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Christians and Suicide

12/05/2014

Ask The Pastor

Pastor, If a Christian commits suicide, does he go to heaven?

After the suicide of a popular preacher and pastor in Co Armagh, quite a few years ago, the evangelical church was plunged into chaos. The opinion of evangelicals had often reflected that of Roman Catholicism, that a person who commits suicide can never be in heaven, for suicide is a sin, (“You shall not murder” Ex. 20:13).- a sin that can never be forgiven because it cannot be repented of. Suicides were sometimes denied Christian burial, or burial in ‘consecrated ground.’ So what becomes of a popular evangelical pastor who becomes so depressed that he ends his own life? Let’s make a few basic observations:

1. Christians get depressed, and yes, sometimes even commit suicide. When we come to Christ as a sinner, we are promised forgiveness and salvation and eternal life. We are NOT promised an easy life. In fact we may find that the Christian path, lived out in opposition to the prevailing culture, may be extremely stressful! It’s never easy to swim against the stream.

2. Christ died for ALL our sins. Christ died for every sin. He died for murderers, and adulterers, and fornicators, and liars and thieves and self-obsessed me-people, and greedy people and …. ME! All sins are covered by Christ’s atoning death. That includes suicide. Some will argue, but how can you repent of suicide? It is too late after you died. But then, what if you sin, and then have a sudden heart attack before you have a chance to say sorry? How do we know that we have truly repented of every sin? We don’t! As important as ongoing repentance is to the Christian, our eternal salvation is not dependant upon our repentance, or our decision, (repentance is one of the FRUITS of our regeneration) it depends upon CHRIST! His death on the Cross atones for all of our sins, and that event took place when ALL of our sins were in the future. It is fundamental belief that at the moment of our salvation God forgives every sin we have ever or will ever commit.

3. There is an unpardonable sin. But suicide is NOT it! Matthew 12:31 Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. The “unforgivable sin” is identified here as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Much debate has taken place about the meaning of this phrase; the most important point, however, is the rest of the verse, which reassures us that all other sins can be forgiven.

4. A Christian who has been regenerated can never be lost! Romans 8. If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . .  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.   It is quite certain from this passage and others, that once we are His, we cannot be taken away from him – by any sin – and that includes suicide.
We should have COMPASSION – not criticism. People commit suicide because they think they have lost hope. Our churches should be sensitive to the fact that the world is cruel, oppressive, sinful, lost, and full of HOPELESSNESS. We long to bring hope, and peace and comfort to those who are bereaved.

5. We should seek to DISCOURAGE suicide! Christians should never encourage others to commit sin so it is quite appropriate for Christian pastor to discourage suicidal acts by explaining they are a sin, one that is terribly wasteful. Suicide destroys not just one life, but the lives of those left behind also who may be consumed by a terrible grief, that has a particular edge to it when the person took their own life, and the questions that torture the deceased family; could I have prevented this, what if…?

DISCUSSION: How would you comfort someone whose son or daughter had committed suicide?

From → Ask the Pastor

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