the bible on praying for the dead
"God tried them and found them worthy of Himself." —Wisdom 3:5
According to the Bible, what happens to us when we die? The Bible seems to imply that some people immediately go to heaven after death. Jesus told the good thief: "This day you will be with Me in paradise" (Lk 23:43). It seems logical that some people also immediately go to hell, although nowhere in the Bible is this stated explicitly. The Bible does say: "It is appointed that men die once, and after death be judged" (Heb 9:27). However, this verse does not say judgment immediately follows death, or that heaven or hell always immediately follow judgment.
However, the Bible does indicate that some of the dead do not go immediately to heaven or hell. Judas Maccabeus provided "an expiatory sacrifice" for the soldiers who had died for the Jewish faith (2 Mc 12:43). It would be useless to make offerings for people in heaven or hell (see Lk 16:26), so these people must be on the way to heaven. To argue for resurrection, Paul mentioned that the Corinthian church baptized the dead by proxy (1 Cor 15:29). This would be useless for anyone in heaven or hell, so baptism by proxy must have been for those in purgatory. They had given their lives to Jesus but had not been baptized. We should pray for the dead as the Spirit leads.
Prayer: Father, may I pray for the dead as did the Christians of the New Testament.
Promise: "No one who comes [to Me] will I ever reject." —Jn 6:37
Praise: The Morrow family keeps a list of loved ones who have died, and make it a practice to regularly pray for their souls by name.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape Daily Prayers on audio AV 62-3 or video V-62.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 21, 2005
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