The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Evidence of Post-Mortem Repentance/Salvation

Here is a review of Erasing Hell by Francis Chan that I posted on Amazon. The last 2/3 of it deals with Post-Mortem Repentance/Salvation, and cites many of the verses that Sherman lists above. My inclusion of the Forgivable Sins was inspired to a passing reference that Thomas Talbott made in his book (in the autobiographical section). I hope this is helpful.


It must have taken incredible courage, fortitude and pain for Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle to defend a Christian doctrine so unpopular that even they can’t stand or fathom it. Authors of Hell books have sometimes, understandably, suffered breakdowns, and in all sincerity my prayers are with them.

Their motives seem noble (they want to save people from experiencing the unimaginable), and their gracious tone in addressing their theological opponents is exemplary.

Chan and Sprinkle do a good job in showing that Hell (by which they mean the post-Second Coming Lake of Fire) is real, and is worth avoiding at all costs. However, they state that there’s at least a remote possibility that Hell doesn’t last forever, and that the fire, worms, and darkness probably aren’t literal, and there are probably degrees of punishment in Hell. This should bring at least a little comfort (and truth) to many readers.

But I believe they, and traditional Christianity, are mistaken about Hell probably lasting forever, and about Christ ultimately failing to “save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

I only have room to discuss one specific disagreement, and that will be whether the possibility of post-mortem salvation (aka “second chances”) has biblical support. Page 35 states: “There is no single passage in the Bible that describes, hints at, hopes for, or suggests that someone who dies without following Jesus in this life will have an opportunity to do so after death.”

I believe these scriptures say otherwise …

SODOM RESTORED (!) – “I will restore the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and of Samaria and her daughters, and your fortunes along with them … And your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will return to what they were before; and you and your daughters will return to what you were before” (Ezek. 16:53,55). In verses 47-55, the pronouns “their” and “they” identify the restored individuals as being those who were destroyed in Gen. 19 because of their detestable deeds. They will first need to be punished and purified in God’s refining Lake of Fire, but this will be “more tolerable” for them than for some others (Matt. 11:24).

DRY BONES LIVE – “Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the WHOLE HOUSE of Israel. Behold they say, "Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off."' Therefore prophesy, and say to them,Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graveS, O my people… And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, O my people. And I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live… Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken and I will do it, declares the Lord’” (Ezek. 37:11-14).

UNTIL – “I tell you the truth, you will not get out UNTIL you have paid the last penny.” (Matt. 5:26).

THE FORGIVABLE SINS – “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not … either in this age or in the age to come” (Matt. 12:31-32). These verses strongly suggest that all sins except one, including blasphemies against Christ, will be forgiven in the NEXT age if they’re not forgiven in this age.

LIMITED BLOWS – “That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with MANY blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with FEW blows” (Luke 12:47-48a).

SAVED THROUGH FIRE – “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be SAVED, but only as one escaping through the flames” (I Cor. 3:12-15).

BAPTISMS FOR THE DEAD – In I Cor. 15:29, Paul addresses – and does not condemn – the Corinthians’ practice of being baptized for the dead.
But this practice would have been absurd if, as the authors contend, one’s fate is sealed at death. Also, prayers for the dead were almost universal in the early church.

THE DEAD HEAR THE GOSPEL AND LIVE – “For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may LIVE IN THE SPIRIT according to the will of God” (I Peter 4:6). (Also see Psalm 68:18, Isa. 9:2b, Zech. 9:11-12, Matt. 12:29, Eph. 4:8-10.)

WHO IS THE BRIDE TALKING TO? – “The Spirit AND THE BRIDE say ‘Come!’” (Rev. 22:17a) – The bride is the church, and is in the New Jerusalem in Rev. 22. So who is the bride’s “Come!” appeal addressed to? The setting continues to be the Rev. 21-22 new heaven/new earth age, since verse 22:17c refers to the “water of life,” which was introduced in Rev. 22:1, and it’s the Rev. 21-22 bride who is speaking – not the “church” or the “lampstands.” The unavoidable conclusion, it seems to me, is that by process of elimination, it must be addressed to those in the Lake of Fire, located outside the city gates (Rev. 22:15), which never close (Rev. 21:25).

DEAFENING SILENCE – The first 2/3 of the Bible is completely silent about Hell, and the last 1/3 uses the ambiguous-at-best word “aion” and its derivatives to describe Hell’s duration. This makes no sense if (a) God is love and (b) eternal torment is true. There would have been clear and dire warnings on almost every page. For instance, why did Noah infinitely understate the penalty when he warned his neighbors only of a worldwide flood and not of ET?

EVENTUAL UNIVERSAL SALVATION EXPLICITLY TAUGHT – Finally, I Cor. 15:22,28, Rom. 5:18-20, Rom. 11:32,36a, Col. 1:19-20, John 12:32, Isa. 45:23, 57:16, Lam. 3:22,31, Rev. 5:13, and Psalm 145:10a and many dozens of other verses look very much like they teach eventual universal salvation, and thus imply second chances.

One day God will wipe away every tear (Isa. 25:8, Rev. 21:4). If only Francis Chan had realized what this implies; namely, eventual universal salvation.

