The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Scriptural Support for Postmortem Salvation?

I posted this in the “Writing an Evangelical Universalist Chick Tract” thread at Writing an Evangelical Universalist “Chick Tract” but I think it would be fitting to re-post here:

Consider the “kings of the earth” in Revelation:


After I posted it james.goetz posted this:

It is a good article expressing similar ideas concerning the relationship of the “kings of the earth” and postmortem salvation.

What do you think of the above analyses?

Not the last time something in revelation will make you say…


In 21:8 you have the “vile, cowardly…etc” thrown into the LoF. Then they turn up in 22:14…outside the gates of the New Jerusalem!


I also like that the leaves on the tree are for the “healing of the nations”

So what I am gathering here is that belief in post-mortem salvation comes from Revelations 21 and 22. In Revelations 21, we see the establishment of Heaven on earth in the form of New Jerusalem. We see the kings of the earth paying homage to the Lord of lords in it, a group of people cast into the lake of fire the chapter before.

In chapter 22, we get more details about the city itself. In verse 15, just outside the gates we find those who had been cast into the lake of fire just a couple chapters before. We find the servants of God who have access to the tree of life (who’s leaves are for the healing of the nations) and the right to go through the gates (why would anyone leave the city unless they had a mission to do outside this city, like the healing of the nations?)

Does that just about sum it up?

This is exactly what I was looking for. I have always had a problem trying to reconcile the belief that people who never had a chance to respond to the Gospel in their life would just be “given up on.” Most Evangelicals have no problem with children or babies getting a “free pass” because of their “age of accountability” clause which I haven’t found strong biblical support for. This makes much more sense and changes the framework of justice to be restorative rather than retributive.

The overall picture of Revelation is one thing that seems to imply postmortem salvation, assuming that John’s Revelation was meant to be interpreted Futuristically, as opposed to Spiritually, Historically, or Preteristically. I think of Revelation like a movie that affirms that good ultimately wins, love wins over hate, the kingdom of God ultimately overcomes all the earth. Too me, getting hung up on interpreting all the figurative language often keeps people from seeing the message, not being able to see the forest for the trees.

However, Jonah’s repentance after drowning, being in torment, and crying out to God from Sheol (grave, realm of dead) seems much more solid support of postmortem salvation, along with Peter’s mention of Jesus decending into Hades to preach the gospel so that the most wicked generation of humanity (Noah’s) could be saved. And then Paul speaks of turning a brother over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit might be saved. He also mentions “baptism for the dead” in his affirmation of believing in our ressurection.

Postmortem salvation is certainly not a significant theme in scripture, but there are allusions to such. Also, as I’ve studied about judgment I’ve come to believe that judgment is terrible medicine, fearful and painful but exactly what we need. In judgment we face the fire of truth concerning ourselves, how we’ve lived, what we’ve done with what God gave us, how we treated others especially the less fortunate, how we’ve treated those whom we have authority over, etc. It is fire that burns up the worthless, the impure elements of our lives and purifies that which is worthy. It is painful, terrible, fearful, but delivers us from evil, restoring us to God and one another!

Scripture actually notes that judgment has begun with us, the church. God stepped into our lives revealing to us our need of Him and His love for us, both convicting and forgiving us of sin when we repent and have faith in Him. I’ve encountered judgment a few times in my life, the revelation of my wickedness, selfishness, pride, and self-righteousness. It was ugly, terrible, heart-breaking, but it also delivered me from those things and filled me with love for God because He forgave me those things. “Those who have been forgiven most, love the most.”

What a wonderful day when God brings reconciliation and healing to all, despots and victims restored, abuser and abused reconciled, all healed, peace triumphing over war, life over death, shalom over dis-ease! What a day! Judgment day - terrible/good medicine for the healing of our souls! God makes things right! Justice is met and mercy triumphs!

Last summer 2012 I spent a ridiculously long amount of time and effort working on a reply to my comrade and fellow apologist JP Holding’s two or three articles against Christian universalism and post-mortem salvation; which naturally involved a ton of discussion on various verses about post-mortem salvation (to which I could have added more verses but I was sticking to what was in his original articles).

The portion dealing with post-mortem salvation texts pro or con can be found here.

