Arminian Today

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Suicide

20 “Why is light given to him who is in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
21 who long for death, but it comes not,
and dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
22 who rejoice exceedingly
and are glad when they find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
– Job 3:20-23

I have not written in over a week.  Much of this has been from my work schedule.  The other is from a friend of mine who committed suicide this past Sunday.  He was a brother whom I met back in 2000 at youth camp when I was a young youth pastor.  He and I clicked because he loved to sing hymns (as did I) and he loved to pray for the teenagers to be saved.  I remember he had brought with him a very troubled young man who needed Christ.  My brother was passionate to see this teenager saved.  I have often wondered what became of that young man.

My friend went on to live a troubled life in the ministry.  He seemed passionate for Christ but he struggled to fit into the traditional church.  He served at a large church as a youth pastor for a season and it seemed to be his “dream” job but it proved to be a heartbreak as the church turned on him and fired him.  He then bounced around from church to church before becoming a senior pastor of a traditional church that he hoped to move toward a non-traditional approach to ministry.  In the end he left that church to start a church/coffee shop in a college town.  I had lost touch with him from about 2008 on and figured, from Facebook and other sources, that he was doing okay.  He seemed to be confused theologically as he bounced around the charismatic world and not really landing anywhere.

From what I can understand, he preached to his church this past Sunday and then during the day he went up on a mountain to end it all.  There he did.  I have no clue as to why.  I don’t know what was happening that he would end his life.  I only know that it breaks my heart.

Suicide is a difficult issue.  I am not here to give an answer to why or what happens.  I have read both sides.  I recently listened to a talk given by Dr. Jack Deere who lost his son to suicide and he built a case for his salvation.  I have heard many people place people who commit suicide in heaven.  I don’t know for sure.  I know some Arminians who say that a self-murderer will not inherit the kingdom (Revelation 21:8).  I have heard others say that a person can be so sick that they long for death and that they lose their mind when it comes to suicide.  My answer is that God alone knows.  He is just.  He is good.  He will do what is righteous.

I do know that suicide is not a biblical option.  Suicide takes the sovereignty of God and places it in the hands of men.  This should not be.  God knows the time of our death (Psalm 139:16) but we are not to take our death into our hands.  God is our light (Psalm 27:1) and He will get us through even the darkest times (Psalm 30:5).  The Bible gives us hope (Romans 15:4) and the Bible calls us to live and die to the glory of God (Philippians 1:20-21).  How can suicide glorify God?  Suicide simply leaves behind many, many unanswered questions and does not reflect upon the glory of God.  When a believer dies in an accident or for health reasons or at the hands of another person, we mourn but rejoice that they were saved and lived a life to the glory of God.  When a person commits suicide, we mourn and have no answers nor any hope.  While some are quick to put the person in heaven and even crown them as saints, I am slow to do this.  I do trust God and I am not saying they are in hell.  I simply don’t know.  I can only look to Christ and His Word.

There are actually a number of suicides in the Bible.  We have the suicides of:

  • King Saul (1 Samuel 31:4)
  • Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23)
  • Zimri (1 Kings 16:18)
  • Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5; Acts 1:18)
  • And the near suicide of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:27)
  • Some see Samson as a suicide (Judges 16:29-30)

Other than Samson (Hebrews 11:32), none are listed as faithful.  The Bible does not give us hope about those who do commit suicide.  I believe this is obviously good since many people, like Job above in Job 3:20-23, can be in such despair that they long for death to come.  Even great men of God such as Moses (Numbers 11:15) and Jonah (Jonah 4:3) can long for death though they did not take their own lives but appealed to God to take their lives from them as did Job above (Job 3:20-23; 7:15).  Revelation 9:6 records that people will long for death but will not find it.

I have never been at that place.  I have been in the valley before.  I have loathed life at times.  Yet I have always believed that God would get me through each trial and that He was faithful (Romans 8:28).  I have clung to Him and at times I have longed to leave this world behind (Romans 8:18) but I trust in God who has a purpose in my suffering and trials (James 1:2-5).  It can be dark at times.  I have been in despair many times and will be again some day.  I have sat by my mother’s side while she died and was full of despair but somewhere deep inside was hope that only comes from Christ.  Jesus promised me tribulation in this world but He said to be encouraged for He had overcome the world (John 16:33).  Jesus never promised us a life without trials but He did promise to never leave us nor forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  He promised to keep me (John 10:27-29).

Suicide is a poor option for ending our trials.  It is a selfish option.  Suicide does not care about others.  Those who commit suicide are doing only what they think will help them.  Perhaps they are sick and in total despair but I feel that they are looking at themselves and not upon Christ.  This is why the Bible does not give hope for those who do such things or consider them.  Suicide would greatly increase if people knew that God would gladly welcome them into His kingdom if they ended it.  I am glad the Word is silent on this issue and doesn’t paint a pretty picture for those longing to commit suicide.

I ask you to pray though for the family that this brother left behind.  He left behind many who were seeking after God.  Many of them were new believers.  How will this effect them?  How will the world view this from a man who claimed to be a slave of Christ?  Again, suicide doesn’t bring glory to God but only despair.  It leaves behind a wreck that the enemy will use against the purposes of God but God will not be defeated.  He has already overcome.  Jesus wears the victor’s crown!  I pray that this suicide will cause many to turn toward Christ and realize now more than ever that our hope must be in Him alone and not in ministry, dreams, clergy, or anything or anyone else.  Christ alone must be our lives!

Forgive me if I have been too harsh.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/05/2013 at 2:53 PM

4 Responses

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  1. Wow. That had to be tough to write. Thank you for taking the time to be so thoughtful and respectful. I was moved by Martin Luther’s take on suicide: the devil overcame and overwhelmed the person, thus robbing the believer of life. My hope is always on the optimistic side of things, believing that the grace of God can even handle suicide.

    William Birch

    12/05/2013 at 9:41 PM

  2. Wow, that’s tough.

    What is interesting is that fairly major biblical figures all voiced a wish to die–Moses, Elijah, Job and I think even Paul–I have a desire to depart–are just a couple. None of them actually killed themselves. Jesus seemed to have a bit of a death wish, however, but that was an atypical life! Life is tough. Much of it makes no sense. I’m not sure we need a conclusion on all issues. I fear most of our conclusions exist to console our minds than actually make any difference.

    jeff

    12/06/2013 at 9:18 AM

  3. I wonder since God is Sovereign and he knows the time of your death, and a sparrow doesn’t fall out of the sky without God willing or allowing it, that God can be sovereign, even in suicide. Is the fall of man so far that our cursed bodies and minds can succumb to the depths of despair so far that the Holy Spirit although present feels faraway and we can sin. Is God’s grace sufficient to cover, even this? I pray so. Thank you for the article, I am not an Arminian, but I enjoy reading most of your posts. 😉
    May God’s grace be the overcoming influence in all our lives and may his mercy reign as we, fallen humans, rest in the finished work of christ and the glory that awaits even while we long for Heaven and groan here on Earth,

    Todd

    12/07/2013 at 9:12 AM


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