Trish S – Question regarding Judgement Day: In thinking about all the folks past/present/&to come…when folks die, don’t they still have an opportunity to profess Jesus as our Lord/Savior right up to that final judging moment? (like Herod… If he comes to claim Jesus @ the final judgement, wouldn’t his fate be overturned from Hell to Heaven?

Dave to Trish S – Hey Trish, good question. I don’t see Scripture supporting the chance of salvation after death, especially considering Hebrews 9:27 which says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” The only one that some people have interpreted as a chance for a second chance is in 1 Peter 3:18-20:

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

However, I do not believe this means that departed souls from Noah’s time had Jesus literally in front of them preaching His Gospel and giving them a chance to get saved. I think it means that the “Spirit of Christ” (the Holy Spirit) was preaching through Noah while those folks were still alive. This continued perhaps for as long as 100 years since that is how long it took Noah to build that Ark. Furthermore, that Ark represented salvation (Jesus) for those people.

When people read “spirits in prison,” they conclude that Jesus descended into Hell or Hades and preached the Gospel there after He died and before He ascended into Heaven. But this is not what those verses are saying.

When one thinks about the chances people have to hear and accept the Gospel, heads start spinning. It is clear that not all have the same opportunities throughout history. The only thing I can say for sure is that the kind of judgment received does depend upon how much truth individuals were exposed to (Luke 10:12 & 14). To critics who raise this question, I always say that we do not know everything, but we do know that God is good, not ever fooled, just, and does not make mistakes. Finally, no matter where a person is born into in this life, they can always seek God and find Him if they are willing to obey Him (John 7:17).

But what happens to little babies or young children who die? When David’s son born from his illicit affair with Bathsheba died, David proclaimed that the boy would not return to him but that he (David) would go to him (after his death). This may reveal that little ones are spared the Lake of Fire, but the bottom line is that we do not know. The critic should be made aware that they have heard of Jesus and are therefore responsible to seek what He has said.

Feedback so far:

Nels F – (5/27/13) – Very interesting- learned a lot from this question and answer thanks!

Tom H – (5/27/13) – This was a tough one and I appreciate your willingness to tackle it. There is a resurgence of “universalism” ala the Rob Bell book “Love Wins,” which is saying that salvation is for all but it may take time after their death for them to finally decide to accept God’s salvation through Christ. I don’t believe this, but it is a big question among younger people (at least the generation after you and me) right now. Francis Chan has very caringly, effectively and biblically addressed this in his recent book entitled “Erasing Hell.” I suggest it as a must read. The point of ministering to spirits in prison, I think, is those who died awaiting the coming of the Holy One. I believe that Jesus’ death set them free as indicated in the gospel account that says that not only was the veil torn in two but that tombs opened up and dead rose and entered the Holy City. I don’t think this means they walked into the earthly Jerusalem, but likely the New Jerusalem.

GR – Excellent work.