THOUGHTS

Some of my thoughts and musings on faith, life and ministry. All that is posted here are of my own opinions and do not necessarily represent any organisation, church or ministry that I am a part of/affiliated with. 

Is Christianity really A "Relationship" and Not A "Religion"?

"Christianity is a Relationship, not a Religion."

This is often used in Christian circles, while its intent is a noble one - but it can be misleading. What this saying is trying convey is that Christianity is more than just a bunch of "dos" and "don'ts", and following Jesus is not strictly bound up in rules and regulations. In essence it is more like having "a relationship" and not joining "a religion." Herein lies the problem: the relationship and religion aspect are not at odds: it is not one without being the other. Instead, it is more like two different sides of the same coin. 

You cannot quite say that Christianity is not a religion... because it is! You cannot deny that it is also a relationship: because we are dealing with a LIVING being: a Being that speaks, acts, has feelings, desires etc. Relationship, not just religion, actually have "rules" as well. Think about this: any romantic or plutonic relationships are based on mutual exchanges. This means that while in a relationship with someone, you have to take into consideration what actually pleases and displeases the other person. It is not all about our own preferences: you cannot want the benefits yet deny its implications.

There are many benefits of being in a romantic relationship, but the implication is we cannot do whatever we want. We cannot flirt with other people, we have to be somewhat accountable about our whereabouts, we have to be transparent with our partners. You cannot say "I want the companionship, but I still want the freedom to do whatever I want." Similarly, if you are friends with someone you will not intentionally keep doing something that makes them unhappy thinking that it is fine because after all it is a "relationship."

We are not responsible for how much God loves us, but we are in charge with how well please He is with us. God is not just our Santa Claus or fairy god mother (or worse, our ATM machine) where we only go to Him and expect Him to do whatever we want. A genuine relationship with God will not just seek the WORKS of God, but actually want to follow the WAYS of God as well. Loving God means obeying what He says (John 14:15, 23).

Loving God also means living the way Jesus wants, not doing whatever we want. God does not just want us to be happy, He actually wants us to be Holy. That is what the bible says! The bible actually has clear instruction on how we should live as Christians, and we would do well to be aware of that what that truly means. Read 1 Peter 1:13-25 and Ephesians 4:17-5:20. A real disciple on a true journey following Jesus does not need to have it all together - but must be willing to surrender it all. Jesus is either Lord of all, or not Lord at all. 

Some would contend: wait a minute! Is God not a God of Grace and Mercy? Has He not forgiven all our sins? Does not the Bible say that as long as we believe in our heart and confess with our mouths we are saved? (Romans 10:9) Yes that is all true, but read that scripture clearly: "we believe in our heart that Jesus was raised from the dead but we declare that Jesus is Lord." Declaring is not just paying lip-service, it is actually truly doing it. As they say - actions speak louder than words and you have to walk the talk.

Right believing leads to right living. Whenever a loving parent makes a decision for a child, he does it for the good of that child. There are times when a parent will give the child while he wants, there are times he will withhold. Sometimes he will comfort, other times he will discipline. Sometimes he will give liberty, but other times he sets boundaries. The parent knows why he is doing what he does, but the child has to believe that the parent knows better and has a heart to bless and not curse - and this in turns cause the child to live willingly by the parent's guidance.

We have to realise that we are limited in our own understanding, and how our sinful nature sometimes gets the better of us. We have to trust that God whose ways are higher than our ways, is more than just a mystical being who is aloof - He is in fact more like a personal parent who desires us to grow, mature and experience true blessing and fulfilment.

As Christians, we have to truly follow Jesus - and that means actually heeding the entire Bible, and not just the parts that we like. When you have truly experienced the transforming power and love of God in your life, I am confident that is enough motivation to want to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. A genuine relationship with Jesus will cause us to realise that His commandments are not a burden (1 John 5:2-3) but rather a pathway to a rewarding and fulfilling relationship with an Almighty God. 

If you struggle to accept or understand this, I would suggest you first examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5) - have you really embraced the Gospel in your life? Or maybe you need to open your heart and sincerely pray: "God, I want to truly know you, and not just know about you - reveal yourself to me." (Hebrews 11:6)

Grace is not a license to do whatever we want, it is the empowerment to live however Jesus wants

 

 

How Should A Christian Approach Horoscopes and Astrology?

