Why So Many Commit Suicide
By Evangelist Fred Brown (1909-1992)
“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” —John 5:40.
This world is a paradox. While exerting much energy to extend life, it is concocting new ways of destroying itself.
Doctors are burning midnight oil in research laboratories all over the world in search of cures for dread diseases and in an effort to discover new life-saving drugs in answer to man’s cry for a longer life. Food fads, reducing diets and exercising routines are the rage, as man seeks to squeeze out a few more months or years of life.
At the same time all the above is going on, cigarettes are selling at a record clip, and distilleries are running full blast to supply men with the stuff that destroys life and health. A man tries to live longer by dieting, and then drinks himself to death.
We see the human race in the strange paradox of begging itself not to kill itself. Much time is given on radio and TV warning people not to drive too fast or not to drink and drive, but each year the automobile death toll remains staggeringly high. These warnings go out with such monotony that one wonders if it is worth the effort in the face of such flagrant disregard.
Man seems to be the softest and the hardest he has ever been. Man’s sympathy and softheartedness are annually put on display. Billions are raised in all kinds of drives for the alleviation of diseases and poverty. A man will put a liberal check into a fund for heart disease, then get drunk, get behind the wheel of his high-powered car and leave a trail of broken hearts and lives.
Man is not only destroying himself by his social activity, but politically he is standing on the brink of world catastrophe. Men of science who understand the potential of our engines of destruction are scared. One said to me the other day, "Knowing what I know, I am glad I am saved." While man sings, drinks, dances, gambles and plays his way through life, behind the scenes our manpower, brain power and wealth are all dedicated to welding together certain and sure disaster for the world.
There is no question as to whether this world will suffer untold destruction and bloodshed. It is only a matter of when. In the sixth chapter of Revelation alone, we are told that one-fourth of all earth’s inhabitants are to be slain. The church is to be gone at that time, thank God! Then in Revelation, chapter 9, one-third of all who are left are prophesied to be destroyed. That is over half of the population of the world killed, and the worst is ahead. Do you doubt that in the light of Scripture, the only true light, this world is committing physical suicide?
This phase of the world’s madness doesn’t bother me as much as the spiritual suicide so evident on every hand.
In our text above (John 5:40), we have one of the saddest, most heart-searching statements that ever fell from the lips of Christ. It ranks almost on a par with His cry from the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The Lord Jesus had tried in every way conceivable to man to prove His identity, that man might believe in Him and live. He lived, spoke and worked as no other person had or could. His perfect life, authoritative words and miraculous works were proof that His credentials were real, that He actually was God in flesh.
Having addressed Himself to the crowd, He saw again the hardening of hearts and knew that they had rejected Him as Saviour. It was then, I believe with tear-stained face, I believe with a voice throbbing with the love that sent Him to earth to die, He held out His hands and cried, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
That statement was a trumpet blast of condemnation. In that one short sentence Jesus Christ explained why every soul that perishes is lost. They are not lost because they have to be, neither because no provision has been made for them. They are not lost because life has not been proffered to them. Believe it or not, or illogical as it may seem to logical minds, the only reason souls are lost is that they reject life. In the full knowledge of the consequences, under circumstances conducive to accepting Christ, millions today are premeditatedly, deliberately, with callused hearts, turning from Christ as the giver of life and committing spiritual suicide.
Tragedy in Rejection of Christ
At the close of a seven weeks’ meeting, I saw a doctor sitting in the balcony, a man for whom much prayer had been made. He was young and talented, his fame was fast spreading, and he was rapidly becoming one of the most popular doctors in the city.
An usher on the bottom floor was interested in this doctor, and when the invitation was extended, he made his way to the balcony and invited his friend to accept Christ. After some conversation, the doctor pushed by the usher and walked down the stairs and out of the church.
Three years later I came back for a meeting, and a friend handed me a newspaper clipping telling of the doctor’s death. He had thrown himself under a fast-moving bus the day before I arrived. He had never been seen in church after that night three years before. He had taken to drink and dope and immoral practices that made his wife divorce him. In less than three years he was reduced from a promising physician to a pitiable bum.
My friend who handed me the clipping said, "Fred, he committed suicide yesterday."
I said, "No, he didn’t!"
He said, "He did. People saw him."
I said, "Yes, he committed suicide, but not yesterday. He committed spiritual suicide three years ago in the balcony of that church when he deliberately turned his back on the gospel invitation. He took the gun of sin and turned it upon his soul and committed spiritual suicide forever."
Every Christ-rejecter has some excuse for his action, no matter how flimsy it might be. I have seldom found one, though, who will give me the real reason behind his rejection. As you no doubt know, there is a great difference between an excuse and a reason. Someone has described an excuse as the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. It is like hurting in one place and grunting in another.
As I have dealt with people, I have come to the conclusion that the real reasons for rejecting Christ could be covered under four heads. These are not the excuses folk use, such as: 1. I am too big a sinner; 2. I have tried and failed; 3. I am afraid I couldn’t hold out; 4. There are too many hypocrites in the church; 5. I don’t believe the Bible; etc.
Those are all flimsy excuses that can easily be met by Scripture, each of which can be shown to be a reason for accepting Christ rather than an excuse not to do so.
Let me name the four basic reasons people are rejecting Christ.
I. Ignorance of Their Need
The most pessimistic reader of this message would be shocked to know how few people in this land have actually been born again. There is a vast difference in the number who think they are saved and the number who are actually saved! That means, of course, that millions are lost who think they are saved.
Many things have contributed to this condition. Low standards of church membership; the false security given by false preaching as to the genuine way of salvation; the easy believism being propagated from so many pulpits; the idea that walking an aisle, being baptized, receiving communion, etc., is tantamount to salvation, along with many other things, have led millions to a false security.
