In order to stand in the presence of God, we need to be pure and holy. When we look at ourselves, we know how far we are from this perfect purity. So, if we’re going to enter heaven, don’t we need to be purified in some way after this life? Isn’t purgatory necessary?
We’re not saved by our perfect understanding of how salvation works. We’re saved through faith in Jesus Christ. And it’s not the strength of our faith or the perfection of our faith that saves us. It’s the object of our faith—who we have faith in—that saves us. What we know clearly from the Bible is that all those who trust in Christ and his saving work will be with God in heaven right after they die.
The idea that we need purgation or cleansing beyond what Christ has already done isn’t in Scripture. Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). When we believe in Jesus Christ, when we receive him by faith, we’re already justified. We’re presently in possession of eternal life.
And we have the hope that we’re not going to enter into judgment. This is why John says that we don’t have to fear the day of judgment. The love of God, God’s perfect love toward us in Christ, casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). When people think, “Oh, man, so much more cleansing needs to be done before I can enter into God’s presence,” it shows a fear of the punishment that John says we’re free from. It shows that they don’t fully understand the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We don’t fully understand that his grace and forgiveness make us fit to stand before God on judgment day.
Hebrews 10:14, referring to Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, wrote, “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice has perfected us “for all time.” Christ has already made us fit to stand in the presence of Almighty God. We can come with confidence to his throne of grace, not on the basis of our perfection but on the basis of his.
It’s not that we’ve fully purged the sins out of our lives and we’re good. No, our security rest solely on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. If we have faith in Jesus, we have that righteousness. We’re ready to see God.