This past weekend Brittany Maynard, a young woman with a terminal illness, ended her life. Her story has caused quite a stir in Christian circles, and discussing life and death is a worthwhile conversation to have.
It’s easy to function in a black and white world. When our options are limited to black and white, right and wrong, the choosing process becomes simplified. It is when we add the many-varied shades and colors of reality that life gets exponentially more difficult. As children we are taught things in black and white because that’s the way a child’s brain operates. If I tried to teach my kids how to use discernment between varied shades I think their heads might explode – or mine would. They’re too young for that right now. We all teach our kids in black and white. Sadly, sometimes we forget to help them move beyond that into the world of grown-up discernment.
When I was a kid I remember learning the black and white of suicide. I was always told that it was one way – suicide is a sin (therefore wrong) and that those who commit suicide are eternally doomed to remain outside the presence of God. In fact, many parts of the worldwide Church still teach people that black and white truth. Too many of us in Christianity have not moved beyond into adult discernment.
As an Evangelical pastor, I believe that the Bible ought to be our primary guide for action, thought, and behavior. But too often we look to man-made traditions to shape our beliefs rather than what God has revealed through the Bible. So the really tricky question about suicide is: What does the Bible actually say about taking your own life?
I only say “surprisingly” because, as strongly as the church preaches against suicide, you would think that the Bible would say quite a bit. Nope. No “Thou shalt not’s” or “You’re gonna be soooorrrry!” about suicide. There are a few stories about suicide, but those stories simply relate the tale – there is no judgment, guilt, or moral derived against suicide.
Judas, the infamous (which, according to the Three Amigos, means MORE than famous) disciple of Jesus, was so filled with sorrow and regret for his behavior that he committed suicide. But one of my favorite stories in the New Testament is actually a suicide prevention story.
The Apostle Paul and his colleague Silas were imprisoned for sharing their beliefs about Jesus. Late at night there was a massive earthquake and the jail cells and prisoners’ chains broke free. The guard who had been sleeping (hey, it was late) woke up, saw the busted cells, and decided that the only way to regain any sense of honor for his family after the prisoners escaped on his watch was to kill himself. As he was about to plunge his sword into his body, Paul calls out, “Hey, don’t do it. We’re all still here!” Paul was able to share about Jesus with this jailer. Even still, there is not any condemnation of the guard’s intent. Just a story of how Paul introduced him to faith in Jesus.
So why do we tell people that those who commit suicide are Hell-bound for eternity? The human logic behind it is this: suicide is murder and, since that grievous sin is the last thing you do before eternity, there is no chance to confess and repent. Thus you are doomed to Hell.
I don’t buy it.
The Bible only says that there is one unforgivable sin: blasphemy against the Spirit of God.
That’s it. Everything else is forgivable. The only permanent, unforgivable sin is to credit God’s work to Satan, to accuse the spirit of God of evil. I don’t see that with suicide. Which means that even suicide is a forgivable sin.
But what about the lack of confession and repentance? It’s a common human misunderstanding of how grace and divine forgiveness works. It’s not a quid pro quo kind of deal. We don’t offer one confession for one act of forgiveness. Grace is freely given to us. When we become believers in Jesus and surrender to God then his grace covers us. We ought to be sorrowful for sin in our lives, but I do not think that individual acts of sin will prevent us from an eternity in his presence. Otherwise everyone who dies unexpectedly without confessing and repenting is gonna be spending a long, hot eternity away from God.
My theology says that God is bigger than that. My theology says that God’s grace covers us and that God understands that we are still broken people trying to do our best to live righteous lives in a broken world. But I don’t have to worry about dying without being able to confess and repent. His grace covers us.
Thus I believe an honest understanding of the Bible admits that people can have “committed” sins and still be covered by grace. I believe that a Christian who commits suicide will still spend eternity with God. Frankly, I believe a lot of people who are in heaven will surprise us (and a lot of people who DON’T make the list will also surprise us)!
But let’s look at the other side of the same coin:
Though suicide is not an unforgivable sin, I do not believe that Christians ought to commit suicide. Suicide tends to be about seeing no other alternative to terminating suffering in this life. Suicide is the human attempt to exercise ultimate sovereignty over life. This is the wrong attitude. God is sovereign, not us. We don’t know what tomorrow brings. Or next week. Or next year. There’s no way to know that your life situation will stay on the setting “SUCK” for your entire life. It could change at any moment.
Perhaps God is trying to use your misery and suffering to refine you – to help you become a better you. Perhaps he’s prepping you through your suffering to minister to and help others. Bottom line – don’t try to take control away from God. Let God be God, even through the junky times where we’d rather just give up.
If you’re reading this and you’ve ever thought, “It would just be easier if I weren’t even here” I’d like you to know that you’re not alone. Those kinds of thoughts are normal things for us to think when we’re suffering. Welcome to normalcy. But let God be God. The tougher the situation, the more we should lean on him and lean on a good, caring spiritual family.
If you’re reading this and you’ve had loved ones take their own lives – know that suicide is not a one-way ticket to Hell. God’s love and grace are bigger than you can imagine.
In the end I don’t know all of the specific reasons for suffering. Some of it is because stupid people do stupid things and those things have consequences. Sometimes suffering is redemptive and makes us better. Sometimes suffering is punitive and we pay the price for our own wrongdoings and behavior. Through it all let God be God. Trust him. Lean on him.
And, in the words of the illustrious Captain Jason Nesmith:
NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER SURRENDER!
** If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts there are some resources available. Check out Emerge and NSPL to start…Follow @chrislinzey
96 Replies to “Burn, Baby, Burn – Christianity and Suicide”
Several Godly people in the Bible got so discouraged they thought of committing suicide (Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah) but fortunately they learned to trust God through their deepest difficulties. I had a similar experience when I was younger and I’m so glad I didn’t give in to the urge to end it all. On the other hand Samson committed suicide and he is listed with the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11.
