Tag: hell

Salvation After Death

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.

Good People and Hell

Trish S – I have always questioned the belief that folks who may have little exposure to Jesus but are “good” people will spend eternity in Hell. Perhaps this comes from my Roman Catholic background!

Dave – It’s not just Roman Catholicism but most Christian churches believe that Hell is everlasting torment for all who do not believe in Jesus (born-again). I noticed you put the word “good” in quotation marks which is good because no one born of Adam’s seed is good. All humans, except Jesus of course, are the “walking dead” until they are born-again in Christ. That said, one has to wonder about little kids or babies (including those aborted in utero) who die. None of these humans could even begin to understand salvation’s terms. I think the safe answer is that we do not know but God is just and perfect in all judgments He makes. Perhaps the criterion is different for humans who die at an older age because they had the chance of seeking the Truth. God promises humans that they will find the Truth if the seek it. I maintain, however, that simply seeking truth (small “t” on truth) does not necessarily cut it because the condition of the individual’s heart may not be pure. By pure, I mean they have a willingness to do God’s will as Jesus said in John 7:17. There are many truths found in various philosophies, but adhering to them does not cause one’s sins to be forgiven.

Jewish tradition has this thing called the “age of accountability” which holds that a child’s sins are on the parents’ soul, but from age 13 on they are not. It assumes that before this age is reached, the child is without sin and if he/she dies within this time frame, they go to Heaven. So this would be a sudden shift of guilt and blame based on a time clock. It is not found anywhere in the Scriptures.

We do know that some will receive harsher punishment than others based on what they rejected on earth. For example, those who rejected Jesus are in the most trouble. But what about a person who has never been exposed to the Gospel and dies? This is a tough one. We don’t like the idea that this soul will be thrown on the Lake of Fire, whether or not it is eternal suffering or a literal second death as the Scriptures say it is. Jesus spoke of separating the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the chaff. He said the chaff does get thrown into a fire. Wheat does represent saved souls and chaff does represent unsaved souls. It seems to me that any soul not redeemed by God’s Blood cannot have eternal life…but eternal torment for human souls is extremely difficult for me to accept, whether or not it is accurate. It makes more sense to me that Hell for human souls is the second death. Death means death, or going out of existence. This belief, of course, is a serious error to most Christians, so I would never teach it although the possibility of it being true does rest in my mind.

Some Christians feel if this “error” is taught then concern for the lost would be diminished. I would argue that the Lake of Fire is still a horrible, frightening fate and therefore we all need to get the Gospel out to others.

Why Did God Make Us Knowing All Would Fall and Many Would go to Hell?

I am not a super smart guy but I like to think, especially about God and His Kingdom. When I was very young, I asked someone why God made us. They said because He was lonely. Years later, I read the Scriptures and found no hint that God was ever lonely. In my early Christian days, I thought that God just wanted to share a good thing, namely, Himself and eternal life in bliss. Later, however, my thought process deepened when I realized how bad the Jewish nation was and how bad all mankind has been, including myself. My teacher colleague who was somewhat religious but wanted nothing to do with following Jesus, kept throwing this question in my face – Why did God make us knowing that people would go to hell? Jesus did say many would travel down the wide road of destruction and few will find the narrow road to life (Matthew 7:13-14). So now there was more to contemplate. God does know the future and would have had to do all His creating knowing about the impending pain and suffering on earth and beyond. How then can we proclaim that our God is a loving Master? (Note: an essential side issue is whether or not Hell is eternal torment for humans, but that discussion is too long of a rabbit trail for now, so I will sidestep it for now).

I began to search for an answer based upon what I saw in His Word. For starters, Psalms 40:7 reveals that God comes in the volume of the Book, so I begin all thinking based on the Bible. The only way I can know God intimately is to know His Word, understand it, and meditate on it (unless He appears to me in a vision and talks for hours which has not yet happened – and even then, He will not contradict His written Word to us). I hold the Word in awe as well as God Himself. Even God magnifies His Word (or promises) to the level of the honor of His name (Psalms 138:2). In this awe of respect for God and His Word is the beginning of wisdom, and for this issue, I need a lot of wisdom.

I also learn from the Book of Job that I need to assume that God is perfect and all that He does is right. I believe that God has always existed in eternity because the Bible says in John 1:1 that He and His Word were already existing at the beginning. He has no beginning. After all, there must be an uncaused cause to get everything in existence going, right? Once we transport our minds into the eternal realm, we lose something from our frontal lobe. Try as we may, we can never wrap our brains around the concept of eternity. Nevertheless, the answer to the question must begin in this unfathomable arena.

I also believe that all angels were created in righteousness. If Ezekiel 28:12-17 is referring to Lucifer as many Bible scholars believe, then he was in the Garden of Eden still in a perfected state then fell shortly after. I also believe that time was created sometime during the creation (oops, I can’t have “some time” before time was created, but please just bear with me a bit). Now I have set the stage for my thoughts about why God created everything knowing that devastating results would be incurred.

