Hello, Mr. Dettwiler
I have asked you a question before, and I am very grateful for it, but, anyway. I'm a non-denominational Protestant, but I have a question. Is Purgatory real? I don't believe that you can really pray for dead unsaved people, I believe that your time is up, after you die.
And I don't believe that if Purgatory was real, you could somehow shorten your stay in Purgatory, that doesn't make too much sense, to me. But what happens when we die? In Revelation, it makes it sound like the dead people who had known Jesus were waiting for the rapture. Do we stay in some kind of Purgatory, when we wait to go to heaven? Or do we just kind of go to sleep, and we wake up when the rapture happens? I remember hearing a phrase "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord", and I was told that Peter said it, I think. But I couldn't find it anywhere in the Bible, I haven't read the whole Bible yet, and I don't have a very practical index. I don't really know what to think.
My response is in Green:
No purgatory is not true. It is always best to go to the Bible to see what is right and what it not. So let me go to the Bible to answer your question:
(Hebrews 9:27 NIV) Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
As this passage shows once you die it is all over and you will face judgment, there are no second chances or purgatory. Plus the Bible tells us that Jesus paid the whole price for our salvation, so there is no reason for us to suffer in purgatory if we believe in Him. Now let me show you a story that Jesus told:
(Luke 16:19-31 NIV)  "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores  and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
 "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house,  for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
 "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"
Notice that both the rich man and Lazarus were awake and neither were in purgatory. The rich man was in hell and Lazarus was in Paradise. Now look at this:
(Luke 23:42-43 NIV)  Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Jesus told the thief that he would be with Him in Paradise that day. Now remember the story Jesus told and you will see where the thief was going to be.
But why were they in Paradise and not in heaven? Well it was because Jesus had not died yet.
Before Jesus died only the High Priest could enter into God's presence and he could only do it once a year. The Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the Temple by a large heavy curtain. But something special happened when Christ died for us:
(Matthew 27:50-51 NIV)  And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.
That opened God's presence to all of us. That is what reconciled us to Him, through the blood of Jesus Christ. Without reconciliation we would not be able to come into God's presence. That is why the Old Testament Saints could not go to heaven, they were separated from God because of their sins which still needed to be paid for. But look at this:
(Ephesians 4:8 NIV) This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men."
Those captives were the people from Paradise that He took to heaven. Now when we die if we are believers we go straight to heaven because we have been reconciled through Jesus' death.
That is where the passage you mentioned comes in:
(2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
I hope that answers your question.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)
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