In the Christian classic “Steps to Christ” the author explains well how it isn’t the final act of life that we are judged on. “While the work of the Spirit is silent and imperceptible, its effects are manifest. If the heart has been renewed by the Spirit of God, the life will bear witness to the fact. While we cannot do anything to change our hearts or to bring ourselves into harmony with God; while we must not trust at all to ourselves or our good works, our lives will reveal whether the grace of God is dwelling within us. A change will be seen in the character, the habits, the pursuits. The contrast will be clear and decided between what they have been and what they are. The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.” Steps to Christ page 57.
It might be well to review what the Bible actually says about hell, also. Check it out at http://www.helltruth.com/.
First of all, I find this article in the utmost irony at it’s finest. I have lost loved ones to suicide and I do believe they could possibly be in heaven depending on the circumstances. I myself have been “suicidal” in the past and if not for my faith and a great fear of my Father in Heaven, I would have ended it. Depression is a sickness that’s creates an overwhelming sense of imbalance and self reasoning. By the point of suicidal tendencies, faith in nothing more than what you feel like you see is all that is left. This is detrimental to the human mind.
I agree the bible does not talk of suicide specifically. King Saul did not kill himself, a young amelikite boy did. Read 2 Samuel. Samson martyred himself in order to take out the Philistines. He was praying while he brought down the house. Judges 16. Blasphemy is what is argued. When one takes his or her own life, are they playing “God”? God will not put on us more than we can bare, but in whose opinion His or ours? We forget that we live on God’s clock, not our own.
However, as I understand it, we have until our last breath to make that prayer of faith. And I am not judging anyone who is on that path or already passed. That is and was between them and their relationship with a very big God. I pray that I get to see those who I have lost one day. And I pray if you are on that path you seek to have a stronger relationship with Father God or even begin one as the case maybe. Just know He knows every single person from the inside out and He wants that relationship as much or more than anyone can contemplate. Thank you. Blessings to you all.
I really enjoyed your article. I too was raised in the black and white world of suicide. Do it and you are hell bound. No questions asked. As I have aged I have come to the realization that God has not turned over judging people and their choices to me. And this is good, I am sure I would just mess it up. No one can know the state of mind a person is in at that moment and it is not our place to say how God will judge. I have a friend whose brother committed suicide. Her husband has taken from her any comfort or healing she might have from this event by his constant reminder that her brother will be in hell and she will never see him again. I am sharing this with her in the hope she will gain some measure of healing and peace. Thank you for the well written article
Thanks for sharing your own connection to the issue, and thanks for reading.
I tried to have this discussion after 9/11 with my pastor’s wife (who was my SS teacher). I was a senior in high school when this happened and had been taught, as many others, that suicide is the unforgivable sin. My question was, for those who jumped from the towers to escape the fire, would that be considered suicide? I realize I may be opening up a new discussion, which isn’t the point of this, but I have many times wondered, it is really suicide if you are only speeding up the process?
For those in the Towers, they chose to end their life by jumping instead of staying in the building and enduring a fiery, painful death. This could also be explained in the case of a terminal disease. At the end stages, the body simply cannot recover from the damage, so wouldn’t suicide just be speeding up a process that is already happening? Why does it matter if a person dies today or next month?
I watched my grandmother battle leukemia and was with her when it took her life. I still remember praying that God would take her quickly because of her suffering. So this article is enlightening in that it’s a different view on the topic. I enjoyed reading it.
I just want to thank you for writing this. My co-workers and I had a discussion this week about her story and HER CHOICE. I am sharing this and God bless.
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Thanks for reading! 🙂
I agree with this article, but dont agree with the title. I think thats where most of the negative comments are coming in. Alot of people see the “Burn baby Burn” and automatically get offended before even reading the article.
The title reflects the beliefs of many. It is the attitude I’m trying to combat in the article. It is an offensive position…
It is offensive and does reflect the beliefs of many. Burning in Hell isn’t something that should be taken lightly or jokingly. Its very serious.
I lost my brother two weeks ago to suicide. We had both been adopted and in and out of orphanages where he was physically and sexually abused. He confided in me alot that was going on in his life but he never wavered from his love of god. I was actually on the phone with him when he did it. I miss my brother terribly as we were all each other had coming up in life. The last words he spoke to me were that he loved me and that God was going to carry him home. He told me he didn’t belong here and that he was ready to go home. I believe in my heart he resides along Jesus because the God of my understanding is a loving and forgiving God and understood his years of suffering. I love and miss you Jimmy God rest your soul brother…Brian…
Brian, I am saddened to hear your story and about your loss. Thank you for being willing to share it. I will be praying for you and the family.
I happen agree with your understanding of the biblical issues raised here, Pastor Chris. God’s love and grace truly are amazing, covering a multitude of sins, weaknesses, and failures among his people. Even when we fail to repent, his love and grace persist. Otherwise, we’d all be in trouble. I have been a pastor for more than 37 years, and have spent a lot of time with people who were suicidal, a lot of people with physical or relational pain. Like you, I have never encouraged suicide. I help them work towards helpful solutions that are effective and Christ-honoring. Several people along the way have asked specifically whether they would go to hell if they killed themselves. I remember one woman who was a member of my church. In a counseling appointment, she mentioned that her health problems and physical pain were so great that she would have killed herself long ago had she not thought she’d end up in hell for all eternity if she did. When I told her that suicide would not cancel her salvation, she literally screamed, “You mean I could have done it and still gone to heaven!” Over the next few years I spent a lot of time with her and with her husband, discipling them, loving them, counseling them, guiding them in some pretty serious medical, relational, and spiritual decision-making. 25 years later, she never has kill herself, even though she came to agree with my view of salvation and suicide. I have never had someone follow through with a suicidal attempt after asking me what I thought and what the Bible says on that issue. Invariably, after raising the question, they are open to receiving love and guidance, and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Loving people, making time to be with them, praying with them, building them up in their faith, and being willing to be with them in their tough times — these are the things that make a difference in people’s lives. On another occasion I was conducting a suicide awareness and prevention seminar. Part of my message was the research indicating that the greatest prevention of suicide is a personal relationship with someone who cares. I mentioned that this relationship may be with another person or even with God himself. After the seminar, a police officer came up to me and asked if we could talk privately. We stepped outside, and as it began to rain he asked me to tell him more about a relationship with God. I led him to Christ out in the pouring rain.
