Indulgences, Abstract Treasures and Fraud

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In a recent homily, Pope Francis said:

We evangelize not with grand words, or complicated concepts, but with ‘the joy of the Gospel,’ which ‘fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. For those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness.”

He spoke of the “widespread individualism” that has divided Christians (a veiled reference to Protestantism) and added:

The desire for unity moves the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, the conviction that we have an immense treasure to share...” (Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples, July, 7, 2015).

The warp and woof of Catholic theology is plagued with the very “grand words” and “complicated concepts” the pope speaks of. These are the dried bones in Rome’s cupboard that can hardly be termed as the “treasures we share.”

This is a key reason why we cannot join Roman Catholicism to evangelize to the world: we do not believe the same Gospel.

The doctrine of Indulgence is one of these complicated “ugly family secrets.”

Indulgence is defined as a remission before God of the temporal punishment for sin the guilt of which is already forgiven which a Catholic obtains under certain and definite conditions through the Catholic church.

In other words, when a Catholic sins after baptism (which takes place at infancy), he is forgiven through penance, but there is still a debt of temporal punishment attached to such sins which must be discharged off either here on earth or in purgatory.

Indulgence is the means of discharging that debt on earth. This is believed to be made possible through the treasury of merits that the Catholic church has which consists of the merits of Christ, the virgin Mary and the good works of all the Catholic saints combined (Vatican II Council, 1:67-70).

This leads to the first point i want us to note: Catholicism denies the sufficiency of Christ’s work at the cross.

Since Jesus Christ “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,” His blood “purifies us from all sin,” there is no way the merits of Mary or the ‘saints’ can add to His completed work at Calvary (1 John 2:2; 1:7).

“For as one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).

One is not made righteous before God by the good works of Christ + Mary + the “saints.”

Every true Christian has been cleansed, sanctified and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1Cor. 6:11).

In contrast, Rome says indulgence is a kind of pardon that removes both the penalty (poena) and the guilt (culpa) of sin.

Through it, the good works of others is credited to one’s account by the Church when one does certain works. This is a rejection of the Biblical Gospel.

Can Grace be Earned?

There are two types of indulgence – the plenary (full) and partial. They both have their requirements.

In 1300 AD, Pope Boniface gave out indulgence to those who made a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s in Rome. An estimated 2 million people came that year and deposited so much treasure on the so-called tomb of Peter that priests were kept busy all day and night raking them up.

In 1456, recitation of a few prayers before a church crucifix was said to earn a pardon of 20,000 years for everyone who repeats it.

Even today, you can get 7 years of indulgence off purgatory for climbing the Sacred Steps in Rome. The Vatican II Council document on the Revision of Indulgences (Vol 1, 77) stated:

The faithful who use with devotion an object of piety (crucifix, cross, rosary, scapular or medal) after it has been duly blessed by any priest can gain a partial indulgence. But if this object of piety is blessed by the Pope or any bishop, the faithful who use it with devotion can also gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, provided they also make a profession of faith using any approved formula…

So a Catholic can reduce his time in purgatory by using a certain object blessed by a certain man on a certain day with a certain formula!

What kind of “God” would bend His justice for such silly contrivances, measuring out “grace” or pardon depending on whether a deed was done on a certain feast day and whether a priest or bishop has “blessed” the so-called sacred object?

During the 700 year anniversary of the Holy Door to the Cathedral of Maria Collegmaggio, indulgence was also offered:

“To receive this ‘perdonanza’ indulgence, it’s necessary to be in the Cathedral between 18:00 (6 P. M.) 28 August and 18:00 (6 P. M.) 29 August, to truly repent of one’s sins, and to confess and go to mass and communion within 8 days of the visit” (Inside the Vatican, April 1994, 55).

In July 2013, Pope Francis extended indulgence to Catholics who follow the “rites and pious exercises” of the Catholic World Youth Day in Brazil through TV, radio and the social media.

So with the click of the mouse, you can shorten your “burning time” in purgatory. This announcement triggered so much criticism from Protestants that Claudio Celli, the Vatican spokesman, had to re-paint the order: “You can’t obtain indulgence like getting a coffee from a vending machine.” Typical Vatican irony.

The whole idea of the Catholic church dishing out “graces necessary for salvation” to people when they perform certain works leads to a second point: you can’t merit grace because grace, by its very nature, cannot be earned.

