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Christ Risen. God Saves Sinners

The Roman Catholic catechism states that it is “the place where souls suffer for a time after death on account of their sins.” The one or two texts quoted are quite inadequate. Where Paul speaks of being saved “yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12) is a good example, and is also regarded by the Church of Rome as full proof of its teaching about purgatory. Examination of the passage shows that Paul is speaking about teachers in the Church, and the nature of the work they do in building up the church, some of which is shoddy and poor workmanship and will not stand the test, but some of it is good and will endure. The nature of the test “as by fire” refers not to the cleansing of the person, but the testing of the work of such teachers in the church, which is a very different thing. The teaching of the Scriptures on the state of the believer after death contradicts the doctrine of purgatory. To die, says Paul, is “to depart and be with Christ which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). To have everlasting life through faith in Christ means that we shall not come into condemnation but have passed from death to life (John 5:24). The doctrine of purgatory inspires fear and binds the laity ever more tightly to the priesthood who claim to be able to release souls from purgatory by the offering of the sacrifice of the mass for the dead. The priest, however, is quite incapable of saying when a soul is released and when such masses should cease. Article XXII of the Church of England rightly condemns the doctrine of purgatory as “a fond thing, vainly invented and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.”