Will Everyone Have a Chance for Salvation?: What Happens After Death / at the Resurrection / at Judgment Day?

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Will Everyone Have a Chance for Salvation?

What Happens After Death / at the Resurrection / at Judgment Day?

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God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). But considering the masses of humanity who have never even heard the name of Christ, many Christians have wondered if or how they would have a chance for salvation. We believe the Bible teaches that all will have a real chance through the often neglected doctrine of "resurrection of the dead" and God's judgment (Hebrews 6:2).

Is there hope for the unbelieving person who rejected God's calling and spurned His way of life? No, a person who has knowingly refused God's calling and the way of life He reveals has only the lake of fire to look forward to, which will end his or her existence for eternity (Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-29). However, there is another type of unbeliever—one who never had the opportunity to choose or reject God's way of life. Many sincere people believe that we must "accept Jesus" in this life or we are lost forever. But what about the billions of people who have lived out their lives without ever hearing the name of Christ and therefore had no chance at salvation (Acts 4:12)? Is it fair for God to destroy them forever when they never really had an opportunity to understand His truth?

Many know that God will resurrect the saints at Christ's return (1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:52), but most read right over Christ's teachings about a second resurrection. He spoke of people from different ages coming face-to-face in "the day of judgment" (Matthew 11:20-24, Matthew 12:41-42; Luke 10:12-15). God will bring back to life the people of Sodom, Tyre, Sidon and Ninevah along with the queen of Sheba at the same time as those people who heard Christ speak these words in the first century. The only way for this to be possible—for people who lived literally many hundreds of years apart to live again at the same time—is for God to resurrect all of them at the same time.

A second resurrection allows a first chance at salvation

As we saw in Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-29, the Scriptures are plain about the fact that all people have only one chance at salvation. However, a second chance at life is not the same as a second chance at salvation. Coming to life again will enable those brought to life in the second resurrection to have their only chance for salvation.

The apostle Paul implied a second resurrection in his writings (Romans 11:26-27), and the book of Revelation speaks of it as specifically as Christ did (Revelation 20:5, Revelation 20:11-12). These references are not about the resurrection of the saints spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:52, for the people in the above references are called enemies (Romans 11:28) and are contrasted with the saints (they are called "the rest of the dead" in Revelation 20:5).

In Revelation 20:5 the expression "This is the first resurrection" refers to the resurrection of the saints. We know from the above reference in 1 Corinthians that God does this at Christ's return and the beginning of His 1,000-year rule on the earth, not at the end. The first part of the verse ("But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years are finished") is a parenthetical statement that speaks of dead who will not live again until the thousand years are over. Clearly, the first part of the verse isn't speaking of the resurrection of the righteous dead, but rather of those who died without a chance at salvation.

Great white throne: the judgment seat of God

Why do we say that Revelation 20:11-12, where God judges from a "great white throne," refers to a second resurrection? If these people understood and obeyed the truth in their lifetime, God would have resurrected them a thousand years before—at the return of Jesus Christ (the first resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:52). Or, if they understood the truth and rejected it, the only unfinished part of God's judgment would be the death sentence. No further judging would be necessary in either case.

What's the difference between judgment and sentencing? Judgment is part of an ongoing process. God is in the process of judging Christians today (1 Peter 4:17). Drawing a parallel with human courts, judgment involves the gathering of evidence, weighing or evaluating that evidence and the passing of a final sentence. Anyone, living or dead, whose mind God did not open to spiritual understanding hasn't begun the judgment process that ends with a decision (sentence) of eternal life or of death.

Of those to be brought to life in the second resurrection, Jesus said it would be "more tolerable" for some than for others (Matthew 10:15). If God resurrects these people only to sentence them to death, Christ's comments wouldn't make any sense. If all were to die, judgment would not be "more tolerable" for one than for another. But clearly, their judgment is incomplete, and hence, God brings them back to physical life.

Ezekiel 37:1-14 describes the second resurrection in colorful detail. It speaks of an entire nation that died without hope of life and without the knowledge of God that could lead to their salvation. God promises them two things—to resurrect them to physical life and to give them spiritual understanding (Ezekiel 37:10, Ezekiel 37:14). The gift of the Holy Spirit will enable them to live the Christian way of life.

Most people in the grave did not know the only name by which salvation is possible (Acts 4:12), and God wills that all humankind have an opportunity for salvation (2 Peter 3:9). If there were no second resurrection, the majority of people down through history would suffer unfair condemnation to death in the lake of fire without ever having a chance at conversion. But God is fair, just and merciful.

If God is opening your mind to understand His truth, now is the time to act! There are no second chances. But it is comforting to know that He will mercifully give everyone a first chance.

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  • GmaLove

    Greetings! Question about your article. Your article states the following... " The apostle Paul implied a second resurrection in his writings (Romans 11:26-27)." How do you see a second resurrection being implied?
    Romans 11:26-27 NKJV
    26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
    27 For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins."

  • Johnsc11

    Hello. We believe much of the same stuff. I believe the error here is that you seem to teach the same thing the JWs do. Basically that if Christ is not accepted now then that was your opportunity. Hebrews scriptures that were quoted refer only to spirit begotten Christian's that after becoming a true Christian who later wilfully reject him can go into the second death. If God calls someone and they reject then they lose the Divine nature prospect and will come back for 1,000 years in the general restitution of mankind. They lose that hope. But never do we see that its simply denying christ when presented.