I never really had a keen interest in horoscopes and astrology, but I did grow up being exposed and to a certain extent influenced by it. My childhood was spent before the age of the internet, where printed materials still ruled. My parents used to live on newspapers and magazines and I was an avid reader of... well anything I could get my hands on. At a younger age, current affairs and advice on women's fashion and love life (from mom's magazines) bore very little relevance to me... so my favourite sections were the comics and horoscopes. 

The date of my birth determines that my zodiac sign is a Leo (the coolest in my opinion.. a LION!) and I would examine the horoscopes to see what my day or week had in store. Horoscopes often provide pointers in everything: how much luck you will have, what you should avoid, when is an opportune time for something and even how compatible you are with other signs should you desire a romantic relationship with them (I admit, when I met a girl I liked I would often try to find out what sign they are... there was no such thing as Facebook back then). 

While newspapers and magazines (printed) may be losing it's popularity nowadays, horoscopes and astrology is not. You can often find it on social media, certain websites and there are people who provide "readings" as services. The matter at hand for this post is: should a Christian believe in horoscopes? Should they consult astrology and how much should they believe in it? 

 

WHAT IS IT EXACTLY? 

So how does horoscopes and astrology work and what is it really about? The word "horoscope" comes from the Greek words "hõra" and "scopos" meaning "time" "observer"... together they mean something like "watcher of the hour". Astrology on the other hand is a study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies and interpreting them as having influence and effect on our lives and world. In other words, it is looking at the stars, planets, moon and other stuff in space and figuring out how it would affect us. 

The authors of horoscope columns and forecasts are usually astrologers (or even "psychics"). They examine what they believe to be the meaning of the planets, the zodiac signs, and other astrological data. They also consider the present positions of planets (plus the sun and moon), and how they interact with the sun signs of Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc., in order to give horoscope advice. The position of the moon is also a key element, as it changes its "sign" every 2.5 days.

So in essence, horoscopes are often not just some random ramblings of a person with too much time on their hands. What you read is a combination of careful examination, "divination", "psychic activity" and lots of speculation. 

 

IS IT WRONG THEN? 

So as a Christian is it wrong to "ready" and "find out" what our horoscopic forecast is then? I am going to presume that one would only read it to actually draw advice, comfort, assurance and even direction from the horoscopes (like how much of a match you are with that cutie you met and would fate determine you two get together) as oppose to just reading it casually or "for fun."

As Christians, we believe that God is the creator of everything (Genesis 1:1). God created the stars and set them in place, and they proclaim HIS glory and His alone (Psalm 8:3, Psalm 19:1). He determines the number of stars and even knows all of them by name. (Psalm 147:4)

So God is the creator, and all the stuff in space are His creation... the bible has something to say about esteeming the creation rather than the Creator.

Romans 1:25 (NLT)
They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

One could say reading and believing horoscopes is not really "worshipping" the stars, but I would suggest otherwise. When you heed horoscopic advice, you allow it to affect your decisions and even behaviour. You are essentially giving it "worth" and "value", and to a certain extent you might even put aside the supernatural (God, creator) for the natural (stars, creation). In fact, if horoscopes are your first point of reference instead of the word of God, that is described to be what should really be guiding us (Psalm 119:105)... man have we got it wrong! 

The Bible tells us that we should seek God, and depend on Him for direction and in all matters of our lives:

Psalm 14:2 (NLT)
The Lord looks down from heaven
on the entire human race;
he looks to see if anyone is truly wise,
if anyone seeks God.
Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

DO WE REALLY NEED IT? 

As Christians, we worship a God who is both powerful and personal. He is not some distant or aloof figure that does not care about us, but rather we are told that we are children of God (John 1:12) and that we now belong to God's family (Ephesians 2:19). Moreover, the Bible is not just some ordinary book but it is described to be "living and active" (Hebrews 4:12). That means that the Bible is able to SPEAK, GUIDE and DIRECT us ! 

Having that in mind, why do we need horoscopes? Why do we need astrology? We have a God who cares about us and He actually wants to be invested and involved in our lives!

Isaiah, the prophet of old cries out:

Isaiah 8:19 (NLT)
Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?