Very good Quest, I’m going to keep that for my personal file, as an intro to UR.

Excellent post, Quest! It doesn’t need to be a review – it stands alone on its own merits. Thanks for writing and sharing it!

Good stuff Quest! Thanks for sharing. Post-mortem repentance/salvation is clearly not a primary theme of scripture, but as noted there is evidence of such. The primary focus of scripture is “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand (within reach)!” It’s sad that infernalism changes the message to “Repent so that some day you can go to Heaven and not go to Hell.”

Thank you all for your encouraging feedback.

I can’t resist adding a quote from my favorite EU author, Thomas Allin …

"Therefore, let me ask, on what authority is the common doctrine taught, unknown to antiquity, unknown to Scripture? Who commissioned any to teach, that to die is to pass into a state beyond the reach of Christ’s grace? If so, why are we told, so significantly, the story of Christ’s evangelizing the spirits in prison? Why are those especially selected for evangelisation who had been in life disobedient, and had so died? Why does the Apostle tell us that the Gospel was preached even to the dead ? - 1 Pet. iv. 6, a fact obscured in the authorized version. Why these repeated and exultant questions, ‘O grave where is your victory?’ ‘O death where is your sting?’

Why has the New Testament, with such varied illustrations, pressed on us this fact (as of special moment) that Christ has destroyed death, if death is ever to put a stop to His power to save? How could Christ be the Conqueror of death, if death can in any case reduce Him to impotence? Can death disarm its victor?"

–Christ Triumphant (1890) :smiley: :smiley:

Love it, Q! My sentiments precisely. :slight_smile:

Hey Sherman and everybody,

One of my favorites is Revelation 21:24 showing the kings of the earth entering the New Jerusalem after dying in opposition to the Lord in the Battle of Armageddon.

Yes, that’s awesome James.

I still think the following verse is the best scriptural evidence for post-mortem salvation:

*The Lord knows to rescue the devout out of trials, and to keep the unrighteous for a day of judgment, to be corrected.(2 Peter 2:9) *

Now I know that most translators render the present passive participle of the verb “κολαζω”, in this verse, as “to be punished” or “under punishment”, and that is okay as long as it is understood to be corrective punishment or remedial punishment rather than retributive punishment or deserved punishment. The word was originally used for “pruning” as in pruning plants to correct their growth. Then it began to be used for correcting behaviour in people. However, one can find some Greek writings in which it was used penally as well.

Notwithstanding, the usual verb that was used for retributive punishment or deserved punishment is “τιμωρεω.” This verb is used in Acts 22:5 and 26:11.

The noun form of “κολαζω” is used in Matthew 25:46 concerning the “goats” and the “sheep”:

…and these will go away into lasting correction, but the righteous into lasting life.

Paidion, Excellent, thanks. I had not noted that verse before.

Is it possible that 1 Peter 4:6 could be evidence? I was reading through 1 Peter 4 and that verse seemed to speak to a potential of post-mortem repentance/salvation.

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (1 Peter 4:6, NIV).

Also, might this be linked to the earlier passage in chapter 3:19?

Agreed. Phil 2 says that every knee should bow and every tounge should confess. Paul seems to go out of his way to make it clear that no one is excluded. (of course, one could raise an issue with the fact that Paul said “should” and not “will”.

What happens when a person confesses?

Romans 10 (CLNT)
8 But what is it saying? Near you is the declaration, in your mouth and in your heart – that is, the declaration of faith which we are heralding
9 that, if ever you should be avowing with your mouth the declaration that Jesus is Lord, and should be believing in your heart that God rouses Him from among the dead, you shall be saved.
10 For with the heart it is believed for righteousness, yet with the mouth it is avowed for salvation.

13 For everyone, whoever should be invoking the name of the Lord, shall be saved.

Me too… :confused:

Hey everyone,
First off, I’m a universalist therefore I believe all those who have not repented in this life will repent in the next. However, I don’t believe people go to Heaven or Hell after they die. They go to the grave and wait for their particular resurrection. This means there is no repentance for the dead while they’re dead or any kind of purgatory.

