Second Chance in Eternity?
Jesus said we will either go to heaven or hell because of our choices in this life (Matthew 25:45-46). If we do not make heaven, will we get a second chance in eternity to obey God and avoid hell? There are those who believe this idea is taught in 1 Peter 3:19, which says Jesus (through the Spirit) "went and preached to the spirits in prison". The assumption is this preaching is done to convert those who are dead; nanely, those in torments in Hades (Luke 16:23). But the context of Peter's statement shows he was referring to the learning opportunities the dead received while in life and not what is done for them in eternity. The "spirits in prison" were those "who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah" (v20). These were the people of Noah's generation, whom God judged with the flood because "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). But it's not like they did not have any prior warning to repent because Noah preached to his generation (2 Peter 2:5), as he was "divinely warned" (Hebrews 11:7). Thus, when Noah rvealed what he received from the Spirit, it was Jesus' way of preaching to that generation, who were spirits in Hades by the time of Peter's writings. The implication is Jesus will eventually judge those He warns (John 12:48).
Those who are counting on a second chance after death to choose heaven are in for a sad awakening. The Bible give no assurance of such a hope. Instead, it teaches that "it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Not wanting anyone to perish, God is patiently giving men time NOW to repent (2 Peter 3:9). He wants Christians to continually preach and spread His word because He desires "all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). The time to respond to His gracious patience is NOW. After death, every person will give account for the "things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10). "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 COrinthians 6:2.
If you are not a Christian, God has patiently endured your sins that you might respond to His word upon learning the truth of the Gospel of Christ (John 8:31-32). That may very well be this moment, in this article and similar efforts. His message to you is that He loves you (Romans 5:8) and wants you to be saved from the spiritual, eternal consequences of violating His will. The only remedy for that is the blood of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:14). And the only way to contact the blood of salvation is through obeying the Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16-17). "Or do you no know that as many of us as were baptized nto Jesus Christ were baptizedinto His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4). Those who say we are saved apart from baptism are misleading people. True salavation occurs when we believe in Jesus as God's Son (John 8:24), repent of sin (Luke 13:5, confess Christ before men (Matthew 10:32-33), and are buried with Christ in baptism (John 3:5; Acts 2:38). It is only then that we are in Christ (Galatians 3:37) and prepared for eternity. Any other hope is empty, including the possibility of a second chance after death. Certainly, something to think long and hard about.