Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. None may enter the Kingdom of heaven except by me.”Our response:
The quote above pretty much says it all. It is only by Jesus that we can go to heaven. But what does that really mean? There are several stories in The Bible that seem to give different answers. One man on the cross next to Jesus simply said that he believed, and Jesus told him that as of that day, he would be in paradise. Another man, a rich one, asked Jesus what it would take. Jesus told him to follow Him. When he pestered Him looking for some ritual he could do instead, Jesus told him to sell everything and give it to the poor. But in every case, we are told to obey God. We must give up sin: past sin by handing them to Jesus for forgiveness; future sin by turning our lives around. And we must accept Jesus as the one Son of God and that He died to pay for our sins.
Our response: God is omniscient. That is, he can see everything we do. That can be intimidating. But he can also see in our hearts. Even if we stumble, He knows the difference between stumbling because we failed and stumbling because we don't care.
Denominational opinions: Many churches disagree about this. Some describe a purgatory which is a way souls can pay for sins for which they didn't pray for forgiveness. Some say that once someone has been forgiven, their soul is permanently secured for heaven. And some say that any unforgiven sin can keep someone out of heaven. Many churches believe that it is a matter of someone's heart, not their last few acts that is important.
There are only a few suicides mentioned in The Bible. I don't know of any that say what the outcome was.Our response:
There are many reasons for suicide, and to give a complete answer, we would have to address them all. Almost by definition, the one committing suicide isn't thinking rationally. That alone probably takes away responsibility.
One of the most common is depression. Someone can give themselves over to some kind of spirit of despair. It doesn't mean they are rebelling against God. And it doesn't mean they are trying to destroy His creation. It may simply mean that they believe they or others around them are better off. In a twisted and very wrong way, they may be trying to be generous.
Another reason may be remorse. Suppose someone has committed what they think is an unforgivable sin. Most people in that position know that the wage of sin is death. They've done wrong and know they deserve to be punished. They feel like they need to be punished before they can even look at God again. Of course, Jesus already took the punishment for us all. But when someone has committed a terrible act, it is hard to look to Him. It's mostly about shame. The person in this case is trying to fulfill God's law, even if they do have it wrong.Assembly of God official response:
"It should be remembered that many suicides occur in times of deep depression and great physical pain, when personal judgment and responsibility are seriously impaired. The Assemblies of God does not assume that all such persons are eternally lost."
The murder, of course, complicates this, but murder is not the unpardonable sin. Even if he did not ask forgiveness, there is the strong possibility of mental illness. In a case like this, we can make no definite assessment. Only God knows the outcome. But there is always hope.
There are many descriptions of possession, but they are never easy to apply. When Judas betrayed Jesus, The Bible says that a spirit 'came upon' him.Our response:
In our day of understanding mental illness, demonic possession has been nearly dismissed. But sometimes, it's very clear that someone is acting in a way that isn't in his heart. The thing we can never tell from outside is whether he gave into temptation and let go of control or whether control was taken from him.Assembly of God pastor's wife responds:
Regarding the mental health issue. I personally believe that this comes under the area of discernment of spirits (One of the 9 gifts of the Spirit). I believe there is legitimate chemical imbalances that can cause mental problems, but after working in mental health as much as I have, I know in my heart that there are people being treated for mental health that are either possessed or oppressed by the demonic world. I agree with you that there can't be a blanket statement regarding this because unless the Holy Spirit reveals it or the demons reveal themselves, many times the outward symptoms appear to be the same.
There is one and only one sin which cannot be forgiven. It's not very clear what it is exactly, but it is described as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
“You shall reap whatsoever you sow.” Obviously, He wants us all to be farmers.Our response:
There isn't really any easy answer. There is enough mention of people working and being blessed for it that it is obvious that God does not mean for us to be slothful or lazy. He has given each of us talents. And He has given them to us for good and not for evil. There is a parable about three servants who are given money called talents, in which the servants are expected to use the talents for good. Likewise, we are expected to make good use out of our talents. It may be very difficult to find a career which takes advantages of talents like being able to get the high score on Donkey Kong and squirt milk from your eyes. But that probably means I quit looking for talents too quickly. Rest assured that there is something worthwhile for each of us to do with our talents. Peace of mind and contentment is more valuable than prestige or money.
Commonly, when God sends someone toward one place, He will stop them and send them a slightly different direction than they originally expected. It's up to us to follow where He leads and trust him to make the path straight.