  1. I’m pretty sure dead men tell no tales. Comments on the Jonah thing: If Jonah was dead and then later wrote about his experience in the whale, why didn’t he mention he was dead? Wouldn’t that have been a convenient thing for the reader to know? My basic assumption would be Jonah’s alive until proven dead exegetically (kind of like innocent until proven guilty :wink: ). Also, Jonah doesn’t literally need to die for him to be a type of Jesus death in the grave. His ‘whale of a tale’ grief that he retells in the second chapter depicts his horrific physical conditions but also mirrors the depth of his own pride and prejudices against the Ninevites. Later, Jonah’s anger about Ninevite repentance even when they didn’t deserve it mirrors how many religious Christians will feel about everyone being saved by Jesus.
  2. The baptism for the dead is the very thing Paul is saying is a joke. Here is that verse in Complete Jewish version “Were it otherwise, what would the people accomplish who are immersed on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not actually raised, why are people immersed for them?” I don’t see how that relates to post-mortem salvation. Paul is gently mocking the Corinthians.
  3. “spirits in prison who in the past were disobedient” could be referring to demons like those who bred the Nephilim. They live in their special little hell “tartaroo” mentioned in 2 Pet 2:4. Spirits don’t die, but bodies do. Spirits don’t have bodies, therefore, as a whole, they stay alive in an invisible or separated realm that is locked away from humans.
  4. “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” is referred to in 5 parables and Matthew 8 and Luke 13 after being shut out of the kingdom of God. I submit to you that repentance comes but at a great cost to those who suffer in agony because of their pride. In Luke 13, it seems to refer to Jews confident in their selective salvation who will be not be admitted into the kingdom of Heaven according to Jesus. Salvation comes for all those have been judged and have been found wanting only after the final Jubilee or if they manage to fully repent before then.
      1. This corroborates the above. The “fires of hell” are the judgement of God that will cause all to repent before they are saved. Paul would certainly want for a fellow brother to receive salvation sooner rather than later.
  5. The pharisees believed similarly to Catholics today then.
    That was some good studyin’. Thanks for the questions, Sherman.

Nick, welcome to the forum (it would be great if you’d like to post an intro).

I’m going to tag [tag]Sherman[/tag] to make sure he sees your question.

Hey Cindy,
My intro is here: Hey Everyone

Oh, Okay – I remember you. Only I guess I was confused because all I had seen was “Gene.” Sorry 'bout that!

I see all these as evidence for purgatory. In the Bible such cleansing and repentance is always in reference to those who are of the household of faith. Not to everybody.

Sherman this was a great thread, thanks

To me the definitions of the greek words for judgment suggest postmortem salvation. The three greek words i know of are krisis,krino and krima. They all seem to mean the same thing which is “judgment.”

From the NAS New Testament greek lexicon the meaning of “krisis” are,

a separating
a trial or contest
opinion or decision
concerning of justice and injustice, right or wrong
sentence of condemnation,damnatory judgment, condemnation and punishment

The KJV chooses to translate krisis in John 5.29 as “damnation” the least likely definition, i guess to motivate folks to tow the line. :unamused:

Thanks Cindi for tagging me. I haven’t been online much lately and would have missed it. And thanks Nick for ressurecting this thread with good observations and questions.

In Jonah’s own retelling of the event he says, speaking of his prayer to God, "I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me (2:1 NLT). So Jonah did mention he was dead. People want to think he pulled a Pinnochio though. Concerning Jesus speaking of him being in the grave like Jonah was in the belly of the fish for 3 days, Jesus wasn’t talking about him dying to his selfish nature, but to physically dying.

Yes, he is showing the inconsistancy between their actions and what some were trying to persuade them, that there was no ressurection from the dead (which they could have understood as life after death). Paul is countering the belief that there is no ressurection from the dead (life after death?) and using the practice of baptism for the dead as evidence that there is ressurection from the dead (life after death).

The verse actually says: 3:19 So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.

Who does scripture recording being disobedient while Noah was building the ark? It was people who were disobedient and people who died. Were the Nephilim decendants of demons and angels, we don’t know. But we do know that all of humanity were disobedient and died, except Noah and his immediate family, 8 people.

Concerning 2 Peter 2:4, the angels that sinned being held in Tartarus (Hell) until judgment. Well, “IF” the demons that plague people today are the angels that sinned mentioned in 2:4, then their “Tartarus” is our “Present Evil Age” (Gal.1.4). I mean, think about it; people today are separated from God not knowing the love, joy, peace, and contentment of being in His presence. They/we are plagued by evil from within and without. Death surrounds us and effects all we do. Many are even tormented by evil spirits. And if the Nephilim were decendants of demons and humans, apparently some people can be so oppressed by evil as to effect them physically, giving them superhuman strength and endurance like the demonized man who was tormented by legions of demons.

We live in this “Present Evil Age” today, which is “Tartarus” for demons, “Hell on earth” for much of humanity!!!

I see judgment as being meant to bring about justice, to deliver us from evil, to make things/us right. We face the fire of truth and it burns the Hell out of us (literally). If there need be any repirations made, we make them or we recieve forgiveness from those we’ve wronged; either way, we’re humbled and reconciled. Will there be weeping and gnashing of teeth? For me? I’m fully convinced that there will be, BUCKETS of tears! I’ve experienced the judgment of God 3 times at least, and twice I cried for 2 weeks. I was so broken, crying so much, my family thought I had lost my mind. In judgment I saw how wicked I truly was, how prideful and self righteous, how lazy and selfish I was. These events broke my heart, broke my pride and self righteousness “some” and also filled me with the understanding that I am loved by God for who I am inspite of what I’ve done or become. “Jugment begins with the family of God.” We must embrace these truths in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. I’ve come to believe that judgment is meant to reconcile us to God, not to keep us separated from God.

So is there a “purgatory”? I don’t think so, if there was it would be named in scripture, I think. Rather, I think judgment burns the hell out of us. And I’m afraid I have a lot of crap to be burnt out of me! (no joke, I write this with tears in my eyes.) To me, judgment is part of salvation.