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Suicide, Good Works, and Salvation

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Question:   My wife and I had a discussion on the fate of suicides. The belief in my heart is that those individuals are lost and in taking their lives they have excluded the Creator from being supreme in their lives, hence they do not receive the free gift of heaven offered through God's grace. She comes from a catholic background even though we both are now born again. At times, she finds it hard to discount good works as merit to Heaven but she knows that "for by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Eph 2:8,9 This troubles her when she thinks of the good that some have done in their lives, even though they eventually took their own life. Your thoughts would be greatly received. Thanks again and God Bless your efforts.

Response:  In my view, these are separate issues, and I will treat them as such here:

It is certainly true that taking one's own life is the ultimate abrogation of God's will for a person - He and only He has the right to say when and how it is over. People who take this "out" are clearly not walking closely enough with the Lord. But that on occasion believers do so is indicated by the example of Saul. He took his own life rather than die at the hands of the enemy at the battle of Mt. Gilboa (1Sam.31:4), and was clearly in rebellion from God's will before that point (witness his attempts to kill David and his consultation of a medium the night before his death). However, when Samuel appeared to him on that fateful eve of battle, he said (after a long disquisition on Saul's evil) "and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me" (1Sam.28:19b). I would imagine that the cases in which suicides are saved are rare, and those in which suicides will receive any significant reward even rarer. The Bible does not go into detail about this issue for the same reason that it doesn't go into detail on issues such as abortion: actions that are clearly out of the will of God need no further comment about the degree of "wrongness" or the consequences of such actions. It is enough for His faithful followers to understand that they should avoid such actions in the first place.

As to the issue of good works, I would refer you to The Satanic Rebellion, part 4, section IV.3 ("Satanic Lie #3: 'God needs me'"). Given that this is one of the most subtle of Satan's attacks, I shudder to summarize the issue here (the best thing would be to review the whole context I cite, i.e., all of section IV). In a nutshell, trying to decide for God what is good, and trying to do good for God (as if He needed our help), is not really "good" in the divine sense. All true good must be done God's way, according to His plan, in the power of His Spirit, and on His terms, from the right motivation (seeking His glory - not our own). As to the fact that salvation comes through - and only through - faith in Jesus Christ, the scriptures leave no doubt:

He who believes in the Son has life. He who does not have the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on Him.
John 3:36

If salvation were a matter of works, God would not have had to send His Son to die in our place for our sins (it would have been open to anyone to "work their way to heaven"). But Christ did come to earth specifically to die for our sins (for in no other way could we ever be saved: Matt.16:21-23). To suggest that someone can be saved without acknowledging this (through faith), is to suggest that a) Christ's sacrifice was unnecessary - all that was really needed was some good works on our part, and that b) our works are more important than what Christ did on the cross (because, if true, works can substitute for the blood of Christ). In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. We are grateful for example for patriotic Americans who lived honorable lives and even gave them up for our country. But even in such extreme circumstances, everyone must stand before God on that day and render an account for their rejection of Him and His Son, if so be the case.

As I say, this is short-hand, and I encourage you to have a look at the full argument.

Thanks again for your encouragement.  You might also see the following links:

Waiting on God's timing

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.

Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials.

Encouragement, Isaiah 6:11-13, and the Hope of Repentance.

Encouragement in Christian Sufferings.

In need of encouragement.

Spiritual Resiliency.

Yours in Christ,

Bob Luginbill


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