I was thinking today of the passage where Paul says that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. He says that even those “under the earth” would some day do so. “Under the earth” is a coloquialism referencing Hades, the abode of the dead. So if he’s to be taken literally and not just poetically or hyperbolically, he’s specifically saying that one day all the dead with bow in worship to God, kneel in revereance, and joyfully proclaim one’s alegiance to the Lord! Cool!

just wanted to say that I do not believe in this concept, although it is appealing to believe in a god that saves everyone after death. the problem I have with this comes from the fact that god is a god of justice and hates sin. if everyone gets a free pass, then I believe that is undermining god’s justice against sin and his grace to forgive those who believe in Jesus Christ. if everyone were to be saved, then Jesus’ work on the cross and god’s grace exemplified through this sacrifice is completely unnecessary.
As to the verse were it says that everyone will acknowledge that god is lord, I do believe this is true, but I do not think that this will be a saving ordinance. once we die, we will be judged and therefore go to heaven or hell. I think hell is total separation from god, but there will be a time where those in that place (whether a physical one or not, I don’t know) will have to face the fact that they did not accept god’s grace while on earth, and then will confess that god is lord, as the verse says. but, once again, I don’t think this is a saving ordinance, but rather justification.
someone also alluded the the verse in 1 Corinthians were Paul says that the man who was committing sexual immorality with his stepmother was sent to Satan, ultimately to save this man. that is not what the phrase means. it was referring to sending the sinner out of the church and into the world ruled by satan (that is the earthly world) as a means to teach the sinner a lesson. Paul was not saying that the man should be sent to hell to try to earn repentance.
Postmortem salvation disregards the entire gospel by affirming that Jesus’ death was unnecessary, and god’s grace and mercy are irrelevant.
just wanted to share my thoughts!

Sorry for the posting delay; the admins and mods who usually check new member posts out of the automod catcher haven’t been around much the past month (myself included).

Having gotten over a string of head colds and (almost) past a lot of ‘work’ work (but not a recently busted finger so I’m not typing much yet), I went to check the list today and found several new members whose posts hadn’t been manually pulled through the spamcatcher yet.

What is “justice”? This word does not refer to the practice of administering penalties for breaking the laws or rules.
The word means “fairness”. God is perfectly fair. He does not show partiality (Acts 10:34, Rom 2:11, Gal 2:6, Eph 6:9, Col 3:25). Neither does Jesus (Luke 20:21). Thus They are perfectly just.

If God intends to do whatever it takes to bring about repentance and submission in every individual, what is unjust about that? Man doesn’t think in terms of reformation; he thinks in terms of penalties and punishment, and calls it “justice”. (Please read my signature statement).

Where in the Bible do you read that death is the cut-off point and that any post-mortem repentance is useless?

God … is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1 Tim 4:10)

Why “especially of those who believe”, or have faith. Because those who submit NOW will not have to undergo the severe correction that others who die in rebellion will have to endure. But sooner or later every one will submit to the authority of King Jesus:

**Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9-11)

"Oh yes, " I heard someone say, “every knee will bow when someone hits them from behind with a 2 by 4!”

Yes, you could force a person physically to bow, but you could never force them to confess Jesus as their Lord. That must come from the heart. Yet the passage states that every tongue will so confess.

What do you think was the purpose of Jesus’ work on the cross? So that people could be forgiven and go to heaven? Not according to Paul and Peter and the writer to the Hebrews:

**I Peter 2:24 He himself endured our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Heb 9:26 …he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.**

God’s grace is much more than His “unmerited favour” so that He forgives people, lets them off the hook so that they can go to heaven whether they turn from their sin or not. God’s grace is that which enables us to shun evil and to work righteousness. Please consider what Paul said about the purpose of the grace of God:

For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and to live sensible, righteous, and devout lives in the present age, expecting the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; encourage and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. Titus 2:11-15

Ah yes . . . the 2 x 4 ministry. :unamused: I have conversed with some who might enjoy that a bit too much . . . .

God is not like that, nor would it bring Him glory. Like you, Paidion, I have heard people make that very statement you’ve quoted and it always makes me sick in my stomach.

There’s also an interesting piece from the Continuing Church of God entitled Universal Salvation? Bible Supports Apocatastasis at Apocatastasis by Dr. Bob Thiel at Dr. Bob Thiel. It outlines how they believe it will unfold scripturally.

I’m coming more and more to think of Justice as “making things right”, making things the way they should be. It includes restoration, rehabilitation, reconciliation, redemption, etc. If someone steals something from me, punishment of the person doesn’t make it right, repentance and recompence makes it right. If someone kills my loved one, torturing the killer forever or even just killing the killer doesn’t make it right; what makes it right is restoring my loved one to me and reconciling the killer to me through forgiveness and repentance. Evil is not overcome by more evil, but only by good. Darkness is not overcome by more darkness, but only by the light. Hate is not overcome by more hate, but only by love.

How can “God’s love endure forever” if God gives up on someone once they’ve physically died. If you’re a parent separated from your child, the only thing that makes that right is being restored in your relationship to your child; anything less is just wrong.

