Friday, September 7, 2018
A character trait of the end-times is that Christians are being shamed into silence about truths that should be boldly proclaimed. And too often that silence is caused by the misuse of Jesus’ command “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1), which contextually is hypocrisy. In other words, we have no business judging another if we ourselves are guilty of the same sin. In that context Jesus concludes with “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5).
Being born again and made alive in Christ, God commands Christians to judge “all things”. Many would say that’s not Christian, but that’s because men have spun God’s Word in a way they ought not, because God said “he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one” (1 Cor. 2:15). In this context today’s Letter addresses the issue of suicide.
Suicide is the cause of death being reported with alarming frequency…especially in the Church. It’s increasingly the cause of death among pastors and those in ministry. Why? There should be a great outcry against this work of Satan, but the Church is largely silent. And why is suicide cast by many as a sickness absent of responsibility and even made to appear as a viable way to God as if its results were eternal life? As with every matter of life, the Bible is not silent on suicide.
While many proverbially sweep this under the carpet, we must not be silent, but speak God’s truth. Love for Christ and fellowman cannot be silent about the reality of suicide. Again, God is not silent on this and neither should any Christian, pastor, teacher or layperson, but boldly speak the truth that lovingly, warns, instructs and leads people from erroneously thinking that suicide is an option that leads to God and eternal life, because suicide is never an option.
Now, to be clear, I am not teaching here that suicide by the mentally retarded or those in mental institutions having a documented history of psychiatric mental illness are spiritually responsible for their actions. Rather, I refer to those in the Church professing faith in Christ, which creates a renewed mind of hope, peace, and love for God, family and fellowman, who yet commit suicide.
What brings this to the forefront, again, is a 08/27/2018 article by CBN News headline saying: “California Church Shocked After Pastor Commits Suicide” – “Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein died Saturday after taking his own life. The pastor left behind three young children and his wife.” Now, while we grieve and pray for the living in this tragedy, we must allow God’s Word to have the supremacy lest anyone be deceived by evil spirits of depression, anxiety and hopelessness.
God says to His saints, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, [evil spirits] because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Therefore, “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…and you are not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19).
First, suicide is self-murder. And God said that “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). Now, we must “let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). God is the Author and Finisher of our lives, not we of ourselves. Our breath is borrowed from God, and we do not have authority to decide when our last breath is drawn. But some, over time, by deceiving spirits have become their own god, not content with faithfully seeking the Creator’s will, purpose and plan for their life in the midst of particularly painful struggles of life.
Secondly, suicide is selfish, not considerate of the lack of love, teaching, instruction, provision and caring for the family left behind. Yet, Pastor Andrew’s wife, Kayla, wrote on her Instagram, “Last night, the love of my life, the father of our children and the pastor of our incredible church took his last breath and went to be with Jesus”. Really? What does God say? “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Suicide selfishly rejects all familial relationships.
Third, suicide serves the purposes of Satan who, “does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). Whether it’s the killing of our fellowman made in the image of God, or one’s own self, be it by war, murder or suicide, these all serve Satan, the god of this present age.
Fourth, suicide disregards and rejects the vital truth that our bodies are the dwelling place, the habitation of, and temple of the Holy Spirit. This is very important, for God said, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles [meaning, “destroys”] the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor. 3:16–17). While many reject this truth, it’s God’s promise.
Neither depression, anxiety nor fear are of God. Salvation faith is a matter of “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). Christians are people with salvation faith in the Lord Jesus, the God of all peace, hope and confidence. From ancient times the Holy Spirit said, “You [God] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:3–4). Our mind being “stayed” on the Lord is entirely our choice. And our choices have consequences.
Kayla Stoecklein said, “Please pray for me and the boys. I don’t know how I am going to face this, I am completely broken, lost, and empty. Never in a million years would I have imagined this would be the end of his story.” Please join me in praying for the living Stoecklein family.
Here’s an article referencing suicides by many pastors, as the Church remains largely silent: https://www.christianpost.com/news/isolated-world-pastors-churches-mum-clergy-suicides-220763/. Suicide is no stranger to the unbelieving, unsaved, hopeless world. But a pastor and/or professing Christian? Really? What message does pastoral suicide send the lost world except to say that Christians really have no more hope and reason to live than the unbeliever? But we do! We have hope in Christ and rejoice in the victory of the cross! We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, for if we remain faithful, “at the last day” (John 6:40) we too shall be raised to eternal life!
Silencing the truth of suicide, and Jesus’ testimony for the now-present end-times before us will only exacerbate and further weaken the witness of the organized Church. Now is not the time for silence, but time to boldly love, warn, instruct, defend and teach the Word on everything facing the end-time Church, otherwise its great commission also falls silent.
Marlin J. Yoder