We are each one saved, or damned, at death. At that time Jesus Christ reveals himself in all his glory and we each choose whether to spend eternity with him, or to reject his love forever.
You may well wonder why this matters. Two reasons for 2 categories of people.
(1) In the false teaching that Christians cannot lose their salvation there is a temptation to be slack in their spiritual life. Certainly many truly love the Lord and seek only to please him.
(2) But for those who have never accurately heard the gospel there are 2 serious real problems...
- There is no hope for them to become redeemed since they never accepted redemption through Jesus in faith.
- God is guilty of being unjust if he condemns someone to eternity in hell if they have never rejected the gospel nor God's offer of salvation.
There simply must be a moment in time when everyone encounters Christ as he truly is and hears the gospel.Life in this world does not, for many, provide adequate opportunity, after all, there are many screwy versions of the gospel being taught and many imperfect churches in which visitors are subjected to all kinds of indignities. And, no, God doesn't reveal his true moral law in the conscienceof every person; the conscience must be trained to be useful for this.
Jesus did this very kind of preaching to the dead before his resurrection in going into Abraham's bosom and preaching to the captives there.
At death or just after death, before we have died (even though body and soul have separated), Jesus appears to everyone. Three categories of people...
- Faithful Christians: They will willingly fall down before him and proclaim him as Lord and beg for forgiveness and mercy; they have trained themselves to do this over and over in their prayers and devotions to Jesus.
- The other redeemed: This is the first time hearing the true gospel and it resonates with their soul's desire to be holy and to live in a realm of beauty and divinity. They will gladly receive the message and will submit to Jesus.
- The unredeemed: It is impossible to understand why anyone would reject Jesus. I suppose if they spend their lives committing the most egregious of mortal sinsand gnashing their teeth in hatred of God...
After this, the souls of the redeemed spend time in purgatory,but that is another topic.