@Harvey: I hope you’re right about a second chance to accept Christ after death, but I don’t see that anywhere in the Bible. Job is probably the closest analogy we have, but he wasn’t actually dead yet.
Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. (Matt. 10:15)
Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. (Rom. 2:14)
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (I Tim 2:4)
Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/slaughter-of-the-canaanites/
@Harvey: I hope you’re right about a second chance to accept Christ after death, but I don’t see that anywhere in the Bible.
Perhaps the strongest evidence in the Bible of post-mortem repentance, and thus a second chance. occurs in Revelation, which emphasizes the immoral behavior of the kings of the earth until the very last mention. (The term kings of the earth is an idiom and thus refers not just to any king mentioned in the Bible. In an idiom, all of the words of the idiom must be used to convey the special meaning of the idiom.) From these verses, one sees that the kings of the earth, who are immoral and unrepentant to their death and destruction, can still have their names added to the book of life and be saved. As such, these verses seem to support the idea of post-mortem repentance, thus a second chance, a central tenet of Universalism.No other interpretation seems likely, unless one assumes that the kings of the earth mentioned in Revelation 21:24 have absolutely no overlap with the kings of the earth mentioned earlier in Revelation, especially in Revelation 19:19-21. But that assumption seems unreasonable because the term kings of the earth is consistently cast in a negative light through the previous several mentions in Revelation, as exemplified above. To suddenly switch reference groups for the term would be inexplicable and confusing, unbecoming of a book like the Bible.
Evidence from the Bible indirectly supports the reality of post-mortem repentance, i.e., a second chance.Consider these three arguments.
Argument 1Premise 1: God desires all be saved. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)Premise 2: God accomplishes all He desires. (Isaiah 55:11)Conclusion: All will be saved.
Argument 2Premise 1: All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)Premise 2: All will call on the name of the Lord. (Philippians 2:10-11)Conclusion: All will be saved.
Argument 3Premise 1: If not all are saved, heaven would not be a place of eternal bliss.Premise 2: Heaven is a place of eternal bliss. (Revelation 21:4)Conclusion: All will be saved.
You mentioned at the end of your post the possibility that the kings of the earth in Revelation 21:24 are different from the kings who get slain and gorge by birds. I think they probably do refer to different individuals; here's why.Kings of the earth in Revelation is an idiom that that refers to the rulers of the world, probably political leaders who represent their nations as a whole. During the end times, the world is corrupt and under the influence of the beast, so the rulers of the world also side with the beast and fight with him against the faithful.Afterward, when the beast is thrown into the lake of fire and New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, the only people remaining in New Jerusalem are those who have been saved by faith in Christ. "Kings of the earth" still refers to the representatives of the nations, their rulers, but "new rulers" have been appointed after the old ones were killed at Armageddon.
The 1 Timothy passage is very intriguing, and might be enough on its own to make your case. I think the most we can say is that it invalidates the claim of some Calvinists that there are some people that God does not love / does not want to save, people who are inherently vessels of wrath. I don't think the verse shows that everyone will be saved, only that God desires everyone to be saved. This isn't a contradiction with Isaiah 55:11 because God's will has different levels.I think I first heard about the idea of "levels of wills" from C.S. Lewis, although I can't now find the original quote. Basically, God has multiple desires, and He gives some higher priority than others. For example, it is God's lower will that no person should kill another person, but it is God's higher will that humans should be free agents able to make real choices. If a human freely chooses to kill another human, God can permit that action in accordance with His higher will, even if it contradicts His lower will.According to 1 Timothy, God would love it (lower will) if everyone could share in salvation and the blessings of a relationship with Him, but He will not force anyone to love Him against His will; God's higher will is that love should be a choice.
I don't agree with Premise 1. Yes, it seems like it would be sad to arrive in heaven and discover that some of your loved ones "didn't make it," but there's nothing in the Bible to suggest that people will be eternally saddened by the ones they left behind; perhaps with our heavenly perspective, we understand that they made their own decision, accept it, and move on.
You've given me some stuff to think about. Thanks!