Saturday, December 14, 2013

Answering A Heavy Question

If a believer commits suicide, can he still be forgiven?

This might seem like a difficult matter, but it does have a biblical answer.  Though the Christian who has committed suicide has committed a grave sin, it appears that he can still be forgiven.  However, in order to appreciate why a Christian who commits suicide can still be forgiven, one must first understand what salvation is and what it is founded upon. 

Salvation is the state of being saved from God's judgment upon the sinner.  In Romans 3:10, the Bible is extremely clear when it states, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. “  Therefore, we know that every human being is a sinner and has fallen short of the Glory of God.   Therewith, the only way to be saved is to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of one's sins.  In John 14:6, the Son of God, openly and directly declares that He is the only Saviour that there is and that only He can take sinful man to a Holy God, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  In Acts 4:12, we again here this truth, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  That being as it is, all who do not trust in Jesus alone, by faith, are not forgiven and so go to hell when they die.  One’s religion, church association or denomination will not save them.  Salvation is only found in the Person and Life of Jesus, who is the Risen Saviour of all who truly believe in Him.  Otherwise, Matthew 25:46, comes into play “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”  Along with, John 3:18, “Whosoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whosoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of God’s one and only Son.”  When Jesus forgives someone, He forgives all their sins and gives them eternal life and they shall never perish, as John 10:28, so lovingly states, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”  He does not give them temporary eternal life, otherwise, it would obviously not be eternal.  Isaiah 53:6, strongly puts our salvation and punishment on the back of Jesus Christ, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  And, our belief in His death upon the cross, His resurrection and saving grace and mercy, cleanses us from all forms of sin, whatever they might be.  1 John 1:9, confidently relates to us how complete that work upon the cross is, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 The truth of the matter is that God is not willing that any should perish (go to hell) but that all should come to a repenting knowledge about how God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack (slow) concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  And, as is shown in, 2 Corinthians 5:19, “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses (sins) against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us (as preachers).”  Plus, we must grasp the idea in our souls that the mission of Jesus was to find, and save the lost and hell-destined person, converting that soul and making of him or her, a saved, sanctified and rescued individual, Luke 19:10, gives testimony of the mission of Jesus, God’s Son, “For the Son of man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

Salvation is not based upon what any one does.  So, perhaps if you are a religious, works-for-salvation oriented-type of person, this truth might strike fear in your mind, but the Good News of the Gospel message means, you don't have to obey any Law of God in order to become saved.  Ephesians 2:8&9, “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith, and this is not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”  This is because no one is saved by keeping the Law of God.  Galatians 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness came by the law, then Christ died in vain.”  Isaiah 64:6, sets the standard, one that no human could ever reach, showing that we are all equally incapable of self-salvation, no matter who we are or what we’ve done or have not done, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  Therefore, before God, no one is better or worse than anyone else.  Being, that as sinners, we are all still savable due only to the blood of Christ on the cross and our honest faith placed in the act of atonement found only in the Sacrificial Lamb of God.  God does take our sins seriously but He takes even more seriously the shed blood on the cross of Christ, Hebrews 10:16-18, “This is the covenant that I will make with them (God, Himself, makes this pact with us) after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds, I will write them on their minds, then He adds, their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.  Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”  That is, Jesus is the only sacrifice we need to get into heaven.  As in verse 10, “By that will (God’s plan of salvation) we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.”

 Can a man add anything to the work of Christ on the cross?  The answer is a resounding, NO!  Romans 3:24-28, shows that God wants us to understand that salvation is not done by us reaching up to God, it was Him, in Christ, that reached out to us, “And all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, though the shedding of His blood to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance, He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished, He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justified those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting?  It is excluded.  Because of what law?  The law that requires works?  NO, (but) because of the law that requires faith.  For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

But that does not mean that you can go and sin all you want.  No, we love Him since He first loved us, however, since we didn’t get our salvation by what we did, we cannot lose it by what we do.
 What about the unforgivable sin?  Is that suicide?  No.  Suicide is not the unforgivable sin.  Jesus spoke of the unforgivable sin in Matthew 12:31, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”  The clear context is that the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil.  They were trying to say that Jesus was working for satan, as the devil’s agent.  Therefore, suicide is not the unforgivable sin.

