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Suicide, Salvation, and Eternal Security

Suicide, Salvation, and Eternal Security

Ever since the publication of my book God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting, I receive many emails, phone calls, and questions about grief. One of the most difficult questions I hear is from family members who have lost a loved one to suicide.

The question often sounds something like this.

“We are confident that our mother (or father, brother, sister, daughter, son) was a Christian by faith in Christ. Yet we have heard some say that if a believer commits suicide they lose their salvation. What does the Bible say?”

Shared Sorrow Is Endurable Sorrow

Any response to this question must first, of course, address the grief and agony of the surviving family members. The loss of a loved one is always a legitimate cause for great grief. Loss by suicide heaps even more grief and pain upon a family.

Christians, in particular, seem to struggle with “permission to grieve.” That was one reason I wrote God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: to help Christians struggling with any life loss to understand that the Bible encourages grief and provides a way toward growth and healing hope.

Any response must also include the encouragement for the family to cling to Christ and to the Body of Christ. No one should suffer grief alone. As I say in the book, “shared sorrow is endurable sorrow.”

Salvation and Eternal Security

Regarding the specific question concerning a loved one’s eternal security, my response, in summary, usually sounds something like the following.

There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that a believer in Christ can ever lose their salvation, their eternal security. The Apostle Paul is clear that there is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Paul continues in that chapter to state that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ, including death—by any means (Romans 8:28-39).

Jesus Himself guarantees us: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30). Jesus died to save us from our sins—every sin, including suicide.

Doubt and Faith

Further, even doubt and feelings of hopelessness cannot separate us from God in Christ. In Mark 9:24, we read of the father of a sick child who said to Jesus, “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” The rest of the passage indicates that this father had faith, though like all of us, he struggled to overcome his doubts.

The Apostle Thomas doubted, yet his doubt was mingled with faith—saving faith, belief in Christ (John 21:24-29). The Apostle Paul himself honestly admitted that he despaired of life and felt the sentence of death (2 Corinthians 1:8-9), yet no one would question his saving faith and eternal security in Christ.

The “Unpardonable Sin”

Some ask whether suicide might be the “unpardonable sin.” The only unpardonable sin is to willfully and permanently reject God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:36).

Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death atones for all the sins of his people—past, present, and future (Romans 3:25). Believers in Christ enjoy God’s enduring and complete forgiveness for all their sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Join the Conversation

What additional biblical hope do you share with people concerning a Christian’s eternal security in Christ?

This entry was posted in People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Relationships, Suffering, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 
  • Steve Cornell

    Thanks Bob. The first funeral I conducted (26 years ago!) was a suicide. The former pastor’s son took his life. He was in his 40s and his sister (the pastors only other child) took her life about 2 months prior. A few of years before this, the pastor’s wife had died of cancer. Needless to say, he was a broken man until his death. I (a very young pastor) found myself in the difficult role of trying to encourage a man whose soul refused to be comforted. Yet we saw him graciously receive our efforts to lift him. These folks were all mennonite which made it more complicated because of mennonite belief that suicide means loss of salvation. I did not of course believe this. The man gave a clear verbal confession of faith and never parted from the Church. But mid-way through medical school experienced some kind of psychotic snap. He was never completely “right” after that. He was a gentle soul but unstable mentally (after being a top student). The funeral was held in a funeral home because suicide forbade one from a funeral in the Church according to the tradition. The room was filled with mennonites (many in their austere garb). When I stepped up to the podium, God gave me the boldness to compassionately present Romans 8:38-39 to an amazingly receptive audience. This experience will never be forgotten. Nor will the lessoned learned from walking beside a broken man of God. Thank you again. These are needed words. As for security, see: Amish man shunned for assurance of salvationhttp://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/amish-man-shunned-for-assurance-of-salvation/

    • http://www.rpmministries.org Bob Kellemen

      Steve, What a heart-breaking story, but what a hope-giving God we have! Thanks for your ministry.

  • Anonymous

    Wow Steve.  Talk about baptism by fire!
    Bob, thank you for this article!  This is needed theology in our funeral context.  When thinking through eternal security I am always drawn to the Father/child relationship that Scripture uses to describe our relationship with God (Eph. 1; Gal. 4; 1 John 3; Rom. 8; etc.).  The illustration of adoption is equally as compelling.  There is just no way to view these relationships and promises as temporary or conditional. 

  • Linda Stepp

    I was visiting this timely message before a memorial service for my 47 year old cousin today.  Thank you for having it here, I am more prepared as I go.

  • Missions_minded

    I have a question. My friend calls me to inform me about another friend of ours who’s father shot himself resently. Our friend asked him what is the purpose in this? What was the purpose of my unsaved dad killing himself and now being in hell? My friend asked me, “how do I give him Romans 8: 28-29 and tell him providance was the reason for his sorrow?”

    • http://www.rpmministries.org Bob Kellemen

      That’s a deep situation that can’t be answered in a quick reply. Feel free to email me at bob.kellemen@biblicalcc.org and we can arrange a time to talk in more detail. A quick thought: I would not suggest a quick imposition of Romans 8:28-29 on the heart and mind of a person in the midst of such grief. There is a time, of course, for that. Listening well, comforting (2 Cor. 1:3-5), speaking to the need of the moment (Eph. 4:29), might suggest that joining your friend in their sorrow is the place to start. As Paul said in 1 Thess. 2:8, we give people both the gospel and our own souls–deeply entering the pain of another. Again, would be glad to talk at length… Praying for you and your friend. Bob

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  • D.J. Heath

    Hello, Bob. My husband and I “lost” our youngest and only son to suicide. four years ago. The agony cannot be described. My son was a Christian and had struggled with depression since puberty. Only after he passed did I obtain his prayer journal from 9 years before. In it, he prayed asking God “not to let me destroy myself”…”I don’t really want to die.” I have been very angry at God for allowing my son to die this way, especially knowing that my son did not want to die by his own hands. God knew the horrible anguish that would seal itself into what is left of my life. But above all…He knew that my son struggled with depression and a desire to die. I have felt at risk myself since my son’s passing. I long to be “where my treasures are stored”…but, I could never die by my own hands or I would have been gone by now. Instead, I have come to understand that what appears to be a choice…is not. There is a malfunctioning of the brain…imbalance of chemicals…mental illnesses of all kinds that would allow a person to complete suicide. It has nothing to do with having a flawed faith, as some who are ill-informed, would believe.

    I now have a blog (lensgirl53.wordpress.com) about suicide. I have posted the comforting sermons from places such as yours from across the internet, as well as other informative selections on the topic. It is extremely important that those of us left behind to know that our Heavenly Father did not condemn our believing loved ones to hell because of the way they died….that God’s grace is sufficient for all. I so appreciate “stumbing” upon your site and would like to have your permission to post this page on my blog site. God bless you.

    Dale Heath

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