Is there a second chance for salvation after death?

Q. A loved one passed on recently who was not a Christian. A relative who was very close to him was desperately trying to find some information on how, maybe, there could be a chance that he would not go to hell. We stumbled onto this concept of Hades as an “interim destination” for the dead, distinct from hell as a final destination, where people might have a second chance. We’d like to know your thoughts on this.

On this blog I’ve expressed some thoughts very similar to those in the post you found, which I read and in which I found much to agree with. For example, in my post entitled, “Will there be anyone in hell who doesn’t want to be there?” I summarize my position this way: “I guess you could say I believe in some kind of opportunity to respond to God’s offer of salvation even after death.” I’d invite you to read that post and I hope it will offer you some further encouragement. As I also say there, “based on what I understand God to be like, I can’t imagine God leaving sincerely repentant people in hell [or Hades]—that is, people who wish they had repented, based on what they now realize.”

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an an ordained minister, a writer, and a biblical scholar. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the New International Version (NIV) that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He was also a consultant to Tyndale House for the Immerse Bible, an edition of the New Living Translation (NLT) that similarly presents the Scriptures in their natural literary forms, without chapters and verses or section headings. He has a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

6 thoughts on “Is there a second chance for salvation after death?”

  1. I am afraid I will invite some negative reaction to my sharing my beliefs. I have no desire to offend. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormon). We believe that the final judgement is at the end of the millennium. There is a time between death and the final judgement where the opportunity to repent and follow Jesus Christ is made available to all. In 1 Peter 4 we read of the gospel being preached to the dead. For what cause would the gospel be preached if the dead had no opportunity to repent? The Mormon church takes this scripture very seriously and much of our belief and doctrine regarding temples has to do with this very core belief. It is a source of great comfort to me that a loving God would extend such an opportunity for fairness and mercy to all of his children.

  2. It’s nice to believe God gives people a second chance after death, but I can point to two places in the Bible that show it isn’t true

    The first being where the person had died and begged to go back and warn his family. He was told that if they do not believe the prophets, they will not believe him.

    The other lace it speaks of how if a person has had knowledge of how to be saved and reject it, there is no forgiveness for them. Meaning after their death. Universalism is a lie. Because that is the implication in this article

    1. You can’t use parables that way. The afterlife wasn’t the point of that parable, the point was one day the tables will be turned: the poor would prosper. What is most unusual about that parable is that one of the characters has a name.

  3. When we understand what salvation is, we can understand judgment and afterlife better. We are saved from our sins, not the consequences of our sins. If I rob a package store on the way from work, I will go through the consequences of that action. I might even do it again. But if God saves me from the underlying sins that manifest themselves in stealing, I might never do it again, especially if I’m, with the Holy Spirit, “working out my salvation with fear and trembling.” Salvation is not resurrection or “going to Heaven”. Paul describes a process at the end of 1 Cor. 3:12-13 where the remaining sin is finally consumed because “our God is a consuming fire.” Calvin’s big mistake was saying that the “elect” are elected for heaven. If you look at the words predestined, foreordained, elected, it says that the elect are foreordained for obedience, so salvation is obedience. If that doesn’t sound appealing, it’s because being as holy as God is not so appealing to some, but being “safe” from a holy God is. Now what about unbelievers? Because Paul holds out hope for them, I can to: “I to have the same hope in God as these, that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and wicked” Acts 24:15. All will stand before the Great Throne and Paul includes himself and I’m sure Paul understood what salvation was. If the church would stop understanding “having sins washed away by the blood” like it was God waving a wand over a new believer instead of the believer being saved from his sins–that’s an important ‘s’–and with the Holy Spirit being cleansed of them, one by one, real change in believers’ lives would be undeniable. Finally: “You shall call his name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins”, not the consequences of their sins. God may very well allow the consequences as a “fire” to cleanse the sin.

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