Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

The Unforgivable Sin?

Posted: August 19, 2014 by liftyourvoice1 in Depression, Forgiveness, Suicide

Recently, two similar events have been brought to the forefront of attention. One was the suicide of Braxton Caner, the son of well known Evangelical Preacher Ergun Caner, and the other was the even more recent suicide of comedian Robin Williams. Although one was more highly publicized than the other, neither one was more tragic than the other. Both Caner and Williams had reasons for taking their own lives, perhaps we will never know for sure why they both made that decision, but regardless of the decision their loss has been felt strongly in both cases. It is when we face times like this that many questions arise, especially amongst Christians. 127135a

Growing up as a pastor’s son, I have seen the tragedy that suicide is. I have personally known two fathers whose sons have taken their own lives. Both of them asked the same question, “Was my son forgiven for his action and is he in heaven, or is suicide unforgivable?” It is a tough question to answer, but I am positive that these two recent suicides have no doubt brought that question to the forefront of many a Christian’s mind. I would briefly like to address this question and look at what Scripture has to say.

First and foremost, I must acknowledge that yes, suicide is a sin. The Ten Commandments clearly state “you shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13) Another possible translation from the original Hebrew word used in this passage is to kill. Hank Hanegraaff points out,

“Suicide is the murder of oneself. As such it is a direct violation of the sixth commandment. . . Indeed suicide is a direct attack on the sovereignty of the very One who knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13).”(Hanegraaff, 399)

Suicide is a sin as killing another human being is a sin, just as stealing is a sin, or not obeying your parents is a sin.

As human beings, we feel the need to rank or categorize certain sins as more grievous than other sins. The truth is that no sin is greater than any other sin. Romans says, “The wages of sin is death.”(6:23)  Paul in Romans does not designate any one sin over the other as being more deserving of death; he simply says sin is deserving of death. Those who have studied the Bible know, however, in Romans 3 Paul states “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” (3:23) This simply means that those who have accepted the gift that comes through Christ’s death and resurrection will spend eternity in Heaven and not experience death. This does not mean that we will not experience the death of our bodies, but rather we will not experience death in Hell.

Now that I have established that suicide is a sin like all other sins, equally deserving the punishment of death as other sins, and that if one has accepted the gift that Christ gives, then eternal punishment in Hell can be avoided, then let us address the issue at hand.

One of the fathers I knew who had a son commit suicide was told by “Christians” that his son automatically went to Hell because suicide was the unforgivable sin. First of all, what a horrible thing to say!!! Second of all, how would they know the eternal security of that young man!? I have already established that suicide, while egregious, is handled the same way by God as the sin of lying. If God handles them the same way, then how can suicide be the unpardonable sin?

I personally agree with and appreciate what Hanegraaf has to say about this:

“no single act is unforgivable. The unforgivable sin is a continuous, ongoing rejection of forgiveness. Those who refuse forgiveness through Christ will spend eternity separated from his love and grace. Conversely, those who sincerely desire forgiveness can be absolutely certain that God will never spurn them.”(398)

Who are we to say that someone who has committed suicide did not get right with God, ask for His forgiveness, and accept Christ fully right before they committed the act? If a person who has accepted Christ right before committing suicide is sent to Hell, then so is the person whose tells a lie right before they die. Ephesians 2:8 points out, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son, that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

This means, when we put our faith in God and what He has done through Jesus, then we receive Christ’s grace. That grace is pouUnknownred onto our whole lives. Christ’s forgiveness is of our sins past, present, and future. Think about that for a second: Jesus has already forgiven sins I have yet to commit!! Woah, talk about mind blown! (This is by the way, not a license to go out and sin as we please.) Here’s the point: if you have accepted Christ as your savior then God has already accepted you; you are one of His children. YOU BELONG TO HIM!!!
Nothing can change that; not even something bad that you did at the last moment of your life. Our relationships with Christ are not about keeping track of rights and wrongs, that  is grace through works. Our salvation is in grace through faith in what Christ has done for us. In that breath then, we need to be exercising our faith in Him by glorifying Him, worshiping Him, enjoying Him, and loving Him with our entire being. To say that if a Christian commits suicide and they are not forgiven is a slap in the very face of God.

