A commonly held belief is that people need to accept Jesus as Lord during their lifetime on Earth and failing to do so will result in the individual's damnation. Is there any support for this "last call" doctrine?

Since there is life after death, I have wondered if people will have an opportunity to make a decision for Jesus after their death. Is there any support for this "second chance" idea? I have tried to study it and have not able to find anything in the bible that would contradict this idea that we can still make a decision for Christ after this life.

  • I think I can answer your question from a Jehovah's Witness standpoint. Do you want a Jehovah's Witness answer?
    – Double U
    Jul 3 '13 at 4:03
  • Sure. All answers are welcome :)
    – Jeff
    Jul 3 '13 at 15:35
  • "Since there is life after death" -- citation needed Oct 4 '13 at 11:48
  • In the New Testament, there is John 3:16, John 11:25 and Romans 6:5 to name a few. If you prefer the Old Testament, there is Daniel 12:2.
    – Jeff
    Oct 4 '13 at 14:13
  • Like you, I've wondered if God will give folks a second chance after they die. Just because judgment comes AFTER death does not necessarily mean IMMEDIATELY after death. In fact, in the eschatology of many mainstream Protestant denominations, there is a "gap" of unknown duration between someone's death and their judgment (which is something reserved for the "last days"). That leaves open the possibility for repentance, or so it seems to me. We're talking a possible slippery slope, however, since more movement toward "second-chance" theology gets pretty close to universalism (the belief that Dec 26 '16 at 16:47

The mainstream Christian answer is that there is no chance for repentance after death. The Scripture used to support this is Hebrews 9:27 which says

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment

The protestant answer goes further saying this: (From http://www.gotquestions.org/second-chance-salvation.html)

While the idea of a second chance for salvation is appealing, the Bible is clear that death is the end of all chances. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that we die, and then face judgment. So, as long as a person is alive, he has a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. chance to accept Christ and be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31). Once a person dies, there are no more chances. The idea of purgatory, a place where people go after death to pay for their sins, has no biblical basis, but is rather a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church

Now in all fairness, the Cathollic Church doesn't teach that there is a chance for repentance after death. This is a misrepresentation.

From the Catholic Answers forum:

The teaching of the Church is very clear on this point: if we die in a State of Grace, we will attain salvation. Otherwise, we (probably) go to hell.

We are placed in a State of Grace through Christian Baptism. We remove ourselves through mortal sin. We are restored to a State of Grace by Sacramental Confession.

The Church recognizes the possibility that salvation might be attained by other means (which have not been revealed). Thus, we have hope for salvation for unbaptized infants (but nobody knows for sure what happens to them)

There's no telling what we can make of near-death experiences. If we accept them at face value, they could be interpreted as an experience of purgatory (not hell). Or they might represent some "other means" of salvation that has not been revealed to the Church.

LDS teaching is a bit more... Complex. Some LDS Scriptures seem to say Yes and some say no.

LDS Scripture teaching no repentance after death:

Mosiah 2:36-39

And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom's paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved—I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples. Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.

Alma 34:32-35

32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. 33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. 34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. 35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.

LDS teaching stating there can be repentance after death...

Doctrine and Covenants 128:5

5 You may think this order of things to be very particular; but let me tell you that it is only to answer the will of God, by conforming to the ordinance and preparation that the Lord ordained and prepared before the foundation of the world, for the salvation of the dead who should die without a knowledge of the gospel.

All that aside, getting back to a purely Biblical answer, we fall back to the standard Protestant "No. Once you die there is no further chance for repentance, according tothe teachings of Jesus". For this, we need look no further than Luke 16:19-31

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

This horrifying account tells of someone who has died in his sin, and has no way out. Verse 25 makes it pretty clear that there is no way across that chasm from Hell to Heaven after death.