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Thank you for sharing those great stories!
First off I’m a Christian. I see your a preacher so let me just say how dare you. Who are you to judge this woman. She had a terminal illness. How can you determine what she did was wrong. You leave the judgement to the good lord above. You should be ashamed for this article. You are no man of God if you are going to be judgmental of a person with a terminal illness. She chose to not suffer. She was going to be with God regardless. Just how dare you. I would never attend your church.
Um…have you even read the post? o.O
Ummmm….. I think you need to read the article. You automatically jumped to conclusion because the man said he was a preacher. He did the complete opposite of what you just JUDGE HIM FOR!
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Actually read the article before you comment!
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The missing link in Christianity is reincarnation. Many Christians would be surprised to know that it was a competing view that early Christian church councils went to great trouble to denounce and eradicate. This included omitting entire gospels that were in circulation that were too indicative of such an interpretation. In the process of trying to establish the interpretation held today in Christianity people were burned at the stake, murdered, excommunicated, tortured, and stigmatized. The spirit of Anti-Christ took over with the establishment of the Catholic Church just as Jesus warned would happen with many false prophets and deception. Many Christians argue that God would not allow his Word to be compromised, and yet God warned us, through Jesus that this very thing would happen. But, me personally, I hold the view that God’s Word is written in our hearts and in the creation so that all understand. Paul writing to the Romans (1:20) held the same view. It is not necessary to hold to scriptures as the be all and end all of God’s revelation. Nature alone tells us everything we need to know about God and our place in the cosmos.
But people would rather have someone spell it out in writing for them, even if there be many errors, so people hold to scriptures. The Protestant Reformation addressed many of the grievances, but still retained the underlying view of the Anti-Christ church, namely that God would lose any of God’s own. It is God’s will that all be saved and if God be the God that leaves the ninety-nine for just one, then I don’t buy it that even one person will be separated for eternity. We are all on a journey as prodigals, enticed by our desires into a long journey in the physical world until we recognize who we really are and return back to the father’s house once again. The lower vibrations of the physical world cause us to forget who we are just as we forget a dream upon waking with the change in brain wave frequencies. Reincarnation allows God to show mercy to the person who committed suicide by giving them another chance to try again, and yet retain justice by not allowing those wrongs, if such was the case in the suicide, to be overlooked. Eventually the person must pick up their cross and follow in the footsteps of the Christened one whether it be in this life or a future one. Jesus saves to the extent that his life showed us the way, that is why he is the way, but we must walk in the way. If we have not walked in the way in this life we do not know Jesus and will be cast back into the refining fires of the physical world where there is unfortunately gnashing of teeth and suffering.
Most people hate the idea of reincarnation because they hate this life,..and this is not altogether a bad thing. Jesus told us that to follow him we must hate all else even our own lives if we are to be his disciple. But it also means we must hate those things that keep us attached to the physical world and turn from them. Many people, including Christians, are looking for a quick fix so they don’t have to deal with their garbage. They don’t want to deal with or be further purified of their hate for one another or their unforgiveness. They imagine that when they get to heaven miraculously they will be transformed into a new creation, and that all negative thought patterns that they hold to or held to in this life will be miraculously taken away. It begs the question: if God could miraculously clean the slate and transform you, then why go through all the trouble here on earth? And does it not seem like a violation of free will for God to just transform us and not allow us to clean our own slate and become a new creation of our own accord? Instead, we have this grace that somehow changes everything for a Christian and takes away all their sin once they make it to heaven, but how? How are we changed if we did not change ourselves in this life? Because it is this change that ultimately makes heaven a heaven and not a hell.
When I came to the view that reincarnation had merit, I still hated it. The thought of coming back to earth and living through tribulations and challenges is not something I highly look forward to. But what are the alternatives? – that a few are saved while the rest suffer without end. This is no victory of the cross, it is a complete let down. I would be devastated if I brought ten children into this world and lost all but one of them. As a parent I would be heart broken and do everything to save them. I believe though that eventually every prodigal remembers, and God is waiting for that day of salvation with open arms whether it be in this life or those to come. I can not hope for anything else. This girl who committed suicide is still loved dearly by God, but she may have to face the same challenges she tried to escape in another life until she can say, “I have overcome.”
My friend, reincarnation is not a Christian concept. It is appointed to man to die once. While this world is not the end of existence spiritually, I’m gonna have to disagree about reincarnation.
Also it seems like you don’t believe in Hell. Check out the story of Lazarus and the rich man again. If there was reincarnation why was the rich man in Hell?
Good question. Actually, I do believe in hell, or perhaps different levels of hell and different levels of heaven. Paul mentioned a third heaven, implying levels of heaven. Perhaps the same applies to hell. That hell exists is not a problem for reincarnation to be true. There have been countless near death experiences where the person died and then they experienced judgment or a life review. Some even saw some people being punished much like Lazarus saw the rich man. But the experience or observation was by no means an eternal experience. Such accounts only verify that there is a hell or different kinds of punishments. Do they prove the person was punished without end? If I saw a prisoner in jail would I assume that they will spend eternity there or rather a prison sentence that fits the crime? One could argue that God punishes just for the sake of punishment but I tend to think any punishment is done with correction in mind. We reap what we sow for a reason.
