Lutheran Beliefs on Heaven, Hell & Purgatory

Lutherans don't believe that good works get them to heaven.
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People of many religions believe in an afterlife and Lutherans are no different. The Lutheran faith is Christian and followers believe they will go to heaven if they accept Jesus as their savior. Their beliefs regarding heaven, hell and purgatory differ in some ways from those of other Christian religions and are similar in others.

1 Heaven

Lutherans follow the basic idea of "grace alone," which means they get to heaven solely by God's grace. There is nothing a person can do to earn his way to heaven. This differs from other religions, such as Catholicism, which advocates good works for entrance to heaven. For Lutherans, heaven is a free gift from God, but no one deserves this gift, as everyone is a sinner. God has made it possible for people to go to heaven by sending his son Jesus to atone for human sin by dying on the cross. In the Lutheran faith, believers know that they can go to heaven when they die, if they have faith and believe that Jesus died to save them from their sins. This idea is called "faith alone."

2 Hell

Lutherans believe that anyone who hasn't accepted Jesus as his savior and who doesn't believe that the Lord saved them from their sins will go to hell. In hell, a person suffers eternal damnation in the presence of the Devil. Some religions, such as Catholicism, believe that going to hell purges sins not atoned for before death. Lutherans believe that once in hell, a person spends eternity there.

3 Purgatory

Purgatory is a place where people of certain religions, such as Catholicism, believe they go if they haven't made a full progression toward a life of faith. In purgatory, they can finish redeeming themselves of sins committed during life. If they succeed at the end of purgatory, they gain entrance into heaven. If not, they go to hell. However, Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk who questioned the Roman Catholic faith and founded Lutheranism, said purgatory is a falsehood because it denies the idea of getting into heaven by grace alone. Upon death, Lutherans believe a person goes straight to heaven or hell.

4 Judgment Day

For Lutherans, Judgment Day is the day when Jesus will return to Earth, and everyone who hasn't died will go to heaven or hell. In the Lutheran faith, many believers feel that when a person dies, his spirit leaves the body and goes to either heaven or hell. At the same time, the body is left behind. On Judgment Day, the bodies of Lutherans will be resurrected and reunited with their souls in heaven. It is the responsibility of the living to care for the deceased's body until this occurs.

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.