Does the Bible talk about a second chance after death? Is death the cut-off for salvation?
Mark Driscoll addresses this appealing to Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed once to die, and then judgment.” He plainly states, “No.” There is no hope once a person dies; their eternal destiny in Heaven or Hell is permanent. Ironically, the message on this video clip comes from a website called “All Sufficient Grace.”
First, I encourage readers to look at the context of this verse – the whole chapters of Hebrews 8 and 9, which speaks of the sacrifice, the priest, the tabernacle, and what Jesus’ death and resurrection means to this entire system. The letter to the Hebrews explains,”they shall not teach each his neighbour, and each his brother, saying, Know thou the Lord, because they shall all know Me from the small one of them unto the great one of them, because I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawlessnesses I will remember no more;’ – in the saying `new,’ He hath made the first old, and what doth become obsolete and is old [is] nigh disappearing.” It explains the difference between an imperfect earthly priest who must offer up sacrifices for himself, who dies and must be replaced by another priest, and compares this imperfect system to Jesus who “through his own blood, did enter in once into the holy places, age-during redemption having obtained.” Notice the words “age-during.” Why does it say this? Because “those called may receive the promise of the age-during inheritance.” Not everyone receives this calling at once. But does this mean that everyone else is excluded? Not at all! This is not the end of the story. If we read on to Hebrews 10 we see that “He, for sin one sacrifice having offered — to the end, did sit down on the right hand of God, – as to the rest, expecting till He may place his enemies [as] his footstool, for by one offering he hath perfected to the end those sanctified; and testify to us also doth the Holy Spirit, for after that He hath said before,`This [is] the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, giving My laws on their hearts, and upon their minds I will write them,’ and `their sins and their lawlessness I will remember no more;’ and where forgiveness of these [is], there is no more offering for sin.” This repeated theme of once that occurs throughout Hebrews 8-10 has to do with the limitations of sinful man as a priest, and the limitlessness of Jesus Christ as priest. While there is judgment, this judgment is never once referred to as eternal – that’s the point of these chapters in Hebrews, to assure us that Jesus Christ is the priest who “is able to save to the very end, those coming through him unto God — ever living to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). This is the exact opposite of the message Driscoll and evangelical orthodoxy preaches.
Driscoll also uses the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus as a proof text for eternal torment and death being the cut-off for salvation. This video series absolutely blows away Driscoll’s orthodox ideas. If you do nothing else, please watch this video series: The Rich Man and Lazarus, Part One, Two, Three, and Four. It casts serious doubt on the teaching that the institution of church has been propagating about the eternal destiny of mankind, especially the first and third videos, which explain who the Rich Man really is and why we must not take this parable to mean there is a literal eternal burning hell where all the unsaved go.
Does the Bible talk about death being the cut-off for salvation? This is one of the questions I will explore today as I return once again to Kevin De Young’s review of Rob Bell’s Love Wins. De Young writes:
Bell suggests that maybe the gates in heaven are “never shut” because new citizens will continue to enter the city as everyone is eventually reconciled to God (115). This interpretation is clearly at odds with the rest of Revelation 21-22 which emphasizes several times that there are some accursed ones left outside the city (21:8, 27; 22:3, 14–15, 18–19). The theme of judgment carries through right to the end of the book. What’s more, those facing this judgment will be thrown into the lake of fire where torment never ends, which is the second death (20:10; 21:8). There is never a hint of postmortem second chances and every indication of an irreversible judgment decreed of every soul at the end of the age. The gates are open as a sign of the city’s complete safety and security, not as an indication that more will be saved after death.
De Young dismisses Bell’s ideas because he believes Bell’s “interpretation is clearly at odds with the rest of Revelation 21-22 which emphasizes several times that there are some accursed ones left outside the city.” But notice the clever distraction going on here. Did Bell deny that there were those outside the gates in Revelation? No. Bell acknowledges them. So why is De Young acting as if Bell refutes the idea that there are some left outside the city? Both Bell and De Young agree that there is a group of people who have not entered in.
Now that this little distraction is cleared out of the way, let’s take a look at the real problem. De Young suggests those outside the gates will always be outside the gates and that there will never be an opportunity to enter in. For all eternity they will remain outside the gates. Bell suggests the opposite, that those outside the gates will not always be outside the gates and that there will be an opportunity to enter in. Both of these men offer evidence to support their ideas. De Young’s evidence comes from Revelation chapters 20 and 21, which address the Lake of Fire where the “torment never ends.” Bell’s evidence comes from Revelation chapters 21 and 22, which addresses the city with the gates that are never shut, where God is making everything new. I encourage everyone to read through these chapters in a literal translation and to compare various viewpoints with a prayerful and teachable attitude. As you read, please notice that the Lake of Fire is never described as De Young says, where “torment never ends.” It says “day and night to the ages of the ages.” We know that there will be no night and no need of light, because He is the light. So this “day and night” scenario must come to an end. And we know that an age is a measured period of time. So the ages of the ages is simply referring to specific ages within the a series of ages. De Young claims that the reason the gates are never shut is that it is symbolic of safety. De Young says this in order to refute Bell’s claims about why the gates are never shut, that is, because those who are outside will be entering in during this time where God is making all things new. Notice in the last chapter, the Spirit and the Bride (believers) say “come” to someone who has not yet entered in. Who might they be addressing? Notice the invitation is to those who are thirsty, hearing, and willing. If everyone who is ever going to be “saved” is already “saved” at this point, why is there an invitation? Who are these thirsty, hearing, willing people who come? Could it be that they were but are no longer “the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the whoremongers, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one who is loving and is doing a lie”? Could it be that when God says He is making everything new that He actually means everything? Is this really so far fetched that Bell is a heretic and De Young is the wise religious leader who everyone ought to trust and believe? Think about these things.
Most people are already very familiar with the traditional views of what happens after death, which I believe to be erroneous in and of themselves, as well as based on erroneous translation. Here is a link where you can consider ideas that you will likely not hear in church, not because they are wrong, but because they are rejected by church leadership. Like any teacher, Jukes could be wrong about certain things. Believers are instructed to “test everything and hold on to what is good.” Look for yourself, see if you can find anything in scripture to contradict, listen to the Teacher’s voice, ask yourself Who God is and what God does, be willing do away with the things you were taught if they prove to be erroneous.
As you can tell, I am avoiding any deep theological analysis here. There is a time and place for such a thing, but this particular blog is focused on the question I mentioned at the beginning.
Does the Bible talk about death being the cut-off for salvation?
I have consistently challenged eternal torment believers to demonstrate to me where the scriptures say that death is the cut off for salvation. Most of the time, they offer proof texts that talk about eternal torment or punishment that goes on forever, but when they are properly translated, these scriptures do not support the idea of eternal torment. People open their Bibles, read about the punishment that goes on forever, and think, “well that settles it,” and carry on about their business as if the proponents of eternal torment have made a case so obvious, that only a fool would reject what they say and what their translation of scripture says. I challenge readers to examine the scriptures and try to find solid proof to back this idea that death is the cut-off for salvation, excluding those verses which rely on the mistranslated Greek word, aion (age). I also invite comment, if a reader believes he or she has found such an idea scripture. The truth is, there are only scriptures that indicate limited punishment or judgment.
So far, I have only addressed those texts which seem to support eternal torment. In my next blog, I would like to address just a few of very many scriptures which demonstrate that death is not the cut off for salvation, that there is, in fact, salvation after death.