That being said, we can agree there is a hell, the question is one of duration spent there. Now when I say duration I am not speaking of heaven or hell as having duration because they are eternal in nature, the same as happy and sad are eternal qualities. They just are, they have no beginning and end though we choose how long we want to identify with either happiness or sadness. So, I am speaking of the duration of time a person would stay in that eternal place. Another example is fire. I might describe fire as being an eternal thing in quality, even likening fire metaphorically to God (e.g., God is a consuming fire) but one can still distinguish that an eternal event is not occurring. For example, “I did not listen to my mother and was burnt by the stove, suffering from the pain of eternal fire.” Is it possible that the writers of scripture wrote in a similar manner that has led people to believe erroneously that souls will be tormented for eternity. In fact there are scriptural examples that this is so. Consider:
Mat 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
Mat 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Note that the fire brought down upon Sodom and Gomorrha while being described as ‘eternal fire’ clearly had a beginning and an end.
The issue is further confounded because the same word in the Greek for ages is also applied to eternal. In the Greek ‘aion’ means age, and ‘aionios’ the plural means ages. But it is also used for eternal. So when the bible was translated the confusion became apparent. Some translate ‘forever and ever’ while others translate ‘for ages and ages.’ Some even translated ‘the end of the age’ as ‘the end of the world’ which really scared a lot of people. The entire doctrine of punishment in hell for eternity literally rests on one word. And it got to a point where really one does not have the answers to this one word conundrum other than to look at the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law.
What is the spirit? That nothing is impossible for God – including saving all. That God leaves the ninety-nine for the one. That God runs to his prodigal son with open arms, that God loves his enemies and forgives them when they know not what they do. That the victory of the cross literally is a victory that saves all, even though only a few find it in any one life.
But if so few find it as scripture indicates, and Jesus even went to the trouble to speak in parables so the public wouldn’t understand -thus making it all the more likely that they wouldn’t be saved – how could God even will that all be saved? In my mind it only becomes possible when extended beyond one mere lifetime. That people suffer punishments in between or have a resting period in heaven is no different than us working five days a week and resting for the weekend in some vacation spot or home sweet home only to repeat it all over again with new week, another turn of the wheel.
Actually you are a bit off on your Greek. While “aion” can be interpreted as an age “aionios” is not. Strong and Thayers both say: h1. G166
# without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be
# without beginning
# without end, never to cease, everlasting
Part(s) of speech: Adjective
*Strong’s Definition*: From [[G165]]; _perpetual_ (also used of past time, or past and future as well): – eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).
Plus I believe you have an issue in that when you compare Scripture to Scripture, which is the only true way to interpret it, you show Matthew 18:8 which has the same word for everlasting as I showed above and it’s matching Scripture is Mark 9:43 which says: *[[Mar 9:43]] KJV* And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.
That last phrase “fire that shall never be quenched” is the Greek “asbestos” which the definition is:
# unquenched, unquenchable
## of eternal hell fire to punish the damned
Origin: from [[d 1]] (as a negative particle) and a derivative of [[d 4570]]
Part(s) of speech: Adjective
*Strong’s Definition*: From [[G1]] (as a negative particle) and a derivative of [[G4570]]; _not extinguished_, that is, (by implication) _perpetual:_ – not to be quenched, unquenchable.
This shows that the traditional view of just what Chris said, it is appointed unto man once to die. I’m sorry man but I don’t see any Biblical backing for reincarnation. But I do know that we have the chance, now, to be right with God.
“I do know that we have the chance, now, to be right with God.”
Well said. 🙂
It seems that Chris doesn’t like the points that I bring up as he has not accepted one of my comments when moderated and I can not respond to your previous post, except here, other than to like it there. So I will try to keep this as short as possible Grant Pace. You post a fine argument concerning the Greek, though many translators would disagree, such as the Young’s Literal Translation which translates many instances of aionios as ages. Consider for instance Titus 1:2 where we have instances of aionios translated both as eternal and ages.
Titus 1:2English Standard Version (ESV)
2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι ζωῆς αἰωνίου, ἣν ἐπηγγείλατο ὁ ἀψευδὴς θεὸς πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων,
you can see the plural forms of aion and yet why does it not read ‘promised before eternity”? Of course that makes no sense because there can be nothing before eternity, that implies a beginning.
We could argue words until we are blue in the face and look how wrong the Jews are thought to be concerning the coming of the Messiah as fulfilled in Christ. They had the scriptures. They had their scholars, and yet they have been considered wrong by everyone who calls him or herself Christian. The point is we can get so lost in words and scriptures that we stop using common sense. We get caught up in the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law which is fulfilled in one word, love. Love that leaves the ninety-nine for the one. Love that casts out all fear. Love that makes even the impossible possible. It is hard to align the God of mainstream Christianity with such lofty notions when He could easily change the rules so that everyone makes it or simply give more time. What is the rush anyways? I thought love was patient and kind? Clearly God tells us to be patient but can not be patient for us beyond a paltry little life lived on earth.
But, I truly agree with you that now is the chance to get right with God, because you will only ever have a moment of now to repent and turn the other way. If you wait for another life you are missing the point of this life. But at the end of the day go to sleep knowing that the image of God you have is one in which the majority of mankind (as opposed to the few who find the narrow path) will be lost to God forever and God is helpless to do anything about it. How sad and heartbreaking. Everything in my being cries out that this can not be so, that God must have thought out a better way to redeem even the hardest of sinners, even if it need transcend our notions of time and the limitations we place on God within such and such time frames.
Justin I do agree with you that we could argue Scripture all day and neither one of us coming away any different in our views. But I believe you are very mistaken in your view of who God is. He is a god of love but he is also a righteous judge, and a truly righteous judge will administer the law as set down. Specifically when you said God could just change the rules, that would make him unrighteous to not judge by the law. Especially since the Word says:
*[[Mal 3:6]] KJV* For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
God doesn’t change or bend the rules. It’s against his nature and would make Him a liar.
