Q: What about purgatory? If Judas went to Hades, as you say, then could he not be “prayed out” by faithful followers of Christ?
Luke 16 is, in my opinion, the best place to settle this question.
In this passage, we read about a certain man named Lazarus (not the same one who was raised from the dead by Jesus in John 11). The man named Lazarus in our story was a very poor man, who longed to eat even the crumbs that fell from a certain rich man’s table. In the process of time, both the rich man and Lazarus died. We read that one went to “Abraham’s bosom” (heaven) and the other went to “a place of torment” (Hades or Hell).
In the story, the rich man, being in torment, is able to communicate with the Abraham, who is with Lazarus in heaven. However, he is not able to “cross over” to be with him. It’s very important that you understand what this passage teaches. This passage does not teach that poor people go to heaven, and rich people go to hell — some teach that! That teaching is entirely inconsistent with the rest of the Scriptures, that says it is by grace through faith that we enter into heaven, and not according to any other factor.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Rather, this passage teaches us that once you die as an unbeliever and go to hell, you cannot possibly cross over the “great divide” that exists between heaven and hell. It is too late! This passage is an incredible warning that you need to be saved now, before it is too late!
Abraham being in heaven, was able to communicate with the rich man, being in hell and in terrible torment. He said to him,
“‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.” (Luke 16:26)
Today is the day of salvation!
‘Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”‘. (2 Corinthians 6:2b)
To answer your question, then, purgatory is a made up concept which is not in any way biblical. Believing in this lie will cause you to stray in two major areas.
1. First, by believing in this lie, you will be given a false hope that you can keep sinning and delay your decision for Christ. This is a terrible deception which could lead you straight to hell for all eternity.
2. Second, by believing in this lie, you will try to follow a certain set of prescribed “rules and guidelines” for somehow trying to get your loved one “out of purgatory” and “into heaven”. But no matter how hard you try, nothing will work, because the concept of purgatory, as we have seen, is not biblical. Therefore, you will be entirely wasting your time on frivolous activity, while missing out on doing all the other things that the Lord had planned for you.
Don’t be deceived. God’s got a job for you. But it’s not to pray dead people out of a non-existent purgatory! Leave the dead alone and get on with the job of serving God! And make sure you yourself are truly saved and in love with Jesus by faith working through grace!
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)
As for those who have died, you need to learn to “let go of them” because there is nothing you can do to change their eternal future once they have died. After they have died, it is too late and is judgment time. Are you yourself ready for that?
“… it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27b)