Purgatory a 2nd chance?

Protestants claim that Catholics say that Purgatory is a second chance to be saved.

That is a misunderstanding of Catholic Doctrine.  We don’t consider it a second chance, but the application of God’s mercy in the after life to those who have died in an imperfect state of grace.

St. John of the Cross called this life the “purgative” way. I believe that most Protestants are in agreement with Catholics in the teaching that we are being tested in this life. The object of the test is to perfect our faith. Scripture says:


1 Peter 1:7
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

We differ with Protestants in that we believe the Word of God instructs us to do so by adding to our faith, good works:
James 2:22  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

St. Peter enumerates some of these works:
2 Peter 1:5
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;….

with the result that:
2 Peter 1:10  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:


I think I can say that most of us never achieve the perfection of our faith in this life. That is why, I assume, Luther said that we are like “snow covered dung heaps.” We, however, do not believe that snow covered dung heaps would be permitted into heaven. We believe that God, the Consuming Fire, will purify our souls, and thereby our faith which resides in the soul, in Purgatory, in order that we, who love Him, may enter heaven. And we believe this process is described in 1 Cor 3:10-15.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

King James Version (KJV)

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

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