But I have to pose this to you, if God would save everyone then why does His Word say this:
*[[Rev 20:11-15]] KJV* %v 11% And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. %v 12% And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. %v 13% And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. %v 14% And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. %v 15% And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
There is no way to reconcile your view with the Word of God that I can see. I realize what I’m saying doesn’t sound very good to the ear, or eye as this is a comments section, but I do know that our ways are not his ways and that God is a righteous judge.
I think you mean well but your doctrine is going against the Word of God. I learned not too many years ago not to worry about doctrine and focus more on Jesus and the Word. When we do that doctrine takes care of itself. I hope you will truly take what I’ve written to heart and deeply look at it. I may not convince you of anything different but hopefully you will at least be more discerning of Scripture and really put your interpretation of it through the rigors. May God bless you.
Grant Pace, I am not hoping that God would change the rules to be unrighteous, but rather I am pointing out that God started everything and there is nothing other than God who says we have one life to find salvation as opposed to a multitude of chances. Opportunity to change in no way diminishes God’s justice, but rather upholds it in a sensible way. Those who do wrong may be punished with correction in view. Why else punish people? Or, God could just as easily annihilate the wicked so that they are no more and they get no reward, but they also are not tormented for the sake of torment. Of all the options at God’s disposal, why choose a punishment that is never ending?
It is true that God’s ways are not our ways. But what are our ways? You can look at scripture and you will find people expected Jesus to put the Romans under his feet and rule with power. Instead Jesus came in humility and self-sacrifice. And it is usually people who can not imagine loving their enemies or showing forgiveness or patience, and this is what Jesus said we should do. And sometimes even we might relish the idea (if we harbor a vengeful spirit) that someone who has hurt us will go to hell and suffer for eternity. I am sure we have heard the curses either in real life or movies (“Well, you can go to…”). These are our ways. I could be wrong about the image of God I have, but I hope that when it says God’s ways are not our ways that it is pointing rather to God’s compassion, kindness, and perfect justice that reconciles even the worst of sinners. It is far too easy to imprison the wicked and throw away the key, far more challenging for the wicked to become righteous. With people this may be impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27).
Lastly, I agree these things do require rigor and great introspection. Revelations is an interesting book when one considers how symbolic it is and probably misunderstood, even by me. I wonder how many can claim they understand the entirety of the book of Revelation, let alone how hell and death can be thrown into “the lake of fire.” I make no claim to knowing with certainty, but we can argue that fire throughout history has been associated with purification and cleansing and also the agents of brimstone and sulfur. It is also intriguing to study the characteristics of God as a consuming fire, perhaps we could even consider God a lake of fire. What if this verse is merely saying that God will consume all wickedness, and even death will be no more. Is it possible that the lake of fire is merely a refiner’s fire that subjects all things and persons to God since a time is foretold when God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:27-28) and there will be a restitution of all things (Acts 3:21)? Its hard to imagine God being all in all while a majority of God’s creation remains in eternal darkness and punishment.
May God Bless you too.
Just a simple observation I would like to submit and a question for so many that are quickly to judge to action of a young terminally ill woman. As a servant in the healthcare system, it has been my honor and privilege to be with countless terminally
dying people. The things I’ve witnessed have
caused me to question my own faith in God at
times but at other times I have seen faith thatis a palpable and humbling faith that is beautiful. But in the end, loud death rattles,
irratic breathing, loss of control over bowels
and bladder, inability to eat or drink for
weeks, wounds that appear throughout the
body and frequently pain that is never fully
relieved. The decision to avoid all of what i described was not likely made hastily and
from a selfish point of view. How many of the
commenters have actually been with loved
ones through this long and difficult dying
process? Please don’t condemn someone for
making difficult choices. Each of us fall short
of perfection every day but God’s Grace is sufficient for all of our short comings.
Well said. Thx for sharing.
“I’m not distracting from your question – I’m requesting additional info. Let me read up on the data you say the world knows about. Provide a link or something…” Pastor Chris
Your comment, again, does not provide for a Reply. Hence quoting your point here so the sequence isn’t lost.
I think I will cease asking you my question, since you continue to avoid attempting to answer it.
I gave you three names and locations of prisoners whose execution recently were unsuccessful (your term, since you take offence at “botched” which is the term the media tends to use) in recent months. Are you seriously saying that you were unaware of these three, and the history of unsuccessful executions in USA? I then provided you with the journal that looks at some of the history of unsuccessful executions in USA. http://bit.ly/1xeFWsS
My question was simply: how is euthanasia and assisted suicide assured to be successful (your term) in USA when you cannot assure that for your executions? How can you be sure that those euthanised and assisted to suicide do not suffer horrendously as some of those you execute do? And if you can be assured of that for euthanasia and assisted suicide, why is that method not used for your executions?
It’s a simple question. It’s your right, of course, not to answer it.
Since I am not a medical professional i can’t speak to the science of it. My point as a pastor is simply to say from a theological perspective that one is not condemned if one commits suicide.
Thanks, Pastor Chris. There has been quite a shift in NZ Anglicanism from that being beyond the pale to formal agreement of a prayer (the main way, as you probably know, that we define doctrine) that God receive the person who has committed suicide.
What that girl decided is between her and god. He is the one who decides in the end. Who are we to judge anyone when we do wrong everyday. I get the article but all the things I’ve seen with this girls picture make me sad. Her family is devistated I’m sure and people just need to stay out of it. Let them grieve in peace just like everyone else gets to.