Listen to the awful words of Christ to these deceived people:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."—Matt. 7:21–23.
There is such a desire today to get decisions! They are the life-blood of so many preachers. They are almost the Hooper rating in the religious world. It is the number of decisions that recommends a man to his next church or next meeting. This mad scramble for numbers lets down the bars and leads to widened invitations and careless dealing with souls, and the blood of multitudes will be on the hands of earnest men who deceived with no intention to do so!
Let us not be as afraid of not getting decisions as getting wrong decisions! Satisfied sinners in America need to feel conviction. No one can be saved until he knows he is lost. Ask yourself the question, "Did you ever know you were a lost soul on the way to Hell?" If not, the possibility is that you are not now a saved soul on the way to Heaven!
"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."—Matt. 18:1–6.Man is so unwilling to admit his need. He thinks it is a sign of weakness to go forward on an invitation to accept Christ, publicly admitting himself to be a sinner and in need of salvation.
Pride sits in the seat with every sinner and at invitation time stands by his side and whispers, "Look around you. Don’t you think you are as good as this crowd?" The sinner says, "Yes, I believe I am." Then Pride says, "Then are you going to go up there and make a spectacle of yourself in front of all these people?" Then the sinner will stiffen his old, stubborn knees and hold up his head and stalk out of the meeting to his doom, because he was too proud to admit his need.
As long as there is one vestige of human pride left in the heart of a man, it is impossible for him to be saved.
The Pharisee of Luke 18 was thanking God he wasn’t like others. While he was comparing himself favorably with others, he went to Hell, while the unfavorable ones were saved. The publican could find nothing to brag about. He simply said, ‘God, be merciful to me the sinner.’ As far as he was concerned, he was the only sinner, and certainly the worst.
There is one leveling place in this world, and that is at the foot of the cross. There all must come as empty-handed beggars, with nothing to recommend them to God, and receive salvation as a free gift, bestowed on all undeserving souls who come to Christ by faith. Great multitudes of proud, haughty, bigoted, self-righteous sinners are lost today and are refusing to accept life on Christ’s terms, because of pride.
III. Love of the World
It is astounding the small value some people put on their souls. The world is put on one side of the balance and Christ on the other, and to them the world outweighs Christ, so they reject Him for some bauble of the world.
"Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God."—II Tim. 3:4.
I want to make a shocking statement! I can prove it. Don’t jump to conclusions but read the rest of the paragraph carefully!
I know people who would rather dance and go to Hell, than to quit dancing and go to Heaven! I didn’t say you would go to Hell if you danced! I didn’t say you would go to Heaven if you didn’t! I know people who would rather dance and go to Hell, than not dance and go to Heaven. I know folk who would rather attend movies, drink whiskey, gamble, commit adultery, and go to Hell, than not do those things and go to Heaven!
You say, "How do you know? Certainly no one ever told you that." Not in so many words, but inadvertently they tell me. Let me illustrate.
In a small Indiana town a beautiful young woman asked to talk to me after the service. She had won a "bathing beauty" contest and was worldly and proud. I knew God’s Spirit had dealt with her when she wanted to ask questions. Our conversation ran something like this:
She: "I am not going to quit dancing."
I: "That is all right with me."
She: "Aren’t you opposed to it?"
I: "Ordinarily, but in your case, it will be okay."
She: "I am not going to quit playing bridge either."
I: "That is all right too."
She: "I belong to six bridge clubs, and I am not going to quit a one of them."
I: "You ought to organize another one. You have a vacant day on your hands."
She: "I am not going to quit. I can’t be a Christian and do those things, but I am not going to quit, because I don’t see any harm in them."
I: "Wait a minute, what you just said. You say you can’t be a Christian and do those things?"
She: "That’s right."
I: "Because you can’t see any harm in them?"
She: "That’s right."
I: "Then you are a fool!"
She: "What do you mean?"
I: "I mean you are a fool! Don’t you see you are rejecting Christ in order to play bridge and dance?"
She: "I am not going to quit."
There it is! A confession that a little whirl at this world’s empty, unsatisfying pleasure meant more to her than to be saved.
How many millions are lost because of love of pleasure? How foolish all pleasure-mad sinners will seem when God starts rocking this world in judgment, amidst the burning of everything above and the rocking of everything beneath.
Turn to Christ while there is time. Why commit suicide for it, and then lose it and your soul?
IV. Fear of Man
"The fear of man bringeth a snare."—Prov. 29:25.If asked to name the category of sinners who head the list of those who will be in Hell, I imagine the average person would be a long time getting to the right one. Revelation 21:8 gives the list, and strangely, the "fearful" head the list.
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."—Matt. 10:28.
Of what are people afraid? Men on jobs—afraid of being called names; young men—afraid to face the gang as a Christian; women—afraid to be cut off from the society of women in clubs, etc.; girls—afraid to be unpopular with boys; businessmen—afraid to try to compete with the world as a Christian!
Social pressures, such as the desire for job advancements and recognition, lay the cold hand of fear on thousands of hearts and cause men, women and young people to turn their backs on Christ.
I have seen many an emotional battle lost in a service, when one was on the verge of accepting Christ, because of cowardice! The knees turn to water, a yellow streak shows up, and men with courage to face enemy guns on the battlefield prove themselves not courageous enough to turn to Christ.
In our text, Jesus Christ takes the blood of the world off His hands and throws it upon the world’s own soul. "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." In John 6:37, He says, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." He still holds out life! What will you choose—life in Him or death by your rejection of Him? Accept Him now!
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