Do we have a second chance for salvation after death? (1 Peter 4:6, 1 Peter 3:19-20, Hebrews 9:27)


(Mark Amsler) #1

I have a Christian brother that believes that you can get a second chance at salvation after death. He primarily uses verses: 1 Peter 4:6 and 1 Peter 3:19-20 to justify this stance. I believe " a man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). We accept Jesus as our only path to salvation before we die. There isn’t any last chance after death. Interested to gather other opinions. Thank you, Mark


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(SeanO) #2

@Marko Thank you for this question. It appears that your brother’s interpretation is based upon a misreading of 1 Peter 4:6. All of the commentaries I consulted said that the dead in this passage are people who have already accepted Christ during their earthly lives - not unbelievers. I think the main thing to remember is that God will judge each person according to the secrets of their heart.

I Peter 4:6 - “These dead are not the imprisoned spirits of 3:19, but rather Christians who have died. As Christ was judged, human beings judge them in the physical world (a better translation than ‘in regard to the body’). They judge them either by killing them, as they did Christ, or by condemning their lifestyle and concluding at their death that their Christianity did not keep them from the common lot of humanity. Since there is little evidence of martyrdom in 1 Peter, such mockery is more likely what he is talking about, although actual martyrdom was not far off. Yet human beings do not have the last word: God does. As Jesus was resurrected ‘from the point of view of the spiritual world’(3:18), so they will ‘live according to God’ in this spiritual world. The final verdict is God’s resurrection.” -Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary

“In context the phrase those who are dead refers to those now dead who had accepted the gospel while they were still living and had suffered persecution for their faith. Though they “suffered judgment” in this earthly life (i.e., they died, in the midst of physical abuse from the ungodly), they will enjoy life from God in the spiritual, heavenly realm because of the gospel (v. 6b). It clearly does not assume a second chance for conversion offered to unbelievers who had died; why would Peter urge people to suffer in this life for the sake of the gospel if he believed that mercy would be extended to all the dead in the hereafter (cf. 2:7-8; 4:1-5, 12-19)?” The NET Bible (https://net.bible.org/#!bible/1+Peter+4)

God Judges the Secrets of the Heart

I think the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 25 are very instructive when we are thinking about the judgment. The Sheep and the Goats and the idea that not everyone who cries out ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter Heaven teach us that God sees the heart - not simply a profession. God will judge each person justly because He knows what opportunities they have had, how they have responded and whether or not they have responded to the revelation given to them.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 - For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Jeremiah 17:10 - I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve

Romans 2:16 - This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.


(Dennis Gladden) #3

Hi @Marko. I think Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16:19-31 helps to address your brother’s question about a second chance for salvation. Jesus gives no indication that the rich man could make up for lost opportunities after he died, and His teaching seems to leave no doubt that the opportunity for his brothers to avoid the same fate is in this lifetime.

In Luke 12:15-21 Jesus addresses the life of a man who has abundance for life but not the abundant life Jesus promises. In the midst of making long-range plans, the man is brought up short. “This night, your life is demanded of you.” The words have the force that his life is being demanded back.

@Marko, you are on the side of orthodox teaching about the importance of receiving God’s grace in this life. You quoted from Hebrews, which says in another place “Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your heart” (Hebrews 3:7-8) and Paul reminds us that “Now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).


(Dennis Gladden) #4

This is such an important question I would like to post another thought, if I may. When Jesus was teaching His disciples about our Father’s house and our future there, He said, “If it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:2). We can be encouraged that what is so, Jesus has told us.

Examining the teaching of Jesus, I find He has told us is that there is an immediacy — an urgency, even — about entering God’s kingdom.

  • “Repent,” said Jesus, "for the kingdom of God is at hand." (emphasis mine).

  • Luke records Jesus as exhorting, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door” (Luke 12:24-25).

  • In John’s gospel, Jesus says, “We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). If we ask what God’s work is, Jesus answers, “This is the work of God — that you believe in the one He has sent” (John 6:29).

All together, these and other scriptures make plain that there is a day with the opportunity to believe, there is a door that stands open but will eventually close and “now is the day of salvation.”

So certain is this that Jesus cried out against the cities of Israel and wept over Jerusalem for not recognizing the time of their visitation (Luke 19:41-44, Matthew 11:20-24).

A second chance for salvation after we die is an appealing idea and, if it were so, Jesus would have told us. I don’t see that He does.