By Cooper Abrams
According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the ten largest cause of death in the United States in all ages from 1999 through 2014.[i] The age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 24%, from 10.5 to 13.0 per 100,000 population. The increase in suicide rates for females was greatest for those aged 10–14, and for males, aged 45–64. After a period of nearly consistent decline in suicide rates in the United States from 1986 through 1999, suicide rates have increased almost steadily from 1999 through 2014. Suicide rates among adolescents and young adults is increasing and one of the leading causes of death, and is rising among middle-aged adults.[ii]
In Utah, where I live, the leading cause of death among young people is suicide. The Utah Department of Health reports that 557 Utahans die from suicide each year making the rate 20.8 per 100,000, and in addition there are 3,968 attempted suicides.[iii] Some medical professionals are stating that suicide among young people as being epidemic. This paper will not attempt to address why so many people attempt or commit suicide, but deal with the myth that those who commit suicide are better off.
As a pastor for over thirty-five years, and holding many funerals, I regularly hear the statement that the person who died is now better off. Almost always, the deceased is referred to as being in heaven or some more desirable place. It is easy to understand that people wish to put the demise of their loved ones in a positive light and perceive their joining them in the hereafter. However, the reality is different from what people wish to think. God who is our Creator in His word the Bible reveals the true source of what happens after death. He is the God of heaven and He has told us a great deal about life after death in His word the Bible. Heaven is His and He has revealed clearly who will spend eternity in heaven and who will not.
It is a myth to believe that all who die will go to heaven. The truth is as John tells us that, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36) God’s statement is clear, only those who truly believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ will go to heaven.
Jesus Christ himself, speaking of false prophets who deceive men by their false religions, spoke about those who actually will enter heaven and have eternal life. He said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 told the story of a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The rich man, full of pride and self-worth, was a man who had no regard for God in his life. He lived for riches and to fulfil the desires of the flesh. However, the beggar named Lazarus, a poor man, was a true believer in God. When Lazarus died, the angels took him to “Abraham’s bosom” which means Paradise or heaven. “Abraham’s bosom” is simply referring to the place where Abraham was after his death, which means heaven. The rich man also died, but as Jesus states, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments. . .” This scripture graphically describes the plight of this unsaved man as he begs Abraham to, “. . . send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16:24)
Christ in Mark 9:43-48 states three times, that hell is an eternal place where “the worm dieth not” and the “fire that never shall be quenched.” Revelation 20:10, explains that those who refuse to believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ and who are deceived by the devil by false religion or false ideas will be cast into the eternal “lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-18 further reveals the end of those who die without Christ saying, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)
Without question, God says it is a myth that everyone, when they die will go to heaven or that if one is good enough, does more good than bad they will go to heaven. How one lives their life also does not determine whether God will allow them in heaven or not. The way to heaven is not a process by which a person merits salvation by doing good works, through church membership, religious rituals such as baptism, or any act of man. Salvation is instantaneously received by the believer when he exercises saving faith in Jesus Christ. At that moment of true faith one believes, he is eternally saved as a child of God and cannot lose his salvation. It is the belief in or rejection of Jesus Christ as one Savior, and His atoning work on the cross that determines where a person will spend eternity. False religion, based on the imaginations of fallible men and Satan’s lies, proclaim there are many ways to heaven, but all lead to God. Nevertheless, God says this is a lie and that, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
The Bible declares in Romans 3:10 that “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Verses 23-26 tells us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
Additionally, how a person dies, has no bearing on whether a person goes to heaven or hell. Committing suicide does not cause a person to be condemned to hell. Committing suicide is an foolish act of seeking the answer to one’s problems in the wrong way. In fact, God gives life and to take one’s on life is an act of sin. It is God who gives and takes life.
Although man’s sin separates him from God, the Lord seeks to justify and forgive those who believe in Him. The Bible says, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) Jesus is the “propitiation” for man’s sins, meaning “full payment.” Therefore, God says Jesus Christ has already paid for your sins by suffering and dying upon the cross, but that payment is only applied to those who believe in Jesus Christ. In the Book of James, we read, “The Lord is not slack 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.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Romans 6:23 affirms the reality of the results for the unforgiven sinner who does not believe and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, and the Good News (the Gospel) that offers to all men eternal life and heaven.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
God further tells us that, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) This means those that die without receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior will spend eternity in the flames of hell. The passage also gives the wonderful truth that God’s gift (forgiveness, grace and mercy) is eternal life...through Jesus Christ.
