How comforting and assuring are these words spoken by Jesus: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (Jn. 10:28 NKJV). No matter how death comes, the believer is eternally secure in Christ. His security is based on Christ’s finished work on Calvary’s cross. Eternal life is not simply temporal and conditioned upon obedience -- what we may or may not do to our lives. Life that is eternal is eternal!
What The Bible Teaches
Instead of dwelling on what people think about suicide, let’s consider what the Bible says. God’s Word has some sobering thoughts for us.
First, we may well ask, “Why does a person choose suicide?” Apparently there are many reasons, because, after all, we are human. Some get so overwhelmed by pressures, health problems and depression that they take their own lives in a state of deep alienation and distraction. It is difficult to know to what extent they are really responsible for actions done, when they are not themselves.
I’ve been told that those who are suicidal suffer from an overwhelming sense of being alone. Their depression shrinks their horizons. Their entire perspective is reduced to being filled with their own despair. This leads to the self-deception that justifies, in their own minds, the final act of suicide. This may be so, but is it right?
Clearly, the Bible says that human life is sacred because man was made in “the image of God” (Gen. 9:6). Suicide negates God’s estimate of life. It violates the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” — either another human or yourself! (Ex.20:13; Rom.13:9). The Ten Commandments are a wonderful biblical standard for conduct — but not for salvation.
Believers And Suicide
Some Christians think that a true believer cannot commit suicide, but there is no scriptural evidence for such a claim. Other Christians maintain that a believer may lose his salvation through such an act. Again, Scripture does not say that. However, it does tell us that once saved always saved. The Lord Jesus said: “Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand … and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (Jn. 10:28-29). The apostle John wrote, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in the Son” (1 Jn. 5:11). God’s Word goes on to say: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life” (Jn. 3:36). No man, thing or act can separate us from God’s love and the eternal life that is ours through Christ (Rom. 8:35-39.)
There are no examples of a believer committing suicide in the New Testament. Judas was not a believer. In the Old Testament there might be two examples. King Saul fell on his own sword (1 Sam. 31:4). Some say Samuel’s statement to Saul that “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me” (1 Sam. 28:19), means that Saul would be in paradise (or heaven) with Samuel. Others say this means merely that Saul would soon die and go to Sheol, which included a place for the wicked dead.
The other example is that of Ahithophel, David’s trusted counselor, who was the grandfather of Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:3), and who may have hated David for leading her into sin. He turned on David and helped Absalom, who decided to ignore his advice. Greatly offended, Ahithophel hanged himself (2 Sam. 17:23). Some believe both will be in glory — but this cannot be proved.
Notwithstanding these Old Testament examples, we know that believers do not lose their salvation because of sins committed after their conversion (Acts 13:39; 1 Jn. l:8-10). Yes, suicide is a sin because it is the murder of oneself. However, adultery and murder of someone else are also equally gross sins. But David, who committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah, did not lose his salvation because of these sins (Ps. 32:1-5; 51:12; Rom. 4:6-8). We need to remember that if we are truly saved, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin – even suicide.
With Christ … Far Better
Since a believer does not lose his salvation when he commits suicide, isn’t he therefore “with Christ, which is far better”? (Phil. 1:23). Yes and no! True, it is far better to be with Christ — if the departure is according to God’s perfect timing. But if the departure is out of His will, then the result is not as good as it would have been.
When death occurs, by whatever means, the believer’s service on earth is over. It is that service which will be examined at the judgment seat of Christ. The outcome of that judgment does not involve the eternal destiny of the believer because that is not in question. What is in question is reward or loss of it. The phrase “he will suffer loss” in 1 Corinthians 3:15 describes one of the significant effects of the believer’s suicide. The word “loss” means “to forfeit” the reward one might have possessed. John warns of the same possibility of losing “a full reward” (2 Jn. 8).
Since suicide breaks God’s command, the one who commits it suffers loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ. He does not lose his salvation (1 Cor. 3:15), because that is eternally secure through God’s acceptance of His Son’s great work of redemption at Calvary. He is saved and safe forever. No person, circumstance or thing can take away God’s everlasting gift of eternal life in Christ. What assurance! But yet, what grief such an act still brings to the hearts of loved ones left behind.
Example From Life
Let’s consider the example of an elderly believer suffering from an inconclusive heart operation. He thought the Lord was going to take him home to glory, but He hadn’t. His condition was getting worse. He often said he didn’t want to be a “bother” to anyone. He decided to end it all.
But before he committed suicide, he wrote the first line of a hymn on a piece of paper that he left behind: “The glory shines before me! I cannot linger here!” He knew where he was going — into the loving arms of His Savior in glory! A neighbor said, “He’s now where he always wanted to be!”
During his life, this Christian performed many acts of kindness. People throughout the community said, “He was a nice man. We’re going to miss him.” He cared for people and cheered them with words of encouragement. He was often seen helping other people. He regularly visited the local nursing home, sharing the Lord with many of the residents. He went to church and actively participated in prayer, praise, worship and Bible study. In other words, he was a faithful Christian.
If he had the opportunity to say something from where he is now, I’m sure he would share the gospel and ask you to make sure you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, so that when you die you would be with Him too.
Where do you stand? How are you preparing yourself to face this unrelenting foe called death? There are three things you should do to make sure you are heaven bound. First, admit to God how death haunts you in the night; how it stalks you in the recesses of your mind. Second, confess your sins. The Bible says, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3). His death on Calvary’s cross made atonement for your sins. Third, receive Christ as your personal Savior and Lord by coming to Him in repentance. Why? Because Luke says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk.13:3).
By Gordon Bennett
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.