Her family supported her decision, but I’m sure they are devistated by the loss. While they need peace, it is appropriate to talk about the issues the story raises…
Chris, you ask me “Can you provide a link to that study?” but there’s no “reply” button on your comment. I’m not really sure what value debating that study further has? My point is clear, surely: in a country which so regularly botches executions, with great suffering (maybe these are not reported in USA – you seemed unfamiliar with the number of them in the last few months?), how can you be assured that euthanasia will not be similarly botched. And if the latter can be assured, why is that procedure not used for the former there?! http://tinyurl.com/l8lbd6a
1. I asked for a link because i was merely curious.
2. The case in question was doctor assisted suicide, not euthanasia or execution, so it’s not 100% comparable.
3. Your language (regularly botches) is intentionally inflammatory. You’ve given no numbers as to how many executions go as planned. You’ve given no definition of what successful vs. botched looks like.
I am trying to work out, Chris, how you work out that I am “*intentionally* inflammatory”? The word “botched” is the word almost ubiquitously used for the cases in the last few months that I listed off at your request. It is not *my* language, it is the language used when your own discuss whether these executions are in breach of your constitution, for example.
These discussions see it as a breach of your Eighth Amendment.
You still have not even begun to answer my simple, genuine question – how is euthanasia carried out (or “doctor assisted suicide”) so that the person being euthanised is not inflicted with the horrendous suffering that we (at least beyond the USA; you denied that these cases were well-known) understand happens regularly in your executions? If you want to bring in the number of what you want to term “successful” executions, that may be of interest if you are suggesting that mostly euthanasia is “successful” and not resulting in horrendous suffering. If euthanasia (and/or “doctor assisted suicide”) is “successful” in a way that your executions are not – I would be genuinely interested why the approach used in the former is not used for the latter.
Can you please move beyond your efforts to distract from my question?
I’m not distracting from your question – I’m requesting additional info. Let me read up on the data you say the world knows about. Provide a link or something…
What church do you pastor?
You say this isnt to be controversial! but i think you like the fact that its controversial and to argue with fellow christians!! im just putting in my opinion and what i am reading! i am praying for you and the church you “pastor” dont be that controversial pastor.
There are many faithful Christians who agree with me. There is nothing in the Bible about self-harm. I don’t appreciate the quotation marks around pastor. Disagree, but don’t be rude.
Re: self-harm in the bible, the man possessed by Legion in Mark 5 cut himself with stones. Close enough.
The Bible does not comment on his cutting – it merely describes it. No judgment, no mention of all self-harm being demonic…. Don’t read into it things that aren’t there. 🙂
You might want to read 1st Samuel chapters 28-31 where king Saul committed suicide
The facts: He was possessed. He cut himself. He was freed from possession. He no longer cut himself. My opinion is nowhere in any of that. I’m not reading INTO anything. I’m just telling you what my bible says.
Why did you take the reply option away? That’s funny.
1. I didn’t take away the reply option – it might be one of the settings about multiple replies.
2. I didn’t say HIS cutting wasn’t demonic. I said the Bible doesn’t say ALL cutting is demonic. Don’t read specifics into things the Bible doesn’t get specific about.
My friend my beliefs are that you are wrong and honestly think that you know it but you will defend to the end. If you don’t know then feel for you. Westboro Baptist church believes they are right to but I believe in a God and ride with a group that think they are not. I have my options too. just saying..
I defend because I believe I’m right. The Bible never condemns suicide nor says anything about it causing a loss of salvation.
Hmm, let see, what would Jesus do in this situation. If the suicide pill is available in Jesus time and Jesus have the pill in His hand when He was captured, would He choose the suicide pill or go to the cross? Take the suicide pill and die painlessly or take the cross and die an excruciating death? And how about thousands of christian martyrs that died a horrific death long time ago? would they choose to take the suicide pill and die peacefully and painlessly instead of being eaten by lion or burn at the stake? So then every human being should have the suicide pill on their possession all the time so when there is a time when they have to choose between painless death and painful death, they can choose the painless death by taking the suicide pill.
You’re making up ridiculous hypothetical scenarios but seem not to have read the post in its entirety. o.O
I think, after reading the post in its entirety, that a goof point was never raised. As Christians, we conitunually submit to the will of God, not our own. Furthermore, I think that if God had willed her to die with (I keep seeing “dignity” attached to this decision) he would have sent a lightning bolt, not a disease. To clarify, I quoted “dignity” Because I see this only one way. You can’t be a hero and have courage, or dignity, by both fighting cancer to the bitter end AND by taking the easier way out. I have never seen courage in waving a white flag. I tend to align my thoughts with ‘WWJD’…… And given the pill or the cross, he would have chose the cross.
Technically Jesus and the other martyrs of Christianity both committed suicide and chose to do so in a torturous way. Christ and many other Christian martyrs could have escaped their fate and lived their lives in peace, but chose to do the things that got them killed. They also could have chosen to fall on a sword, hang themselves, or other quick ways, but did not and chose a more torturous suicide.
Serious question: Americans are world-famous in botching your executions – so how do you euthanise? & how can you be sure you get one right when you so regularly get the other so dreadfully wrong? Or when you euthanise do you end up with the same terrible events as when you execute? Blessings
I’m not sure “world-famous” for botched executions is accurate. How many executions are you talking about?
As for the particular method, I don’t think the family is saying. There is speculation that it was narcotics, but I’m not sure on that point.
What do you find inaccurate about world-famous for botched executions, Chris? The recent ones in the news have been Wood in Arizona, McGuire in Ohio, Lockett in Oklahoma – that’s just that three in the news in the last few months. A 2012 study published by the British Journal of American Legal Studies wrote about 270 botched USA executions.
Can you provide a link to that study?
WE ARE NOT OUR OWN.