No where in the Bible do we see the prophets or any individual consulting psychics or astrologers, and the only mention of astrologers are of them failing to interpret royal dreams (Daniel 2:10-11, 4:7). Moreover, any form of divination and/or sorcery is outright forbidden:

Deuteronomy 18:10 (NLT)
For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering.[a] And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft,
2 Kings 17:17 (NLT)
They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger.
Isaiah 47:13-14 (NLT)
13 All the advice you receive has made you tired.
Where are all your astrologers,
those stargazers who make predictions each month?
Let them stand up and save you from what the future holds.
14 But they are like straw burning in a fire;
they cannot save themselves from the flame.
You will get no help from them at all;
their hearth is no place to sit for warmth.

HIS WAYS ARE HIGHER

....and indeed much better. As a Christian, we have a God is not only all knowing and all powerful, but He desires to be close to us. All we have to draw close to Him and put our trust in Him... and not the limited wisdom of this world. Wanting to find answers in horoscopes and not in prayer and His word is almost an act of saying "I do not trust you God, I rather get into these stuff because it seems like to make more sense and I get an immediate answer." But...

1 Corinthians 3:19 (NLT)
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say,
“He traps the wise
in the snare of their own cleverness.

I believe scripture is clear that God does want to guide us in all areas of our lives, the question is whether we are willing to submit and trust in our God. I know God is alive and He still speaks today, He is eager to direct and guide. We just have to open our hearts and really seek Him. 

Psalm 9:10 (NLT)
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.

Is Getting Tattoos Wrong For A Christian?

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Is it wrong for a Christian to get tattoos? To determine this we must look at what the Bible actually says. In order to do so, proper hermeneutics must be done. What is hermeneutics you wonder? Well I am glad you asked - it is the method of ascertaining what a Bible text meant to its original hearers/readers (Exegesis) and then determining how to it applies to us today. 

So what does the Bible say about tattoos? There is only one scripture which mentions this directly, and it is:

Leviticus 19:28 (NIV)
Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.

At face value, it seems almost certain that the Bible forbids getting a tattoo. However, there is a problem with this sort of application. If we are to keep this literally, we should have to keep some of these other laws as well:

Leviticus 19:19 (NIV)
Keep my decrees.
“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.
“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.
“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.
Leviticus 19:27 (NIV)
Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.
Deuteronomy 14:8 (NIV)
The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.

I am pretty sure everyone reading this would have violated at least one of the three mentioned above. So if we are to say the Bible strictly forbids tattoos, we better be careful about buying clothing that is made of two or more materials (that rules out most of the clothes at the mall), forget about grooming (which is bad news for most Asian people: who cannot grow full, glorious beards) and better put down that BBQ and roasted pork (yes, bacon too). 

So how do we go about this then?

 

1. THE NEW TESTAMENT IS A RENEWAL, NOT A CANCELLATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

The easy answer is "Hey, we are Christians - we live by the New Testament and are no longer bound by Old Testament laws." There is an element of truth to this, but we must understand that this does not mean the Old Testament has less value than the New or that we can throw out everything in the Old. 

Think of the Old and New Testament as "contracts". When a contract is renewed, certain conditions are amended, some new ones are introduced but at the same time some older conditions are carried over. For instance, if you started working at a company you may be given a contract that fixes your working hours, responsibilities, salary and benefits. After a while you get a promotion which means your new contract offers you improved salary and benefits, however your working hours are the same and your responsibilities are increased. 

So, what is voided in the New Testament are civil and ritual laws from the Old Testament. However, the moral laws which bound Israel still applies to Christians today. That is how we distinguish what is binding and what is not in the Old Testament. If you read certain commandments in the Old Testament and go "this does not make any sense" or "why are these rules so strange" - chances are you are looking at a civil and ritual law for ancient Israel.

Moral laws on the other hand, are blatantly obvious to distinguish (like for example the 10 commandments). Make no mistake about it - the New Testament actually holds a HIGHER moral standard than that of the Old. Just read through the teachings of Jesus. 

Ultimately, Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). That is why we do not follow laws anymore, but we follow Jesus - who is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). In fact, in Mark 7:14-22 Jesus himself speaks of how it is not what is on the outside that defiles a person, but rather what is on the inside. A person could have the cleanest appearance, but yet have the dirtiest thoughts or darkest heart. 

