand Purgatory don't they?"
This has distressed me, both my loved one's indulgences and a popular author exposing his heretical views, more than anything I can recently remember. The doctrine of Purgatory is so obviously repulsive to a correct understanding of the Gospel it is hard to understand how people can be so blind to its blasphemy. Here are at least three obvious reasons that Purgatory is wrong:
1) First and most important, it denies Christ's word and His sufficient sacrifice for our sins. Christ said, "It is finished!" He did not say, "It is finished. Except for those nasty little bitty sins that your loved ones can pray away." Purgatory is an absolute rejection of Christ and His penal atonement for our sins. Someone who believes in Purgatory does not understand Jesus Christ and His work. Only Christ's sacrificial death on our behalf can purge us and cleanse us of our unrighteousness, Romans 5 explains this.
2) Purgatory demands a system of works righteousness. My loved one had to pay an indulgence to have a priest offer up prayers, his own works, for someones purification to enter into Heaven. Someone, somewhere, somehow must do something to ease access to Heaven.
3) Purgatory takes peoples minds off of the Gospel. C.S. Lewis said that he wouldn't know what to pray for if he couldn't pray for the dead! Think of that ignorant statement for a moment. That is amazing. "Seek first the Kingdom of God," Jesus told us. We are to "Pray continuously", Paul exhorted. Our mind is to be on Christ and His glorious Gospel and its spread all over this earth. The idea is that as we go about our day we are to be conscious of everything around us and to be in prayer for it always. Pray for the children in the street, praise the beauty of trees, mourn when driving past a funeral procession, ask for supplication for the coworker with health troubles and always pray for the gospel. Let the dead bury the dead, they cannot hear us. We must praise God for their blessings in our lives but we cannot afford to pray for purging and sanctification. Jesus said that each day contained enough troubles itself, lets not worry about the days of the dead.
Purgatory is a doctrine of death which smears the gospel and blasphemes our Lord. It is unbiblical and must not be allowed to go unrebuked. Which is all the more reason why we have to learn, live and love the gospel.