You know that there is a dividing line and a big change in the world in terms of the historical picture of the world: Before Jesus came as a man and died and resurrected, and after He came.
Before He came, people had to have a guide on how to live, hence the law came. But no one could become righteous, so God provided a way through the sin offering and the burnt offering.
When Jesus came, the veil was finally torn and God provided a permanent way for us to reach Him.
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
Many would say, what is hell, I believe that hell is eternal separation from God. God is light and separation from Him is a place of eternal darkness.
So, now that God has provided a way, what happens when we deny Him. The scripture is very clear on this point.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
[2 Timothy 2:12]
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
So, if you ask me, I don't think (personally) that we are given a second chance in a temporary place called purgatory or intermediate hell, where we can still try "through our works, etc." come to God. He has already provided the perfect sacrifice and all we have to do is to accept Him.
If God gives us a second chance in hell, don't u think it will be mentioned in many places in the Bible? Don't u think it is only fair that we know about it. And frankly, when ur in hell, u'd probably want to believe and confess anyway just to escape the torture, (so theoratically there wouldn't be anyone in hell :))
What happens to those who have never heard the gospel or to infants who die young? I don't know.
ted, this represents my personal opinion. I am not a theologian or an authority in the scripture. The truth will be known when we meet God face to face. :).
some notes for u:
... http://www.carm.org :definition of purgatory
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1030, "All who die in Godís grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation, but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven."
The Second Vatican Council, p. 63, says, "The truth has been divinely revealed that sins are followed by punishments. Godís holiness and justice inflict them. Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all, through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments."
This process of purification occurs in a place designated by the Catholic church as purgatory.
I am not a Catholic and I am not against any denomination. This is just part of the research material that I have found. We know that the statements are not true. We are saved by grace and not by works.
Additional research material, Read the JFB commentaries in this chapter [1 Peter 3:19] (especially the narratives on verses 18 and 20).