By Denver Cheddie
A preacher once related his experience at a Hindu funeral of someone who committed suicide. The pundit conducting the service stated that those who commit suicide have lost all chance of forgiveness. The preacher marveled how even a Hindu pundit could get such a revelation of truth. First of all I question whether that is really a truth, and secondly how much that pundit really knows about Hinduism.
There is one sin that is unforgivable – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31, 32). 1 John 5:16, 17 also speak of a sin unto death. The context of 1 John suggests that John has in mind apostasy as being that sin unto death, for which there is no forgiveness (cf. Heb 6:4-6; 10:26). It is difficult to say exactly what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is, but I believe it is the same sin as apostasy. In any case, neither passage implies that suicide is the unforgivable sin.
Suicide however is unique in that it is difficult to repent of it after committing it. This raises the question of whether repentance is necessary for forgiveness. It is necessary for forgiveness in the sense of reconciling broken fellowship with God (Isa. 59:1, 2). Confession of sins and repentance are necessary to maintain an open relationship with God, not to maintain salvation. The context of 1 John 1 is fellowship with God (vs. 3). But as long as we are in Christ, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us of all sin (vs. 7) whether or not we repent. We should confess our sins if we desire an intimate walk with God, but even if we do not, our salvation is not affected. Thus suicide is forgivable.
The real question is not whether suicide will prevent one for going to heaven – it will not. Only unbelief will (John 3:18). It is whether a genuine Christian will commit suicide. I personally do not believe that they would but in the rare event that they do, it will not deny them of heaven. What ultimately determines whether we go to heaven is whether we were in Christ.
Let me close with a scriptural example of someone who committed suicide - Samson (Judges 16:30). Samson was captured by the Philistines and he prayed to God for strength so that he could uproot the foundation pillars of the building and kill the Philistines together with himself. GOD ANSWERED HIS PRAYER. Samson killed himself and I don't think he got a chance to repent afterward. Did the Bible condemn Samson for his "cowardly act"? No instead, the writer of Judges boasted that Samson killed more people in his death than in his life. Hebrews 11:32,34 continue to boast about Samson, specifically how out of weakness he was made strong. Samson is listed as a hero of faith. Yes he had his issues, but this was not one of them. You could recast this event in whatever terms you wish, you could never escape the conclusion that Samson killed himself. Based on Hebrews 11, I doubt very much that he is in hell.
The bible says do not kill, and someone who commits suicide is breaking that law without ever repenting of it. Also committing suicide demonstrates that someone is a coward, and Revelation 21:8 tells us all cowards will go to hell. Finally it is a bad testimony for Christianity if a Christian commits suicide.
My article on suicide is based on the premise that sin will not prevent us from entering heaven. See my articles on Can A Believer Lose His Salvation and Walking in the Light for more on this. It is unbelief or a rejection of Christ that prevents someone from entering heaven. Christ already dealt with sin, so apart from the unpardonable sin, there is no sin which cannot be forgiven. Heaven is not based on our ability to not sin or to repent just before we die. Yes we need to accept Christ. Yes we need to confess our sins. But ultimately anyone who goes to heaven goes there because of God's grace, i.e. God lets you off the hook. No one deserves to go there. It is just that God is gracious. On what basis do babies go to heaven (2 Samuel 12:23)?
Now I'm not condoning suicide, and I honestly can't understand why a Christian would do that. But IFFFF the person was genuinely in Christ, then that is basis of his/her judgment before God. That is the basis on which God chooses to let that person in. It has nothing to do with whether they sinned before they died, or died before they sinned.
Yes suicide demonstrates a level of cowardice, but that is not what Rev 21:8 is talking about. The fearful of Rev 21:8 is referring to those who are so afraid of persecution that they choose to walk away from Christ than to die or suffer with God's people. You simply can't appeal to that scripture here. Otherwise you can show that everyone has a certain level of cowardice, therefore everyone is going to hell.
Why didn't you go to work today? Because it was snowing? Because the conditions were dangerous for driving? What, were you AFRAID that you would get into an accident? You coward! You will surely burn in hell for this.
Do you see how silly it is? And finally yes, it is definitely a bad testimony for Christianity. But God does not send people to hell on this basis. Our God's name is not Allah.