 Repentance is a prerequisite to the saving work of God, yet not the cause of salvation.  If repentance brought salvation, then salvation is by works; or rather, the ceasing of bad works would then make one saved.  Yet, that isn't how it works.  God, at His liberty, grants repentance to the Christian.  In Isaiah 6:23, the Bible shows us that God is, “mighty to save.”  Some people are easy to save and others, not so easy.  But, God can save even the least powerful Christian out there, because salvation depends upon our faith in Jesus and what He did for us and does not depend on anything we do for Him.  We can’t earn our salvation not even by repenting.  Repentance simply means that the Christian turns from his sin; that is, he gives a 180 turn away from doing wrong, and he or she works at not sinning.  Then they are able to repent because they are saved, but not to get saved.  And, even though we come to Christ, let’s face it, we still sin!  Critical Christians should be reminded of this, 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  So, if God’s unrestricted gift of salvation is free to us, it is free to everyone else, too.  John 6:37, Jesus tells us, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me; (it’s a sure thing) and him that cometh to Me I will in now wise cast out.” 

 Salvation is a true gift from God and only He can truly judge who is saved and who is lost.  We do have many guidelines in the Bible and can trust what He says in His Word.  Nevertheless, many churches are extremely rough on the shakier believers, where God is not.  Isaiah 42:3, shows a great tenderness in the heart of God towards even the weakest believer out there, “A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax He will not quench, He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”  That is, God will be the final judge of everyone, yet it appears here that He has more heart and patience and compassion for His children than do many followers of Jesus.

 In 1 John 1:9, it says, "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  Confession of sin, and its natural result of repentance, are necessary elements of the Christian's life.  But, what about the sins that we do not know we commit?  If we do not confess them and do not repent of them, are we still saved?  Of course we are!  Otherwise, we would be forced to confess and repent of every single sin we ever commit.  In effect, we'd be back under the Law, living by a rule of absolute repentance of every detail lest we be damned.  This would be legal bondage, not freedom.  John 8:36, shows us that, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  Jesus said His yoke was easy to bear, not hard, Matthew 11:27-30, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  This again shows us that God makes salvation easily available and not a hard burdensome thing to find or to live out.
 As we see then, repentance is not the cause of salvation, but it is a result of salvation.  The believer repents from his sins upon trusting in Christ and thereafter, continues to repent of further sins as the Lord reveals to him.

 Suicide can be called, self-murder.  The unfortunate thing about it is that the one who commits it cannot repent of it.  The damage is done.  Yet, we can see in the Bible that even murderers have been redeemed by God, such as Moses, David and the Apostle Paul, etc., but they had opportunities to confess their sins and repent.  With a successful suicide, the person does not afford themselves that chance.   But, does that mean that the person is lost?  Jesus, biblically bore all that person's sins, including their final act of suicide.  If Jesus bore that person's sins on the cross some 2000 years ago, and if suicide was not covered on the cross, then the Christian was never saved in the first place and that one sin of suicide would then be able to undo the entire work of the cross of Christ.  This cannot be.  Jesus either saves completely or He does not.  Without showing the Scriptures, here they are in brief, the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient, Hebrews 10:10-14; His righteousness is sufficient, Philippians 3:9; His intercession is sufficient, Hebrews 7:25.  Never underestimate the power of God to save a sinner. That would be a very wrong thing to do.