 

2. RIGHTS VS RESPONSIBILTIES

While the Bible does not specifically prohibit tattoos, nonetheless there are still principles that we have to apply as Christians. In 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, Paul talks about eating food that is sacrificed to idols. He speaks of how "we have the right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial." He further explains in verse 24 that as Christians "we should seek of the good of others and not just our own good." That is also repeated in verse 33.

In this passage, Paul basically argues that there is nothing wrong with eating food already sacrificed to idols, BUT - if it causes someone else to stumble, you should not do it (verse 32). This principle can be applied to anything in our Christian walk as well, and everything that we do should be unto the glory of God (verse 31).

One of the defining marks of a truly mature Christian is that they comprehend how that as they grow and mature they have a responsibility to other Christians - and they are not preoccupied chasing their "rights". 

As a Christian matures, his responsibilities outweighs his rights - and his priority should be in such order. 

As a Christian matures, his responsibilities outweighs his rights - and his priority should be in such order. 

While I personally do not believe there is anything wrong in getting a tattoo, and I at one point actually wanted to get one - I however chose not to for the simple reason of not wanting to stumble people. Being a pastor and Christian Leader in a conservative environment like Asia, I know that tattoos are often associated with bad character. So for me, my commitment to God and His people is more significant than my want of a tattoo. 

 

3. OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER

If you are thinking of getting a tattoo, here are some factors you should consider as well.

Modification - Be aware that a tattoo is more or less permanent. Getting it removed is not only costly, it is also a very very painful process. Go on YouTube and check out some videos. Think long and hard on what kind of tattoo you want to get, do not just go for the cool factor. What may be trendy and cool now will not be after 5 years - and you may end up regretting it. 

Motive - What is the reason for you getting a tattoo? If it is an act of rebellion towards your parents, leaders or society - ask yourself would Jesus approve of such behaviour? Is it just to draw attention to yourself? Or is it just a personal expression of art and creativity? A follower of Jesus has to check his motives - and ensure his heart is in the right place. 

Modesty - The bible has much to say about modesty, but that does not mean you have to be prudish as a Christian. On the contrary, modesty and trendy are not necessarily at odds with one another. However we really should not be chasing trends but following Jesus anyway. If getting a tattoo compels you to jeopardise your modesty just so people can see it - time to reconsider. 

Message - A big one, and basically sums everything up. What kind of message is your tattoo sending? Some pieces of art are meaningful: it speaks of scripture, experiences, memories of loved ones etc. But others could be sending the wrong message, and as Christians we have to be mindful of the design that we choose. Also think of the environment that you will eventually be in. If you aspire to be a professional (accountant, lawyer, doctor etc) having a tattoo in a conspicuous area may often harm your career than help it. 

Money - In case you did not know: tattoos cost... ALOT! If you do decide to get inked, consider all the other factors and make sure you are making a well-thought, thoroughly-calculated decision. Getting a huge piece may be extremely cool, but it may not be worth the kind of financial trade off that you need to make for it. 

You are free to make choices, but you are not free from the consequences.

While getting a tattoo is not a diabolical sin - we have to realise that choices result in consequences and we have to be willing to bear it. A tattoo may be able to open doors to witnessing to different types of people, it may also help you break into an artistic community or make you more "real" to different people... but you may also get unfairly scrutinised by the people around you depending on the culture and environment you are in. 

Hope this help clears things up :)

 

 

Why Does God Make Us Wait?

Waiting: we all have to do it at different times in our life. It could be waiting for a reply from someone (email, text etc), waiting in line at the shops, waiting to see the doctor, waiting for our plane/bus to arrive/depart - waiting is part of everyday life. Most of the time we are made to wait for legitimate reasons: a person could be occupied and had no chance to read our message, our food is still cooking in the kitchen, there is still an ongoing appointment, the flight crew could be still cleaning up the plane and prepping it for boarding and take off etc. 

Other times, the process of waiting is made longer due to neglect or inefficiency (orders getting mixed up, appointments taking longer than they should, staff not being responsible) and that is when things get really frustrating - when we feel like we have been waiting a lot longer than we should. We have all been there... I once waited for a flight that was delayed for 8.5 hours. 