Biblically, all one must do to receive God’s grace is to believe His offer in the Gospel and accept His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

Man is “justified freely by his grace” through the redemption in Christ (Rom. 3:24). Grace is a gift of God that is received “through faith; and that not of yourselves” (Eph. 2:8).

If you are earning a “grace” then its not grace. A man “is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16).

Nowhere does the Bible use the term “grace” in plural because it can’t be funnelled like a magic potion. Grace doesn’t come in pills. It’s received by faith.

Biblical grace comes from God on the basis of what Christ has done, while in Catholicism, “graces” come from God (through Mary) in response to what a devout Catholic does. Big difference.

The origin of indulgence is pagan. Pagan religions believed that the recitation of formulas, infliction of pain, sacrifices to the gods or pilgrimages to shrines are merits than can influence the gods in one’s favour.

In Catholicism also, the saying many Hail Marys, kissing a crucifix, repeating a formula is said to reduce purgatorial sufferings which Christ’s sacrifice on the cross could not reduce, and this indulgence can also be applied to the dead.

Selling Salvation to the Sheep

A Catholic blogger once mocked some televangelists who ask people to send in money to them in exchange for healing oils, aprons, pendants etc.

I would join him to denounce such modern-day Balaams who love “the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Pet. 2:15), but Roman Catholic leaders have done far worse – accumulating great wealth by claiming to sell salvation to people all through the centuries.

Pope Innocent VIII (1484-92) granted a 20 year indulgence. For a sum, people would purchase the privilege of eating favourite dishes during Lent or other times of fasting.

So fasting can be also credited into your account while you indulge yourself in the best of foods. The proceeds from this religious enterprise built the bridge over Elbe.

Under pope Leo X (1513-21) specific prices for sins like murder or adultery were published, to be paid to the Catholic church for absolution from each crime. Once the pardon has been purchased in this way from the Church, the culprits could no longer be prosecuted by civil authorities (Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast, Harvest House, 1994, 185).

In 1450, the Oxford chancellor, Thomas Gascoigne pointed out how indulgences had made more people sinners:

“Sinners say, I care not how many or how great sins I commit before nowadays God, for I shall easily and quickly get plenary remission of any guilt and penalty whatsoever by absolution.”

Ironically, the men offering the indulgence were themselves great sinners. People would obtain remission by offering them a game of tennis, money, beer, a prostitute and sex (Lib. Ver. p. 123).

In Spain, the papal Bull (document) had to be purchased for the indulgence and absolution from sins to be granted. No one could be buried without the current Bull in the coffin.

Will Durant wrote: “Large sums were devoted to this purpose by pious people either to relieve a departed relative or friend, or to shorten or annul their own purgatorial suffering after death” (The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, 1952, 6:24)

In this system, only the rich would inherit the kingdom of heaven. Yet when Simon tried to offer money to Peter to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, he rebuked him: “Thy money perish with thee because thou thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8:20).

Apostle Peter warned about false teachers who “through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2Pet. 2:3).

This offering of money in exchange for Mass and indulgence still goes on till date in Catholicism, though in more disguised forms.

When Cardinal Cajetan complained about the sale of indulgences and dispensations in the 16th century, Catholic leaders roared, accusing him to trying “to turn Rome into an uninhabited desert, to reduce the Papacy to impotence, to deprive the pope…of the pecuniary resources indispensable for the discharge of his office” (J. H. Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council, London, p. 307-8).

You see, the whole stuff wasn’t about the souls of the people, but about their loyalty to Rome and the money.

It was this grabbing scheme that prompted Martin Luther to nail his 95 theses at the door of the castle church of Wittenburg. Inside the door of this church were relics which were said to offer 2 million years indulgences to those who venerated them according to prescribed rules.

The church which ought to be a place of prayer became a den of thieves; a market for money changers and dove sellers.

Has the Catholic church ever apologized for having led millions of souls astray in this manner?

Has she returned the money she grabbed from desperate people who thought they were buying salvation?

How can they even apologize to the souls now in hell for selling them a bogus ticket out of a mythical purgatory?

When a person is saved, he has “passed from death to life” (Jn. 5:24), he doesn’t need to go back to “working off” his time in purgatory which doesn’t exist.

