Is praying for the dead a Biblical practice?

Hello M,

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Praying for those that passed away is not a biblical practice therefore it is wrong and useless. The dead’s books have been closed and they are sleeping till the Resurrection Day to be awakened and given their rewards or punishments.

People that pray for the dead believe that their prayers help the dead speed out of suffering in Purgatory. Catholics believe that Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. But the concept of Purgatory is not found in the Scriptures. The Bible declares that Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins (Romans 5:8). Isaiah 53:5 declares, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus suffered for people’s sins so that they could be delivered from suffering. To say that they must also suffer for their sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient (1 John 2:2).

There are no Bible references that teach that once a person dies that he can be saved after death by virtue of what people in this life are doing  for him. The salvation of the dead is not dependent on the what the living do. A person takes his record with him to his grave that he’ll meet in the judgment.

According to the Bible the dead simply “sleep” in their graves until the Resurrection Day. Jesus said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep…So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead“ (John 11:11-14; also Psalms 13:3; Daniel 12:2; Acts 7:60;  Job 14:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 15:51;  1 Corinthians 1:18).

Death is a state of total unconsciousness, during which 15 minutes or a thousand years seem the same. “His breath goes forth, he returns to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalms146:4; also Job 14:21; Psalms 115:17; Psalms 6:5; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; Job 7:9, 10). The teaching that the spirits of the dead are heavenly angels, or some righteous ghost like entity, is without scriptural foundation.

The dead will be raised up at the Resurrection Day at the end of the world to receive their rewards or punishments. The righteous dead will be raised, given immortal bodies, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. There would be no purpose in a resurrection if people were taken to heaven at death. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, … and the dead in Christ shall rise … and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; also Revelation 22:12; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

In  His service,

BibleAsk Team

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