Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The suicide of a believer

Via Intellectuelle and InternetMonk I found a sermon delivered on the occasion of the funeral of a Christian who committed suicide. The entire funeral message is at byFaith Online. The "theological virtues" are faith, hope and love. Suicide has always been considered a manifestation of the opposite of hope - despair - hopelessness - inability to trust in God. In some traditions a suicide cannot be buried in consecrated ground. This passage comes toward the end of the message. The entire sermon is well worth reading.
Listen to me, what Petros did was wrong. But what he did for the last twenty-five years did not get him into the kingdom of God, and what he did almost two weeks ago will not take him from the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is secured by another - the One who came into the darkness of this world to give himself for those who are poor in Spirit. This is the Gospel: He who was rich, made himself poor so that through his poverty we might inherit the Kingdom of God. This same Jesus who came preaching of the kingdom of God is the One who came to die in our behalf to pay the debt for our sins. He emptied himself of the privileges and glory of heaven, so that through his poverty, the heavenly riches of his righteousness would be ours. The reason that those who are so corrupted that they can be guilty of selfishness, cowardice, insensitivity and sin - even the murder of themselves, and can yet inherit the kingdom of God, is because Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty for our sins, and he rose to intercede for us before the Father on the basis of his righteousness rather than our accomplishments. When we depend on what he provides by acknowledging our poverty and trusting in his provision, then ours is the kingdom of heaven.

Isaiah 57:15, "For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."

Now I know the questions that you still are asking yourselves - I have asked these questions of myself also:

"Yes, God can save sinners of all sorts: those who falter, and fall, and even kill. But the ones that he saves are those who repent. And, since Petros took his own life, and there was no opportunity to repent from that sin, then can he still be eligible for the kingdom of heaven?" I acknowledge to you that, despite the depth of remorse that Petros expressed for his actions in the letter read to this congregation, his repentance is inadequate. But whose repentance is ever adequate? God does not forgive us because we adequately confess our sin, but because Jesus fully covers our sin when we trust in him.

But you are also thinking, "Did Petros really trust in Christ?" "Yes," you will acknowledge, "Petros certainly was poor in spirit. But did he really trust in Jesus? If he had, could he have done this thing?" Ultimately these questions will be answered in the halls of heaven, but I will tell you what I think. Petros did not preach the Gospel all those years, or love us so well falsely. We would have known it. Instead, he got sick in mind and heart for reasons that I do not fully understand. That sickness made him very poor in spirit, and he lost his hold on what was best in him and for him. But I do not think that the strength of his grasp is what counts but rather the strength of the One who grasps him. The love of Jesus Christ is more than strong enough to compensate for any weakness of faith in us.
Source: byFaith Online

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