Ever since the publication of my book God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting, I receive many emails, phone calls, and questions about grief. One of the most difficult questions I hear is from family members who have lost a loved one to suicide.
The question often sounds something like this.
“We are confident that our mother (or father, brother, sister, daughter, son) was a Christian by faith in Christ. Yet we have heard some say that if a believer commits suicide they lose their salvation. What does the Bible say?”
Shared Sorrow Is Endurable Sorrow
Any response to this question must first, of course, address the grief and agony of the surviving family members. The loss of a loved one is always a legitimate cause for great grief. Loss by suicide heaps even more grief and pain upon a family.
Christians, in particular, seem to struggle with “permission to grieve.” That was one reason I wrote God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: to help Christians struggling with any life loss to understand that the Bible encourages grief and provides a way toward growth and healing hope.
Any response must also include the encouragement for the family to cling to Christ and to the Body of Christ. No one should suffer grief alone. As I say in the book, “shared sorrow is endurable sorrow.”
Salvation and Eternal Security
Regarding the specific question concerning a loved one’s eternal security, my response, in summary, usually sounds something like the following.
There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that a believer in Christ can ever lose their salvation, their eternal security. The Apostle Paul is clear that there is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Paul continues in that chapter to state that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ, including death—by any means (Romans 8:28-39).
Jesus Himself guarantees us: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30). Jesus died to save us from our sins—every sin, including suicide.
Doubt and Faith
Further, even doubt and feelings of hopelessness cannot separate us from God in Christ. In Mark 9:24, we read of the father of a sick child who said to Jesus, “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief.” The rest of the passage indicates that this father had faith, though like all of us, he struggled to overcome his doubts.
The Apostle Thomas doubted, yet his doubt was mingled with faith—saving faith, belief in Christ (John 21:24-29). The Apostle Paul himself honestly admitted that he despaired of life and felt the sentence of death (2 Corinthians 1:8-9), yet no one would question his saving faith and eternal security in Christ.
The “Unpardonable Sin”
Some ask whether suicide might be the “unpardonable sin.” The only unpardonable sin is to willfully and permanently reject God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:36).
Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death atones for all the sins of his people—past, present, and future (Romans 3:25). Believers in Christ enjoy God’s enduring and complete forgiveness for all their sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).