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Making Abundant Riches Known In the Name of Christ
Ask Dr. Betters

Suicide victims will still go to Heaven

Dr. Chuck Betters

If a person has given their life to Christ, however, they take their own life will they still go to heaven?

ds

  

Dr.Betters' Response: 

Dear DS, 

Suicide is at once both an act of desperation and extreme selfishness. Some denominations consider suicide unforgiveable since, they reason, a true believer would not murder (himself). But there are great mysteries that make up the human mind and so much about depression is unknown. For example, we know that some forms of depression are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Specifically, a faulty connection involving neurotransmitters and brain synapse can result in depression. Thus, there are in some cases a real relationship between depression and a chemical imbalance in the body. The sufferer simply cannot help it. It would be hard to conclude that a true believer could never have such an imbalance. Many do suffer from severe depression and psychotic disorders due to no fault of their own. Granted these are rare.

For the most part depression is the direct result of disobedience. But one cannot conclusively say that all mentally incapacitated persons are always acting sinfully. Ultimately, we entrust the suicide victim into the hands of a merciful and loving God who does all things well. But it would be wrong to say that all suicide victims are lost eternally. When we come to faith in Christ all of our sins (past, present, and future) are forgiven. There is no sin that remains un-forgiven once we are saved. But I would truly question the salvation of someone who claims to know Christ, has no chemical imbalance, and falls into a depression motivated by sinful disobedience.  If such a person were to commit suicide I doubt they would be saved. Please note the above caveat - There is a vast difference between spiritual depression and/or oppression and a depression caused by bad choices and sinful life patterns.

With that said, I don’t want to assume that you are not asking this question for yourself.  If you are the one who is struggling with taking your own life, please be encouraged that God loves you.  He loves you so much that he sent his only Son to die for you.  And there are others in this life that care for you too, even if you don’t quite see it right now.  But the most important thing to understand is that God’s will for your life is a good one.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Terrible things may take place around us, or even to us… but that is because we live in a sinful world.  The good news is that God is redeeming it in his infinite plan.  That plan includes you, whether he uses someone to support you, or uses you to support someone else who is struggling with similar circumstances.  Put your trust in Jesus Christ, and open your heart to him.  Allow yourself to experience God’s love!  The next step is to tell someone you trust immediately about your feelings, so they can be “God’s hands” in helping you.

If you are writing in reference to someone else, then you can also be encouraged by the fact that if someone has truly given their life to Christ, then taking their own life will never exclude them from heaven.  There are two scriptural reasons for this:  eternal security, and correct understanding of the “unforgiveable sin” in Matthew 12:31 (and paralleled in Luke 12:10).


Matthew 12:31 says, "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

 It has been argued that this verse refers to suicide.  It is further supported by Roman Catholic teaching which came from Thomas Aquinas.  He believed confession of sin was a requirement for forgiveness of sins prior to death, thus someone taking their own life died with unconfessed and unrepentant sin.  However, this view does not stand up biblical scrutiny.  When examined in context, Matthew and Luke both refer to a rejection of Jesus Christ and his work as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  Read the passage from Matthew 12:22-37 for the entire story and you will see what I mean.  Luke 12:9 is even clearer: “But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.”  Suicide is not a rejection of Jesus Christ, or calling the good work of the Holy Spirit evil.  It is simply succumbing to sorrow or solitude in our mind that overwhelms us in a moment of weakness. 

Eternal Security is the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.”  Obviously, we don’t know a person’s heart like God does.  We can only see the outward evidences of faith.  But the Bible is clear that if someone truly gives their heart to Christ, trusting in him for eternal life, then that person is guaranteed to be with him in glory.  There are several passages which support this:

John 5:24

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

John 10:27 -29  

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand."

1 John 5:11-13

"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."
                   

When you add to these the understanding that salvation is by grace a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) and established by the eternal and unbreakable love of God (Romans 8:37-39), we see that our salvation has nothing to do with us, other than our surrender to it!  We may fail, but God never does.  And the bible says that he is both the author and finisher of our faith (Phil 1:5-7).  Further, if our salvation depended on the things that I do, or do not do, then what need would have of Christ’s death on the cross?  That atoning death forgave all our sins; past, present and future.  And his resurrection guarantees that death has been defeated.  Romans 6 says that just as we died to sin through his death on the cross, we will also live with him through his resurrection! 

So be encouraged that your loved one, co-worker, friend, or whomever your email is referring to might have succumbed to a moment of mental or emotional weakness, but that spiritually they have been, and always be, in God’s grip of grace and love if they truly knew Christ.  No one and nothing, not even that moment of “failure,” is able to take them out of God’s hands.  I pray this gives you peace.  

In His Grip,

Dr. Chuck Betters

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