Q. I have a friend who believes those who have gone to hell can still be saved at the great white throne judgement. What is this? I’ve never heard that people could repent of sins on earth after they have died. Can you please give me some insight to this line of thought? Please provide Scripture to back it up or refute it.
A. This idea comes from the fact that hell is a temporary place, not the permanent destiny of unbelievers. Rev. 20:13 says Hades (hell) will give up its dead for the Great White Throne judgment at the end of the Millennium. The confusion stems from Rev. 20:15 which says anyone whose name is not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire ( the permanent destiny of unbelievers). Some read this verse as proof that it will be possible for a dead unbeliever to have his or her name written into the book of life after dying and avoid the lake of fire.
But according to Hebrews 9:27 “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” I read this to mean a person’s eternal destiny is fixed at the time of physical death. If so, then Rev. 20:15 has to refer to people who are still alive when the Great White Throne Judgment takes place. Only Millennial believers would meet this requirement.