I have thought hard about why a person would want to end their life. I know that great men of God in the Bible often prayed for God to take their life (Numbers 11:15; Job 3:20-23; Jonah 4:3) and even Paul the Apostle understood that it was better to depart to be with Christ (Philippians 1:20-23) but none of these men committed suicide to obtain that goal. I too have wanted to die before. Not from pain but mainly just to be with Jesus. This world can be so full of despair and agony as you watch sin abound, as you watch the devil attack those you love, and as you watch people reject the gospel. The church here in the United States often can a place of misery as well as the church can be bent on money and success instead of caring for the saints and building each other up (1 Corinthians 14:26). I personally have been attacked by pastors who were all about business instead of helping. These men did what was best for them and their needs and not the saints.
Life can be hard. Life can be depressing.
But what keeps me going, what keeps me lifting my head is the knowledge that Jesus is my hope. I have faith in the sovereignty of God. I have faith that Romans 8:18 is true. I have faith that Romans 8:28 is true. I have faith that Romans 8:24-25 is true. I have faith that Jesus keeps me and He sustains me. I am able to worship because of Him. I am able to keep breathing, keep working, keep praying, keep reading my Bible all because of Jesus. Jesus gives me hope.
Job found encouragement in his God. Job longed for death to come to him after all that he had gone through (Job 1:13-20; 2:7-8). Yet the Bible is clear that Job did not give up hope in God (Job 1:22; 2:10). Job’s faith remained despite all that he went through. Job lost everything yet he was confident in the Lord his God. Job drew closer to the Lord in the midst of his trails. So should we. As we suffer through life, draw close to the Lord and He will sustain us. He will uphold us by His power (Psalm 55:22).
Speaking of Psalm 55. David trusted God through it all. Unlike King Saul, who committed suicide in 1 Samuel 31:4, David grew closer to the Lord and increased in strength (1 Samuel 30:6). In Psalm 55:23, David prays to God:
But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction; men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days. But I will trust in you.
The unusual deaths of Absalom (2 Samuel 18:9-15) and the suicide of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23) were perhaps what David had in mind as he wrote Psalm 55:23 under the inspiration of the Spirit. Absalom was dead. Ahithophel was dead. But David would trust in the Lord. David’s faith was that God would see him through all his days. And God did (1 Kings 2:10).
I pray that while many around me abandon faith in Christ and live lives of compromise, I pray that I would trust in the Lord like David. Like Job. James 5:11 even calls us to imitate Job’s perseverance. We need not grow in despair but we need to draw closer to Jesus and realize that He will keep us. He will never forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). If we will draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). The reluctance is not on God’s part but our own.
Hope exists in Jesus. He is the keeper and sustainer of my soul (Psalm 121:7-8). As Jude 24-25 reads:
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Or as Romans 8:38-39 reads:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus is faithful and He gives me a reason to live.
Much has been written about Acts 4:13. Some contend that Acts 4:13 is proof that we don’t need seminary education to accomplish the work of the Lord. I would agree. Men such as A.W. Tozer did much for the kingdom of God without ever attending Bible colleges. On the other hand, we mustn’t down play the fact that the disciples walked with Jesus for three years. Nicodemus called Jesus a rabbi in John 3:2 and so we must conclude that Jesus taught His disciples (Luke 11:1). Jesus would have been the greatest teacher in the history of humanity as He was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14). Jesus would have been able to speak of the things of God with authority and not as the scribes or Pharisees (Matthew 7:28-29). To sit at the feet of Jesus would have been greater than any seminary teaching ever. So we must not downplay the education that the Twelve received from Jesus. They had earned their degrees at the feet of the Lord.
In our day it is amusing to see men and women gloating over their education. I too have been there. When I was fresh out of college, I thought I was the gift of God to the world. I saw myself as a reformational teacher who would change the church for the better. I entered into my first ministry experience and quickly realized that no one cared what the Greek says, no one cared that I could biblically explain this or that, and no one cared that I had a degree in Bible. My first experience with a fellow pastor was dismal. He had grown so weary with ministry that the often preached sermons that he received “from the Spirit” that were poorly put together and often read into the Bible what was not there. When I confronted him with my sound exegesis skills, he mocked me and said that he was hearing the Spirit and I was not. He pointed to Acts 4:13 and claimed that the Spirit taught the disciples and He would teach us. I saw him as an ignorant soul who would fail.
My point here is that education can cut us both ways. We can become prideful because of our learning. However, we can also be prideful for our lack of education. We must guard against both. Knowledge can puff up (1 Corinthians 8:1). Knowledge can become an idol. The lack of education while serving the Lord can also become an idol. I have known a street preacher who boasted about his “service” to God while having no college degree. He boasts that he is doing more than college grads are for the kingdom. Perhaps but he is also full of pride.