  • 1
    Good answer. Thanks! Luke 16 does seem to be pretty conclusive. Maybe it is the years of boolean algebra and computer programming speaking, but I do not read Hebrews 9:27 speaking directly on the question. You die and after that you are judged. That doesn't necessarily preclude any intermediate steps in the process. "You die, haunt a house for a few weeks, then are judged" would still adhere to the original premise of judgement after death.
    – Jeff
    Jul 3 '13 at 15:47
  • Keeping that in mind, I don't think the author of the original protestant answer adequately addresses the question. S/He cites the biblical basis for salvation but then does not provide any support for the statement "Once a person dies, there are no more chances."
    – Jeff
    Jul 3 '13 at 15:53
  • 1
    Just letting everyone know that "The idea of purgatory, a place where people go after death to pay for their sins, has no biblical basis, but is rather a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church" is disinformation if an attempt to equate purgatory with a second chance at salvation, which it is not (purgatory applying only to the elect, the saved). May 30 '19 at 21:28
  • No contradiction in the LDS beliefs cited. One set of passages speaks of those who know the truth and turn from it. The other speaks of those who "die without a knowledge of the gospel". May 18 '21 at 16:46

Catholics don't believe in a second chance doctrine, as you phrased it.

But some do believe that Jesus can come to you at the very last second of your life. St. Faustina continually was visited by Jesus in dreams wherein she came to learn that God's greatest attribute it His Divine Mercy.

One thing alone is necessary: that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God's merciful grace, and then God will do the rest. But poor is the soul who has shut the door on God's mercy, even at the last hour.

St. Faustina's Diary 1507

Actually, Catholics don't believe in a first chance doctrine either. We leave nothing up to chance, you have the Life of Christ within you, and die, are judged and go to heaven. Or you go to hell or to purgatory.* If you make it to purgatory, you'll get to heaven eventually!

*Interesting synopsis of the Last Things by Bl. John Paul II


Generally, Bible literalists might believe in a second chance. It is just that none given the second chance will take it.

In Revelation 20 we are given a particular sequence of events after the glorious second coming of Christ. In the presence of everyone living, the dead in Christ are raised, then Christ returns in glorious fire. All the wicked perish in it. 1000 years later, all the wicked are resurrected too. However, it is a resurrection unto destruction; they are quickly destroyed again in the second death.

This is their second chance. They have witnessed the great power of God, however, refuse to worship His majesty. They are truly wicked in their hearts and perish a second time because of it. They were not raised in the first resurrection because they were wicked in their hearts; they would not have chosen Christ ever.

So as a matter of semantics, you may say there is this second chance, but for all practical purposes, because none given this 2nd chance will take it, there might as well not be one at all. Which leads to the purpose of the 2nd resurrection, but that would be another question, which has been asked from the traditional perspective.

This is a literalist interpretation of Revelation 20 which is mostly taken by the 7th Day Adventists and other Annihilationist groups.

  • I find it impossible to make sense of this answer. In the sequence of events that you describe I see no opportunity for the wicked to either repent or persist in sin, no actual 2nd chance: "All the wicked perish in it. 1000 years later, all the wicked are resurrected too. However, it is a resurrection unto destruction; they are quickly destroyed again in the second death." Plus, if the 2nd chance is known to be useless, why offer it? Jul 4 '13 at 6:27
  • 1
    @justbelieve Anytime you see the living God is an opportunity to worship Him; an opportunity to show that in your heart you love Him. Why is there a second resurrection? Idk. I know what Adventists think but I can't give you the Truth answer.
    – fгedsbend
    Jul 4 '13 at 8:32
  • 1
    Nevermind the Truth answer -- this community has long ago established that Christianity is about doctrine, not about actual truth. Your answer seems self-contradictory on the surface inasmuch as it states that there is a 2nd chance (an opportunity to repent, presumably), but presents a chronology that doesn't leave room for that 2nd chance. I'm sure that you had something logical in mind and that by rewriting the answer it will be easier to understand. Jul 4 '13 at 8:36

What is the Biblical basis for saying that we won't have a second chance to be saved after we die?

There is no explicit basis for this in the Bible. On the other hand, there is nothing in the Bible that implies that anyone would be given a second chance.

Everyone has one chance. If they then choose to reject God, to no longer listen to God's holy spirit, that is the unpardonable sin, and they will be condemned to destruction and permanent death.

But, the vast majority of people never had their first chance:

  • Jesus is the only name by which salvation is offered, and that wasn't available until 2,000 years ago.
  • Until recently, most people in the world lived in Asia, Africa, and the Americas and never had an opportunity to know anything about the God of the Bible.
  • Even recently, most people that have heard about Jesus and salvation actually heard about a false Jesus and a false gospel. (E.g. Jehovah's Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, and Roman Catholics each believe that while the other two groups may be sincere in their beliefs, they are sincerely wrong.)
  • God wants everyone to be saved.
  • Jesus predicted that his Church would be a small flock.