Now, as to the debate of if a Christian would really commit suicide, I do not know if I should get into that. Hank Hanegraaf says that the thought of suicide is one that Christians dare not contemplate.(398) But, who am I to say that even a Christian could not lose sight of the value of their life? Many Christians battle with depression and anxiety. These diseases have been linked to many suicides. For this part of the debate, I will say that I cannot say for certain if a true Christian can commit suicide or not. Instead, what I will say is that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be spreading the wonderful gift that we have through Jesus… It is not our job to condemn people to Hell (I am thankful for that), rather, we need to spread the word to people that YOU MATTER AND GOD CARES!

 

Bibliography

Hank Hanegraaff, The Complete Bible Answer Book. Nashville Tennessee Thomas Nelson. 2008.

Why us? Why Grace?

Posted: January 20, 2012 by andersontwo in Forgiveness

Have you ever really stopped to think about His mercy and His grace? How about His patience? I mean to think that through the expanse of time God would continue to give us a second chance and continue to extend his hand to pick us back up is simply…unbelievable. What other being would think of such an idea? Undeniable, undeterred, unmistaken, unwavering, unlimited grace. What could we have done to deserve such a gift, such a beautiful gift that we take for granted so often? From what I recall we were the race that God created to have a singular personal relationship with himself as our primary goal. He gave us the perfect world, gave us dominion over it and gave us the perfect companion. He gave us an uninterrupted relationship with himself and for all of those things, we simply threw them back in God’s face and said….I’ll take my own pride. Do we sound like a race that deserves grace? Every day we struggle over the same thing ultimately. Do I want God’s will or my own and so often I, we, find ourselves falling victim to the belief that our will is greater than the One who gave us a will in the first place. Ironic isn’t it? So why should we expect grace? Why should we expect forgiveness? Why on earth would we expect such a sacrifice from a God that could just easily have wiped us out and started over? You look through history and through the religions of the world and what they bring to the table is regards to answer to the “why us” question. Everywhere you look you see religions requiring the betterment of people to equal the perfect of a deity before that deity embraces people. Christianity is the only religion where God says, “Without me, you can’t be perfect, but take my hand and I will sanctify you.” You see, that’s just it. That’s what everyone else seems to forget and what we seem to forget ourselves even though so many of us have grown up in the church and grown up in the Bible belt and “knowing” about God. We still think that for whatever reason, we have something to do with our forgiveness. Wrong. So, we stand here and look at this world and we stand here and contemplate all the problems that we as humanity have caused in light of all of the opportunity God gave us for good and wonder how could God allow all this to happen? We question God because we don’t want to take responsibility for the very things that are wrong with the world. Blame God? Blame ourselves because just like in the garden, it was our pride that caused this mess. The only thing God has done for the past four thousand years is create a method to clean up our mess. Yes, Jesus is the answer for global warming, and everything else that’s actually wrong with this world. For those of you that ask why God doesn’t do more, I think I have an answer for that too. It’s because we won’t let him because we think our plans are better than God’s plans. If I/we think for one second that on our own we can fix any of this then we seemed to forget who gave us the ability to plan in the first place. So back to grace, back to the very forgiveness that allows me to have an eternal future. do I deserve that gift? Not a chance. Do any of us? Do you? It’s something that we have all heard before I am sure but how many times have you actually put down your school books, put down your Xbox controller, put down your phone, put down the TV remote and thought about the grace that has redeemed you? Ever wonder if God just wants you? Ever consider that the reason God has been so persistent through all these years is because more than anything He wants you? What I love more than anything is to know that God just wants to talk to me, that maybe on any given night I can simply sit down and talk to Him, the One who created all of this. I know everyone has been told a lot of different things about what God really wants from us, obedience, sanctification but something that I can’t help but believe is that before anything else God just wants us to love Him. In order to do that I think we just need to talk to Him. It’d be nice to listen from time to time too you long winded people you. I think it was Paul that wrote that above anything else he just wanted to know God and the power of his resurrection. Novel idea isn’t it especially when you stop to think that God has sort of been keeping his end of the bargain since the very first covenant he ever made with mankind and we’ve been “slacking off”.  It’s as if God knew we would screw up and said, “Well, let me show you how much I love you.” So we’re back to grace, stemming from that very love. So I guess the reason I’m writing this is sort of because it’s been running through my head for the past week but also because someone probably needs to read this, or maybe I just needed to read this. We put so many idols before God, so many things in front of our time with Him (i.e. all those things we could put down to have a conversation with God) and all He has ever asked is for a relationship with Him. Is that too much to ask considering the grace that he has bestowed upon us? Forget all your theological terms and your definitions for all you “scholarly” people. I probably didn’t need to go to a Bible institute or go to a Bible college and get a Bible degree to come up with this cause it’s so much more simple than all of that. God’s grace sort of went something like this. “Even though I’m entirely self-sufficient, I am going to make these beings to interact with. They are totally going to screw up but that’s alright, because that will just give me a reason and a chance to show how much and how great I can love.”  Angels probably thought He was crazy…  So that’s my God and I’m dropping all the omniscient, omnipresent, inerrant, infallible, omnipotent mumbo jumbo that no one needs to understands and I’m going to stick with those terms that children know. Cause, after all, isn’t they who will inherit the kingdom? So, my God is my friend, my father, and my savior. So not to quote the movie “Babe” or anything but…that’ll do. I’ve done a lot of dumb things, and I’m still going to do a lot of dumb things and  maybe you think you’ve done a lot of dumb things, things that exclude you from His grace. Well, one of those things that I am recognizing at this point is that God’s grace exists because of all of those dumb things I/you have done. Experience His forgiveness as it was intended because His grace is enough to save. Be thankful that all we have do is let Him know He was right in the end and that we can’t do it on our own. Novel idea? Seems simply doesn’t it? Then again, the wisdom of God can be foolishness to men. I think that’s in the Bible somewhere too. So, what a concept. Forgiveness, and all we have to do is admit that we need it. That’s my God. So, I’m going to go get to know Him better, try this whole deep relationship with an almighty being. You dig?