I read a great writeup by John Piper and he brings up this great point. God owns us, only He has the authority to give and take away life. I’m going to copy and paste some of the good bits here:
The apostle Paul did not leave us without help on this question. Whose are we? To whom do we belong? Who owns our body? He answers: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
These words were spoken to guide us in relation to our sexuality. But the principle holds for death. The more serious the consequences in regard to body and soul, the more firmly the principle holds. And death brings the greatest consequences to soul and body. It is the moment that sets the final destiny of both (Luke 16:26; Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, the principle holds at death: We are not our own.
Our bodies — their life, their death — belong to Christ. He bought them. They are not ours to dispose of as we will. They are his. And they exist for his will, and his glory.
Paul speaks this way, not only about sexuality, but about death and dying.
None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:7–9)
All three points from 1 Corinthians 6 are here again, not in regard to sex, but explicitly in regard to death. Christ paid the price of his life to be the rightful Lord over the living and the dead. Therefore, we are not our own; we are the Lord’s. Therefore, we live and we die “to the Lord.” That is, life and death are not our private concern. They are not our choice. He bought us. He owns us. We live and we die to him — in reliance on him, in accordance with his will, for his glory.
Thus, “Thou shalt not murder,” is put on an entirely new footing. Not only do our lives belong to God by virtue of being created in his image, but now we are his — in life and death — by virtue of the purchase of Christ. We are doubly not our own. Our life and our death belong to God. He gives, and he takes. And he has put a double seal on that unique divine right: You are mine, by birth and by blood. You do not live, and you do not die, on your own terms.
Read the entire thing here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/we-are-not-our-own-on-god-brittany-maynard-and-physician-assisted-suicide
Nicely written, Chris. Several years ago on Easter Sunday, an elderly woman visited our church. After worship as people were leaving, I noticed she was hanging around so I went up to her and asked if I could help her. She said, “I need to know if my husband is in hell or heaven.” I replied, “Well, that depends on whether he had faith in Jesus Christ.” “Yes, he did,” she came back, “but he killed himself about a month ago because he had a terminal illness and was in unbearable pain.” I said to her, “The relevant piece is that he had faith in Christ. The Bible never says suicide sends someone to hell. In fact, no sin sends people to hell. Unbelief is why people may go to hell. So if he knew the Lord, we look to 1st John 2:1-2 for the assurance that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for all sin. Even the sin Christians do after being saved. So I am convinced your husband is in heaven.”
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Thanks for sharing. That’s a powerful story.
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King Saul committed suicide and he went to heaven you can read that in 1st Samuel he was saved, that’s one reason David couldn’t kill him he was appointed by God to be Israel 1st King
Reblogged this on The Musicologian and commented:
Great Biblical thoughts on a tough subject!
This is a nice article and I agree with it.. However, I take utter offense to the title that accompanies the photo. I hope you’d consider changing it. To put a picture of this beautiful woman next to “Burn, baby, Burn must be harrowing for any family or friend who sees it- not to mention it is the polar opposite of the article’s message. Most people won’t read the article, but will only see the title and photo on Facebook. It’s a terribly insensitive way to draw people to a sensitive, well-written piece.
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The title reflects the attitude of many Christians who are adamantly opposed to suicide. They would claim that Brittany is in hell. It’s THAT attitude that I want to combat.
I agree with the above writer. Your title is insensitive and grossly inappropriate. Your article is spot on. Change your title and don’t let your ego stop you.
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The insensitivity and inappropriateness is the point – many agree with the concept and THAT’S what I want to counter.
So……….there’s no room for the concept of irony? How disappointing.
Samson was a man who “Died with Dignity” and took his own life and God still rewarded him with a place in Hebrews 11 commending his Faith…
Good article. #ThanksChrisLinzey
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An excellent and relevant point. Thanks for bringing it up.
Good write up. I’m so sad for this women. I have felt from the beginning she has put God in a box, no hope for a miracle, no hope for much of anything except to NOT suffer. Our small group has talked a lot about the Christian life not being on of comfort. Breaks my heart. Truth is we live in a sick, painful, sinful world…all of us and we are all dying…some not as quickly or painfully as others and I BELIEVE none of us should have permission for an earlier exit than what our Father has chosen for each one of us!
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I agree. Still, choosing an early exist does not invalidate one’s salvation…
WE all have our opinions and mine is, you are wrong. Please don’t send people to hell by your thoughts.. Just saying
I’m guessing you haven’t even read.the post?
Read the post well
Then you’ll know that no one was condemned…
I applaud this comment!
I look at the commandment thou shall not kill!
what is suicide? Its still killing, and as a christian, i believe that Jesus is way much bigger then any circumstance that we face, even what the doctor say.
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Then Roman says: More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Peter states that God of Grace!!! (focus on God of Grace)
will, RESTORE; CONFIRM; STRENGTHEN; and ESTABLISH YOU!!
Hand ve you ever watched someone who has DIED of CANCER. The process is horrific. watched my best friend suffer. She was a wonderful Christian woman who kept her faith till the bitter end. She and her family and friends prayed constantly for her complete healing. It was faith shaking. But if she had chosen to end her life to end the suffering I would have supported her decision
Thank you. I am a born again Christian and I have struggled with this idea a lot lately. I was sexually abused as a child by a friend of my family, and mentally, emotionally and physically abused by my own family. I have lived all my life with depression and have held on to the idea of thinking of all my suffering -47 years of suffering- as a way of making me better for a purpose I do not know. But the fact is, I am alone, without love, family, sick (physically and mentally), recently lost my job and running out of saving to sustain me. How much and how long do I have to hold on to this constant suffering that has been my life? How much more does God need to put me though to teach me something? I feel I am at the end of my rope. This last year has been probably the worst of my life. I hope if I have to kill myself God will forgive me, I just don’t have the strength to fight more. I just cannot understand how He being the creator of the universe and almighty won’t help me. I ask for so little. Please pray for me. I really don’t want to do this, but I feel I am getting closer and closer to the edge. All I know is I won’t be homeless. I’ll better end my life before that.