The pope publicly talks of the Gospel bringing freedom from sin, sorrow and emptiness, but the very gospel his religion teaches is a false gospel that has not freed the people from sin or its penalty.

The Origins of Purgatory

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The idea of Purgatory was neither taught by Jesus nor His apostles. How it became an integral belief of the Catholic Church today can be seen by looking at its origin, development and purpose over the centuries.

1. Prayers for the Dead

Purgatory belief can be traced to the unbiblical practice of praying for the dead. Writings of some early church fathers contain references to prayers for dead loved ones to have ‘refrigerium’ (refreshment or pleasures of paradise).

Mohrmann Christine in a philological study comments that the term “refrigerium” refers to “heavenly happiness” that “Among the later Christian writers, refrigerium is used in a general way to denote the joys of the world beyond the grave, promised by God to the elect” (Le Goff Jacques, The Birth of Purgatory, University of Chicago, pp. 46-47).

While prayers for the dead can be found in their writings, they do not contain the idea of purgatory as Rome believes it today. William Webster stated that:

“For at least the first two centuries there was no mention of purgatory in the Church. In all writings of the Apostolic Fathers, Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, there is not a slightest allusion to the idea of purgatory. Rome claims the early Church nevertheless believed in purgatory because it prayed for the dead. This was becoming a common practice by the beginning of the third century but it does not, in itself, prove that the early Church believed in the existence of a purgatory” (Church of Rome at the Bar of History, Banner of Truth, 1997, 114).

2. The “Architects” of Purgatory

The practice of praying for the dead led to belief in a third state between heaven and hell. This doctrine can be majorly linked to 5 church fathers:

(a) Tertullian (A.D. 160-220): He was the earliest church “father” to pray for the dead though he admitted that there is no direct Biblical basis for it.

He wrote: “If you look in Scripture for a formal law governing these and similar practices, you will find none. It is tradition that justifies them, custom that confirms them, and faith that observes them” (De Corona Militis 3:2-3).

Note this statement carefully the next time a Catholic quotes some Bible verses or church fathers to try support purgatory.

In Tertullian’s time, the act of praying for the dead was merely a practice – not a doctrine, let alone a dogma. Tertullian only spoke of this concept after he had joined a heretical group called the Montanists.

(b) Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-220): He was a key proponent of purgatory. During his time, the issue of baptismal regeneration led to much debate and in order to explain where those who sinned after baptism would go, the idea of a place where they can be purified by fire after death was adopted.

(c) Origen (A.D. 185-254): He and Clement of Alexandria were the two main architects of purgatory beliefs. Much of what these men wrote cannot be believed by most Catholics or Protestants today.

They both engaged in allegorical interpretation of the Bible, ignored its literal, historical-grammatical meaning and mixed it with strange ideas.

Through his absurd bible interpretations, Origen denied the existence of Hell; believed that Satan would be saved and also believed in the pre-existence of the human souls. He adopted the idea of an afterlife corrective, punitive cleansing of the soul from Greek philosophy and dualism.

(d) Augustine (A.D. 354-430): He also endorsed prayers for the dead. It seems his thinking was influenced by his mother’s dying wish to be remembered in his prayers.

Though he wrote about salvation by faith, he also popularized the theory of purification after death through sufferings.

(e) Gregory the Great (A. D. 540-604): This bishop of Rome, though ignorant of the Biblical languages, wrote extensively resorting to silly, allegorical twisting of the Bible.

In his work, Morals on the Book of Job, he twists the names of people, things and even syllables in the book of Job giving them mystic meanings. He claimed Job represents Christ: his wife represents the carnal nature; his 7 sons represents the apostles; his 3 daughters represents the faithful laity who worship the Trinity; his friends, the heretics and Job’s 7,000 sheep, the faithful Christians!

(Note that Gregory the Great rejected the canonicity of the apocryphal books of Maccabees).

His ideas of purgatory emerged in his dialogue with a Roman archdeacon named Peter in his work, The Dialogues. In it, he described “in incredible marvels and visions of the state of departed souls.” However, he admits transmitting hearsay, that he didn’t see these alleged visions himself (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. III).

3. The Fruit of Purgatory

For about 500 years after Gregory cooked up purgatory, it didn’t become an official doctrine. In the Medieval era, it made way for all manner of extortion and outright deception.