Does it really make sense that God would have created a hundred billion people, never have given them a chance at salvation, and then deliberately subject them to continuous torture and pain for all eternity? That is not the "God of love" described in my Bible; that's a sadistic psychopath.

That small flock, the "elect", will be resurrected at the beginning of the Millennium when Christ returns to Earth, and they will rule with him for a thousand years (the first general resurrection).

But (and here's the part that matches the question's "idea that we can still make a decision for Christ after this life"), at the end of the Millennium there will be a second general resurrection of everyone that never had their chance at salvation.

Mention of this concept typically results in people claiming it is about a second chance, but it isn't. It is their first chance.

For more specifics about these resurrections, see my answer to What is the Order of the Resurrection of the Dead?.

For an example of one (of many) denomination that teaches this doctrine, see: Bible Prophecy and You: The Second Resurrection: Humanity’s Opportunity for Salvation! | United Church of God

  • 1
    Had to laugh at the accepted answer first premise - "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment" - So God brings you back to life to kill you again? The confusion on this is astounding.
    – steveowen
    May 20 '21 at 8:56

Adding to David Stratton's very good answer, consider also that there is no instance recorded in the Scriptures of a person being saved after death. Ananias and Sapphira would be good candidates for this, if it were available, but we read of no such thing.

This leads to one of two conclusions: Either there simply will be no opportunity after death for salvation, or we are to not place our hopes in such.

This makes the hardest sense. Let us imagine for a moment that we were going to receive another chance after we have died. Would anybody repent prior to this time? I doubt even one in a million would; we would indulge our passions to whatever degree pleased us, allowing only the consequences in this life to rein in our impulses, and defer all thought of God, kidding ourselves with the notion that we can fix it all later.

The lure of this teaching is clear. Instead of having to make the choice between God and the world now—when we can see what we have to give up, but can only hope for what we are to gain—it tells us that the choice can be put off until a time when we can see what there is to be gained by choosing God, and what will be lost by choosing Him will already have been lost.

In short, we would live as if there were no God.

After a time we would become so corrupt that we would not want to make the choices required for salvation, and we would be lost, even with the judgment staring us in the face.


There is no Biblical basis for "no salvation after death" and "chance," whether first or second, is not involved at all. These are misconceptions. If I may elaborate since this seems to be an open question, I offer the following.

Hebrews 9:27 is the most common verse used to say there is no "second chance" after death: "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment."

But what is the purpose of God's judgment? Is it simply a verdict of condemnation with no chance of parole so to speak? And when will this judgment take place?

Christians have already been judged in Christ. They are glorified when Christ returns for the church and the judgment they face is not for salvation but for works done in the body, when rewards will be given out or withheld based on a person's works. At that judgment, all things between believers will be leveled, made right.

Israel is judged when Christ returns for them sometime following Christian's gathering together unto Christ "in the air." So all that is left to be judged are the unbelievers and wicked, which will be raised at the resurrection of the just to appear for judgment at the Great White Throne. We see there they are condemned to death and their dead bodies are thrown into the lake of fire. But is this their final disposition?

It cannot be, because I Corinthians 15:20-28 describe the order in which God will "make alive" all who are dying (mortals) in Adam. He specifies three classes of people. Christ the firstfruits, those who are Christ's at his coming (in 2 parts, first the church and secondly Israel) and "the rest" at the Consummation (Greek "telos") when death is finally destroyed. To destroy "life" all the living would have to die -- no life could remain. Likewise, to destroy death (not "dying"), all those dead have to be made alive (otherwise death would still exist).

God's judgment is not to permanently to condemn -- but to condemn with a view toward reconciliation. God and Christ are the saviors of "the world" not just a few out of the world. God uses chastisement -- punishment with a view toward correction -- to bring a person to the heartfelt realization of their unrighteousness in comparison with His righteousness. All God does succeeds, so the chastisement will produce the fruit of righteousness. When the person reaches that point of realization, it is at that point that the blood of Christ's cross takes effect and saves the person. So a transformation will indeed happen at the Great White Throne for "all in heaven and on earth and under the earth" will confess Jesus is Lord to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:10,11) -- and a forced submission would not glorify God in the least. A 500 pound gorilla stomping on an ant doesn't glorify the gorilla at all.

But these are cast into the lake of fire. This is the final purging. They will be dead during the entire time of the New Heaven and New Earth (the final eon, hence "eonian death" not "eternal death") and will be made alive through God's grace at the end of that final eon, at "the Consummation" spoken of in I Corinthians 15:20-28.

