How do we as christians deal with the death of an unbeliever? Is there hope?

(Dylan Flow Ang) #1

I was listening to the RZIM podcast on “Just Thinking”, 5 Questions Students Ask Part 3, and Ravi was talking about how when a 5 year old child dies, God is able to restore that life, and that child will be spending eternity in relationship with his creator.

However, how can we know this to be true? that the child will be with God, if we do not know if child is born again in Christ or not.

Thanks you.

(SeanO) #2

@Dylan_Flow_Ang Great question. I think that at the end of the day our main concern should not be ‘how’ God will deal with an individual who has died, but rather can we trust God with that decision? In the Bible, whenever someone ask God ‘why’ or ‘how’ they do not generally get a direct answer - think of Job or Habbakkuk or King David or Joseph. In Job’s case God responded with an overwhelming self-revelation. Habbakkuk and King David both admit that even if their circumstances do not improve, still they will serve the living God. And Joseph did not understand why he was suffering at the hands of his brothers until many years later.

The root issues of whether or not we can trust God has been answered in Jesus - in Jesus God has proven that He loves us (Romans 5:8). So we can trust that how he handles the judgment of those who have died will be both just and fair even if we do not understand ‘how’.

That said, here are some thoughts about infants who die. Christ grant you wisdom and peace by His Spirit :slight_smile:

“There is the consistent testimony of Scripture that people are judged on the basis of sins committed voluntary and consciously in the body (see 2 Cor. 5:10; [1 Cor. 6:9–10]). In other words, eternal judgment is always based on conscious rejection of divine revelation (whether in creation, conscience, or Christ) and willful disobedience. Are infants capable of either? There is no explicit account in Scripture of any other judgment based on any other grounds. Thus, those dying in infancy are saved because they do not (indeed cannot) satisfy the conditions for divine judgment.”

(Dylan Flow Ang) #3

Thank you for the reply. May I however, add on an additional question as well. If God were to be fair and just, and since all have fallen short of the glory of God, we all deserve hell, if God we’re to go by what’s just and fair. However, since it is by grace that we are offered salvation, it is an act of kindness which God chooses to offer, what certainty and hope do we have that God will not just be just and fair, by having them in hell, but that He will be merciful and gracious to the unbeliever who doesn’t deserve His goodness, who died (let’s say a loved one or a family member who isn’t a christian)?

(SeanO) #4

@Dylan_Flow_Ang We cannot know how God will deal with each individual, but we can trust that He is merciful and gracious. If we look at one of the longest self-descriptions God gives of His attributes in the Bible, He does not begin with justice but with compassion and grace and love and forgiveness. Yes, He will punish sin, but He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked and delights in restoring the lost to Himself.

Exodus 34:5-7 - Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Ezekiel 18:23 - Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “ and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

Again, if we look at Jesus we see that He had mercy on tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans and lepers. All of these groups were considered dirty or unclean. Jesus always had mercy on any who came to Him and sincerely desired to seek what is truly good. Ultimately Jesus’ willingness to die on the cross proves His love towards us and because of that we can trust His heart.

We cannot know ‘how’ God will deal with each of our unbelieving family members, but we can know that He is good. God is good, all the time, all the time, He is good - as the saying goes.

On a side note, I had a friend whose unbelieving uncle died and he was struggling with the idea of Hell. This book by Steve Gregg on a few different views of Hell helped him process the experience. He also found solace in the movie ‘Hell and Mr. Fudge’. If this is something you want to truly think deeply about, I suggest these resources as a place to start.

Why create man