The fifth century Irish “saint” Patrick was said to have been frustrated by his people’s refusal to believe in purgatory, so he “prayed that God would help him convert the people.” Then Christ allegedly showed him a pit in the ground which is said to lead to purgatory.

Some people were let in into the pit and came up to tell others terrible tales of hell (Biebler Ludwig, The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 1960, 93:137-44).

This “entrance to hell” remained for centuries. After investigations, the pit was called a grievous fraud and finally closed on October 25, 1632. (It seems purgatory and hell were not distinguished from each other at that time).

By the 19th century, the specific site of this pit is no more certain.

Some scholars declared that sparse documentations from 5th century Ireland support this tale and that “St.” Patrick never visited Lough Derg where the “purgatory pit” allegedly was. It was a 12th century horror tale cooked up to fill the pews of the Catholic church (The Medieval Pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s Purgatory, 1988, 8-9).

The Catholic crusaders were promised that they would bypass purgatory if they died in those wars. This also led to Indulgences – remission of temporal punishment through certain conditions laid down by the Church – which generated great wealth for Rome by selling the people a bogus ticket to heaven.

In 1170, Pope Alexander III decreed that no one could make a valid will except in the presence of a priest. Anyone who disobeyed this law was to be excommunicated – a decree feared more than death in those days.

Since the priest was often the last person to be with the dying (to administer the “last rites”), one can be certain that this ploy was meant to enrich Rome.

During the time of Martin Luther, the pope needed money for the construction of St. Peter’s in Rome, so he sent a Dominican monk, Johann Tetzel, to sell indulgences to the people.

Tetzel would carry with him a picture of the devil tormenting souls in purgatory and repeat the statement written on the money box: “As soon as the money in the casket rings, the troubled soul from Purgatory springs.” It worked like magic and the coffers became full (Martin Luther, Wider Hans Worst, 1541, 538).

Even today, Catholics who have no one who could say Masses for them after death fear being forgotten in purgatory, so they join the Purgatorial Society and donate to them yearly so they will say Masses for them after death. That’s Rome’s “insurance policy.”

4. The Purpose

Not only did purgatory bring Rome influence and loyalty, it also boosted papal control over nations. A Catholic historian explains:

“It had been said before that the power of God’s vicar extended over two realms, the earthly and the heavenly … From the end of the thirteenth century a third realm was added, the empire [rule] over which was assigned to the Pope by the theologians of the Curia- Purgatory” (Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council, 1869, 186-7).

Medieval Gnostic works such as Apocalypse of Peter or Paul, which presented a view of the afterlife in tune with Greek paganism had also shaped the views of the people.

These were the factors that influenced the Council of Florence of 1439 to make purgatory an official dogma. The council of Trent and modern catechism rely on this Council of Florence in defining purgatory.

5. Pagan origins

Purgatory was already known in paganism before its adoption into Catholicism.

Virgil, a pagan Latin poet who lived between 70-19 B.C. divided the departed souls into three different places in his writings: Elysium for the very good, Tartarus for the very bad and Erebus for the indifferent or moderately good (Bell’s New Pantheon Historical Dictionary, John Bell, Charles Thornthwaite, 1790, Vol. I, 379).

Greek philosopher, Plato (427-347 BC) spoke of Orphic teachers in his day “who flock to the rich man’s door, and try to persuade him that they have a power at their command, which they procure from heaven and which enables them by sacrifices and incantation … to amend for any crime committed by the individual himself … Their mysteries deliver us from the torments of the other world, while the neglect of them is punished by an awful doom” (Homer Smith, Man and His Gods, Brown and Co., 1952, 127).

Stoic philosophers taught that there was a place of fire after death that was for enlightenment and the purging of the soul from the corruptions of material life before one could enter spiritual peace. They called it Empurosis (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 22, 660).

Hindus and Buddhists “also believe in heavens and hells where souls who are not immediately reborn spend time. They then spend some temporary time there. These are in effect the equivalent of purgatory because they are temporary states in the soul’s long progress towards eventual salvation” (Encyclopedia Americana 23:19).

Zoroastrians also believe that there are 12 stages of purification after death before they are fit for heaven.

Catherine Beyer in her article, Purity and Fire in Zoroastrianism, stated that Zoroastrians believe that “all souls will be submitted to fire and molten metal to purify them of wickedness. Godly souls will pass through them unharmed while the souls of the corrupt will burn in anguish.”