No matter how many people believe that heaven is there for all who die, the stark reality is that is not true. This myth may be a comfort to those who are left behind, but it is a false hope. The reality is those who die without putting their faith in Jesus Christ will wake up in hell. Sadly, these unfortunate people believed the lie.
There is no second chance after one dies as some false religions teach. The living cannot do good works for the dead and free them from hell. There is no purgatory where one pays for his sins for a time of punishment and then goes to heaven. God says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27) False religion, under Satan’s influence offers a false hope. Nowhere, in God’s word the Bible, does God offer any hope for a person who dies rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3)
Note these passages, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” (Romans 12:12)
Speaking of those who have believed in Jesus Christ God says, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12-13)
The answer is clearly no. Generally, people commit suicide thinking they are escaping the difficulties of his or her life and thinking life after death will be better. Of course, there are other reasons, but the rationalization that they will be better off is untrue. At the moment, of death, the stark reality is that the unsaved person will wake up not in heaven, but in the fires of hell.
I repeat Jesus’ answer to the question, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” (Luke 16:23)
After the Old Testament, the first words God gave to those who believed in Him were words of comfort and encouragement to overcome our difficulties.
God says to believers, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:2-5)
God tells the one who believes and put their faith in Him, “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15)
Listen to God’s answer to our problems no matter how difficult they are.
“For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Psalm 56:13)
“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)
“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen… ” (2 Timothy 4:18-19)
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” (2 Peter 2:9)
Speaking of salvation, Jesus said of the contrast between the unsaved and saved, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:46)
In Jesus’ prayer in John 17, He said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
Do you see that God offers an alternative to suicide and failure? Whatever a person’s reasons for contemplating suicide, he or she must accept the truth that there is a wonderful alternative his’ or her’ dilemma. Suicide is never the answer, and will always have a disastrous end. For the person who seeks the Lord Jesus Christ and in faith putting their trust in Him, one can have a new life directed and supported by God Himself.
God tells the person who will believe and put their faith in Him that, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:12-17)
The sincere believer can have the assurance that all their sins, past, present, and future will be forgiven, and they will be a true child of God. They can know that God will deliver them from all temptations and difficulties.
The Lord offers us His strength and answers to our problems. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Human strength and even will power will fail us. However, the genuine Christians, has the Holy Spirit indwelling him who will deliver us. It is through His power we can overcome all sin and difficulties.
The believer, who asks for God’s forgiveness and eternal life will absolutely be forgiven and receive eternal life. The believer is assured that “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5) Further, Paul reveals the true way, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
A person can know that when they die, they will go to heaven. God has given us the truth and assurance that if we trust in Him; we will go to heaven. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, guarantees the believer, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
There is true comfort in knowing that our God and Creator does care for us no matter what the world does to us or we have done to ourselves. No matter what our sin, failures, or circumstances are, the Lord Jesus Christ is the answer. God is the giver of life and wishes all to have to best life possible.
Have you noticed that I have not referred to psychology or given any non-biblical counseling? I have not addressed why a person can become so distressed that he or she is contemplating suicide or tried to establish blame of one’s difficulties? That is not important. God offers us diliverance from our difficulties and a full and wonderful life as a Christian. In Christ a person can overcome their problems. Suicide is not the answer. What is important is not dredging though our past, but accepting God’s deliverance. Fallible men do not have true wisdom. “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) Also He says, “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.” (Proverbs 8:14) Those who accept God’s word, and truth will be delivered from the woes of this life... no matter how difficult.
For further help, please go to the following articles:
“God’s simple plan of salvation” http://bible-truth.org/gospel.html
“Can A Person Know For Sure That He is Saved and Will Go To Heaven When He Dies?” http://bible-truth.org/assuran2.html.
“Overcoming Today’s Trails” http://bible-truth.org/msg80.html
May I encourage you to believe and in faith and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you do that is the beginning of a new life. You will never regret it. God also instructs us in how, after we believe, we are to live and reap the blessings of salvation. I have a eight lesson course titled "Online New Converts Class" which will help the new Christian to begin his new life. If is found at http://bible-truth.org/NewConvertpage.html.
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to request prayer and give you the Bible’s answer to life’s trials.End Notes