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Are people given a chance to 'be saved' after death?
Thank you for this deep and interesting question about what happens to people when they die and if they are able to ‘be saved’ after death.
There are some people who have taught something called universalism, where everyone will eventually go to heaven, even if they die apart from God. This sounds lovely, but the Bible describes a different situation. We must tell people the truth instead of something we may wish to be true.
The Bible clearly teaches that people will not get a second chance to be saved after death. This can be seen in an example that Jesus gives:
"There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers--so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'" (Luke 16:19-31) [emphasis added]
Throughout the rest of the Bible the term ‘eternal’ is used to describe the judgement apart from God after death for those who do not repent in this life:
But the LORD is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonour will never be forgotten. (Jeremiah 20:11) [emphasis added]
This is evidence of the righteous judgement of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering-- since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (2 Thessalonians 1:5-9) [emphasis added]
Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7) [emphasis added]
And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (Matthew 18:8-9) [emphasis added]
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'" (Matthew 25:41) [emphasis added]
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."(Matthew 25:46) [emphasis added]
His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." (Luke 3:17) [emphasis added]
Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:48) [emphasis added]
The reason for this is that on the cross Jesus suffered in the place of all who would believe in him, or had believed in him. Jesus was punished in our place. It would not be just for God to punish the unbelievers and Jesus for the same sin. Therefore either Jesus died for someone's sin, or they will die and be punished for it.
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God". (John 3:14-21) [emphasis added]
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement". (John 5:24-29) [emphasis added]
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:40) [emphasis added]
Jesus died and rose again, sending the Holy Spirit to all who believe.
Therefore if someone does not believe and receive the Holy Spirit in this life, there is eternal consequences of separation from God.
If you think you know someone who died without knowing God's forgiveness this is a difficult thing to hear. It is terrible when someone dies apart from Christ. However we must also remember that we never truly know where anyone stands before God. It is possible that someone could have turned to Jesus with their last dying breath.
This is no laughing matter. This is a matter of eternal life and death. This is why the Church tells people about the Good News that Jesus died to save us. This is why, in love, we urge people to turn from their sin to Christ. The Bible teaches there are no second chances after death. The same is true for you, there is no second chance after death, so place your trust in Jesus today!
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Jeremiah 20:11
- Luke 16:19-31
- John 3:14-21
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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