For those who have been following Jesus for a while, we know this to be true as well: there are times we have to wait on God. It could be for a variety of things: waiting for answered prayer, for a breakthrough, for healing, for provision, for direction, for a dream to come true and so forth. 

Sometimes what we are seeking comes almost instantaneously, but other times we are made to wait excruciatingly long that it almost seems like it is never going to happen. Why does God make us wait? Does He have good reason? Is He too busy answering other prayers? Or is he like the frustrating officer at a governmental office (inefficient?) 

 

1. WAITING BUILDS OUR RELIANCE ON GOD 

I believe the reason God sometimes makes us wait is just so that we will continue to learn how to rely on Him - and only Him.  Imagine if all our prayers were answered immediately, the tendency would be that we will only go to God when we want or need something - it is human nature! If this were to be the case, prayer would not be an act of seeking and connecting with God. It will be like simply going to an ATM Machine and keying in the correct combination to get what we want.

If God answered our prayers quickly and swiftly imagined how spoiled all His children would be. Have you ever seen a spoiled child behave when he does not get what He wants? He moans, whines, throws a tantrum in an effort to get his parents to succumb to his wishes. While we are considered children of God, God desires us to be mature as well. Jesus only spoke of us having childlike faith - not childlike behaviour!  

Waiting produces that kind of maturity that God desires, a kind of maturity which only comes by actively spending time with God and learning more about who He is. Often when we are waiting on God we can be very spiritual... We spend more time worshipping Him, reading His word, praying. When we are waiting on God our hearts are actually more open to the things of God; and the temptation to grow cold and complacent is when things actually start going well for us. Think about it. 

God desires a relationship with us more than anything else. In fact, He created us to be in relationship with Him! The precious time spent with Him while waiting definitely outweighs the actual time waiting because in His presence we are able to find all that we need: peace, wisdom, revelation, clarity, strength, perseverance etc. 

Lamentations 3:25 (NKJV)

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

 

2. TRUST GOD - TO BE GOD

One thing I have realised is that God's delay is not His denial. We have to trust that God knows best and trust in His timing. God as our loving Father wants what is best for us, and in His infinite wisdom He is able to discern when the right time is. Imagine a 14 year old wanting to drive a car. His father would not deny this kid the opportunity because he is mean - but simply because the father knows the kid is not ready for that kind of responsibility yet. 

Many great men in the bible had to wait. Joseph waited 13 years before his dream came true. Abraham waited 25 years for a child to come AFTER God promised him one. Moses waited 40 years before he became the man to free Israel from Egypt. David waited 12 years before he became king. Jesus waited 30 years before He started his ministry. 

If you are waiting on God, guess what: you are in good company! Do not be too obsessed with the destination, just enjoy the journey. In due time, God will come through. Do not worry, His timing is always PERFECT; even when it seems like it is too late. Just ask Lazarus. 

 

3. GOOD... OR GOD?

There comes a point of time of course the wait could be too long and the outcome is not what we wanted... and the waiting was all done in vain. What do we make of this if it happens? How do we process it? 

God's nature is not to withhold good things for no good reason, in fact the bible tells us that because He has already given His best (Jesus); He will now not hold back on ALL of the rest! (Romans 8:32) So God does not want to give us the best things in life, but things that we think are good may not necessarily be the best for us. 

In Luke 11:1-13, my favourite scripture on prayer; Jesus teaches how we should be bold and shameless when presenting our requests. He sums up His teaching by saying:

Luke 11:9-12 (NIV)

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

It sounds like a certain thing: just ask and you will receive! Whatever that you want! BUT... sometimes we do not realise that while we think we are asking for a "fish", we in our limited understanding are asking for a "snake". We believe sincerely that we are asking for an "egg", but in reality we are asking for a "scorpion". 

I know this for sure: anything that seems good by natural or worldly standards but in actuality draws us away from God - is not a good thing. That job may seem really wonderful, that girl or guy may seem heaven sent... but if it comes in the way of our relationship with God...

God sometimes denies us the good things, so that He can give us the BEST (God) things. This is where point (1). and (2). comes in. I can promise you this - God knows what He is doing, and He always has a greater plan. 

Rejection is simply a redirection from God.
God has 3 answers when we ask Him for something:

1. Yes
2. Wait
3. No, because I have something better - or I have a greater plan.





Does Committing Suicide Send A Christian To Hell?

