Q. Today my husband and I watched a television broadcast from a well known ministry. He was teaching about different kinds of hell and everyone who has already died, that was NOT saved will have a second chance to be saved at the White Throne Judgment, using Revelation 20 as scripture backing this up. What are your thoughts on this?
A. This “second chance” theology has stirred up quite a controversy. Some proponents try to make the claim that the phrase “if anyone’s name was not written in the book of life” from Rev. 20:14 means that there will be a second chance for the unbelieving dead to be saved, but I don’t buy it. Romans 1:18-20 tell us that man is without excuse where knowledge of the Creator is concerned. And in Hebrews 9:27 we read that it is given for man to live but once and after that to face judgment. To me that means everyone is accountable for learning about God during their lifetime.
Those who reject the pardon the Lord purchased with His life will face their judgment in Rev. 20:11-15. At that time all the dead from all ages will be brought back to life for their final disposition. If this was their second chance to be saved it would contradict Hebrews 9:27. That means either the writer of Hebrews or the pastor whose teaching you heard is mistaken.
Why then did John even mention the book of life? Old Testament believers will be resurrected at the 2nd Coming after the Great Tribulation (Daniel 12:1-2). Church Age believers will be resurrected at the time of the rapture (1 Thes. 4:16-17) and tribulation believers will be resurrected at the second coming (Rev. 20:4).
But the Bible never explains the disposition of millennial believers, even though there will obviously be a great many of them. Some will have survived the Great Tribulation and gone directly into the Millennium in their natural bodies (Matt. 25:34) while others will be born during the 1,000 years between the 2nd Coming and eternity and will become believers during their lifetimes. What happens to them?
I think John’s mention of the book of life is a hint that millennial believers will be judged along with unbelievers of all ages at the Great White throne, because this will be the final judgment of mankind before eternity, after which the destiny of every human ever conceived will have been settled once and for all (1 Cor. 15:24-28).