Let it Go

Posted: January 7, 2012 by liftyourvoice1 in Forgiveness

Our discussion tonight has been on the issue of forgiveness. This is just some thoughts that I had on that issue back in May of 2011. Thought it would be appropriate to post it here.

–Some of you know I’ve been fighting bitterness lately. It’s not a fun thing to fight. There really is no reason to hold a grudge against anyone. What right do we have to be angry at people? We have none. Jesus is the only one who has that right. He laid it down when He got on the cross. Jesus forgave us.  Being bitter just steals your joy. All you do by being bitter is hurt yourself. I think my favorite band said it best in their song Let it Go….so just take a look at the lyrics.

Let it Go

you are waiting on a beach for a healing word to come maybe an apology in a bottle maybe a flare that says, “I’m sorry.” and the hurting leaves you numb will you forgive? will you forget? will you live what you know? He left his rights will you leave yours? you don’t understand it let it go you are waiting on a beach this is where the east meets west and as another sun sets on your anger the darkness laughs, as the wound destroys and it turns your prayers to noise will you forgive? will you forget? will you live what you know? He left his rights will you leave yours? you won’t understand it let it go this bitterness you hide it seeps into your soul and it steals your joy ’til it’s all you know let it go will you forgive? will you forget? will you live what you know? He left his rights will you leave yours? you won’t understand it let it go will you forgive? will you forget? will you live what you know? beneath the cross you hear His words, “Father, forgive them,” and you know you can’t understand it let it go–

If you want to hear the song go here…http://youtu.be/nB6-oW3cSBk

But now…if for whatever reason you are bitter I admonish you to let it go. I will try to forgive those that have wronged me..It’s what I as a follower of Christ need to do. Will you forgive? Will you forget? —

Brandon Witmyer–Host and Director of Lift Your Voice Ministries