  • Williams1

    Hi I grew up in a family of followers on my mom's side. My grandfather was a pastor of a church of christ until the day he passed. Growing up I never had someone ti mentor me or guide me with my walk in Christ. Ideally my parents would have but they were to far in sin to do that. As I've grown up I have tried teaching myself the ways of christ but I keep going back and forth am I saved or not. I know i cant get to heaven by works but I still feel like I don't serve enough or not obedient enough. I feel I won't have enough time to get to know god the way I need to in order to be saved and in the book of life. He had been reveling so much to me these past two years. I struggle with trusting in him and having a strong obsession with taking control and being selfish with money we barely even have in the first place. I alot of times put god at the level of man and that's why I can't trust him enough sometimes because I have allowed the un trusting nature of man to make me lack my trust in him. I feel like even though god knows we are not perfect we are still not allow to mess up or we will be judged and sent away.

  • Tigerlord90

    Hello I have never said no to God or Jesus saving me and I have prayed and asked him to come into my heart and have been baptized. I am strongly addicted to pornography and I cant seem to escape it very easy. I dont like that I do it and I know it's wrong but I go ahead and do it anyway. How it is in my mind "I shouldn't do it it's wrong and it hurts God but then again I really want to take care of business." Sometimes I dont do it but more often I do it. I hate that I do it and know it's wrong and choose to do it but I wish I didn't as I am addicted to it strongly....I want to stop permanently and have the will power to shut down that bad decision making but it's so hard...I want to surrender my selfish thoughts and deeds and replace them with God! I want to be forgiven and it not be too late...I have been told over and over I will be forgiven and have a bad interpretation of my doings and thinking I won't be forgiven for my addiction and to forgive myself and keep going after God and asking him to help me. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

  • CT Bell

    Hi Brian ~ I just came across this article and your comment and created an account just to reply to you. My hope, though, is that you're now free from this burden. If not, I want to urge you to read in the Bible everything you can about the Holy Spirit: Who He is and What His role is in the transformation of God's people into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). If you need evidence of this transformation, just look at the disciples before and after the Spirit came according to the Lord's promise (J ohn 14:25–27). We as believers have been clothed with. power from on high to enable us to overcome so we can walk as Jesus walked (Luke 24:49). As you read the scriptures on the subject, be asking, God to reveal Him to you. I'm not talking about some supernatural manifestation of visions or tongues or anything like that. But I know that our faithful God will hear from heaven and answer your prayer. Then it's up to you to put 2 Timothy 1:6 into practice and fan the Spirit into a flame. Overcoming isn't easy. But God has magnificent things in store for those who love Him and and strive to overcome life's temptations ~ who endure till the end (Matt 24:13). I'll be praying as I send this.

  • battlesofrome

    Hi Brian, it's your choice. You have to be willing to sacrifice, and let YWHW "God" be in control. You have to surrender. The choice is your's, that's why you have free will. Besides asking God to forgive you, you have to surrender and be willing to follow God's lead, not your own. Your salvation is up to you. Every day you have to ask God to show you what he want's for you and guide you on the path he has planed for you and you have to ask him to reveal to you, the truth. You have to ask him to help you, so that you are not deceived. Who do you think invented sex? But it was intended for man and wife in a Godly marriage.

  • Skip Miller

    Hello Brian, I advise you to get some professional help but I will tell you from reading God's Word for 47 years and from being 75 years old and from my experience as a professional teacher that you cannot stop what you are doing unless you replace it with something else.
    God is the answer but those words are just words. You will need to be guided . Think about
    (deeply) who you are going to trust to help you.

  • DrA77a

    What about the people that hear God's Word, have the offer of Salvation explained to them and say they "just don't know" and aren't really willing to look into it any further. They aren't blatantly saying "no" or are they? Will these people get a second chance during the Millennium?

  • Sabrina Peabody

    Thankfully God is the final judge on salvation and we aren’t. Isn’t it each and every human beings own responsibility and choice on if they will follow God? (Philippians 2:12).

    People need time to process and come to a decision on if they will act on new knowledge or not. It may take years for a thought to connect and sink in, and then for a person to act. Even when the Word of God is explained perfectly, there is also the element of whether or not the Father is calling them (John 6:44).

    Also, people can say no in a lot more ways than just using the word “no.” No one is going to get a through a loop hole by playing word games with God. I think willfully rejecting is pretty close to the same as rejection by neglect, because even neglecting to follow through is a choice. It may depend how God was working in their lives and how they responded to those circumstances, and again, the outcome of their behavior is going to be between them and God.

  • leonamaya19
    When I read Ezekiel 37:1-14, I see that the dry bones were pertaining to the Israelites. I honestly will like to get the full understanding, of what does this Scripture have to do with the rest of the dead, when it clearly identify the Israelites. Know Revelation chapter 20 speaks of the white throne but I still cannot connect one to the other! If anyone can please explain. Thanks
  • Lena VanAusdle

    There's a really great article, "Ezekiel's Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones" at http://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/ezekiels-vision-of-the-valley-of-dry-bones-what-does-it-mean that might give you more insight. The Bible must be read as a whole. If you solely read Ezekiel, you might conclude that only the Israelites are included in this great resurrection, but other verses indicate that others will be included. God "is “the God of all flesh” (Jeremiah 32:27). Several passages in the Gospel accounts show that non-Israelite rulers and peoples are to be resurrected as well.
    "The queen of the South (Sheba), the peoples of Tyre, Sidon and Nineveh (ancient nations and city-states that long predated Jesus' human lifetime), and even the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected to physical life alongside Christ's generation of Israelites (see Matthew 11:20-24; 12:41-42; Luke 10:12-14).
    "Jesus plainly stated: “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live . . . Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice" (John 5:25, 28)."

  • snoe
    I believe just by what I have read that everyone has the opportunity to be saved, but many will not come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We live in a time, where the world offers so much opportunity for sin, that we have forgotten what is truly important in life, and that is Christ.
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