In contrast to these pagan systems, the Bible doesn’t support the idea of an afterlife “third state”. Jesus’ consistently spoke of the evil and the good (Mt. 5:45) the narrow way and broad way (Mt. 7:13-14), the wise and foolish virgins (Mt. 25:2) the sheep and the goat (Mt. 25:32) without any reference to a “third” or “neutral” group, because there is no “third state.”

There are only two eternal destinations beyond the grave – Heaven and Hell.

The Golden Lie of Purgatory

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The Vatican II Council (Austin Flannery, Vol. 2, 394) states:

The doctrine of purgatory clearly demonstrates that even when the guilt of sin has been taken away, punishment for it or the consequences of it may remain to be expiated or cleansed … [I]n purgatory the souls of those who died in the charity of God and truly repentant but who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions are cleansed after death with punishment designed to purge away their debt.”

Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments…” (Vol. 1, 63).

Purgatory is said to be a place (or a state) where sins which have not been discharged off on earth can be removed through fire and torments until a dead soul is totally purified of his sins and sent to heaven.

What this means is, even though your sins are forgiven through Christ’s death, you must still suffer some punishment for them here in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can open for you after death.

Every Catholic looks forward to spending some unknown length of time in purgatory, but no one – even the pope – can know when his sins will be totally purged. This doctrine is rife with problems:

I – Sin cannot be cleansed from the soul by any kind of suffering. Suffering may only temporarily alter a person’s attitude to sin, but once the pain is forgotten, the old tendencies return, because sins come from the heart.

Until the heart is cleansed – by what? suffering? No! By the blood of Christ shed on the cross and renewed by God’s Spirit through faith in Christ, it will persist in sin.

II – Sins are cleansed by Christ (on earth) and not at a place of fire after death. The Bible declares that Christ “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).

It also says, “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1Jn. 1:7), in fact, “without the shedding of blood is no remission [of sin]” (Heb. 9:22).

But purgatory is said to be not a place of blood shedding but a place of “purifying fire” Can fire remove sin? The only possible purging of our sins was accomplished by Christ and it is effected on the heart by grace when received by faith.

III – The Vatican II quoted above speaks of “adequate penance.” What is adequate penance? No one knows and Rome has never defined it.

This is why many Catholics crawl on their knees at Marian shrines, whip themselves, wear hair shirts to ‘atone’ for their sins and by-pass purgatory through suffering. This reflects a rejection of Christ’s perfect substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf.

God made Jesus “to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Cor. 5:21). “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:14).

Since we have been perfected forever by Christ’s sacrifice, there is no “work” or suffering of ours that can cleanse our sins. The perfect work of Christ at the cross puts out the mythical flames of purgatory.

IV – Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death [i.e eternal separation from God]” not a limited time in purgatory. Since no one can escape from hell, “working off” the penalty of sins is impossible.

We would be lost forever apart from Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. We are finite beings and could never pay the infinite penalty that Christ paid. Being the God-Man, only He could pay the price.

V – Purgatory implies that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (which “is finished” John 19:30) was insufficient to purge sin, but the Catholic Mass, which allegedly repeats that sacrifice, does the purging.

They claim Christ’s sacrifice is not enough to get us to heaven, but the forgiven sinner must suffer torment to add to Christ’s sacrifice to be purified.

So on one hand you must suffer to expiate your sins and at the same time, you need not suffer if enough Masses are said for you. This is a fatal contradiction. What makes the sacrifice of Christ less effectual than its alleged repetitions by priests?

VI – The Vatican II Council (2:205) also says:

The Church offers the Paschal Sacrifice for the Dead so that … the dead may be helped by prayers and the living may be consoled by hope. Among Masses for the Dead is the Funeral Mass which holds the first place in importance…

Masses are said to help the dead by shortening their time in purgatory. Thus, Catholics have to pay priests to perform Masses on behalf of their dead loved ones.

A funeral Mass is often infused with big money with big shot priests and Catholic dignitaries in attendance. Like an Irish saying goes: “High money, High Mass; Low money, Low Mass; No money, no Mass!”

The Catholic church has never been able to define how much of reduction each Mass would grant a soul or when exactly the souls would leave purgatory, so the money has to keep flowing in to the men in robes for more Masses.