My logic says that if there is such a thing as righteousness, then there must be its antithesis. After all, how can there be good without the notion of evil? In other words, if there is the concept of “good,” then there has to be the concept of “not good.” If evil is only a concept, then it is not actually in existence…yet. It is this notion of “not good,” later emerging into reality, that God may have been targeting to conquer, not just once, but forever! How could He do this? He would have to allow it to emerge from concept to reality and then conquer it with perfected love.

What is perfected love? It is not only a willingness and a commitment to experience the ultimate pain and humiliation for the sake of something or someone that is totally evil (undeserving of salvation) and not able to help itself. It also becomes action (Rom.5:8). Merely saying we love someone without any demonstration of that love is shallow at best. At worst, it is a lie. Our fall enabled God to perfect His love, i.e. to demonstrate what was already in existence (His love was always perfect). His Word states that His love is perfected in us (1John 4:12,17). I think this means His love can now be seen by all the angels and humans. It is the deepest that a love can be. This is why He wants us to love our enemies and not limit our love to only those who love us (Matt.5:44-46). This is one of many hints He has given us as to His reason and plan for our existence. It reveals our Father’s “heartbeat.” If we desire to be close to God, we need to embrace this love lifestyle in order to reflect Him to others.

But isn’t it cruel for God to put mankind (and animals) through all this pain and suffering? No, He knew what was necessary to bring about perfection forever. He told us this fallen life would be sorrowful, but that the joy later will be so wonderful that we will not remember the earthly woe (John 16:20-22). It’s kind of like what a physical therapist does to a patient needing rehab from surgery. The contortions may cause pain, but it does prevent scar tissue from forming and promotes healing and prevents pain in the future.

Therefore, God allowed His human creation to fail and fall into sin and be captured by evil power. This may explain the troubling Scripture in Genesis 6:6 when it is revealed that God was sorry that He made man. At first glance, it sounds like God had wished He never made us, but I think it means that He simply went through a temporary mourning period when He saw evil take over His creation. God had a similar experience in Jesus when He wept over Jerusalem as that nation was poised to reject Him.

God could have created more angels to replace Lucifer and his cohorts (fallen angels), but these newbies could rebel sometime later in eternity. I believe God’s plan was to do something so that evil and rebellion could never occur again. Therefore He made creatures (humans) lower than the angels and allowed them to fall into darkness (we cannot see God like the angels can) so that He could put an end to evil’s claim on those souls of those humans by stepping into His own creation and paying the price Himself. He bought us back (1 Cor.6:20) from the sentence of the Lake of Fire (Eph.2:1-7) where unredeemed souls would die a Second Death (Rev.20:6,14), thus ridding His universe of all evil and bad things forever. Immediately following this judgment, the new heaven and new earth was seen by John in Revelation 21. Perhaps the concept of evil will not be erased but certainly its power to appear again will be gone forever. Scripture definitely states that God knows good and evil, so I assume this knowledge will not be erased. As a result of the Fall, humans know about good and evil, but I’m not sure if the redeemed will have this knowledge in eternity. Certainly temptation to do evil will never occur again, thank God!

During the suffering years of earth’s history, He also formed a Bride for Himself which is a central theme throughout both Testaments. This may have been the prize that Jesus looked forward to just prior to His crucifixion. At the center of the new heavens and earth was His Beautiful Bride – all the believers who ever lived on earth as fallen people but now without blemish. What a sight for His sore eyes!

Romans 12:21 – “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is what our Great Creator has accomplished in Christ and why I think He made everything knowing what would happen.

End Note: I believe all human history is just “Phase One” of God’s plan for us. Scripture states that His government (Kingdom) is everlasting and ever expanding (Is.9:7 & Dan.2:44). Currently, we are in what is called the “Church Age” or “Age of Grace.” The Bible speaks of “ages to come” in Ephesians 2:7 and Daniel 7:18. The teaser is that we cannot imagine what will occur in those ages (1Cor.2:9). The Bible gives use some hints, however:

  1.  We will not remember the former things (Isaiah 65:17),
  2.  All rule, authority, and power will be abolished (1 Cor.15:24),
  3.  No suffering or death (Rev. 21:4),
  4.  Sunlight and moonlight are not needed (Rev. 21:23),
  5.  No night times (Rev. 21:25),
  6.  We will see God face-to-face (Rev. 22:4),
  7.  No Temple needed because Jesus is the Temple (Rev. 21:22),
  8.  We will rule (something) forever (Dan. 7:18 & Rev. 22:5) – I guess #2 above refers only to worldly powers,
  9.  We will judge the world and the angels (1 Cor.6:2-3).

I think our afterlife experience may feel like being catapulted into the stratosphere. Whatever is in the works for the redeemed souls could not happen until evil was done away with first. Then we will be ready for “the booster rockets” necessary to usher in the other ages to come. Wow!


CL – very understandable – well done

NF – Wow– what a deep lesson really made me stop and think about the future and the past–thanks so much for sharing it!

© 2024 Scripture Thoughts

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