By Eric Davis. Reposted, with permission, from The Cripplegate.
For the most part, the problem which moved Martin Luther to post his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517 had to do with indulgences. Much could be said about that issue. But the doctrine of indulgences is inextricably linked to the doctrine of purgatory. The word “purgatory” comes from the Latin word, “purgare,” which has the idea of “make clean,” “purify,” or “purge.” The doctrine refers to the purging of remaining guilt and unrighteousness after death.
Purgatory is not hell, but the place of conditioning and preparation for heaven. It is unsure exactly what purgatory is like or how much time people spend there. It could be thousands upon thousands of years, perhaps.
We could go many places in Scripture to address the Roman Catholic teaching on purgatory. But one of my favorites is the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43).