That’s why some Catholics still hold Masses for parents who have died over 30 years ago.

While the Lord said it’s hard for a man who trusts in his riches to enter heaven, Catholicism teaches the opposite, that with money you can buy a lesser burning time in purgatory (Mt. 19:23-24).

Psalm 49:6-7 says for “those who trust in their wealth … No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him.” Now, if money can’t redeem a living man, how can it redeem the dead?

The fruit of this doctrine have paved the way for priestly control and exploitation. Purgatory is not only a lie, but also a very golden lie. It’s literally “the goldmine of the priesthood!”

Purgatory “Proof texts?”

(a) 1 Samuel 31:13 “And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days

Where’s purgatory here? It’s absent! The fasting observed was a Jewish custom of mourning the dead for some number of days eschewing food (Genesis 50:3-4, 10, Numbers 20:29).

(b) Luke 12:59 “I can guarantee that you won’t get out until you pay every penny of your fine.”

This is teaching restitution on settling monetary debt with an adversary, yet it has been snagged on to cement a deadly heresy – that one can pay the price for one’s own sin and save oneself from purgatory.

“Following in Christ’s steps, those who believe in him have always… carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others…[to] help their brothers to obtain salvation…” (Vatican II, 1:65, 68)

The truth is, no man can purge himself from sin because to do so, he would have to be sinless.

Even in the Old Testament, the animals to be offered had to be without blemish. This symbolised Christ, the sinless “Lamb of God” who would takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

Jesus had to be sinless to be able to die for our sins, otherwise He would have been under the penalty of His own sins. Christ “the just [suffered] for [us] the unjust that he might bring us to God”[i.e to heaven, not to purgatory]” (I Pet. 3:18).

You either accept His pardon and be saved or reject it and be damned forever.

(c) Matthew 12:32 “…it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

The Greek word translated world is “aion” which means age or a period of time. The term “this world” refers to the period between the first and second advent of Christ (Mt. 24:14, 29-31) while the “world to come”  refers to the millennium following the second coming of Christ. The Bible calls it “the dispensation of the fullness of times” (Eph. 1:10).

It takes a great deal of craftiness to link “the world to come” with purgatory.

(d) 1 Corinthians 3:15 “If his works is burned up, he will suffer the loss. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire.

The preceding verses show that this is about a believer’s “rewards according to his labour” (v. 8). The quality works are like gold, silver and precious stones and those whose works are inferior are like wood, hay or stubble.

“Every man’s work shall be manifest…and fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (v. 13). The passage is about Believers’ works tested by fire, not souls in purgatory.

(e) Colossians 1:24 “Who now rejoice in my suffering for you and fill up what is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body sake which is the church.

Paul was not suffering to purge himself or anyone’s soul from sin neither was he claiming Christ’s sacrifice is insufficient, rather his suffering was for the sake of bringing the gospel to others (“my suffering for you”).

There was no lack in the suffering of Christ rather Christ Himself said that Paul must suffer greatly “for my name sake” (Acts 9:16).

In Philippians 3:10, Paul expressed his passion to know Christ “and the fellowship of his sufferings” which he says brings him into conformation with His death and lifestyle.

Therefore the suffering Paul refers to is for the sake of Christ here on earth – in the hands of sinners – not in a pagan “third state” called purgatory.

(f) 2 Timothy 1:18 “The Lord grant unto him [Onesiphorus] that he might find mercy of the Lord in that day…

There’s not even a hint of purgatory here and there’s no evidence that this man was dead when Paul wrote this.

(g) 2 Maccabees 12:45 “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.

This comes from the spurious apocryphal books which contradicts the Bible: “People die once, and after that they are judged” (Heb. 9:27). It’s too late to pray for the dead. Also, the dead Jews referred to that verse were guilty of idolatry:

“But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear” (2 Macc. 12:40 NAB).

According to Catholic doctrine, idolatry is a mortal sin which would land these men in hell, so praying for them would be a sheer waste of time, if not blasphemy.

The book of Maccabees also admits that divine inspiration had ceased at this time. At best, it’s an uninspired story book.

In the absence of Biblical evidence, the Catholic Encyclopedia (11:1034) admits:

In the final analysis, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is based on Tradition not Sacred Scripture.”