If Jesus died to save all, and Jesus’ death saves all, how can “Jesus’ death be unnecessary”. That’s just illogical. If a life-guard gives his life, dies, so that he can save all the people trapped in a capsized boat, how does him saving all the people in that boat mean his sacrifice was “unnecessary”? And if God, because of his grace and mercy, forgives all of all of our sins, how does this make his grace and mercy “irrelevant”.

And if Jesus does not save all, how is this “good news” to those who are lost? It’s not. The traditional “gospel” that some/most are certainly lost is not in any way “good news”. The Gospel can only truly be “Good News” if Jesus is truly “Savior of All” as scripture declares him to be. The birth of Jesus can only be heralded as “Joy to the World” if Jesus is truly the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the World. He is not the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of some, but the sins of the World! Joy to the World, the Lord has come, not just joy to some, but joy to all. If one person is lost then Jesus is not savior of all; he does not take away the sins of the world. If Jesus really came to reconcile all of creation, as scripture affirms, and Jesus does not “reconcile all of creation”, then Jesus fails!

I believe that Jesus truly is the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. He reconciles all of creation, everything in heaven and earth and under the earth. He is the Savior of All, as scripture affirms. Joy to the World!

The verse is even more inclusive: “Jesus taketh away the SIN (singular in Greek) of the workld.”

Look at:

Those Who Have Never Heard: A Survey of the Major Positions
Salvation for the Dead -Hades is not Hell- Biblical Second Chance Theology for Dead People in Hades
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the True Doctrine of Apocatastasis -
God will offer salvation to each and every person who has ever lived

Eastern Orthodox scholar & universalist David Bentley Hart posted:

“In the end, it is solely because he has been indoctrinated to believe that something like the later picture of hell is present in the New Testament; and so he sees that picture in the texts whether it is there or not. In fact, what the New Testament provides are a number of fragmentary images that can be taken in any number of ways, arranged according to our prejudices and expectations, and declared literal or metaphorical or hyperbolic as our desires dictate. Yes, Jesus speaks of a final judgment, and uses many metaphors to describe the unhappy lot of the condemned. Many of these are metaphors of annihilation, like the burning of chaff or brambles in ovens, or the final destruction of body and soul in the Valley of Hinnom. Others are metaphors of exclusion, like the sealed doors of wedding feasts. A few, a very few, are images of torture and torment, and yet these are also for the most part images of penalties that explicitly have only a limited term (Matthew 5:36; 18:34; Luke 12:47-48, 59). Nowhere is there any description of a kingdom of perpetual cruelty presided over by Satan, as though he were a kind of chthonian god. Thus, pace Wills, there is no need on my part to “oust” this traditional picture of hell from the New Testament. It simply is not there. By letting my Hades be Hades and my Gehenna be Gehenna, all I have done is report a distinction present in the text. And, in not presuming the mythopoeia of later Christian eschatology and cosmology, I have done nothing more than leave a mystery intact that many translations, through their excessive fastidiousness and uniformity of expression, have tended to conjure away. A translator who does that can no more be said to have “ousted” the conventional picture of hell from scripture than a workman who oils the hinges on an upstairs door, repairs the window casement around a loose sash, and cuts away the tree branches that scrape against the eaves can be said to have “exorcised” the ghost that the residents of the house had imagined was responsible for all the strange noises keeping them up at night. After all, all those Greek-speaking fathers of the early church who were universalist—Origen, Didymus the Blind, Gregory of Nyssa, and so on—were perfectly familiar with the texts of scripture, and none of them felt in the least discouraged by what they found there.”

“While we are on the topic, however, I might mention that, alongside various, often seemingly contradictory images of eschatological punishment, the New Testament also contains a large number of seemingly explicit statements of universal salvation, excluding no one (for instance, John 3:17; 12:32, 47; Romans 5:18-19; 11:32; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 19; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Timothy 2:3-6;4:10; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Colossians 1:19-20; 1 John 2:2 … to mention only some of the most striking). To me it is surpassingly strange that, down the centuries, most Christians have come to believe that the former class of claims—all of which are metaphorical, pictorial, vague, and elliptical in form—must be regarded as providing the “literal” content of the New Testament’s teaching, while the latter—which are invariably straightforward doctrinal statements—must be regarded as mere hyperbole. It is one of the great mysteries of Christian history (or perhaps of a certain kind of religious psychopathology).”

“But there are those who find this an intolerable state of affairs, sometimes because of an earnest if misguided devotion to what they believe Scripture or tradition demands, sometimes because the idea of the eternal torment of the derelict appeals to some unpleasantly obvious emotional pathologies on their parts.”

That is an excellent DBH posting, thanks.

1 Like

Why are we wanting bad folks to reel in the fire when we are also bad folks?

1 Like

That there’s a good question.