I cannot give a once-and-for-all final answer as to whether or not all believers that die of suicide are forgiven. I am not God, nor am I anyone’s ultimate Judge, simply because I cannot know every possible situation that caused them to take their own lives.  But, it seems to me that suicide is a bad way to deal with our problems, though I do see it as any other sin, it seems scripturally forgivable.
 Some believers commit suicide to prevent prolonged torture in their lives.  Let's say that someone was being tortured in an excruciating manner for an unbearably long period of time, is suicide then an option?  Perhaps.  In the Bible, 1 Samuel 31:3-6, King Saul, to keep from being tortured by the Philistines did take his own life.  Saul was a bad king over Israel, he even sought help from a witch, which, of course, is wrong before the Lord.  Nevertheless, God saved him as He does us, with, “An everlasting salvation,” Isaiah 45:17, and He gives us His promise, in Hebrews 13:5, “He will never leave us, nor forsake us.”   
Quite honestly, if someone is dealing with incredible pain for a long period of time, and then decides to end his or her life due to the inability to bear-up under that much anguish and torment:  I would believe that this, too, would come under the deep and abounding grace and mercy of the Lord..
 Suicide due to depression, doesn’t seem like a good reason for such recklessness.  As all sorts of emotional seasons come and go in our lives and so does depression.  The one who is depressed should look to Jesus and get help.  Still I know that depression can be a real and powerful beast that can devour us and turn us inside out and is best fought with help from close contact with family, friends and with good professional help from a qualified person like a pastor.  However, I do understand that very severe depression robs the mind of clear thinking.  People that find themselves in such dejected states are often extremely despondent, and are not in their right mind.  I am convinced that God also understands their psychological state and all of their emotional conflict that they just can’t seem to resolve.  Psalms 103:14, clearly shows that God is aware of how delicate we are, “For He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust.”  He knows what we are made of and He remembers that we are simply dirtbags.

 Suicide is sometimes due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.  Even legal chemicals and medicines that we take, with prescriptions, can cause us to not think correctly. The human brain is incredibly complex and the medical community is full of accounts of extraordinary behaviors by people whose, "circuits got crossed."  A sad situation like this I think simply makes certain suicides more explainable.  And, not all imbalances are drug caused.  The mind and the human body is just a profusely complicated organism that can get unbelievably out of whack, causing people to go haywire and at times, take their own lives.
Sometimes people even accidentally kill themselves.  This could be something like leaning over a balcony too far and falling to one's death, or actually, purposefully taking a stupid risk like playing with a gun or skydiving.  Of course, with either, I am convinced that foolhardiness does not remove us from the grace of God.

Some believers even eat themselves or drink themselves to death, though they shouldn’t.  Nevertheless, it happens.  This is thought of as a slow, self-inflicted death and is considered by some to be a form of suicide.

Can a Christian be forgiven for suicide?  Yes.  But choosing suicide as the best way to deal with our trials and tribulations is not the finest option open to us.  We must remember that everything we are belongs to God.

 Psalm 103:9-11, “He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.  He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving-kindness toward those who fear him.”
Galatians 2:16, “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
1 John 5:12, “Whosoever has the Son has (eternal) life, whosoever does not have the Son of God, does not have (eternal) life.”

 Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”  (Totally inclusive)
 Always remember that God’s invitation, “Whosoever,” means just that!  All are invited to be saved.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Saying Good-Bye To The Swine

Some times in ministry, there comes a moment when a pastor must decide what he’s going to do with these folks that really aren’t out to hear God’s Words.  There are men and women that don’t really want to learn anything new, who are just looking for a fight.  No matter how much time one spends with them, the only tool they have to use to defend themselves is a willing ignorance and a beloved silliness that they employ as reasons for not hearing the Spirit of God speak to their hearts and souls.  Again, in my ministry, the time has come for me to cut some ties with the scoffers and rebellious god-haters.  I don’t mind anyone’s honest questions or doubts.  But, the Bible instructs me to put limits on what I am called to do with this type of person.  Fighters are not looking for fellowship, nor illumination and certainly not spiritual help.  Jesus tells us to not cast our pearls before swine.  These swine are folks that do not want anything to do with God.  They choose to scoff at Him.  They mock the Lord, and at every chance given them they turn His Words into filthy interpretations that reveal just how far away their hearts are from the Grace, Mercy and Love of God, and the Precious Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.   When you share truth with them, they will just turn around and throw it all back at you with such foul smelling language and use the cheapest remarks they can find in the dark regions of their sinful minds.  It is our duty to take the Good News of the Gospel of Grace to all men, but once we've given the Gospel to as many as we can, some will turn out to be swine.  If one has done his or her best, and the responses don’t ever change, then you can walk away and wash your hands of these people.  Just mark them as those that walk uncircumspectly and stay away from them.  Leave them in the Hands of the Living God.