I am saddened to hear your story. Of course i will be praying for you. I do believe that Jesus IS hope, no matter how great the difficulty. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul and his “thorn” – he repeatedly asked God to remove the suffering and God’s answer was, “My grace is suficient for you.” Paul said that in his weakness was when God’s strength was manifest. I pray that God’s grace will sustain you and that Jesus would be your source of hope regardless of your circumstances.
It hurts me so much to read this! The only person that causes us to want to check out of life early is Satan! I suffered with suicidal thoughts and depression for ages. I really urge You to contact Ellel Ministries! A worldwide christian healing and deliverance centre, many Christians just do not know how to pray into deep rooted issues in people’s lives, you may well be carrying a generational spirit of depression with strong legal rights to be there, do not suffer in silence. Jesus came that you may have LIFE! The last ENEMY is death. Therefore it is a satanic attack which fits in with his job function to kill steal and destroy. That is precisely all that the enemy does fill our minds With thoughts of defeat and hopelessness and then place us in church is where everybody is clapping around us and not noticing our pain broken hearts and crushed spirit but the lord knows and he cares which is why he said in the book of Jeremiah that the summer has gone and still his daughters are not saved! Jesus does not want you or anybody to end their life! We Pray and break curses of untimely death all the time at Ellel, it has a massive knock on effect on peoples generational lines, A grandfather may have been heavily involved in freemasonry and then commit suicide and then two decades later his great grandson who never even met him has suicidal tendencies and gives in to it. My biggest worry about this article it’s stories like yours and fears that it will give a green light to people who feel there is no way out just to go ahead and end it all! Jesus knows the exact manner and time of our death as it is written in psalms he also says that he will go and prepare a place for us and come back for us at the appointed time when he is ready not us if we take our own lives then we are making ourselves lord and that is not of god he says that we should have no other gods before him and we must not put our selves before him by taking our own lives we are inadvertently saying that we know better than the lord about entering a realm we know nothing about and the fact is the writer of this article cannot wholeheartedly say that people who take their own lives will not end up in a tormented place, the grace argument has been used many times but I do feel it is being wrongly applicated in this article particularly as he almost supports people doing this and going to heaven, I would just say whatever you can do now to get yourself out of feeling this way then do it eternity is too long to make mistakes especially with your own life I love you and hope that you get through this meanwhile this youtube channel has a prayer for depression here is the link you don’t have to pray you can just listen Watch “Prayer for Depression” on YouTube – Prayer for Depression: http://youtu.be/7GPJY9QRP9A
Somehow i get the feeling you’re responding without actually reading the whole article…
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Suicide is still murder in my eyes.
Is murder an unforgivable sin?
When you murder someone and still ALIVE, then yes! but if you Murdered yourself (suicide) and you’re DEAD then you can’t ask for forgiviness, I don’t where you will be hell or heaven. But still thou shall not KILL!
Thats why your soul needs to be right before you DIE!
So if you die suddenly without a recent confession/repentance you’re hell-bound? No.
I want you to reread what you wrote and ask yourself if you have FAITH. No matter how bad it gets, God has never put us through anything we could not handle. Keep praying to God for help, BELIEVE He will help you, and He will. If you take the matter into your own hands and kill yourself because you don’t believe God will help you, how can you say you believe in Him? Put your trust in God and ask Him to strengthen your faith and to pull you through your situation. You have to wait for God – He does what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. Stop rushing ahead. Have faith, pray for strength, talk to God, and keep pushing. Suicide is NOT the answer, nor is it what He wants for you. Doubting God and commiting suicide is exactly what the devil wants you to do. Keep pushing. Have faith. May God bless you.
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I want YOU to re-read what i wrote – all the way to the end…
Please comment all you like but don’t judge me or my faith. You don’t know my heart, what I’ve been through. Not all laws apply to everyone, my faith is strong, I am still waiting here on the Lord to pull me out of the abyss, He has a plan for me, I will believe until the last second, when my strength fails me, if that is the case, that He will come to rescue me.
I want you to know that I didn’t mean to come off as judgemental. Your comment just frazzled me and I didn’t feel right pretending that I didn’t see it – felt the need to say something. I hope for the best for you and that you choose to live. 🙂 I apologize if what I said came off as judgemental. That wasn’t my intention.
I appreciate that. I was trying to tell you that the last part of my post explicitly says I do not advocate suicide. I am not suicidal. At all. Read the whole thing. 🙂
Bbg, I don’t know you, but I want to say I am grateful for you & your honesty. I think you have amazing courage & strength. I noticed it has been over a year in between your comments & honestly, I found myself worried about you after your first comment. I was grateful to see that you are still here. Please keep fighting, even on the most difficult days & know that there are always people who you value you & care. My brother took his own life a few years ago & I miss him dearly everyday. Please know that no matter what you have a purpose & God will give you everything you need to fet through the moment you are in. Your faith seems so strong & I will be praying for you along with many others. Thank you again for your honesty & keep reminding yourself that you are here for a reason.
I agree with all the other comments about how life is important. I myself dont agree with this article. Look what it made this person do? Now this person above me wants to end his or her life. Nice going Chris. I guess…we think we have a point until someone actually goes by what we think we believe is right and it maKez us realize. I might sound harsh but truth hurts. Chris u need to go reread the bible. U still lack truth. And u better pray for thiz person above who have left this comment of thinking bout suicide. Cause ur article pretty much gave them the idea. Shame on u. Im out.
I get the feeling you didn’t read the whole post. If you go back and read from beginning to end I’d be happy to engage in dialogue with you. 🙂
Like this Chris. Going to share with a few friends of mine who have had to deal with this in their family. Thanks for addressing the issue.
Please do. Too many have incorrect & negative views of suffering and suicidal ideations. There is a mental health stigma that is difficult to overcome.