Today, response is shared for a discussion on paradise, purgatory and teachings within the Scriptures on the place and state of the dead.  Principles for answering supposed contradictions found in Scripture as well as differences among accounts and doctrines are considered.  Linjo Eveline who participates with me in THE BIBLE STUDY GROUP (a Public Group on Facebook presently having 19,656 members), invited comments by sharing a presentation that included the following at about 11: 41am on August 18, 2015:

 

please borthers and sisters l realy wish to know if there is a place call PURGATRY where if u die with sin u will stay there then ur family will pray so that God should fogive your sins?

 

THE GOLDEN ARROW:  But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:  and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:  and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.  (1st Thessalonians 4:  13-18, KJV)

 

THE DOUBLE DAGGER:  The Living Baptized for the Dead? (03/27/2015); Like a Thief? (12/01/2013); Only While We Live? (12/02/2013); Reveal Himself To All? (12/03/2013); The Dead in Christ? (11/18/2013); Too Much Holy Spirit? (11/19/2013); Ghosts (09/02/2012); About Conversion (09/03/2012)

 

Linjo Eveline, be encouraged!  Holding to the principle that there are no contradictions within the Scriptures, believers still can identify differences, near repetitions and shifts that many take to be errors.  The Bible must be read with an eye to divine intent and eternal purpose.  Every attractive and pleasing idea may not be appropriate, for the holy writings contain many subtleties (i.e., barely visible differences; hidden shifts in meaning and value).  Those who exaggerate the significance of discovered differences often become excited and seek to discredit and dismiss the entire Bible.  Examples even are seen when a simple change in spelling occurs as with “Esaias” instead of “Isaiah”, “Cora” and “Kore” instead of “Korah”.  It is not that differences do not appear, rather, it is that—because our salvation is through grace, by faith, and not by works—discovered differences are often irrelevant, and not significant.  This truth also applies when considering differences among long-held doctrines and traditions such as those regarding the place and state of the dead.

The references to the bosom of Abraham and Paul praying for the dead are unfortunate, for they encourage ideas regarding the state of the dead that are in conflict with other teachings presented from the Scriptures.  For example, the state of the spirit separated from the body is indirectly described in the account of Saul using the witch of En-dor as a medium or vessel to contain the spirit of the prophet Samuel.  As surely as it is written, the dead praise not GOD, and lose all concern and interest for the things of the earth, spirits separated from flesh as living souls no longer may display character and personality they showed when living, and can not know or predict the future.  In the instance of Saul, Samuel repeated things that had been proclaimed while the prophet was alive that, in fact, had addressed Saul’s future.  Where touching a dead body renders a person unfit to participate in the community of believers, surely, having contact with a “dead” spirit renders a living person defiled.

Many of us assume that the spirit of a dead person remains in the coffin, and with the cadaver of the deceased.  However, when a spirit is separated from its body through death, the spirit does continue to exist.  The Scriptures only state that the spirit returns to GOD who gave it; and does not provide detail on an area or gathering place for spirits.  In accounts we have been given, there is no indication that spirits separated from flesh (many say, ghosts that exist through death and natural processes) roam the earth as do Satan and his followers (spirit beings created by divinity).  Thus, in the account of a man who ran amok among the tombs and had  a legion of unclean spirits, these were not spirits from the deceased; and the devils were not willing to inhabit the corpses buried there.

That a spirit can exist without a body is further shown by the account in Revelation where John of Patmos reported hearing souls beneath the altar in heaven that cry, “How long, O Lord, holy and true dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”  These are described as having been lifted from the earth, and are understood as having gone through the complete process of their own final judgment; yet, they are not in full resurrection, and are awaiting the return to their physical body.

Many believers want to avoid the anxiety, depression, emotional pain, fear, and multiple errors that result by exaggerating our focus upon damnation, death, the dead and dying.  These are more likely to affirm that there is a spirit realm that compares to the spheres of life created for those upon the earth, and within heaven.  These unknowingly alter the teachings from the Apostle Paul that discuss resurrection and various differences in flesh and glory.  For the Christian believer, release from despair, gloom, morbidity, and pessimism are accomplished primarily by concentrating on the divine proclamations, promises and prophesies regarding our redemption, our salvation, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, his harvesting all believers from the earth as well as life in New Jerusalem and upon the earth made new.

There is much more that could be said, that should be carefully weighed, and spiritually taken into account.  (For example, we agree, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one GOD and Father of all.  Yet, just as the harmony and peace of the church as the body of Christ does not result from believers all wearing the same type of clothing, having the same employer, or sharing the same marital status, unity in Christ is not an outcome of believers all agreeing on every question and topic, all ministering (e.g., hospitality, preaching, teaching) to others in the exact same way, or all placing the exact same emphasis upon the shared doctrines.  Disagreement with continued respect and diversity are  important to the fullness and richness of the church as a living expression of divinity.)  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith.

 
THE BLACK PHOENIX
Washington, DC

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Comments
  1. In the bible is it is clearly told that when you die you have paid for your sins. Why should there be an other punishment. There is no such thing as a purgatory or a place for temporary or eternal torture, like hell-fire.

    • Be encouraged! The most convincing statement shared with me against the teaching of purgatory was recently provided through Evangelist Cletus Anu responding to the BIBLE STUDY GROUP (Cameroon) @ Facebook. His comment included the following: Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins (Romans 5:8). Isaiah 53:5 declares, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. To say that we must also suffer for our sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient. To say that we must atone for our sins by cleansing in Purgatory is to deny the sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus (1 John 2:2). The idea that we have to suffer for our sins after death is contrary to everything the Bible says about salvation.

  2. Let us all keep in remembrance following verses:

    “For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ASV)

    “18 For Sheol cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: They that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. 19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: The father to the children shall make known thy truth.” (Isaiah 38:18-19 ASV)

    “19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; and man hath no preeminence above the beasts: for all is vanity. 20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 ASV)

    “The dead praise not Jehovah, Neither any that go down into silence;” (Psalms 115:17 ASV)

    “There the wicked cease from troubling; And there the weary are at rest.” (Job 3:17 ASV)

    “13 If I look for Sheol as my house; If I have spread my couch in the darkness; 14 If I have said to corruption, Thou art my father; To the worm, [Thou art] my mother, and my sister; 15 Where then is my hope? And as for my hope, who shall see it? 16 It shall go down to the bars of Sheol, When once there is rest in the dust.” (Job 17:13-16 ASV)

    “What man is he that shall live and not see death, That shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? [[Selah” (Psalms 89:48 ASV)

    “And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Revelation 20:13 ASV)

    “let him know, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20 ASV)

    “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7 ASV)

    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ASV)

    “and from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood;” (Revelation 1:5 ASV)

    “After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of [all] tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands;” (Revelation 7:9 ASV)

    “And I say unto him, My lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14 ASV)

    “26 For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 who needeth not daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the [sins] of the people: for this he did once for all, when he offered up himself.” (Hebrews 7:26-27 ASV)

    “else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26 ASV)

    “so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28 ASV)

    “Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;” (1 Peter 3:18 ASV)

    “for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, [it is] the gift of God;” (Ephesians 2:8 ASV)

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