1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister …

1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding profane …

2 Timothy 2:16,23 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase to more …

2 Timothy 4:4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be …

Titus 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn …

Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and …


1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister …

1 Timothy 2:10 But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was …

1 Timothy 6:11 But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, …

Acts 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void …

2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should …

Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age…

2 Peter 1:5-8 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; …

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Some Thing Extra

Will You Go With Me That Extra Mile?

In my life, when the floor needs sweeping, I go get the broom and dust pan and I get to work.  I like to do everything that needs to be done.  I don’t like sitting around waiting for someone else to do it.  Not while I am still able to do it.  I don’t have slaves and personally, I like to work.  I like to accomplish things and what I do, I do it for the Lord.  No questions asked.

George Halas, of the Chicago Bears said, “One has to do whatever thing is necessary.”  Halas, is a member of the Football Hall of Fame and was a professional trainer, a truly successful man.  He was commonly called, “Papa Bear,” and George would do almost anything for his team.

This great and successful man was known to fix problems, he repaired locker room showers, he marked the field with chalk dust and he cleaned muddy cleats and even wrapped the ankles of his team mates.  He always went the extra mile.

In today’s world, it is rare to find someone that will even go the first mile, but they won’t do anything more than that.  They only do just enough to get by but refuse to do anything extra.  They are found everywhere, both in the public and private sectors of life.  Normal men and women that only do an adequate job, so as to complete their chores and nothing else.  Yet, God asks us to go the second mile.
God has designed us to want to go the extra mile.  Certainly, Jesus did that and a lot more.  We all have more potential than we are using.  God wants us to take those extra steps to glorify Him in all that we say and do.  Are we willing to do that?

If a military captain asks his soldiers to carry something for one mile, they do it.  If he asks them to carry it for two miles, they also do that.  If someone asks you for something and you can do it, then, do it!  And, if someone asks to borrow something of yours, and you can lend it, then lend it. 

“If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you,”Matthew 5:41&42.

As we obey God, He will fill our lives with contentment and love.  “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen,” Philippians 4:23.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” Colossians 3:23.

“Not with eye-service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,” Colossians 6:6.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Jesus Did It All

Why Did Jesus Die?

Some literary compositions present the death of Jesus as if it were only the death of a martyr, as if He was just a victim of evil men’s cruel deeds.  Though it is true that Jesus was unjustly condemned by perverse judges, still He freely chose to die, thereby finishing the work that His Father gave Him to do:  Which is the only work that can save humans from their sins. 

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,”  
Ephesians 2:8.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5.

In the Gospel according to John, in particular, the Scripture points out that there was this certain calm determination that Jesus had at the moment of His seizure in the Garden of Gethsemane, John 1:1-12.  When the soldiers came to capture Jesus, He didn’t try to escape.  He stepped towards the soldiers and asked them, “Who are you looking for?”  They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Twice Jesus answered them saying that He was that man.  The soldiers then suddenly felt the Presence of something majestic or divine and stopped, retreated a bit and then fell to the ground.   

“When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell,” Psalm 27:2

Then, at such an extreme moment, He protected His disciples, saying to the Roman soldiers, “If you are looking for me, let the others go.”  With these words, Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, but ordered that the soldiers let His followers go free.

Why would Jesus keep His disciples from being arrested with Him?  He answered that question when Peter drew out his sword and tried to defend Him, “The cup that my Father has given to me, should I not drink from it?”  Jesus didn’t resist this arrest and by so doing, made sure that the Love of God could reach out to all that would come to Him by faith.  The Bible clearly states the mission of Jesus, 

“For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10. 

“And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us,” Romans 5:5.

 “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, ‘Whom seek you’?” John 18:4.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved," Acts 4:12.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him,” Hebrews 2:3.

We might ask, “What is Salvation?”  Well, Salvation is a choice set before us by God.  We respond to the truth of God and the acts of Jesus, His Holy Son, choosing to either to believe in Him, accept what the Bible tells us or we choose to refuse to accept the truth of God and therewith choose to spend eternity separated from Him, in hell, with satan.  Salvation is the free gift of God, in Christ, allowing us to go to Heaven.  It is the choice between an eternal life with God in Heaven or an eternal life of suffering in hell.  Salvation is a gift of forgiveness and life and it is FREE and cannot be earned.  We simply and honestly believe to receive.