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Edit: If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, I urge you to talk to someone about it. Contact your pastor, your local church, your family and friends to get the comfort you need. All life is precious, including yours. It does not matter how you are feeling, what you have done or what has happened to you. The fact that you are alive because God wants you here does not change. If you have no one you can turn to and you are in Malaysia, contact the Befrienders who are available 24/7 at 03-79568144 or 03-79568145

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Recently, news of a student who committed suicide at Sunway University College was the talk of the town (as well as Facebook and Twitter). You can read more if it here as well as here. 

Some conversations and comments that ensued from this incident actually made me realised that many people (mostly Christians) equate the act of committing suicide as automatically you being condemned to hell. It made me wonder: where did we get this idea from? 

This is probably more Catholic in thinking, although some protestant and evangelical movements take it on as well. The idea behind it is that it is violating the commandment "You Shall Not Kill" (Exodus 20:13 cf. Deuteronomy 5:17), in this case the victim has killed/murdered him or herself. 

The problem with this kind of application is this: Firstly, is it appropriate to apply it in this manner? Secondly, if I violate any of the other commandments (for example, honour your father and mother or even keeping the Sabbath) up to the point or at the very moment of death, does that automatically mean I am condemned to hell? 

Why is the second one a problem? Just think about it this way: if I did 10 good things but 1 bad thing, does the latter override all of the former? This where our understanding of salvation comes into play: are we saved by good works (or the avoidance of bad deeds) or by grace? 

So my answer to the question posed in the title is NOT NECESSARILY. My explanation below. 

 

1. SUICIDES IN THE BIBLE

There are 6 accounts of suicide in the bible: (1). Abimelech (Judges 9:50-54) (2). Samson (Judges 16:23-31) (3). Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23) (4). Zimri (1 Kings 16:15-20) and of course the most well-known ones are (5). Saul (1 Samuel 31:2-5) as well as (6). Judas (Matthew 27:3-5

As far as I can tell, none of these people are explicitly condemned in the Bible for the act of committing suicide. This does not omit the fact that they were guilty of other sins, but here we are talking strictly in terms of suicide being a sinful act. 

But what about the commandment "you shall not kill" as we discussed above. My response to this is that we have to read the Bible as a whole. We cannot build whole theologies on subjects just based on one scripture. 

 

2. Hell IS ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO REJECT CHRIST

Matthew 10:32-33 (NIV)

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT)

4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— 6 and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

I think the Bible is very clear on the type of people that actually ends up in hell - those who consciously reject Jesus. That is the bottomline: heaven is not just a gathering place for the holy and righteous, but a place where people who genuinely and sincerely love God are finally reunited with Him. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Back to the Sunway Student mentioned above - I was in fact asked if I could do the funeral. Upon further clarification, I was relieved to know that the family (including the victim) were Christians. Who is to say that the student did not love Jesus or had no real relationship with Him? Suicide, depression and other psychological issues are not straight forward matters that we can just label generally.

There are some that say suicide cannot be forgiven because the person would not have a chance to repent of it. But I would say it is almost impossible for us to repent of ALL our sins up to the point of death - we just do not have the capacity in our fallen nature to recognise and identify every sin present in us. 

What is the difference between a sinner and a sinner save by grace? The former is content to live his life on his own accord while the latter is not perfect and stumbles from time to time, but ultimately he still believes in God and has a heart to want to follow Him.

 

3. NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I did not get around to do that funeral because of other commitments, but the pastor who eventually did shared this verse with me. Wow! I encourage you to look it up in the Bible and read the 7 verses before it, but it essentially says that if we are in Christ, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

No depression, no confusion, no psychological disorder, no ungodly presence, no dark spiritual force, no demonic power can take us out from the palm of His hand. You may be struggling, or someone you loved may have fallen victim but know this: Our God is so much bigger and His love is so much stronger! Turn to Him, and you will not need to fret about this life or the one beyond. 

Nonetheless, suicide is not the answer - if for whatever reason you are feeling the need to end your life, I want you to know that death is not the answer. Do not feel ashamed or guilty to ask for help, there is no weakness in that - choosing life is strength! 

Psalm 34:18-19 (NLT)

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances.