What Happens When We Go To Purgatory?

Dear Pastor Andy, when does a soul stay in purgatory? For example, if a soul becomes  a ghost, then does that mean it's in purgatory?

My Reply:
First off, let's start with your question about ghosts. Understand, there's no such thing as a friendly ghost or a ghost that used to be human, OK? During and a little after college, a friend and I researched "ghosts". We visited cemeteries at night, went to friends' homes that were haunted, etc. and experienced using our spiritual eyes to sense and "see" them. In my research, I learned that all ghosts are demons, and their goals include tormenting people, causing people to kill themselves, possessing people, deceiving people, and confusing them into believing that God either doesn't exist or is not in full control after all. They didn't do this with me, but it was interesting to listen to other people talk about them as if they were dead children or people from the past who were lost between worlds, or who God lost track of and can't or won't help. And from my own experience in battle against them, they're totally evil, completely empty of any goodness, and cold.

The Bible (both testaments) also talks about demons and what they do, and nowhere do we read of them being friendly or former, dead people - they're always referred to as fallen angels, unclean spirits (again though, not previously sinful people), tormenting spirits, evil spirits (and similar names), and demons. They are fallen, evil angels that followed Satan's rebellion against God and lost. They've already been judged, and are bitter and even more ticked off because of this, and are now battling against God's people (they've lost their foothold and are now fighting to regain turf). OK, so they're not your former relatives who didn't make it to Heaven.

Now about your question pertaining to Purgatory: I was reading from the "Story of Christianity: Volume 1: The Early Church to the Reformation", and it says that the infamous St. Augustine was the one who originally suggested the possibility of a place of purification for those who died in sin, where they would spend some time before going to Heaven. But Pope Gregory (590-604 A.D.) turned it into doctrine.

The idea is that those who die in the faith and communion of the Roman Catholic Church, but haven't offered satisfaction for all their sins, will go to purgatory before they attain their final salvation, and their living friends and relatives can help them out of purgatory by offering "masses" in their favor. And to claim authority for this, Gregory claimed that the Crucified Christ appeared to him while celebrating mass.

However, nowhere in the Bible does it even suggest such a thing. I mean, the RCC uses Revelation 21:27 ("There shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie..."), but if you keep to the theology of what Christ accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection, as well as keep this text in context, then you understand this verse is talking about those who have accepted Christ and are saved by His shed blood through repentance and faith in Christ - their (our) names "are written in the Lamb's Book of Life". But remember, the Catholicism is a religion based on penance and works, not faith as the Bible teaches.

Now, what about the part about being able to buy the salvation or our relatives stuck in purgatory? I've looked on a couple Catholic websites and one claims that the "stipend" is only $5 bucks, but that some people like to pay more. Either way, it's assumed that they take it from Luke 12:59, where Jesus talks about the need to reconcile with brethren in the faith, and if we don't then they'll surely take us for every penny we have. But the Catholics, as I'm understanding it, took it way out of context and use it as support to this idea of paying to get your relatives' through Purgatory quicker.

Purgatory's not actually accepted by every Christian anymore though, for Protestants rejected it beginning in the 16th century, led by a lawyer-turned-Catholic monk, Martin Luther. Martin Luther is known as the founder of the Christian reformation. His intentions though were to just correct the church's practices, not form a separation or moment. See, in his days (and up to then), the church was corrupt - the Pope in his day threw big parties for his friends, spending almost all the Church's money - and as we've seen already, much of what they pushed wasn't in line with the Scriptures. If you'll look up Martin Luther's 95 thesis, which were complaints against the church, you'll see him mentioning the problems with this that he exposed to the public. But instead of the Pope recognizing the church's wrong and thus repenting and correcting it all, he falsely accused Luther to be a heretic (several others throughout history had attempted to do the same, and they were all burned publicly). And the only reason that Luther escaped prosecution was because of his friends in high places (no doubt from when he was a lawyer).

So to answer your question, Purgatory is NOT real, it's NOT Biblical, and people DO NOT get stuck in it when they die. Its origin came from a (famous) Catholic Bishop (Augustine) and was made doctrine by Pope Gregory in the 4th Century, due to a misunderstanding of the Gospel, and it's currently upheld and supported by the misuse and misinterpretation of Scripture.

Read the Bible daily, take notes, examine yourself often, the church more often, and don't be afraid to ask questions. If their answers go against what Scripture says, pray about it and what you should do. For in the case, the Bible teaches that there's 1 of 2 places to go: Heaven or Hell, but no purgatory. But regardless of which one you go to, you'll be there for all eternity, and the decision of your destination depends on your decision whether or not to follow Christ here in the life.

---Pastor Andy