By Kevin Carson
Some questions that readers ask are harder to answer than others. This is a very hard question. Whenever someone asks this question, I immediately think one of two things. One, life may be very hard right now and he or she may be contemplating suicide. Two, this person asking the question hurts because they know someone who has committed suicide. In either of these cases, my heart breaks for you.
If You Are Considering Suicide
If you possibly are considering suicide, let me implore you to get help. Talk with a trusted friend of any kind. If no one is available to you in this moment, call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or begin an online chat (Click Here). God cares for you. People care for you. Two of the biggest mistakes that those who consider suicide make are that (1) no one cares if they end their life, and (2) everyone else would be better off without them. As true as these statements feel, I have never met a person where they are true. If you are suicidal, I often refer to this mindset as a cul-de-sac. There is a cul-de-sac in my neighborhood where there is no outlet. You pull inside of it and there is not another option. In your mind, you have pulled into a theological cul-de-sac where you feel like there are no other options to get out rather than to end your life. However, this is not true. Again, I encourage you to talk to a trusted friend; contact that person immediately rather than waiting.
If You Know Someone Who Has Committed Suicide
If you know someone who has committed suicide, you joined a group called suicide survivors. This is a group in which none of us want to belong. Like you, I have lost family and friends to suicide. The pain, regret, and questions never end for those who have lost loved ones through this dreadful choice. Thankfully, our God of all comfort waits to comfort you in your distress and grief.
If You Commit Suicide, Can You Go to Heaven?
To our question at hand: Can you go to Heaven if you commit suicide? Yes.
Why can we have confidence you can go to Heaven if you commit suicide?
Because God offers us as individuals Heaven and forgiveness of sin, even though we are sinners.
In Adam sin entered into the world and all since Adam have sinned (Rom. 5:12). The Bible teaches there is none righteous—absolutely no one (Rom. 3:10–12). When Adam sinned, he broke God’s law (Gen. 2; 3). God told him what would happen if he chose to eat of the one forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. However, when faced with temptation, Adam and Eve both ate of the fruit. The Bible says in that moment that their eyes were opened. They became sinners and deserved the punishment that God promised.
However, in spite of what they deserved, God came to the Garden and provided them a covering (Gen. 3:21). As the Bible progresses, God institutes the sacrifice system which looked forward to the ultimate sacrifice to come, which was Jesus (John 1:14). Jesus died on the cross—crucified—in order to provide salvation and forgiveness for anyone who willingly comes to God and asks for it (Rom. 5:6–11). God poured out His wrath for the sins of mankind on Jesus such that Jesus paid for the sins of mankind (1 John 2:2).
Therefore, if any person comes to God and asks for forgiveness of sins, God grants that request and forgives them. The offer of forgiveness is from God, not from man. In fact, the offer of forgiveness is from God exactly because we are sinners.
Because salvation is not earned, it is a gift of God in spite of our sin.
Salvation is earned by no one. Although some would suggest that some humans become saints and others are sinless, both these ideas are simply not true (1 John 1:8–10). All people are sinners and earn/deserve punishment as such (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). The best person you know; the worst person you know. Regardless of who you are, you deserve to go to Hell because of your sin. That is true for you, me, and everyone else who lives. We are sinners and we sin.
In spite of our sinful condition, God still offers us salvation. Any person can get saved if he or she asks God for forgiveness of sins through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. This is the great news of the gospel (Rom. 5:18–19). Consider the following two important facts:
First, forgiveness of sins only comes through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Salvation and forgiveness of sins exclusively comes through Jesus (Rom. 5:1–2; 2 Cor. 5:21). God sent Jesus into the world to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin so that anyone who places their faith in Jesus for eternal salvation can be saved (John 3:15–17). A failure to turn to Jesus as a repentant sinner and ask for salvation means eternal death and punishment for failing to believe in Jesus (John 3:18).
Second, forgiveness of sins is not earned, it is a gift of God. Paul explained salvation to us (Eph. 2:1–10). His explanation helps us understand our inability to earn salvation. As sinners, we all are spiritually dead and deserve God’s wrath (Eph. 2:1–3). But, God in His incredible love offers us forgiveness for our sins (Eph. 2:4–7). We often use the words mercy and grace to describe this. Mercy means God chooses to not punish us as our sins deserve; He delivers us from judgment. Grace means God blesses us despite the fact we do not deserve it, by extending His kindness to us.
Notice these two key verses of Paul’s explanation:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8–9)
Here Paul declares that your salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus. Your salvation is not by your own works; it is the simple gift of God. You do not earn it. You cannot earn it.
Because God keeps us saved, we do not keep ourselves saved.
The third reason you can go to Heaven after you commit suicide if you are saved is because God keeps us saved; we do not keep ourselves saved. You received salvation as a gift of God when you asked God through Jesus to be forgiven of your sins—in spite of what you deserved as a sinner. God provides salvation to sinners. He also protects your salvation. Consider these four key passages:
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Phil. 1:6)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Pet. 1:3–5)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.” (John 10:27–30)
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
In summary, God is the One Who keeps you saved. You do not keep yourself saved. God saves you; God keeps you saved. Your confidence in your salvation flows out of your confidence in God’s offer of salvation. You did not earn it; you do not keep it.
Therefore, why can we have confidence you can go to Heaven if you commit suicide?
- Because God offers us as individuals Heaven and forgiveness of sin, even though we are sinners. God saves sinners; suicide is simply a sin. Suicide demonstrates what God and everyone else knew all along—this person was a sinner. But thankfully, those are the kinds of people God saves.
- Because salvation is not earned, it is a gift of God in spite of our sin. By God’s grace and mercy, God grants forgiveness of sin or salvation to those who request it. Salvation cannot be earned. If salvation depended upon you, there is no hope. You did not earn it by works. You cannot lose it by works. Salvation is God’s gift in spite of your sin. Suicide is not the exception—it is still a sin for which God offers forgiveness.
- Because God keeps us saved, we do not keep ourselves saved. Salvation is based upon God’s faithfulness, not the individual’s faithfulness to God. God is faithful. As Paul said, we can be confident because our confidence is in God, not ourselves. God preserves us and keeps us for salvation because none of us could ever do so on our own.
For the saved person, his or her confidence resides in God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, not in earning, deserving, or preserving salvation by his or her own merit. And God, my friend, is trustworthy.
Kevin Carson is pastor of Sonrise Baptist, Ozark, Mo., and department chair of Biblical counseling at Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, Springfield, Mo. This article was first posted to kevincarson.com and is reposted here by permission.