In KJV only churches, I have found over the years many who call themselves “Doctor” so and so while having no true degree. Many of them are given doctorate degrees from unapproved “Bible colleges” that are found in church basements or meeting in Sunday school rooms. There are a few independent fundamentalists who do have true doctorate degrees from recognized seminaries but many are from unknown sources.
Let me offer a few examples. Dr. Gail Riplinger is a prominent KJV only advocate. She has written a book that has been the basis for many KJV only disciples called, New Age Bible Versions. The doctorate that Riplinger has was conferred on her by a local church. It is not an earned Ph.D. She has not attended any prominent seminaries. Her doctorate is simply a title that was given to her by First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN.
First Baptist was pastored by the late Dr. Jack Hyles. Much has been made known about this man since his death including his sexual immorality. Dr. Jack Hyles did not have an earned doctorate either. He was conferred the doctorate by Midwestern Bible College that was started by one of his followers.
There are others as well. Dr. Oliver Greene. Dr. Harold Sightler. Dr. Larry Brown. Dr. Joe Arthur.
Let me state here with what I began with, a degree does not prove nor disprove anything. A.W. Tozer was known as “Dr. A.W. Tozer” because he was awarded a doctorate by a legitimate seminary (Wheaton Seminary). Tozer did not prefer this title and did not use it. Others called him Dr. Tozer but he always preferred to be known as A.W. Tozer. He was not against a degree but Tozer understood that he did not earn that degree. It was awarded to him.
Degrees do not prove that we are either serving God nor do they prove we are truly educated. I once heard a doctor preach who had earned his degree but he was not a good preacher. He had the education but lacked the knowledge to preach a simple Bible teaching. On the other hand, I have heard godly men preach who had not even set foot in a Bible college but they had studied the Word for hours and the were truly taught by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13). After hours in their prayer closets with the Lord and after hours of studying from their Bibles, they had heard from heaven and were used by God for His glory.
Education should not be looked down upon nor used to exalt flesh. Our biblical education should draw us closer to Jesus. However, I am troubled that many in the KJV only camp use “Doctor” titles while not truly earning them. Many of the “doctors” I have heard over the years from KJV only preaching offer nothing theologically to us. They claim to be “evangelists” and some of them have medium-sized churches (in the traditional sense) but again, offer nothing theologically to show why they deserve an unearned doctorate.
My advice to us all is this: press into Jesus. Make the gospel your passion. Jesus, the Person, and not facts about Jesus is who saves us. Jesus is very much real. He is very much a real person who lives forever (1 Corinthians 15:3-9). Jesus is our salvation. Not facts about Him found in a book. Jesus is the One that I worship and adore. Not my education or lack thereof. I want to know Christ (Philippians 3:8-11). I pray that is the heart of you who read this and of the KJV only proponents as well. May we love Jesus and who He is.
20 “Why is light given to him who is in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
21 who long for death, but it comes not,
and dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
22 who rejoice exceedingly
and are glad when they find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
- Job 3:20-23
I have not written in over a week. Much of this has been from my work schedule. The other is from a friend of mine who committed suicide this past Sunday. He was a brother whom I met back in 2000 at youth camp when I was a young youth pastor. He and I clicked because he loved to sing hymns (as did I) and he loved to pray for the teenagers to be saved. I remember he had brought with him a very troubled young man who needed Christ. My brother was passionate to see this teenager saved. I have often wondered what became of that young man.
My friend went on to live a troubled life in the ministry. He seemed passionate for Christ but he struggled to fit into the traditional church. He served at a large church as a youth pastor for a season and it seemed to be his “dream” job but it proved to be a heartbreak as the church turned on him and fired him. He then bounced around from church to church before becoming a senior pastor of a traditional church that he hoped to move toward a non-traditional approach to ministry. In the end he left that church to start a church/coffee shop in a college town. I had lost touch with him from about 2008 on and figured, from Facebook and other sources, that he was doing okay. He seemed to be confused theologically as he bounced around the charismatic world and not really landing anywhere.
From what I can understand, he preached to his church this past Sunday and then during the day he went up on a mountain to end it all. There he did. I have no clue as to why. I don’t know what was happening that he would end his life. I only know that it breaks my heart.
Suicide is a difficult issue. I am not here to give an answer to why or what happens. I have read both sides. I recently listened to a talk given by Dr. Jack Deere who lost his son to suicide and he built a case for his salvation. I have heard many people place people who commit suicide in heaven. I don’t know for sure. I know some Arminians who say that a self-murderer will not inherit the kingdom (Revelation 21:8). I have heard others say that a person can be so sick that they long for death and that they lose their mind when it comes to suicide. My answer is that God alone knows. He is just. He is good. He will do what is righteous.