I also said there is no "chance," first or second, involved. Salvation is God's decree, not God's "offer." In Genesis 1, the Hebrew "creates" is in a present-future tense, not past tense. It is a process not a one-time act. This eschatological function of "now but not yet" applies here. Mankind is being made into God's image and that process will only culminate with the return of Christ and our being "changed." Man did not have a choice in this, God simply decided to do it. It's the same with salvation. It's an announcement, a command, not an invitation. All will be saved and "made alive in their own order."

God will reconcile all in heaven and earth to Himself, for God wills all to be saved and to come unto a knowledge of the truth, for Jesus' sacrifice paid for the sins of the whole world (not just for those who believe by faith in this lifetime). Those who believe by faith now only do so because God chose them from before the foundation of the earth. The rest are not chosen but will come in later in God's salvation sequence.

Hope this helps.

  • perhaps you meant with "but to condemn with a view toward" rather, but to judge with a view toward
    – steveowen
    May 20 '21 at 8:57
  • @Christian "... to destroy death (not "dying"), all those dead have to be made alive (otherwise death would still exist)". This is pure sophistry. It is quite clear that "Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:14) is a figurative way of saying that the very process of dying will be abolished, in new creation. May 20 '21 at 15:51
  • @MigueldeServet But death still exists after the Great White Throne Judgment all the way through the New Heaven and Earth. Death is "the cessation of life resulting in the absence of life" -- those tossed into the Lake of Fire suffer "the second death" (not life in torture). They will be "made alive" at the conclusion the New Heaven and Earth when (the second) death is destroyed. Their sins were dealt with on the cross and through chastisement at the Great White Throne they will confess Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 1:19,20). A forced confession doesn't glorify God May 21 '21 at 15:37
  • @Christian In Revelation we read, "Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:14), with the unmistakable clarification, "This is the second death – the lake of fire", In the immediately following verse we read, "If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire." (Rev 20:15). The image "the lake that burns with fire and sulfur" is repeated at Rev 21:8. I find no hint (and certainly no mention) that those who were "thrown into the lake of fire" will be "'made alive' at the conclusion the New Heaven and Earth". May 21 '21 at 16:00
  • It isn't in Revelation because that is written to Jews showing the fulfillment of God's promises to the fathers. It's in I Corinthians 15:20-28. Note there that being "made alive" is beyond the reach of death, not simple resurrection (as the ones Jesus performed during his earthly ministry). Pay attention to the terms in I Cor 15 that I referenced -- they show an "order" of 3 -- Christ the firstfruits (first "made alive" permanently after death), those that are his at his coming, then the "telos" (Consummation) when the second death is destroyed. The only ones left then are those from the GWT May 21 '21 at 16:04

Things become straightforward if we go back to the only biblically wholesome teaching about the afterlife, which is the general resurrection either to life everlasting, for all those whose name was "written in the book of life" or to be thrown in the "lake of fire" for all all those whose name "was not found written in the book of life" (Rev 20:11-14 NET).

When would things be written about us in the "book of life"? Well quite obviously ... during our life.

Not only "purgatory" but also "heaven" and "hell", as some sort of "places" to accomodate for the "immortal soul" after death, are mere priestly inventions, concessions to the superstitions of the populace and distortions of Biblical doctrine with the help of heathen philosophy.

The bottom line?

We won't have a second chance to be saved after we die!

We must put our lives in order while we are ... alive.

  • so what is the point of the second resurrection?
    – steveowen
    May 20 '21 at 8:53
  • I am not aware that anywhere in the Bible there is any mention of a "second chance". May 20 '21 at 11:22
  • no, agreed, but you have to determine what and if, a first chance is given. Are you suggesting all of humanity that never heard of Jesus are doomed to death? Or if already dead will stay dead forever?
    – steveowen
    May 20 '21 at 11:39
  • God is Just (Psalm 89:14) but He is also Merciful (Lam 3:22). I am sure He will apply a "handicap" for those who have never heard of the God of the Bible and/or have never had the opportunity of accepting Jesus as their Lord. May 20 '21 at 15:42
  • Yes, the bible is clear about this, you don’t seem to believe what is written though - and so we have a sec. res. We don’t need to make up new terms (handicap) to describe God’s plan.
    – steveowen
    May 20 '21 at 21:18

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