Much has ben made over the deaths of celebrities such as in the case of actor Robin Williams, who commited suicide at age 63 some years ago. Truly, he was a talented man, with the gift of making people forget the darker moments of their lives with his comedy. Sadly, he could not escape his own dark moments. He tried to do so on Monday, August 11, 2014, but learned in the second following the cessation of his heartbeat that eternity was there to either embrace or imprison him. Like all others throughout history who made the choice to end their own lives, the decision was final and forever.
Is this going to be a piece saying that if one commits suicide he or she is to suffer the damnation of eternal punishment? Absolutely not, for there is only one criterion for eternal bliss in Heaven or torment in Hell. His name is Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world for mankind.
How one answers the question aimed at Jesus’ immediate disciples–and to each of us—determines where one spends eternity. It has nothing to do with what brings our life to an end.
Jesus asked each of those around Him: “But whom say ye that I am?” (Matthwe 16:15). This is the most important question ever posed to the individual human being. To repeat–how you and I answer this all-important question determines where we will spend all of hereafter. The answer to that question determines if your and my personal forever will involve never-ending joy and fellowship with God or never-ending torment, totally alone and in darkness beyond any that can be imagined.
Jesus asked the question to make His disciples–those present with Him, and those of us who would follow down through the centuries—understand the soul-salvation wrapped up in His coming to die, taking the sins of the world to the grave, then resurrecting to new life. He buried all of our sins that separate us from God the Father with His death and burial. The Lord assured with His resurrection a new spiritual birth (that one can be born again—John 3: 3). His sacrifice provides eternal life in Heaven for all who will do as Paul the apostle wrote later under divine inspiration: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Peter answered Jesus’ question, saying, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Peter believe this with all his heart, and Jesus said in response: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-18).
We have heard of many self-inflicted deaths within the Hollywood community and in the so-called pop-culture musical community. Many overdoses, both intentional and accidental, have ended the lives of some of America and the world’s most famous, and, in the worldly sense, beloved people. Each year these deaths dominate the headlines as Robin Williams’ did in 2014.
Today’s social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feed the young and not-so-young egos of America and the world with desire to achieve acclaim. They seem to sense somehow that they are destined to become the stars they worship. Many devote their every hour to telling all about their lives–even making up much of the “biographies.”
Psychologist report that there is growing fear that such instantaneous and widespread acclamation as the suicides of celebrities such as Robin Williams’ death produced is contributing to suicides within those communities of self-seeking self-aggrandizement. We have all heard the news reports of social media inducing teens to commit suicide because of being ridiculed by their peers in those media forums.
The threat to youth that promises one can instantly become celebrated rather than ridiculed by taking one’s own life is real and growing. Satan, the destroyer, lures the young and not so young to the glitz and glitter of entertainment celebrity. He is a liar and the father of lies, God’s Word tells us. He stalks about seeking whom he may devour.
The devil tells us to do what is right in our own eyes, but the Bible tells that the wages of sin is death. Tragically, it is a broad way that leads to destruction, and many choose that pathway of least resistance.
There are two first eternal seconds, as the title of this commentary headlines. One is the first second after the heart of a Christian stops, and the other is the first second after the heart of a person who doesn’t know Christ for salvation stops.
I can speak firsthand for the Christian’s first second after the heart stops. Mine stopped three times and required defibrillation paddles to restart it on Good Friday, April 22, 2011. Each time my heart ceased to beat, I was in the presence of heavenly young people instantly in that spectacular moment that is in my thoughts constantly. It was a glorious experience beyond any I can adequately describe–although, as many of you know, I have tried to do so.
For the person who doesn’t know Jesus Christ as Savior, I can only pass along what the Word of God has to say about the one whose heart stops beating for the final time. Jesus, who died on the cross at Calvary so that no one has to go to the horrible place of punishment for eternity, said the following in telling of an unbeliever who died:
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seethe Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. (Luke 16: 22-24)
I’m not judging Robin Williams or any other person. I don’t know the disposition of their souls. Only the Lord in Heaven knows. I do know, however, that the first second after the heart stops beating is a matter of enormous eternal consequence.