I do know that suicide is not a biblical option. Suicide takes the sovereignty of God and places it in the hands of men. This should not be. God knows the time of our death (Psalm 139:16) but we are not to take our death into our hands. God is our light (Psalm 27:1) and He will get us through even the darkest times (Psalm 30:5). The Bible gives us hope (Romans 15:4) and the Bible calls us to live and die to the glory of God (Philippians 1:20-21). How can suicide glorify God? Suicide simply leaves behind many, many unanswered questions and does not reflect upon the glory of God. When a believer dies in an accident or for health reasons or at the hands of another person, we mourn but rejoice that they were saved and lived a life to the glory of God. When a person commits suicide, we mourn and have no answers nor any hope. While some are quick to put the person in heaven and even crown them as saints, I am slow to do this. I do trust God and I am not saying they are in hell. I simply don’t know. I can only look to Christ and His Word.
There are actually a number of suicides in the Bible. We have the suicides of:
- King Saul (1 Samuel 31:4)
- Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23)
- Zimri (1 Kings 16:18)
- Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5; Acts 1:18)
- And the near suicide of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:27)
- Some see Samson as a suicide (Judges 16:29-30)
Other than Samson (Hebrews 11:32), none are listed as faithful. The Bible does not give us hope about those who do commit suicide. I believe this is obviously good since many people, like Job above in Job 3:20-23, can be in such despair that they long for death to come. Even great men of God such as Moses (Numbers 11:15) and Jonah (Jonah 4:3) can long for death though they did not take their own lives but appealed to God to take their lives from them as did Job above (Job 3:20-23; 7:15). Revelation 9:6 records that people will long for death but will not find it.
I have never been at that place. I have been in the valley before. I have loathed life at times. Yet I have always believed that God would get me through each trial and that He was faithful (Romans 8:28). I have clung to Him and at times I have longed to leave this world behind (Romans 8:18) but I trust in God who has a purpose in my suffering and trials (James 1:2-5). It can be dark at times. I have been in despair many times and will be again some day. I have sat by my mother’s side while she died and was full of despair but somewhere deep inside was hope that only comes from Christ. Jesus promised me tribulation in this world but He said to be encouraged for He had overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus never promised us a life without trials but He did promise to never leave us nor forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). He promised to keep me (John 10:27-29).
Suicide is a poor option for ending our trials. It is a selfish option. Suicide does not care about others. Those who commit suicide are doing only what they think will help them. Perhaps they are sick and in total despair but I feel that they are looking at themselves and not upon Christ. This is why the Bible does not give hope for those who do such things or consider them. Suicide would greatly increase if people knew that God would gladly welcome them into His kingdom if they ended it. I am glad the Word is silent on this issue and doesn’t paint a pretty picture for those longing to commit suicide.
I ask you to pray though for the family that this brother left behind. He left behind many who were seeking after God. Many of them were new believers. How will this effect them? How will the world view this from a man who claimed to be a slave of Christ? Again, suicide doesn’t bring glory to God but only despair. It leaves behind a wreck that the enemy will use against the purposes of God but God will not be defeated. He has already overcome. Jesus wears the victor’s crown! I pray that this suicide will cause many to turn toward Christ and realize now more than ever that our hope must be in Him alone and not in ministry, dreams, clergy, or anything or anyone else. Christ alone must be our lives!
Forgive me if I have been too harsh.
I saw a King James only advocate preaching that modern versions corrupt the doctrines of the faith and he focused in on Luke 2:33 and claimed that the NIV and other modern translations are wrong on the translation here and that they are attacking the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus.
Luke 2:33 in the ESV reads,
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.
The NIV reads,
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
The KJV reads,
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
KJV only advocates teach that the KJV here is clear that Mary is the mother of Jesus but Joseph is not his father since God is His Father. They say that the ESV and the NIV both attack the virgin birth and teach that Joseph was Jesus’ father.
However, the KJV itself asserts that Joseph is Jesus’ father in Luke 2:41 when it calls both Joseph and Mary His parents. Further, the KJV also says that Joseph is Jesus’ father in Luke 2:48 where we read,
And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
Here Mary herself says that Joseph is His father. Joseph and Mary where the parents of Jesus as a unit while He was on the earth. Matthew 1 and Luke 1 are clear that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and even the NIV does not neglect this truth. KJV only advocates are reaching when they make an entire sermon on how modern versions corrupt the doctrine of the virgin birth in Luke 2:33. This is simply not true.
Happy Thanksgiving! I urge you to read these verses and meditate upon them as you bless the Lord for His faithfulness and goodness toward us. We are all undeserving of His grace and mercy!
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Our God is good!